Q&A with Chris Daggett

April 1, 2014


This month, we’re kicking off a new regular feature on the blog: interviews with Dodge staff. We’re going to check in with what they’re learning and thinking about as they visit with nonprofits around the state, and we’ll pepper them with a few fun questions too. We welcome your questions and feedback!

First up is Chris Daggett, President and CEO of the Dodge Foundation.

1. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve been involved in lately? Do you have any new partnerships or collaborations?
I’ve been spending a lot of time on the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation Teacher Training Project. This program trains individuals with STEM backgrounds (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) to become teachers. Some of these individuals are career changers who, after years of working in their field, have decided they want to give something back to the community, and some are recent graduates who don’t want to be a career professional in their chosen field but prefer to teach.

We’ve partnered with a number of individuals and foundations to raise $11.4 million of the $13.6 million that is needed to fund the project for the full duration of eight years for three cohorts of students. Woodrow Wilson staff have selected five universities – Montclair State, William Paterson, TCNJ, and a collaboration of Rutgers Camden and Rowan — and affiliated school districts. [For more information on the Woodrow Wilson Teacher Training Program, click here.]

2. Is there something coming up that you’re particularly excited about?
This has been the planning year for the Teacher Training Program, and I’m excited that Woodrow Wilson is about to announce the first cohort of selected students who will begin the program this summer, graduating the following May. We expect their names to be announced within the next month.

3. How do you nurture creativity in your job and in your life?
My daily interactions and conversations with the Dodge Staff, grantees, other foundation colleagues, and business and civic leaders throughout the state nurture my creativity on a daily basis. In my life outside of Dodge, I do it through reading books and daily and weekly periodicals, as well as through conversations with friends. I also get enormous inspiration from attending events and performances of the many outstanding arts organizations funded by Dodge.

4. What books / magazines / e-books are on your (real or virtual) nightstand?
At the moment, I’m reading The Boys in the Boat, a book that my daughter gave me, about the University of Washington crew team’s quest for an Olympic gold medal in Berlin in 1936. I’ve recently read George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution by Don Yaeger, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War by Robert M. Gates, and Generation on a Tightrope: A Portrait of Today’s College Student by Arthur Levine (the President of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and the head of the teacher training project) and Diane R. Dean.

I also read four newspapers a day (Star-Ledger, Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Courier News), along with TIME and The New Yorker.

5. What are your favorite things to do when you’re not working?
I enjoy being with my family, traveling and playing tennis.

6. What are you some of your favorite media sites/resources?
NJ News Commons
NJ Spotlight
New York Times

7. How do you Imagine a Better NJ? (Think Big!)
I started my career in education policy and I have a Doctorate in Education. Education in this state is very important to me. I would like to see New Jersey have the best teacher education program in the country, modeled after the work of the Woodrow Wilson project. My dream is to see all schools of education at the graduate and undergraduate levels replicating this program, in order to strengthen the education system in our state.