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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