Lee Vreeland, an alumna of William & Mary’s School of Education, was recently named the next CEO and president of An Achievable Dream, a nonprofit school organization that operates public schools in Newport News, Virginia Beach, and Henrico County. An Achievable Dream (AAD) takes students from economically and educationally disadvantaged households and gives them the skills and opportunities to succeed and break the cycle of poverty. Vreeland will start in her new positions in fall 2018 after the retirement of her predecessor, Kathy Edwards.
Vreeland started with AAD as the special events coordinator in the corporate office in 1997, then became the high school counselor after completing her M.Ed. in School Counseling at W&M. She then was promoted to Director of Operations and Student Services and served in that role until 2014, when the school organization opened Seatack Elementary An Achievable Dream Academy in Virginia Beach and she was named Vice President of Academics. Currently, the organization operates two schools in partnership with Newport News Public Schools and one each in partnership with Virginia Beach City Public Schools and Henrico County Public Schools.
She completed her Doctorate of Education at William & Mary in 2016 conducting research on the effectiveness of AAD’s parent involvement program. Her research found that the parents reported that the school environment had a positive impact on their parenting skills, their relationship with their child and their ability to handle academic and discipline issues. “Since the completion of my dissertation, AAD has utilized the research, professional development, and feedback from parents and families to strengthen the correlation between parental involvement and student success,” she said.
Her first and foremost goal will be to continue the success AAD students see now: 100% on-time graduation rate in high school with 90% of graduates going to college and the other 10% entering a trade, the military, or full-time employment. She added, “in addition, [one of] my goals will be to expand our program to other communities if it is the right time and right fit for the organization. If we can reach more students in our community, then we will explore the opportunities to do so!”
Vreeland also mentioned that fundraising will be an important priority to her as president and CEO, saying “the organization relies on donations from the business community, individuals, and grants to provide our students with uniforms, field trips, social curriculums, extended-learning time, Saturday School, scholarships and summer programs.” AAD has connections with businesses and citizens throughout the Hampton Roads region and boasts many prominent individuals on its several governing boards.
When asked what her most profound experience with the organization has been, Vreeland responded, “[being] able to provide wrap-around services to some of our families during their greatest time of need. We cannot provide an education to students when their basic needs are not being met at home. Working for AAD for over 21 years has enabled me to meet so many committed leaders thus establishing community contacts and funding to be able to support these families.”
“I have been blessed to work with some of the greatest teachers, administrators, donors, and staff members. AAD’s success relies on a collaboration of people who truly stand behind our students to ensure they are provided with all of the opportunities possible. The relationships at AAD are stronger than many families…in fact, we are a family.”