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Luci B. Willits, 2020 Women of the Year

Associate Vice President of Policy

Curriculum Associates

 

Luci Willits, 2020 Women of the Year.

Luci Willits has always worked to achieve what she wants and now tries to help others do the same.

Willits is the associate vice president of policy for Curriculum Associates, a national organization dedicated to improving the lives of students and teachers. Educational policy has been a career-long passion for Willits, who wants to be an agent for change.

“It was nothing more meaningful for me than when I worked for the state, than to see something I advocated for in the Legislature in my child’s classroom,” Willits said. “And now I get to do that on a national level.”

Willits said she has always worn the “scarlet ‘A’” for ambition, a story she shared in a speech at the March 2019 Tory Burch Foundation’s Embrace Ambition Series. Women are often socialized to not show their ambition or be open about career goals, Willits said, and that was particularly evident when she was growing up in rural eastern Idaho.

However, she recognized that education was key to overcoming poverty and fulfilling her career dreams. While she first wanted to be a broadcast journalist, she ended up going into communications instead and found her love of educational policy. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree from Idaho State University, she worked as a congressional press secretary for U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho. Just 23 years old, she was the youngest press secretary in Idaho history.

From there, she went on to be chief communications officer for the Idaho State Board of Education, chief of staff for the Idaho Department of Education and then deputy executive director for Smarter Balanced, a public agency that created an online assessment aligned with Common Core standards.

Willits now shares her story with others and sponsors young women to help them achieve their ambition. Being a woman in the workforce in the 21st century can be difficult to manage and navigate, Willits said. She is president of Go Lead Idaho, an organization that motivates young women to be leaders and show the community why it is important.

Since taking over as president a year ago, Willits has energized Go Lead Idaho with increased membership, community engagement and fundraising, wrote Mary-Kate Johnson, former Go Lead Idaho president, in a letter of recommendation.

Click on the cover to view the digital edition of the 2020 Women of the Year publication.

“Luci lives her life to serve others,” Johnson wrote. “Always wanting to spread the message from her many channels about women, and the great momentum of positive change they have and continue to make in this world.”

Citizen diplomacy is also important to Willits. In 2019, she was chosen to be a Marshall Memorial Fellow. The program facilitates international networking and engagement between professionals from Europe and the United States. As part of that program, she traveled to Europe to engage in citizen diplomacy. This spring, she will host other Marshall Memorial Fellows in Boise and connect them with local policymakers to continue that trans-Atlantic engagement.

“I think that’s truly how we understand people, is to meet them where they are,” Willits said.

About Lis Stewart