Final Updates from Guam: Chartering Update and Women as Change Agents

I was thrilled to learn that the Guam Academy Charter School Council, headed by Chairwoman Rosa Palomo, recently voted to approve Guam’s first charter school for three more years. Congratulations to Guahan Academy Charter School (GACS)! It is always most difficult to be the first charter school, and they deserve the opportunity to continue to serve their 600 students. I only hope that the 300+ students on their waiting list will also find a charter school home soon.

During my visit, I also shared with the Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce my observations of women as change agents. Chairwoman Rosa, and Chairwoman Fe Valencia-Ovalles of the Guahan Academy Board of Directors are two such change agents, among many others. They are making chartering happen.

In my life experience, I’ve found that the most successful change agents are those who are willing to take an extraordinary stand for change, and who are open to personal growth and generous listening.

Research has shown that women leaders in public service are usually motivated by issues. When women policymakers, for example, are committed to an issue, their authentic and persistent stand for change often win the day. In my own senate experience in the 90s, women senators of both parties worked together to increase investment in early childhood education as crime prevention, as opposed to just locking up more people in prisons. It was a huge sea change for us. What used to be “women’s” issues became everyone’s issues.

Research has also shown that women leaders are open to personal growth. This is not always easy. My first “360 review” by peers and team members as a new nonprofit executive was eye-opening for me, and set me on a personal development  path with coaching to become a better leader and better — more generous — listener.

Successful change agents in chartering and beyond are those who take an extraordinary stand for possibilities they believe in, yet learn through generous listening to value the points of view of others. That’s what I observed during my visit in Guam. It was so rewarding to see the leaders of all three stakeholders–the regulator, legislature, and school board — seek counsel about improving the chartering law and process. Now, they’ve gone beyond counsel. They’ve acted. Together.

Is it a coincidence that all three stakeholders are led by women? Congratulations to all.

(Pictured with me below are: Speaker Judith Won Pat (seated, left of me), Rosa Palomo, Chair, Council (seated, far left), Fe Valencia-Ovalles, Chair, Board of Trustees, Guahan Academy Charter School (standing, left), Senator Tina Rose Muna Barnes (seated, right of me), and students from GACS.)