Paideia Institute Names Interim Chief Operating Officer To Oversee Operational Improvement Effort
Mandate To Enhance Cultural Transparency and Discipline
Search Launched for Permanent Position
The Paideia Institute for Humanistic Study has named an Interim Chief Operating Officer to oversee a number of operational improvement initiatives focused on hiring practices, compensation structures, diversity and inclusion, and governance.
Paideia’s Board of Directors said Henrietta Hakes will assume the Interim COO role immediately and report directly to the Board. Ms. Hakes has been a development officer at Paideia since September 2018.
“Henrietta brings a fresh set of eyes and skills to our operational challenges and we are delighted she has agreed to step up on an interim basis as our agent of change,” said Hunter Rawlings, the Paideia Board Chairman. “Her appointment reflects our organization’s acknowledgement that we have made missteps as we have grown and our commitment to creating a culture that aligns more closely with the mission of Paideia, which has engaged thousands of students across a broad spectrum in the world of classical studies.”
Mr. Rawlings said the Board also agreed to begin a search for a full-time COO “to ensure our organization makes operational accountability an ongoing priority in our culture.”
Before joining the Paideia Institute, Ms. Hakes worked as an assistant curator at the Musée d’Art Classique de Mougins in France and in finance in the United States. She holds a B.A. in Ancient Greek from Swarthmore College and a M.St. in Classical Archaeology from Oxford University.
“The commitment to improve the way we do things is an important step for Paideia and I am excited to continue our efforts,” Ms. Hakes said. “I look forward to helping us move beyond the challenges we have faced, and to creating an open and empowering culture that can guide our organization into its second decade.”
Among Ms. Hakes’ priorities are to increase transparency around hiring, training and compensation; to expand diversity and inclusion training programs, and to improve governance and compliance. A first step will be to conduct a “listening tour” to elicit input from key stakeholders. She plans to report quarterly on progress against the improvement effort’s objectives.
Ms. Hakes said she will also evaluate and report on the operational improvement initiatives already undertaken by Paideia, among them:
- The implementation of a policy requiring all staff and contractors to participate in diversity and inclusivity training along with the existing mandatory companywide sexual harassment training. Ms. Hakes said these programs will be expanded and enhanced with ongoing online training.
- The formation of a new Human Resources Committee to oversee the drafting of new Employee Handbook and Code of Conduct, with explicit attention to the prevention of harassment and discrimination in order to ensure employees’ security and safety.
- Enhanced leadership training, with particular focus on best practices in diversity and inclusivity.
- Improved hiring practices, including the hiring and promotion of more women and under-represented minority candidates to management positions, the Board and part-time staff.
- Incorporation of language into all vendor contracts outlining expectations for their behavior toward Paideia staff.
- Revamping all promotional materials to ensure they more accurately reflect the diversity of Paideia’s students and staff.
- Introducing quarterly overview and feedback sessions for contractors to provide more input into strategic and programming decisions.
“Our progress to date in these important areas underscores our commitment to making Paideia a better place to work,” Ms. Hakes said. “There is much more work to do, but there is an institutional will to create a culture of which we can all be proud.”