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

Announcing our 2021 Speakers Bureau

 
Nellie Mae Ed. Fdn.
Aug 9 · 3 min read
For the past several years, Nellie Mae Education Foundation has welcomed a new cohort of education leaders into our Speakers Bureau. After a year and a half characterized by the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism, and where our schools were forced to rethink where, when, and how learning happens, we are thrilled to welcome our newest cohort of Nellie Mae Education Foundation Speakers Bureau members committed to advancing racial equity in our public education system.

This year’s cohort brings together a group of experts from across the region who are united in their quest to create an equitable education system for all. Education has been thrust into the political spotlight as opponents of equity are working overtime to hinder the ability of our nation’s children to learn the truth about the nation’s founding, as well as ask the critical questions about how we can close the opportunity gaps that have been created and reinforced over the decades.

Our new cohort includes administrators, non-profit leaders, students, teachers, family advocates and more. These leaders recognize that schools can’t begin to educate our youth without creating environments where students feel seen, known, and empowered. We have long realized that schools are about much more than teaching or leading specific subject matters or helping students perform proficiently on tests. They are also about creating the global citizens of tomorrow and shaping a more just and equitable future for all of us

We couldn’t be more excited about this new cohort and the passion, expertise, and fortitude they will bring to the education ecosystem over the course of their time with us. Please see the list of our new Speakers Bureau members below:

Book a speaker for an upcoming event by visiting our Speakers Bureau site!

The Nellie Mae Education Foundation Appoints Dr. Gislaine N. Ngounou, Ed. L.D., as Interim President and CEO

Dr. Ngounou to bring nearly two decades of experience in the education and nonprofit space to the role

Nellie Mae Ed. Fdn.
May 20 · 4 min read

Quincy, MA — May 20, 2021: The Nellie Mae Education Foundation Board of Directors, in consultation with outgoing President and CEO Nick Donohue, has appointed Dr. Gislaine N. Ngounou, Ed. L.D., as Interim President and CEO, effective June 1, 2021. The organization is thrilled to name Dr. Ngounou to this elevated leadership role, and is confident that she will continue to build on the solid foundation that she, along with Foundation colleagues, advisors, and grantees, has set. The Nellie Mae Education Foundation expects Dr. Ngounou to remain in the interim role for 6–12 months as they pause their external search while taking time to determine next steps around decisions of future, permanent leadership of the organization.

I feel confident that I am well-equipped to lead and support the organization through this transition. I look forward to continuing to work in partnership with our Board, Nellie Mae colleagues, community advisors, and grantee partners to continue to move the Foundation’s work forward, so that we may use our power and privilege as an organization to uproot systemic racism. — Dr. Ngounou,Vice President, Strategy and Programs, Nellie Mae Education Foundation

When Dr. Ngounou takes on the position of Interim President and CEO on June 1, she will bring nearly two decades of experience working across the education sector, including work with nonprofits, individual schools, and school districts. Most recently, she served as the Foundation’s Vice President of Strategy and Programs, where she was responsible for successfully implementing the organization’s new grantmaking strategy focused on advancing racial equity in public education. Before coming to the Foundation, Dr. Ngounou served as the Chief Program Officer for Arlington, Virginia-based Phi Delta Kappa International, a professional organization for educators. In this role, she designed and led programs that supported school district leaders, provided leadership coaching surrounding issues of equity and social justice, and created and facilitated an ongoing community that allowed system-level leaders in districts from across the country to learn from one another. Prior to her work at Phi Delta Kappa, Dr. Ngounou worked for school districts including Hartford Public Schools, Montgomery County Public Schools, and the Kansas City Missouri School District. She is passionate about social justice, racial equity, adult learning, youth and community empowerment, systems change, and increasing educational access and opportunities for all students to thrive.

I speak on behalf of the entire Nellie Mae Board of Directors when I say that we are more than excited to have Gislaine in the Interim President and CEO role. — Greg Gunn, Chair, Nellie Mae Education Foundation Board of Directors

“I am excited and thankful for this opportunity, and feel confident that I am well-equipped and positioned to lead and support the organization through this transition,” said Dr. Ngounou. “I look forward to continuing to work in partnership with our Board, Nellie Mae colleagues, community advisors, and grantee partners to continue to move the Foundation’s work forward, so that we may use our power and privilege as an organization to uproot systemic racism — both within philanthropy and our public education system. I hope we can continue to advance a philanthropic practice that centers the voices of those most impacted by injustices.”

“I speak on behalf of the entire Nellie Mae Board of Directors when I say that we are more than excited to have Gislaine in the Interim President and CEO role,” said Greg Gunn, Chair of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation Board of Directors. “We are confident that this move will allow her to continue to move the organization forward in advancing a vision where all young people have access to an excellent and equitable public education that prepares them to succeed and thrive in community. Additionally, this move will allow the organization to continue implementing its current grantmaking strategy uninterrupted.”

Outgoing President and CEO Nick Donohue plans to transition out of the organization effective May 31, 2021, after over 14 years at the organization. The Foundation remains ever grateful for Nick’s exemplary leadership over the years. “Nick’s guidance and expertise has pushed us to more deeply engage in racial equity work as a foundation, which in turn has made us a much more responsive grantmaker,” said Greg Gunn. “He has been responsible for shepherding in student-centered approaches to learning as a national education reform strategy, and really helping to shift the narrative around how people think about the ways schools should be organized to best serve young people. We know Nick’s legacy will be carried out as we continue our work, and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

Gislaine brings strategic vision, deep knowledge around education, extensive experience with racial equity and change management, that will bring so much to advancing the organization’s vision. It is because of her leadership and execution that the Foundation has been able to implement our new grantmaking strategy with thoughtfulness, humility, and care. — Nick Donohue, Outgoing Nellie Mae Education Foundation President and CEO

“While I will miss working closely with Nellie Mae colleagues, partners, and grantees, I couldn’t be more thrilled for Gislaine and the organization about this decision,” said Nick Donohue. “Gislaine brings strategic vision, deep knowledge around education, extensive experience with racial equity and change management, and an inspiring leadership style that will bring so much to advancing the organization’s vision. It is because of her leadership and execution that the Foundation has been able to implement our new grantmaking strategy with thoughtfulness, humility, and care. It has been the privilege and honor of my lifetime to work at the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, and I look forward to watching how the organization grows even more under her full leadership.”

Ed Equity Talks Series: School Funding Amidst COVID-19

Join Nellie Mae on March 31, 2021, at 3 p.m., ET for the next in our virtual Ed Equity Talks series, featuring Marie-Frances Rivera, President of MassBudget

In late 2019, Massachusetts lawmakers passed the Student Opportunity Act, a major school finance reform law aimed at steering an additional $1.5B to the state’s public schools over seven years. As we move to implement a 2022 state budget amidst the height of a global pandemic, we must consider the immense needs of our Commonwealth’s young people, especially young people of color who have been disproportionally affected by the crisis. Join us as Nellie Mae Director of Engagement and Partnerships Delia Arellano-Weddleton sits down with Marie-Frances Rivera, President of MassBudget, to discuss how a state faced with economic uncertainty should seek to implement equitable school funding to meet the immense needs of young people, their families and communities, and how philanthropy can play a role in supporting this work.

Register Now! Webinar Registration — Zoom


Ed Equity Talks Series: School Funding Amidst COVID-19 was originally published in Nellie Mae Education Foundation on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

The Nellie Mae Education Foundation Welcomes United We Dream Co-Founder Cristina Jiménez Moreta to…

The Nellie Mae Education Foundation Welcomes United We Dream Co-Founder Cristina Jiménez Moreta to Board of Directors

Today, we are thrilled to announce the appointment of Cristina Jiménez Moreta, co-founder and former executive director of United We Dream, the country’s largest immigrant-youth-led network, to the Nellie Mae Education Foundation Board of Directors. As a new member of the board, Cristina’s leadership and extensive experience in community organizing will aid the Foundation in advancing racial equity in public education.

“We are honored to welcome her to our Board of Directors as we continue to fight for racial equity and equal access to excellent public education for all students in New England.” — Nick Donohue

“Cristina has been a powerful force in the immigrant justice movement, empowering and organizing young people and communities of color across the country for over a decade,” Nick Donohue, President and CEO of Nellie Mae said. “We are honored to welcome her to our Board of Directors as we continue to fight for racial equity and equal access to excellent public education for all students in New England.”

“The Nellie Mae Board of Directors is thrilled to have Cristina joining us,” said Greg Gunn, chair of the Nellie Mae Board. “Cristina brings unmatched experience in movement and coalition building, community organizing, and public policy that will support the foundation in moving its agenda forward.”

Cristina is a nationally recognized organizer and movement strategist who has been instrumental in building a sustained and influential youth-led immigrant movement. In recognition of her work as a social justice organizer, Cristina received a 2017 MacArthur Fellowship, the Four Freedoms Award, and a spot on the 2018 TIME 100 List. She has been celebrated in various lists including “Forbes 30 under 30 in Law and Policy” and the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s “40 under 40 Young Leaders Who are Solving Problems of Today and Tomorrow.”

“In communities across New England, courageous young people are driving the change they want to see. I am thrilled to support them and continue the fight for a more just future for all young people with the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.” — Cristina Jiménez Moreta

“Young people of color are facing unprecedented challenges, and the work of advancing racial equity in public education has never been more critical,” said Cristina Jiménez Moreta. “In communities across New England, courageous young people are driving the change they want to see. I am thrilled to support them and continue the fight for a more just future for all young people with the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.”

Cristina co-founded United We Dream (UWD), the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the country. Under Cristina’s leadership as Executive Director, UWD has grown into a powerful network of nearly one million members and has played a pivotal role in shifting the policy conversation and narrative about immigrants and immigration, ultimately influencing policy. Cristina was instrumental in UWD’s successful campaign for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. She migrated to the U.S from Ecuador with her family at the age of 13, growing up undocumented.

In recognition of her work as a social justice organizer, Cristina received a 2017 MacArthur Fellowship, the Four Freedoms Award, and a spot on the 2018 TIME 100 List. Cristina has appeared in hundreds of national and local media outlets including USA Today, CNN, MSNBC, HBO, The New York Times, the LA Times, ABC, NPR, The Huffington Post, Univision, Telemundo, and La Opinion. Her writing has been published in the New York Times, CNN, USA Today, Huffington Post, and El Diario.

Cristina proudly serves on the Board of Directors of the National Committee for Responsible Philanthropy (NCRP), Hazen Foundation, and Make the Road Action Fund. Cristina also co-founded the New York State Youth Leadership Council, the Dream Mentorship Program at Queens College, was an immigration policy analyst for the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy and an immigrant rights organizer at Make the Road New York.

Cristina holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration & Public Policy from the School of Public of Affairs at Baruch College, CUNY and graduated Cum Laude with a B.A. in Political Science and Business from Queens College, CUNY. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Letters & Humanities by Wesleyan University.


The Nellie Mae Education Foundation Welcomes United We Dream Co-Founder Cristina Jiménez Moreta to… was originally published in Nellie Mae Education Foundation on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Nick Donohue Announces Plans to Step Down as President & CEO of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation

Will support search for new leader after more than a decade of leadership

QUINCY, MA — February 5, 2021 — The Nellie Mae Education Foundation today announced that Nick Donohue will be stepping down as the organization’s President and CEO at the end of 2021 after 14 years of leadership at the organization. During his time at the Foundation, Nick was responsible for shepherding in student-centered approaches to learning as a national education reform strategy and shifting the organization to its current grantmaking strategy focused on advancing racial equity in public education.

Nick has worked throughout his career to expand access to high quality, innovative learning opportunities for students. His leadership in education reform has challenged traditional notions of schooling to respond to our changing world and the systemic inequities inherent in our systems of education, with the goal of preparing learners to contribute to a thriving democracy. Nick’s leadership helped build a community of districts committed to rethinking how they supported students based on individual need, incorporating student voice into the learning process, expanding opportunities for learning outside of the classroom, and tailoring learning to each young person.

Donohue will continue to serve in an active role as the Foundation’s leader through the end of the calendar year, while the Board of Directors — chaired by Greg Gunn — begins a search in the coming weeks for Donohue’s successor.

“The past 14 years at Nellie Mae have been tremendously rewarding for me, both personally and professionally. It has been the honor of my career to work at a Foundation so fiercely committed to rethinking what public education looks like to meet the needs of all learners, especially through the lens of racial equity,” said Donohue. “I look forward to leading the organization during this important transition and through the end of the year. Living into the values we have come to embrace as an organization — and that guide my own actions so much today — means it is time for me to help the Foundation find a new leader whose experience and expertise will support the organization’s new work even more fully moving forward.”

“During his time at Nellie Mae, Nick has led the organization through growth and challenges, always seeking to deepen the positive impact the organization made on young people in the region,” said Nellie Mae Education Foundation Board Chair Greg Gunn. “Several years ago, we embarked on a journey to lean into the racial equity barriers in our field. While Nick is the first to say his journey is ongoing, it was his leadership — and his commitment to Board and staff working together — which in turn helped us be more responsive to communities during the challenges of this past year. We wouldn’t be on this path today without Nick’s values-driven, reflective leadership. I look forward to his support in our search for his successor, a process that is grounded in our racial equity principles, inclusive of the voices of staff, grantees, and community partners.”

Image for post
Nick Donohue with Nellie Mae staff and community advisors in 2019

The transition comes at a time when the Foundation has entered the second year of implementation of its grantmaking strategy focused on advancing racial equity in public education, supporting efforts to advance excellent, student-centered public education for all New England youth. In addition, just last year, Donohue led an effort to distribute an additional $20M in grantmaking towards combatting COVID-19 and anti-Black racism in the New England region and nationally, acknowledging that needs exacerbated by the dual pandemics have an impact on youth educational experiences and outcomes, especially in communities of color.

“I am proud of what Nellie Mae has contributed in the New England region — and nationally — to ensure that all young people have access to an excellent and equitable public education. I am proud of our commitment to do our part in the work of dismantling structural racism, and am grateful to those who have helped me learn and ‘unlearn’ so much. I am thankful for the relationships I have built over my tenure here with Board, staff, grantees, and external partners and am heartened by the good work that will continue beyond my time here,” said Donohue.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Nick served as the New Hampshire State Commissioner of Education where he led systemic reform efforts to innovative teaching and learning. Additionally, he oversaw the implementation of the Rhode Island Commissioner of Education’s order to reconstitute Hope High School in Providence. During his time at Nellie Mae, Nick has also served in a number of leadership roles, including as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Aurora Institute (formerly iNACOL), and previous board affiliations including serving as Vice-Chair of the board of Grantmakers for Education, and serving as a trustee for both the University System of New Hampshire and Community Technical College System.

Nick and his family are looking forward to the next chapter of his life both professionally and personally.

*Read Nick’s letter announcing his plans to step down here


Nick Donohue Announces Plans to Step Down as President & CEO of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation was originally published in Nellie Mae Education Foundation on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Ed Equity Talks Series: #PhilanthropySoWhite

Join Nellie Mae on February 19, 2021, at 12pm, ET for the next in our virtual Ed Equity Talks series, featuring Edgar Villanueva, author of Decolonizing Wealth.

Two years ago, Villanueva moderated the first #PhilanthropySoWhite panel, which served as a call to action for white philanthropic leaders to support racial justice by changing their approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Part two of this conversation will feature white philanthropic leaders speaking to other white leaders about their role and responsibility in dismantling white supremacy, reinforcing that the work cannot rest solely on BIPOC who most often lead these conversations.

Villanueva will be joined by: Nick Donohue, President and CEO of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation; John Palfrey, President of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; and Hilary Pennington, Executive Vice President of Programs at the Ford Foundation. Vanessa Daniel, Founder and Executive Director of the Groundswell Fund will offer an end session of reflection and response. We hope to see you there!

Webinar Registration — Zoom


Ed Equity Talks Series: #PhilanthropySoWhite was originally published in Nellie Mae Education Foundation on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Watch the recording using the link below: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29YBL-6udc0&t=2842s

Protecting Our Democracy

Today, runoff races in Georgia reminded us of what is possible when the extraordinary power of organizing and voting is exercised. However, those outcomes were met by the sobering reminder of the fragile state of democracy in our country. We want to acknowledge the pain and distress many of us are feeling today as White Nationalists sought to undermine our country’s democratic system through a violent insurrection. These actions are a result of the racist rhetoric of our current administration and an attempt to deny the voices of millions of Americans, especially Black Americans and other people of color. We at the Nellie Mae Education Foundation believe that public education is a cornerstone in upholding our democracy, and tonight, that democracy was threatened.

We also believe that today’s events are a reminder of the work we must continue to do, including changes to champion racial equity and social justice within our public education system. We condemn the violent actions of the mob that sought to undermine our democratic system and go against our nation’s shared value of allowing the American people to choose their leaders and ensure a peaceful transition of power.


Protecting Our Democracy was originally published in Nellie Mae Education Foundation on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Reflections and Hope

Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash

2020: a year unlike any other, plagued by a pandemic, death, job loss, evictions, and the continued murders of Black people at the hands of law enforcement. And at the same time, we have seen communities come together, respond with strength and love to demand and move forward through these momentous times.

This year, we’ve been reminded of just how fragile our social structures are — folding at the hands of a virus, disproportionally causing harm and suffering to Black, Brown and Indigenous people across our nation.

Educators have been thrust into crisis schooling, forced to completely change the way they engage and interact with young people.

With the closure, disruption, and under-resourcing of the country’s schools, more people woke up to what many have known for so long — that schools indeed are hubs for social supports: not only places to learn, but places where young people receive healthcare, nutrition, mental health supports, and allow caregivers to participate in the workforce. Educators have been thrust into crisis schooling, forced to completely change the way they engage and interact with young people.

At yet, despite the enormous challenges, so many educators have risen to the occasion — organizing and strategizing to creatively deliver content and learning experiences to their students, in spite of personal sacrifices they often have had to make. While we see many young people suffering from isolation, Zoom fatigue, hunger and much more, and we are also seeing accounts of young people who are finding comfort in home learning environments with less rigidity and the comfort to be themselves.

Returning to normal is not good enough, because normal was never enough.

It’s been a challenging year for so many reasons, but we know that returning to normal is not good enough. Because normal was never enough. But, we have hope: and here’s why. Our grantee partners across the region, coupled with so many others, remain hopeful, determined and set on ensuring that we leave this region — and this nation — better than we found it.

In Chelsea, Massachusetts, a city devastated by COVID-19, Gladys Vega and her team at La Collaborativa have worked tirelessly to ensure community members have the supports they need to get by. Young people at Connecticut groups Hearing Youth Voices, Students for Educational Justice, CT Students for a Dream and Citywide Youth Coalition were instrumental in pushing the state to become the first in the nation to require high schools provide courses on Black and Latinx studies. The Equity Institute in Rhode Island took a step further in diversifying the teaching pipeline in the state by launching their inaugural class of “EduLead Fellows” — teacher assistants and support professionals committed to obtaining a bachelor’s degree and teacher certification. The Movement for Black Lives has spearheaded protests and action that have led to police reforms across the nation, and prompted corporations to take time to examine the structural racism within their organizations. And so many other partners have led important work around the region and nation to uproot structural racism in our education system and ensure equitable access to excellent, student-centered public education for all young people.

As we move into 2021, we look forward to continuing to work hand in hand with our grantee partners to ensure that all young people, especially young people of color, have access to an equitable and excellent public education. We know it won’t be easy; but because of so many of our partners — we have hope.


Reflections and Hope was originally published in Nellie Mae Education Foundation on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Are The Kids Really Alright?

Reopening Our Region’s Public Schools Amidst a Pandemic and Racial Reckoning

A year unlike any other, we’ve witnessed the deep inequities in our society laid bare by the two pandemics of COVID and systemic racism. During this session, Nick Donohue, President and CEO of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, will speak with community and school leaders from across the New England region about how school reopening is going, and what working towards a more equitable and just future for schooling in our region looks like. Join us for a conversation on November 5, 2020 at 10:OO AM with The Boston Globe.

Register Here.


Are The Kids Really Alright? was originally published in Nellie Mae Education Foundation on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.