After over a decade of being at the helm of Teach for the Philippines, and its predecessor organization, Sa Aklat Sisikat Foundation, Co-Founder Clarissa Isabelle Delgado is stepping down from her role as CEO to become a full-time member of its Board of Trustees. Taking her place is Mavie Almeda Ungco, a long-time advocate for data-driven decision-making at TFP and its steadfast Chief Operations Officer throughout the pandemic years.
Delgado is leaving the organization at its strongest; and embodying TFP’s value for grace and generosity in spirit; she is intent to make space for the bright new talent and new energy that the organization has developed and is certain that the next generation of its leaders will help open a bright new chapter of growth, as well as continued excellence for the org. “We have grown immeasurably and in every way since I began working with [Co-Founders] Lizzie [Zobel de Ayala] and Margarita [Liboro Delgado] on the idea of Teach for the Philippines almost 14 years ago.” She writes in her letter to the organization’s members, “When we started in 2012, we were placing a single cohort in a single city. We ALL had no idea if this program would be a success; it had never been allowed before, and thus, never been done before. Now, we have three programs whose cohorts span all three island groups and generations upon generations of Program Alumni inside and outside government. Hundreds of us are working step by step, every day, to model and align on the change we wish to see in the Philippines.”
Delgado is passing the baton to Mavie Almeda Ungco, who comes from an extensive background in journalism, research, and business development. Ungco began her career in TFP in 2016 as the organization’s first Data & Impact Assessment Manager; soon after promoted to Data & Impact Assessment Director. In her first three years in TFP, she led the roll-out of various innovations and projects that helped ensure that TFP Staff and Program Participants were trained in understanding and applying global best practices in Measurement & Evaluation, data management, and evidence-based strategy development.
In January 2020, Ungco was promoted to Chief Operations Officer. At the height of the pandemic, not only did she shepherd continuous operational excellence, but also modeled servant leadership for the rest of the organization. Rallying not just the Senior Leadership Team but also the Board of Trustees, she instituted the Calamity Fund for Program Participants affected by the lockdowns and travel restrictions at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, while also spearheading a successful external process evaluation with IDInsight to ensure that the organization upholds accountability to its communities in the new remote learning landscape. During her tenure as COO, Ungco led the organization through three external financial audits, all resulting in clean, unqualified opinions by a top-caliber accounting firm.
Asked about her vision for the organization, Ungco elaborates, “The first ten years of TFP was about breaking down doors, and making sure that TFP is in the arena, making a difference. Clarissa and everyone that has been a part of this team, including the Board, Staff, Program Participants, have played a big role in ensuring that the DepEd sees TFP as a credible partner who can provide expertise and augment the work being done within the system.” She shares, “Given that, I would say that TFP’s next five to ten years would be about moving the needle; making sure that what we’re doing is what is the most effective, relevant, and needed in any given context – that what we’re doing is what matters most for our public school students and our communities.”
While in office, Ungco will focus not just on ensuring growth for TFP’s participant intake for its core programs, but also in amplifying its share of voice in the education space. “If we have the ear of policymakers, of people who design programs at scale, so that whatever data we find in our work on the ground can inform the development of these policies and programs, then Teach for the Philippines would have been an effective contributor to education reform in our country.”
Ungco also firmly believes in protecting and preserving the positive hallmarks of TFP’s work culture while also pushing the thinking around inclusivity and diversity within the organization. “I’ve always believed that TFP should be a reflection of the change we want to see in the country. You can only put out what you nurture within, and so if you don’t put people at the front and center of your work, then it will also result in programs that are impersonal, prescriptive, and not respectful of people’s culture, background, or their humanity.” She shares, “TFP is not a perfect organization by any means, but here, people feel safe and free to share their ideas for improvement. It doesn’t matter whether you come from an Ivy League or a State University – what matters is your work ethic, how committed and engaged you are with the mission, and that you continue to listen and learn. If we can nurture that culture during my term while continuing to create space for people from even less conventional backgrounds, then that would be one of the most tangible measures of success for us.”
Delgado further reiterates her support for Ungco in her letter to the organization, “The Board and I are convinced that under Mavie’s leadership and with your continued commitment, we will achieve our vision of all Filipino children having access to an excellent, relevant, and inclusive education.”
Mavie Almeda Ungco will officially assume the role of Teach for the Philippines’ CEO on September 1, 2023. More information about the transition will be shared on TFP’s website and social media platforms in the coming months.