November 17, 2021
Contact for Education Pioneers:
Terrence Kneisel
VP, External Relations

 Education Pioneers Doubles Size of Fellowship Program to Develop Systems-Level Leaders in K-12

Nonprofit announces 49 rising leaders selected for 2021-2022 Impact Fellowship cohort

Boston, MA – Today, Education Pioneers (EP) announced that 49 new leaders are joining its 2021-2022 Impact Fellowship at a crucial time to address unmet learning for students amidst the COVID-19 recovery. The new cohort of data analysts and project managers is more than double the size of the previous year’s cohort. Together, the 49 new Impact Fellows serve 38 school districts, charter school organizations, and other support organizations that reach 2.5 million students nationwide.

“For nearly twenty years, Education Pioneers has fueled the leadership and management capacity necessary to transform K-12 public education into a lever for equity,” said Melissa Wu, CEO. “Especially today, the education sector can’t lose sight of the fact that talent is the critical driver of impact. The rapid growth of the Impact Fellowship shows that systems-level leaders–especially those with the skills to support data-driven decision making and implement promising strategies–are needed more than ever. We are hopeful and proud that EP Fellows entering into the sector today will become the organizational and system leaders our students and communities need in the long term.”

Launched in January 2018, Education Pioneers’ Impact Fellowship catalyzes early career leaders while adding critical capacity to school districts, charter school organizations, and other education support organizations nationwide. During the program, Impact Fellows complete a 10-month paid work placement with a leading education organization, where they apply targeted data and strategic project management experience to advance key priorities. This year’s Fellows are helping drive and implement initiatives such as effective teaching and learning, family and community engagement, and ensuring effective use of ESSER funding. 

“We are proud to continue our partnership with Education Pioneers,” said Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, Superintendent of Hartford Public Schools in Connecticut and a returning EP Partner. “Our three Impact Fellows will help ensure that we can execute against key strategic plans and monitor the impact of our district’s ESSER funds. Our Fellows will be critical to accelerating student learning, and will also serve as a model for strong management and execution that can have a lasting impact on district operations.” 

EP’s Impact Fellowship cohort represents a diverse group of early career professionals, with an intentional focus on leaders who represent the marginalized communities public school systems typically serve. 47% of Fellows self-identify as people of color, with 31% identifying as Black or Latinx; 29% are Pell Grant recipients.

“Building a diverse and representative leadership pipeline is one of Education Pioneers’ top priorities,” said Tracy Session, Chief Impact Officer. “The professionals who lead and manage K-12 systems rarely reflect the populations they serve. To disrupt existing inequities in education, we need to improve representation inside and outside the classroom.” 

Impact Fellows also come from a variety of professional backgrounds, bringing their analytic or project management experience from previous roles in education, the broader social sector, or the private sector. 51% of Fellows bring previous education sector experience; 37% of Fellows are brand new to K-12. 

“After spending six years working at a consulting firm, I was seeking an opportunity to apply the skills I had developed in strategy, program management, and data & analytics to a sector that I have always been personally passionate about: education,” said Karen Wisniewski, Impact Fellow placed at Citizens of the World Charter Schools in Los Angeles. “The Education Pioneers Impact Fellowship was the bridge that I was looking for to transition from business into education.”

The full list of Fellows and their placement organizations can be found at

To complement their work placement, Fellows engage in cohort-based professional development where they gain 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 and 50% of whom self-identify as leaders of color.

Education Pioneers is currently accepting applications for its next upcoming program: the 2022 Summer Fellowship, a 10-week program that provides exposure to systems-level roles in education. The Summer Fellowship program will be offered exclusively in Chicago, Illinois during Summer 2022. Interested graduate students and professionals can learn more at or apply online at The priority deadline is December 21, 2021.

About Education Pioneers

Education Pioneers builds the pipeline of leaders outside the classroom who enable teachers and students to be successful inside the classroom. Since 2003, Education Pioneers has recruited and trained over 4,500 leaders in partnership with more than 900 education organizations nationwide.

Of the organization’s 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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