Christina Lambert is completing her first year as president and CEO of the Education Foundation, which partners with the Palm Beach County School District, businesses and the philanthropic communities to fund programs “that create positive, measurable change for students.”
In the past year, the foundation raised $1 million for these programs, including efforts in providing “out of the ordinary, real-life” academic experiences and opportunities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math — STEM — through robotics engineering, 16 medical academies, and training for teaching professionals.
The goal going forward? “Given the size of our School District, philanthropic community and dedicated business leaders, we have no doubt that this foundation can raise closer to $10 million for our students in the very near future,” she said.
A key goal, she adds, is the mission of Red Apple Supplies. This a new, free school supply store that provides a way to transfer donated supplies to Title 1 teachers for use in their classrooms. Red Apple would provide teachers with free school supplies all year.
But on the immediate horizon is this coming weekend’s Apple Cheek Campaign, which starts on Friday through Valentine’s Day weekend.
Name: Christina Lambert
Hometown: Grew up on the Space Coast.
About the your company: The Education Foundation is the community leader and voice for excellence in Palm Beach County’s public schools. We believe our schoolchildren deserve the very best education we can give them. In fact, we believe our children can lead the nation in academic performance. We serve as a strategic partner with the School District, businesses and the philanthropic communities to fund programs that create positive, measurable change for our students.
This year, we’re providing over $1 million in funding that will impact nearly 50,000 students through programming that strengthens literacy, STEM education and graduation improvement. We also support top-notch career education and technology, teacher training and student mentoring programs.
First paying job and what you learned from it: I’m not sure if this was a job, but my mom used to pay me 50 cents for each motivational audio cassette I’d listen to. My mom always encouraged me to see the positive side of any situation. After that, my first “real” job was as a waitress at a small family-owned restaurant. I was often the only waitress during a shift and learned to juggle many different tasks, customer service and thinking on my feet
First break in the business: I’ve always had great mentors. While at the American Cancer Society, my first boss always encouraged me to reach higher. She was the one who encouraged me to apply for a state-level position as the Florida Balls & Galas director where I managed all the staff, donor cultivation and event logistics for over 50 galas. I was constantly on the road and visited Palm Beach County quite often.
How your business has changed: It’s an exciting and scary time for education. With a global population that is growing exponentially, we need to prepare our students today for jobs that don’t even exist yet. Studies show that the technology students learn today will be outdated in two years of learning it. Education institutions need to adapt to this new fast-paced technology-rich environment for our students to succeed.
Best business book/smartphone app: That’s such a hard question — I enjoy a lot of business, leadership and motivational authors. However my “go-to” source lately is my TED Talks app. Whether I’m stuck in traffic, waiting in a long line or searching for new inspiration, the TED Talks provide a great variety of accomplished authors speaking on a variety of topics.
Best piece of business advice you ever received: Gratitude can transform your life.
What you tell young people about your business: I always tell them that I had ZERO intention of working in a nonprofit organization. In fact, I recall many friends at University of Florida studying nonprofit management and I specifically steered the other way. However, now I feel like I owe my success to the nature of nonprofit organizations. Nonprofits often need individuals who can manage a multitude of tasks, and I love that days are never the same!
What do you see ahead for Palm Beach County? We are going to be known around the state and around the nation for the quality and opportunities offered to students in Palm Beach County. (Superintendent Robert) Avossa has earned the highest respect from educators around the nation, and his commitment to Palm Beach County is clear, motivating and inspires us to pursue that goal of excellence. I know we can get there.
Power lunch spot: I’m a morning person — so I prefer a good power breakfast and you can’t beat Nick’s Diner. They are fast, have great food, and I often run into many other business and community leaders who I need to catch up with.
Where we’d find you when you’re not at the office: On my road bike. We’re always training for the next triathlon or charity ride.
What is the most important trait you look for when hiring? Drive. It combines passion of purpose and personal energy. It gets things done.
If you go …
The Apple Cheek Campaign starts on Friday through Valentine’s Day weekend. It culminates with a Champagne Brunch at Palm Beach International Polo on Sunday. The fundraiser and friend-raiser for the foundation will take place 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. For information, visit www.InternationalPoloClub.ticketleap.com