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Deborah Bial Says Yes And She Should Know.



Deborah who?

Ms Bial is the founder and president of the Posse Foundation.

With her help, thousands of urban kids have found their way to higher education.

It’s a big deal.

Kids with little chance to weave their way through the rigors of applying, acceptance, and actual enrollment in college classes have powerful allies in Ms Bial and Posse.

The idea is getting a group, or posse, of kids into the same school so if one of them gets homesick, the others can talk them out of leaving.

90% of her Posse students graduate on time.

For all the good Deborah Bial does, she’s made one big mistake.

When she spoke to the graduates of Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley she said, “I belong to a generation that has fundamentally failed you.”

Did Ms Bial bring out the tar and feathers for the baby boomer generation? Is that her generation? She wishes it was, but it’s not.

Born in 1965, Deb missed the cut.

She’s calling out the GenXers as big failures. How else are we supposed to read it?

Most often intelligent women like Deborah Bial don’t cut corners to make the message fit. In her commencement speech, she tied on the woman-of-expeience mortar board and rolled out a ‘you can do better than us’ talk.

Better than boomers? Better than Genx? Or just better in general?

From her speech published on

“The difficult truth is that I belong to a generation that has fundamentally failed you. It’s kind of like we are handing you the keys to a car we’ve completely wrecked and advising you on how best to care for it.”

If she’s talking about GenX, they haven’t had enough time to run the world down. If it’s boomers, then she’s off target.

Boomers know the drill. We won’t retire early so younger workers can move up. We won’t go away so our accumulated wealth can be spread more evenly. And we keep driving the marketplace. Who else is buying the big ticket items, the homes, the cars, the travel?

Should Ms Bial know better than to hedge generational cutoff years? She’s smart enough.

From, the people who hand out genius grants:

Deborah Bial received a B.A. (1987) from Brandeis University and an M.A. (1996) and Ed.D. (2004) from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. She has served as the founder and president of the Posse Foundation since 1989. Bial is also a founding partner of the consulting company Firefly Education LLC.” 

It would be easy making Deborah an Honorary Boomer on Boomerpdx. She’s got the cred, looks like a cross between Cher, a younger Grace Slick, and Chrissie Hynde. Maybe it’s the long, dark hair, with bangs, but she’s got the boomer retro-look down.

On the academic side, maybe she’s channeling Vicki Phillips, education director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and former Portland school boss. This educator knows the way to the top.

What are the odds that Ms Bial knows Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook and the author of Lean In? Couple of Harvard women working it out.

Calling boomers the fail generation might be good for business, good for young people to see a role as caretakers, but it’s too early to make that call.

It’s not too early to see women like the Bials, the Phillips, and the Sandbergs making a huge difference in education and women’s rights.

We at boomerpdx salute you and accept your boomer-ness. Welcome aboard.

About David Gillaspie
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