Charter School Leaders of Color (Virtually) go to Washington This Week to Advocate 

Today, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools kicks off its sixth annual School Leaders of Color convening. This year’s cohort of 43 Black, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American charter school leaders from 40 schools across 18 states and the District of Columbia will meet virtually over two days to share with one another and meet with their members of Congress. These leaders aim to highlight best practices and the lessons they have learned while leading these innovative public schools in their respective states.

The pandemic exacerbated the achievement gap for many Black and Brown students, and students from low-income families. Against this current landscape, the work of these school leaders, many of whom have been able to offer some form of in-person learning over the last year, is particularly noteworthy.

Further, data suggests that students who struggled in district-operated schools, especially students of color, flourish at charter schools:

  • According to Stanford University’s CREDO, Black students in urban charter schools gained 36 additional days of learning in math and 26 additional days of learning in reading per year as compared to their district school peers.
  • For Hispanic students, charter schools generate learning growth equivalent to 22 extra days in math and 6 extra days in reading annually.
  • For Hispanic students from low-income families, these numbers rise to 48 extra days in math and 25 extra days in reading.

In addition, the nation’s renewed emphasis on racial equity underscores the importance of creating more and better pathways for educators of colors. Charter schools excel in this area. Black students in charter schools are about 50 percent more likely to have a Black teacher than their district school counterparts. In addition, more than 30% of charter school principals are school leaders of color, compared to 21.5% in district schools.

“It’s an honor to host some of our nation’s top school leaders and learn more about how the flexibility and autonomy of the charter school model allows them to better serve the students of their local communities,” said Ron Rice, senior director of government relations, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “While we will miss being in-person this year, the backdrop of the pandemic highlights the urgency of equipping school leaders of color with the tools they need to open and run great schools—ultimately yielding more educational equity and stronger student performance.”

Programming at this year’s first-ever virtual convening includes a session on partnering with fraternities and sororities of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (affectionately known as the “Divine 9”), amplifying the voices of the growing Hispanic, Asian and Native American communities in the charter school movement, and accessing equitable public funding for charter schools. The “Divine 9” session will be open to the public (register here).

School leaders will also participate in virtual meetings with their respective members of Congress, Congressional leadership, and various committee and caucus chairs. These meetings often lead to lasting engagement between members and their constituents, helping create better education options for all students in the community.

This year’s cohort includes the following participants:

  • Adriana Abich, CEO, Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, Los Angeles
  • Maquita Alexander, Executive Director, Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School, Washington, D.C.
  • Nash Alexander, III, Principal, Fulton Leadership Academy, East Point, GA
  • Valissia Allen, Founder & Head of School, Leadership Preparatory Charter School, Memphis, TN
  • Alicia Alvarez, Principal, Alta Vista High School, Tucson, AZ
  • Raymond Ankrum, Superintendent, Riverhead Charter School, Calverton, NY
  • Aaron Bass, CEO, EastSide Charter School, Wilmington, DE
  • Anthony Briscoe, Senior Director of Information Technology, Noble Network of Charter Schools, Chicago, IL
  • Terri Bissonette, Head of School, American Indian Academy of Denver, Denver, CO
  • LaKendra Butler, School Leader and FounderSTRIVE Collegiate Academy, Nashville, TN
  • Dr. Marco Clark, Founder & CEO, Richard Wright PCS For Journalism and Media Arts, Washington, D.C.
  • Dr. India Ford-Taylor, Director & CEO, T2 Honors Academy, Warrensville Heights, OH
  • Dominique Fortune, Chief of Staff, Lee Montessori PCS, Washington, D.C.
  • Nicole Goodman, CEO, Scuola Vita Nuova, Kansas City, Missouri
  • Dr. Jeffrey Grant, Head of School, Monument Academy, Washington, D.C.
  • Dr. Nigel Green, Director of Equity, Noble Network of Charter Schools – Muchin College Prep, Chicago, IL
  • Norma Gutierrez, Dean of Students, Noble Network of Charter Schools – Mansueto, Chicago, IL
  • Chevonne Hall, CEO, Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, Baltimore, MD
  • Kimesha Hampton, Assistant Dean of Operations, Discipline, Noble Network of Charter Schools – Gary Comer College Prep, Chicago, IL
  • Keina Hodge, Director of Operations, Capital Village Public Charter School, Washington, D.C.
  • Tish Johnson, Director, External Relations, Achieve Community Charter Schools, Newark, NJ
  • Rafiq Kalam Id-Din II, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Ember Charter School for Mindful Education, Innovation and Transformation, Brooklyn, NY
  • Dominique Lee, Founder & CEO, Marion P. Thomas Charter School, Newark, NJ
  • Tysie McDowell, Co-Founder and Chief Academic Officer, Crossroads Charter Schools, Kansas City, MO
  • Kimberly Neal, Executive Director, Believe Circle City High School, Indianapolis, IN
  • Lagra Newman, Founder and Head of School, Purpose Preparatory Academy, Nashville, TN
  • Emilio Pack, CEO, Math and Science College Preparatory, Los Angeles, CA
  • Quentin Phipps, Director of Advocacy and Policy, Excellence Community Schools, Bronx, NY
  • Dr. Charlene Reid, Founder & CEO, Excellence Community Schools, Bronx, NY
  • Brian Riddick, Principal, Noble Network of Charter Schools – Crimson (Pullman), Chicago, IL
  • Carlos Rivas, Alumni Supports & External Affairs Manager, UIC College Prep (Noble Network of Charter Schools), Chicago, IL
  • Kristine Rivera, Director of Family and Community Engagement, Excellence Community Schools, Bronx, NY
  • DeArchie Scott, Founder and Head of School, Ambition Preparatory Charter School, Jackson, MS
  • Kiana Smith, Executive Director, Tulsa Legacy Charter School, Tulsa, OK
  • Charlotte Spann, Director of Schools, Paul PCS – International High School, Washington, D.C.
  • Connie Spinner, Executive Director, Community College Prep, Washington, D.C.
  • Samuel Stephens, Director of Student Services, Fulton Leadership Academy, East Point, GA
  • Elaine Swafford, Executive Director, Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy, Chattanooga, TN
  • John Taylor, Executive Director, Booker T. Washington Academy, New Haven, CT
  • Kathleen Wang, Principal, Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter, Hadley, MA
  • Raymond Weeden, Executive Director, Thurgood Marshall Academy, Washington, D.C.
  • Maya Woods-Cadiz, Superintendent, AIMS K-12 College Prep Charter District, Oakland, CA
  • Julia Wright, Superintendent, Meyerpark Elementary, Houston, TX

For media interested in interviewing a conference attendee, please reach out to Debbie Veney at

The American Consortium for Equity in Education, publisher of the "Equity & Access" journal, celebrates and connects the educators, associations, community partners and industry leaders who are working to solve problems and create a more equitable environment for historically underserved pre K-12 students throughout the United States.

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