Founder and Co-Executive Director to Step Down After 17 Years of Service

The UChicago Network for College Success (NCS) announced that Founder and Co-Executive Director Sarah J. Duncan will be stepping down in June 2023. Sarah has been with NCS for seventeen years, during which she has played a key role in the organization's success in transforming the education landscape of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) as well as the national conversation about educational improvement.
In 2006, Sarah was approached by Professor Melissa Roderick with an idea to bring together high school principals to discuss and respond to the cutting-edge research coming out of the UChicago Consortium on School Research. Under Sarah's leadership, NCS remained dedicated to Melissa's original vision:

The answers are in the field. Build the capacity of the school to lead improvement. Create mechanisms to transfer innovation.

In 2006, the graduation rate in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) was 53%. Sixteen years later, our city’s graduation rate was 84%, with the greatest increases in our least-served student groups - a rarity in education. At the same time, standardized test scores, as well as graduating GPAs, have risen. Sarah expressed her pride and optimism for NCS's continued success, as the organization heads into its new strategic plan with excellent results, a visionary and dedicated team, and continued leadership under Krys Payne.
"It has been an honor and a great joy to lead NCS, and I am grateful for the deep and lasting relationships that have come out of our work together. I have learned and grown so much – from the relationships, the research, the practice in the schools, and especially through the racial equity work we undertake at NCS.” – Sarah J. Duncan
Sarah will stay with NCS through June to ensure a smooth transition, and is looking forward to exploring new opportunities to apply her skills and passion towards addressing the world's problems and working towards racial and social justice. In the near term, she will be consulting with nonprofit organizations in the areas of strategy and leadership development. NCS is deeply grateful for the time, energy, and love Sarah has put into this work, and we are excited for what this next chapter will bring to her.
Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage." – Lao Tzu