Our Staff

Raymond C. Pierce

President and CEO

Raymond C. Pierce serves as the President and CEO of the Southern Education Foundation, where he leads the organization’s historic mission of advancing educational opportunities for African American and low-income students in the southern states. Since joining SEF in January 2018, Pierce has focused the organization on policy research, education legislation and leadership development. SEF has also launched a workforce development initiative and is expanding its efforts for strengthening parental engagement in support of improving student learning.

Prior to joining SEF, Mr. Pierce was Dean of the School of Law at North Carolina Central University. Pierce earlier served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights as a political appointee in the administration of President Bill Clinton. During that time, Pierce also served on the White House Domestic Policy Council working group in the development of the Empowerment Zone and related economic and workforce development policies. Mr. Pierce has also been a partner in the business practices at the law firms of Baker Hostetler and Nelson Mullins, where he represented clients in the steel, energy, transportation, and financial services industries. He also represented clients in higher education matters. Earlier in his career, Pierce was employed in Cleveland, Ohio, as an attorney in the law department of the LTV Corporation, a Fortune 50 Energy, Steel, and Aerospace Defense company, where he focused on commercial transactions. Pierce began his career as a civil rights attorney in Little Rock, Arkansas, with the John W. Walker Law Firm.

Mr. Pierce is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Math and Science Initiative. He has served on the Council of Legal Education of the American Bar Association and is a past Vice President of the North Carolina Bar Association. Mr. Pierce has served as an appointed member of the North Carolina State Banking Commission and the board of directors of M&F Bank and M&F Bancorp, where he served on the audit and corporate governance committees. He is a permanent member of the Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference.

Mr. Pierce earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Syracuse University, a Juris Doctor degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Law, and a Masters of Arts from the Divinity School at Duke University.

Kenita T. Williams

Chief of Staff
Director of Leadership Development

Kenita Williams joined the Southern Education Foundation in 2017 and serves as the Chief of Staff and Director of Leadership Development. In her role, Kenita works to strengthen existing programs, leads on key strategic initiatives/new pathways for impact, supports the President & CEO in the development and management of organizational strategy and operations, and represents SEF’s values and efforts to key external stakeholders and the public.  Additionally, Kenita oversees SEF’s leadership development portfolio, creating and managing a cadre of fellowship programs and resources designed to cultivate a constellation of change agents to enact policies and practices that lead to a more equitable education system throughout the South.  Kenita brings a wide range of knowledge and critical experience to SEF, having held positions in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Over the course of her career, Kenita served as the Partnerships Manager for Atlanta Public Schools, Senior Program Manager for Public Policy at the Southeastern Council of Foundations (SECF), spent several years as a consultant for JFM Consulting Group, and worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative correspondent for then-Senator Barack Obama. Kenita is also a Teach for America (TFA) alumna and spent three years teaching third-grade in Atlanta.

Kenita earned her B.A. in Political Science and History from Yale University, her Master of Public Policy from the University of Michigan–Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, and a teaching certificate from Georgia State University. She is doctoral candidate earning a Doctor of Education from Johns Hopkins University.

Leighton O'Sullivan

Chief Financial Officer

Leighton O’Sullivan, CPA joined the Southern Education Foundation as Chief Financial Officer in April of 2020. He brings more than 25 years of experience in accounting operations in non-profit and for-profit companies. His leadership style is one that promotes a culture of accountability, commitment to high quality work, customer service and increased internal controls.

Leighton’s last position was the Chief Financial Officer at IFS Group, a securities firm, prior to that, he held positions at Clark Atlanta University as the Associate Vice President and Controller, the Controller and the Director of profit clients. His career experience includes oversight and responsibility for the direct management of accounting operations, financial reporting, financial audits, including A-133, entity compliance, treasury, acquisitions, project management, risk management, business valuations, Sarbanes Oxley, and system implementations.

Leighton received his B.B.A. degree, cum laude, in Accounting from Baruch College in New York, moved to Atlanta over 20 years ago and maintains an active Georgia-issued CPA license

Codeye J. Woody

Director of Government Affairs & Advocacy

Codeye J. Woody serves as the Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy for the Southern Education Foundation. With more than seven years’ experience in K-12 education, Codeye plays a key role in supporting the President and CEO in the advancement of a comprehensive, proactive government affairs strategy that furthers the mission and goals of the Southern Education Foundation to advance creative solutions to ensure equity and excellence in education for students of color and students from low-income families in the South. Codeye also assists on key strategic initiatives and new pathways for impact, partner engagement, and the development and management of organizational strategy and operations.

Codeye previously served as the Government Affairs Director for the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association (GAHBA) where he led all government relations efforts by which he was responsible for coordinating and administering a robust and effective advocacy program on behalf of the more than 1,000 company members of the HBA across nine counties in the Atlanta metro area, and developed and maintained a relationship with local elected officials. Prior to joining the GAHBA, Codeye served as the Director of Legislative and Congressional Relations for Orange County Public Schools, in Orlando Florida, the 8th largest school district in the United States with more than 211,000 students and 25,000 employees. As Director of Legislative and Congressional Relations, Codeye educated government officials and agencies on public policy concerns and the legislative needs of the school district such as access to technology, transportation, public school funding, and program funding with an intense focus on student achievement and community engagement.

Codeye earned a Bachelor of Science in Political Science/American Policy from the University of Central Florida.

Gretchen Wright

Director of Communications

Gretchen Wright is the Director of Communications for the Southern Education Foundation. In this role, she develops and implements communications strategies to support SEFs research, policy, and leadership development work.

With more than 30 years of experience conducting media relations outreach and other communications work for nonprofit organizations, Gretchen was most recently Director of Communications for Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. Prior to that she was the Director of Strategic Communications for the Learning Policy Institute.

For nearly 20 years, Gretchen was Vice President and a principal at PR Solutions, Inc, a women-owned public relations form in Washington, DC, that works with nonprofit organizations focused on social justice. There, she developed and executed communications strategies to promote a range of progressive policies related to health, education, workplace, civil rights, women’s rights, and human rights.

Gretchen earned her Bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Michigan and was a Women in Leadership Coro Fellow.

Tiffani Andrews

Manager of Development and Donor Stewardship

Tiffani Andrews is Manager of Development and Donor Stewardship for the Southern Education Foundation. In this role, she assists in optimizing the grant administration process, preparing progress reports, ensuring compliance with grant regulations, drafting and submitting grant reports, managing grant databases, engaging with donor agencies, educating staff on grantmakers’ policies, and preparing financial reports.

Tiffani previously served as Manager, Foundation Relations for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and implemented national stewardship initiatives that included monitoring donor funded projects and budget spending for assigned foundation accounts.

Tiffani earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Oglethorpe University and a Master of Arts in Teaching degree in English Education from Georgia State University.

Meagan Crowe

Senior Research and Policy Analyst

Meagan Crowe is Senior Research and Policy Analyst for the Southern Education Foundation where she plays a lead role in using research and data to highlight trends and current inequities in education, elevate promising solutions, and create compelling narratives to advise policymakers, practitioners, and stakeholders. Meagan previously served as a policy analyst for the Southern Regional Education Board and conducted commissioned research for the Center for State and Local Finance. Meagan’s research has focused on state education progress, dual enrollment, postsecondary transitions, adult education, and the impacts of automation and the COVID-19 pandemic on workforce participation and economic opportunity.

Meagan holds a Master of Public Administration from Georgia State University with a certification in Nonprofit Leadership and Management as well as her Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP) credential from the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance.

Danielle Harris

Operations and Strategy Program Associate

Danielle Harris is the Operations and Strategy Program Associate at the Southern Education Foundation, where she assists with key strategic initiatives and new pathways for impact, partner engagement, and the development and management of organizational strategy and operations. Danielle holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Georgia Southern University and possesses more than a decade of experience in education through her previous work with Atlanta Public Schools. While there, she served as a Site Director where she revamped an out-of-school enrichment curriculum that aligned with the development needs of the students enrolled in the program. Additionally, her work led to three out-of-school time programs becoming nationally accredited through the Council on Accreditation. Outside of her professional work experience, Danielle volunteers with the United Way of Greater Atlanta as a member of their Youth Advisory Council with the Opportunity Youth initiative.

Asley Gulaid

Leadership Development Program Associate

Asley Gulaid is the Leadership Development Program Associate at the Southern Education Foundation, where she supports the Chief of Staff and Director of Leadership Development in program design and implementation. She is committed to uplifting Black and Brown students and students from low-income families by expanding access to quality educational opportunities. Before joining SEF, Asley served as a Policy and Advocacy Fellow at Education Forward DC. While there, she created a report and implementation plan to strengthen equity and amplify teacher-voice in support of DC students. Asley is a Teach for America alumna and previously taught third grade in Memphis, Tennessee. Asley received her B.S in Psychology and Business Administration from the University of Florida.

Chandra Halstead

Office Manager

Chandra Halstead is an Office Manager for the Southern Education Foundation. Ms. Halstead currently provides executive & logistical support for the Office of the President & Corporate Development. Prior to joining SEF, Chandra was the Overseas Grants Assistant for the Ford Foundation’s Office of Management Services, providing administrative, logistical, and consultant support for overseas offices located in Hanoi, Johannesburg, and New Delhi. Chandra received an Associate’s Degree in Executive Secretarial Science from the New York City College of Technology, CUNY.