Photos shared by Rachel Dewey
“develop a vision, create a path, pull in others to broaden the perspective, don’t be afraid to pivot when you need to, and never give up – make/learn/do!” Rachel D.
Relocating from the neighboring state of Connecticut, Rachel Dewey landed at FabNewport because of the deep alignment with FabNewport Founder, Steve Heath, and their shared vision on the critical nature of long-term, authentic, relationships as core to impactful youth programming. In her new role, Rachel will support the development of our organizational operations to ensure a sustainable structure is in place to thrive both in the near and long term. Joining in the middle of the summer, Rachel came in right on time to roll up her sleeves and dive right in as we expanded The Newport Experience program over 75%! She has been an incredible asset to the organization ever since then.
Dewey has been working in the education world for about 20 years. Prior to relocating, she was the Executive Director of various organizations, including FUTURE 5, a non-profit in Stamford, CT, dedicated to supporting motivated under-resourced students in college and career access and success. Prior to that she was Executive Director at Horizons at Norwalk Community College, an affiliate of a national organization that provides year-round academic, artistic, and athletic opportunities, by nurturing potential, cultivating a safe and supportive community, and inspiring individual dreams to elementary and middle school students.
We checked in with Rachel to learn a little more about her and her ideas for strengthening our impact. She describes FabNewport and PVD Young Makers as creative, collaborative, energetic, and optimistic.
It is imperative for us to learn from each one of our members. How would you describe your journey?
Untraditional! But each experience has given me new insight and confidence to bring to my next chapter. It is empowering to know you can iterate and pivot as life evolves. Having a journey with twists and turns is also great to share with students. You can see their relief when they hear and learn there is no one pathway to a successful career, but rather success is about finding the right path for each one of them.
What’s your connection with FabNewport? Based on our hands-on learning. How do you see yourself as a maker?
I am very new to FabNewport but what drew me to the organization is its focus on individualized student development and relationships. These focus areas make students feel heard, known, and respected – true building blocks to confidence, engagement and trust. Everything else rolls from this foundation, in my opinion.
I never really considered myself a Maker, but I get more excited as I learn more about what this means. I am learning how everyone has a Maker in them, and it is about what component each person is drawn to in the space. For me, it is about building and being entrepreneurial. Less in the literal sense and more in the business development sense, but the same principles apply – develop a vision, create a path, pull in others to broaden the perspective, don’t be afraid to pivot when you need to, and never give up – make/learn/do!
What are you bringing to FabNewport?
Hopefully, I will bring “the glue” to the organization. FabNewport is so strong programmatically and dynamic in its ability to engage students and the community. It is the organization’s “secret sauce,” for sure. These strengths have brought the organization considerable growth and attention in a relatively short period. From this comes new levels of operational and evaluative needs and demands. I have experience elevating young organizations to meet these challenges in order to continue to thrive and drive to impact. I am excited to put this experience and skill set to work at FabNewport while also having the opportunity to grow and learn from the team, the students, and the broader community. It is challenging, fun, and rewarding work – I can’t wait to dive in!
What are you looking forward to and hope to see as the future of FabNewport?
I can not wait to spend more time with the students! They are at the heart of the work, and there is nothing more magical than seeing the twinkle in a student’s eye as they have an “Aha” moment – PRICELESS – it is why I love going to work every day.
Asking me what I want to see for the future of FabNewport is genuinely a loaded question. My focus in the youth development sector is deeply rooted in the belief of “meeting students where they are, not where others would like them to be.” Programming that is experiential and skills-based while also connecting students to their voice and community is not only at the heart of this ethos but is critical to supporting the development of an equitable and inclusive environment. This philosophy is what drives FabNewport and PVD YoungMakers in everything we do! At the same time, nationally, we see a great deal of research and buy-in from education and non-profit circles on the power of these methodologies to drive educational equity and student success, particularly in under-resourced communities. This convergence puts FabNewport and PVD Young Makers in an exciting and unique position to be part of broader statewide initiatives, particularly given the successful program expansion already experienced in Providence.