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May 22, 2024

Announcing Our First Master’s Degree Cohort

Built on a legacy of excellence, our first cohort of fellows earned their master’s degrees from Clark Atlanta University.

Beaming with pride, our first Fellowship master’s degree cohort participated in Clark Atlanta University’s (CAU) 2024 commencement convocation in May. Nakia Gordon (photo above, courtesy of Atlanta Journal Constitution) embodies the joy and transformative power of this momentous milestone.

Fellowship master’s degree class of 2024

We are delighted to celebrate the following fellows who earned a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from CAU and also completed the requirements for principal licensure. They began the Fellowship in January 2023, hailing from five different states: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois and New Jersey. In May, after completing their online coursework and in-school principal residency, they came to Atlanta to participate in the culminating hooding ceremony that formally conferred their master’s degree. 

Fellowship Graduating Class of 2024 (left to right): Nakia Gordon, Stacey Martin, Dorcas Sims, Elwood Thompson, Monique Smith, Fernanda Ramirez, Colandra Davis, Racheal Groce, Carroll Welch Shareef. Not pictured: David Johnson and Ashley Okonta-Matthews.

Significance of this milestone

Like the leaders who will follow in their footsteps, our fellows are called to be powerful and positive forces for change in our K-12 education system. Dean J. Fidel Turner reminded them of the same, citing the CAU mantra: “Find a way or make one.”

Denise Corbett Dennis, Chief National Aspiring Principals Fellowship Officer at New Leaders, joined Dean Turner and Provost Charlene Gilbert on the stage. She had the privilege of placing the hood over each fellow’s graduation gown. The hood recognizes the remarkable achievement of each fellow in completing a master’s degree.  

“Standing in the processional,” Dennis reflects, “and marching along the promenade with the graduates to the sound of African drums, acknowledging the sacrifice and contributions of previous generations, and listening to the graduates reflect on their responsibility to ‘give what they have been given and pave the way for the next generation,’ reflects our vision. The Fellowship was built on the pillars of representation, equity, and educational excellence.”

The rich history and long-standing scholarship of CAU are an integral part of the Fellowship. Through our partnership, the Fellowship is empowering equity-focused leaders with the skills they need to improve life outcomes for all students, and specifically those who have been historically and persistently marginalized.

Beyond the Fellowship

Upon graduation, fellows join our national network of distinguished New Leaders alumni who serve with passion and conviction in districts, schools, nonprofits and public office. As alumni, fellows benefit from access to career mentorship, placement guidance, coaching, and ongoing professional learning opportunities.

Every leader needs a network of support—and a sense of community and belonging to sustain them on their leadership journey. Our alumni support allows fellows to continue to collaborate, problem solve, and grow in their leadership together, long after they graduate. 

Joining the Fellowship is an investment in yourself, your students, and your community. This is your moment to lead. Apply today.

Fellow, Michelle Means, cut out in orange square frame | Fellowship Images
Michelle Means
Fellowship Alum, '23
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