February 15, 2017
Chiefs for Change Launches Its Second Cohort of Future Chiefs

Chiefs for Change today announced its second cohort of Future Chiefs – bold and innovative state and district education leaders who are transforming our nation’s schools and are ready to prepare for even larger roles in our education system.

Chiefs of state and large-district education systems play a pivotal role in guiding outcomes for students, and finding and choosing excellent Chiefs is rightly an enormous focus for states, cities, and their elected leaders. Yet few pathways exist to help identify and prepare excellent candidates, and while more than half of U.S. students are students of color, education Chiefs are far from reflecting that diversity.

To fix that, Chiefs for Change is helping to build a diverse pipeline of Future Chiefs by identifying bold and innovative state and district education leaders. Last year, Chiefs for Change launched its inaugural cohort of eight leaders and is now launching its second cohort. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are core to the Future Chiefs program — Cohort 2 is made up of 75% leaders of color, and 50% are women. They will participate in a year-long program of coaching, mentorship, and collective learning, with the support of some of the nation’s most successful state and local Chiefs.

John White, CFC Board Chair and Louisiana State Superintendent of Education said, “Chiefs for Change members are deeply committed to mentoring and helping to prepare the next generation of state and district education leaders by folding them into our community of practice. It is essential that our students have well-prepared, diverse, talented individuals ready to step into education Chief roles as they open up. Future Chiefs Cohort 2 is an impressive group of leaders, and my colleagues and I are looking forward to working closely with them.”

“Successful state and district education Chiefs point to mentors or senior colleagues who inspired and encouraged them on their pathway to become a leader,” said Chiefs for Change CEO Mike Magee. “Future Chiefs is about mentorship, with a particular focus on ushering more diverse candidates into the talent pool for Chief jobs, both at the state level and district level. We are excited to build on the success of Cohort 1, and usher Cohort 2 through a year of learning alongside our members.”

“Education leaders must better reflect the racial and ethnic backgrounds of America’s increasingly diverse student population,” said Deborah McGriff, Managing Partner of NewSchools Venture Fund (NSVF). “Cohort 2 of the Future Chiefs program is an impressive group that is already making a difference in the lives of students. We are thrilled to support the expansion of the Future Chiefs program and look forward to seeing what is next for these leaders.” NewSchools Venture Fund recently selected the Future Chiefs program as one of the investments in its Diverse Leaders portfolio.

The eight leaders selected to be part of Future Chiefs Cohort 2 are:

Leslie Brown, Chief Portfolio Services Officer, Broward County Public Schools, FL
Susana Cordova, Deputy Superintendent, Denver Public Schools, CO
Donald Fennoy, Chief Operating Officer, Palm Beach County Schools, FL
David Hardy, Deputy Superintendent of Academics, St. Louis Public Schools, MO
Russell Johnston, Senior Associate Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Wanda Legrand, Deputy Superintendent, Academics, Indianapolis Public Schools, IN
Matt Montano, Director of Educator Quality, New Mexico Department of Education
Alisha Morgan, Executive Director, Ivy Prep Academy, GA

Chiefs for Change members from across the country praised the Future Chiefs program and expressed support for Cohort 2:

Hanna Skandera, CFC Board Member and New Mexico Secretary of Education, said: “In today’s education landscape, leadership at the state and local levels is a significant factor in helping all of our kids reach their full potential, and building a pipeline of skilled and qualified future education Chiefs is more important now than ever before. These Future Chiefs have a great opportunity to continue to develop, grow, and help build a brighter future for school children across America.”

Antwan Wilson, CFC Board Member and Chancellor of DC Public Schools, said: “Our students deserve committed leaders who are focused on equity and excellence. I look forward to mentoring this impressive group of Future Chiefs so that more students are excelling in schools that are equitable and excellent for every student.”

Robert Avossa, Superintendent of the Palm Beach County Schools, said: “Preparing our next generation of leaders is essential to improving the outcomes of our students. That’s why I’m thrilled that exceptional leaders like Donald Fennoy from Palm Beach County Schools are part of Future Chiefs and have the opportunity to learn from and alongside me and my colleagues across the country. I look forward to seeing the impact this cohort makes in the lives of their students and communities.”

Tom Boasberg, Superintendent of Denver Public Schools, said: “Being a part of the Future Chiefs program means working together with a diverse group of leaders to ensure equity for kids all over the country. We are better able to effectively support our students by relying on the shared knowledge of our colleagues. I’m committed to investing in the development of extraordinarily strong leaders like Susana Cordova from Denver Public Schools who share a relentless desire to make K-12 education systems work for every child.”

Mitchell Chester, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, said: “Leadership matters. I’m committed to supporting Future Chiefs who will lead systems that allow all students to thrive. Russell Johnston is a champion for equity and a courageous innovator who has demonstrated the ability to bring meaningful change to students in even the most challenging circumstances.”

Lewis Ferebee, Superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools, said: “Collaboration is key to creating practices that catalyze school transformation. Future Chiefs has assembled a cadre of some of the best and brightest future leaders to ensure successful outcomes for all students.”

Robert W. Runcie, Superintendent of Broward County Public Schools, said: “The battle for quality education is the social justice cause of our time. If you believe that every child has the right to a high-quality education, then there is no more important work than providing the right leadership to dramatically transform public education in this country. I’m excited to support our Future Chiefs in their critical work as transformational system and process leaders. The legacy of the important work we are doing now will be evident in the positive impact on today’s students and future generations.”