Education Pioneers Announces Diverse and Representative Talent Pipeline for Chicago Education Ecosystem

Nonprofit names fifteen leaders selected for 2022 Education Pioneers Summer Fellowship

Education Pioneers (EP) announced that 15 new leaders are joining its 2022 Summer Fellowship, offered exclusively in Chicago this year. With 80% of Fellows self-identifying as leaders of color – 60% of whom identify as Black or Latinx — this cohort of project managers, strategists, data analysts, and operations professionals is one of the program’s most racially diverse and representative cohorts ever.

“Education Pioneers exists to ensure that K-12 has the leadership and management capacity necessary for transformation, and fueling a diverse and representative leadership pipeline is central to our mission,” said Melissa Wu, CEO. “Too often, the professionals who lead and manage K-12 systems don’t reflect the populations that they serve, perpetuating the inequities that have lasted far too long and limiting the potential for transformation. This summer, we are immensely proud to field a class of rising leaders who nearly mirror the Chicago student population that is 90% students of color.”

As one of Education Pioneers’ signature talent placement programs, the Education Pioneers Summer Fellowship previews a career in education leadership for graduate-level talent, while simultaneously providing short-term capacity for local education organizations. Summer Fellows complete 10-week paid work placements with school districts, charter organizations, education agencies, and supporting education organizations, where they lead projects in strategy, operations, analytics, or other special initiatives.

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The 2022 cohort in Chicago marks a return of EP’s in-person program after a pandemic-driven pause in 2021 and a virtual session in 2020 due to COVID-19.
This year’s Fellowship class will serve 11 leading education organizations serving more than 1 million students in Chicago, across Illinois, and beyond. Partners include Chicago Public Schools, Distinctive Schools, the Illinois State Board of Education, and Digital Promise.

“We needed dedicated capacity to make the Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History (TEAACH) Act a reality on the ground, and hosting an EP Fellow was an ideal solution,” said Erica Thieman, Ph.D., Director, Standards & Instruction Department at the Illinois State Board of Education. “Our Fellow’s project will advance curriculum inclusivity for K-12 students across the State of Illinois — truly immense impact.”

Fellows are leading diverse work, reflecting a wide variety of professional backgrounds from management consulting to classroom instruction. 53% bring private sector experience, and 53% are brand new to K-12.

“I decided to become an Education Pioneers Fellow because I wanted to combine my passions for education and equity and my love for my hometown of Chicago with my professional experiences in the financial services industry,” said Chelsea Dawkins, an MBA candidate at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and incoming Summer Fellow placed at Northern Illinois University, Education Systems Center.

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Fellows participating this year’s program include:

  • Hasana Abdul-Quadir, placed at Distinctive Schools
  • Nadine Blanco, placed at Distinctive Schools
  • Carmen Cortez Morales, placed at Digital Promise
  • Chelsea Dawkins, placed at Northern Illinois University, Education Systems Center
  • Nicolas D’Azevedo, placed at Chicago Public Schools
  • Jeffrey Garcia, placed at Collaborative Healing Initiative Within Communities
  • Clare Grzegorzewski, placed at Chicago Public Schools
  • Ashley Harris, placed at Global Citizen Year
  • Dania Ibrahim, placed at Northern Illinois University, Education Systems Center
  • Arnelle Jones, placed at Family Engagement Lab, LLC
  • Callie Kirk, placed at Golden Apple
  • Vincent Liu, placed at Skokie School District 73.5
  • Tochukwu Okoye, placed at Illinois Board of Higher Education
  • Jornel Torres, placed at Illinois State Board of Education
  • Alexis Williams, placed at Northern Illinois University, Education Systems Center

To complement their work placement, Fellows engage in cohort-based professional development where they develop skills, mindsets, and orientations that can help them accelerate equity and excellence throughout their careers. Fellows become part of Education Pioneers’ nationwide network of education leaders, which includes 4,500 Alumni at all stages of their careers – 70% of whom continue to work in education following their EP Fellowship. Across the EP Alumni network, 50% of leaders self-identify as people of color.

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