Equity & Diversity

Chiefs For Change Names New Crop of ‘Future Chiefs’

By Denisa R. Superville — March 16, 2018 2 min read
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Chiefs for Change, the Washington, D.C.,-based organization that is building a pipeline of diverse state and district leaders, announced a new crop of “future leaders” this week.

The nine “future leaders,” who hold positions as varied as a deputy state education commissioner to a superintendent of a charter management company, hail from Tennessee to Los Angeles. They will be paired with mentors who are state and district education leaders during the year-long program.

“We know the leadership of our nation’s major school systems matters a great deal for millions of kids. Yet each time a superintendent or state chief steps down, we engage in a haphazard scramble to replace them,” Mike Magee, Chiefs for Change’s chief executive officer, said. “The Future Chiefs program turns this paradigm on its head by developing pipelines of well-prepared and diverse leaders ready to step into education chief roles as they open up.”

Half of the “future chiefs” in the first and second cohorts have been promoted since they started the program, according to the organization.

Just this month Donald Fennoy, a member of Chiefs for Change’s second cohort, was promoted from his job as the chief operating officer in Palm Beach County, Fla., to district superintendent. He replaced Robert Avossa, a Chiefs for Change member.

The third cohort members are:

  • Derrick Chau, senior executive director for P-12 instruction, Los Angeles Unified school district;
  • T. Nakia Towns-Edwards, chief of staff for Hamilton County public schools in Chattanooga, Tenn.;
  • Karla Estrada, deputy superintendent for academics and student support for the equity team in Boston public schools;
  • Robert Gregory, interim superintendent for Newark public schools in Newark, N.J.;
  • Rob Anderson, deputy superintendent of academics for Fulton County public schools in Atlanta, Ga.;
  • Jesus Jara, deputy superintendent for Orange County public schools in Orlando, Fla.;
  • Penny Nixon, superintendent/senior executive vice president, Universal Companies, a non-profit that manages eight charter schools, in Philadelphia;
  • Harrison Peters, chief of schools for Hillsborough County public schools in Tampa, Fla.; and
  • Penny Schwinn, chief deputy commissioner for the Texas Education Agency, in Austin.

Chiefs for Change emerged from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education. The group is now focused on talent management, diversifying the education leadership, and expanding best practices in education.

In its early days, the group’s members were state education chiefs; the majority of its members now lead local school systems.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.