CEO Warren Morgan: I do this for kids like me
The Track & Field relay race metaphor has rarely been more visually appropriate than it was the morning of Tuesday, May 9th at Garrett Morgan High School Campus.
Standing before a podium in the school’s Media Center, outgoing CMSD CEO Eric S. Gordon reached into a bag to retrieve a racing baton and then called incoming CEO Dr. Warren G. Morgan to the podium.
Eric S. Gordon handing Dr. Warren Morgan a baton
It was time for the symbolic exchange in leadership. Mr. Gordon first referenced the relay exchange in his State of the Schools address in 2022. Now it was coming to fruition at a press conference attended by Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb, CMSD Board Chair Anne Bingham and Vice Chair Robert Heard Sr., along with other City of Cleveland and CMSD executives.
(L-R) Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb, Dr. Warren Morgan and Eric Gordon
CEO Gordon handed the baton to Dr. Morgan and then the two leaders warmly embraced as the room erupted into applause. It was a simple gesture but meaningful. CMSD’s new leader had been publicly revealed.
His appointment as CEO represents a homecoming for Dr. Warren G. Morgan, who has recently served as Chief Academic Officer for Indianapolis Public Schools. But from 2014 to 2016, before he won a prestigious White House Fellowship with the U.S. Department of Education, Dr. Morgan worked at CMSD as a network leader of the Investment Phase 2 schools.
“It’s good to be home,” Dr. Warren told the assembled audience that was filled with education leaders, some of whom he worked with during his early stint at CMSD.
“I am extremely humbled, honored, but above all, just extremely grateful,” the new CEO said.
After reiterating a pledge that he publicly made to students and parents to spend his first 100 days on the job listening and learning, Dr. Morgan then shared a private story that speaks volumes to his motivation to lead an urban education center like Cleveland.
At the end of his junior year in high school, Dr. Morgan’s family home was destroyed in a fire. Everything was lost. He spent his senior year living out of a hotel with his family. He recalls the dire situation as being akin to homelessness. When he went off to school at Butler University, he struggled early on to find a sense of connection and belonging. There weren’t many students of color and at least one professor expressed doubt in Morgan’s ability to succeed.
But he found a way to persevere and to succeed. He has never looked back.
“There are some kids here in Cleveland that feel a sense of connection and belonging at school. But I know there are far too many kids, like I was, who are facing personal challenges at home and feel ostracized at school,” said Morgan.
“If we do not provide a high-quality education and ensure that our students feel safe, seen, heard, and valued, we will lose them. I do this work for kids like me,” the incoming CEO said as he wrapped up his first press conference introduction.
Dr. Morgan will start at CMSD in July.