Founded by Janet McGarvey in the early aughts as the Bay Area Teacher Development Collaborative with 58 Bay Area independent schools, the organization has expanded to Southern California and Central California and now boasts 140 member schools. Over the years CATDC has seen many changes, yet our transformational approach to professional development remains steady: whether you are a classroom teacher, an aspiring leader, or an experienced administrator, our programs provide you with the opportunity to develop to your full capacity and build sustaining relationships with peers from other schools.
To celebrate this milestone we will be publishing 20 Years, 20 Stories throughout 2021. We are thrilled to kick-off this series with longtime independent school educator, leader, and engaged CATDC participant, Dana Goldberg Ganes. Dana exemplifies the kind of lifelong learner at the heart of CATDC.
Dana Goldberg Ganes
Dana Goldberg Ganes has over 20 years experience working in independent schools in the Bay Area. She has taught, advised, coached, served as Director of Admission, Lower School Head, and currently Assistant Head of School. Early in her career, Dana was elected by her peers to the Bay Area Director of Admissions (BADA) Board - a consortium of local, independent elementary school Admission Directors. As Chair of the Policy & Guidance Committee, she ensured that each school upheld Best Practices in its admission processes. Dana is passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives as well as social-emotional learning within curriculum. She is known for her warm, friendly and professional demeanor as well as her outstanding work ethic and integrity. Dana earned her BA in American Studies from Occidental College and her MA in Education Organization & Leadership from the University of San Francisco.
Dana grew up in the Bay Area attending Katherine Delmar Burke School and Lick-Wilmerding High School, returning to Lick for her first job out of college as their Admissions Associate, student advisor, and girls’ volleyball and basketball coach. She has served at many other CATDC member schools, including: Jewish Community High School of the Bay, The Carey School, Marin Preparatory School/Spanish Infusión School, and currently Kids Connection School as their Assistant Head.
Dana’s strong belief in learning in community resonates deeply with the CATDC Mission. “Learning in community holds me accountable for showing up and, beyond that, affords the time to connect with colleagues at other schools who may be doing the same work but in a slightly different manner,” Dana said. “Sharing stories of successes, challenges and areas of self-growth with others helps me stretch my mind and discover new strategies for executing practices. We do not need to feel isolated in the work we do. Knowing that my concerns are not necessarily unique to my school or me is reassuring and provides motivation to make genuine connections within my larger learning community.”
We are grateful to be able to share more of Dana’s story.
What does leadership mean to you?
A thoughtful leader, committed to stretching herself and growing the leadership capacity in her own school communities, Dana has participated in almost every Women + Leadership Conference and has been a steady figure in our ongoing program, Experienced Administrators. She had this to say about her repeat participation: “I know I can join an “Experienced Administrators” group a second or third year in a row and have a different experience, because either the facilitator is different, or they have a fresh vision for the group, or the cohort is new.” CATDC programs are tailored to the needs of our members and many times to the particular needs of a newly formed cohort.
How has CATDC impacted your professional journey?
Leadership comes with a responsibility to create a trusting environment where you can agree and disagree with others and, in doing so, build a culture of transparency, partnership, courage, resilience and results. Schools are relationship based organizations. How we talk to each other, listen, work together and create community matters. A lot. I believe leadership means taking responsibility to create an environment where colleagues will appropriately challenge, care for, support, hear, celebrate, stretch and inspire other community members to follow suit.
How has your learning through CATDC impacted student learning?
I value multiple perspectives; whenever I have the opportunity to learn from others, I believe my own thinking will be enriched. Learning in community holds me accountable for showing up and, beyond that, affords the time to connect with colleagues at other schools who may be doing the same work but in a slightly different manner. Sharing stories of successes, challenges and areas of self-growth with others helps me stretch my mind and discover new strategies for executing practices. We do not need to feel isolated in the work we do. Knowing that my concerns are not necessarily unique to my school or me is reassuring and provides motivation to make genuine connections within my larger learning community.
What does learning in community: across schools and roles, mean to you?
CATDC was my first professional development experience many years ago. As a young administrator yearning for growth I joined an “Experienced Administrators” group. The more I participated in CATDC opportunities the more familiar faces I would see and life-long friends I would make. It is such a gift to be able to pick up the phone or send a quick email to a friend at another school to pose an idea or ask a question, in confidence. CATDC allows me to press the reset button, renew and recharge. I enjoy bringing my take-aways back to campus and presenting to my Admin Team and faculty. To this day, CATDC is the organization I most trust to keep me engaged with our local independent school community and participate in discourse about best practices and new trends.
As a result of my CATDC participation, I have successfully introduced teachers to new ways of thinking about, planning, assessing and presenting lessons to their students. Ultimately, I try to ensure that every decision I make and every consideration I ponder is student-centered. If I can bring one fresh idea from my CATDC learnings that a teacher can successfully try on, manipulate, refresh and implement then I can feel good about my small role in influencing student learning.
Anything else you would like to share?
Over the years, CATDC has proven to be an agile organization that appropriately adapts to the changing times.The depth and breadth of the programs in which I have participated has been incredibly varied and truly reshaped how I enter into a conversation with a colleague; the way I prepare for a faculty meeting; my thinking around why inclusivity of all learners and community members matters; and how I can continue to grow personally and professionally.
Sharing stories of successes, challenges and areas of self-growth with others helps me stretch my mind and discover new strategies for executing practices. We do not need to feel isolated in the work we do. Knowing that my concerns are not necessarily unique to my school or me is reassuring and provides motivation to make genuine connections within my larger learning community.
Dana’s sentiments speak so beautifully to why CATDC exists and will continue to evolve. Founding Executive Director, Janet McGarvey, used to say often, “we are better together,” and this continues to be true 20 years later. We look forward to many more years learning alongside Dana, and invite you to reflect on your own leadership journey. Thank you for helping us celebrate 20 years!
*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.