News Release

Southern Education Foundation Announces 2021 Southern Education Leadership Initiative Fellows

MEDIA CONTACT:  Gretchen Wright, gwright@southerneducation.org, (202) 421-5830

JUNE 9, 2021 (Atlanta, GA)–The Southern Education Foundation (SEF) today announced the members of its 2021 Southern Education Leadership Initiative (SELI) cohort. SELI is an intensive, eight-week, paid summer fellowship for graduate and undergraduate students interested in advancing racial equity and improving education across the pre-K through college continuum. Placed in nonprofits, school districts, or state education agencies in the South, SELI Fellows spend the summer developing as leaders, engaging with valuable stakeholders, and acquiring practical job skills through direct learning experiences. SEF launched the program in 2004 to build a pipeline of equity-oriented education leaders and halt the “brain drain” in the South.

This year’s fellows attend colleges and universities from Maine to Texas to Florida. The 2021 cohort includes:

Antonia Adams, a Business Economics major and Political Science minor at the University of South Carolina’s Honors College, who is a fellow at the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education;

Melody Andrews, a doctoral student in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies program at Howard University, who is a fellow with UNCF;

Salih Cevik, a PhD candidate in the Educational Administration and Policy program at the University of Georgia, who is a fellow at the Intercultural Development and Research Association;

Maria Angelés DeSantos-Quezada, an MEd candidate in the Policy and Planning division of the Education Leadership and Policy Program at the University of Texas at Austin, who is a fellow at LatinxEd;

Haley Gray, a master’s student at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College earning a Master of Public Policy in Education Policy with a concentration on K-12 Education Policy, who is a fellow at the Intercultural Development and Research Association;

Kelly Jasiura, a master’s student at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, who is a fellow at the Georgia Department of Education;

Anthony Jones, a graduate student in Social Work at Jackson State University, who is a fellow at the Georgia Department of Education;

Joseph-Emery Kouaho, a doctoral student in the Educational Administration Policy program at the University of Georgia, who is a fellow at the Southern Education Foundation;

Theo M. Moore II, a doctoral student in the Integrative and Public Policy and Development program at Tuskegee University, who is a fellow at Alabama Possible;

Octavian Moten, a graduate student in the Sociology program at The University of Memphis, who is a fellow at Stand for Children Memphis;

Taylor Newkirk, a student in the University of Maryland College Park’s Master of Public Policy Program, who is a fellow at Griffin-Spalding County Schools;

Allie Schneider, a senior at Yale University majoring in Cognitive Science with a concentration in Social Cognition and Education, who is a fellow at the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute;

Virginia Sciolino, a recent graduate of Wesleyan University who received her Bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies, who is a fellow at the Foundation for the MidSouth;

Emille Taylor, a junior at Washington University in St. Louis double majoring in Statistics and Educational Studies and minoring in American Culture Studies, who is a fellow at the Latina American Association;

Lexi Tomkunas, a doctoral student in the Human Development and Family Sciences Department at the University of Connecticut, who is a fellow at Voices for Georgia’s Children;

Huseyin Uysal, a doctoral candidate in Curriculum and Instruction, specializing in ESOL/Bilingual Education at the University of Florida, who is a fellow at Texas Appleseed; and

Addy Weaver, a graduate student in Social Psychology at the University of Maine, who is a fellow at the DeSoto Independent School District in Texas.

“This unique fellowship program provides graduate and undergraduate students with the opportunity to hone their leadership skills while they learn about the role of nonprofits and education agencies in advancing education equity,” said SEF Director of Leadership Development and Chief of Staff Kenita Williams. “We are excited to see what this group of talented young leaders will achieve this summer and throughout their careers.”

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Originally founded in 1867 to educate Black children and children from low-income families in the South, the Southern Education Foundation also has a long history of developing leaders in education and was a pivotal source of research and data to support legislation and litigation aimed at fighting inequity in education during the civil rights era. The organization today conducts leadership development, research, and advocacy to improve educational opportunities for low-income students and students of color and achieve educational equity in the Southern U.S. It is based in Atlanta, Georgia. Find out more at https://southerneducation.org