Sustainer Spotlight: Victoria Bergsagel

Victoria Bergsagel serves on the Construction for Change (CfC) Board of Directors and is one of our earliest supporters. She was instrumental in helping launch the Brick Club, our monthly giving program, and continues to help sustain CfC on a regular basis. Passionate about designing schools where all students achieve, Victoria founded and directs Architects of Achievement (AofA) and has a gift for nurturing people’s talents and insights to arrive at inspired solutions. Harvard-educated, Victoria has been a teacher, counselor, principal, adjunct professor, community relations director, and school district administrator. Prior to AofA, she served as the Director of Educational Partnerships at Talaris Brain Research Institute, working with an interdisciplinary team to conduct, integrate, and interpret some of the world’s leading brain research. We are fortunate to have Victoria on the CfC team!

 

How and when did you first become involved with CfC?
I was invited to a CfC luncheon at the Rainier Club in 2009 when I was Co-Chair of the Greater Seattle Young Life Board. It came at an opportune time in that I was then supporting young African women in the Architectural Program at Howard University in Washington D.C. and happened to be mentoring a young woman from Zimbabwe who had recently moved to Seattle. I brought her to the luncheon to meet the Zambian Ambassador to the U.S. and learn more about CfC’s work in Africa.

After the luncheon, Co-founder Nick Tosti and (soon-to-be) fellow Board member Tom Johnston asked me to review plans for the first project, the Limulunga Community School in Zambia. I later attended CfC’s first banquet and got to know the Zambian Ambassador, whose sister runs the Limulunga School. Shortly thereafter I was invited to join the CfC Board of Directors.

What inspires you to continue your involvement with CfC?
There are obvious synergies between Architects of Achievement, Construction for Change, and my life’s work. Whether working in the US or abroad, my passion has always been to help people realize their hopes and dreams for their communities and children.

Serving as educational design strategists, my team works to bridge the gap between state-of-the art educational practice and architectural design. Whether working with clients, serving foundations, or giving keynotes, we regularly share research about how people best learn and how to design environments that support powerful learning. Since CfC works with indigenous groups and non-profits to build schools (and hospitals and food banks and housing) it seemed like a natural fit.

Yet the real reason I became involved is my longing to build a more equitable world. We can all see the embarrassment of riches in certain sectors of society, compared to those who get next to nothing due to the circumstances of their birth. Since childhood it has bothered me that so many kids go hungry and are deprived of a good education.

From the first day I heard about the organization until now, I was inspired by CfC’s three young founders and their circle of friends. Seeing them demonstrate how small, leveraged investments (especially in the developing world) can go such a long way to improve education and healthcare, how could I not capitalize on their energy and vision to support their cause?

Would you like to say anything to other people thinking of giving to CfC?
First, I believe we all have a responsibility to “give back” personally and professionally. To whom much is given, much is required.

There is also tremendous personal benefit when serving something bigger than ourselves. I learned this in childhood. While never rich herself, my grandmother taught me through example that those in favorable circumstances have the privilege and responsibility to help those less fortunate.

I especially feel this way about investing in young people, because research clearly shows the payoff of giving children a healthy start and a good education. If we improve the lives of children, we all become beneficiaries.

To learn more about Victoria and Architects of Achievement, visit her website.

To learn more about the Zambia project, visit our website or read the Seattle Times article.