Monica Milligan knows firsthand about the powerful impact that one teacher can have on a student.
“My life is an example of what’s possible when the relationship with a teacher creates an opportunity for a student to accelerate her learning,” Milligan said.
Milligan’s experiences as a student inspired her to pursue a career in education, and has led to her becoming the new Executive Director of Gradient Learning after a nationwide search.
Milligan was chosen because of her deep knowledge of Gradient Learning’s program and her unwavering commitment to prepare students with the skills, knowledge, and habits needed to lead fulfilled lives long after they graduate. Milligan joined Gradient Learning as Chief Program Officer in 2021 and has been instrumental in working alongside partner schools to listen continuously to their feedback and iterate the Summit Learning program to better meet their needs.
“I’m thrilled to continue to make an impact at the organization I’ve called home the last two years,” Milligan said. “We’re on a mission to rebuild education and have a meaningful vision, committed partner schools, and talented team to accomplish this.”
As an immigrant student who didn’t speak English, Milligan spent her first two years of school in the U.S. falling behind academically and largely going unnoticed by her teachers. The turning point for Milligan came when her third-grade teacher recruited a local Korean minister to translate for her, including in-home English lessons for her and her family. Reflecting on this experience, Milligan realized having an authentic relationship with a teacher was the key to creating opportunities for students beyond the classroom.
This childhood experience eventually led Milligan to work as a teacher, management consultant, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Program Officer. She has also held leadership roles at TNTP (The New Teacher Project), KIPP Texas, and Chicago Public Schools.
Education is a passion that Milligan also carries into her personal life, serving as a board member and vice president of Park Ridge School District 64, near Chicago. Monica lives in Chicago with her husband and two daughters.
“Congratulations to Monica,” said Sandra Liu Huang, Head of Education at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. “Her experience working hand-in-hand with educators makes her an ideal choice to lead Gradient Learning. I look forward to continuing to work together towards meaningful innovation with students and teachers.”