Aspen Institute and NewSchools Venture Fund Name New Class of Fellows in Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education Program

May 19, 2008  • Institute Contributor

Aspen Institute and NewSchools Venture Fund Name New Class of Fellows in Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education Program

Program recognizes entrepreneurial leaders ready to embrace the challenge of improving public education

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – May 19, 2008 – The Aspen Institute and NewSchools Venture Fund today launched the second year of the prestigious Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education Fellowship Program with the announcement of a new class of extraordinary Fellows. The program is designed to recognize and support exceptional entrepreneurial leaders who are prepared to address the crucial challenge of transforming public education.

“The scale and complexity of transforming public education is enormous, and there is simply no way to accomplish that work without the passion, tenacity, and out-of-the-box thinking of strong entrepreneurial leaders,” said Kim Smith, senior advisor of NewSchools Venture Fund, a nonprofit venture philanthropy firm she founded in 1998 to support education entrepreneurs. The inaugural class of Fellows, whose names were announced in May 2007, included a diverse array of forward-thinking education leaders from across the nation. This group has already participated in its first two seminars, held in Aspen, CO, which included thought-provoking reading and discussion on leadership development, issues in public education, and social change. For more information on the 2007 class of Fellows, see

“Our experience with that stellar first class of Fellows has reaffirmed the importance of a program like this one, to give these amazing entrepreneurial leaders the opportunity to support and challenge each other, in order to help them advance and sustain their difficult and important work,” added Smith.

The Program

Building on the model of its well-regarded Henry Crown Fellowship Program, the Aspen Institute has partnered with NewSchools to launch this groundbreaking Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education program. As entrepreneurial change agents, these leaders bring a crucial sense of urgency, an action orientation, a dogged optimism that we can achieve these ambitious goals, and a tenacious dedication to the work of transforming public education so that it serves all students well. As a group they represent impressive and diverse experience from across the public, private and nonprofit sectors.

The Fellowship will provide these accomplished leaders the unusual opportunity to step back from their demanding daily work, to reflect with a group of extraordinary peers on their collective and individual work as leaders and change agents. Together, the group will challenge each other, reflect on their work in the context of values-based leadership, and develop new insights for effective, enlightened leadership in education across the public, nonprofit and private sectors.

“The Aspen Institute has developed a network of programs to recognize and cultivate accomplished, community-minded, and entrepreneurial leaders around the world through our Global Leadership Network,” said Peter Reiling, Executive Vice President for Leadership and Seminar Programs at the Aspen Institute. “We are pleased to continue our partnership with NewSchools Venture Fund to recognize and support these important leaders and change agents within the field of U.S. public education.”

The Fellows

Each year, the Aspen Institute – NewSchools Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education program will select approximately 24 exceptional leaders from across the country. These Fellows will bring a diverse set of backgrounds and skills to the program, having exhibited leadership in the nonprofit, foundation, charter school, and traditional school district sectors, and will hail from a variety of urban and rural communities. The Fellowship will give these extraordinary leaders the opportunity to work together to further develop their own leadership capacity, and to think across traditional silos and sector boundaries in order to push their collective impact to even greater heights.

The 2008 Fellows for the Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education Program are:

  • Cami Anderson, Senior Superintendent for District 79, New York City Department of Education
  • Jemina Bernard, Executive Director – New York, Teach For America
  • Becca Bracy Knight, Managing Director, The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems
  • Tim Daly, President, The New Teacher Project
  • Jean Desravines, Chief Cities Officer, New Leaders for New Schools
  • Maria Goodloe-Johnson, Superintendent, Seattle Public Schools
  • Kristin Groos Richmond, Chief Executive Officer, Revolution Foods
  • Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Executive Director, Community Coalition
  • Paul Herdman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Rodel Foundation of Delaware
  • Natasha Kamrani, School Board Member, Houston Independent School District
  • John King, Managing Director of the Excellence and Preparatory Networks, Uncommon Schools
  • Shivam Mallick Shah, Deputy Director, Education Programs, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Jordan Meranus, Partner, NewSchools Venture Fund
  • Rebeca Nieves Huffman, Managing Director, Graci Caeber Partners; Former President and Chief Executive Officer, Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options
  • Bart Peterson, Former Mayor, City of Indianapolis
  • Mike Piscal, Chief Executive Officer, Inner City Education Foundation (ICEF)
  • Victor Reinoso, Deputy Mayor of Public Education, City of Washington, D.C.
  • Diane Robinson, Director of Recruitment and Selection, Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP)
  • Andy Rotherham, Co-Founder and Co-Director, Education Sector
  • Marguerite Roza, Research Assistant Professor, University of Washington Center for Reinventing Public Education
  • Terry Ryan, Vice President for Ohio Programs and Policy, The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation
  • Hae-Sin Thomas, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, UrbanEd Solutions
  • Sarah Usdin, Founder and President, New Schools for New Orleans
  • James Willcox, Chief Operating Officer, Aspire Public Schools

To download bios and photos of the 2008 Fellows, see

For More Information:

Julie Petersen
Communications Director, NewSchools Venture Fund

About the Aspen Institute
The mission of the Aspen Institute is to foster enlightened leadership and open-minded dialogue. Through seminars, policy programs, conferences and leadership development initiatives, the Institute and its international partners seek to promote nonpartisan inquiry and an appreciation for timeless values. For more information, visit

About NewSchools Venture Fund
NewSchools Venture Fund is a national nonprofit venture philanthropy firm that seeks to transform public education – particularly for underserved students – by supporting education entrepreneurs and connecting their work to systems change. Over the last 10 years, NewSchools has raised more than $125 million and supported more than 40 nonprofit and for-profit organizations. These organizations have made a significant impact on the educational opportunities available to thousands of low-income students in cities across the country, including New York City, Chicago, Washington, D.C., New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Oakland, California. For more information, visit


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