It is with a heavy heart that on behalf of Teaching Matters I write to inform you that Mrs. Elizabeth Rohatyn, Founder and Chairman Emerita of Teaching Matters, passed away over the weekend.
This is an incredibly sad moment for us. Mrs. Rohatyn not only founded and supported Teaching Matters, she was a strong, civic minded, visionary and irreverent woman whose grace led us to great achievements.
Without her, there simply would not be a Teaching Matters today. In our early days, Mrs. Rohatyn was with us often as we visited classrooms, schools, teachers and principals. She met with every chancellor – always making our case. She believed that a nonprofit organization could support teachers to improve education for children.
Well before it became vogue, Mrs. Rohatyn had the foresight to promote equalizing the playing field for urban children by ensuring they had the best prepared teachers possible. She not only provided the startup funding for Teaching Matters but continued her very generous support for over 20 years. Mrs. Rohatyn believed we were to “be of service” to the schools. She advocated for an organization that was outside of the Department of Education, but that could work side-by-side with educators on behalf of children.
In every conversation I had with her, Mrs. Rohatyn focused always on how what we did made a real difference for children.
She was a tough, supportive and consistent mentor. She expected and, in fact, demanded that the organization evolve and get better – never satisfied with the status quo. She took enormous pride watching us grow in relevance and become a highly respected institution that supports the New York City school system, taking on greater challenges and setting our sights higher.
We are very proud to have been associated with this tremendous woman. And we are all, today, beneficiaries of her vision. What was once a concern that kept a civic-minded lady up at night worrying “What will become of our city’s children if we don’t support and prepare their teachers for all that is coming?” is now a viable and thriving organization. Instead of simply talking about the problem, she used her influence to engage others to join her in doing something about it. The belief that we can make a difference in young people’s lives by supporting their teachers is what has brought all of us to Teaching Matters.
What Elizabeth Rohatyn ignited lives on in our work each day… and for that we are so deeply grateful to her.