39. When to Leave with Tequilla Brownie, CEO, TNTP

podcast November 3, 2022

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Episode Description:


Have you ever struggled with deciding to leave a job?


For this Women of Color Rise episode, Analiza talks with Dr. Tequilla Brownie, CEO of TNTP. TNTP sits at the cross-section of education practice, research, policy, and community to disrupt education inequities so that America can deliver on its promise of education being the great equalizer.


Growing up as a Black female and poor in the deep South, Tequilla shares how her grandparents and teachers instilled in her high expectations, the value of education, and that she can choose her own path. She applied to two colleges, including Yale, because her uncle and guidance counselor had recommended it. After graduating from Yale, Tequilla was a school social worker, then a leader focused on teacher effectiveness for nearly a decade in Memphis City Schools. 


This is where she hit her rock bottom moment. The organization was facing a merger and the culture between adults was difficult. Tequilla found herself no longer gratified. But the work was not yet complete. Should she stay or go? 


Tequilla shares the principles that guided her to eventually decide to leave:

  1. She had self-awareness that she had a choice. 
  2. She knew her worth. She would not be driven by fear. She was confident she could find another role and organization where she could have impact and values alignment.
  3. She asked herself… If she were 20 years old and white, what would she do?
  4. She made a list of what was most important to her: be able to contribute her strengths, learn and grow, feel gratified…
  5. She also knew that she could find a manager and organization that had her best interests at heart and could provide her psychological and mental safety.


In Women of Color Rise, we talk about how breakdowns can lead to breakthroughs. Tequilla shares her gratitude for this rock bottom moment because it led to her finding TNTP and catapulting her career to eventually become CEO.


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