Kenyatta Andrews didn’t begin his career in education. Far from it. “My background is in accounting and finance, but I was always keenly aware of the transformative power of education. I knew education was magic,” he says. After graduating from college, Kenyatta worked at top-tier companies like PricewaterhouseCoopers, UBS PaineWebber, and American Express, but he did not feel “fulfilled.”
Kenyatta experienced an “aha” moment after getting his MBA at the University of Rochester. “I asked myself what I wanted my legacy to be,” he explains. “And I realized that I was doing good work, but it wasn’t the work that really made a difference in the lives of other people.” That’s when Kenyatta found Education Pioneers.
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Education Pioneers helped Kenyatta learn about the education landscape, particularly in the city of Memphis, where he was placed for his fellowship at the Achievement School District (ASD). “EP gave me a very nuanced understanding of the culture of education, the historical context, and current reform issues. They prepared me for my work as a Fellow and beyond.”
Through EP, Kenyatta found his passion for working behind the scenes in education. As a Fellow, Kenyatta worked on the Federal Programs team at ASD, where he helped compile budgets and analyze data. That Fellowship turned into a permanent position as the Director of Federal Programs, where he allocated federal education dollars to individuals schools within the ASD system and made sure that spending and reimbursements were in compliance. He says he most enjoyed the role because it utilized his pre-existing skills in finance, accounting, compliance and, analytics, but also, built on his growing knowledge base and understanding of education reform.
In his current position as the Director of Operations at the Campaign for School Equity (CSE), Kenyatta describes himself as the “background music” that helps the start-up organization sing. CSE works to mobilize and give voice to parents, students, and clergy to advocate for high-quality education for all. The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization unites and educates this group of stakeholders as community members who all have a stake in creating equitable schools.
Working directly with faith leaders in particular reflects the communities CSE serves, explains Kenyatta. “Clergy often play such a big role in the lives of communities of color. That’s why it’s so important to inform clergy about what’s happening in education, so that when they talk to their congregation they speak from a fully informed place.”
As the CSE Director of Operations, Kenyatta wears many hats, including working to “keep the lights on” and ensure everyone gets paid on time. He says, “My job is to ensure that our staff have what they need to be successful. They can’t worry about their insurance when they have students to take care of. It’s gratifying work. I finally feel fulfilled.”