Evelyn Aissa Stepping Down as Executive Director

With a mix of both sadness and considerable gratitude for her leadership, the Reaching Higher NH Board of Directors announces that Evelyn Aissa is stepping down after nearly five years as our Executive Director, effective March 13th, 2020. Evelyn’s leadership has been instrumental in building Reaching Higher NH into the strong and vital organization that it is today. Evelyn’s accomplishments during her tenure are many and include:

  • Putting Reaching Higher on the map of NH in a lasting and powerful way, building us up as an important resource in support of our students and the civic engagement needed to ensure our schools are positioned to help them build their futures; 
  • Recruiting and retaining an exceptional staff team that upholds our organization’s values with integrity and passion;
  • Powerfully increasing philanthropic and contract-based funding in support of our work and mission;
  • Bringing to fruition Reaching Higher’s pivotal and ongoing role in the work of Manchester Proud – a groundbreaking community-driven initiative unlike any other in our country;  
  • Launching the ground-breaking multi-year research initiative, The Whole Picture of Public Education, which aims to deepen our thinking about the external factors that shape the educational experiences of NH’s students; and, 
  • Leaving an essential mark on NH’s education policy landscape through a forward-looking vision of what is possible for NH’s students and schools — and, coupling that vision with vital research and resources in support of addressing the inequitable access to opportunities and supports many NH students navigate.

Evelyn made the decision to step down to begin to pursue her next big professional leap — and bring her professional and family life into greater balance. While the Reaching Higher Board is saddened by her decision, it fully supports her in her future pursuits.

“It has been my particular privilege to work alongside Evelyn.  She has taught me much about leadership, meeting challenges, and unwavering commitment. I respect and applaud her courage in making this decision.  She goes forward with the highest of our regard, the deepest of our gratitude, and the truest of appreciation for her gifts to RHNH,” said Tom Rath, Reaching Higher NH Co-Chair.

To lead the organization through this transition period, Reaching Higher NH will bring on Charlie Toulmin, most recently Policy Director of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, the largest education foundation in New England. Charlie is a highly accomplished K-12 education policy leader who brings 30 years of national and state-level policy work to the position. 

Prior to his near 12 years of leadership at Nellie Mae, Charlie served as a Senior Policy Analyst in the Education Division of the Center for Best Practices at the National Governor’s Association (NGA), leading the Center’s efforts to offer policy recommendations and technical assistance to governors and their staff on how to strengthen science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education for all students as a key component of innovative state economies. Charlie has also held roles including Deputy Director of Charter Schools for the Massachusetts Department of Education and School Finance Analyst for the Wisconsin State Legislature. Charlie holds a B.A. in history from Harvard University, a M.A. in public policy from the University of Michigan, and an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

“We have great confidence in Charlie’s leadership, expertise, and strong commitment to advancing our mission and work. It is a testament to the strength of this organization to have someone of his caliber at the helm during this transition,” said Alan Reische, Co-Chair.

While Charlie guides Reaching Higher NH through this transition period, the Board of Directors will launch a national search for Reaching Higher’s next exceptional leader and looks forward to continuing the organization’s essential work in support of all NH students.