Chief Operating Officer
Michele Mason has spent the last 20 years working as an education advocate committed to access and success to higher education for students and access to high-quality schools for Black and brown children. She is the Founder and CEO of Kamau Strategies. Most recently, she served as the Executive Director of the Newark Charter School Fund where she worked to ensure that every student in Newark was enrolled in a great school that prepared them for college and future success. She spent the first 10 years of her career supporting first-generation college-bound students to navigate the college application process at KIPP, Uncommon Schools, Friendship Public Charter Schools and Sidwell Friends. For the last ten years, she has been advocating in nonprofits and charter schools at the State and City level at Teach for America and JerseyCAN.
A New Jersey native, Michele has served on the boards of the Newark Education Trust, New Jersey Charter School Association and on NJPAC’S subcommittee on Arts & Education. She is a proud auntie, Philadelphia Eagles fan and Arlington, VA resident
Michele received her bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary, where she was a four-year letter winner on the varsity soccer team and pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She has a master’s degree in education policy and management from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, and an advanced certificate in nonprofit business management from Washington University-St. Louis.
I aspire to be like ______. Here’s why:
I aspire to be like Dr. Howard Fuller. Here’s why: Now I know this is lofty, but this guy is fearless. He has a tireless commitment to improving the educational outcomes for kids in the most needed neighborhoods and communities. He is timeless, unapologetic and pursues justice for kids across the country without making excuses for what’s possible. Motivating, inspiring, honest and convicted, he walks the walk and talks the talk. His book, “No Struggle No Progress,” is a testimony of what it takes to truly love and care about people and to want to fight for what’s right — for justice.
Why I love my job:
I love my job because it gives me an opportunity to advocate for kids across the country. I believe that now more than ever we must fight for quality education for our kids and families who are most impacted by the Covid-19 global pandemic. The challenge is great, but I believe we must attack the problem at multiple levels and through our work together, we can make the changes necessary sooner rather than later. I believe with every bit of my heart that every child has the capacity to achieve greatness when they have access to great schools and teachers. I can’t imagine doing anything else more urgent.
My connection to public schools:
This picture represents my first and last year in public school when my parents decided that holding me and my sister back a year for a pilot program for “special needs” kids was not going to be an educational path for me and my sister. After this year, they enrolled us in Catholic school. Two roads and my parents chose the path less travelled, and that has made all the difference. I know how important it is for parents to have choice in their education options for their kids.
What I’m bad at:
I’ve been told I don’t “suffer fools,” which I think is code for being impatient. Once I’m clear about vision and direction, it’s full steam ahead. Get on the bus or hop off! We don’t have time to waste….
This image represents why I work at 50CAN:
For my family. For all the sacrifices my mom and dad have made for me to have access to a great education. For the Mason Family Legacy.