Meet

Darcel Sanders,

GO’s Chief Executive Officer

Why I GO

“I GO because I believe that truly equitable educational outcomes will only be achieved when all stakeholders have a seat and a say at the table. As first a student, then a teacher, and now a family member I have seen what is possible when inequitable systems are intentionally interrupted to empower students, their families, and champions– and I’ve seen and experienced what happens when this is not the case. I’m in this work to support the movement of our system to the possible and to ensure that as many people as possible acquire the skills and resources to hold our leaders accountable.”

Get to know Darcel

Darcel at a GO Oakland Garden Party in 2012

From the age of 6, when I declared to my mother that “I want to be a children’s rights attorney because kids have rights too!” I have always sought ways to bring justice and equity to the world and elevate the voices of the next generation. I believe deeply in the future of California and have had many pivotal moments along the way that have inspired me to engage more and more in creating equity in schools.

I remember vividly my high school guidance counselor telling me I wasn’t college material. I was discouraged and started to believe this false narrative about myself. With the support of dedicated educators and my family, I found the confidence to pursue a degree and resolved that no student should ever feel the way I did in high school. While in college, I participated in the Panetta Institute and was selected to intern for Congresswoman Barbara Lee during the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind. That work inspired me to enter the classroom as a middle school teacher hoping to have a direct impact on the lives of our students in California.

I transitioned to the state legislature to focus more deeply on impacting policies in service of kids to ensure that their rights are protected, their voices are heard, and their education is equitable. My family has lived and engaged in education in California for generations and I am proud to continue that legacy as the CEO of GO and an advocate for our students and families across the state.

I was a classroom teacher in Oakland Unified when GO launched. I stayed abreast of its growth and impact for many years, occasionally engaging in coalition-based work at the state level. As the organization evolved, what attracted me to GO were two things:

  1. The centering of parent, family, and champion voice which was so crucial in my own educational journey.
  2. The expansion and inclusion of the Central Valley in GO’s footprint and theory of action.

Too frequently, the Central Valley is overlooked in our state with advocacy work often focused on our largest urban centers. As a Central Valley native, I have dedicated my time and talent to organizations and endeavors that recognize the brilliance and need that exists in the middle of our state as well. By harnessing the power of connecting communities in all of our regions, we can create a synergy that accelerates change. I consider it a privilege to work for an organization that is doing important work in both the Bay Area where I went to college, taught, and spend time with extended family and the Central Valley, the region that I call home.

This last year has presented our country, our communities, our families, our friends, our colleagues, and us as individuals with impossible odds. Through it all, GO has come together to meet the moment and serve families. We have seen communities across our state and our nation rally together to rethink what is possible and demand better outcomes and experiences for our children.

I am excited to accept the role of CEO at a time in our organization where we are innovating and considering big questions that will allow us to broaden our impact even in the midst of so much challenge. Perhaps what excites me most, is leading a team that loves our students so radically that nothing will stand in the way of ensuring that we are collectively doing better by them everyday.

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