Kansas City is home to the most dedicated educators, the most committed leaders, and the most inspiring students. Our Profiles in Leadership series introduces some of best and brightest in Kansas City.
Following her graduation from Hampton University, Tara joined the New Teacher Project (TNTP) and taught middle school English and Language Arts in Shreveport, Louisiana. It was here that she developed a middle school all-girls mentoring program that focused on mindfulness, college preparation, and community service.
Jennifer Collier has served as an educator in Kansas City Public Schools for 21 years. She has served in the capacity of Teacher, Assistant Principal, Principal, Director of Human Resources, and most recently, Chief Human Resources Officer and Chief of Staff.
I am a native Chicagoan that grew up as the oldest grandchild in my family. I come from a long line of educators that have given collectively over 200 years to children in urban areas all around the country. To say education is in my DNA might be very accurate.
Sherman Whites, Jr., is a director in Education for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, where he is responsible for managing philanthropic investments related to K-12 education, including emerging portfolios related to innovation and community ownership. Prior to joining the Kauffman Foundation, Whites was a program officer for the K-12 Education and Special Interest teams at the Walton Family Foundation.
Throughout his more than 20-year career devoted to serving youth, Dr. Dred Scott has served as Educator, Principal and Executive Director of Support Services. Prior to his current role as President of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City, Dr. Scott served as Deputy Superintendent for the Independence (MO) School District (ISD).
Kirsten Brown-Persley is committed to equipping students with the educational tools necessary for them to pursue any path they desire. Ms. Brown-Persley graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City's Institute for Urban Education (IUE). Since graduating from the IUE, Ms. Brown has led professional development sessions for educators across the country for UMKC, Teach for America, Kansas City Teacher Residency Program, and the Kauffman Teacher-Leader Fellowship.
I am a son of an educator who instilled in me that the value of an education is too significant to measure and cannot be taken away from you. I am a Texas native with almost 20 years of public-school experience in an urban setting, as my father did for almost four decades.
Navigating systems of inequalities has been the focus of Dr. Trinity Davis for 24 years. She was a teacher, coach, Associate Professor, and Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum before founding Teachers Like Me in 2020. Teachers Like Me is an organization dedicated to recruiting, developing, and retaining Black teachers in Kansas City.
Cokethea Hill is an innovative collaborator with over 15 years of experience working in the non-profit sector organizing communities, building collaborative partnerships, and strengthening assets in low- income urban communities. Known for her strategic approach, Cokethea has a keen ability for building relationships and mobilizing others towards an identified goal.
Takeisha Brown serves as Principal at Wendell Phillips Elementary School in Kansas City Public Schools. She works diligently to support staff in all capacities in order to raise student achievement, even coaching teachers and modeling lessons when needed.
Cori Smith is the Program Director of Justice in the Schools (JTS). JTS operates out of several schools in the Kansas City and Hickman Mills school districts to help students and families with issues that negatively affect their lives and learning.
Susana Elizarraraz is a Kansas City native and educator. Susana’s most recent role is serving as the Chief Community Officer for the Latinx Education Collaborative (LEC), an organization focused on growing and retaining the number of Latinx educators in Kansas City schools. The important work done by the LEC in increasing the representation of Latinx educators is essential for KC students, and for further enriching the quality education delivered in our schools.