Thirdway Solutions Group

Services

Operation ABAR

Envisioning and defining, in concrete and actionable ways, what it means to be an anti-biased, anti-racist (ABAR) organization, and enacting the hard changes, from people to policies and strategy, to make concrete progress.

ThirdWay was founded with clear ABAR vision and values — and is staffed with a team who has been doing ABAR work throughout their careers across sectors. Companies are under tremendous pressure to ensure their organization is embracing ABAR values internally and throughout their organization, giving way to tremendous opportunity and emotional challenges.


HOW

Our process can be looked at in four phases. During the first phase, we seek to understand the needs of the organization – building context, planning a scope of work and gaining further insight from key stakeholders. Once we have formed an organizational working team and established an agreed upon approach to norming sessions, we begin our norming your team to key definitions (e.g., anti-racism, critical consciousness) and identify challenges and opportunities in your organization. During the third phase of our work, we engage in a qualitative organizational assessment, using our P-Framework to determine what the organization needs to stop, what it needs to start and what it needs to sustain. With the organizational work team, we develop an implementation plan, including pacing out what can be done in the short-term versus the medium- or long-term.

20% Project

Putting the 20% of students, families, employees and/or communities who have been the most marginalized at the core of innovative, cross-functional solutions.

There are all of these programs: PBIS, Restorative Justice, RTI, Trauma-informed. No one is helping you think about how to integrate all of these pieces into a holistic approach that is also unique to the individual school and its context. We can’t just layer on another program. (The 20% Project) is invaluable in helping us figure out how they all work together  in a way that is student-focused and enables schools to achieve their goals for kids.” 

— Marcia Aaron, Executive Director of KIPP SoCal

Schools — and the systems in which they operate — are consistently failing 20% of their most vulnerable students. These “Students who Systems Fail the Most” (SSFMs) have special needs, are court-involved, live well below the poverty level and/or face unthinkable barriers to success. Statistically, they are likely to be students of color.  Too often they are labeled “special populations” and further marginalized out of classrooms and into separate and unequal programs.

Instead of making fundamental changes to the system itself, schools and systems implement siloed solutions that treat students as the problem to be fixed.  But “these students” — a term frequently used to stereotype them — are not the problem. The problem is that systems are consistently failing the 20% of students that need support the most.

At The 20% Project, we believe that if we put the needs of SSFMs at the core of everything we do, we will get not only get radically better results for those students, we will also make the changes necessary for all students to reach a higher level of achievement.

We know from research what it takes to serve all students well. Excellent, high-achieving, high-poverty schools do four things well. Over the past decade, there has been tremendous progress helping schools systems improve on (1) instruction, (2) talent, and (3) operations, but there is a critical “fourth leg of the stool” that is too often underdeveloped or deprioritized.

This missing piece: building purposeful, anti-bias cultures and practices that support healthy identity development, deep relationships, student and family ownership over goals, growth in social and emotional skills, and developmentally appropriate responses to conflicts and incidents.  It is good for all students — and essential to ensure SSFMs thrive.

Today, the field is riddled with research and programmatic solutions such as “trauma-informed education,” “restorative justice” and “anti-bias training” that focus organizations on component inputs without helping schools and their bosses look at the systemic issues that need to change to achieve better equity outcomes. All of these are strong pieces of the solution but not the whole picture.

What’s missing is a holistic approach to building the capacity of systems to serve SSFMs by making large-scale changes to adult mindsets and cultures, policies and practices, and training and capacity building.


How

We engage with clients for 13-24 months, a timeframe that allows us to truly build relationships and make the deep, fundamental system shifts to catalyze long-term change. We are about teaching systems, schools, and their leaders how to fish—not fishing for them. Our process has three components.

Throughout, we are helping systems make six fundamental shifts: (1) from assuming results for the 20% should be a separate, non-urgent to putting their needs at the core of systems design. (2) from ignoring the underlying racism that created the 20% to confronting individual biases and systemic oppression, (3) from trying to change things one teacher or school at a time to a system-wide approach, (4) from admiring the challenges to serving marginalized students to building capacity at every level, (5) from separate and unequal, special “programs” for the 20%  to helping them thrive alongside their peers, and (6) from taking advantage of the fact that many families in the 20% lack political access to putting their progress at the forefront.

Discipline Revolution Project

It’s time to rethink school discipline


We’re building a coalition of education leaders committed to ending the school-to-prison pipeline.

The Discipline Revolution Project, an initiative of ThirdWay Solutions, is a coalition of education leaders and advocates working to radically rethink school culture and decriminalize the way we think about student behavior. We help leaders build physically, psychologically, and emotionally safe cultures, including handling conflict and difference with an anti-biased, anti-racist lens in order to meet audacious goals.

Over the past decade, we have come to know that great schools that get results for all kids — including but not limited to students who have been marginalized — do four things well:

  • Instruction
  • Talent
  • Operations
  • School Culture & Student Supports

While we know that it’s critical to deliver excellence on all four legs of this stool, we have found that the fourth leg of the stool remains unexamined, lagging in innovation and rigorous dialogue. Systems struggle the most at the fourth leg. DRP helps states, districts, CMOs, and schools understand, prioritize, and improve this fourth leg.


DRP is supporting systems leaders, schools, and their partners to become expert at:

  • Conditions: Anti-biased/anti-racist cultures of high support, high expectations to keep kids learning.
  • Capacity: Adult skill and will in actively tearing down policies and practices that cement inequities — including but not limited to how schools handle incidents, struggle, and difference.
  • Care: Student and family supports, including decriminalizing approaches to behavior.

The Case for Action

If we are truly committed to ensuring every single student has every life option they deserve, we cannot turn away from the facts:


Make An Appointment — Bold Women Leading Solutions to Public Problems

We must recruit, appoint, and retain bold, inclusive, and values-driven women to lead public sector agencies so that we are 50% by 2026.  

Cami Anderson, THirdWay Solutions

Summary

We face unprecedented challenges in healthcare, environment, education, economy, and democracy. These problems require investing trillions of public dollars which makes public sector leadership more important than ever.  Experience shows us diverse female leaders are more likely to be bold and bring people together – yet 70% of our appointed public leaders are men.

To overcome the patterns that got us here, we need new solutions and broad public engagement, which means we need more diverse female leaders in senior government leadership. To break through the male dominated appointment process we need support for ready-to-lead women, public accountability to hire them, more urgency to represent women and eliminate bias, and to give women the air cover they need to sustain and succeed. Make an Appointment — is a new organization dedicated to recruiting, appointing, and retaining women to lead public sector agencies

We must harness the power of women to envision new solutions and engage the energy of our diverse communities. Make An Appointment isn’t just about giving more women power for power’s sake. And it is not about just having more women at tables. It is about getting a different kind of leader — leaders focused on inclusion, bold results, and leading with values — driving direly-needed new solutions to critical public problems.


More About Why

State governments spend 1.6 trillion dollars a year, city governments 1.4 trillion, and the feds just earmarked over 4 trillion dollars of spending. The public sector employs over 20 million people and is nearly 15% of all of national jobs. The next president will appoint 4000 people. At the state and local level, power brokers will appoint scores of game changing bosses like Superintendents of Schools, Police Chiefs, Commissioners of Public Health, Heads of Economic Development, Transportation Chiefs, Chief Financial Officers, Deputy Mayors, Chiefs of Staff and more.

Women are 57% of the public sector workforce and comprise only 30% of senior leadership roles. Getting appointed to the front office is a biased, mysterious process and often hinges on a “who you know” boys club. When women do get the job, they are vilified for disrupting the status quo to deliver audacious goals — the characteristic most necessary to succeeding and lauded in their male counterparts.

While several organizations are dedicated to increasing gender and racial equity at power tables in STEM, corporate America, and elected office — all important — none are focused on making sure women are empowered to solve our biggest public problems.


More About How

Make An Appointment will

  • Recruit: identify bold, inclusive, values-based women who are ready-to-lead and help them build the network and skills to manage their public brand, topple barriers, and get the job (research shows women take big roles when people ask them to),
  • Appoint: with a sense of urgency we’ll launch campaigns at selected city, state, and federal agencies to get more women to the top (currently, there are no coordinated efforts to influence the hiring market and hold power-brokers accountable for progress), and
  • Retain: we’ll provide a sisterhood of support and well-coordinated “we have your back” media campaigns to give women the air cover and breathing room to stay and realize big goals (when women lead in public-facing roles they are scrutinized by the media and the public based on double standards and gender stereotypes that make it incredibly difficult to lead).

More About Who

Our founding team — the core staff, the partners, and the planning team — represents the diversity and therefore strength of our country.

Everyone involved in Make An Appointment has been dedicated to actively practicing, learning about, and exemplifying the characteristics of an anti-based, anti-racist (ABAR) leader throughout their career.

ThirdWay Solutions (lead partner) is nationally known for helping clients — leaders at the highest levels of corporate America, government, non-profits, school systems, and philanthropists — build, sustain, and measure the extent to which they are creating ABAR cultures, enabling ABAR leaders, and building ABAR programming.

ThirdWay Solutions

Co-lead by Cami Anderson and April Dinwoodie. Cami has decades of experience as a Chief in the public sector and coaches scores of senior leaders pushing equity and change in government; she also has a track record of results helping organizations scale to become household names.

April Dinwoodie has decades of experience in marketing, media, public relations, and out-of-the box social media campaigns; she led a prominent Child Welfare Research Institute, one of a few women of color who is also an adopted person to do so.

Not only do they have the experience and skill to build Make An Appointment — but also the passion. They both feel they’d have gotten more done and stayed longer in their public roles if they belonged to Make An Appointment.

The How Institute for Society

Builds best-in-class tools and nurtures a culture of moral leadership, principled decision-making, and values-based behavior that enable individuals and institutions to meet the profound social, economic and technological changes of the 21st Century to elevate humanity.

How’s Amy Rosen (planning team members) is a results-driven leader who has extensive experience managing organizations through transformational change. Amy spent nearly two decades in the transportation sector, serving on the board of New Jersey Transit and Board Chair of Amtrak. She served as a presidential appointee for three U.S. Presidents and served as an adviser to several global business leaders. Amy is a pioneer in values-based leadership and coaching: making core values explicit and managing actions and decisions in tight alignment with those values.

SO’B Productions

A multi-platform media production and distribution company dedicated to uncovering stories on race, class, wealth, poverty, and opportunity through personal narratives. Soledad O’Brien is an award-winning journalist, documentarian, news anchor, and producer. Soledad has spent her career championing the stories of marginalized communities, and has been the recipient of three Emmy awards, the George Foster Peabody Award, and the Alfred I. DuPont Award for her reporting work.

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Special Projects

Who

A CEO, board member, or senior advisor of a for-profit, nonprofit, government or philanthropic organization engages TWS to help make progress on projects and coaching that requires the expertise of individuals who have run ABAR organizations and navigated tough ABAR waters.

“The TWS team manage to tell the hard truth in a way we can hear them…the deep stuff and the technical stuff. They are like organizational therapists — the best kind.”

CEO of for-profit company

Why

ThirdWay was founded with clear ABAR vision and values — and is staffed with a team who has been doing ABAR work throughout their careers across sectors. Companies are under tremendous pressure, rightfully so, to ensure their organization is embracing ABAR values internally and throughout their organization, giving way to tremendous opportunity and emotional challenges.


How

TWS supports organizations to define their ABAR vision and operating principles, and pull them through all core elements of their work. Sample clients include:

  • Over the course of 2 years, ThirdWay Solutions has worked with the executive team and other stakeholders of several organizations to (a) identify ABAR core values as operating principles, and (b) coach executive teams to strategize and manage against their core values.
  • TWS is working with a national developer and provider of curriculum to cultivate content that provides educators with high quality (HQ), developmentally appropriate (DA), culturally competent (CC), equity-minded (EM) and educator-supportive (ES) products.

Collective Action

Who

A funder, mayor, systems leader, advocacy group or some other convener engages the TWS team to address a need within one geographic area (district, city or state) to work across agencies or districts to build momentum towards bold solutions.


Why

Toppling systems that have produced inequitable outcomes for decades is an inherently cross-functional, cross-agency, grassroots task. When it comes to how we better serve young people and families who are marginalized, addressing issues of public safety, discipline, and/or building ABAR practices, we must break through silos and past patterns.


How

The TWS team convenes multiple systems leaders and creates a community of practice with the relationships, space, and content to make tangible progress on community-based goals. Sample clients include:

  • The Houston Health Department and My Brother’s Keeper invited 7 districts in Houston to address the social health determinants associated with school discipline through TWS’ “Rethink Discipline Community of Practice.”
  • Stand for Children Memphis brought together district and charter school leadership, student services staff, local funders, advocates and youth sector stakeholders to identify key levers in reforming supports for young people.
  • In Phoenix, TWS worked with charter leaders and district leaders, advocates, students, funders, and law enforcement to engage deeply on the EQUITY framework and create tailored action plans.
  • Raise DC, in the District of Columbia, sought TWS support in designing a framework for how to better serve overaged, undercredited, disconnected youth. The TWS team worked with the district, funders, and the nonprofit sector to create a single, comprehensive plan.

Targeted Systems Support

Who

The superintendent of a school district, charter school CEO, commissioner, or board member engages TWS to solve a particular problem related to equity.

“We started working with TWS because we thought we had a discipline problem, now we know we have a culture problem — and we could not do this work without the TWS team.”

Superintendent

Why

Schools and school systems often perpetuate the same inequities we see in society, specifically:

  • Schools — and the systems in which they operate — are consistently failing 20% of their most vulnerable students. These “Students who Systems Fail the Most” (SSFMs) have special needs, are court-involved, live well below the poverty level and/or face unthinkable barriers to success. Statistically, they are likely to be students of color. Too often they are labeled “special populations” and further marginalized out of classrooms and into separate and unequal programs.
  • Black and brown students as well as students with disabilities are between 3 and 4 times more likely to be suspended than their white peers, often for the same infractions. These students report they feel less seen and heard, and less connected to adults. Over 50% of school-based arrests are of Black students though they make up only 17% of the student population nationwide. Punitive discipline is correlated to poor student outcomes and a life-long connection to a biased justice system.

How

The TWS team helps the leader and their team deeply and accurately diagnose the root cause of the presenting challenge and step out a concrete plan to solve it. Sample clients include:

  • The Los Angeles Unified School District recognized students with disabilities were being segregated from their peers and suffering from poor academic outcomes. Further, the district had been embroiled in a 30-year consent decree related to special education. The TWS team envisioned an entirely new approach to special education and a multi-year plan to get there.
  • The Louisiana Department of Education tapped TWS’ Discipline Revolution Project to pilot a radically different approach to the Alternative Education Pilot Program. The TWS team worked with the state to shift policies and incentives, and with two parishes to put in place on-the-ground pilots.
  • The Discipline Revolution Project: Tangipahoa Parish has partnered with the TWS team over multiple years to completely rethink their approach to equity from top to bottom. The work began as a frank assessment of biased discipline practices and led to a co-constructed blueprint for a pathway to becoming a district that exemplified critical consciousness, equity, and inclusion.

Our Team

ThirdWay convenes and manages teams of experts aligned to the goals of each engagement. Part of our model is to activate leaders within client organizations to meet their goals. This approach keeps TWS staffing and overhead costs low and maximizes the chance that changes continue long after the duration of our work.

Our team (in alphabetical order) includes:


Cami Anderson

Founder and CEO

Cami Anderson is a six-time chief executive of high-profile organizations who has spent more than 25 years leading systems change and supporting high-capacity CEOs and their teams to disrupt the status quo in pursuit of equity. 

Cami has built and led seven teams, including two complete start-ups, two early concept-to-scale builds, two high-profile government turnarounds, and a campaign. Over the past five years, she has coached over 20 C-suite teams across a variety of sectors and around the country, helping elevate both individual and peak performance with an approach that provides technical support through an adaptive growth lens. 

She served as superintendent of schools for nearly 10 years, first in New York City and then in Newark, where she received national attention for improving student outcomes and pushing innovation. She co-founded ROADS, a network of charter high schools and advocates dedicated to court-involved youth. Anderson was executive director of Teach For America New York, chief program officer of New Leaders for New Schools, and issues director for Cory Booker. 

Cami is widely published—from the Wall Street Journal to USA Today—and is a contributor for Forbes where her column, In The Room, spotlights trailblazing female leaders. She’s a member of the Aspen Global Leaders Initiative and served as a scholar in residence at Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. She won the Peter Jennings Award for Civic Leadership, received a national Points of Light award for service and was recognized by Time Magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential people. In 2022, she received a lifetime achievement award from the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change for her leadership in making a more “just, humane, equitable, and peaceful world.”

She is the sister to eleven, a former middle school teacher, a volunteer soccer coach, a Title IX activist, a youth theatre director, an amateur triathlete, and a TEDx speaker. She, her partner, and her son love outdoor adventures, board games, and road trips.


April Dinwoodie

Managing Partner, Corporate Services and New Initiatives

April Dinwoodie is an accomplished corporate marketing and branding professional who turned nationally recognized thought leader on adoption and foster care.  From creating a mentoring program for youth in foster care to

April Dinwoodie is a nationally recognized thought leader on adoption and foster care. From creating a mentoring program for youth in foster care to becoming the CEO of the Donaldson Adoption Institute (DAI), April is fiercely dedicated to creating connections and insisting on a more transparent conversation about healthy identity development, as well as recognizing the power of integrating systems that support children and families. 

During her tenure at DAI, April launched Let’s Adopt Reform, an initiative to spark a national conversation about adoption and foster care that included a Town Hall Tour, a large-scale public opinion survey and a comprehensive qualitative report. For over 15 years her specialized mentoring program, Adoptment, has been creating lifelong bonds with adopted adults and young people in foster care. April is also an accomplished corporate marketing and branding professional who engages audiences and connects with consumers, and has worked with a number of high-profile companies, including Nine West, Kenneth Cole, J.C. Penney and JetBlue. She has brought to life large-scale activations, including the 84th Annual Academy Awards fan experience, a “Joining Forces” event for teens with Michelle Obama and The Ellen Show, as well as the launch of JetBlue’s A321 Aircraft. You can learn more about April’s work at Aprildinwoodie.com.


Jennifer Edmonds

Business Partner

Jen has spent her career supporting education reform leaders and their initiatives—from concept to implementation. She served as a program manager and director of special projects for the largest after-school initiative in the country, The After School Corporation. She was the deputy director of New Leaders for New Schools’ New York City program, where she coached aspiring principal residents in developing partnerships for their schools. She also served as president of the board of trustees for Morningside Montessori School. Jen has a B.F.A. from Clark University and an M.P.A. from New York University. She lives in New York City with her family.

Billy Kearney

Leadership Coach

Billy is an expert educator and change agent in schools. He brings 20 years’ experience to the ThirdWay team, providing executive coaching to principals and their leadership teams in Memphis, Los Angeles, and districts throughout Louisiana. He was the founding executive director at both Teach For America in Atlanta and New Leaders for New Schools in Memphis. For more than a decade, he held leadership positions in D.C. Public Schools, including principal of the Charles Hart Middle School, director of school leadership on the Chancellor’s Transition Team, and deputy chief of innovation. Billy combines his strengths as an effective listener and talent developer with a deep commitment to race and equity, to develop the skill and will of adults working with children.


Ruben Roberts

Leadership Coach

Ruben served as the Executive Director of Community Affairs and Engagement at Newark Public Schools and lauRuben served as the executive director of community affairs and engagement at Newark Public Schools and launched the district’s first Family Support Center. His strong belief in stakeholder engagement and partnership development enabled him to collaborate with elected officials and philanthropic partners. Prior to his work in Newark, Ruben served as a director for several nonprofits, serving as a site-based coordinator for organizations connecting families to schools. During the small-schools movement in New York City, Ruben supported 10 design teams from concept to launch. Ruben continues to add value to conversations while bridging the gap between families and the organizations that impact them.


Kavita Singh

Contributor and Coach

Kavita Singh Gilchrist is a connector and an organizer with 18 years of experience leading teams, designing programs, delivering technology access and training initiatives and facilitating diversity and inclusion efforts. She served as program director at New Visions for Public Schools in New York City, the Marcus Foster Institute in Oakland and at the NYC Department of Education, and was executive director of both the Community Technology Centers’ Network in D.C. and Computers for Youth in New York. Kavita has a B.S. from Drexel University and an M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is an active volunteer and works to build more inclusive communities through diverse books. She lives in Harlem in New York City with her family.


Jared Robinson

Coach

Jared Robinson is an expert in corporate culture and teambuilding. He is a professionally trained improv performer, actor and Division I athlete turned social entrepreneur, event producer, facilitator, and coach. Jared brings insight into organizational and interpersonal dynamics, coaching adults to work across differences – of opinions, race, class and other identities – and to respond to change.  Jared’s professional experiences, facilitating learning for diverse teams from Fortune 500 companies to homeless shelters, has given him unique insight into how to improve the productivity of teams.

Insightful, patient, nuanced and motivating, Jared inspires trust and actively creates safe spaces for adults to engage in difficult conversations, learn new skills, and build cohesive teams. He has lived all over the country – from Akron, Ohio to Harlem, New York. A proud father, he and his partner now reside in Santa Monica, California.

Our Approach