Press Release: February 23, 2018

Pahara Institute Announces New Class of NextGen Fellows

SAN FRANCISCO (February 23, 2018) – The Pahara Institute announced today the Spring 2018 cohort of NextGen Fellows. These 24 leaders have been recognized for their outstanding leadership and potential to help shape the future of equity and excellence in education.

“We are thrilled to welcome this talented group of leaders who bring with them personal insights and experience about how to strengthen our collective efforts to create equity and excellence in our public schools. Now more than ever we need innovative and diverse leaders like these who can be catalysts for creating more third way solutions,” said Kim Smith, Pahara Institute Founder and CEO.

The NextGen Fellowship 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.

Pahara Institute welcomes these NextGen Fellows:

  • Brandie Burris-Gallagher, Policy Director, EdAllies
  • Edgar Campos, Chief Strategy Officer, Office of the President, Los Angeles Unified School District
  • Leticia de la Vara, Partner, The New Teacher Project
  • De-Lea Deane-Allen, Senior Director of Diversity & Inclusiveness, Achievement First
  • Cory Edmonds, District Partner, Allovue, Inc.
  • Yasmin Fodil, National Director of Community, 100Kin10
  • Avni Gupta-Kagan, Independent Consultant, Gupta-Kagan, LLC
  • Hassan Hassan, Interim Chief Executive Officer, 4.0 Schools
  • Meralis Hood, Executive Director & Vice President, City Year – Milwaukee
  • Soenda Howell, Investment Principal, Charter School Growth Fund
  • Aaron Jenkins, Vice President of Policy & Advocacy, The Expectations Project
  • Santi Khairassame, Founder, Project Recess Inc.
  • Jamie Lomax, Director of Organizational Learning & Equity, Tulsa Public Schools
  • Eric Lugo, Executive Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement, City Colleges of Chicago
  • Stephanie Mendez, Director of Charter Authorizing, New York City Department of Education
  • Kelly Richardson, Director of Operations, Brooklyn Prospect Charter School
  • Hector Salazar, Director of Partner Experience, Playworks
  • Minnie Setty, Director of Grants Management, Chamberlin Family Foundation
  • Anisha SrinivasanSenior Director of Change & Organizational Effectiveness, Uplift Education
  • Tanya St. Julien, Chief of Staff, Leadership for Educational Equity
  • Dr. Daniel Velasco, Vice President, Strategy & Programs, Latinos for Education
  • Beatrice Viramontes, Senior Managing Director, Community Lead, Teach For America – San Francisco
  • Marques Whitmire, Managing Director of Finance & Administration, Instruction Partners
  • Darin Lim Yankowitz, Vice President of People & Performance, Teach For America

For more detailed biographies of these NextGen fellows, click here.

For more information please contact: 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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