20 Years of Conviction and Hope (Part Three)

In honor of our 20 year anniversary, New Leaders is celebrating our talented and committed staff—and the passion that draws each of us to our work.
Student artwork in a New Leaders classroomStudent artwork in a New Leaders classroom
Blog date
2/3/22
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At New Leaders, we bring optimism, hope, and a fierce resolve to our work. We know what an equitable future can look like and we are steadfast in our commitment to achieving it. Together, we are redefining how schools are led by building the capacity of equity-minded school leaders to create learning environments in which everyone thrives. Our work is shaping the next generation of leaders for our society.

Today, in honor of our anniversary, we are celebrating the passion that fuels our two decades of impact. Each of our staff members has a different “why” story that draws them to our work and ultimately connects us all.

Hear from five of our staff members about WHY they are committed to this work. And if you need more inspiration, check out Part One and Part Two.

Sonia Beatty, Chief of Staff to the CEO & Talent Officer, 8 years

My parents are first-generation immigrants from the Caribbean. They came to New York after my father finished serving his tour in the US Army as a land surveyor in St. Thomas. We grew up in Brooklyn public housing: Fort Green Projects. Despite the trials and tribulations that occurred around us, my parents were committed to keeping us disciplined and focused on family, faith, and education. Dad worked and Mom became engaged in the community using her teaching skills to navigate imposed school changes due to rezoning and rallying other parents to lean in and actively engage in their child’s education process. Over the years, I watched how she found ways to support the broader community as the local Center Director, creating afterschool reading and homework programs, and teen/adult evening classes to support job-readiness counseling and training.

In reflection, I learned first-hand the difference a leader can make in a community and the difference education can make for all who are inspired to pursue dreams beyond the “projects.” My passion for this work comes from my humble beginnings and is driven by my commitment to identify and develop generations of leaders who are committed to inspiring and empowering dreams beyond a zip code.

Angie Cramer, Senior Director, Program Implementation, New Leaders Alum, 3 years

Leadership matters. It always has and always will, and it is the big reason I do this work. My New Leaders Aspiring Principals Program residency changed my life and set me on a course to be an effective school leader. In this new season, I count it as pure joy to be able to equip the next generation of school leaders in the same city where I was once trained and served and to support other Program Directors as they do the same. I love walking alongside groups of new and novice leaders as they learn, reflect, implement new systems, push conversations, find their leadership voice, evaluate their own work, and see the results of those actions live out in positive results for students and teams.


Daniel Cordova, Senior Executive Director, Finance, 12 years

It is my firm belief that everyone has a birthright to high-quality education. And because all children are capable of learning and achieving at high levels, it is up to us as adults to provide this access equitably. Unfortunately, too many of our children, particularly black and brown children and those in poverty, do not have access to their birthright of a high-quality education. As the son of a schoolteacher and a product of public schools, I have seen and experienced firsthand how education can change the trajectory of a child’s life. My education helped me realize and develop my talents, and now it is my mission to use those talents to ensure future generations can realize and develop theirs.

Kimberly Washington, Executive Director, Program Implementation, 7 years

My “why” stems from a generational belief that we have a civic responsibility to our families and communities to meaningfully champion the next generation. I’ve committed my professional journey to improving teaching and learning so that all students have access and opportunity to thrive independently and achieve at high levels. I believe education is the gateway to freedom; freedom from generational poverty and freedom to live in God’s purpose. New Leaders is uniquely positioned to positively impact the trajectory of children across the country through leadership development from the classroom to district offices.

Michele Carcappa, Chief Program Officer, 3 years

The best and hardest job I ever had was as the founding principal of an elementary school in the South Bronx. It was an honor and a privilege to serve an amazing group of students and families and to assemble a staff who woke up every day with energy and enthusiasm to bring them our best. Far too often, it’s a foregone conclusion that schools in neighborhoods like the South Bronx will merely replicate, and even exacerbate, societal inequities that have persisted for generations. From my perspective, addressing and correcting this injustice is our nation’s most urgent and pressing need. Our students, particularly those whose communities have historically been marginalized, deserve schools that will allow them to achieve their wildest dreams. School leadership can make that happen.

I’m proud to be at New Leaders because I believe that through effective professional learning and support, we can help to develop school leaders who transform their schools for the benefit of the students they serve -- working to create a more just and more equitable future!

Learn more about our two decades of transformational impact. Visit: 20years.newleaders.org

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