The Ashland Schools Foundation has been on a summer long search to find their next Executive Director as the current director, Susan Bacon, is retiring at the end of 2021. On October 19, 2021, the search ended as they selected local non-profit leader Erica Thompson as their next Executive Director.
The Ashland Schools Foundation was established in 1989, a year before Measure 5, which reduced Oregon property taxes. Throughout the 1980’s, the Ashland School Board members were worried about the possibilities of riots and a statewide revolt that could have an effect on public education. With the creation of the Ashland Schools Foundation, the Ashland School Board was able to come up with a solution. The Ashland Schools Foundation does not replace tax support, but instead supplements government-mandated and publicly funded education. After the passage of Measure 5, the Ashland Schools Foundation raised about $50,000 to ensure the continuation of educational and extracurricular activities throughout the district.
In 33 years of activity, the Ashland Schools Foundation has only had 3 Executive Directors; Erica Thompson will be working with the former Executive Director through the end of 2021 for a seamless transition. Although the search has ended, Susan Bacon, who led the foundation for 19 years, will not be handing over the position officially until January 1, 2022. The board is thankful for her many years of service to the foundation and commitment to the community, and wishes her the best in her retirement.
When the search began, Erica Thompson’s name quickly rose to the top of the list. John Williams, treasurer and search committee chair of the Ashland Schools Foundation stated it was because of Thompsons “enthusiasm, nonprofit operational knowledge, and existing work in Ashland”.
Erica Thompson has had a long history of non-profit work in the education system since before she moved to Ashland in 2017. When she was still in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Thompson started her education-focused work as an after school filmmaking workshop facilitator. Since then, she’s held many roles in non-profit events that focused on education, most recently being the Executive Director of the Ashland Independent Film Festival. Thompson has been actively involved in the community because she saw how vibrant it is since moving to Ashland in 2017. After receiving the job, Thompson stated, “I’m honored to have the opportunity to serve Ashland Public Schools through the Foundation by carrying out the mission of fundraising to support quality education in our public schools.”
Thompson will be starting her work at the Foundation’s busiest time of the year. With the planning of both in person and virtual events, she will have her hands full. However, there is no doubt she will do great things. Congratulations to Erica Thompson on becoming the next Executive Director of the Ashland Schools Foundation!