Board Chair David Ziegert Grateful To Be Part Of Impact On Education’s Evolution
‘We need to be proactive in driving toward change’
By Shay Castle
David Ziegert always intended to be a high school math teacher. But his nighttime job at Celestial Seasonings — taken to pay for classes at the University of Colorado — turned into a career. Ziegert was with the Boulder-based tea company for 22 years, eventually becoming general manager.
Despite the change of course, Ziegert never completely gave up on his first dream.
“When I chose to advance my career at Celestial,” he said, “it was always with the thought that when I turned 50 or 55, I could still be a high school math teacher.”
Though not in the way he expected, Ziegert did find his way back to education. In 2019 — now an operating partner at Boulder-based Sunrise Strategic Partners — he joined the board of Impact on Education.
“It’s been an amazing experience,” he said. “It allows me to feel I’m having an impact in the lives of students.”
At Sunrise, Ziegert helps organizations navigate growth or “evolutions.” That skillset has come in handy during his four years on the board, a time of almost constant adjustment.
His tenure was marked first by the worldwide disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, and then the local devastation of the Marshall Fire. Impact on Education took an active role in both, helping to provide meals, transportation vouchers, child care and internet access as well as mental health and trauma support.
Impact on Education went from an organization that people “had heard of but really didn’t know what they did” to one intimately involved in families’ lives.
“I remember being at the Louisville Street Faire last year and talking to people (who said) ‘You were the ones who helped me when we were displaced by the Marshall Fire, you helped me with transportation because we had to live in Broomfield.’
“It’s amazing to be able to say I was, in a way, part of that.”
He gives most of the credit to Impact on Education’s executive team, and BVSD superintendent Rob Anderson.
“I’m so impressed with the leadership of Dr. Anderson (and) I can’t say enough about Allison (Billings, Impact on Education’s executive director) and the team,” Ziegert said. “The work they do each and every day, being champions and advocates for the kids… It’s very important to me to feel like I’m making a difference. The work I do with Impact on Education scratches that itch for me.”
Ziegert is particularly excited about Impact on Education’s work on mental health, particularly the funding of wellness centers in several schools. The organization will invest $1.2 million of their $2.6 million budget on mental health in the 2023-2024 school year.
“Through my own kids’ experience (of) the hardship that they internalized as part of Marshall Fire, COVID, the current state of the state… I see that need,” he said. “Trying to help my children navigate through challenges of growing up and transitioning into an adult, regardless of how much money I wanted to spend, the mental health resources were not available.
“We’re not going to solve the whole thing, but the work Impact on Education is doing by funding those centers, I truly believe it’s going to have impacts that we will never see or hear or know about to really change the course for an entire generation of students.”
An enduring focus for Ziegert is closing BVSD’s large and persistent achievement gap that COVID exacerbated and exposed. Ziegert believes Impact on Education can play a role in raising awareness, the first step to finding solutions. His time on the board elevated his own awareness, for which he is extremely grateful.
“My work with Impact on Education really opened my eyes to some of the inequities, that not everyone has the same opportunities available to them,” he said. “It’s not enough for me to maintain my status quo: We need to be very proactive in driving toward that change and filling the gaps that lead to inequitable opportunities.
“It’s great hearing perspectives that I wouldn’t necessarily have exposure to. There are pieces that will be part of my thinking going forward.”
BEFORE YOU GO …
Impact on Education is a nonprofit organization, and we depend on our community to help us put our mission into action. We need your help to to provide opportunity and resources to 29,000 students and 4,000 educators in the Boulder Valley School District.