Maya Martin Cadogan
Founder & Executive Director
Parents Amplifying Voices in Education (PAVE)
Maya founded PAVE in 2016 with the vision of creating a way to ensure that parent voices, particularly those in more marginalized communities, are able to influence local policymakers by sharing the issues that matter most to them. As the ED, she has grown the organization from a 1-person team with a budget of $50,000 to a 13-person team with an annual budget of nearly $2.5 million. PAVE has also grown in its reach and impact while staying true to its mission of uplifting and empowering parents as key stakeholders in the education of their children.
Tell us about your leadership style and how this contributes to your organization’s success.
I believe that the most important thing I can do as a leader is to create the space for my team to learn, grow, own their work, and lead their teams equitably. I pride myself on being a leader who does not just focus on management but prioritizes modeling and coaching.
At PAVE, managers and staff check in weekly in 1:1 meetings and we focus those meetings as times for staff to get the support that they need from their managers, not vice-versa. Staff lead those meetings and put together their own agendas versus those agendas being driven by managers. We also do quarterly evaluation cycles, starting after your first 90 days, where staff identify their progress toward their goals and reflect on how they are doing on the essential areas of success that we identified as an organization. I have watched too many organizations where evaluations are only done once per year and are focused on the manager’s feedback versus a conversation led by the staff member about expectations and performance that assumes growth is always possible and allows the staff member to ask the manager for what they need to be successful. We also have regular conversations about race and equity and constantly ask ourselves in everything we do how we are challenging our own assumptions and breaking cycles of inequity in our city.
In my vision for leadership, I will have been successful when I see that the team members that have worked at PAVE have (1) seen growth within the organization, (2) feel pride in their work, (3) have maximized their unique talents and skills, (4) embed equity into all of their work, (5) see work as a place of constant learning, and (6) are confident about their own professional futures. When those six things are true, your staff will be able to accomplish things that they – and you – never could have imagined and that’s what we’ve seen at PAVE.
What advice would you offer for other nonprofit leaders?
As a leader, you are never going to get it 100% right. But you can still lead your team successfully by being 100% open to growth and change for yourself and always being 100% down to do whatever it takes to support your team. Leaders are not perfect and we have areas that we need to adapt and improve in order to best support and develop our staff and team. We work with parent leaders in DC and so sometimes, I think of it like being a parent – don’t make your team what you want them to be; learn who they are, support them where they are, and develop them to achieve what they want professionally.
What does this award mean for you and your organization?
PAVE is a young organization – I founded it with our first parent leaders in April 2016 and we added staff in January 2017 – so to even be nominated for the EXCEL award in our first four years is an honor and a testament to what we’ve built that will last long beyond my leadership.