Making a difference for kids:

Connecting, inspiring and supporting elected school board members.

 
 
 
 
 
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In 2017, I was elected to my local school board. Like most people who run for school board, I was compelled to give back to my community and believe education is the key to unlocking a better future. But I also ran because I knew we were failing too many kids and that those kids were too often kids of color, kids from poverty, and other kids our current system usually leaves behind. I ran to change things.

As a parent and former teacher with a career leading national education issues — I arrived feeling prepared. I was wrong.

Driving the change that can close the opportunity gap is hard work, and there isn’t a road map. When I looked around for policy support, a network and allies, I realized that little existed for board members like me. And surely others felt the same way.

And with that – the birth of School Board Partners: a network for education leaders - with a focus on leaders of color - who want to lead dramatic improvement from their seat on school board. We all know that if we want to make things better for kids — ALL kids — we need to cut through the red tape, support each other, and create and share the tools for change.

Join us,

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Mission

To help connect, inspire and support diverse school board members to be bold leaders for change in cities across the country by putting kids first in policy decisions.

Values

We value…

Deliberate Inclusion & Belonging

Diverse Thought Leadership

Irrational Hope

Narrative Reclamation

Righteous Disruptive Impact

Strategic Bridge Building

Value-Driven Courage

 
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About

Across the country, our public education system is failing too many kids. We aren’t adequately preparing enough of our students for a rapidly changing future. Opportunity and achievement gaps between students of color, kids from poverty and their white counterparts are growing. Addressing these realities requires policy change that must be led or supported by the school board.

School board members are a critical and underserved group in public education. Trustees make life-changing policy and resource decisions, and yet they are usually volunteers without a staff or the time and resources necessary to thoughtfully research and plan for substantial change. SBP is designed to address that gap in our ecosystem and support leaders to be successful in a complex board environment. By connecting elected leaders directly with mentors, resources and a network of peers, we are equipping change agents to more effectively drive and implement new policies that will help the kids in their community.

Our goal is to help elected leaders build the skills they need to accomplish their goals. Specifically, we know that in order to make that change, we must support more leaders of color who represent the communities they serve. We believe that boards will be more successful if they understand the perspectives and needs of their students, and have the insights required to develop creative solutions.

Contact Us

School Board Partners is looking to create a community for school board members with a growth mindset, a willingness to be bold and buck the status quo, put kids at the heart of every decision, and focus on equity and push for change. If that sounds like you or someone you would like to nominate, please contact us!

Please complete the form below

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Staff

 
Carrie Douglass   Carrie brings a unique combination of skills and experience to this new initiative. Carrie began her teaching career with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps as a volunteer teacher in a school serving one of the largest housing projects on the East Coast. She then helped transform an existing Boston high school into a Cristo Rey model as a teacher leader and was the ED of an early childhood learning center. These years focused on students who have been traditionally underserved cemented her commitment to ensure that every child, regardless of background or zip code, has the opportunity to attend a public school that will prepare them for college or a career.  After completing her MBA, Carrie joined the Broad Residency in Urban Education and led the HR and talent departments at Aspire Public Schools for five years, during a period of growth from 16 to 34 schools. While at Aspire, Carrie led the development of innovative strategies for teacher and leader recruiting, evaluation, compensation and career development. She then served as the Senior Director of Strategy and Innovation at the Rogers Family Foundation in Oakland where she developed one of the nation’s leading personalized learning pilots and managed $5 million in annual giving towards a high-quality seats plan.  Carrie has been a Managing Partner at Education Cities for the past five years, splitting her time between leading internal organizational strategy, operations and finance and external leadership of areas including convening design, innovative schools and data and accountability.  In May 2017, Carrie was elected to the School Board for Bend-La Pine Schools in Oregon - a district with nearly 20,000 students, putting it in the top 2% largest districts in the country. Bend-La Pine Schools spans three cities, from the thriving urban core of Bend to the economically depressed rural community of La Pine. Bend-La Pine Schools is growing at the rate of one elementary school per year and is grappling with changing demographics and demands from the community. As Vice Chair, Carrie is currently providing leadership in the areas of school design, innovation, budgeting transparency, and Board planning and process.  Carrie is also the co-founder and co-owner of an industry-leading running race management company based in Bend, Oregon called Cascade Relays. Carrie graduated with a BA in education from the University of Portland and holds an MBA from Boston University. In addition to School Board, Carrie currently sits on the boards of EdFuel, Cascade Relays Foundation, and TEDxBend.  Email:  carrie@schoolboardpartners.org

Carrie Douglass

Carrie brings a unique combination of skills and experience to this new initiative. Carrie began her teaching career with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps as a volunteer teacher in a school serving one of the largest housing projects on the East Coast. She then helped transform an existing Boston high school into a Cristo Rey model as a teacher leader and was the ED of an early childhood learning center. These years focused on students who have been traditionally underserved cemented her commitment to ensure that every child, regardless of background or zip code, has the opportunity to attend a public school that will prepare them for college or a career.

After completing her MBA, Carrie joined the Broad Residency in Urban Education and led the HR and talent departments at Aspire Public Schools for five years, during a period of growth from 16 to 34 schools. While at Aspire, Carrie led the development of innovative strategies for teacher and leader recruiting, evaluation, compensation and career development. She then served as the Senior Director of Strategy and Innovation at the Rogers Family Foundation in Oakland where she developed one of the nation’s leading personalized learning pilots and managed $5 million in annual giving towards a high-quality seats plan.

Carrie has been a Managing Partner at Education Cities for the past five years, splitting her time between leading internal organizational strategy, operations and finance and external leadership of areas including convening design, innovative schools and data and accountability.

In May 2017, Carrie was elected to the School Board for Bend-La Pine Schools in Oregon - a district with nearly 20,000 students, putting it in the top 2% largest districts in the country. Bend-La Pine Schools spans three cities, from the thriving urban core of Bend to the economically depressed rural community of La Pine. Bend-La Pine Schools is growing at the rate of one elementary school per year and is grappling with changing demographics and demands from the community. As Vice Chair, Carrie is currently providing leadership in the areas of school design, innovation, budgeting transparency, and Board planning and process.

Carrie is also the co-founder and co-owner of an industry-leading running race management company based in Bend, Oregon called Cascade Relays. Carrie graduated with a BA in education from the University of Portland and holds an MBA from Boston University. In addition to School Board, Carrie currently sits on the boards of EdFuel, Cascade Relays Foundation, and TEDxBend.

Email: carrie@schoolboardpartners.org

“Kids depend on school board members to make decisions that ensure every student has access to a great school. School Board Partners grew out of a desire to support school board members making tough decisions on behalf of all kids.”

Carrie Douglass

Ethan Ashley   Ethan Charles Ashley joins School Board Partners as the Co-Founder and Partner. Beyond his role at School Board Partners, Ethan serves as an elected Orleans Parish School Board member. Ethan has worked on policy and advocacy issues in many positions, including on the Hill, at the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, at the Urban League of Louisiana, at the ADL, at the CDL and for the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.  Ethan is an advisory board member for Bard Early College New Orleans, a rigorous, credit-bearing, tuition-free college course of student in the liberal arts and sciences available to junior and senior level students. Ethan is also a board member of the Boy Scouts of America Southeast Louisiana Council, the National Juvenile Justice Network and the New Orleans Regional Leadership Institute. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity, Inc., where he has inspired colleagues to support youth through scholarships and mentoring. Ethan was a 2014 fellow of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Community Leadership Network. Ethan is a member of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, LA.  Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Ethan graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School, a law magnet high school in Los Angeles, at the age of 16. Afterwards, he continued his education at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and a Juris Doctor degree by the age of 22.  Above all, Ethan is a strong advocate for equity, business development, youth justice, civil rights, and servant leadership.  Email:  ethan@schoolboardpartners.org

Ethan Ashley

Ethan Charles Ashley joins School Board Partners as the Co-Founder and Partner. Beyond his role at School Board Partners, Ethan serves as an elected Orleans Parish School Board member. Ethan has worked on policy and advocacy issues in many positions, including on the Hill, at the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, at the Urban League of Louisiana, at the ADL, at the CDL and for the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.

Ethan is an advisory board member for Bard Early College New Orleans, a rigorous, credit-bearing, tuition-free college course of student in the liberal arts and sciences available to junior and senior level students. Ethan is also a board member of the Boy Scouts of America Southeast Louisiana Council, the National Juvenile Justice Network and the New Orleans Regional Leadership Institute. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity, Inc., where he has inspired colleagues to support youth through scholarships and mentoring. Ethan was a 2014 fellow of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Community Leadership Network. Ethan is a member of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, LA.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Ethan graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School, a law magnet high school in Los Angeles, at the age of 16. Afterwards, he continued his education at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and a Juris Doctor degree by the age of 22.

Above all, Ethan is a strong advocate for equity, business development, youth justice, civil rights, and servant leadership.

Email: ethan@schoolboardpartners.org

“The future of our communities is only as bright as the opportunities we provide for our youth. School Board Partners empower school board members throughout the country with the tools to provide our youth with the very best, which, in turn, creates the brightest future possible for our nation.”

Ethan Ashley

 

Advisory Board

Nate Easley   Nathaniel Easley, Ph.D., is Founding Chief Executive Officer of Blue School Partners, a 501(c)(3) public charity focused on increasing the availability of high quality public schools in Denver through quarterback investments in educator/leader talent, high performing schools, and a supportive policy environment. Prior to joining Blue School Partners, Dr. Easley served as CEO of the Denver Scholarship Foundation, a 501(c) (3) public charity whose mission is to inspire and empower Denver Public School (DPS) students to achieve their postsecondary education goals by providing the tools, knowledge and financial resources essential for success.  Dr. Easley served as President and Secretary of the Denver Public Schools Board of Education from 2009 to 2013. He also worked as Vice President for National and International Programs for the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) in Washington, DC. COE is a nonprofit organization dedicated to furthering the expansion of educational opportunities in postsecondary education for low-income and disabled youth and adults. He is a current member of Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s Education Compact, the National College Access Network Board, the Colorado Education Initiative Board, and co-chairs the Denver Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Education Committee. He previously served as a member of the Community College of Denver Advisory Council, the Colorado School of Public Health Advisory Council, the Denver School of Science and Technology Public Charter School Board, the Denver Public Schools’ Roots Public Charter School Board, and Colorado Latinos for Education Reform. He is also a past member of Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s Education Leadership Council and the National Advisory Council for Texas Guaranteed Inc. (the third largest student loan guarantee organization in the United States).  Dr. Easley has extensive experience helping disadvantaged students realize their dream of a college education and securing grant funding to sustain student programs. His master’s and doctorate focused on how higher education can better support the academic success and college completion of Black and Latino/a students. Dr. Easley has nearly 30 years of experiencing working at the state, national and international levels to create opportunities for first-generation, low-income and ethnic minority students. He is a proud graduate of Denver Public Schools’ Montbello High School.

Nate Easley

Nathaniel Easley, Ph.D., is Founding Chief Executive Officer of Blue School Partners, a 501(c)(3) public charity focused on increasing the availability of high quality public schools in Denver through quarterback investments in educator/leader talent, high performing schools, and a supportive policy environment. Prior to joining Blue School Partners, Dr. Easley served as CEO of the Denver Scholarship Foundation, a 501(c) (3) public charity whose mission is to inspire and empower Denver Public School (DPS) students to achieve their postsecondary education goals by providing the tools, knowledge and financial resources essential for success.

Dr. Easley served as President and Secretary of the Denver Public Schools Board of Education from 2009 to 2013. He also worked as Vice President for National and International Programs for the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) in Washington, DC. COE is a nonprofit organization dedicated to furthering the expansion of educational opportunities in postsecondary education for low-income and disabled youth and adults. He is a current member of Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s Education Compact, the National College Access Network Board, the Colorado Education Initiative Board, and co-chairs the Denver Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Education Committee. He previously served as a member of the Community College of Denver Advisory Council, the Colorado School of Public Health Advisory Council, the Denver School of Science and Technology Public Charter School Board, the Denver Public Schools’ Roots Public Charter School Board, and Colorado Latinos for Education Reform. He is also a past member of Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s Education Leadership Council and the National Advisory Council for Texas Guaranteed Inc. (the third largest student loan guarantee organization in the United States).

Dr. Easley has extensive experience helping disadvantaged students realize their dream of a college education and securing grant funding to sustain student programs. His master’s and doctorate focused on how higher education can better support the academic success and college completion of Black and Latino/a students. Dr. Easley has nearly 30 years of experiencing working at the state, national and international levels to create opportunities for first-generation, low-income and ethnic minority students. He is a proud graduate of Denver Public Schools’ Montbello High School.

“When I was elected I had no idea what I was getting into. This national network of support is unique, needed and meaningful in the work to make public education put kids first.”

Nate Easley, Denver

Carl Zaragoza   Carl Zaragoza is Senior Director of Elected Leadership at Leadership for Educational Equity where he leads the strategy and a team that inspires and develops diverse educators as political candidates at every level of government across the country. Carl served his community as a school board member and community organizer spanning close to a decade. He was elected twice to the Creighton Elementary School District Governing Board in Phoenix and led two terms as President. Carl has always been passionate about service and is a proud United States Army veteran. His commitment to educational equity was borne out of his experience teaching middle school civics in a Title 1 district school in central Phoenix. Carl earned a BA in Political Science and is currently studying for an Executive MBA at W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. Carl is a Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow, Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Fellow, member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, and avid Ironman triathlete. Carl lives in Phoenix with his wife, daughter, and two rescue dogs.

Carl Zaragoza

Carl Zaragoza is Senior Director of Elected Leadership at Leadership for Educational Equity where he leads the strategy and a team that inspires and develops diverse educators as political candidates at every level of government across the country. Carl served his community as a school board member and community organizer spanning close to a decade. He was elected twice to the Creighton Elementary School District Governing Board in Phoenix and led two terms as President. Carl has always been passionate about service and is a proud United States Army veteran. His commitment to educational equity was borne out of his experience teaching middle school civics in a Title 1 district school in central Phoenix. Carl earned a BA in Political Science and is currently studying for an Executive MBA at W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. Carl is a Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow, Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Fellow, member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, and avid Ironman triathlete. Carl lives in Phoenix with his wife, daughter, and two rescue dogs.


“I ran because I couldn’t sit on the sidelines of my failing district any longer. But as an elected driving change, I felt so alone. Mentorship to connect school members to something bigger, to help check for blind spots and to effectively legislate is much needed. I am excited to help others learn from my path.” 

Carl Zaragoza, Phoenix

Carrie Irvin   Carrie Irvin is the CEO and Co-Founder of Charter Board Partners (CBP), the leading national organization helping public charter schools build strong, diverse, and strategic boards. Carrie’s deep commitment to equity and quality in public education is backed by extensive experience in education policy and reform, especially for traditionally underserved students. Her experience includes analyzing federal education policy, shaping innovative school design programs, and teaching 8th-grade social studies. She has delivered a TEDx talk about CBP’s innovative work to improve the quality of public education, and her work has been featured in Education Week, the Washington Post, National Public Radio, and Education Next. In addition to her participation on the School Board Partners founding board, Carrie chaired the Board of Trustees of the National Child Research Center and currently serves on the Georgetown University Child and Adolescent Mental Health Advisory Council. She graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School and Brown University, and is a Pahara-Aspen Institute Education Fellow. An avid runner and amateur baker, Carrie lives in the Washington, D.C. area with her husband, two teenage daughters, and one high-strung dog.

Carrie Irvin

Carrie Irvin is the CEO and Co-Founder of Charter Board Partners (CBP), the leading national organization helping public charter schools build strong, diverse, and strategic boards. Carrie’s deep commitment to equity and quality in public education is backed by extensive experience in education policy and reform, especially for traditionally underserved students. Her experience includes analyzing federal education policy, shaping innovative school design programs, and teaching 8th-grade social studies. She has delivered a TEDx talk about CBP’s innovative work to improve the quality of public education, and her work has been featured in Education Week, the Washington Post, National Public Radio, and Education Next. In addition to her participation on the School Board Partners founding board, Carrie chaired the Board of Trustees of the National Child Research Center and currently serves on the Georgetown University Child and Adolescent Mental Health Advisory Council. She graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School and Brown University, and is a Pahara-Aspen Institute Education Fellow. An avid runner and amateur baker, Carrie lives in the Washington, D.C. area with her husband, two teenage daughters, and one high-strung dog.

“There is a gaping hole in our current ecosystem supporting the push for increased equity and quality in public education: elected school boards. I am honored to be included in this important work.”

Carrie Irvin, D.C.

Coaches and Mentors

Nate Easley   Nathaniel Easley, Ph.D., is Founding Chief Executive Officer of Blue School Partners, a 501(c)(3) public charity focused on increasing the availability of high quality public schools in Denver through quarterback investments in educator/leader talent, high performing schools, and a supportive policy environment. Prior to joining Blue School Partners, Dr. Easley served as CEO of the Denver Scholarship Foundation, a 501(c) (3) public charity whose mission is to inspire and empower Denver Public School (DPS) students to achieve their postsecondary education goals by providing the tools, knowledge and financial resources essential for success.  Dr. Easley served as President and Secretary of the Denver Public Schools Board of Education from 2009 to 2013. He also worked as Vice President for National and International Programs for the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) in Washington, DC. COE is a nonprofit organization dedicated to furthering the expansion of educational opportunities in postsecondary education for low-income and disabled youth and adults. He is a current member of Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s Education Compact, the National College Access Network Board, the Colorado Education Initiative Board, and co-chairs the Denver Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Education Committee. He previously served as a member of the Community College of Denver Advisory Council, the Colorado School of Public Health Advisory Council, the Denver School of Science and Technology Public Charter School Board, the Denver Public Schools’ Roots Public Charter School Board, and Colorado Latinos for Education Reform. He is also a past member of Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s Education Leadership Council and the National Advisory Council for Texas Guaranteed Inc. (the third largest student loan guarantee organization in the United States).  Dr. Easley has extensive experience helping disadvantaged students realize their dream of a college education and securing grant funding to sustain student programs. His master’s and doctorate focused on how higher education can better support the academic success and college completion of Black and Latino/a students. Dr. Easley has nearly 30 years of experiencing working at the state, national and international levels to create opportunities for first-generation, low-income and ethnic minority students. He is a proud graduate of Denver Public Schools’ Montbello High School.

Nate Easley

Nathaniel Easley, Ph.D., is Founding Chief Executive Officer of Blue School Partners, a 501(c)(3) public charity focused on increasing the availability of high quality public schools in Denver through quarterback investments in educator/leader talent, high performing schools, and a supportive policy environment. Prior to joining Blue School Partners, Dr. Easley served as CEO of the Denver Scholarship Foundation, a 501(c) (3) public charity whose mission is to inspire and empower Denver Public School (DPS) students to achieve their postsecondary education goals by providing the tools, knowledge and financial resources essential for success.

Dr. Easley served as President and Secretary of the Denver Public Schools Board of Education from 2009 to 2013. He also worked as Vice President for National and International Programs for the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) in Washington, DC. COE is a nonprofit organization dedicated to furthering the expansion of educational opportunities in postsecondary education for low-income and disabled youth and adults. He is a current member of Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s Education Compact, the National College Access Network Board, the Colorado Education Initiative Board, and co-chairs the Denver Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Education Committee. He previously served as a member of the Community College of Denver Advisory Council, the Colorado School of Public Health Advisory Council, the Denver School of Science and Technology Public Charter School Board, the Denver Public Schools’ Roots Public Charter School Board, and Colorado Latinos for Education Reform. He is also a past member of Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s Education Leadership Council and the National Advisory Council for Texas Guaranteed Inc. (the third largest student loan guarantee organization in the United States).

Dr. Easley has extensive experience helping disadvantaged students realize their dream of a college education and securing grant funding to sustain student programs. His master’s and doctorate focused on how higher education can better support the academic success and college completion of Black and Latino/a students. Dr. Easley has nearly 30 years of experiencing working at the state, national and international levels to create opportunities for first-generation, low-income and ethnic minority students. He is a proud graduate of Denver Public Schools’ Montbello High School.

“When I was elected I had no idea what I was getting into. This national network of support is unique, needed and meaningful in the work to make public education put kids first.”

Nate Easley, Denver

Cokethea Hill   Cokethea Hill is Director of Strategic Partnerships at SchoolSmartKC, where she extend our partnerships across broad constituencies including parents, business and civic organizations, clergy and faith-based leaders, elected officials, council members, and neighborhoods, all in an effort to build momentum in support of school improvement and student success. Cokethea previously held the title of Director of Family Engagement. Prior to her work with SchoolSmartKC, Cokethea was Vice President for Diversity and Special Initiatives at United Way of Greater Kansas City, focusing on building partnerships and growing philanthropic support in communities of color. Previously, she served as Community Development Specialist for the Mid America Regional Council’s Green Impact Zone and College Coach for the Kauffman Scholars program. Cokethea brings to SchoolSmartKC extensive grassroots experience in community organizing and development, a passion for equity and education, and an ability to build partnerships across political, civic, and business communities. She has served as a school board member for Kansas City Public Schools and as a council member for the City of Kansas City. Cokethea is pursuing her Doctorate in Education from the University of Kansas, earned a Masters in Psychology from Avila University, and holds a Bachelors from the University of Central Missouri.

Cokethea Hill

Cokethea Hill is Director of Strategic Partnerships at SchoolSmartKC, where she extend our partnerships across broad constituencies including parents, business and civic organizations, clergy and faith-based leaders, elected officials, council members, and neighborhoods, all in an effort to build momentum in support of school improvement and student success. Cokethea previously held the title of Director of Family Engagement. Prior to her work with SchoolSmartKC, Cokethea was Vice President for Diversity and Special Initiatives at United Way of Greater Kansas City, focusing on building partnerships and growing philanthropic support in communities of color. Previously, she served as Community Development Specialist for the Mid America Regional Council’s Green Impact Zone and College Coach for the Kauffman Scholars program. Cokethea brings to SchoolSmartKC extensive grassroots experience in community organizing and development, a passion for equity and education, and an ability to build partnerships across political, civic, and business communities. She has served as a school board member for Kansas City Public Schools and as a council member for the City of Kansas City. Cokethea is pursuing her Doctorate in Education from the University of Kansas, earned a Masters in Psychology from Avila University, and holds a Bachelors from the University of Central Missouri.

“As a City Councilwoman, I watched my district fail our students and it inspired me to set out on a journey to improve the quality of education for urban students in my community. Serving on the school board was one of the most important and impactful stops on this journey and continues to be one of the most impactful roles in our country. Helping others find their voice and power is the next step.” 

Cokethea Hill, Kansas City

Alisha Thomas Cromartie   Alisha Thomas Cromartie   is the former Executive Director/Superintendent of Ivy Preparatory Academies, a network of single gender schools in the metropolitan Atlanta area. Prior to leading IPA, Alisha served six terms in the Georgia House of Representatives where she served on the Education, Appropriations, and Health & Human Services Committees. First elected at the age of 23, Alisha made history by becoming the first African American to serve in the Georgia House from Cobb County. She is a recognized national leader in k-12 education and has been featured in several publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Georgia Trend, Ebony, Marie Claire, and Essence magazines. She is the author of the book No Apologies, Powerful Lessons in Life, Love, and Politics. Alisha is a graduate of Spelman College in Atlanta, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in both Sociology and Drama. She is currently earning a Master’s degree in Education Leadership at Kennesaw State University. A proud mother of a fourth grader who attends one of the schools she leads, Alisha resides in Austell, Georgia with her family.

Alisha Thomas Cromartie

Alisha Thomas Cromartie is the former Executive Director/Superintendent of Ivy Preparatory Academies, a network of single gender schools in the metropolitan Atlanta area. Prior to leading IPA, Alisha served six terms in the Georgia House of Representatives where she served on the Education, Appropriations, and Health & Human Services Committees. First elected at the age of 23, Alisha made history by becoming the first African American to serve in the Georgia House from Cobb County. She is a recognized national leader in k-12 education and has been featured in several publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Georgia Trend, Ebony, Marie Claire, and Essence magazines. She is the author of the book No Apologies, Powerful Lessons in Life, Love, and Politics. Alisha is a graduate of Spelman College in Atlanta, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in both Sociology and Drama. She is currently earning a Master’s degree in Education Leadership at Kennesaw State University. A proud mother of a fourth grader who attends one of the schools she leads, Alisha resides in Austell, Georgia with her family.

“While effective teachers are the single most important factor in student achievement, our school board members across this country are the single most important body setting policy, making funding decisions, and determining the priorities of our public education system. We must support courageous school board members who are unapologetic about putting students first and those who make every policy, budget and governance decision based on what is best for them. School board members have the ability to change the life trajectory of the students they serve. It is my mission to make sure our leaders have the support and resources they need to do just that.”

Alisha Thomas Cromartie

 
Mary Ann Sullivan   Mary Ann Sullivan has worked to improve public education for more than thirty years, and currently serves as an at-large commissioner on the IPS board. Prior to her election to the board, she was a consultant with the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL) at the University of Indianapolis where she primarily worked to create new small schools.  Mary Ann has worked extensively in the charter school sector. Early in her career, she supported gifted and talented educators at a statewide curriculum resource center, and was part of the administrative team at an IPS middle school.  In 2008, Mary Ann was elected to the Indiana General Assembly and served two terms.  Mary Ann has a master's degree in public affairs from Indiana University. She and her husband, Brian, are lifelong Indianapolis residents, and passionate advocates for their city.

Mary Ann Sullivan

Mary Ann Sullivan has worked to improve public education for more than thirty years, and currently serves as an at-large commissioner on the IPS board. Prior to her election to the board, she was a consultant with the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL) at the University of Indianapolis where she primarily worked to create new small schools.

Mary Ann has worked extensively in the charter school sector. Early in her career, she supported gifted and talented educators at a statewide curriculum resource center, and was part of the administrative team at an IPS middle school.

In 2008, Mary Ann was elected to the Indiana General Assembly and served two terms.

Mary Ann has a master's degree in public affairs from Indiana University. She and her husband, Brian, are lifelong Indianapolis residents, and passionate advocates for their city.

“The majority of students in the US will be educated in public schools run in some way by districts for the foreseeable future. Think-tanks develop great ideas but it is school boards that must buy-in and and drive real reform. Connection to like-minded individuals is such an important foundation in this work.” 

Mary Ann Sullivan, Indianapolis

Carl Zaragoza   Carl Zaragoza is Senior Director of Elected Leadership at Leadership for Educational Equity where he leads the strategy and a team that inspires and develops diverse educators as political candidates at every level of government across the country. Carl served his community as a school board member and community organizer spanning close to a decade. He was elected twice to the Creighton Elementary School District Governing Board in Phoenix and led two terms as President. Carl has always been passionate about service and is a proud United States Army veteran. His commitment to educational equity was borne out of his experience teaching middle school civics in a Title 1 district school in central Phoenix. Carl earned a BA in Political Science and is currently studying for an Executive MBA at W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. Carl is a Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow, Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Fellow, member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, and avid Ironman triathlete. Carl lives in Phoenix with his wife, daughter, and two rescue dogs.

Carl Zaragoza

Carl Zaragoza is Senior Director of Elected Leadership at Leadership for Educational Equity where he leads the strategy and a team that inspires and develops diverse educators as political candidates at every level of government across the country. Carl served his community as a school board member and community organizer spanning close to a decade. He was elected twice to the Creighton Elementary School District Governing Board in Phoenix and led two terms as President. Carl has always been passionate about service and is a proud United States Army veteran. His commitment to educational equity was borne out of his experience teaching middle school civics in a Title 1 district school in central Phoenix. Carl earned a BA in Political Science and is currently studying for an Executive MBA at W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. Carl is a Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow, Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Fellow, member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, and avid Ironman triathlete. Carl lives in Phoenix with his wife, daughter, and two rescue dogs.


“I ran because I couldn’t sit on the sidelines of my failing district any longer. But as an elected driving change, I felt so alone. Mentorship to connect school members to something bigger, to help check for blind spots and to effectively legislate is much needed. I am excited to help others learn from my path.” 

Carl Zaragoza, Phoenix

Chris Stewart   Chris Stewart is Senior Partner and Chief Executive of the Wayfinder Foundation. He is a lifelong activist and 20 year veteran of nonprofit work. Stewart has served as the former Director of Outreach and External Affairs for Education Post, the Executive Director of the African American Leadership Forum (AALF), and an elected member of the Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education where he was radicalized by witnessing the many systemic inequities that hold our children back.  In 2007 Chris was elected to the Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education. In that role, he helped establish the Office of New Schools, an area of the Minneapolis Public Schools to implement school reform strategies. At the same time he created the Equity and Achievement Committee, authored a board-level “Covenant with the African American Community,” and advocated safe, orderly, and rigorous schools that prepare students for the real world.  In 2011, Chris organized community members for two campaigns in Minnesota: Action For Equity, a grassroots effort to spur innovation in family and education policy at the state level, and the Contract for Student Achievement, a coalition of community organizations working to achieve greater flexibility for underperforming schools through changes to Minneapolis’ teachers’ contract. Since 2009 Chris has been president and principal with Yielding Assets, LLC, a grassroots consultancy helping government, nonprofit, and foundation clients create self-sustaining, social good projects.  Chris serves as chair of the board of SFER’s Action Network and also serves on the board of Ed Navigators.  Chris blogs and tweets under the name  Citizen Stewart  and publishes at  Citizen Education . He is based in the Minneapolis area.  In August 2017, Chris came together with more than 40 other African-American parents, students and teachers to talk about the Black experience in America’s public schools. These conversations were released as a video series in  Getting Real About Education: A Conversation With Black Parents, Teachers and Students .

Chris Stewart

Chris Stewart is Senior Partner and Chief Executive of the Wayfinder Foundation. He is a lifelong activist and 20 year veteran of nonprofit work. Stewart has served as the former Director of Outreach and External Affairs for Education Post, the Executive Director of the African American Leadership Forum (AALF), and an elected member of the Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education where he was radicalized by witnessing the many systemic inequities that hold our children back.

In 2007 Chris was elected to the Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education. In that role, he helped establish the Office of New Schools, an area of the Minneapolis Public Schools to implement school reform strategies. At the same time he created the Equity and Achievement Committee, authored a board-level “Covenant with the African American Community,” and advocated safe, orderly, and rigorous schools that prepare students for the real world.

In 2011, Chris organized community members for two campaigns in Minnesota: Action For Equity, a grassroots effort to spur innovation in family and education policy at the state level, and the Contract for Student Achievement, a coalition of community organizations working to achieve greater flexibility for underperforming schools through changes to Minneapolis’ teachers’ contract. Since 2009 Chris has been president and principal with Yielding Assets, LLC, a grassroots consultancy helping government, nonprofit, and foundation clients create self-sustaining, social good projects.

Chris serves as chair of the board of SFER’s Action Network and also serves on the board of Ed Navigators.

Chris blogs and tweets under the name Citizen Stewart and publishes at Citizen Education. He is based in the Minneapolis area.

In August 2017, Chris came together with more than 40 other African-American parents, students and teachers to talk about the Black experience in America’s public schools. These conversations were released as a video series in Getting Real About Education: A Conversation With Black Parents, Teachers and Students.

"Joining the school board was the most direct way I could engage with democracy on behalf of children who live at the margins of society because public systems have failed them. The experience was rewarding, but troubling. I saw firsthand how the politics of education create chaos for students and families. That problem can only be solved by preparing and supporting engaged citizens to bring competence and good governance to their local boards of education."

Chris Stewart, Minneapolis

 
Tomeka Hart serves as a senior program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, leading education policy and advocacy grant-making to civil rights and equity organizations, as well as managing the social emotional learning policy portfolio. In prior roles she served as VP of strategic partnerships at the Southern Education Foundation, VP of African American community partnerships for Teach For America, and as the president/CEO of the Memphis Urban League. She is a former middle and high school teacher, and a former labor and employment lawyer.  Tomeka served two terms on the elected Memphis City/Shelby County Schools Board of Education, including a term as Board President. She currently serves on the boards of the Data Quality Campaign, where she chairs the Board/Staff Development Committee, and First 8 Memphis, a non-profit focused on early childhood initiatives. Additionally, she serves as a member of the University of Tennessee College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences Dean’s Advisory Board. Hart is an Aspen Institute Rodel-Fellowship in Public Leadership fellow and a Pahara-Aspen Institute Education Fellow.  Tomeka Hart holds a B.S. degree in Marketing Education from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; an M.B.A. from Kennesaw State University; and a J.D. from the University of Memphis.

Tomeka Hart serves as a senior program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, leading education policy and advocacy grant-making to civil rights and equity organizations, as well as managing the social emotional learning policy portfolio. In prior roles she served as VP of strategic partnerships at the Southern Education Foundation, VP of African American community partnerships for Teach For America, and as the president/CEO of the Memphis Urban League. She is a former middle and high school teacher, and a former labor and employment lawyer.

Tomeka served two terms on the elected Memphis City/Shelby County Schools Board of Education, including a term as Board President. She currently serves on the boards of the Data Quality Campaign, where she chairs the Board/Staff Development Committee, and First 8 Memphis, a non-profit focused on early childhood initiatives. Additionally, she serves as a member of the University of Tennessee College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences Dean’s Advisory Board. Hart is an Aspen Institute Rodel-Fellowship in Public Leadership fellow and a Pahara-Aspen Institute Education Fellow.

Tomeka Hart holds a B.S. degree in Marketing Education from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; an M.B.A. from Kennesaw State University; and a J.D. from the University of Memphis.

“While there has been a lot of time and resources dedicated to reforming public education over the past several years, there has been little attention given to the important role of school boards. As the lead decision makers over the budget, policies, and hiring of the superintendent, school boards are the key drivers of district innovation and transformation. We need them to be successful. As a former school board member, I know of the importance of training and support for school boards. I also know there is a dearth of high quality support. That is why I am excited about the work of School Board Partners and urge more people and organizations to support its work!”

Tomeka Hart, Memphis