Meet the 2021-2022 Twin Cities Policy Fellows!
October 26, 2021
The TFA Twin Cities Education Policy Fellowship provides individuals who either work or are deeply invested in education in the Twin Cities with the opportunity to learn about the policy process and pressing issues in our local landscape.
Fellows will gain experience and engage in monthly professional development sessions that prepare them to more effectively advocate and take action alongside their school communities. Fellows will also gain a strong foundation should they want to become system level leaders in the field of policy, advocacy, and/or organizing. The fellowship will create a unique learning space for the cohort to learn, execute, and reflect together as we work as a collective in building a more equitable future for Minnesota students. In its first ever year we welcome ten incredible fellows with backgrounds in education, the nonprofit sector and as consultants. 50% of the fellows identify as BIPOC, 40% identify as coming from a low-income background and 50% are first-generation college graduates.
Self Employed, Education Consultant
Katie brings seventeen years of experience in schools and districts in the Mississippi Delta, Austin, and Minneapolis. She is grateful to have served students, teachers, and families as a teacher, assistant principal, founding middle school principal, head of schools, and chief academic officer. In her most recent roles, she coached principals and system leaders in public charters in Austin and Minneapolis through establishing new schools, ongoing growth, turnaround, and leading district-wide strategic initiatives and programs. In the spring of 2021, she transitioned to consulting, where she enjoys supporting leaders in a variety of school districts and contexts. Driven by an unwavering commitment to closing the opportunity gap, she works with love and gentle persistence to achieve a more just and equitable education system. After spending most of her career outside of her home state, many of the realities of the education landscape in Minnesota surprised her when she moved back home. She chose to apply for the policy fellowship because she is deeply interested in learning about the policy roots of this reality, and ideally identifying places where her skills and passions can make a positive difference. Outside of her work in education, she enjoys the excitement of life with two very young children, doing most anything outside, and cooking and eating delicious food.
Executive Director at Black Men Teach
“I want to build my political acumen. I am currently the executive director of Black Men Teach and our organization does not have a strong political focus. However, I believe in order for us to do this work we need to be able to make sense of and influence the policies that impact what happens in the classroom as well as how teachers are licensed. Our organization’s impact will be hindered if we are always adapting to legislation and never impacting it. I believe that this fellowship program has the ability to both support me in learning the education policy landscape and also connect me with people who are conducting similar work."
District Out of School Time Manager at Roseville Area Schools
Tom started his career in education as a City Year Boston corps member in 2010, igniting his passion to find ways for education to do better for the students and families it serves. After City Year, Tom completed the Urban Teacher Program at Metropolitan State University earning an elementary Minnesota teaching license. Tom has spent a majority of his career in the Roseville Area Schools where he is currently an Out of School Time Manager. Previously he was a 6th grade teacher, a theater teacher, and a human resources assistant for the district. Additionally, Tom served as a founding 5th grade humanities teacher at Hiawatha College Prep-Northrop in South Minneapolis. Other interests include local school board meeting public comment forums, reading non-fiction books about education, and the belief as an idealist that schools can and will do better for students and families. Tom believes change can happen at many levels in education, whether it is at the Capitol, a school board meeting, a superintendent's leadership cabinet, a school leadership team, or a classroom, there are ways to learn to bring the pedagogy to policy.
2nd and 3rd Grade Teacher at Bdote Learning Center
“Boozhoo! Zhaawanobinesiikwe nindigo. Skyler Kuczaboski nindizhinakaaz. Gaa-zagaskwaajimekaag. Ashkibagiziibing nindaa noongom. Niizhtana ashi niizh nimbinoonagiz. Migizi nindoodem. Hello! My name is Skyler. My family comes from the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. I grew up on the east side of Saint Paul where I was able to learn about my culture, history, and language at the American Indian Magnet School and Harding Senior High School. Then, I earned my bachelors in Native American Studies at Dartmouth College. I am currently the second and third grade teacher at Bdote Learning Center in Minneapolis. I recognize the change that needs to happen in education and I believe the change needs to happen through policy. I hope to learn more about what policies we currently follow and the process to change them. Mii’iw, Miigwech!”
Director of School Improvement at Venture Academies
“I started my career in education in 2005 as a Miami-Dade TFA corps member. I taught special education in a self-contained high school setting for three years before becoming a founding teacher at a middle school in the same community. Since moving to Minneapolis 11 years ago, I’ve continued my career in education with a focus on special education and school improvement work. Through my work in schools, I’ve battled systemic barriers rooted in policy. Through this fellowship I hope to better understand how to influence and advance policy to impact outcomes for students and families.”
Seasonal, Senior Manager, Academies at TNTP
Nadia Nibbs is a formally trained educator with nine years of experience in culturally responsive teaching and seven years of adult professional development. She was a member of the 2011 corps in Kansas City, where she co-authored and facilitated adult learning on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and received the TFA Alumni Diversity Core Values Award for the Kansas City Region. Nadia later moved to Minneapolis in 2015 to be a member of the Hiawatha Collegiate High School founding team, later receiving the Exceptional Contribution award for her outstanding accomplishments in student outcomes and community impact. Nadia received her Bachelor’s in Arts from Tufts University in Medford, MA and her Master’s in Education from University of Missouri, St. Louis. Nadia is excited to participate in the TFA Policy Fellowship to fill the gap in her education policy knowledge and develop a command over the language of policy. She is ready to join an intellectual community committed to understanding the role policy plays in educational equity.
Brendan O' Shea
Learning Lead at Saint Paul Public Schools
“My name is Brendan O'Shea, and I work as a Learning Lead (instructional coach) in Saint Paul Public Schools. Prior to this role, I served as a Continuous Improvement Specialist in Saint Paul, supporting schools identified by the state as needing improvement under the old NCLB waiver and the current ESSA framework. A 2009 Las Vegas corps member, my classroom teaching experi-ence is mostly at the upper elementary level, though I also have had a year of teaching middle school math. I completed my principal licensure at Hamline University in 2019. I am participating in the fellowship because systemic change requires system-wide solutions. I hope to deepen my knowledge about the policy landscape in the Twin Cities, and I hope to transition to another role that allows me to make an impact beyond a single school site”.
Literacy Coach at the Groves Literacy Partnership
“I am looking forward to participating in the TFA Twin Cities Policy Fellowship. I hope to learn more about the impact of policy on the education landscape in Minnesota. I am eager to collaborate and advocate for more equitable and excellent learning opportunities for BIPOC students. I am a daughter, sister, wife, and mom. I grew up in Northeast Ohio. I graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a B.A. in Philosophy, Neuroscience, and Psychology. I have a M.A. in Special Education from Webster University. I love to bake, mostly pies and cookies. I started my career in education as a middle school special education teacher in St. Louis, Missouri. I spent eight years on staff at Teach For America, coaching new teachers and leading the Teacher Leadership Development Team. I participated in the School System Leaders Fellowship and worked for St. Louis Public Schools as the Director of Academic Strategy and Curriculum Support. I moved to Minneapolis in 2018 and served as the Executive Director at Hiawatha Academies for three years. This school year I am excited to be coaching teachers and supporting early readers as a Literacy Coach with Groves Literacy Partnership".
Xue Lin Wang
4th Grade teacher at Hiawatha Academies
Xue Lin Wang is a current 4th grade teacher at Hiawatha Academies. She graduat-ed from Michigan State University with a degree in Public Policy. While at MSU, Xue Lin organized opportunities for college students to volunteer at a local school and participated in many study away and study abroad programs. Her fondest memories include interning in Washington D.C. and volunteering at a refugee camp in Lesvos, Greece. Both experiences have shaped the type of work Xue Lin wishes to pursue. She is excited to apply her passion for education reform, skills of being a current classroom teacher, and strong work ethic to become a TFA Educa-tion Policy Fellow, where she can advocate for our students of color and to create a more equitable future for all students. As a result of the program, she wishes to learn about the relationship between policymakers and educators in the classrooms and how to better bridge a connection between both parties. In the long run, Xue Lin aspires to work on education policy at the federal level. When she has time, Xue Lin enjoys long road trips to Michigan, cheering on Michigan State football, and reminiscing about working at her family's restaurant.
Program Officer, Career Academies at Greater Twin Cities United Way
“I've worked across multiple fields of education in my career including classroom teacher, after school time programming, charter school authorizing and now in philanthropy. I am passionate about experiential learning, student voice and disrupting inequitable systems. I'm excited to meet others in the field and learn from the group's knowledge and experience to better inform my work and to grow connections in our community!”