Emmy O’Dwyer is an educator and leader with a passion for social impact organizations that advance equity and innovation for youth. Her teaching career was influenced primarily by her work under with eighth grade students at the renowned New Orleans Charter Middle School. Building curriculum through great literature, the arts and in intensive teaching rotations, it was the highest performing, non-magnet school in the city. Emmy experienced firsthand how collaboration with students around their interests could yield strong outcomes.
After Hurricane Katrina, Emmy’s work shifted to early childhood. With two young children under 5, and 80% of childcare centers closed at the time, the need was critical and personal. With a cadre of like-minded parents, Emmy became the founding executive director of Abeona House, the first new childcare center to reopen after the storm. Inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach, this program redefined quality early childhood education in the city, and quickly became a hub for socially-conscious parents, and intentional and loving teachers from all over the country. Through this experience, and her calling as a parent, Emmy’s advocacy for young children, early childhood teachers, and quality improvement initiatives has been a catalyst for innovation and growth in the sector.
This work gained Emmy recognition with the prestigious W.K.Kellogg Foundation as a Community Leadership Network Fellow. This highly selective three-year fellowship focused on systems change through network building with a focus on racial equity and healing. The experience imbued Emmy with a greater sense of purpose around impacting systems for transformational change.
Emmy now focuses specifically on systems-level strategic planning and change management. She has worked as a consultant and through direct work with charter management organizations, private schools, non-profit organizations, museums, and burgeoning initiatives.