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Honoree Headshot

Alicia Winckler

Chief Executive Officer
The Golden Apple Foundation for Excellence in Teaching

Location: Cook County
Year Founded: 1985
Industry Group Specific: Education

Presented by:

Growing up with a mother who spent her entire career teaching early elementary students with special needs and a father who was involved with social work, Alicia Winckler longed for an opportunity to put her skills and experience to use in a high-impact way.

After a successful early career in the private sector leading talent, organization effectiveness and change management for large-scale organizations domestically and in Western Europe, Winckler joined The Golden Apple Foundation in 2014 where she currently serves as the CEO.

The Golden Apple Foundation operates a 501(c)3 with a focus on recruiting, preparing, supporting and retaining the next generations of teachers at-scale, where they are needed the most. The organization does this via the Golden Apple Scholars Program and the Golden Apple Accelerators program.

The board of The Golden Apple Foundation saw an opportunity to pair Winckler’s background to build a sustainable infrastructure for its success long-term. Today, the organization operates across two states, has doubled the revenue and quadrupled the number of teachers who are staying in teaching and making a meaningful difference as a high-impact solution with regard to the quality of teachers and the teacher shortage.

“My background and experience was an asset from the perspective of knowing how to create a culture with the level of standards and expectations and support that would undoubtedly help students achieve their full potential and in communities where teachers are desperately needed and really do change lives,” said Winckler. “Outside of parents, teachers have among the highest power to transform lives.”

Under Winckler’s leadership, the foundation has diversified revenue sources to include five to six times the amount of philanthropic support and has doubled the funding support from the state government to over $15 million annually while accessing nearly $8 million in multi-year federal funding. In addition, Winckler has led efforts to evaluate the brand awareness campaign, launched a new program for aspiring career changes and launched a robust ‘fee for services’ model that now has more than 40 contract partners.

Winckler said she finds it easy to reignite her passion in her current role. “That’s easy – I just step into a school and listen to and observe the preK-12 students,” she said. “They are authentically inspiring and even more so when you get a glimpse into many of the challenges within the context from which they come – and overcome – to demonstrate their potential and reach for their dreams.”

For her ability to impact the lives of aspiring teachers and students in their classrooms, Winckler has been named a titan.

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I think that it is the combination of a few things that I would attribute as my superpower - the ability to empathize quickly with others and demonstrate care, combined with a penchant to tell the truth while solving difficult and complex problems, and a persistent and almost insatiable appetite to continuously improve, evolve, and do better.

What is Your Superpower?

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