2023 Fellows

Racial Equity Leadership Network

Meet the 2023 RELN Fellows

In our executive leaders track, SEF recognizes a need to more fully engage in thought partnership with key decision makers and support their efforts as they work toward addressing the significant equity challenges that increasingly exist in our classrooms and communities. SEF believes that any attempt to effectively address deep, persistent disparity within schools calls for visionary leadership with a strong and explicit equity orientation, a clear sense of purpose, and the ability to mobilize stakeholders in an aligned direction. Currently, SEF offers the Racial Equity Leadership Network (RELN), a 15-month cohort-style fellowship that aims to strengthen the capacity of C-Level school district leaders to address disparities in learning and opportunity for low-income students and students of color. Through this unique experience, leaders will become more knowledgeable, skilled, and effective in leading and sustaining reform efforts in their systems.

We’ve gathered 7 ambitious school district leaders from across the nation poised to address racial, economic and academic disparities in their districts. Read below to learn more about our 2023 fellows and the districts where they are taking the lead.

Shawn Foster

Superintendent, Orangeburg County School DistrictOrangeburg, SC

Dr. Shawn Foster is the superintendent of Orangeburg County School District in South Carolina. With more than two decades of experience in school and district transformation, he has served in various educational leadership roles, including school counselor, assistant principal, principal, and deputy superintendent/chief officer of operations and student services.

As superintendent, Dr. Foster focuses on providing students with the highest levels of instruction, transforming education by creating and launching new initiatives and programs to advance opportunities for the districts’ students. Most recently, Dr. Foster led a $190 million bond referendum, which will significantly enhance district facilities over the next three years. Dr. Foster has received numerous awards and acknowledgments for his work. He begins each day knowing he has another opportunity to positively impact the life of a student and is a proud husband and father.

Shavonne Garner-Price

Executive Director of Teaching and Learning, Jefferson Parish Schools Harvey, LA

Ms. Shavonne Garner-Price is the Executive Director of Teaching and Learning at Jefferson Parish Schools. Ms. Garner-Price is a dedicated advocate for education with 25 years of experience, driving positive change for children and educators. Hailing from Detroit, Michigan, she recognizes the importance of quality education due to her background in the public school system.

As an alternate certified teacher, Shavonne discovered her passion for education and its impact on potential. Throughout her career, she’s held roles from teacher to currently the executive director of Louisiana’s largest school system, Jefferson Parish Schools, prioritizing equitable education for all students. Her efforts have resulted in improved reading levels, assessment scores, and overall school performance. She is a mother, grandmother, children’s book author, and life-long learner in the final phase of earning a doctoral degree. She has obtained degrees from Grambling State and Louisiana Tech Universities. Shavonne enjoys volunteering in the community, serving on the board of non-profit organizations, helping others, and is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

Dan Keyser

District Administrator, Stoughton Area School District Stoughton, WI

Dr. Dan Keyser is the district administrator of the Stoughton Area School District in southern Wisconsin, focusing on ensuring schools are centered on authentic learning and inspiring students to be thinkers and contributors to their community and society. As a proponent of DEI in education, he believes equity is about ensuring each and every individual belongs.

With over 24 years of educational experience, Dr. Keyser previously supported the School District of Beloit as their superintendent, having previously served as a district-level leader, a building-level leader, and a classroom teacher throughout the state. Dr. Keyser earned a master’s degree in educational administration from UW-Milwaukee and a doctorate in educational leadership from Edgewood College. Most recently, he has been a mentor to aspiring educational leaders pursuing their master’s or doctorate. He has also taught a graduate course in culturally responsive teaching for UW-Whitewater. Outside of his profession, he is blessed to be married to his wife and father to two boys. Dr. Keyser spends time with his family enjoying the outdoors through hiking, biking, and walking.

Michael Lowe

Director of Equity & Access, Shelby County SchoolsMemphis, TN

Dr. Michael Lowe is the director of equity and access at Shelby County Schools in Memphis, TN, with over 23 years of experience in public education. His teaching career began in 1997 at Ross Elementary, after graduating from the University of Memphis. Over the years, he progressed through various leadership positions, including principal and executive director of curriculum and instruction. Currently, he also serves as an adjunct professor at Christian Brothers University and as an educational consultant with the Tennessee Department of Education, contributing to the development of the administrator and teacher evaluation model.

Dr. Lowe’s unwavering commitment to educational equity and his multifaceted roles in teaching, administration, and consultation continue to positively impact students and educators in the region.

Jeffrey Porter

Managing Director, Uplift EducationDallas, TX

Mr. Jeffrey O. Porter is the managing director for primary schools at Uplift Education in Dallas, Texas, since 2021. Previously serving as a school principal in Chicago, he brings a systems thinking approach to his work, focusing on improving student achievement and implementing social-emotional learning practices.

During his time at Horace Mann Elementary School in Chicago, Jeffrey achieved significant improvements, elevating the school’s ranking from Level 3 to Level 1+. He secured over $6 million in grants for the school community and successfully obtained a $1.6-million grant for a playground transformation project. He also served as the principal of Phoebe A. Hearst Elementary School, where standardized test scores saw notable gains. Jeffrey holds multiple degrees, including a bachelor’s degree in social science from Dominican University, and he is currently finishing his doctorate at the University of Delaware. He is DEI-certified through the University of South Florida, ICF certified, and Strategy Implementation Institute certified and is an alumnus of the 2021 cohort of Cambiar Education’s Catalyst fellowship.

LaMarlon Wilson

Executive Director of Instruction Professional Development & Technology, Mississippi Achievement School District Yazoo City, MS

Mr. LaMarlon J. Wilson is the executive director of instruction, professional development, and technology at Mississippi Achievement School District. He holds a bachelor’s degree music from Mississippi Valley State University, a master’s degree music education from William Carey University, and a specialist’s degree in school leadership from Arkansas State University.

Mr. Wilson’s passion for education led him to progress from a choral music teacher to assistant principal, and eventually principal of Humphreys County Junior High School. Under his leadership, the school made significant progress, improving from an F rating to a D designation. Mr. Wilson was named “Administrator of the Year” for Mississippi’s second congressional district in 2021. He is an active member of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc., the Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks of the World, and Free & Accepted Masons (Prince Hall).

Gyimah Whitaker

Superintendent, City Schools of DecaturDecatur, GA

Dr. Gyimah Whitaker is the superintendent of schools for the City Schools of Decatur. She is a consummate educator with over 20 years of experience focusing on creating the conditions for educators to be successful in order to improve student outcomes. The belief in high-quality education for each student drives Dr. Whitaker. She believes equity is the vehicle to excellence, recognizes leadership matters, and inspires the engagement of all.

Dr. Whitaker is a leader in the Atlanta Metropolitan Region and formerly served as the Deputy Chief Academic Officer in Fulton County Schools (FCS), Georgia’s 4th largest school system. In FCS, she has also served as a transformational Area Superintendent with oversight of 30 schools. In Atlanta Public Schools, she served as Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning as well as Gifted Coordinator. Although she has evolved into a leader, she will always be a teacher. Dr. Whitaker earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The University of Pennsylvania and an Educational Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Georgia State University. Dr. Whitaker is married with two girls.