Leadership Development -

A Year In Review

Leadership Development - A Year In Review

In many ways, 2019 was a significant year for SEF’s Leadership Development portfolio. Guided by recently refreshed strategies, our fellowship programs have grown in participation, expanded their regional footprint, and garnered attention from national academic and practitioner associations.

Some noteworthy accomplishments include:

Graduation of the Inaugural Cohort of the Racial Equity Leadership Network

The ten district leaders comprising the inaugural cohort of the Racial Equity Leadership Network celebrated their completion of the 18-month fellowship during their final convening in January 2019. In addition to overwhelmingly positive anecdotal feedback from participants, the cohort witnessed several successes indicating the program’s potential to affect lasting systemic change. Fellows directly attributed specifically, the adoption of several district-wide equity policies and the installation of one fellow in an explicitly equity-centered role. The experience, feedback, and learnings of these inaugural fellows have been carefully applied throughout the process of refining and improving the RELN fellowship for subsequent cohorts.

Since its inception in 2017, RELN has provided over 30 school districts with support, resources, and coaching to advance equitable conditions for more than 600,000 students across the South.

National Conference Speaking Engagements

In 2019, SEF sought to create and leverage opportunities to meaningfully contribute to the national dialogue and best practice around racial equity and professional learning opportunities that lead to transformative learning for

all students. SEF, in partnership with the Learning Policy Institute, presented research conducted within the Racial Equity Leadership Network at both the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting and the University Council for Educational Administration Annual Convention. Kenita Williams, Director of Leadership Development at SEF, along with RELN Cohort One alumnus Keith Simmons, also addressed the August 2019 United Way InForum Breakfast on the topic of leadership practices that are moving the needle on racial equity in public schools. We look forward to continuing these presentations at both academic and practitioner-focused conferences throughout 2020.

SEF Doubles the Size of the 2019 Southern Education Leadership Initiative Cohort


The Southern Education Leadership Initiative welcomed its sixteenth cohort this summer, a newly expanded group of twenty talented young leaders from universities across the South, including five Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Additionally, the 2019 Cohort marked an important expansion of host sites, to include for the first time, institutions of higher education and state education agencies. Fellows completed intensive, eight-week, paid internships working to advance racial equity and improve education across the pre-kindergarten to college continuum. This year’s SELI program also included a much more intentional focus on education policy, sharpening the fellows’ racial equity lenses, and each leader’s individual growth as a young professional.

Since 2004, SELI has directly impacted the development of over 230 rising leaders, and expanded the capacity of 110 host sites to pursue their mission of educational equity.