Longtime AVID Executive Retires After Driving Years of Growth

December 7, 2017
By Elizabeth Morgan, Director of External Relations

If you ever wondered how AVID got to be the country’s largest college readiness program, serving 1.5 million students annually in 46 states and 16 other countries/territories, surely Executive Vice President Rob Gira would be one of the key reasons. Rob is retiring this month after a remarkable career, and NCAN wishes this surfing Californian epic waves and blue skies. We hear that a bad day of surfing always beats a good day at work.

In recent years, Rob has been responsible for AVID’s external alliances, connecting with national organizations, school districts, and anyone else who cares about student achievement and opportunity. He is a natural relationship-builder, going out of his way to help other programs and offering honest advice about how to grow a major national education nonprofit. Since joining AVID in 1994, Rob has worn almost every hat there is in the organization, including but not limited to, the director of marketing, communications, client relations, program development, and program expansion and initiatives. During his tenure, AVID has proven and refined its key program elements and relentlessly pursued opportunities to reach more low-income students in school districts across the country, helping them enter and complete higher education at higher rates than their peers. 

One of his colleagues observes, “Rob is an idea-generator, someone who naturally thinks out of the box. His creative mind and innovative ideas have been instrumental in developing initiatives that span from AVID Elementary to AVID for Higher Ed, from growing the program from one state, California, to spreading it across the nation, into the Department of Defense Directive schools abroad, plus Canada and Australia. Rob can be credited with the breadth of AVID’s expansion, and the depth of the program, including professional learning, curriculum development, and certification.”

Over the years, Rob led a variety of projects including the Path to Schoolwide AVID materials, tutorial curriculum, critical reading curriculum, and leadership trainings. He has also been instrumental in creating AVID’s equity and English Language Learners. Rob has provided instruction at AVID Summer Institutes as well as for AVID National Demonstration Schools and has conducted tutor trainings throughout the U.S. Rob created AVID’s journal Access in 1994 and served as its lead writer and interviewer. Rob also developed AVID's blog, Adventures in College & Career Readiness, and was featured in the School Administrator Magazine. He writes regularly about equity, student development, the brain, resilience, and school culture, among other topics.

Rob received his B.A. in English from University of California Santa Barbara, a teaching credential from San Francisco State University, and his M.A. and administrative credential from San Diego State University. Before joining AVID, he was an administrator at two high schools in San Diego County, Rancho Buena Vista High School and Vista High School. He taught English in the Vista Unified School District for 10 years.

Many thanks to AVID staff Kierra Kirtley, Paul Chiba, and Noelle Hense for helping with this story.

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