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Engineering a better educational system

Story by
Kwame Manu

Before Ebbie Parsons graduated from Florida A&M University with his bachelor’s in industrial engineering in 2001, he envisioned himself utilizing his degree in management. After graduating, he worked for multiple Fortune 500 companies which helped sharpen his abilities as a leader. 

Ebbie Parsons

While employed as an investment strategist at American Express, Parsons found his purpose after reading an article published by USA Today that he found displeasing. The newspaper ranked the nation’s 50 largest school districts by graduation rate, placing the district in Parson’s hometown of Detroit last. The list inspired him to shift his career to bettering the U.S. public school system. In 2007, Parsons joined the Broad Residency Program serving as chief operating officer of Hartford Public Schools – the largest school district in Connecticut – where he managed all of the operations and directed over 400 employees.

Since his revelation, Parsons has dedicated his career to education. After leaving the Broad Residency Program, he joined other organizations working to amend the U.S. public school system, as well as teaching lower-income families about financial literacy. Parsons currently is the founder and managing partner of Yardstick Management, a management consulting firm that gives counsel to organizations both nationally and internationally. During his leadership, he has enacted policies focused on helping urban and underrepresented children, such as hiring diverse teachers in an Iowa school district, leading recruitment and retention efforts in Wisconsin and Arizona, and partnered with Facebook to teach coding to underserved communities around the world.

Parsons values the experience he gained at FAMU-FSU Engineering. He said the university developed his decision-making skills.

“Having a STEM education, particularly in engineering, it helps you think three or four steps ahead. It teaches you the longitudinal effects of decisions,” Parsons said. “I learned how one decision can impact a million more for many years to come.”

Parsons is 1 of 24 individuals chosen for the 2019 Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship, a two-year program that teaches a cohort of highly-qualified leaders skills to make better environments for public schools.