Farewell From Our Executive Director
By Ashley Johnson, PhD
Dear Friends and College Access Champions, It is truly bittersweet to share with you that I am transitioning out of my role as Executive Director of the Detroit College Access Network (DCAN) and the Director of the Detroit Promise in June to join the Kresge Foundation as a Program Officer on the national education team. My last day with DCAN will be on Friday, June 4th. Serving as the founding Executive Director of DCAN since 2013 has been a great honor and privilege. The work of DCAN and the Promise is not only a job for me, but truly my passion and a labor of love! My years here have been some of the best of my life. I will miss my job and the incredible people I have had the pleasure of working with throughout the years, especially all of you! I would be remiss if I did not thank all the earlier leaders and supporters of DCAN, in particular Armen Hratchian, Dan Varner, Maria Montoya and the whole Excellent Schools Detroit team, Brandy Johnson and Sarah Anthony and the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) team, Greg Handel, Stacy Boone, Brooke Franklin, and the Detroit Regional Chamber & Detroit Promise team, Orma Smith, Barbara K. Smith, Jordan Brett, Nicole Carter and the Detroit Public Schools Community District team, and Tamalon Meeks, Ashley Aidenbaum, and the Skillman Foundation team. These people and organizations worked diligently with me in the early days to create the foundation for what today is known as DCAN. I cannot thank them enough for their support, guidance, and coaching; without them there would be no DCAN! Thank you for all of the support, opportunities, and experiences you have provided me during my time with DCAN and the Promise. You are the best partners and friends an organization could ever have. With your partnership and support, we have accomplished the following during the last eight years:
Created a nationally recognized FAFSA completion campaign that has supported over 17,000 students in Detroit and has been replicated all over the nation
Hosted the amazing Michelle Obama for our 2015 Detroit College Signing Day event
With our support, students at partner schools have been able to complete over 23,000 college applications
Ensured that every high school in Detroit has a full-time college and career counselor or adviser who has access to high quality training in College and Career Readiness
Raised over 3.5 million in funding and increased DCAN’s annual operating income from $15,000 to over $850,000.
Established DCAN as a national best practice and intermediary infrastructure model
In partnership with Patrick Cooney and Michigan Future Schools, created a free, open source college matching tool built specifically for Detroit students
Created a stronger college-going culture in the city of Detroit
Expanded Detroit College Day to reach over 700 students annually
Launched the College Bound Fellows program providing over $74,000 in grants to 14 schools during the last two years
Expanded professional development opportunities to support out-of-school partners with creating stronger college-going cultures
Supported over 3,000 students with access to high-quality SAT Prep through College Spring and out-of-school courses
Launched a citywide student college ambassador program, parent conference, and student led advocacy week
I appreciate your partnership with DCAN and the dedication that you have provided to students and families over the years to make a college degree a reality for them! Together we have changed lives and family trees, one young person and family at a time. Although I am transitioning, you still have access to one of the best leadership teams and staff to continue this important work of supporting you with creating stronger college-going cultures in your schools, organizations, and communities. I am delighted to announce that Onjila Odeneal, whom many of you know well, will serve as the interim Executive Director of DCAN, effective June 1st. She will report to the DCAN Leadership Team.
The Leadership team is made up of the following organizations and people.
You also have support of the talented DCAN staff listed below with each bucket of work they are leading. While I am sad to close the door on this chapter of my career, I couldn’t be more excited for the next phase. I’m looking forward to furthering my skills and exploring new opportunities in philanthropy and cannot wait to see what the future has in store for me.
Again, thank you so much for your support and partnership over the years. It has been my privilege to work with and for you all. Thanks for being a part of making my time here so rewarding. This is not goodbye, but see you soon. Please stay in touch, my personal email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ashley Johnson, PhD