Virginia B. Edwards, who as the editor of Education Week since 1989 and president of its parent organization since 1997 led the transformation of a specialty newspaper into a force in web news, education research and events, and, most recently, video journalism, will step down at the end of July.
“While it was a tough decision to leave the best job I could ever imagine, it feels like the right time to move on,” Edwards said in an open letter.
She will be succeeded as the president of the nonprofit Editorial Projects in Education Inc. by Michele J. Givens, the publisher and general manager of EPE since 2001.
“I think Michele Givens is a rock star,” Edwards said in an interview. “We’ve worked together for 15 years, shoulder to shoulder. It has been an incredible partnership.”
Givens, who will not take any editor’s title, said in an interview that “We have an incredibly strong bench of editorial leadership here. And we have an incredible team of journalists here who will all keep doing what they’re doing.”
“We are in a very solid position today, fiscally and in terms of the strength of the products and the vibrancy of the products,” Givens added. “But there should be no doubt that the pace of change will not subside. I’ve been frank in saying to people internally and externally that you have to bring at least a little bit of paranoia to managing a media organization these days.”
Christopher Curran, the board chairman of EPE and a managing partner of Tyton Partners, an investment banking and strategy consulting firm, said in a statement that Edwards “has worked tirelessly and effectively to evolve Edweek over the years from a print-only publication to a 24/7 digital news operation. At a time when many news organizations have struggled to sustain their audiences, and even their businesses, Education Week is a success story.”
Education Week, published 37 times a year, is read by more than 100,000 subscribers and “pass-along” readers. The newspaper also publishes three annual reports: Quality Counts (on state education policy), Technology Counts (on education technology), and Leaders To Learn From (on exemplary school district leadership). Data for the reports are gathered and analyzed by the Education Week Research Center.
Edwards also oversaw the growth of edweek.org, which has more than 1.6 million registered users, with hundreds of thousands of subscribers to email newsletters. And last year, EPE launched its Education Week Video unit to produce segments for the PBS NewsHour and other broadcast partners as well digital video and other multimedia content for edweek.org and other online platforms.
Before joining EPE, Edwards worked for two years for the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and, for nearly 10 years before that, was an editor and reporter at The Courier-Journal newspaper in Louisville, Ky.
Edwards has served on the boards of several nonprofit organizations and has been a frequent speaker on education policy and media issues.
She said her plans were unclear but she wasn’t ready to retire.
“I don’t have a next step scoped out yet,” Edwards said. “I will likely take a couple of months to see what follows.”
Givens held positions with Outside magazine, Rodale Press, and McGraw-Hill before joining EPE. She has an MBA from the University of New Mexico and an M.S. in the management of information technology from the University of Virginia.
She said in the interview that she had long felt that joining EPE felt like “a once-in-a-lifetime prize.” Taking the helm of the organization, she said, “makes me feel like the kid who found two prizes in the Cracker Jack box.”
Photo: Virginia B. Edwards
A version of this news article first appeared in the Education and the Media blog.