February 13, 2020 Blog, Meet The Fund

Meet Alisha Yadav Berglund

As a manager on the Engagement team, Alisha supports The Fund’s development strategy and is responsible for managing its Principal Quality Community of Practice, which brings together 25 organizations from across the country to advance projects that will strengthen principal leadership in their regions. She’s a native Californian turned true Midwestern enthusiast, as evidenced by her love of Italian beef sandwiches and the Chicago Bears. 

Why is The Fund’s mission important?

Leadership is the single most important aspect of a school building. There are all different types of school leaders, but the most effective ones have the space, resources and time they need to be their best selves. The Fund’s mission is to create the conditions in which leaders are able to do that every single day. At our core, we believe in the importance of enabling educators to lead.

How have you “redefined leadership” in your own life?

I first realized my leadership capabilities – and who I wanted to be as a leader – as a teacher in the classroom. In the three years I taught, I learned a lot about myself in front of a very vulnerable audience of students. It helped me understand what I value most as a leader: meeting people where they are, having high expectations, and maintaining a strong belief system. This work is ongoing!   

Was there an educator in your life who inspired you?

Both my grandfathers were educators. Their individual stories inspired me to pursue this career path: my paternal grandfather participated in the Quit India movement and ultimately went to jail for non-violently marching alongside his peers. When he was released, he found that all his possessions had been auctioned off. He had nothing … except for his education. He became an educator to ensure more people had sustained access to a high-quality education. When I was 21 years old and decided to apply to Teach For America, I thought of his story. That decision was, of course, a turning point for me and put me on the path to where I am today. 

What’s one thing about your role at The Fund that might surprise people?

There are a lot of people in Chicago who believe in the importance of leadership and are willing to invest in it. It is interesting to look at our group of supporters, see such a wide array of experiences, and know that a strong belief in leadership is the tie that brings them all together.