We are pleased to introduce the members of the Tennessee Educational Equity Coalition Steering Committee. They represent a diverse set of communities from across the entire state of Tennessee, and bring exceptional expertise and talents. Together, they cast a vision for the Coalition and how it can best serve students and families of color across the state. The Steering Committee plays an important role in the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), provides a local context for education policy and brings a diverse set of voices and priorities to conversations centered on education equity.
Meet the members of the Tennessee Educational Equity Coalition Steering Committee:
PIONERO SCHOLARS PROGRAM
Laura Delgado is the program director for the Pionero Scholars Program at Lipscomb University. This initiative seeks to increase enrollment of Latino and other minority students in Lipscomb’s College of Education and offers academic merit scholarships.
Laura, a Cuban-American, came to Nashville from Houston to complete her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Vanderbilt University. Prior to her current role, Laura worked at Conexión Américas and Teach for America. Laura is passionate about college access, success for immigrant and refugee students, and culturally responsive teacher preparation.
DIRECTOR OF ADVOCACY
MEMPHIS EDUCATION FUND
Tosha Downey is director of advocacy for the Memphis Education Fund, a partner organization in the city’s effort to transform chronically underperforming schools. Prior to joining the Memphis Education Fund, Tosha served as director of government affairs a the Noble Network of Charter Schools in Chicago, Illinois. Tosha has spent more than 15 years leading and supporting non-profit teams in charter school management, college access, student recruitment, community engagement and talent acquisition.
A native of Memphis, Tosha completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in education at Clark Atlanta University. She holds a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Michigan and a juris doctorate from the University of North Carolina School of Law. She is the only child of William and Geraldine Downey, who still reside in the Soulsville community in Memphis. Tosha has one stepdaughter, Dana, a college senior at Cornell College, and one goddaughter, Ebony, a recent graduate of Kalamazoo College and current biology teacher.
NATIONAL CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM
Terri Freeman was appointed president of the National Civil Rights Museum in November 2014. As president, Freeman is responsible for providing strategic leadership in furthering the museum’s mission as an educational and cultural institution. For 18 years, Ms. Freeman served as president of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, the largest funder of nonprofit organizations in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Prior to the Community Foundation, Ms. Freeman was founding executive director of the Freddie Mac Foundation. A graduate of the 2016 class of Leadership Memphis, Ms. Freeman has served on several boards. Freeman received her bachelor’s degree in journalism/communication arts from the University of Dayton and her master’s degree from Howard University. She is married to Dr. Bowyer G. Freeman and is the proud mother of three daughters.
DOUGLAS CHEROKEE AUTHORITY
Betsy Hurst currently serves as assistant director of Douglas Cherokee Authority Economic Education Center. She has over 12 years of experience working in a variety of educational programs, and she currently oversees 18 after-school programs in five counties across East Tennessee. She also oversees the teen pregnancy programs in Hamblen and Hancock counties. She is an important leader in the emerging Latino communities in East Tennessee, and in particular in Hamblen County. She currently serves on the board of H.O.L.A. Lakeway and is the coordinator of the Latin Food Festival in Morristown. Mrs. Hurst was born and raised in San Jose, Costa Rica. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nonprofit business management and a second degree in bible theology. She also has a background in elementary education.
DIRECTOR OF POLICY
NASHVILLE AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Candy is currently employed by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce where she leads education policy initiatives such as the Academies of Nashville stakeholder groups, the Chamber Education Report Card and the report card sub-committee. Prior to her position with the Nashville Chamber, she was employed for the majority of her career by the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System, where she served as the foundation and community engagement director. Candy Johnson is a Tennessee native and she is married to Dr. Bryan Johnson who is chief academic officer for the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System. They have two children. Mrs. Johnson received a bachelor of science degree in public management with a minor in leadership studies from Austin Peay State University and a master’s degree in public administration from Murray State University. She is also a graduate of both Leadership Clarksville and Leadership Middle Tennessee.
Mary Cypress Metz
Chief of staff
State collaborative on reforming education
Mary Cypress Metz serves as the Chief of Staff for the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE), where she coordinates the work across SCORE’s programs and leads special projects for the organization. In her previous role as SCORE’s Director of Outreach, she led the organization’s efforts in outreach and engagement, coalition building, and advocacy. Before joining SCORE, Mary Cypress taught seventh-grade math as a Teach For America corps member in Nashville. Originally from Mississippi, she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and history from the University of Alabama and her master’s in education from Lipscomb University.
PRESIDENT AND CEO
KNOXVILLE AREA URBAN LEAGUE
Phyllis Young Nichols is president and chief executive office of the Knoxville Area Urban League. As chief executive since 2000, she has expanded the Urban League to be recognized as one of Knoxville’s premier organizations. The Knoxville Area Urban League serves over 9,000 individuals and families each year through its 24 programs to provide a skilled diverse workforce, to increase and retain home ownership, to support economic and small business development, and to advocate and enhance education efforts for students of color. Phyllis is a graduate of ETSU and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Mrs. Nichols has completed education and leadership courses at the University of Tennessee, Whitney M. Young, Jr. Center for Urban Leadership, the Texaco Management Institute for Leadership Training, and the Duke University Center for Executive Leadership. She is a 2003 graduate of the Leadership Knoxville and the FBI’s Citizens Academy.
Director of International Community Outreach
Chattanooga State Community College
SENIOR DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION POLICY AND programs
Gini Pupo-Walker is a native Nashvillian and Cuban-American and has been an educator for over twenty years. Through her role at Conexión Américas, Gini builds upon their strong reputation as a respected convener and collaborator, and will continue to accelerate their trajectory of growth in the education arena. Her tasks include identifying, convening, and building partnerships, locally and statewide, to develop a common education policy agenda that improves outcomes students of color across Tennessee. Prior to taking this position she was the Executive Director of Family and Community Partnerships for Metro Nashville Public Schools where she worked with families, community organizations, governmental entities and foundations in order to improve education in Nashville. She also worked as a teacher at the high school and college level for over 10 years, in Seattle, San Diego and Nashville. Ms. Pupo-Walker serves on the Executive Board of Trust of the Memorial Foundation, and on the board of FUTURO. She is a Master Fellow for NCLR’s National Institute for Latino School Leaders and she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children, volunteering, traveling, gardening, and dancing salsa. You can follow her on Twitter @ginipupo
PRESIDENT AND DIRECTOR
Gloria Jean Sweet-Love is president and director of the Tennessee State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Gloria is a lifelong advocate of education. She served for two decades as a member of the Hayward County Board of Education, serving as vice-chair. She also served as district director of Southwest School Board, a member of the Tennessee School Board Association (TSBA) and was the first African American woman to be elected as president of the TSBA. She currently serves as a member of the NAACP National Board of Directors and also serves as a member of the NAACP National Education Committee. Gloria is a graduate of Tennessee State University and has done post graduate studies in business management.