People First: Hilary Stathes We caught up with Hilary Stathes, LIFT’s first ever Vice President of Talent to discuss her new role, what it takes to be a LIFTer and why she was drawn to this work. What was your first job out of college? I taught middle school Spanish in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as a Teach for America corps member. The kids were amazing. I’ll never work harder than I did there. What did you do for a follow-up? Teach for America brought home the importance of ensuring that kids in low-income communities have access to great education. I became managing director of talent for a charter school network here in DC. On a hard day, I’d go into a kindergarten class and remind myself why my job was important. You switched fields but chose to continue to work with an organization that makes a difference. Teachers can radically change life outcomes for kids. It’s also essential that families are getting the support they need. At LIFT, we never forget our “Impact First, Results Driven” mantra. How do you keep that spirit front and center as LIFT grows? It’s true; we’ve been growing by leaps and bounds, adding more than thirty positions nationwide from December 2013 (when I joined) to October 2014. We bring on great people and make sure they’re getting the training and support they need. We set goals, but a performance-based culture allows for flexibility about how to get there. It’s not an easy career path. Folks on the ground can feel absolutely drained at the end of the day. We recognize that and insist that everybody take good care of themselves. What differentiates a LIFTer? What’s the secret sauce? People here drive each other and themselves to do better. They’re focused and kind. We are also a highperforming learning culture. I’ve never worked anywhere that valued staff satisfaction so much. How do you retain talent? That’s the challenge of everyone in my position, and we have to rise to it. We offer more supports for staff and help everyone reach a tailored professional goal. Better performance and retention go hand in hand. People who want to grow and do better at their jobs have better impact. You have your work cut out for you. Luckily, it’s not just me. The whole staff is engaged because it takes a collective team effort to make LIFT succeed.