Name: Maia Akilah Blankenship

Current Role: Executive Director, Achievement Network-DC

Length in Current Role: 3 years

Favorite thing about what I get to do everyday: That I get to set the vision, motivate a talented team and support schools with the challenging task of reaching every student through strong common core aligned instruction.

Spirit Animal: I’m a unicorn! Bold, mystical, free-spirited and fearless.

What’s your superpower: I’m a maximizer so I love moving things from good to great! Excellence, not average, is my measure. Ensuring educational equity and access for students is my professional purpose and doing that with people I love and admire is my passion.

Best lesson learned from a mentor or someone I admire: That I am responsible for my own happiness. No other person can create it.

What I do to make lemonade out of lemons on my toughest days: Bikram yoga and riding my bike are two things that inspire my creative side. I also recognize that we all need do overs sometimes. On the worst days, I go to bed claiming that the next day will be better and start my mornings with a meditation that ends with – and so it is!

What education equity means to me: All of our students have access to the opportunity to thrive and become their best selves through a free public education that nurtures their innate love of learning. Students are constantly surrounded by adults that will affirm and support their social and emotional well-being so that they reach their highest potential.

My favorite thing to do to relax and rejuvenate: I love traveling the world and am obsessed with the Caribbean and several countries in Africa. I can’t wait to plan my trip to Ghana!!!

The practices/habits that help keep me grounded and maintain perspective when I’m feeling stressed, overworked, or unmotivated are:My sister circle and investment in my best physical self. When my physical body feels strong then I cope with stress and setbacks as a part of living and don’t let those things steal my joy.

Who I turn to for advice or guidance when I need career direction: My mother is my biggest life advisor. I also am blessed to have a number of friends and mentors who have known me for ten, 20+ years and aren’t afraid to tell me the truth and provide real-talk.

The advice I’d give to someone trying to find their career sweet spot: Your boss can make a big difference in your job satisfaction. The best managers challenge and affirm and provide experiences that allow you to discover your professional passion. With the right organization and manager you can bring your best authentic self to work and accelerate your professional trajectory.

Learn more about Jacqueline’s work athttp://www.achievementnetwork.org/washingtondc and connect with her at mblankenship@achievementnetwork.org.