“There’s so much I can say about Verónica. How kind she is, how welcoming she is. How she has this ability to not only light up a room as she walks in but yet still has a way to provide light so everyone lights up with her. She has created a special place in my heart and life that will never be forgotten. She was one of the very few people who not only made me feel seen and heard but also appreciated. What will be missed the most is her warm presence. Her presence provides so much security and comfort to so many. She is hardworking and determined to create the best world we can all live in and that is something that can’t be found everyday. I will never forget the relationship we were able to develop, one that developed my skills and talents but also taught me to stay true to myself. Verónica, te vamos a extrañar, con amor, and all the support in the world.” – Jimena Cristerna, George Washington High School Alumni, Achieve Gala 2019 Keynote Speaker and former DPS Foundation Intern

June 1, 2021

I remember when I started writing this notepad, with the vision to have it be more than a newsletter or an ask to donate. I wanted this notepad to be a space where I could share my thoughts and spark important reflections and conversations about the current happenings within DPS Foundation, DPS and with our students. Now, more than five years later, I reflect on this notepad and on my time spent working alongside my amazing team, board, and donors as we strive towards our shared vision of Every Child Succeeds.

It is bittersweet to announce that this notepad will be my last. I have made the difficult yet exciting decision to leave DPS Foundation on June 30th to assume a new role as Vice President of Institutional Partnerships for Accion Opportunity Fund, a national financial support system for small businesses that advances racial, gender, and economic justice for all.

I have been part of Team DPS for nearly a decade, and Team DPS means so very much to me—my children have walked the school halls, I have worn both the proud DPS parent hat as well as the leadership hat. DPS is mi familia and that won’t change just because I will no longer be sitting in my office at Emily Griffith Campus or attending meetings with dedicated members of the community.

During my time as President & CEO, we have experienced a tsunami of challenges. We have seen two superintendent transitions, the first teacher union strike in decades, a bomb cyclone that forced us to reschedule Achieve Gala 2019, and we weathered the storm the pandemic brought alongside the rest of the world. However, I must say that amidst all the uncertainty, fear, and personal and professional doubts, I also found the most rewarding and purposeful time in my career. This is because I was surrounded by people like you who keep DPS students as our true north.

Looking back at my time here, there are many things I am proud of, first and foremost is our team. We have been intentional to create core values that we can all live by and stand behind, strengthening our bond and team culture. We created the first ever $1 Million Fund that brought together community members and schools to award large grants directly to schools based on school leaders identifying where the greatest impact could be made. We created a new DPS Foundation event, Films for the Future, that is about so much more than just fundraising, it is about “consciousness raising”. Its true essence is about helping to raise awareness on important topics and issues within our community and provides a space to have courageous conversations where we can learn and grow together.

As I prepare to leave this foundation and DPS that have been my home away from home for the past decade, I can smile because I know I am leaving it in incredibly caring and capable hands. Sara Hazel, Vice President of Development, will be stepping into the role of Interim President & CEO as the DPS Foundation Board of Directors manages the search for a new President & CEO. I am grateful to Sara and the team for leaning into this transition and I know that our dedicated community will stand behind them as they always have. We also have an exceptional Board led by Priya Burkett and soon transitioning to Jeanne Saunders. They, along with our Board, will continue to guide the organization to thrive.

Last but not least, this foundation and our students, have our donors who entrust us to “make it happen” for our kids, with commitments that have been real for more than 29 years and will be real for many more years to come.

Thank you for your continued support of our students, educators and community.

Today and always for OUR kids,

Verónica Figoli

Verónica’s impact on students as a whole and individually will not be forgotten:

“Verónica’s presence and genuine desire to support students and give them opportunities for growth has been so crucial to the success of the DPS Foundation. I’ve always looked up to and admired how easy it is for Verónica to connect with people and make them feel included and appreciated. She has been a true mentor to me ever since I joined the DPS Foundation as an intern, and continues to be so supportive of my career’s next steps. I know that wherever she goes next she’ll continue making monumental change in people’s lives.” – Zahra Abdulameer, South High School Alumni and former DPS Foundation Intern