Press Release: June 1, 2017

Pahara Institute Announces New Class of Leaders for NextGen Network

SAN FRANCISCO (June 1, 2017) – The Pahara Institute announced today the Fall 2017 cohort of its NextGen Network leaders. These 24 leaders have been recognized for their outstanding leadership and potential to help shape the future of equity and excellence in education.

“We need visionary leaders that are acting on behalf of all our children,” said Kim Smith, Pahara Institute Founder and CEO. “We look forward to welcoming this talented and diverse group of NextGen leaders, who have powerful ideas about how to better serve and connect communities with education systems, and who are demonstrating the kind of creative leadership we need to accelerate progress towards real equity and excellence in our public schools.”

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 2017 NextGen Network leaders are:

  • Alesha Arscott, Senior Director of Talent, Charter School Growth Fund
  • Tony Ashton, Executive Director, Teach For America – Idaho
  • Mya Baker, Senior Director of Curriculum, Uplift Education – Dallas, Fort Worth
  • Mala Batra, Chief of Staff, Aspire Public Schools
  • Tasha Booker, Executive Director, City Year – Columbus
  • Gregory Callaham, Director of Social-Emotional Learning, Alpha Public Schools
  • Sarah Chandler, Director, The Broad Center
  • Aisha Chappell, Senior Director of Math Program, Blue Engine
  • Dr. Mahnaz Charania, Former Director of Strategic Planning, Research, & Evaluation, Fulton County Schools
  • Dr. Ricardo Esquivel, Executive Director, Wonderful College Prep Academy
  • Adriana Figueroa Murrietta, Executive Director, Pike and Susan Sullivan Foundation
  • Michael Franco, Vice President of Secondary Program, IDEA Public Schools
  • Crystal Gonzales, Executive Director, New Venture Fund, English Language Learner Success Forum
  • Sanford Johnson, Co-founder & Deputy Director of Advocacy, Mississippi First
  • Devin Krugman, Head of School, East Bay Innovation Academy
  • Carlos Marquez, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, California Charter Schools Association
  • Amit Patel, Partner, Owl Ventures
  • Felipe Perez, Director of Accountability, Chicago Public Schools, Network 3
  • Ashley B. Stewart, Senior Associate, Talent & Leadership Development, The Annie E. Casey Foundation
  • Stacey Wang, Partner, Transcend Education
  • Bryant Weinberg Jones, Chief Investment Officer, Boston Schools Fund
  • Elizabeth Whittaker-Walker, Director of Public Policy & Practice, The Council of Michigan Foundations
  • Analiza Wolf, Managing Director of Talent, East Harlem Tutorial Program
  • Nicole Young, Executive Director, Bard Early College in New Orleans

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 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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