Aspen Education Announces “Champions for School Climate” Award

September 22, 2021

Aspen Education Recognizes Five Inspirational School Leaders who Prioritize Equity, Planning, and Improvement

Contact: Paul Ferrari
Senior Communications Manager, Education and Society Program

September 22, 2021, Washington, DC The Aspen Institute Education & Society Program announces today “Champions for School Climate,” highlighting efforts of inspirational school leaders who create positive and healthy school cultures also known as “school climate.” These school leaders are recognized for their commitment to equity and efforts to provide students with emotional and physical safety, supportive relationships, quality teaching and learning, and a sense of belonging. These conditions are essential to student success, but especially important to prioritize as a reopening strategy during the pandemic.

“We’re excited to recognize Principal Crawford and Principal Fabunan as our inaugural Champions for School Climate because they are creating schools where students can learn and thrive,” said Gene Pinkard of the Aspen Institute Education & Society Program. “The work they’re doing isn’t just creative and engaging, it’s research-based. Principals who focus on school climate are the principals who advance equity and improve student achievement.”

Aspen Education’s Champions for School Climate include:

Kori Crawford (she/her) – Principal of Crockett Early College High School, Austin Independent School District, Texas. Crawford’s school collects school climate data not just through surveys but also through student panels. Reviewing school climate data has led to the creation of a Students Organized for Anti-Racism (SOAR) class which analyzes and organizes around issues of race and racism at Crockett Early College High School and within the larger district.

Elena Fabunan (she/her) – Principal of Global Community High School (GCHS), Clark County School District, Nevada. In Fabunan’s school, 100% of students identify as English-language learners. GCHS collects school climate data through anonymous student surveys available in English and Spanish. By using the data to adjust school practices, participant-incident counts dropped from 75 to 1 in a school year.

Additionally, Aspen Education would like to acknowledge the contributions of these school leaders who were recognized as finalists for the Champions for School Climate award:

  • Jennifer Black (she/her) – Principal of Lincoln Elementary School, Clark County School District, Nevada
  • Harold Border (he/him) – Chief of High Schools, Orange County Public Schools, Florida
  • Mimi Quan (she/her) – Principal of Quail Run Elementary School, San Ramon Valley Unified School District, California

Champions and finalists will receive an award from Aspen Education to support school climate initiatives in their school. The Champions for School Climate Award is part of Aspen Education’s continued efforts to highlight the contributions of effective public school principals who are dedicated to continuous improvement and building equitable outcomes for students through school climate data use. Click here for more information about the Champions for School Climate award and here for resources to advance school climate in your school or district.



About the Aspen Institute Education & Society Program

The Aspen Institute Education & Society Program (Aspen Education) improves public education by inspiring, informing, and influencing education leaders to take action across policy and practice, with an emphasis on achieving equity for students of color and children from low-income backgrounds.

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

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