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Check Out Lizabeth Fogel’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lizabeth Fogel.

Hi Lizabeth, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
After graduating from Pepperdine University with my CA, Multi-Subject Credential and Master Degree in Education I started my career as an elementary school teacher in Culver City, CA. I taught four and 5th grade for 13 years. During those years, I went back to Pepperdine to get my Master Degree in Psychology, to help me better understand my students, assessment and family dynamics. I also received my Doctorate in Education (focus on Educational Psychology and Organizational Leadership). My dissertational research was focused on the impact of television on social development of elementary age students (8-11). It was during my dissertation writing that I moved from CA to NYC. I finished my doctorate and began teaching at Pace University and Manhattan College. I lived in NYC for three and a half years. I was interested in finding a different way (other than teaching) to use my knowledge about learning and media). A friend introduced me to an amazing women who had been hired at Disney to rethink their consumer product for kids ages 5-12.

Moving back to LA 2007 and starting at Disney at the Director of Education. Working across the enterprise focused on; Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Walt Disney Imagineering, The Walt Disney Studios and The Walt Disney Company, Corporate Citizenship and Consumer Products. My position played a critical role within the Walt Disney Company, advising and guiding multiple business units on developmental milestones and educational (formal and informal) best practices. A key part of the job was reaching across business units and seamlessly integrate external partners into a collaborative and shared vision. There were responsibilities for developing a creative vision, integrity of educational content and educational validity of the company’s guest/consumer facing products and programs and educational policy development. I had the incredible opportunity to work with amazing people and be mentored by some of the brightest mind in the media/entertainment business. I was fortunate to work on and travel for projects in Europe, Florida, California and Asia. During my time at Disney, I was encouraged to speak at conferences and take board positions on non-profit boards. This experience gave me exposer to different people, allowed me to focused on different aspects of education. I spent a lot of time in DC and working on education policy with my work with the Partnership for 21st Century Skills and the North American Association of Environmental Educators. All of this work helped me expand my network and make lifelong friends.

After almost a decade and as changes began to take shape at Disney it was time to look for new opportunity. I took a year and did some consulting work, took three new board seats (American Camp Association, Makematic, Participant Learning). In 2018, I began working on a project at USC School of Education and was asked launch a new center and become the Managing Director for the Center for Engagement Drive Global Education. After almost three years of being back in academic institutions, it became clear that for me to do the work I wanted to do, I needed to find a different place.

In 2020 I was asked to consult on a large media project and realizing I could not do all the work on my own, I asked my best friend (Christiane Maertens) if DoGoodery would want to help me manage all the projects. As the project got bigger, it started to make sense that I leave USC and take a position at DoGoodery. In July 2021, I started as VP of Learning, Strategy and Development.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It was definitely not a smooth road. Starting teaching at the age of 22 (and fortunately or not looking much younger) I was often question about my skills – no matter what amount of education I had. I experienced the questioning when I began teaching at the university level. In one interview, I was asked how I would work my undergraduate students since I looked like them (I did where a suit to my interview). I found academia to be very challenging. I strongly believed in the connection between education and psychology and found that those two departments did not work together on research or teaching. I understood why learning was siloed into disciplines and that people did not share their knowledge – much pressure to publish and get grants.

At Disney, the challenges were many. Learning and Education were not a priority for the company – only a few executives. One of my first senior executive meeting I was asked how I could bridge the gap between learning and fun. This group of all men saw these ideas on opposite end of the spectrum and I had to convince them all that we learn best when are engaged and having fun. I used Walt’s own words to get this group to give us a chance. After a couple of years, my first boss was let go and the projects were shifted to a new executive in a different division. At that point, I was divided among multiple divisions. I was the only one in the company with my job. I had many “bosses” and learned quickly that each division was siloed and had a separate P&L and no incentive to work together. It became part of my role to bring people and projects together to produce better experiences and content.

I also learned that when those who champion your work are gone, your days are numbered.

Like most women, I also was often told to remember my place and not to speak out even if I was the expert in the room. That was my experience in academia and business.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I am highly accomplished and ambitious executive whose learning products and programs have inspired millions of children and families across the world.

I have managing complex situations while employing creative and flexible thinking processes to develop innovative and engaging content and experience.

I am a leader and collaborator who grows partnerships and alliances while recognizing and leveraging the unique working styles, thought processes, and problem-solving skills of the individuals that make up the team.

I believe I am best known as a deep listener, learner, and strategic thinker who cultivates and builds relationships identifies opportunities within my network and makes connections across business sectors to drive strategic, meaningful, and measurable change in education and educational media.

I am proudest of the long-lasting relationships I have developed. Mentoring younger educators to find and follow their passion. Leading the non-profits I work with to think bigger and more strategically. Changing the process at Disney of how educational products and experiences were developed. And building teams of people who are smarter than me and work productively and joyfully together.

What set me apart is how I have used my education and ongoing learnings to challenge the statues quo in educational media. I am not one who seeks the spotlight – I focus on building teams, lift others up and doing outstanding work.

Can you tell us more about what you were like growing up?
I was a quiet and shy kid. I am the oldest of three and love spending time playing with my siblings. I was a competitive ice skater from the age of 6-12. Meaning I skated every morning before school and did some kind of dance class after school. I traveled for competitions.

I was also a brownie and then girl scout during elementary and middle school. My mother was the troop leader.

I loved swimming and playing outdoors with my friends. I loved going to the beach in the summer.

In high school, I was a cheerleader, manager for the basketball team and was on the swim team.

I learned that I was creative and started to do different craft projects. We did a lot of home projects with my parents growing up. I loved hanging out with my friends going to concerts and sporting events.

I enjoyed reading – we were surrounded by books at home.

I also love music – my dad always have his record player going.

I loved to back with my with mom – and still do.

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