We are very excited to announce that this week marks the kickoff of our partnership with education non-profit Education Pioneers, which aims to unleash the potential of leaders and managers within the education sector so they can transform education for students and communities. We are ecstatic that our newest teammate, VP of Product Erica Swallow, was chosen as one of 540 Fellows selected from 6,500 top graduate students and emerging leaders for the 2014-2015 Education Pioneers leadership development program.
Education Pioneers (EP) focuses on placing high impact leaders, such as Erica, in partner school districts, charter school organizations, education agencies, non-profits, and other types of organizations to make a positive impact on the education system. The organization has the audacious goal of placing 10,000 diverse, effective leaders within the education section by 2023 — since its founding in 2003, it has already built a powerful national network of more than 2,500 leaders and 200 education organizations in more than 20 cities across the country.
Some of EP’s locations include our neighbors Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Memphis, Nashville, and New Orleans, and more distant cousins New York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and San Francisco also make the list.
This summer, Erica’s 10-week fellowship is focused on relaunching Noble Impact’s website and blog — so stay tuned for our facelift! Alongside her work at Noble, she’ll take part in professional development and learning opportunities with the Tennessee cohort, a lively and diverse group of leaders placed in organizations — such as the Tennessee Department of Education, the Memphis Is Music Initiative, Rocketship Education, Achievement School District, and Teacher Town, among others — in Memphis and Nashville.
In order to make the most of her cohort experience, Erica will travel to three key workshops in Memphis and Nashville over the summer, and she aims to kick it up a notch by organizing an “Education Pioneers Unplugged” event in Little Rock — home of Noble Impact and much innovation in the education sector — where fellows from Tennessee will be invited to learn about the Little Rock community and its educational efforts and history.
The initial Tennessee cohort workshop took place during June 18-19 at the Urban League of Middle Tennessee in Nashville and included foundational discussions on the history of education and in-depth sessions on the opportunity gap in America.
Through keynote lectures with Valor Collegiate Academies founder and CEO Todd Dickson and Chief District Support Officer for the Tennessee Department of Education Ken Green; solutions-driven discussions of race relations in education, district mergers, and school structure options, among other topics; an alumni fellows panel; multiple collaborative brainstorming sessions; and unstructured time, Erica says she and her cohort left the workshop with much stronger ideas and opinions on how to positively impact the education sector.
“I’m overwhelmed and impressed by the breadth of experience within my cohort. We come from law, education, social work, business, and a range of sectors that enable us to provide new and innovative lenses to challenges and opportunities in education,” Erica explains. “My colleagues and I are serving in high-need, high-impact positions where our skills are traditionally rare in education. For me, it’s an opportunity to get back to my home state and change education for the better, for Arkansas’s students. After seeing the work Noble is doing and how it’s having an immediate impact on students, I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else.”
Erica has spent the past decade in New York and Boston studying at New York University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as working as a technology journalism and digital marketer with organizations such as The New York Times, Mashable, Saatchi & Saatchi, and TechStars. Having grown up in Paragould, Arkansas, though, she is ecstatic to be back in Arkansas working in education, which she credits with changing her life. A first-generation college student, Erica believes that education is the key to greater opportunity, and she is adamant that every child deserves an engaging and challenging education.
Stay tuned as Erica’s Education Pioneers Fellowship comes to fruition, and let us know if you have questions about it in the comments below!