SYCAMORE – The Sycamore Education Foundation has hired a local alumna to be its first executive director, and she said can’t wait to get started.
Lauren Holtz, 31, has Sycamore in her veins. Not only is she from Sycamore, but she went to Sycamore schools and also she plans to send her 10-month old daughter, Kinley, through Sycamore School District 427 once she is old enough.
“I have a passion for education, a passion for Sycamore, and I am really grateful for this opportunity,” Holtz said.
She said with her role as executive director – she is the foundation’s first full-time employee in its 35-year history – that her goal is to raise funds for the organization and to grow its budget so the organization can provide more money for the district. Her last job was as director of marketing and communication for the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce.
The Sycamore Education Foundation – which began in 1984 – is a nonprofit foundation to help Sycamore students. The foundation is located in the District 427 administration building at 245 W. Exchange St.
She plans to bring her passion for the area to call on other alumni to help grow the foundation’s brand because, to her, alumni engagement is important. One way she plans to do that is to let people know what she and the foundation do.
“I want to enhance visibility for the foundation so more people know what we do here,” she said.
The first step is meeting with members of the community and going to each one of the schools and meeting with the principals and introducing herself to the teachers.
Holtz said she wants to get involved with the community through the local chamber of commerce, other community events and by making sure people start to associate the foundation with the district. One way to do that is the district’s upcoming grant night Monday, which lines up with the school district’s next board meeting.
“We’ll be hearing from different groups presenting grant proposals,” she said. “Once we’ve selected those, we want to do a better job of getting the word out there that these are the grants we selected, this is the money we’re pushing out and these are the projects we’re funding here and the innovative ideas we’re able to produce for the schools based on the funding we’re receiving through the foundation.”
Holtz said she can’t share the details of the grants, but once the foundation selects which grants it’s funding, she’ll be able to provide the details.
She said the goal of the foundation is to pull resources from the community to enhance the learning experience of the students.
The foundation didn’t have an executive director before because it didn’t have the funding to have one.
“Lauren brings invaluable experience and will enthusiastically continue our mission,” Laura Gilmore, chairwoman of the foundation board said, according to a news release. “I am confident she is the right person to launch this position.”
Holtz said the board of directors created a “Cultivating the Future,” campaign to raise funds for her salary. The role is not a school district position and the foundation pays her salary. Although Holtz is contracted for the executive director position for one year, the salary has been funded for three years.
“The foundation works to support the school district, but ultimately, I report to my own board of directors,” Holtz said.
She feels positive about the start to her new job, which she began Oct. 9.
“So far, so good,” she said. “I’m getting things in order.”