Press Release: December 20, 2016

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

SAN FRANCISCO (December 20, 2016) – The Pahara Institute, together with the Aspen Institute, announced today the Winter 2017 cohort of the highly selective Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship. These 24 individuals join the Pahara community of leaders, which is designed to support and challenge diverse and innovative leaders who are reimagining America’s public schools.

“This new cohort of Pahara-Aspen Fellows inspires us with their deep commitment to equity and excellence for our public schools,” said Kim Smith, Pahara Institute Founder and Chief Executive Officer. “Transforming learning to meet the diverse needs of all of our children and young people in the 21st century by providing academic knowledge, social, emotional, and innovative problem solving skills and getting beyond a ‘one size fits all’ mentality, is going to take a powerful collective effort. We are honored to support this talented group of leaders as they work together to tackle these important challenges.”

The Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship is a two-year, cohort-based program that identifies exceptional leaders in the educational excellence and equity movement, facilitates their dynamic growth, and strengthens their collective efforts to dramatically improve public schools, especially those serving 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 more than 2,300 Fellows from over 50 countries who are collectively making tremendous positive change in the world.

The Winter 2017 Pahara-Aspen Education Fellows are:

  • Gary Borden, Executive Director, California Charter Schools Association Advocates
  • Sharlonda Buckman, Chief Executive Officer, Detroit Parent Network
  • Vanessa Calderón-Rosado, Chief Executive Officer, IBA-Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción
  • Steve Canavero, Superintendent of Public Instruction, State of Nevada
  • Jonathan Cowan, Chief Research, Design, and Innovation Officer, KIPP Foundation
  • Will Crossley, President, The Piney Woods School
  • Felicia Cumings Smith, Senior Program Officer of K-12 Education, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Hilary Darilek, Chief Executive Officer, E.L. Haynes Public Charter School
  • Christie Huck, Executive Director, City Garden Montessori Charter School
  • Holly Kuzmich, Executive Director, George W. Bush Institute
  • Ted Maple, President and Chief Executive Officer, Early Learning Indiana
  • David Montague, Founder and Executive Director, Memphis Teacher Residency
  • Carlos Moreno, Co-Executive Director, Big Picture Learning
  • Mildred Otero, Vice President for Policy and Advocacy, Leadership for Educational Equity
  • Brittany Packnett, Vice President of National Community Alliances, Teach for America
  • Manuel N. Ponce, Jr., Clinical Associate Professor and Director, Institute for School Leadership and Administration, Loyola Marymount University
  • Rolando Posada, Executive Director, San Antonio, IDEA Public Schools
  • Deborah Quazzo, Founder and Managing Partner, GSV Acceleration Fund
  • Tim Saintsing, Executive Director of Teaching and Learning Labs, Relay Graduate School of Education
  • Joshua Smith, Chief Academic Officer, STRIVE Prep
  • Juan Torres, Former Chief Operating Officer, Voxy
  • Kelly Young, Executive Director, Education Reimagined
  • Lynzi Ziegenhagen, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Schoolzilla

“Pahara-Aspen Fellows are leading the change necessary to overcome the greatest challenges in American public education,” said Peter Reiling, Executive Vice President for Leadership and Seminar Programs at the Aspen Institute. “This cohort embodies a high-integrity entrepreneurial spirit and a deep commitment to the betterment of society – the hallmark traits of all Fellows of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. We are delighted to welcome them on this journey from success to significance.”

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

For more information please contact 

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. For more information, please visit

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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, more than 2,300 Fellows from over 50 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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