Press Release: May 25, 2016

Pahara Institute Announces New Class of Leaders for NextGen Network

SAN FRANCISCO (May 25, 2016) – The Pahara Institute announced today the Fall 2016 cohort of leaders for its NextGen Network. These 24 leaders have been selected to join a Pahara network designed to recognize and support outstanding emerging senior leaders who can amplify the voices of underrepresented communities that are currently not well served by our public schools.

“We realize the importance of supporting exceptional leaders in their work towards achieving excellence and equity for all public school children and building high quality learning environments,” said Kim Smith, Pahara Institute Founder and CEO. “This talented and diverse group of NextGen Network leaders demonstrates the creative leadership that our movement needs, and we are thrilled to welcome them to the Pahara community.”

The NextGen Network is a 12 month leadership development program that aims to identify and develop a diverse group of extraordinary emerging senior leaders with the potential to strengthen and shape the future of the educational excellence and equity movement. The movement for excellence and equity in American education is at a critical juncture. As this work evolves, it is important to cultivate and support leaders who bring diverse voices and perspectives to the movement, particularly those who represent communities that are currently not well served by our public schools. By identifying individuals who can amplify underrepresented voices, and providing them with high-level leadership development and networking opportunities, this program encourages and supports those who will become senior leaders in the field and helps strengthen the educational equity and excellence movement by engaging more diverse perspectives.

The Fall 2016 NextGen Network leaders are:

    • Mala Batra, Chief of Staff, Aspire Public Schools
    • Carlos Beato, Founding Principal, International High School at Langley Park
    • Samir Bolar, Co-Founder & Chief Strategy Officer, Mastery Design Collaborative
    • La Mikia Castillo, National Organizing Director, National Foster Youth Institute
    • Mohammed Choudhury, Director, Office of Transformation & Innovation, Dallas Independent School District
    • Josh Crosson, Advocacy Manager, The Minnesota Campaign for Achievement Now
    • Adam Falkner, Chief Operating Officer, Urban Word NYC
    • Odiaka Gonzalez, Executive Director, Oakland Leaf
    • Melissa Harris, Senior Executive Director, New York City Department of Education, Office of School Design and Charter Partnerships
    • Angela Harvey-Bowen, Deputy Chief of Professional Learning, Friendship Public Charter School
    • Christina Henderson, Director, Council of the District of Columbia’s Committee on Education
    • Dynasti Hunt, Vice President of Human Resources, Rocketship Education
    • John Little, III, Director of The Surge Team, Memphis Lift
    • Norma López, Governance & Development/Collaboration Manager, East Coast Migrant Head Start Project
    • Landon Mascareñaz, Executive Director, Strategy Development & Family Empowerment, Office of Family and Community Engagement, Denver Public Schools
    • Charles McDonald, Senior Managing Director, External Affairs, Teach For America – South Carolina
    • Mary Moran, Co-Founder, Our Voice Nuestra Voz
    • Eleisha Nelson, Deputy Director of Resident Training, The Broad Residency in Urban Education, The Broad Center
    • Akshai J. Patel, Chief Executive Officer, Phoenix Collegiate Academy
    • Shauntel Poulson, Co-Founder & General Partner, Reach Capital
    • Seth Saavedra, Director, Talent & Advancement, NACA Inspired Schools Network
    • Jessica Santana, Co-Founder, New York On Tech
    • Jonathan Tiongco, Founding Principal & Senior Advisor, Next Gen Learning, Alliance College-Ready Public Schools
    • Samantha Tweedy, Senior Director of External Impact, Uncommon Schools

To access bios and photos of these NextGen Network leaders, click here. For More Information: Idrissa Simmonds-Nastili, NextGen Director, 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 for 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 important improvements to our public schools.

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