At 50CAN, we strive to be lifelong learners. In 2014, we were thrilled to embark on a journey to support the next generation of leaders with the 50CAN Education Advocacy Fellowship. Three years, 46 states and more than 1,400 applications later, we’re excited to share the new ensemble of 50CAN fellows joining us for the class of 2017.

Fellowship Class 2017

This year, we welcome a fellow in the Sunshine State, two co-fellows in the state of New Mexico and a New Jersey fellow who will spearhead coalition work across the state.

Amanda Aragon, New Mexico

Amanda joins the 50CAN fellowship from the New Mexico Public Education Department as the director of strategic outreach. Prior to that, she spent six years in the energy sector at ConocoPhillips as the director of stakeholder relations. Amanda will pursue policy initiatives that put parents in the driver’s seat for their children’s educational choices. Amanda is a first-generation college graduate with a degree in international business and Spanish from the University of Tulsa. Read more about Amanda.

Tish Johnson, New Jersey

Tish joins 50CAN with over 15 years of combined financial, government, legal and corporate experience. Tish is the founder and CEO of the capacity-building firmThe Groundwork Agency andan adjunct professor at Essex County Community College. She is currently the co-chair of the program committee for the I Have A Dream Foundation-Newark and legal advisor for Girls: Live, Love, Laugh, Inc. In her fellowship, Tish will work with coalitions across the state of New Jersey through We Raise NJ. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Spelman College and a juris doctorate from Georgia State University. Read more about Tish.

Arash Kamiar, Florida

Arash joins 50CAN after serving as partner and publishing manager for six years at Prior to his work in publishing, he served as a public policy scholar for Florida Blue in Jacksonville where he researched and wrote on health policy. Throughout his fellowship, Arash will focus on supporting Title I charter schools in Florida. He holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida State University and a master’s in public policy from Jacksonville University. Read more about Arash.

Seth Saavedra, New Mexico

Seth joins 50CAN most recently from the NACA Inspired Schools Network, where he served as director of talent and advancement. Prior to that, Seth spent eight years with Teach For America, serving first as a corps member amd teacher at Bridgeport Public Schools before transitioning to national roles including vice president of school systems talent matching. Seth will work to build community engagement and bring parent voice to the education reform conversation in the Land of Enchantment. Seth holds a bachelor’s degree in economics, philosophy and English from the University of New Mexico. Read more about Seth.

We hope you’ll follow along with Amanda, Tish, Arash and Seth as they learn from advocates across the country and work in their home states to bring a high-quality education to all kids, regardless of their address.

Vallay Varro was a founding state executive director. She now serves as the president of 50CAN.


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