A Note of Appreciation for Esther Chou

Hi every­one,

By now you may have learned that Esther has decided to pur­sue her pas­sion and head to Cal­i­for­nia, to start an excit­ing new posi­tion with a social enter­prise called Global Cit­i­zen Year.  She is head­ing home and mov­ing up, and while we will all miss her greatly, we’re excited and happy for her as she takes the next step in her career.

Esther served SEI, and all of us, with great pas­sion, com­mit­ment and affec­tion for five years.  She joined us right after her grad­u­a­tion from NU, and achieved so much as we together built SEI.  When Esther started in early 2009, we had lit­tle more than an idea and a hand­ful of stu­dents.  With Esther’s hard work an ded­i­ca­tion, we’ve since grown to more than 500 annual stu­dent class enroll­ments, added new pro­grams, research capa­bil­ity and new fac­ulty. She was instru­men­tal in our abil­ity to build and grow many impor­tant part­ner­ships both in Boston (Cit­i­zen Schools, for exam­ple) and around the world (TSiBA in South Africa and INTEC and Esper­anza in the DR). 

But most impor­tantly, Esther was the day-to-day smil­ing and car­ing face of SEI, always find­ing time to talk with stu­dents and make peo­ple feel not only com­fort­able but also that they mat­tered so much to all of us and our work.  Her abil­ity to con­nect with stu­dents of all types will be dif­fi­cult if not impos­si­ble to repli­cate, and she will be sorely missed by the many hun­dreds of stu­dents that she has touched over these five years. 

We looked all over for a replace­ment for Esther, and found it in her for­mer class­mate, room­mate and friend, Emily Turner.  While no one can really fill Esther’s shoes, Emily is just the per­son to carry Esther’s legacy for­ward, while blaz­ing new trails for us as well.  If you have the chance, please wel­come Emily aboard, after her nearly five years with Root Cap­i­tal (fol­low­ing grad­u­a­tion from NU shortly after Esther).  I know that Emily, as a for­mer stu­dent of ours, will bring a sim­i­lar dose of kind­ness, com­mit­ment and insight that has made SEI a suc­cess­ful ser­vice organization.

Esther is not only going home to her fam­ily and friends in Cal­i­for­nia, but she is also mov­ing up to a lead­er­ship posi­tion in a young, award win­ning orga­ni­za­tion that like SEI serves stu­dents who want to make a dif­fer­ence in the world.  Esther’s gift for work­ing won­ders with stu­dents to help them rec­og­nize that suc­cess is defined not by what you own but who and how well you serve, will help lead her new orga­ni­za­tion to even greater lev­els of impact. 

Please con­sider tak­ing the oppor­tu­nity to thank Esther for her ser­vice, and for the gifts she gave to all of us.

With my best wishes to Esther, Emily and to all of you for 2014 and beyond. 

Den­nis Shaughnessy