"A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves."
I met Josh Densen, the founder, when Bricolage Academy was a dream of his that he was determined to open in New Orleans. I was very impressed with what he wanted to do and immediately recognized not only the need
but the impact that his plan could have on education in New Orleans. I worked side by side with Josh as he started formulating his board and staff. I was looking to be very closely involved but told him not to worry about my being a board member. I wanted him to enlist the services of the best young people available for the Bricolage board. I assured him that I would maintain my involvement without needing board recognition.
Why did you say yes when asked to serve?
I was extremely ﬂattered when the board asked me to join them. I was satisﬁed working on the outside but knew that I could not resist being part of the Bricolage movement if asked. I have a rather long history of involvement with education but saw an opportunity here to be part of a renaissance in the charter school movement.
By this time I knew that Bricolage would be the benchmark for charter school education. It is destined to be the model for charter schools going forward. It was possible to make comparisons between Bricolage and private school education. This is an all-time ﬁrst in New Orleans and, to the best of my knowledge, the State of Louisiana.
What leadership roles have you had while serving on the board?
Shortly after being elected to the board I was ﬂattered to be asked to be Board Chair. I continue to serve in that capacity. I am further involved in most facets of board leadership, particularly in facility search and development.
Is there anything that you know now that you wished you had known before?
Absolutely nothing. Each day brings out new successes enjoyed by Bricolage. We have, without question, the ﬁnest group of board members dedicated to the school’s success and understanding how to perform their obligations without crossing the thin line of micromanagement. We have a staff that exceeds all expectations. If Bricolage did not already exist, the City of New Orleans would have to create it.
“Alan is the perfect leader for a new school: perceptive, collaborative and generous with his time. He fits individual needs with organizational goals while remaining mindful of systemic education reform. Serving Bricolage is one of the many ways Alan displays his enthusiastic dedication to bettering New Orleans. It's been an honor to work with, and learn from, Alan.” – Rob Garda, Vice Chair
“Alan Philipson is a model board member and an excellent board chair. He's been a champion for Bricolage since our earliest stages - even before he joined our Board of Directors. Under his leadership the Bricolage Board of Directors recognizes the difference between management and governance - providing guidance and generative leadership while providing school management the space to execute on site-based priorities. Alan is a great mentor for me, a valuable networker for Bricolage and a thoughtful and respected leader for our entire board.” – Josh Densen, CEO and School Leader
The success of a charter school hinges largely on the decisions of its governing board. The Top Shelf enhances the capacity of charter school boards through professional development, board recruitment and community engagement.