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A Special Message from Executive Director, Ella McGill

After a lot of thoughtful consideration, I have determined that it is time for me to step back from my position as Sister Schools’ Executive Director. Recently, my husband Elisha and I were offered positions in Masters programs at the University of Chicago, something we’ve both been planning and anticipating for several years now and we are so excited to begin this new chapter in our life together. Given the physical relocation and time commitment of this opportunity, I know that Sister Schools would be better served to have someone who lives locally and can be more fully engaged in the work needed to keep it running. Thus, I will step into a supporting role, helping with the transition and smaller administrative projects, and we will be hiring a half-time Development Manager to focus on fundraising and building relationships in our local communities.

This has been an incredibly difficult decision considering how Sister Schools has been a part of me for my entire life. I always joke that while I have always been around, I haven’t always been helpful – like the year my friend and I accidently “stole” a few boxes from the container. When I first started at Sister Schools as the Special Projects Coordinator in 2017, I had just graduated from college. I hadn’t found a job yet, so I figured that I would give my dad a hand at Sister Schools while I looked. A year later, I was offered the Executive Director position and I have spent every day since learning and growing as a leader. I wouldn’t change a moment – good or bad, stressful or joyful – that I’ve had had at Sister Schools.

One of the biggest reasons I am able to make this decision now is because I am so confident in Sister Schools’ position, especially with its Board of Directors. I can say with certainty that this is the strongest our Board has been in some years, not just because of the individuals who make up the group, but because I can already see that together they are more than the sum of their parts. In particular, I am so excited to have Becky Jones and Sam Goodman assuming the mantles of Board President & Board Treasurer, respectively. They are both incredible leaders and are passionate about making a difference in children’s lives. I know this team will be stellar ambassadors of our programming, grow our basis of support, and make Sister Schools a viable and sustainable force for good in both Uganda and locally.

I have stayed involved in Sister Schools for so long precisely because I believe in its mission to teach compassion, service, and social responsibility to children and young adults. Not only did I personally experience the life-changing magic of generosity through this program, but I witnessed the impact it had on classmates, friends, and students in local elementary schools. Even through the challenges of the last years, I’ve seen these changes in our local children, from putting on marimba concerts to pumpkin decorating contests.

Last fall, Terry and I gave virtual updates at two of our local partners, Clyde Hill and Laura Ingalls Wilder Elementary Schools talking about what the pandemic has meant for Uganda and how some students didn’t set foot in a classroom for almost two years. In every presentation, students asked: “What more can we do to help?” It has truly been an honor to bear witness to the selflessness and generosity of our children, our communities, and you, our supporters, over my time at Sister Schools. Thank you for what you have done and what you will continue to do in the future.

As I mentioned earlier, you haven’t seen the last of me yet! I will still be around Sister Schools, though I may not be as visible as I have in the past. This is going to be a big transition, not only for me, but for Sister Schools as well. If, like the kids at Clyde Hill and Wilder, you find yourself asking “what more can we do to help?” then consider supporting Sister Schools and our program in one of the following ways:

  • Volunteering at a school pickup or by sorting and packing donations this fall

  • Attending our auction on Saturday, October 22nd at the Museum of Flight or donating an item for auction

  • Continuing to support Sister Schools financially with a gift

Finally, if you or someone you know may be interested in the new Development Manager position, check-out our job listing. I would not be surprised if the next Sister Schools staff member came from our network of supporters! And if you have any questions about the position, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Becky Jones at as she is chairing the search team.

It has been my greatest pleasure to work at Sister Schools these last few years, getting to know and learn from such an incredible network of people. I keep telling myself, its not the end, just a new chapter. Not only for me, but for Sister Schools. I believe this next adventure will be full of new connections, strengthening bonds, and exciting opportunities – for both of us.


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