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An office that promotes deep thinking

Student art from the Edward Middle School hung above desks in the EdVestors office.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

For decades, women across Boston would come to the YWCA building in the Back Bay to swim laps in a pool on the fourth floor to stay healthy and vibrant. Now, that historic space is being used for the offices of the education nonprofit EdVestors, which is helping to transform public schools in Boston.

EdVestors moved into the space about three years ago from the third floor of the building. In February, its board named a new president and chief executive, Marinell Rousmaniere, who previously served as the organization’s senior vice president for strategic initiatives. She replaces Laura Perille, who resigned last summer to serve as the interim superintendent of the Boston school system.

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Rousmaniere, whose two children attend the Boston Public Schools, doesn’t have to go far to bump into other BPS students or teachers. Snowden International High School, whose main building is on nearby Newbury Street, rents additional space in the basement of the old YWCA.

EdVestors CEO Marinell Rousmaniere.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Her rise to the top of EdVestors, which was founded in 2002 by a group of businesspeople and philanthropists, is the culmination of a career devoted to working on programs and initiatives to benefit the city’s children. Her first job in Boston was working for the Boston Private Industry Council as a career specialist at Brighton High School.

She also worked in former Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s administration on before and afterschool programs, and as a consultant helped to launch Success Boston, a citywide initiative that aims to improve college completion rates for Boston public high school graduates.

“My entire professional focus has been ensuring more opportunities for young people to help find their skills, interests, and passion,” she says while sitting in her small office.

Student artwork. About two dozen paintings of the sun, moon, and stars by students at the Edwards Middle School in Charlestown hang on the walls along with black and white photographs of various places in Boston taken by students at the Boston Arts Academy in the Fenway. For the last decade, a key initiative of EdVestors has been helping the Boston Public Schools to expand its arts programming, enabling an additional 17,000 students to participate. The two art collections, Rousmaniere says, “reminds us about why we do the work.”

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A quilt from the Conley Elementary School in the office.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

A quilt from Conley Elementary School. Each square of the quilt features a piece of student artwork, such as hand prints, hearts, self portraits, or slices of nature. Students from the Conley in Roslindale gave the quilt to EdVestors to show their appreciation for being selected for the “School on the Move” prize in 2013. EdVestors has been giving out the $100,000 prize since 2006 in honor of a BPS school that has made notable gains in performance.

A portion of the shout out wall.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Shout Out Wall. In the office kitchen, staff members praise one another each week by writing on a dry-erase board. On a recent visit, about a dozen messages had been scrawled on the board. Kayla received kudos for putting together a fantastic “why does it work” document that got some school people thinking. Derek was recognized for setting up multiple site visits. Sharlene won congratulations for being appointed to the Harvard School Committee. The February kitchen crew was recognized for its “beautiful fridge cleaning.”

A clock in office space.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Math clock. Various mathematical formulas — instead of numbers — denote the time on a clock. The clock is a nod to one of EdVestors’ initiatives “Zeroing in on Math,” which launched four years ago and aims to boost the mathematical skills of students in grades 3-8.

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A desk that was used by EdVestors co- founder Philip Gordon in Rousmaniere’s office.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Old wooden desk. The desk in Rousmaniere’s office was used by one of EdVestors’ cofounders, the late Philip Gordon. “It’s like having your grandfather’s desk,” Rousmaniere says. “He was a terrific, amazing guy. He inspired a lot of people.” She supplements that space with a standing desk, noting she was one of the early adopters in the office.


James Vaznis can be reached at james.vaznis@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globevaznis.