News Release

Southern Education Leadership Initiative fellows hard at work across the region

June 23, 2023 – Contact: Alan Richard, (202) 641-1300
ATLANTA — The 2023 class of the Southern Education Foundation’s (SEF) fellowship program for graduate and undergraduate students is serving an array of important nonprofit organizations and government agencies across the South this summer.

As the 12 Southern Education Leadership Initiative (SELI) fellows are providing support to partner organizations that share SEF’s vision of equity in education, they are acquiring practical skills and learning and growing as leaders for racial equity and education justice.

We are proud to support these promising leaders, as SEF has done in many different ways for more than a century,” said Kenita T. Williams, the chief operating officer of SEF and an architect of the organization’s leadership development programs. “We look forward to seeing this year’s SELI fellows grow as leaders in advancing educational justice, working with partner organizations in our region.”

This year’s SELI fellows are:

Madison Adcock, working with Sheltering Arms, an organization dedicated to providing high‐quality early education, child care, and comprehensive family support services to children and families in metro Atlanta. Originally from Waxhaw, NC, she is working on her master’s degree in educational research at Georgia State University, with a focus on the factors impacting the children of immigrants and their pursuit of education.

Clair Borrego, working with the Latin American Association, an agency empowering Latinos to adapt, integrate and thrive in the Atlanta region. Clair is pursuing her bachelor’s degree at Georgia State University, majoring in sociology with a minor in Spanish. Passionate about addressing inequities in education, Clair is working as a research assistant and aspires to earn a doctorate in sociology with a focus on education.

DaQuan Brown, working with Voices for Georgia’s Children and Georgia’s Statewide Afterschool Network, organizations each committed to advancing whole-child policy and promoting accessible, high-quality afterschool and summer programming. A sophomore at Morehouse College in Atlanta, he is studying education with a minor in English. In the future, DaQuan plans to work in education policy with a focus on underserved communities.

Kerrigan Clark, working with the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education in Columbia, contributing to its mission to promote access, affordability, and excellence in the state’s higher education system. Kerrigan is pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Mississippi State University. She is a graduate assistant her university’s Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, developing, planning and facilitating DEI learning opportunities for students. She plans to pursue a career in service of marginalized populations through policy research, social justice, and advocacy work.

Jariel Davis, working with the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, an organization that works to expand economic opportunity and well-being for all Georgians through research and analysis. Jariel earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Southern Mississippi. She is working on a master’s degree in educational policy and leadership at Vanderbilt University, while teaching 5th grade math and science.

Emma Finch, working with the Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students, or GEEARS, a nonprofit organization leading a statewide movement for accessible, high-quality early learning. Originally from Asheville, NC, she recently finished her bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Denver, with a concentration in cognitive neuroscience and minors in chemistry and biology. She is interested in child development and how biases and demographic factors compound disparities in mental health, health care, and education.

Justin Harned, working with the Southern Education Foundation in Atlanta and contributing to SEF’s mission to improve education in the South, especially for students of color and from low-income families. A rising senior at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville and a double-major in public health and political science, Justin plans to attend law school and advocate for more equitable policies that serve marginalized Americans.

Jack Kiggins, working with Every Texan, an organization that works to strengthen public policy to expand opportunity and equity for Texans of all backgrounds. A second-year undergraduate student at Carnegie Mellon University with a core major in ethics, history, and public policy, attended public high school in Atlanta, experiencing firsthand his school’s unequal access to resources.

Temitope Olabiyi, working with the Hamilton County Schools in Chattanooga, TN. A doctoral candidate in curriculum studies and a writing center consultant at Oklahoma State University, her research focuses on diversity and inclusion, special education, and equity in the classroom. She aspires to be an administrator in the future, with an aim to provide quality education to all, no matter their learning needs

William Shelton, working with the United Negro College Fund’s Institute for Capacity Building, which partners with Black colleges and universities in pursuit of student success, community advancement, and racial justice. An educator and community activist from West Philadelphia, he is pursuing a doctorate in urban education at the City University of New York. His research focuses on the school-to-prison pipeline impacting Black and brown boys and literacy and writing as tools for liberation.

TyQuan Smith, working with Griffin-Spalding County Schools in Georgia and its focus on preparing each student for college and career, with a focus on equity. A recent graduate of Georgia Southern University in middle grades education, with concentrations in social studies and English/language arts, Ty plans to establish a mentoring program for disadvantaged young men in his hometown.

Jadyn Steave, working with Alabama Possible, a nonprofit organization working to break down barriers to prosperity through advocacy, education, and collaboration. She is a J.D. candidate at Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law in Houston and plans to practice education and family law upon passing the bar exam.

Find out more about these talented emerging leaders here. For more information, contact SEF Communications.