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Pahara Announces New Class of Leaders for The Pahara Fellowship

(December 20, 2021) - The Pahara Institute announced today a new cohort of the highly selective Pahara Fellowship. These 20 individuals join the Pahara community of leaders, which is designed to support and challenge values-driven and innovative leaders who are reimagining public education, so that every child in America has the opportunity to lead a free and meaningful life.

The Pahara Fellowship is a one-year, cohort-based program that identifies exceptional leaders in the educational excellence and equity movement, facilitates their dynamic growth, and strengthens their collective efforts to dramatically improve public education, especially those serving low-income children and communities. The Fellowship provides these leaders with the unusual opportunity to step back from their demanding daily work to reflect with peers on their collective and individual impact as leaders and change agents. Fellows challenge each other to think beyond traditional silos and sector boundaries to develop strategies that enhance their effectiveness as leaders, address leadership challenges in public education, and accelerate the improvements needed to provide high-quality learning opportunities for all of our nation’s children.

The Newest Cohort of Pahara Fellows are:

  • Maka Black Elk, Executive Director for Truth and Healing, Red Cloud Indian School

  • Jason Bransford, Chief Executive Officer, Gem Innovation Schools

  • Mario Cardona, Chief of Policy and Practice, Child Care Aware of America

  • Ed Chang, Executive Director, redefinED

  • Tanika Island Childress, Chief Executive Officer, UChicago Charter School

  • Tracy-Elizabeth Clay, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Risk and Compliance Officer, Teach For America

  • Diana Cournoyer, Executive Director, National Indian Education Association

  • Courtney Criswell, Vice President of Policy and Program, PIE Network

  • Sharif El-Mekki, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Center for Black Educator Development

  • Elizabet Garza, Chief Schools Officer, IDEA Public Schools

  • Robert S. Harvey, Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer, East Harlem Schools Academies, East Harlem Tutorial Program

  • Laura Maestas, Chief Executive Officer, DC Prep

  • Anu Malipatil, Vice President, Education, Overdeck Family Foundation

  • Tara Marlovits, Chief External Officer, Uncommon Schools

  • Justin Scott, Regional Superintendent, KIPP Texas Public Schools

  • Kevin Shafer, Partner, The City Fund

  • Nnenna Ude, Chief Executive Officer, Match Education

  • Michelle Vilchez, Co-Chief Executive Officer, Innovate Public Schools

  • Evelia Villa, Chief Executive Officer, Amethod Public Schools

  • Odelia Younge, Director, Micro-credentials, Digital Promise

To access bios and photos of the Pahara Fellows, click here.

For more information please contact

About the Pahara Institute

The Pahara Institute seeks to strengthen the movement for educational excellence and equity by developing and sustaining high-integrity, values-driven leaders. The guiding principle of the Pahara Institute is that bold improvements are needed in our public schools so that every child in America has access to the tools and skills they need 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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