Press Release: March 13, 2015

Pahara Institute Announces New Class of Leaders for NextGen Network

SAN FRANCISCO (March 13, 2015) – The Pahara Institute announced today the Spring 2015 cohort of leaders for its NextGen Network. Building upon the success of the inaugural cohort launched last year, these 24 leaders have been selected to join a Pahara network designed to recognize and support exceptional mid-career professionals who can amplify the voices of underrepresented communities who are currently not well served by our public schools. This cohort is the first of two that will launch in 2015.

“Identifying and supporting outstanding leaders is critical to reaching our goal of excellence and equity for all our public school students,” said Kim Smith, Pahara Institute Founder and CEO. “By creating this network to connect exceptional diverse mid-career leaders and to challenge them to wrestle with the leadership tensions in our democracy and education system, and to engage creatively in problem solving, we hope to accelerate the positive change they create for our students. This cohort exemplifies the leadership talent and diversity that our movement needs for the future and we are humbled to be able to support them.”

The NextGen Network is a 12-month leadership experience that identifies and develops mid-career leaders in the educational excellence and equity movement, providing them with high-level leadership development and networking opportunities, and strengthening their efforts within the movement to bridge traditional divides and engage different perspectives. Pahara will provide these diverse leaders with the opportunity to step back from their daily work to reflect with their peers on the important ways that they can strengthen and shape the future of the educational excellence and equity movement. Participants will learn from, support, and challenge each other as they enhance their own leadership skills, work to amplify under represented voices, and continue to strive to provide a high quality education for every child in America.

The Spring 2015 NextGen Network leaders are:

  • Kara Allen Soldati, Executive Director, CoachArt
  • Victoria Ankrah, Executive Director, Acelero Learning
  • Luis Avila, Vice President, 270 Strategies
  • Jonathan Blasher, Pacific Northwest Executive Director, Playworks
  • Kenya Bradshaw, Partner, TNTP
  • Eric Chan, Partner, Charter School Growth Fund
  • Elena Chavez Quezada, Senior Program Officer, Tipping Point Community
  • Naressa Cofield, Director, Excellence in Programming, Choice Foundation
  • Alejandro Gac-Artigas, CEO & Founder, Springboard Collaborative
  • Kelly Garcia, Executive Director, Summit Public School: K2
  • Michael Gomez, Principal, Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School
  • Christina Grant, Superintendent, Great Oaks Foundation
  • Hrag Hamalian, Founder and Head of Schools, Valor Academy Charter Schools
  • David Hardy, Jr., Deputy Superintendent of Academics, Saint Louis Public Schools
  • Sikander Iqbal, Chief of Staff, Youth Uprising
  • April Knox, Director of Coaching, Schools That Can Milwaukee
  • Naoko Kudo, Director, Network Support Operations, Achievement First
  • Leonard Medlock, Product Manager, EdSurge
  • Pablo Mejia, Director of Individualized Learning, IDEA Public Schools
  • Neela Rathinasamy, Deputy Chief, Central Office Effectiveness, DC Public Schools
  • Adrian Ruiz, Executive Director, Espiritu Community Development Corp.
  • Paola Santana, Senior Manager, Education & Workforce Development, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Antonio Saunders, Regional Partner, Teach For America
  • Kameelah Shaheed-Diallo, Vice President of Strategy & Community Engagement, The Mind Trust

To access bios and photos of these NextGen Network leaders, click here.

For More Information:
Maggie Scott-Weathers, Program Manager, Pahara Institute,

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 are designed to identify leaders in education innovation, and through a time-tested dialogue approach, strengthen and sustain their efforts to bring about critical improvements to our public schools.






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