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Meet the 2021 AAEF Advocacy Fellows
posted by: Tamia | February 24, 2021, 06:57 PM   

The Association of American Educators Foundation is excited to welcome our latest cohort to the AAEF Advocacy Fellowship! Since 2018, AAEF has supported educators in leveraging their voices and unique experiences to make lasting change in our profession. During this year-long experience, AAE Foundation will foster our new Fellows’ advocacy skills and knowledge, including their education policy orientation and understanding.


These individuals have committed to a student-oriented teaching profession that is well respected and personally fulfilling. Their choosing to participate in this program will position Fellows’ as critical commentators and notable experts in the education policy and advocacy space. Fellows will write and publish articles, meet with legislators, organize their colleagues and communities for action, testify before decision-makers, and much more. Please join us in welcoming our 2021 AAEF Advocacy Fellowship Cohort!


danielle stewart

Dr. Danielle Stewart hails from Atlanta, Georgia, and is Founder and President of the education consulting company, In School Spirit, LLC and the nonprofit, Community Empowerment Foundation, Inc. She is a graduate of Hofstra University and holds a Doctor of Education in Education Leadership degree with a concentration in K-12 from Argosy University.


zak sloan headshot

Zak Sloan is a 5th grade teacher, musician, and attorney from Castle Rock, Colorado. Zak has taught in charter schools in Lubbock, Texas, and in Aurora, Colorado. He currently teaches  at a charter school in Centennial, Colorado. Zak earned his degree in Early Childhood Education from Texas Tech University and his law degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law.


Tyler Willis was born and raised in Thomasville, Georgia. An educator for nearly a decade, Tyler graduated from his hometown school, Thomas University with a degree in middle grades education with a concentration in language arts and social studies. He currently teaches at Liberty Tech Charter School, where he is the K-8 computer teacher. Tyler is married to Kylie Willis who shares his passion for teaching as a fellow educator, and they have one daughter.


terrance anfield

T. Cedric Anfield is originally from Stockton, California, and is a graduate of Bethune-Cookman University’s Psychology department. An educator for more than ten years, Cedric currently teaches kindergarten at Atlanta Unbound Academy, a charter school in College Park, Georgia.


stephen parce

Stephen Parce is the principal at Denver Justice High School in Denver, Colorado. Stephen has worked at this alternative education public charter school for the past five years helping their students to complete their studies to earn their high school diploma while planning for their post-secondary pathway. He is a Colorado native, a twenty-five year educator, and the fourth generation of educators in his family. He holds two bachelor degrees, a masters degree, and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Administration, Supervision & Policy Studies at the University of Denver.



Dr. Donna Schaeffer is a Professor in the School of Technology and Innovation at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. Donna has won numerous awards for Outstanding Teaching, Best Scholar, and Colleague of the Year several times throughout her 35-year career in higher education. She received her Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate School, and holds an MBA and Bachelor’s degree from Florida International University.


saum headshot_edited

Jessica Saum is a native of Columbia, South Carolina but calls Sherwood, Arkansas home. Currently, she is a self-contained special education teacher at Stagecoach Elementary School in Cabot, Arkansas, teaching students in kindergarten through fourth grade. She graduated in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Education in Early Childhood and Special Education degree from Arkansas State University. She subsequently received her Master of Science in Education in 4-12 Special Education and completed the Special Education Director graduate certificate program in educational leadership also from ASU.


randy venne

Randy Venne is a technology integrator for a large urban school district, working with hundreds of teachers. Randy’s path to this role began as a classroom teacher within the same district, where he taught third and fifth grade for twelve years prior to serving for three years as a library media specialist. He is a lifelong Wisconsin resident, and received his bachelor’s degree from University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee in elementary education, and holds a master of education in instructional technology degree from Cardinal Stritch University, also in Milwaukee.


melissa smith headshot

Melissa Smith is the CEO of a Real Estate Investment firm, the co-founder of a financial wellness startup, and a mother of five. Melissa earned her degree in Public Administration & Public Policy from Rutgers University and uses this understanding to advocate for education policy that benefits the lives and learning of all children.


maattchaas holmes

MaatTchaas Holmes earned her Bachelor of Science in Dance degree at SUNY-The College of Brockport in 2012. After obtaining her Master’s degree, MaatTchaas worked as a special education teacher for five years in the public and public charter school system. Currently, she teaches special needs children that need SETSS services and manages her educational business Sankofa Learning Place, L.L.C.



Lou McCall is a six-year veteran teacher and father of three. He has served in a variety of roles from aide to teacher to administrator. After earning a Bachelor’s in Communication degree from Monmouth University, he spent several years working in the private sector before making a change in careers and finding passion in the classroom. He received his Masters in Educational Leadership from the American College of Education and currently teaches 6th- and 7th-grade mathematics at a charter school in New Jersey.


kim ring

Kimberly Ring is a high school science educator at Eureka Jr/Sr High School, in Eureka, Kansas. A veteran educator with more than twenty years of elementary and middle school experience, she is now in her seventh year of teaching high school science at Eureka. Kim earned her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education degree  at Northwestern Oklahoma State University. Her master’s in Science Education K-8 degree was completed at Walden University. Most recently, she received her doctorate in Organizational Leadership with an emphasis in Instructional Leadership.



Jason B. Allen has worked in Education for more than fifteen years as a teacher and leader serving students, families and communities. He began as an ELA teacher and most recently served in school administration. He saw the disproportionate numbers of Black boys in special education, being suspended or expelled from school and decided to go back to the classroom as a special education teacher to make a bigger impact. He also blogs and speaks extensively as an advocate for all students.


Jamila Jendayi-Scott was born and raised in Paterson, N.J., and has spent the majority of her career working in Paterson in both the nonprofit and education sector. Currently, Jamila leads a team of more than 20 teachers and staff members in providing meaningful enrichment programming to hundreds of high school students per year. She graduated from Ramapo College of New Jersey with a BA in International Business degree and a MS in Educational Technology degree. Jamila is currently pursuing her second masters degree in Educational Leadership at Felician University.


brett walter headshot

Brett Walter is in his second year as a seventh-grade English and history teacher, at Bert Corona Charter School, in northern Los Angeles, California, having recently made a career change into education. Prior to teaching, Brett spent nearly ten years in government and politics as a Senior District Representative and Campaign Manager.


austin ambrose headshot

Austin Ambrose is an elementary school teacher at Gem Prep: Nampa. In this position, Austin is currently responsible for teaching third grade students in an inclusive classroom. As a 2017 corps member of the Idaho Teach for America corps, Austin entered Gem Prep: Nampa in their second year as a school. Prior to moving to Idaho, Austin studied journalism at Ohio University in their Honors Tutorial College.


audrey green-hill

Audrey Green-Hill was born and raised in Englewood, New Jersey, and now resides in Essex County, New Jersey with her husband and four children. As Family Community Engagement Specialist, her role involves establishing a relationship with individual families, assessing their needs, their eligibility for various types of public aid, and other social or development needs for the families. She is a graduate of William Paterson University in Paterson, New Jersey.



Amanda Cook has worked in education for just over fifteen years, and has taught in both Oklahoma and Arkansas. Amanda has led departments as the special education chair, and has led implementation of her district’s first VIrtual School Special Education program. She has an Associates in Psychology degree, a Bachelor’s in Social Sciences degree with an emphasis in Psychology and Sociology, a Masters in Education degree with an emphasis in Reading, and has completed her Educational Specialist in Building Administration degree. She recently became a licensed administrator, but is currently serving in a leadership role for Special Services at her current campus.

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