Head shot of a smiling African-American woman.

Kaya Henderson

Job Title
Former Chancellor
D.C. Public Schools
Georgetown University
Corps Year: 
Corps Region: 
New York
Alumni Region: 
D.C. Region
Peter Jennings Award

Kaya Henderson (New York '92) served as the chancellor of D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) from 2010 to June 2016. Throughout her tenure, she restored faith in DCPS and set it on track to become a model urban school system. Kaya built on the reforms she helped craft under her predecessor, Michelle Rhee (Baltimore ’92), spending countless hours listening and responding to students, teachers, parents, and community members to ensure that the district’s reforms address the needs of her most important constituents—the children of Washington, D.C.

After Kaya took charge, student enrollment rose nearly 5 percent, to about 47,600 students. Student and family satisfaction increased, teacher retention improved—particularly among the district’s teachers rated “effective” and “highly effective”—and academic outcomes rose at an unprecedented pace. In December 2013, results of the biennial National Assessment of Educational Progress Trial Urban District Assessment showed DCPS students’ growth to be the greatest among the 21 tested districts, with students making gains in each of the four tested grades and subjects. On D.C.’s state assessment, recently aligned with rigorous Common Core Standards, students posted the highest-ever scores in 2013, with the largest single-year gain since 2008. Even more, the city’s African American and Hispanic students improved at faster rates than their white peers.

Kaya began her career as a middle school Spanish teacher in the South Bronx. In 2007, she became the deputy chancellor of DCPS, leading with Jason Kamras (D.C. Region ’96) the design and implementation of the district’s IMPACT teacher evaluation system.

Kaya is a graduate of Georgetown University, earning her B.A. from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, and later an executive M.A. in leadership.

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