Press Release: April 28, 2014

Pahara and Aspen Institutes Announce New Class of Innovative Leaders for Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship

SAN FRANCISCO (April 28th, 2014) – The Pahara Institute, together with the Aspen Institute, announced today the selection of the Summer 2014 cohort of the highly selective Pahara-Aspen Education Fellows Program. These 24 innovative leaders join the community of leaders who have previously participated in the fellowship, which is designed to support diverse and innovative leaders who are reimagining America’s public schools.

“We need bold and innovative leaders to achieve high quality learning opportunities for all of our children, particularly those who have been underserved,” said Kim Smith, Pahara Institute Founder and CEO. “The leaders in this new Pahara-Aspen Fellowship cohort are reimagining our public schools so they can better prepare all our students for the future. They are exceptional leaders, who work tirelessly in service of children and communities, and we are so pleased to be able to support them.”

The Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship is a two-year, cohort-based program that identifies innovative leaders in the educational excellence and equity movement, facilitates their dynamic growth, and strengthens their collective efforts to dramatically improve public schools for low-income children and communities. The Fellowship provides these leaders with the unusual opportunity to step back from their demanding daily work to reflect with peers on their collective and individual impact as leaders and change agents. Fellows challenge each other to think beyond traditional silos and sector boundaries to develop strategies that enhance their effectiveness as leaders, address leadership challenges in public education, and accelerate the improvements needed to provide high quality learning opportunities for all of our nation’s children.

The Fellowship is a partnership between the Pahara and Aspen Institutes. The Aspen Institute has created a leadership development model through its renowned Henry Crown Fellowship program, which focuses on inspiring Fellows to make a lasting difference in their spheres of influence through the application of effective and enlightened leadership. Pahara-Aspen Fellows become part of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, which currently includes nearly 1800 Fellows from 46 countries who are collectively making tremendous positive change in the world.

The Summer 2014 Pahara-Aspen Education Fellows are:

  • Abby Andrietsch, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Schools That Can Milwaukee
  • Ben Austin, Executive Director, Parent Revolution
  • John Bailey, Vice President of Policy, Foundation for Excellence in Education
  • Dr. Cristina De Jesus, President and Chief Academic Officer, Green Dot Public Schools
  • Bill Durbin, Superintendent, YES Prep Memphis
  • Mark Fraley, Senior Advisor for Advocacy and Organizing, Leadership for Education Equity
  • Kwame Griffith, Executive Vice President, Regional Operations, Teach For America
  • Robert L. Hughes, President, New Visions for Public Schools
  • Lisette Nieves, Partner, Lingo Ventures
  • Dr. Meg Palisoc, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Synergy Academies
  • Joshua Phillips, Managing Director, Uncommon Schools
  • Shael Polakow-Suransky, President, Bank Street College of Education
  • Marc Porter Magee, President and Founder, 50CAN: The 50-State Campaign for Achievement Now
  • Andrea Rice, President and Co-Founder, CareerCore
  • Greg Richmond, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Association of Charter School Authorizers
  • Stephanie Saroki de García, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Seton Education Partners
  • Dr. Gisele C. Shorter, Chief External Officer, ROADS Charter High Schools
  • Hanna Skandera, Secretary of Education, New Mexico Public Education Department
  • Gene Wade, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, UniversityNow
  • Jed Wallace, President and Chief Executive Officer, California Charter Schools Association
  • Eric Westendorf, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, LearnZillion
  • Mieka Wick, Executive Director, CityBridge Foundation
  • Kelly Wright, Chief Program Officer, KIPP Foundation
  • Mubuso Zamchiya, Chief Executive Officer, Albany Charter School Network

“The Aspen Global Leadership Network model of Fellowship provides critical support to leaders who are innovating within public education, an endeavor upon which our collective future depends,” said Peter Reiling, Executive Vice President, Leadership and Seminar Programs at the Aspen Institute. “The Aspen Institute is pleased to continue this partnership with Pahara, and welcomes this outstanding cohort of leaders into the AGLN, where they join a global community of entrepreneurial change makers disrupting the status quo to address the most important challenges that surround us.”

To access bios and photos of the Pahara-Aspen Fellows, click here.

For More Information:
Saamra Mekuria-Grillo, Deputy Director, Pahara Institute (510) 984-2513,

About the Pahara Institute

The Pahara Institute is a national nonprofit organization focused on supporting the sustainability, diversity, and quality of leadership for the educational excellence and equity movement.  The guiding principle of the Pahara Institute is that bold improvements are needed to our public schools so that every child in America has access to the tools and skills he or she needs to be successful in life. Pahara’s programs, including the Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship, are designed to identify seasoned leaders in education reform, and through a time-tested dialogue approach, strengthen and sustain their efforts to bring about transformational improvements to our public schools. Pahara’s work strives to overcome inequalities in our society by accelerating innovations and reforms that increase access to high-quality education for all children, particularly those in low-income and underserved communities. For more information, please visit

The Aspen Institute Logo

About the Aspen Institute

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute has campuses in Aspen, Colorado, and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also maintains offices in New York City and has an international network of partners.

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About the Aspen Global Leadership Network

The Aspen Global Leadership Network is a growing, worldwide community of entrepreneurial leaders from business, government and the nonprofit sector — currently, nearly 1,900 “Fellows” from 48 countries — who share a commitment to enlightened leadership and to using their extraordinary creativity, energy and resources to tackle the foremost societal challenges of our times. All share the common experience of participating in the Henry Crown Fellowship or one of the dozen Aspen Institute leadership initiatives it has inspired in the United States, Africa, Central America, India, the Middle East and China.

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