A Message from Karen Cator - Digital Promise

A Message from Karen Cator

Digital Promise President and CEO Karen Cator speaks at an event.

November 5, 2020 | By


Between the global COVID-19 pandemic and a tumultuous election season in the U.S., I want to first acknowledge how challenging this year has been for so many of us. Educators in particular have carried a heavy load, and it has been our honor at Digital Promise to champion and support the courage and tenacity of teachers and leaders working to bring powerful learning to all students.

Still, the time has come to hand over the reins of Digital Promise to a new CEO. But this is not goodbye.

When I took on this challenge seven and a half years ago, my aim was to build Digital Promise into the powerful influence on our education system that it is today and move on when we were at a high point, giving a new leader the greatest chance of continued success. I am pleased to report that Digital Promise has established an enduring vision and mission, exceptional leaders at all levels of the organization, and funders and partners passionate about our work and generous with their time, ideas, and resources.

The education landscape today is brimming with challenges. At Digital Promise, we have sought to create a space for individuals and teams to bring their best selves to the work of creating opportunities for learning that, above all, advance equity and inclusion. For example:

  • Our networks, including our 264 Verizon Innovative Learning Schools and 114 members of the League of Innovative Schools, keep us closely connected to the realities and perspectives of educators and allow us to work together toward equitable solutions.
  • Our research, from early childhood education to developing mathematics and argumentative writing skills to postsecondary online learning, keeps us seeking evidence that informs continuous improvement.
  • Our development of research-backed resources, from computational thinking pathways, curriculum for challenge based science, and 360° video storytelling, hold promise for the next generation of creative thinkers and innovators.
  • Our support for adults, including teachers and coaches, through micro-credentials and flexible and personalized learning experiences support workforce advancement.

When I joined Digital Promise, I became the fifth team member. Today, Digital Promise is an organization of more than 110 amazing people, each one bringing a unique perspective and diverse talents to the work, enabling powerful cross-cutting ideas and outcomes. I am honored to have had the chance to work with such a creative and dedicated group of people.

But perhaps our greatest achievement has been accelerating the journey towards increased diversity of our team and partners, improving inclusion and empowerment of voices and perspectives that have been for too long unheard, and deepening our commitment to better understanding learner variability, equity, social justice, and the change that can happen when we make learning opportunities available to all. Our Center for Inclusive Innovation is just getting started, but it is an important next step in solidifying our commitment to listening, engaging deeply with the people we serve, and ensuring they have opportunities to participate and lead.

My deepest gratitude is for the generosity of the entire Digital Promise team, including our funders, partners, investors, and collaborators, who have shared time, energy and talent, strategies, and perspectives as well as critical financial resources. These contributions have made us smarter and kept us nimble and responsive.

I have great confidence that Digital Promise will find a strong new leader who will be empowered to continue the work we are doing today, and adapt and expand our work in the future to meet new challenges.

As for me, I am heading to the private sector to continue the goal I have pursued my entire career: delivering on the “digital promise” to create and enhance educational opportunities and advancement for each and every person around the world over the course of their lives. As I embrace my next professional challenge, each of you in the Digital Promise community will stay in my heart and mind, informing my thinking and my actions. You have inspired me and made me a better person.

We will meet again,


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