New Cohort of Human Capital Leaders Transforming Talent Strategy & Practice in K-12 Education


January 23, 2020

Contact for Education Pioneers:

Jennifer Chin

Senior Director, External Relations

New Cohort of Human Capital Leaders Transforming Talent Strategy & Practice in K-12 Education

Education Pioneers, in partnership with the Urban Schools Human Capital Academy, welcomes sixth Emerging Human Capital Leaders Initiative cohort.

Washington, DC — Twenty-four talented professionals are participating in the Winter 2019-2020 Emerging Human Capital Leaders Initiative (EHCLI). The sixth cohort chosen to participate in this selective program are people- and student-focused leaders who work to change the way schools recruit and retain talent on behalf of the nation’s highest-need students.

This 10-month program is a partnership between Education Pioneers (EP) and the Urban Schools Human Capital Academy (USHCA) that provides participants with the skills, resources, and network to accelerate their work to ensure that every student has a great team of people — teachers, principals, and central office administrators — who support them. Participants are in senior-level human capital roles within their organizations, or are a step or two away from being in these roles. Programming began in Winter 2019 in Washington DC, and will culminate in Denver in April 2020.

"Students deserve K-12 school systems that deliver on the great promise of a high quality public education for all. Some of the most influential roles in K-12 sit in human capital – the function responsible for finding and supporting millions of professionals nationwide who fuel classrooms, schools, districts, and beyond," said Melissa Wu, Education Pioneers' Chief Executive Officer. "We are grateful to partner with USHCA to develop high impact human capital leaders who can support an evolution from a focus on compliance to a focus on strategic alignment." 

EHCLI fosters a robust national network of human capital leaders working across the country at school districts, charter management organizations, state education agencies, and nonprofits serving under-resourced students. The Winter 2019-2020 cohort joins the first five cohorts, totalling nearly 170 human capital professionals who are part of the EHCLI network.

“Human capital leaders are uniquely positioned to redefine and redesign how schools, districts, and education agencies can proactively attract, develop, and retain the most effective teachers and principals,” said Danielle Pickens, Chief Program Officer at the Urban Schools Human Capital Academy. “The ideas and collaborations that arise from meaningful conversations about human capital trends and challenges in education have the potential to transform how we serve students.”

The 24 emerging human capital leaders who will complete the program in 2020 include:

  • Desiree' Beckett, Director of Talent Acquisition, STRIVE Prep

  • Ernest Blackwell, Director of Program & Partnerships, Urban Teachers

  • Anthony Buatti, Director of Recruitment Operations, Outreach, and Data, Mastery Schools of Philadelphia and Camden

  • Felicia Butts, Director of Teacher Residencies, Chicago Public Schools

  • Jessica Doherty, Manager, Performance Evaluation, Hillsborough County Public Schools

  • Candice Durham, Managing Director, People Operations , Achievement Prep Public Charter Schools

  • Jordan Eason, Employee Relations Specialist, Little Rock School District

  • Jill Farrara, Managing Director of Talent, KIPP Philadelphia Public Schools

  • Rachael Tutwiler Fortune, President, Jacksonville Public Education Fund

  • Elaine Gallagher, HR Partner, The School District of Palm Beach County

  • Karly Gelardi, Director of National Recruitment, IDEA Public Schools

  • Lindsay Haldeman, Vice President, Northeast Region, Achievement Network

  • Jerica Johnson, Talent Acquisition Manager, Hamilton County Schools

  • Stephen Lee, Manager of Administrator Staffing and Credentials, San Francisco Unified School District

  • Quentin Liggins, Director of Talent Acquisition, Retention and Development, Tulsa Public Schools

  • Kate Malekoff, Director of Human Resources and Talent Operations, DREAM (formerly Harlem RBI)

  • Sara Metzger, Director, Recruitment, School District of Philadelphia

  • Tarah Mohika, Director of Recruitment and Resource Management, The Community Group, Inc

  • Jessica Papia, Director Employee Effectiveness, Baltimore City Public Schools

  • Sanjay Ramji, Data & Design Manager, Human Capital Management, Dallas Independent School District

  • Michael Simmons, Director, Talent Management, Seattle Public Schools

  • Sara Taylor, Managing Director, Talent and HR, Rocky Mountain Prep

  • LaChon Winston, Senior Human Resources Partner, Prince George's County Public Schools

  • Maya Wyche, Chief Talent Officer, FirstLine Schools

Participants  learn from experts and from one another to collectively enhance their effectiveness in their current roles, and to strengthen the pipeline of talented leaders ready and interested to take on human capital leadership roles in public school systems.

To learn more about the Emerging Human Capital Leaders Initiative, please visit

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 4,300 leaders in partnership with more than 900 education organizations nationwide.

Of the organization’s Alumni in the workforce, more than 70 percent 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:

About The Urban Schools Human Capital Academy

The Urban Schools Human Capital Academy (USHCA) is a national non-profit working to build the capacity of Human Resource Departments to find and keep a talented workforce, particularly for our highest-need schools and students. Since its inception in 2011, it has developed, supported, and networked central office staff at over 45 districts and 16 states on strategic human capital work. USHCA is also focused on developing the next generation of human capital leaders for HC leadership roles by partnering with Education Pioneers to launch and run the Emerging Human Capital Leaders Initiative.


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