Bainum Family Foundation
Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
Children's Funding Project
Council on Foundations
DC Action for Children
Nonprofit Montgomery/ Montgomery Moving Forward
The Basics, Inc.
Sara worked closely with me and other DC leaders to design the Under 3 DC Campaign and is now a wonderful consultant contributing to our staff capacity. She is a thoughtful and savvy campaign strategist and strongly supports empowering community leaders as the voices for change. She's also an expert at getting foundations to fund policy advocacy and engaging business champions for early childhood policy.
I greatly value her help in recruiting business leaders to support our agenda, managing key research projects, and being a thought partner for our complex work.
She writes beautifully and when she takes on a responsibility, I never have to think about it - she will track it, do it to a high level and remind me at the right time when we need to confer with each other.
Kim Perry, Executive Director, DC Action for Children
Early on in the Foundation’s advocacy work, Sara joined the Bainum Family Foundation, bringing with her a wealth of knowledge and passion for early childhood advocacy. During her tenure, she helped create an effective campaign structure — which continued to address the long, challenging process of reducing racial inequities for young children in Washington, D.C. She worked to build collaborative relationships with grantee partners who valued her support and wide knowledge of and expertise of advocacy campaigns.
Sara has since transitioned to Senior Consultant for the Foundation, where she continues to support our policy advocacy efforts while we create a new strategic plan and begin various new endeavors. She also represented us on a regional funder team to finish out the 2020 Census. Always willing to bring her expertise and passion to the table in a collaborative manner, she continues to be a valuable thought partner.
David Daniels, CEO and President, Bainum Family Foundation
I have known and worked with Sara Watson in a variety of capacities for over a decade. She is one of the smartest and hardest-working people I have ever known. Her wide variety of experiences and team spirit make her an excellent consultant to help organizations build partnerships and be effective advocates for kids.
Sara works effectively with business leaders, policy makers and other high level decision makers. In particular, she has developed great relationships with the most senior executives and mobilized them to effect significant policy change. She knows how business thinks and how to build relationships between business and the public and nonprofit sectors.
She's created new initiatives, thinks outside the box, is enthusiastic about even the most difficult challenges, leads her team well, and her work is always of the highest quality.
Sara is comfortable leading, co-leading or being a supportive collaborator. I always want Sara on my team because she is the “most valuable player”: someone willing to try new things and to do whatever it takes to succeed.
And she is exceedingly fun to be with because she is interested in everything — politics, policy, families, skydiving, EMS, international affairs and more.
Libby Doggett, former Deputy Secretary, Policy and Early Learning, U.S. Department of Education
In my 40-year government and business career, I've been honored to work with many nonprofit and for-profit organizations and their executives. In my experience, Sara Watson is the best nonprofit executive I've ever worked with and among the best organizational leaders generally.
Her particular specialty is marshaling business support for improving the wellbeing of children and families and ultimately making the American workforce the most competitive in the world.
In the early 2000s, she directed the enormously successful Pew Charitable Trusts prekindergarten project that changed the way America thinks about early education. While she was still at Pew, she and I laid the foundations for ReadyNation. She took the idea of building a business movement for investing in kids and in a few short years made it a nationwide reality.
Sara has deep knowledge of the philanthropic community and which early childhood programs work and which ones don't.
From years of experience, Sara understands how to bridge the for-profit, nonprofit, and public sector worlds and use the voice of business to move policy. Importantly, Sara understands how to recruit and support business executives to become public champions – how to respect their time, appeal to what motivates them and best tap into their expertise.
Sara is also a great manager of people and a lively, informative speaker in front of large audiences and the media, conveying with warmth and enthusiasm the importance and power of parent and child development work.
An organization seeking to improve current employee productivity and build a competitive American workforce and prosperous customers will not find a better partner in this effort than Sara Watson.
Rob Dugger, co-founder, ReadyNation
Sara was a great ally of SPACEs In Action, helping me strategize and secure funding. She knows advocacy campaigns, supports community leadership, and could help persuade funders to support smart policy changes for kids.
LaDon Love, Executive Director, SPACEs in Action
I’ve known Sara for more than 15 years, since she started ReadyNation. She created a terrific, ground-breaking business organization that has had lasting impacts on investments for children and youth across the country, and internationally. She was also a terrific collaborator who was persuasive in educating our member executives on why investing early was an important business concern. Any organization would be fortunate to have her unique experience and savvy to help them engage the business community and make their advocacy more effective.
JD Chesloff, Executive Director, Massachusetts Business Roundtable
Sara did a wonderful job organizing our work with the business community to support the development of a new public-private entity on early childhood.
She also contributed value beyond what we hired her to do, adding insightful ideas and input. I greatly appreciated her understanding of a complicated context, her sophisticated suggestions and her warm team spirit.
Sharon Friedman, Nonprofit Montgomery/Montgomery Moving Forward
I've worked with Sara for several years, first as a member of her national advisory board, and later as a deputy director of ReadyNation. She has done field-transformative work in children's advocacy and created a powerful network of business people to help kids. She knows how to work with executives from all backgrounds and how to bridge the very different worlds of business, nonprofit and government. Sara is very effective in helping a team produce its best work.
Phil Peterson, former partner, Aon Hewitt
I recently retired from Vanguard as a Managing Director in charge of Vanguard's $3.5 billion Retail business. I had the opportunity to work closely with Sara as part of our overall CSR efforts.
Sara was instrumental in helping our team further focus our philanthropic efforts in the early childhood space. We found her to be the utmost professional every step of the way as we explored various options.
Sara has created an incredibly effective network of business leaders and knows how to work with them to effect major changes in how our nation supports its youngest citizens. She understands how to bridge the business, nonprofit and government worlds to win important victories for kids.
Her knowledge and advice helped Vanguard launch its early childhood initiative, and I know she can help other companies, foundations or nonprofits chart their own effective path. We will be forever grateful to Sara for her thoughtful guidance and expertise!
Paul Heller, Senior Fellow, School of Social Policy and Practice, University of Pennsylvania