2023 Fellows

Southern Education Leadership Initiative

Meet Our 2023 SELI Fellows

The Southern Education Leadership Initiative (SELI) provides young leaders with hands-on experience supporting organizations working to create school systems that give Black and Brown children access to the educational opportunity they deserve. In 2023, 12 stellar candidates rose to the top of the competitive applicant pool. The 2023 cohort of exceptional young leaders represent 10 schools across the nation, including two Historically Black Colleges and Universities. During their fellowship, these SELI fellows worked in nonprofits, state agencies, school districts, and universities on issues of education equity. They learned about the South’s most pressing education issues and grow as change agents for social justice.

SELI Placement Site Impact

Madison Adcock


Madison Adcock (she/her) is assisting in the work at 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, North Carolina, she is focusing on her master’s degree in educational research concentrating in quantitative methods at Georgia State University. Her research has focused on the children of immigrants and the factors that likely impact their pursuit of higher education. She is so excited for the opportunity to partner with Southern Education Foundation and Sheltering Arms of Atlanta to continue her research, design, administration, collection, and analysis skills throughout her fellowship.


Clair Borrego

GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITYLatin American Association

Clair Borrego (she/her) is working with the Latin American Association, an agency empowering Latinos to adapt, integrate and thrive in the Atlanta region. At Georgia State University, Clair is a pursuing her bachelor’s degree in sociology, minoring in Spanish. With a personal understanding of the consequences of under-resourced schools, she is passionate about addressing inequities in the education system. As a current research assistant, Clair aspires to obtain a doctorate in sociology with a focus on education. Outside of academia, she is a part-time restaurant server and enjoys meeting and interacting with many personalities on the job.

DaQuan Brown

MOREHOUSE COLLEGEVoices for Georgia’s Children/Georgia’s Statewide Afterschool Network

DaQuan Brown (he/him) is providing support to Voices for Georgia’s Children and Georgia’s Statewide Afterschool Network, two organizations committed to advancing whole child policy and promoting accessible, high-quality afterschool and summer programming, respectively. As a sophomore at Morehouse College, he is studying education, with a minor in English. DaQuan plans to work in education policy, with a focus on reform in underserved communities.

Kerrigan Clark

MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITYSouth Carolina Commission on Higher Education

Kerrigan Clark (she/her) is serving with the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education in Columbia, SC, to promote access, affordability, and excellence within the state system of higher education. She is pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Mississippi State University, where she received her bachelor’s in political science in May 2022. Her academic career and personal identities have motivated her to pursue a career in service of marginalized populations and equitable and inclusive educational practices, particularly through policy research, social justice and advocacy work. Kerrigan is a graduate assistant for the university’s Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, developing, planning, and facilitating DEI learning opportunities for students. Outside of her studies, Kerrigan enjoys painting and works as a barista at a local coffee shop.

Jariel Davis

VANDERBILT UNIVERSITYGeorgia Budget and Policy Institute

Jariel Davis (she/her) is spending her fellowship with the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, which works to advance lasting solutions that expand economic opportunity and well-being for all Georgians through research and analysis. She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Southern Mississippi and was an educator in Mississippi before relocating to Nashville, TN. She is currently earning a master’s degree in educational policy and leadership at Vanderbilt University, while teaching 5th grade math and science. Throughout her years as educator, Jariel has striven to create equity for students of color and plans to continue this work post-graduation.

Emma Finch

UNIVERSITY OF DENVERGeorgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students

Emma Finch (she/her) is working with the Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students, a nonprofit leading a statewide movement for high-quality early learning for all children ages birth through 5. She is from Asheville, NC, and a recent graduate from the University of Denver, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a concentration in cognitive neuroscience, and minors in chemistry and biology. Emma is interested in early child and adolescent development and how biases and demographic factors compound disparities in mental health, access to health care, and education. Outside of school, Emma enjoys making art, specifically ceramics, as well as spending time with friends and being in nature.

Justin Harned


Justin Harned (he/him) is working with the Southern Education Foundation in our mission to improve education in the South, especially for students of color and from low-income families. He is a rising senior at Georgia College and State University, double majoring in public health and political science, with a nonprofit management certificate. Justin plans to attend law school after graduating in May 2024, in pursuit of his aspirations to advocate for further research, expand new equitable policies, and defend those that cannot defend themselves. He could not be more excited to explore these opportunities as a fellow with the Southern Education Foundation.

Jackson Kiggins


Jack Kiggins (he/him) is assisting Every Texan with its mission to strengthen public policy to expand opportunity and equity for Texans of all backgrounds. He is a second-year undergraduate student at Carnegie Mellon University, with a core major in ethics, history, and public policy. Jackson attended public high school in Atlanta, where he experienced firsthand many of the shortcomings of American education, including limited financial support and unequal access to resources. He believes it is vital that these issues are addressed for the benefit of future students.

Temitope Olabiyi


Temitope Olabiyi (she/her) is working with Hamilton County Schools, serving students in Hamilton County, Tennessee. She is a doctoral candidate in curriculum studies and a writing center consultant at Oklahoma State University. Temitope considers herself an enthusiastic educator and future administrator, with an aim to provide quality education to all, no matter their learning needs. She prides herself in her research, focusing on areas such as diversity and inclusion, special education, and equity in the classroom, using them to guide her contribution to the field.

William Shelton

CUNY Graduate CenterUNCF - Institute for Capacity Building

William Shelton (he/him) is spending his fellowship 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. He is an educator and community activist from West Philadelphia who has taught secondary, undergraduate, and graduate education. William is currently pursuing a doctorate in urban education at the City University of New York. His research examines how school-to-prison pipeline policies impact Black and brown boys and to what degree literacy and writing can be a tool of liberation for oppressed groups of people.

TyQuan Smith

GEORGIA SOUTHERN UNIVERSITYGriffin-Spalding County Schools

TyQuan Smith (he/him) is providing support for the Griffin-Spalding County Schools in Georgia, to continue their mission of empowering each student to graduate from high school ready for college and career, with a focus on equity. He is a recent graduate of Georgia Southern University, earning a bachelor’s degree in middle grades education with concentrations in social studies and English language arts. Ty has served as a leader in student organizations and plans to use his experience mentoring youth and college peers to establish a mentorship program to provide character education for disadvantaged young men in his hometown. His passion for educational equity comes from his upbringing, as the son of an educator and a friend of many left behind by the system. In his recreational time, Ty enjoys reading, playing sports, and debates.

Jadyn Steave


Jadyn Steave (she/her) is serving at Alabama Possible, a nonprofit 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 and plans to practice education and family law upon passing the bar exam. Jadyn holds a bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in English from Alabama Agricultural & Mechanical University. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and remains involved in the Black Law Students Association, UNITE LGBTQ+ TMSL, and Women of Law, three student-led organizations that champion diversity within the legal profession. She is passionate about educational justice in every aspect and believes education is a human right.