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Mar 28, 2016

Newark Charter School Fund Welcomes New Executive Director Michele Mason


The Newark Charter School Fund, a nonprofit organization that supports the quality, growth and sustainability of Newark’s public charter schools, today announced that Michele Mason will serve as the Fund’s next executive director, effective April 25, 2016.

“On behalf of the entire NCSF board, I’m excited to welcome Michele back to Newark and look forward to her leadership over the Fund’s next phase of operations and impact,” said Julia Bator, chair of the NCSF board. “After a long and extensive selection process which included a strong bench of candidates, the board is confident that Michele is the best person for the job.”  

“Her proven ability to foster collaboration and build effective advocacy for quality schools, as well as her direct experience working in charters, will be crucial to fulfilling the Fund’s broader mission of ensuring all students in the city have access to high-quality schools in partnership with the district,” said Shané Harris, executive director at The Prudential Foundation and a member of the NCSF board hiring committee.

“We’re so grateful to Mashea Ashton for her seven remarkable years of service as the CEO of the Newark Charter School Fund “ added Julia Bator. “Under her leadership, the charter sector in Newark has grown to serve roughly one in three students in the city, while maintaining and strengthening high standards of quality, accountability, equity and fostering collaboration with the school district. We’re confident that Michele will continue to build on that momentum in the years to come.”

A New Jersey native, Mason is a longtime advocate for high-quality education options throughout the state. Most recently, she has served as the deputy director of JerseyCAN, a nonprofit education research and advocacy organization that advocates for high-quality education for students regardless of zip code.

In 2002, Mason became the first director of college placement at the KIPP Academy in the Bronx, NY. She spent the next 10 years supporting first-generation college-bound students at KIPP and other institutions, including two years as the director of college access and success at Newark’s North Star Academy. She also spent two years leading the alumni affairs team at Teach for America—N.J., where she was charged to motivate and inspired almost 1,000 TFA alumni across the state.

Mason received her bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary, an advanced certificate in nonprofit business management from Washington University-St. Louis, and a master’s degree in education policy and management from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.

What Others Are Saying About Michele Mason

"The Newark Charter School Fund had been an important collaborator with Newark Public Schools in recent years as we work together to increase opportunities and strengthen outcomes for our students. While we've made great progress, our work is far from over. Michele shares our commitment to doing what's best for Newark students, and I look forward to continuing that strong relationship with the Fund under Michele's leadership."

—Christopher Cerf
State District Superintendent

“I enthusiastically welcome all that Michele Mason brings as the new NCSF executive director. Her work both in and out of the classroom coupled with her advocacy and leadership are what we need for a time such as this in Newark. I look forward to supporting and working with her to move the needle for innovative charter schools and quality education for all of Newark’s children.”

—Dr. Karen Thomas
CEO, Marion P. Thomas Charter School

“Michele has spent her career committed to creating better options for kids and fighting for them to get to college. She’s a trusted partner with deep roots working in charters, and I’m delighted to work alongside Michele as the Fund’s new leader.”

—Ryan Hill
CEO and Founder, KIPP-NJ

“I am excited to hear about the selection of Michele Mason to lead the Newark Charter School Fund. Michele has been a dedicated partner in our work to expand educational opportunities in Camden, and I am confident she’ll continue to work tirelessly on behalf of children and families in Newark.”

—Paymon Rouhanifard
Superintendent, Camden City School District

"The children of Newark will benefit from Michele’s extraordinary commitment to high-quality schools. We’re happy to see Michele return to Newark at this important time and we know that she will serve schools and families with great intellect, compassion, and urgency.”

—Brett Peiser
CEO, Uncommon Schools

“It takes someone special to be an educator. It takes someone exceptional to be an educational advocate. Michele Mason possesses both of these characteristics. It is great to have someone who believes in you and encourages you to believe in yourself. She has been instrumental in ensuring that I would become the first college graduate in my family. Her constant support and understanding character speak volumes of what true advocates look like.”

—Maniyah Levant
Graduate of North Star Academy

“Since her days in my Education Policy 101 class at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Michele has demonstrated a unique passion and drive to transform the educational landscape and improve outcomes for students from all walks of life. I have absolute confidence that she will make fabulous things happen in Newark.”

—Jal Mehta
Associate Professor in Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education

“We’re looking forward to working with Michele in her new role as executive director of the Newark Charter School Fund. Michele’s passion for Newark’s students, her support for high-quality schools and her unyielding commitment to ALL of the kids in Newark make her a great pick to lead NCSF in its next chapter.”

—Michael Ambriz
COO, North Star Academy

“It has been a pleasure to work with Michele during her time at JerseyCAN. Michele has a clear understanding of the challenges faced by students coming from working-class and low-income communities throughout New Jersey. As Michele transitions to executive director of the Newark Charter School Fund, I’m confident that her experience and expertise will help the Fund continue its mission of supporting high quality educational options for students in Newark. The collaborative approach of the Fund has been important to the overall educational landscape in Newark. NJ BAEO looks forward to working with Michele to continue the great work that has been accomplished thus far.”

—Lavar Young
Newark City Director, Black Alliance for Educational Options

“Michele Mason's new role as the executive director for the Newark Charter School Fund will lead to further progress for Newark families and students and we congratulate Michele, NCSF, and all of their partners on this leadership transition. Among the many skills and experiences Michele brings to this role, two of the most important are her deep commitment to listening to the community and her commitment to serving all students across Newark – regardless of which type of school they attend. Michele has been a leader in our work in Camden and will now work tirelessly to expand high-quality school options for families across Newark.”

—Janellen Duffy
Executive Director, JerseyCAN

“Michele Mason's prior experiences and involvement in the City of Newark and the State of New Jersey have prepared her for this new position. Not being a stranger to the public and private sectors, she is ready to listen, facilitate and advocate on behalf of the children in Newark.”

—Anzella King-Nelms
Independent Educational Consultant

“I had the privilege of working alongside Michele when she was the director of college access and success for one of Newark's most celebrated charter schools, North Star Academy College Preparatory High School. Michele's unwavering commitment to educational reform and long-standing passion for social justice in Newark and other underserved urban school districts are reasons why I am excited to welcome Michele back to Newark to lead the organization that is so critical for the continued evolution of public education in our city. Newark students will undoubtedly continue to make strides toward college completion under Michele's leadership! I look forward to working with Michele once again to ensure that the deserving students of Newark are able to receive a world class education!”

—Patrick Rametti
Director of College Counseling, North Star Academy

"The Fund has made an excellent choice by hiring Michele. But the real winners here are the students of Newark who need great schools and need them today. Michele's academic, professional, personal, and organizing experience will make sure the work of growing great charter schools in Newark does not slow. And for the sake of all of Newark's children, that is as it must be."

—Derrell Bradford
Executive Director, NYCAN

“I am excited for the children of Newark that my highly competent and inspiring colleague Michele Mason will soon be leading the Newark Charter School Fund. Michele has a phenomenal combination of passion and humility and the drive to collaborate in the service of improving educational opportunities for children from low-income households. The forces for race equity and strong public education in Newark are getting a great ally in Michele Mason.”

—Jason Botel
Executive Director, MarylandCAN

“Michele Mason is a fearless advocate for children. Throughout her career she has worked hard to ensure young people have the tools needed to achieve the goal of a college education and a successful future. Congratulations to Ms. Mason and the children of Newark. I believe their future will be even brighter with her leadership and commitment to ensuring they receive a high quality education.”

—LaToya W. Harrison, Ed.D.
Founder, SOAR Education Inc.

“Michele has been a fierce advocate for great schools in Camden, and it’s exciting to think about how she can significantly increase equity and achievement in Newark.”

—Neerav Kingsland
Senior Education Fellow, Laura and John Arnold Foundation

“Michele Mason is one of the most compassionate and intelligent people that I know her grasp of the relevant issues impacting the American education system and in particular the urban American education system is unparalleled in allowing her to craft comprehensive strategies that can improve not only the outcomes for children but the ability of parents to lead that change. I've enjoyed our partnership to move the needle for kids in Camden and I congratulate and wish her well as she continues to fight for kids in Newark.”

—Bryan Morton
Executive Director, Parents for Great Camden Schools

I'm thrilled about Michele Mason's incoming leadership of the Newark Charter School Fund. She is a thoughtful, committed, and engaging leader who understands that we are all stronger when working together for the best outcomes for Newark's students. She will be a unifier among advocates and in the community, and she will be a relentless champion of Newark's families. I cannot wait to partner with her in this new role.

—Kathleen Nugent Hughes
Chief of Staff and New Jersey State Director, Democrats for Education Reform

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