At 33, Katey McGrath is one of the youngest members of the Notebook’s board of directors. From the way she plunged right in, you can tell she is a go-getter.
In the spring of 2012, she attended Young Involved Philadelphia’s Board Prep Program, which helps young adults find roles with nonprofit organizations. Though McGrath was not very familiar with the Notebook at the time, the program matched her with the nonprofit through a questionnaire designed to gauge how participants would like to serve as board members with an organization.
Her answers matched the criteria that the Notebook had set. So, after meeting some Notebook staff, she decided to attend the Notebook’s annual Turning the Page for Change event that June to find out more about the organization. There she became a Notebook member and just a few months later received a formal invitation to join its board.
“I wanted to be a member because I [didn’t] want to miss an issue and [wanted to] get it as soon as it came out,” McGrath said.
“But I also wanted to put my money where my mouth was and support nonprofit journalism.”
McGrath, a Germantown native and Masterman graduate, has two sons, one attending J.S. Jenks Elementary and the other planning to enter kindergarten there next year. She serves on the board of Friends of J.S. Jenks, an independent fundraising arm for the school.
After her own experience as a parent selecting an elementary school, McGrath said she hopes the Notebook is able to expand its reach to preschool parents.
“One of the most stressful things a family can do in Philadelphia is try and figure out where your kid’s going to go to school for kindergarten,” McGrath said.
“It’s a really obfuscated process. You don’t really know how to do it. You don’t really know what your options are.”
McGrath is now in her 13th year at Elfant Wissahickon Realty, where she is director of operations, handling an array of duties including IT, finance, marketing, human resources, facilities, and legal. McGrath said she wants to help change the perception of Philadelphia public schools. While ethics prevent her realtor colleagues from steering clients to particular educational options, she at least wants the agents to be informed and feel positive about public schools.
Real estate agents should serve as “community ambassadors,” she said, and that includes giving parents resources like the Notebook.
A volunteer at Jenks, McGrath sees first-hand what’s happening in schools. But the Notebook also allows her to see the effects of policymakers’ decisions and participate in the education discussion in the city.
McGrath said that the Notebook is important because it gets to public education stakeholders and holds the District accountable for its actions.
“Public education is everything. You can’t have a city renaissance without public education,” she said.
“You can’t have high property values without a good education system. You can’t have safe neighborhoods without a good education system. You can’t have any of the things you need in a vibrant city without a good education system.”
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