Every child deserves a quality education and to live in healthy communities, but our systems too often fail those who need them the most. We need leaders who are committed to a different future. Our goal is to create an ecosystem of Black and Latino leaders who may not typically have the opportunities and institutional support to run for public office, develop the skills and leadership needed to win and deliver on education, health, and community equity.
The Leaders of Color program is part of Education Reform Now, a national think tank and advocacy organization that develops and drives forward bold, new ideas that can transform the American public education system from pre-school to and through higher education to better serve all students, especially low-income students and students of color.
In 2018, we launched Leaders of Color in Memphis, TN with a cohort of 15 Black community leaders. Since our start, the program has graduated 116 leaders in Memphis, New York, and New Orleans.
The rapid growth of Leaders of Color continues. In 2022, we have expanded our work from New Orleans across the state of Louisiana, and added a new site in Washington, D.C. Our goal is to train 400 Fellows by 2023 across the U.S.
Each member of the Leaders of Color team leverages a passion and commitment for educational and economic change for communities of color in their work. Together, they bring over 110 years of collective experience in political campaigns, community organizing, and civic engagement experience. They lead this work with deep experience in systems change, coupled with lived and learned knowledge about national inequities.
Michael Bland hails from Long Branch, New Jersey and has committed his entire career to public service. Before joining the DFER team, Michael served as the campaign manager for Jahana Hayes in her 2018 Connecticut 5th Congressional district, making her the first African American woman elected in all of New England to Congress. Prior to his time with Rep. Hayes, Michael worked as a deputy chief of staff for the Majority Conference leader in the New Jersey Legislative Assembly (Shavonda Sumter D-35) and the deputy district director for Congresswoman Elizabeth Etsy of New Britain, Connecticut. Most notably, Michael contributed to the incredible success of the Obama for America Campaign where he served as the Northeast Regional Field Director in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, and conducted region wide plans for voter registration and event organizing for volunteers.
He currently serves on the boards for Monmouth County - Mental Health Association, Two River Theater and The Welcome Party.
Dr. Damary Bonilla-Rodriguez joined Education Reform Now as the first Director of Leaders of Color New York. She previously served as the National Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Manager for Girls Inc. To change the political and leadership landscape for Latinos, Dr. Bonilla-Rodriguez ran for State Representative in the 189th District of Pennsylvania in the 2016 election cycle where she became the 1st Hispanic to make a State ballot in Pike and Monroe Counties. In November 2019, she became the 1st Hispanic elected as School Board Director in the East Stroudsburg Area School District where she Chairs the Education and Negotiation committees. Dr. Bonilla-Rodriguez serves as Vice President for Colonial Intermediate Unit 20 which oversees Special Education services for 13 School Districts; she was the first person of color and Hispanic to join this Board and to hold a leadership role. Passionate about Board service, she sits on several throughout the country including: Monroe County Children and Youth, LatinaVIDA, Latinas on the Plaza, the Brodhead Watershed Association, and Prospanica New York where she is the Vice President of Professional Development. In addition, she was appointed by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf to represent the Poconos Region on statewide commissions on Redistricting Reform and Latino affairs (GACLA); she Chairs the GACLA Education committee.
Dr. Lacretia Carroll a talented and accomplished nursing professional and currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, College of Nursing. Dr. Carroll has a passion for improving health outcomes, decreasing health disparities, and improving health equity in marginalized communities. Dr. Carroll ties her passion for eliminating disparities with a passion for political progress. She has worked on several political campaigns, and previously served as the Regional Director of the Black Caucus of Young Democrats of America, and currently serves as the Treasurer of the Shelby County Democratic Party. She is a recent alumnus and now the Training Director of Leaders of Color Memphis, an initiative designed to elevate progressive Black and Latino leaders to public office.
Mrs. Amber Davis-Prince was born and raised in Birmingham, AL and moved to New Orleans in 2012. She holds a BA in Speech Communication from Berea College, a Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration from Eastern Kentucky University and is currently completing a Doctorate in Educational Leadership at Xavier University of Louisiana. Amber has worked in higher education for over 15 years, creating programs and services to support students in achieving their post secondary education goals and advocating for student needs - with an emphasis on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Victor Horton is a native Virginian and has called Washington DC home for almost a decade. Over the years in DC, Victor has made a name for himself in the realms of politics and education. He has spent several years on Capitol Hill handling the education portfolios of electees, as well as assisting various non-profits with hearings on education and other advocacy efforts. He has also served as an elected official after he successfully ran for a Commission seat in the Nation’s capital. During his tenure as Commissioner, Victor was able to increase partnerships for the city, successfully oversee the renovation of a public library, advocate for equity in school funding, and organize and manage neighborhood beautification projects.
Victor’s most recent professional experience include work for Leadership for Educational Equity, where he was charged with inspiring and coaching educators to become civically engaged by either participating in the policy making process, organizing, or running for elected leadership. Victor holds an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Virginia State University, a Master of Public Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University, and a Master of Education with a concentration in Public School Leadership from Columbia University.
Terrell Wilson serves as the Alumni Engagement Coordinator for Leaders of Color where his goal is to grow and build alumni engagement and be a part of the support system as post-Leaders of Color fellows build upon the foundation they’ve gained.
His time serving in the United States Air Force developed his appreciation for structure, support, planning and development. He carried these values into his career in the nonprofit and municipal sector furthering his commitment to serving his community and in turn building up a strong staff as the Member Engagement Director at the YMCA of Greater Monmouth County. And, later becoming a core part of the Long Branch Municipality providing families with access to programs regardless of their circumstances. Now with over 11 years in the nonprofit industry, he’s been able to support underserved communities through data-driven planning and actively developing relationships with stakeholders and community leaders. In his work, Terrell is honored to have played pivotal roles in the diversity conversation while spearheading inclusion programs that eliminate barriers of entry. He takes pride in providing access, mentorship, clear communication, thought leadership, and being a resource. Terrell combines his lived experience and extensive time in program development and engagement to support and connect alumni as they grow and execute their roles as leaders of color.
Our National Advisory Board is composed of leaders who represent a variety of sectors including education reform, social justice, environmental justice, political sourcing and entertainment. Their guidance is hugely important for our program, our fellows, and our alumni.
Meet our board members:
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