Lea T. Rutherford has always been driven by a desire to help others. While attending Spelman College, she volunteered in the neonatal intensive care unit at a local hospital, though she ultimately opted for a career in education instead of health care. She graduated in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science in natural sciences. In 1996, she received a lifetime teaching certificate from the Texas Education Agency while serving as a two-year corps member with Teach for America. Embarking on her career as a teacher in her local school district, she was recognized early on for her excellence and was elected to be chair of her department. She also represented both her district and her region for science education and leadership and had the opportunity to share her skills as a coach with her fellow schoolteachers.
In 2002, Ms. Rutherford realized that she no longer wanted to work in a position that would see her beholden to someone else. As a result, she launched into the world of entrepreneurship where she established Education Today Enterprises LLC (ETE). She managed this hybrid entrepreneurial launch while consulting part-time and still working her full-time teaching position. In 2007, Ms. Rutherford fired her boss and hired her purpose, profoundly confirming herself as a full-time entrepreneur.
Having already developed a variety of professional relationships through her time as a teacher, trainer and coach, ETE would become a competitive and thriving education consulting firm where she continues to excel as founder, chief executive officer and consultant. In these roles, she works with superintendents and principals to help at-risk students, provide educational support to teachers and administrators, and more. Furthermore, in 2014, she co-founded EMC Education Group LLC with a longtime friend whom she met during her time with Teach for America.
Ms. Rutherford has made a name for herself for her skill and experience in the field of education, combining her love of science and knack for breaking down complex ideas into their simpler component parts to aid in learning and retention. Of her accomplishments, she is particularly proud of the series of dual-language elementary math workbooks that she published for grades one through five, as well as the fact that she has been able to continue to secure major contracts, resulting in a multi-seven-figure portfolio throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Looking toward the future, Ms. Rutherford plans to expand the reach of her consulting firms to outlying districts and states, as well as to launch a travel program to allow parents and children to travel to foreign countries to get hands-on experience learning about other cultures.
Throughout her career, Ms. Rutherford has continued to further her expertise in relationship building and educating people across platforms. She ultimately earned a Master of Business Administration from Houston Baptist University and became licensed as a life agent through the Texas Department of Insurance in 2020. With a love of meeting new people, she emphasizes that networking is the lifeblood of professional growth, and she always enjoys the opportunities she gets to build new relationships. In order to keep abreast of new developments in her field, Ms. Rutherford maintains professional affiliations with the Houston League of Business, Professional Women, Inc., the National Minority Supplier Development Council, the Teach for American Alumni Association, and the National Alumnae Association of Spelman College.
In addition to her work in education, Ms. Rutherford has been active with People Helping People since 2019 and was promoted to broker in 2021. Also in 2021, she launched the Dallas Life Insurance Agency and the Tacoma Life Insurance Agency. Previous involvements of hers include serving on the boards of Sankofa Academy and 1881 True Blue, as an assistant project manager for Edmondson’s Hearts of Love, and as a worship leader for the Bridge Fellowship.
Ms. Rutherford attributes much of her success to her faith, creativity and her “I am” mindset, which allows her to persevere during difficult times. She also cites her children, Zaiya and Zyana, as major sources of motivation. Her children have watched her evolve throughout her career, seeing her go from employee to entrepreneur, and she hopes that her growth will inspire them and make them feel like they have the power to do anything they set their minds to. Above everything, Ms. Rutherford is proud to have excelled as an African American woman and a single mom.