June 16, 2022
Contact for Education Pioneers:
Terrence Kneisel
VP, External Relations

 Education Pioneers Announces Diverse and Representative Talent Pipeline for Chicago Education Ecosystem

Nonprofit names fifteen leaders selected for 2022 Education Pioneers Summer Fellowship

Chicago, IL – Today, Education Pioneers (EP) announced that 15 new leaders are joining its 2022 Summer Fellowship, offered exclusively in Chicago this year. With 80% of Fellows self-identifying as leaders of color – 60% of whom identify as Black or Latinx — this cohort of project managers, strategists, data analysts, and operations professionals is one of the program’s most racially diverse and representative cohorts ever. 

“Education Pioneers exists to ensure that K-12 has the leadership and management capacity necessary for transformation, and fueling a diverse and representative leadership pipeline is central to our mission,” said Melissa Wu, CEO. “Too often, the professionals who lead and manage K-12 systems don’t reflect the populations that they serve, perpetuating the inequities that have lasted far too long and limiting the potential for transformation. This summer, we are immensely proud to field a class of rising leaders who nearly mirror the Chicago student population that is 90% students of color.”

As one of Education Pioneers’ signature talent placement programs, the Education Pioneers Summer Fellowship previews a career in education leadership for graduate-level talent, while simultaneously providing short-term capacity for local education organizations. Summer Fellows complete 10-week paid work placements with school districts, charter organizations, education agencies, and supporting education organizations, where they lead projects in strategy, operations, analytics, or other special initiatives. 

The 2022 cohort in Chicago marks a return of EP’s in-person program after a pandemic-driven pause in 2021 and a virtual session in 2020 due to COVID-19. 

This year’s Fellowship class will serve 11 leading education organizations serving more than 1 million students in Chicago, across Illinois, and beyond. Partners include Chicago Public Schools, Distinctive Schools, the Illinois State Board of Education, and Digital Promise.

“We needed dedicated capacity to make the Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History (TEAACH) Act a reality on the ground, and hosting an EP Fellow was an ideal solution,” said Erica Thieman, Ph.D., Director, Standards & Instruction Department at the Illinois State Board of Education. “Our Fellow’s project will advance curriculum inclusivity for K-12 students across the State of Illinois — truly immense impact.”

Fellows are leading diverse work, reflecting a wide variety of professional backgrounds from management consulting to classroom instruction. 53% bring private sector experience, and 53% are brand new to K-12.

“I decided to become an Education Pioneers Fellow because I wanted to combine my passions for education and equity and my love for my hometown of Chicago with my professional experiences in the financial services industry,” said Chelsea Dawkins, an MBA candidate at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and incoming Summer Fellow placed at Northern Illinois University, Education Systems Center.
Fellows participating this year’s program include:

To complement their work placement, Fellows engage in cohort-based professional development where they develop skills, mindsets, and orientations that can help them accelerate equity and excellence throughout their careers. Fellows become part of Education Pioneers’ nationwide network of education leaders, which includes 4,500 Alumni at all stages of their careers – 70% of whom continue to work in education following their EP Fellowship. Across the EP Alumni network, 50% of leaders self-identify as people of color.

Education Pioneers is still accepting applications for the upcoming 2022-2023 Impact Fellowship, a 10-month talent placement program. Opportunities are available in multiple sites across the US to begin in Fall 2022. Interested early career professionals with experience in data analysis or strategic project management can learn more or apply online at The final deadline to apply is July 12, 2022.

Organizations interested in hosting an Impact Fellow can learn more at

About Education Pioneers

Education Pioneers is a nonprofit focused on ensuring the K-12 education sector has the leadership and general management capacity it needs. The organization creates pathways into education leadership for promising leaders and general managers from diverse backgrounds, and builds their long-term capacity to solve education’s evolving set of challenges. Since 2003, Education Pioneers has recruited and developed over 4,500 leaders, with 50% self-identifying as leaders of color.

Of Education Pioneers’ Alumni in the workforce, more than 70% serve in education and lead or contribute to work that impacts public school students in major cities across the nation, most of whom are students of color and growing up in underserved areas. Learn more:

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