The Nellie Mae Education Foundation Welcomes Mishone Donelson, Senior Vice President and Senior Managing Director at Horizon Technology Finance, to Board of Directors

We are excited to announce the appointment of Mishone Donelson, Senior Vice President and Senior Managing Director at Horizon Technology Finance, to the Nellie Mae Education Foundation Board of Directors. As a board member, Mishone’s expertise and experience in equitable finance and education will guide the Foundation on our racial equity journey.

“Mishone joins us at a critical time when much of philanthropy is thinking about how to leverage assets towards purpose and mission,” said Nellie Mae interim president & CEO, Dr. Gislaine Ngounou. “We are thrilled and grateful that he has chosen to bring his experiences, knowledge, and skills to the important work of the Foundation so that we can better advance racial justice in public education.”

“Mishone combines outstanding business experience with a long track record of supporting educational opportunity and equity. He will be a tremendous partner in moving Nellie Mae’s mission forward,” said Greg Gunn, chair of the Nellie Mae Board.

Mishone has nearly 20 years of investment and business development experience, and currently serves as a Senior Vice President and Senior Managing Director at Horizon Technology Finance, a leading venture lending firm. He is responsible for sourcing investment opportunities in the life sciences and healthcare technology markets.

“I am honored and excited to join the board of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation,” said Mishone Donelson. “As a product of the public school system, I understand first-hand the value and challenges of the public educational system. I want to help ensure that young people of color in the New England area have the quality public education that they need and deserve.”

Previously, Mishone was a Principal at Fairview Capital Partners, where he led investment and business development efforts for Fairview’s venture capital, private equity, and direct co-investment portfolios. Prior to that, Mishone served at Ariel Investments as an equity research analyst and as Chief of Staff to the Chairman and CEO. He also formerly served as a consultant for Accenture. Mishone also helped launch the Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering, Tennessee’s first charter school.

Mishone currently also serves as a board member for Hartford Youth Scholars and the Connecticut Airport Authority, and as a trustee for Miss Porter’s School.

Mishone earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from MIT and a Master of Business Administration from the Kellogg School of Management, where he was a Robert Toigo Fellow.

Reframing Learning Loss Amidst a Pandemic


While there’s no doubt the pandemic has deeply impacted the learning experiences of young people across our region and our nation, calls to focus solely on “learning loss” not only dismisses the resilience and creativity of young people who have forged through three years of pandemic schooling, but also ignores longstanding bias against Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Students of Color (BILSOC) in our nation’s schools. Nellie Mae’s first #EdEquityTalks of 2022, co-sponsored with LiberatED, will feature a conversation on how we can leverage racial justice and equity to reframe conversations about learning loss and uplift the brilliance, determination, and wisdom of our young people. Register today for this free hour-long conversation!


SPEAKERS

Giulia Gennari, student @South Burlington High School

Law-Rel Butler, lead organizer @Alliance for Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education

Dena Simmons, Ed.D., founder @LiberatED

Alexis Harewood, program officer @Nellie Mae Education Foundation

Jaylee Carles, student @Manchester High School

Favour Ben-Okafor, student @Manchester High School West

Movement Building, Power, Black Futures, Public Education, and Collective Liberation: A Conversation with Alicia Garza

Join Nellie Mae for the next event in our #EdEquityTalks series! We are excited to host Alicia Garza, principal at Black Futures Lab and co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network. Public education, political education, and justice-centered work are often seen as separate entities even though they share many fundamental elements. This conversation will focus on understanding how power and movement-building principles and strategies can help us make meaning of the landscape of education, and how racial equity and justice in education are elements of a larger movement we all need to be a part of.

The Nellie Mae Education Foundation champions efforts that challenge racial inequities and advance excellent, student-centered public education for all New England youth.

SPEAKERS

Headshot of Alicia Garza

Alicia Garza, Principal @Black Futures Lab

Headshot of Gislaine Ngounou

Dr. Gislaine N. Ngounou, Interim President and CEO @Nellie Mae Education Foundation

Open Letter: Teach Us Everything

Here at Nellie Mae, we are committed to equitable public education and teaching the truth, and those values are under attack from special interests who do not actually care about our students. We are taking a stand in support of education alongside our partners in this week’s Sunday edition of the Boston Globe. Our open letter urges New England public schools to teach the truth and continue to make our schools models of equity, inclusion and justice.

It has become apparent that these fights fueled by conservative voices are not going away. At Nellie Mae, we will continue to unapologetically champion racial equity and quality public education for all students across New England. We hope to have your continued support in the weeks, months, and years ahead during this effort.

For a closer look at our letter and video, supported by and shaped with many of our partners across communities, see below. If you are moved by what you see, please join us on this journey and let other supporters know.

In partnership and community,
Dr. Gislaine N. Ngounou
Interim President & CEO — Nellie Mae Education Foundation


Join us by signing on to Nellie Mae’s open letter.

To learn more about additional efforts to teach truth, visit AAPF.

When White Tears Are Held in Higher Regard Than Black Life

By Dr. Gislaine N. Ngounou, Interim President and CEO, Nellie Mae Education Foundation

These past couple of weeks have shown us all too well, again, how white tears are held in higher regard than Black life.

White tears, as Kyle Rittenhouse cried as he was acquitted of all five charges, were held in higher regard than the lives of the three white, men he shot — Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber, and Gaige Grosskreutz–as they fought for Black lives. Two of those men, Rosenbaum and Huber, were fatally shot.

White tears, held in higher regard than Jacob Blake, who was left partially paralyzed after a white police officer shot him outside of his home.

White tears, held in higher regard than Jacob Blake’s children, who watched as their father was shot.

White tears, held in higher regard than Julius Jones, who has spent half of his life on death row, his sentence commuted only hours before he was set to be executed — to still face life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

White tears, held in higher regard than Ahmaud Arbery, whose murderers’ conviction now gives his family and community a small fraction of peace, but not justice.

The systems that are supposedly meant to support and protect us — to create safer, more vibrant, and more supportive communities — are not broken.

White tears, held in higher regard than Tamir Rice, killed 6 years ago by a white police officer for holding a toy gun.

And countless other lives cut short insensibly because white tears have been held in higher regard than Black life.

The systems that are supposedly meant to support and protect us — to create safer, more vibrant, and more supportive communities — are not broken.

No, they are working exactly as they were designed. To hold some lives up above others, especially white lives…unless those white lives are also fighting for Black lives.

To protect white tears above Black life.

It is hard to decouple the injustices of the criminal punishment system steeped in anti-Blackness from attacks on public education and real threats to democracy. It is no surprise that the U.S. has, for the first time, been added to the list of “backsliding democracies” by the International IDEA think tank.

To those who did not believe that the major confluence of factors threatening democracy and daily life represents an urgent crisis (especially for Black people and other communities of color) worthy of swift action —I hope this drives the message home and renews a call to act boldly.

As a former teacher, I cannot stop thinking about the lives and experiences of my students. Kyle Rittenhouse could have been a student in my class — so could have Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery, Julius Jones, and Jacob Blake. I continue to reflect on the ways in which our education community and our society at large may have supported them in growing into thriving humans — or failed them. I continue to think about my own role and responsibility.

That’s why the calls to teach the truth, to ensure that our children get the fullness of our nation’s history and present are non-negotiable. That they get all the facts to make meaning of this crumbling society and democracy, to be full participants in honoring and advocating for equity and justice for themselves and others.

Living in a backsliding democracy in which Rittenhouse gets to walk away free fells sickening and terrifying. Each day, we are reminded that white tears are held in higher regard than Black life.

As funders, especially funders committed to racial justice, we must think about our responsibilities beyond our narrow or specific organizational missions. We must honestly interrogate our personal and institutional connection to human life and suffering. For those of us in positions of greater privilege, we must show up in the fight for democracy with all of the tools and resources at our disposition, because we simply cannot afford to sit on the sidelines.

Those at the forefront of the fights — young people, community organizers, activists, and educators — are doing their part, laboring to manifest solutions, bearing the brunt of injustices, and telling us that our nation is not well. Will we listen?

Will we fully commit to joining the fight to stop holding white tears in higher regard than Black life?

That commitment is necessary if we are to significantly and collectively bend the moral arc of our society towards justice and freedom for all of us.

Movement Building, Power, Black Futures, Public Education and Collective Liberation: A Conversation with Alicia Garza


Join Nellie Mae for the next event in our #EdEquityTalks series! We are excited to host Alicia Garza, principal at Black Futures Lab and co-founder of Black Lives Matter Global Network. Public education, political education, and justice-centered work are often seen as separate entities even though they share many fundamental elements. This conversation will focus on understanding how power and movement-building principles and strategies can help us make meaning of the landscape of education, and how racial equity and justice in education are elements of a larger movement we all need to be a part of.  View recording below.

SPEAKERS

Alicia Garza, Principal @Black Futures Lab

Dr. Gislaine N. Ngounou, Interim President and CEO @Nellie Mae Education Foundation

Informing Our Future By Inspecting Our Past: Deconstructing Lessons from Ed Reform to Create New Solutions

Many believe that education can transform people’s lives – with the potential to open up doors of opportunity that had previously been shut. For those who care deeply about social, racial and economic justice in America, it’s a powerful idea. That’s why it feels so painful—and unjust—that public education in the United States has not lived up to its promise.

Now 20 years since the passage of NCLB, and over 50 years since the passage of ESEA, stark inequities still exist in our public education system. Even so, there have been promising efforts to close these gaps, ensuring that every young person has an equitable shot at a high-quality public education. There are promising efforts now, as many seek to dismantle what has not worked for far too long and to create and build anew. We see and hear this in the current calls to not go back to a status quo that did not serve most students, families, and communities well.

In this conversation, Dr. Keith Catone, Executive Director at CYCLE, will sit down with Dr. Sonya Douglass Horsford, Professor, Teachers College, Columbia University, Dr. Deborah Jewell-Sherman, the Gregory R. Anrig Professor of Practice in educational leadership at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and NMEF Board member, and Dr. Warren Simmons, former director of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, and also a NMEF Board member. Our panelists have spent a significant amount of time working in education reform and working to improve our nation’s schools. In conversation with them, we’ll learn how we can apply the lessons of our past to current work focused on advancing a more equitable and racially just future.

Informing Our Future by Inspecting Our Past #EdEquityTalks Event


Speakers

Dr. Keith Catone, Executive Director @CYCLE (Center for Youth & Community Leadership in Education)

Dr. Deborah Jewell-Sherman, Professor of Practice, The Gregory R. Anrig Professor of Educational Leadership @Harvard Graduate School of Education

Dr. Sonya Douglass Horsford, Professor @Teachers College, Columbia University

Dr. Warren Simmons, Former Director @Annenberg Institute for School Reform