Announcing our new Co-Executive Directors!

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

From Echo Parenting & Education’s Board of Directors

When Ruth stepped down from her role as the Executive Director of Echo Parenting & Education, we all, board and staff members alike, wondered who could possibly take her place. It seemed an enormous void to fill. In the meanwhile, Louise Godbold and Diana Ayala, became our interim Executive Team and we formed a Transition Committee to search for a new Director.

Sometimes, it takes a while to realize that you have all the riches you need, and in our on-going discussions, it became more than apparent that Diana and Louise were the right people to lead us into the future. As you will read below, their experience speaks for itself. What struck me most in our process of searching was how much we all enjoyed collaborating with Louise and Diana, how inspiring and thoughtful their leadership was. This team is collaborative, emotionally intelligent, able to manage the tension of growth while encouraging the growth of others, and in the truest sense of the word, empathic and kind.  How absolutely right for Echo to be lead by a team that practices what we preach day in and day out, and that is as smart as this team is.

Our entire Board of Directors is proud to introduce our new Executive Directors, Diana Ayala and Louise Godbold. We are confident in our choice, and confident that their leadership will continue to create improvement in the lives of so many families and children.

From Our New Co-Executive Directors

Stepping into shoes as large as Ruth Beaglehole’s was always going to be a tough proposition. We took on the role of Interim Directors when Ruth stepped down as Executive Director last year, and were fortunate to have the luxury of Ruth’s continuing presence (Ruth continues to speak and teach on our behalf) as well as an engaged Board who valiantly supported us through this time of transition.

This intervening year has given us a lot of time to think about the direction we would like to take the agency. Echo, more than most nonprofits, is a collaborative body, and our thinking has been informed by the insights of staff, Board, our allies in the community and of course, Ruth, whose shoulders we stand on in this work.

We also bring our own unique perspectives: Diana is inculcated in the philosophy of nonviolence, having first encountered Ruth as a teenager. She raised her children using the nonviolent parenting approach and has become a true guardian of its values and principles, something that is reflected in the way she has carried out the administrative duties of the agency since its inception. 

Louise’s perspective is informed by years of nonprofit consulting – first as an evaluator, then as a strategic planning consultant. She has worked for a foundation, for government, for UC Berkeley, with service providers and policy advocacy groups… the whole spectrum! Before she moved from Europe to the US, she also worked in investment banking and for a management consultancy firm. It was only when she joined Echo nearly four years ago, that she felt she finally found home. 

So what is the vision resulting from these combined perspectives? We recognize that the world is a different place from when Ruth founded Echo in 1999. Then she was laughed at for her seemingly ‘soft and fuzzy’ approach to parenting – now the laughter has faded in the light of all the scientific discoveries about neurobiology, attachment, child development and trauma that support her approach. These days, there are more and more parenting programs that, if not entirely the same, are incorporating this science and coming up with something that looks very similar to nonviolent parenting. 

Echo is a small organization in comparison to some other nonprofits. We can never compete with the behemoths, nor do we want to become a big parenting machine that measures success by numbers of people served. Our competitive advantage is that we refuse to be competitive. We want to collaborate with the other folk out there who are doing good work.

We believe we can take Echo beyond services to become thought leaders and change agents. We are small enough and nimble enough to quickly embrace the emerging trends and cutting-edge science, and to shape current thinking in social science and the resulting funding strategies, rather than be shaped by them. At the heart of all this, is our conviction that we hold the key to creating a world where children have the right to physical and emotional safety. It doesn’t lie in being trauma-informed, in knowing about attachment or socio-emotional skills – it doesn’t even lie in a commitment not to spank children (although that’s a very good place to start) – it lies in all those things, plus a basic respect for the dignity of any human being, young or old, and the understanding that all behavior is a person’s best attempts to meet basic human needs. That’s nonviolence and that’s the paradigm shift we want to see take root in the systems, institutions and families that make up our society so that our children will inherit a more compassionate and peaceful world.

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