A Day in the Life

A Day in the Life

Damon Vaughan

Damon Vaughan
The Broad Residency Class of 2016-2018

Placement Organization:
KIPP San Antonio

Director of Marketing and Communications

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  • Sep

    Day 1

    6:30 a.m.

    I wake up and check Google alerts and local media sites for any stories related to KIPP San Antonio Public Schools. This is a daily routine so I can notify our central office leadership team and board of directors of any important news as soon as possible.

    7:00 a.m.

    I get in a brief cycle on my exercise bike while watching local news. This allows me to learn more about the community and stay abreast of any news pertaining to our organization while sneaking in a short workout. If I’m lucky I have a few minutes to talk to my wife before she heads off for work (she also works at KIPP San Antonio teaching dance at two of our schools).

    7:30 a.m. 

    Today, I drive to our newest campus (KIPP Cevallos) to prepare my project team for an upcoming ribbon cutting event. We are one week away from the event and several items on the project plan need to be finalized. 

    8:00 a.m.

    The drive to Cevallos takes about 20 minutes. One of the things I love about San Antonio is that everything is relatively close, unlike my 1.5-hour commute to work in Chicago. During my commute I usually listen to some combination of NPR, BBC or Joel Osteen. This is also my time to catch up on phone calls and grab some breakfast tacos.

    8:30 a.m.

    This morning’s meeting includes a rehearsal for the fundraising event taking place the day before the ribbon cutting event. This is the last of several weekly project team meetings and includes staff from the central office. I ask members of the operations and transportation teams to play the role of guest and walk the travel routes. This way we can identify potential pitfalls and make plans to address them. The rest of the project team, consisting of our development and marketing & communications staff, joins me as we walk our CEO and chief of staff through the meeting space.

    9:45 a.m.

    The project team reconvenes in the auditorium to go through the run of show for the ribbon cutting event. We analyze every aspect of the event (speeches, student performances, A/V set-up, etc). We go through two rehearsals to develop an event punch-list. Before I leave campus, I swing by my wife’s class to say a quick hello.

    10:30 a.m.

    I drive back to the central office to prepare for a meeting. On the way, I grab lunch at one of the local Mexican restaurants. San Antonio has amazing Mexican cuisine.

    11:00 a.m.

    Back at my desk, I catch up on email and address time sensitive questions about the launch of our new campaign for student recruitment. I also make time to connect with co-workers. I am fortunate to have a pleasant work environment where people are friendly and enjoy each other’s company. It’s nice to learn more about my colleagues and share new experiences with them.

    12:00 p.m.

    Normally I work through lunch and eat at my desk; today I do so while joining an online meeting. The KIPP Foundation hosts monthly online meetings to share updates and give guidance to regional offices. It’s a great way to stay connected to other regions and exchange best practices. This month we focus on how to implement best practices for collecting story ideas from our schools and review a new resource for integrating new messaging.  

    1:00 p.m.

    My direct report and I meet with our CEO and chief of staff to review our proposed strategy and content for an upcoming district all-staff meeting. Over the summer my team was given the responsibility of managing the monthly all-staff meetings which serve as professional development for our employees. This month’s topic is race and equity, which is a sensitive yet important subject to discuss. The objective of this meeting is to reach alignment on our proposed strategy and content. The next step is to gain alignment with the school leader who will deliver the content at the staff meeting.

    2:00 p.m.

    I go outside for a walk while checking email, returning phone calls and checking social media. We post content several times a week on Facebook, Instagram and occasionally Twitter. I try to get outside a couple of times a day to get some fresh air while catching up between meetings. The warm weather is definitely a selling point for Texas!

    2:30 p.m.

    I head back to my desk and put the finishing touches on my Broad assignment for the next Residency session. I want to ensure my assignment is submitted before the deadline later today.

    3:00 p.m.

    I meet with my direct report to do our weekly progress update. We review content he drafted for the ribbon-cutting speakers and next steps for the all-staff meeting content. He shows me an amazing time lapse video he created of our Cevallos campus. He had a vision for the video and woke up at 4:00 a.m. to capture the sun rising over Cevallos! We close by discussing a proposal from our high school journalism team to launch their own social media handle. I love our ambitious students!

    4:00 p.m.

    I finalize our new student enrollment application (we have versions in English and Spanish) and send it to the student recruitment team for approval. Our department takes the lead on collateral and forms used for recruiting new students and families each school year. 

    I then coordinate with a representative of the Mays Foundation to secure an official bio for one of the speakers for the ribbon cutting event. This information will be used to develop the event program and talking points for her speech at the ceremony.

    6:00 p.m.

    I drive to the east side of San Antonio to join the Second Baptist Community Center board meeting. I was asked to fill in for our school leader who called in sick this morning.

    6:30 p.m.

    I make a pitch to the board of directors at Second Baptist to lease their community center for our new middle school opening next school year. We have 45 minutes to present our case for KIPP and answer questions. The audience is 10 to 15 people and includes community center board members, church trustees and the reverend.

    8:00 p.m.

    I call our CEO and director of growth to fill them in on the board meeting on the ride home.

    8:30 p.m.

    Over dinner my wife and I talk about how our days went then watch a little television.

    9:30 p.m.

    I hop on my laptop and phone to catch up on world events and personal social media accounts.

    10:30 p.m.

    It’s bedtime.

  • Mar


    6:30 a.m.

    Today is the San Antonio Mayoral Town Hall on Education. Approximately two months ago, our chief executive officer approached me with an idea to host the town hall at one of our schools to get mayoral candidates talking about education issues. Since that day, I’ve led a cross-functional team to plan every detail of the event. Before going to work, I send email reminders to the volunteers about the run-of-show and attire.

    7:00 a.m.

    I get ready for work. I’m carpooling with my wife, so we need to leave the house early enough for her to set up her dance class before students arrive.  

    7:30 a.m.  

    Typically, our carpool is reserved for conversation, but I need to do my daily scan of media sites for any stories about KIPP San Antonio Public Schools. I find one about the town hall in a prominent local paper. I send an email to our board of directors and central office leadership team summarizing the article. I include a link to the story and a plug to attend the event.

    8:00 a.m.

    I drop off my wife at her school and drive to the office for a busy day with a healthy dose of the unexpected.

    8:10 a.m.

    I catch up on email, fielding ticket requests for the sold-out town hall. I coordinate with my direct report who is managing the ticketing progress. I talk on the phone with a kindergarten teacher from a neighboring district who wants to ask a question at the town hall, walking her through the question approval process and informing her of next steps. I then email the event moderator to provide a status update, including confirmed audience questions and participants.

    9:45 a.m.

    To ensure the mayoral candidates have a place to relax and prepare, we set up areas for each campaign to convene. Each “green room” must be supplied with refreshments and near restrooms. During this time, I coordinate with the team to ensure each room is set up and the guides are ready. The green rooms are located in the elementary school, so we’ve assigned volunteers to serve as guides to help the candidates get to and from their respective green rooms.

    10:30 a.m.

    I finalize and distribute a contact sheet for the town hall steering team and volunteers, who will serve as our on-site response team. This one-page document contains single points of contact for every critical workstream. In the event of a time-sensitive question or concern during the event, this will serve as a quick reference guide for immediate action.

    11:00 p.m.

    I address more emails. As I check my inbox, it occurs to me that my other projects have not ceased while I have focused on the town hall. The manager of the Mexican national soccer team will host a soccer clinic at our campus in a few weeks. I have been working with his team to coordinate media engagement for the event. I use this time to connect with his team to clarify details leading up to the event so I can draft a press release and potentially plan a press conference.

    12:00 p.m.

    When hosting a major event, it is essential to make accommodations for special guests. For the town hall, we are expecting superintendents or executive directors from 10 neighboring school districts, event sponsors, board members and esteemed politicians — most notably, former U.S. Housing Secretary Julián Castro. I use this time to work with members of my steering committee to ensure each VIP guest is greeted immediately upon arrival.

    2:00 p.m.

    It’s time to put my game face on. I head to the school to check on the event setup. I confer with steering team members on final arrangements for four exhibit tables, two for the candidates, one for Spanish translation devices and one for a local newspaper.  

    I jump on a conference call with the moderator to align on outstanding topics including audience participation cues, timing for relaying questions to him from Facebook Live viewers and technology assistance for his tablet.

    4:00 p.m.

    I receive a call from a local television station requesting an interview with someone from the event. I contact my CEO to coordinate a 5:30 p.m. interview and begin drafting his talking points.

    The interview goes well, and the event is about to start. In my experience, it is uncommon to receive advanced notice for media requests. If you can make it happen, it is usually worth the effort.

    I shift gears and join a briefing meeting with the police officers hired for event security to discuss how they would handle any potential protesters with minimal event disruption.

    6:30 p.m.

    It’s show time! We have good audience engagement from those in attendance as well as on social media. Only one protester showed up, but fortunately nothing overshadowed the event.

    8:00 p.m.

    It’s time to wrap up. I touch base with reporters to determine when their stories are expected to run. I coordinate with remaining staff on the tear-down of equipment and chairs. I thank everyone involved and congratulate them on a job well done.

    8:45 p.m.

    I head home with a great sense of accomplishment and relief.

    9:30 p.m.

    I eat dinner and crash. I mentally prepare to manage the post-event media tomorrow.

  • May


    6:30 a.m.

    I wake up and check my phone for news alerts and media websites. I’m looking for any stories published or aired related to KIPP San Antonio Public Schools. This routine means I can share critical news with the central office leadership team and board of directors before 8:00 a.m daily.

    7:00 a.m.

    For the last five months, I’ve been leading a cross-functional team to plan and execute our annual college commitment ceremony. Ninety-eight seniors from KIPP San Antonio University Prep high school will march to center court at the AT&T Center (home of the San Antonio Spurs) to announce the colleges they will attend in the fall. This highly anticipated event exemplifies the drive to prepare students for college and beyond at our schools.

    Today is the day of the event. Before going to work, I send some emails to clarify issues about parking passes and visitor entrance designations and identify on-site points of contact. The last email is a quick note of appreciation to the steering team members for all of the hard work that went into today’s event — positive reinforcement is always appreciated, especially in the moments leading up to the execution of a big event.

    7:45 a.m. 

    I get ready for work. While I move through the apartment, I catch up on world news and listen to music.

    8:20 a.m.

    I drive to the AT&T Center and make a couple of calls to family and friends who wish me well on the event. I also listen to a couple of radio stations — spiritual reflection and laughter are great ways to transition into the work day.

    8:45 a.m.

    I arrive and do a walk-through of the venue to ensure everything is in place before guests arrive. This year, students will arrive early to attend a WNBA game right before our ceremony. Upon arrival, I realize some of the event logistics agreed to by arena management were not communicated to their staff. I convene key members of my team and arena management to review student seating, bus routes and the sequence for student departures.

    11:00 a.m.

    I assess our logistics now that the game is underway. Lunches have been distributed to students and staff with minimal challenges, which is a huge milestone. I connect with a few members of the team who need additional manpower or guidance. I manage to grab a seat to watch about 15-20 minutes of the game. As the game winds down, I check in with my team to ensure everyone is ready for the transition from game to ceremony.

    1:15 p.m.

    I head down to the arena floor and check in with the steering team members responsible for the most critical aspects of the ceremony: audio/visual, student preparation and seating. Forty-five minutes is not a lot of time to transition from a publicly attended professional basketball game to a private event with very specific logistics requirements. 

    2:00 p.m.

    The event begins! The arena is electric — more than 3,500 people are in attendance and cheering as the seniors cross center court, one by one, to proudly declare their college decisions. The class of 2017 includes 98 seniors with significant achievements including $7.7 million in scholarships earned and 500 acceptances from more than 100 colleges and universities. More than 82 percent of the senior class was accepted into a four-year university. The event also features performances from the KIPP University Prep dance team and the KIPP Aspire choir teacher. This was a proud moment for me because my wife, who is a dance teacher for KIPP University Prep high school, has been working tirelessly to prepare her students for the performance. It goes extremely well!

    3:30 p.m.

    As the event concludes, my attention shifts to departures, specifically to departure volunteers. We identified several members of the central office to provide direction to students and staff from the arena to their designated buses, safely and quickly. Once the students are ushered back to campus, I download with my team, volunteers and venue staff. The consensus is that the event was a huge success! Several opportunities are identified for discussion during our scheduled debrief tomorrow.

    5:00 p.m.

    Today is also a big day for my wife, because her students have their biggest dance performance of the year. On the way to campus, I grab food and drinks for our school leader and a severely dehydrated student who are waiting for the student’s parents to arrive. Next, I make a quick stop to purchase a dozen roses to surprise my wife for the upcoming performance.

    5:30 p.m.

    I arrive at KIPP University Prep and look for ways to help. I start by moving tables and stands to convert the cafeteria to an auditorium. Next, I help transport materials to and from the classroom where the performers have stored their belongings. Finally, I help set up the concession area by laying out all the snacks, determining pricing and working with my fellow volunteer to establish a plan to serve customers.

    7:00 p.m.

    The performance starts! The students are amazing and move with grace and elegance. The costumes are so colorful, and the music is so engaging. Attendance for the event far exceeds expectations. Students wrap up the show with a curtain call. Staff and volunteers take the stage for a bow. I manage to sneak up to the stage to present the roses to my wife and let her enjoy a well-deserved moment of praise.

    8:30 p.m.

    We leave campus to grab a bite to eat and head home. It was a great day for the Vaughans. We take a few minutes to reflect on how well the day unfolded — then we crash!