Edgility recently welcomed to the team two new Principals, who will lead strategy and search projects for our clients. Kevin Bryant joins us from Uncommon Schools, one of the most well-respected charter school management organizations in the country, where he led the recruitment of central office personnel and principals, while also helping diversify the teacher workforce. And Ron Rapatalo has joined our team full-time after working alongside Edgility (and Redwood Circle Consulting, Christina Greenberg’s previous firm) for several years as a search consultant, and for Newark Public Schools, New Leaders, and Teach For America prior to that.
Although both Kevin and Ron are based in the New York City area, they bring strong national networks and a wealth of expertise to the work. Here’s a quick conversation we had with Kevin and Ron to help you get to know them better:
Question: Neither of you started out in education, nor in recruiting. How did you first get involved in education work, and how did you discover your love of searching for and connecting talent with the organizations that need it?
Ron: As the youngest of 7 children of Filipino immigrants, I was lucky to attend some strong New York City public schools (including Stuyvesant High School), where I learned first-hand that education can accelerate one’s path from the bottom 15% to the top 15% of family income within a single generation. Like other children of Asian immigrants, I knew about medical and technical jobs, so thought I’d become a doctor -- but while in college, advocacy work got me more excited than my math classes. After meandering through few jobs at the university and in finance, I landed a job in the national office at Teach For America which whetted my appetite for talent and selection work as I helped interview prospective corps members. When I switched over to work at New Leaders for New Schools, I asked to learn more about recruitment within my job in admissions and began to learn from Christina Greenberg there. I had always been really good at building relationships but had never really realized you could get paid for that!
Kevin: After graduating from Winston-Salem State University, I started out working in the business sector at Target and first met a recruiter whose job sounded so great -- your job is literally to connect other people with jobs! Then later, while I was in graduate school doing some research, I heard about the incredible work Uncommon Schools was doing. After graduate school at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and working in North Carolina to advocate for low-income families and start community charter schools there, I applied to join the recruiting team at Uncommon at a time that was both a blessing and a curse: the teacher shortage. That forced us to be more aggressive and strategic in our outreach efforts, including a more tailored regional approach and more online recruiting.
Question: You’ve both had successful careers in education recruiting - Kevin, inside of a strong growing nonprofit charter organization, and Ron as a sought-after search consultant. What prompted you to join Edgility?
Kevin: Around a year after I was hired, Uncommon Schools decided we needed to diversify our school teams, and by the time I left earlier this fall, over half our teaching staff was black or Latinx. We had also established a partnership with traditionally black institution Morehouse College to bring more than 40 men of color into our teaching and intern program each year, compared to less than 2% male teachers of color nationally. Although I’d recruited dozens of school leaders and hundreds of teachers, I was ready to have an impact on the broader field. I have an entrepreneurial spirit and wanted to join a smaller organization that was respected in the field but still growing. Even though the Edgility team is small, they’re bright and among the best at what they do. They have done a lot of valuable thinking about their work and the needs of the education space, so they’re an ideal place for me to expand my impact while also helping them grow in new ways.
Most of Edgility’s clients are not only serving low-income students of color, but are increasingly focused on greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in their placements, which is a philosophy I’m aligned with. And traveling the world with 50 other people as part of Remote Year while I continued to work for Uncommon, I had really fallen in love with the freedom and flexibility that comes along with that and knew a remote work opportunity would be a great fit.
Ron: When I started consulting for Newark, I realized that remote work made so much sense -- it should be about the work and working hard, not about face time. Between that and my wife and I have a child, I decided to start working for myself and consulting with various search firms, including with Edgility’s Christina Greenberg back when she was running Redwood Circle Consulting. What I learned is that I’m a really good utility player that can plug into a bunch of different needs -- and with my daughter in elementary school now, I was ready for a steadier paycheck that maintained that flexibility and autonomy I’ve cherished.
Like Kevin, I’m excited about our focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, and making sure our senior leadership ranks look more like the communities we serve. I really believe we’re in the early stages of dismantling systems of inequity in these organizations, by addressing talent inequity. And just like the work I do in personal training, Edgility is not only helping place more diverse leaders with a more equitable and inclusive process, we’re also teaching them how to do that for themselves -- instead of giving them a handbook and hoping for the best. I’m excited to work with clients that want to improve their search practices overall, as well as with DEI, those that are humble enough to know what they don’t know but want to learn. Likewise, I’m really eager to learn from Christina and Allison more about the full search process and cultivating client work -- there’s nobody better to learn from about the mindsets and behaviors of schools and education nonprofits. At the end of the day, I just want to have an even stronger impact than I was having before.
Question: Edgility founder Christina Greenberg likes to encourage candidates and job-seekers to consider their “superpower” or the unfair competitive advantage they bring to the world. So what do you do better than anyone else out there?
Ron: I really do believe I’m the best recruiter on the planet, and I’m really good at building fast connections with people. I’m pretty competitive and have always been driven to learn new things and get good at them quickly -- including coaching people and communicating with them in new ways like podcasts and blog posts. In an ideal world, I’d be the Filipino Tony Robbins! My sweet spot is principal recruitment, which is ironic because I’ve never been a classroom teacher, but I do have a lot of knowledge about good instruction from having been around a lot of amazing educators. And even though I’m a New York guy, I have a really strong national network -- I’ve always been hungry to meet people, and have had the ability to see beyond where I’m located and what I’m working on at the moment.
Kevin: Thanks to organizations like Teach For America and Education Pioneers, we really didn’t have to focus on growing talent for a long time, but now the competition for talent is stronger than ever. As education organizations have grown and matured in their work, they’ve finally started to grapple with what it really means to develop and cultivate talent, and how important it is to hire wisely the first time around. Sometimes we don’t know how well we’ve done in hiring until a few months or years later, and by then we’ve lost time and resources and opportunities. As recruiters, it’s our responsibility to mitigate those challenges for our clients and help them get it right from the beginning -- the stakes for our kids are so high. I have learned a lot over the years about how to reach the right talent and connect them with the organizations that need them, and I’m eager to bring my insights and energy and networks to a wider range of organizations.
In other staffing news, Edgility also recently welcomed Autumn Colon to the team as a Recruitment Operations Associate. Autumn brings a wealth of experience in marketing, communications, and operations from her time working in schools and as an entrepreneur. Autumn joined in November and is already having an impact across our recruitment work, from facilitating our email and social media outreach to supporting the design of our marketing materials.