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The Talking Head

Thursday, September 1, 2016

A Fond Farewell in our Community

Few parents know our HR Manager, Lia Belai. However, she is a very important “back office” reason for ICS’s improvement in the past eight years. I want to tell her story to you, because it highlights our ICS beliefs.

Ms. Belai started working at ICS in October 2008. Back then we had 475 students, and a much smaller staff. Other school offices did almost all of the work of the HR Office. Under Lia’s care, we developed trust that things would be well taken care of. Every year she took on new responsibilities. That is a huge credit to her competence and to the trust she’s earned. She’s helped us develop model recruiting, hiring and compensation practices for teachers and for support staff. This year, some of our parents met Lia Belai for the first time as we began facilitating police background checks for household staff for our families.

Ms. Belai is a caring person. She has been an important part of how we welcome our new staff every year. She has improved and organized how we recognize our staff. She was a bridge to the Ethiopian culture for all of our foreign employees. She has always advocated for doing the right thing for employees and for the school. At the leadership table, we counted on her to speak up and stop us from making a mistake. We relied on her local knowledge and her institutional memory.

Our school community has seven belief statements. I have watched Lia Belai put them into practice on a regular basis. I have seen her

Embracing diversity

Caring for individuals’ worth and dignity

Acting with integrity

Leading inquiry processes so that we can learn and make better decisions

Empowering employees to learn and to create a better life for themselves

Collaborating with other school leaders to achieve our goals

Taking responsibility to build sustainable systems at ICS

One of my greatest pleasures in my job is that I collaborate with many people every day. I see so many good things happening in classrooms, after school, in our workshops or at the security gates. Working with Lia has been one of the reasons I love working at ICS. I have trusted her guidance, her wisdom, her principles and her feedback. I could depend on her. I have enjoyed learning about Ethiopian culture and values from her. She has become a friend, not just a colleague.

We will miss Lia’s leadership and advocacy. Lia is not retiring, but will be making a new path for herself and for her family. She is courageous. In the coming weeks we will still see Lia working part time as she helps our new HR Director, Areyam Workneh, in her transition.

Please join me in saying thank you to Lia Belai, and in wishing her all the best as she moves on to something new.