At Education Pioneers we invest in leaders because they embody our organization’s founding belief that talented leaders and managers can scale successful solutions for the education sector to impact millions of children nationwide.
For Women’s History Month, we celebrate EP Alumni who are trailblazers in education – with a focus on Alumni who are entrepreneurs and/or pioneers.
These are only a few of the inspirational women who have been a part of our program. Check out more of our EP Alums on our Meet Our Pioneers page.
Brenda Darden Wilkerson (2015)
CEO and President, AnitaB.org
From creating the “Computer Science for All” program at Chicago Public Schools to working on the national computer science initiatives under the Obama administration, Brenda has made a major impact on the tech world. Now as CEO and President of AnitaB.org, Brenda is supporting women and minorities who are underrepresented in STEM fields.
“I’m excited that we have the ability to support women from all walks of life, in all stages of their journeys, with AnitaB.org programs. We can show people that there are multiple entry points into tech, that there is not just one path to developing a satisfying tech career. We can help give them a voice, and we can be that support system for them. That’s what will make Anita Borg’s 50/50 dream a reality. And I am extremely proud to [be a part of] an organization that is so well positioned to have even greater impact on the tech industry and the lives of others in underrepresented communities.”
Fun EP fact! Brenda hired an EP alum at AnitaB.org as Special Assistant to the President and CEO.
Joy Lee (2012)
Marketing Researcher, Facebook
Board Member, Yu Ming Charter School
Joy is a marketing researcher at Facebook. Her past experience includes International Market Research and Insights Manager at Fitbit, serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in China where she taught English at Panzhihua University, and a Fellowship with Education Pioneers where she worked at a foundation to analyze their portfolio of education investments and help streamline their grants management system. She has experience tutoring for various organizations including Building Skills Partnership and Literacy Volunteers.
“I chose to become a board member at Yu Ming Charter School as a way to give back to the community that I live in and broaden my horizons in understanding education. As an Education Pioneers Fellow, I learned about the funding side of education reform and it has been a wonderful experience continuing my involvement by seeing how a charter school leverages funding to achieve its goals.”
Kristen McCaw (2011)
Chief Operating Officer & Chief Diversity Officer, Summit Public Schools
Kristen is the Chief Operating Officer & Chief Diversity Officer at Summit Public Schools, which prepares a diverse student population for success in a four-year college or university, and to be thoughtful and contributing members of society. In her role, she leads a team that includes talent, technology, operations, data, real estate, development, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion. Prior to her current role, Kristen served as Chief of Staff and led growth and policy at Summit. Before joining Summit, she worked at the California Charter Schools Association where she supported the launch of new schools. Kristen has also managed special education and assessments at a network of charter schools in Harlem, led the implementation of systems to improve teacher and student performance, evaluated school-transformation policies, and launched college preparation programs for students in public housing. Kristen is on the Board of Voices College-Bound Language Academies and is a Pahara NextGen Fellow.
“Young people come to school with all kinds of incredible skills and talents – the ability to navigate across cultures, to speak different languages, and to overcome adversity, among many others. I work in education because I care about creating schools that nurture those abilities and equip students to leverage them for their own wellbeing and power, which I believe is essential to the collective success of our global community. As a Black woman and the daughter of a Jamaican immigrant family, who was born in New York and raised in Arizona, I’m proud to be engaged in those conversations and to bring my perspective. And I believe that we need many others who bring different perspectives. That’s why we must continue to promote, support, and invest in educators and leaders who have experiences that reflect the diversity of the students in our schools.”
Kristin Groos Richmond (2005)
Chairman & CEO of Revolution Foods
Kristin Groos Richmond co-founded Revolution Foods in 2006 to transform the way we feed our students. Kristin continues to lead the growth of the company which now serves over 2.5 million freshly prepared meals every week to students in over 30 cities across the country. Prior to founding Revolution Foods, Kristin’s career spanned from corporate finance to education reform, including co-founding the Kenya Community Center for Learning and serving as Vice President at RISE. Kristin was on the White House Council for Community Solutions and is an Aspen Institute Entrepreneurial Leaders in Public Education Fellow, an Education Pioneers Fellow and an Ashoka Fellow. She is a board member of Lighthouse Community Charter School and UC Berkeley’s Global Social Venture Competition and is currently a lecturer at Stanford, UC Berkeley and Wharton School – University of Pennsylvania. Kristin has a BS from Boston College and an MBA from UC Berkeley. She currently lives in Mill Valley with her husband and two sons.
“At Revolution Foods, our mission is to create lifelong healthy eaters by providing students, families and communities with better access to fresh, nourishing meals. Our experience shows us — and recent studies also support — that nutritious foods drive improved health and academic outcomes, making the work we do crucial to students’ well-being and academic potential. Through our work, we’re hoping to drive systems change and promote city-wide wellness on a large scale.”
Nancy Lee Chavez (2008)
Vice President of Strategy and Learning, OneGoal
Before OneGoal, Nancy worked at City Colleges of Chicago where she grew into an Associate Chancellor. A strategic thinker, Nancy leveraged her expertise to add data training and performance monitoring capacity, ultimately benefiting City College students. She then decided to continue to lead and pioneer in the data strategy and college access space on a national level at OneGoal, a national organization comprised of teachers, students, school leaders, and education advocates working together to close the college degree divide. OneGoal finds, trains, and supports excellent teachers who are already working in low-income public high schools to coach their students toward college enrollment and success. Over the past 10 years, OneGoal has built a model that is producing college completion outcomes that outpace the middle class and has grown from 32 students in 2007 to serving more than 12,000 students in the 2017-2018 school year.
“During college, my first exposure to educational and social inequity came through tutoring and documenting the experience of young immigrants in rural North Carolina. The stark contrast in everything – access to educational supports, housing, jobs, healthcare – all within a matter of a few miles outside of where I lived, fueled my desire to figure out how to help people see inequity in our social system and do something about it.
I’ve always been drawn to the education sector as a key lever in solving major social issues, but I didn’t know how I could make an impact. Before my EP Fellowship, I had the opportunity to explore a few different roles within education, but the Fellowship really affirmed that individuals with diverse, non-teaching backgrounds could play a role in changing and improving the sector.”
Nicole Young (2013)
Executive Director, Bard Early College in New Orleans
As a Black woman working in education, Nicole Young’s goal is to improve the quality of life for students of color by improving the quality of educational opportunities available to them. Nicole’s role as Executive Director for Bard Early College in New Orleans (BECNO) is a direct extension of her personal theory of action. Founded on the belief that the opportunities for critical inquiry offered by the best colleges in the country should be available to younger students who have the ambition to learn, BECNO offers 11th- and 12th-graders in New Orleans a tuition-free, immersive liberal arts curriculum. As Executive Director, Nicole has led the organization so that students in the Class of 2016 earned an average of 15 Bard College credits at no cost to them or their families and 96 percent were accepted at four-year colleges and universities, and on average they were awarded $24,280 annually in financial aid. Next school year, BECNO students will have the opportunity to early an Associate Degree in the Arts alongside their high school diploma.
“I’ve been blessed to have educators, friends, and family throughout my life who affirmed my intelligence and not only encouraged me, but expected me to achieve great things. However, there are too many Black and brown girls and boys whose brilliance has been dimmed rather than ignited by our education system. I do this work to remind my students that their thinking and voices matter and that our world is a richer, better place when their voices are fully engaged in it.”