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Season 2, Episode 1: The Purest Form of Activism

Creating safe spaces that value and invest in young Black leaders.

Air Date: January 3, 2023

Host Jonathan Santos Silva speaks with leaders and educators from The Center for Black Educator Development in Philadelphia, PA about how to create safe spaces that value and invest in young Black leaders. Guided by the lens that excellent education is a political act, Sharif El-Mekki and his team members, Teach for America alumni Makael Burrell and Danielle Thomas, at the Center introduce students to the idea of teaching and demonstrate how restoring education to disenfranchised students is the purest form of activism.


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About The Show

Host Jonathan Santos Silva (South Dakota ‘10) will sit down with innovative nonprofits from across the country that are committed to attracting, training, and retaining BIPOC educators. Each episode will feature thoughtful conversations about how organizations are investing in and providing careers where BIPOC staff can flourish. 

Meet The Host
Jonathan santos silva square

Jonathan Santos Silva (South Dakota ‘10)

Jonathan Santos Silva is the Founding Executive Director of The Liber Institute and creator and host of The Bored of Ed, a podcast that amplifies the voices of inspiring BIPOC educators who are changing the face of education. He has provided technical support to South Dakota’s Native American Achievement Schools and has served as a school founder and principal, instructional coach, and education consultant.

Featured In This Episode
Sharif El-Mekki

Sharif El-Mekki, Founder/Chief Executive Officer

Sharif is a nationally recognized principal and U.S. Department of Education Principal Ambassador Fellow. His school, Mastery Charter Shoemaker, was recognized by President Obama and Oprah Winfrey, and received the prestigious EPIC award for three consecutive years for being among the top three schools in the country for accelerating students’ achievement levels. In 2014, Sharif founded The Fellowship – Black Male Educators for Social Justice, an organization dedicated to recruiting, retaining and developing Black male teachers. In 2019, he began the Center full time in order to accelerate his mission to rebuild the Black Teacher Pipeline. Sharif is a blogger on Phillys7thWard, a member of the 8 Black Hands podcast, and serves on several boards and committees focused on educational and racial justice.

Makael Burrell

Makael Burrell, Director of Instructional Development

Prior to his role at The Center for Black Educator Development, Makael worked as a School Leader at Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys, Uncommon Schools, and managed teacher leadership and development at Teach For America. He began his education career as a middle and high school Social Studies teacher in Philadelphia. Makael has a bachelor’s degree from The University of Michigan, and a Master’s degree from both Columbia and Harvard University.

Danielle Thomas

Danielle Thomas, Assistant Director of Professional Development (Greater Philadelphia ‘11)

Danielle is responsible for designing and facilitating culturally proficient workshops and sessions for educators and leaders. Danielle has spent more than a decade working in K-12 settings as an educator, teacher coach, and human resource partner in Philadelphia, PA and Baltimore, MD. She completed her Master’s of Education training at the University of Pennsylvania and undergraduate training in psychology at North Carolina State University. She also worked at Teach For America and held roles as Manager of Teacher Leadership Development, Director of Teacher Leadership Development, Real Time Teacher Coach, Values Based Leadership and Affinity Space facilitator.

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