Tell us about your Public Policy Fellowship placement.
My work as a Public Policy Fellow is in the Shelby County (Memphis, TN) Government, Office of Education in Mayor Lee Harris’ office. I work side-by-side with our Director of Education, Dr. Cedrick Gray working on education policy, programs, and strategy for a county with about 1 million people and over 150,000 public school students.
What has been most valuable about your Public Policy Fellowship?
The Public Policy fellowship has been an opportunity to put my real life experience into workable solutions for kids and families. The PPF has been the culmination of the relationships and work experience I’ve built over the last 15 years.
What is your biggest takeaway from the fellowship?
My biggest takeaway from the fellowship is that relationships matter deeply. Those times that you network, send a follow-up email, make a phone call, show up to events -- it all matters and the cumulative effect on your career is undeniable. Treat people as your most precious resource.
Tell us about your vision for educational equity.
My vision for equity is we look at students and ask what they need to have a life of opportunity instead of playing within the realm of what we’ve always done or the resources we have. It’s about thinking boldly for what’s possible.
What do you see as your role in achieving this vision?
Asking a lot of questions -- most of the time the answers are in the open. We have great ideas, lots of talented folks working in education, and we need to increasingly match that with accountability and resources that make sense. I’ve been in a position on a number of issues to assess need and make recommendations.
How has LEE supported you in achieving this vision?
LEE has supported me before PPF and continues to now. I’ve ran for office, learned grassroots organizing, and now through continued coaching which has helped me look deeper at my own leadership.
Why is it important to have opportunities like the Public Policy Fellowship accessible?
Opportunities like PPF are important because it helps sharpen your skills and put them to practice in your community. It’s a time where what you know from the classroom, your research, your relationships, and your community all converge.
What would you tell those who are thinking about or are interested in applying to the Public Policy Fellowship?
Do it now!
*The above interview has been transcribed and is in subjects' own words, with minor edits for clarity or brevity.
Accelerate your policy or advocacy career while making a real impact on the country’s education landscape. Apply for the paid, full-time Public Policy Fellowship by April 12.