By Sara Hourwitz, Assistant Director of Individual Giving
Earlier this year, Mary’s Center was thrilled to welcome Scott D. Pearson as one of the newest members of our Board of Directors. While Scott may be new to the Board, Mary’s Center is certainly not new to him. As former Executive Director of the DC Public Charter School Board (DC PCSB), Scott worked closely with our partner Briya Public Charter School, as well as with Mary’s Center’s School-Based Mental Health program.
This is Scott’s journey to Mary’s Center.
Scott, who has lived off and on in DC since the 1980s, started his career in business and technology, though his real passion was education. “Throughout my whole career, I’ve always believed in the power of education,” said Scott. “Education is the key to allowing people to realize their potential and allowing our country to thrive.”
Turning his passion into a career
After working as Vice President at American Online (AOL) from 1994-2000, Scott pursued a career in education by growing his involvement in public education and public charter schools. Soon after his career shift, Scott co-founded Leadership Public Schools, a public charter school network in the San Francisco Bay area. In 2009, Scott and his family returned to DC so he could join the Obama Administration as the Department of Education’s Deputy of the Office of Innovation and Improvement, led by Arne Duncan.
Three years later, Scott was hired as the Executive Director of the DC PCSB, which oversees more than 120 DC public charter schools serving over half of the District’s public school student population. In this role, Scott’s deep interest in the well-being of DC families began to grow. During his eight-and-a-half years leading DC PCSB, Scott said, “I became very connected not only with the schools but with the communities in Washington, DC.”
Getting to know Mary’s Center.
During Scott’s time at DC PCSB, he worked with Briya, one of the charter schools in the network. In addition, he served on a commission with Mary’s Center’s Director of School-Based Mental Health, Marisa Parrella, to bring more mental health services into DC public schools. This effort resulted in the creation of DC’s School Behavioral Health Program, through which Mary’s Center now provides mental health services at 26 schools.
Scott found his experience with Briya and Mary’s Center to be very positive and enlightening. “I was so impressed by the quality, dedication, and focus on service that I saw from everyone I encountered at Mary’s Center,” Scott shared.
Joining Mary’s Center’s Board.
Working at DC PCSB, Scott said that he “became more and more aware that addressing families’ needs was interconnected between education, housing, healthcare, and employment. And I really wanted to broaden out beyond education and was looking for the highest quality and highest impact organization I could find.” For Scott, this organization was Mary’s Center.
Although Scott has served on the boards of many nonprofits, this is his first time getting involved with a health care organization. In addition to serving on Mary’s Center’s Board of Directors, he also serves on the board of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and the boards of two organizations that provide low-interest loans to public charter schools.
Helping Mary’s Center’s families move forward.
Joining the Mary’s Center Board of Directors during a pandemic, Scott was aware that part of his role would be working to ensure Mary’s Center meets the needs of our participants as they recover from the hardships brought about by COVID-19. A critical priority that Mary’s Center will continue to address is the mental health challenges affecting our participants, including anxiety, trauma, and depression. Scott, who has always been a champion of mental health support, shared that Mary’s Center providers will continue to stand with our participants as we help them adjust to a post-pandemic world.
Mary’s Center is extremely grateful to Scott for his expertise and talent that he brings to our Board to help further the organization’s mission and impact. We appreciate his leadership and volunteerism in his role as a board member.