by kari dequine Harden
New Orleans bureau
January 23, 2013
New Orleans — As Erika McConduit assumes her new position as interim president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater New Orleans, she says education is a particular passion of hers.
“We support quality schools,” McConduit said. “We are not here to endorse any school model — parents need to have good choices and schools they can trust,” she said.
The former president, Nolan Rollins, was selected to be the leader of the Los Angeles affiliate of the National Urban League.
McConduit was born in New Orleans and attended Ursuline Academy before receiving her undergraduate degree from Howard University and her law degree from Loyola University.
She worked in New York City in communications, as the chief operating officer for the YWCA, and as a professor. But following Hurricane Katrina, “I felt like for all the good work I was doing in New York, I needed and wanted to be doing it at home,” she said.
In the fall of 2008, McConduit returned to New Orleans and began working for the Urban League as well as teaching law as an adjunct professor at Dillard University.
“Continuity for this trusted institution is necessary for clients, community and partners; Erika is uniquely qualified to ensure our continued growth and impact as a movement,” Rollins said in a news release.
McConduit said that her promotion comes at an exciting time in education, with a chance to make decisions based on real data compiled over the past seven years since the Recovery School District took over New Orleans’ failing schools. She said she looks forward to continue working as a bridge-builder between families and schools and their varying governing boards.
Promoting parent engagement is also a priority, McConduit said. With so many schools going thorough changes, McConduit said she finds that many parents are exhausted and often feel discouraged that the decisions have been made without giving them an opportunity to be more engaged.
The role of the Urban League is also to provide resources for the most underserved and to address what happens to the students who fall through the cracks in the rapidly changing educational landscape, McConduit said. McConduit plans to concentrate on are economic development and workforce development. She said she wants to see more connections between investments in education and the needs of the workforce.
“We have to figure out how to be more strategic in what is offered in schools and create greater alignment with businesses,” McConduit said.
McConduit will co-lead the organization with Rollins during the transition period before taking full leadership in February.
“Throughout the city we will continue to be a force to bring about positive change for the families we serve,” McConduit said.