Leaders of Color Making Black History

February 1, 2024

This Black History Month, we are celebrating our Leaders of Color alumni who have made history in their communities! 

Our program was created to help Black and Latinx people get the knowledge, network, and resources they need to advance education equity by running for office, leading community organizations, and advocating for change. Black and Latinx communities are underrepresented in our political and civic systems, so when our alumni advance to positions of leadership, they often make history in their new roles. 

Please join us in celebrating some of our alumni “firsts” - alumni who have become the first Black person in their roles, making history: 

Marquita Bradshaw, Memphis, Class of 2019

In 2020, Marquita won the Democratic nomination for the Tennessee U.S. Senate seat, becoming the first Black woman to win a major political party nomination in any statewide race in Tennessee. 

Michalyn Easter-Thomas, Memphis, Class of 2023

In 2019, Michalyn became the youngest Black person ever elected to the Memphis City Council. 

Dr. Audrey Elion, Memphis, Class of 2023 

Dr. Elion is the first Black woman President of The Pennsylvania State University Graduate Student Association and the first and only Black chair of the Greater Memphis Region Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network. She also serves as the first Black Chair of the Advisory Council for the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network.

Isaac Freeman, Memphis, Class of 2018

In 2021, Isaac became the first Black person to serve as chair of the Finance Committee for the Tennessee Democratic Party and the first Black man to serve as the President of Tennessee Young Democrats. During his tenure, Isaac has helped develop the state party's strategy for identifying political operatives and candidates who would advocate and fight for resource equity in Tennessee schools. 

Sheleah Harris, Memphis, Class of 2019

In 2020, Sheleah became the first woman and first Black person to represent Shelby County Schools District 5 as a School Board Commissioner. As school board commissioner, Sheleah consistently fought to stop the use of excessive force against students in schools and for equitable resources in the schools she represented. 

Kelvin O. Howell, New York, Class of 2022 

Kelvin is the first Black and multiracial non-binary and gender non-conforming Operations Manager of Somos, Inc., an organization committed to addressing the needs of the Hispanic population of New York state. 

Vanessa LaFleur, Louisiana Class of 2022

In 2023, Vanessa became the first Black woman to be elected as State Representative for District 101. 

Amber Sherman, Memphis, Class of 2023

In 2023, Amber became the first Black woman chair of the Shelby County Young Democrats of America. 

This February, we will welcome our 2024 class of history-makers and leaders. Please help us continue to develop Leaders of Color and keep our program 100% free for all participants by donating today

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