For my next Women in Action blog, I’m excited to introduce, Lannie Davis, President at Julie Billiart Schools, a school that nurtures and empowers students with special learning needs.
Walk me through the step-by-step process that you went through to get to where you are today. What was the first thing you did? What’s Next?
I started in the classroom as an intervention specialist. At that point, I fell in love with our mission and our philosophies for the school. From there, I obtained my masters from John Carroll in educational administration and became our Assistant Principal and Director of Special Education. As an administrator, I saw a different aspect of the school and really worked with the families and districts to advocate for our kids. After being in that role for three years, the president announced her retirement, and I was asked to be the Vice President for one year with a goal to transition into the President/CEO role upon her retirement.
In my work, mission is central. So step-by-step? Always what is best for the children we serve and how to help more students and families in need. Starting in the classroom as a teacher helps me to keep the focus on the children and their families. I said yes to different opportunities within Julie Billiart Schools because of how each position could positively impact the kids and families. I always wanted to do anything possible to further the mission. Lifelong learning is what we teach, and I am in a position now where I am learning every single day. Scaling our organization in order to serve more kids is dynamic, ever changing and requires me to adapt daily.
Always asking what’s next? What is best for the current and future students and families of Julie Billiart Schools.
What is your biggest goal right now?
For our JB Akron school to launch successfully and give it the foundation it needs for many years to come of serving children in Summit County and beyond.
Can you provide an example of a difficult challenge you’ve faced and how you handled it?
There are challenges and opportunities daily. I think my most recent struggle was having my first baby while expanding our organization. At the same time I had a baby, we opened our first replicated school. The experience of both taught me more than I could ever articulate.
However, we are not very fair to working mothers. We don’t always consider the incredible struggle it is to be a nursing mom who also works or how our world supports or judges these choices. The roles we expect women to fill versus men has to change. We need to start considering all people and those who are parents, not just male versus female. I have certainly been challenged by this balance. I think in the non-profit sector it is even more difficult because you often have limited resources and your work becomes your passion, so it’s hard to ever really disconnect.
I have tried to release any guilt I feel and openly communicate about what I can do, in a small way, to help other working parents in the workplace. I haven’t mastered it or figured it all out yet, but every day I get better at being a flexible, understanding employer and a human being who loves her work and can also love her family.
What action do you want the reader to take after reading this blog post?
If you know someone who struggles in your work place, ask them if there is something you can do differently that may help them. Sometimes simple accommodations or changes can bring about great results for someone else.
And if you know of a family struggling in their current educational environment because of their learning needs, share with them the mission of Julie Billiart Schools.
Women In Action is a series dedicated to telling stories of how women have faced and overcome challenges throughout their career. I’ll be interviewing different women across different career paths, generations and industries to showcase how they’ve achieved their success.