WA Charters Transformative Leader Fellowship

The WA Charters Transformative Leader Fellowship is designed to strengthen relationships and the leadership capacity of the exceptional school leaders in the Washington charter sector. Sponsored by WA Charters, it’s free to participants. Those who join should enter with the intention of both learning from fellow charter school leaders and contributing their knowledge and skills to colleagues at other school sites. All must be passionate about leading schools where all children succeed and thrive and all must be committed to anti-racist leadership and approaching the work with a sense of cultural humility. 

The ultimate goal of the fellowship is to equip school leaders with knowledge, skills, and vision to lead equitable schools where all children belong, succeed, and thrive. This pilot fellowship is built exclusively for school-based charter leaders (e.g. Principals, Assistant Principals, and Deans) in the Washington charter sector. It includes:

  • A cohort experience that builds intentional community with other educational leaders in the sector through discussion, dialogue, and co-facilitated racial affinity breakout groups.
  • Meaningful and relevant professional development readings, group experiences, and shared reflections.
  • Structured consultancies to provide you with a space to workshop your leadership challenges with trusted peers


Sessions will offer Problem-Based Learning, case studies, reflective work, and focused time for problem-solving centered on site-specific challenges through a cultural humility lens. Priority issues will be defined by the cohort.

Major Themes:

  • Personal vision, balance, and growth.
  • Decision-making and consensus building in school communities.
  • Continuous improvement in action; embedding structures in your school.
  • Social justice and equity in action; strategies for transformation.
  • Leading instruction, innovation, and school change.
  • Building capacity and leadership in your teams

Transformative Leader Fellowship Facilitators



DR. AYANNA GORE was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois. With a long line of preachers,, Sunday school teachers and teacher aides in her family, education has always been the focus despite the fact that she earned a college degree before any siblings or her parents. She earned her Bachelors of Science degree in Biology with a minor in Psychology of Crime and Justice from Loyola University—Chicago. She entered education after joining Teach For America as a high school science instructor and continued her work in education for the last 13 years. Her passions lie within mindset coaching, classroom management, curriculum/instructional development and diversity, equity and inclusion within the school system. She graduated with her doctorate in Educational Leadership at DePaul University this past Spring where her research was titled, “AM I A SYSTEMIC INIQUITY INTERRUPTER? UNDERSTANDING THE INFLUENCE OF CRITICAL RACE EDUCATING THROUGH THE NARRATIVES OF ALTERNATIVE ED. BLACK EDUCATORS” She focuses on providing support to educators with a cultural competency lens. Her motto is, “Where teachers learn, students learn!” She was a school leader in Chicago where she led turnaround efforts in 2016 which successfully moved the school from off of the Chicago Public Schools warning list. She served as a school leader and Executive Director of Summit Sierra High School in Seattle from 2018-2021 where her leadership focused on developing anti racist leadership within students. She is now the Vice President of Selection at Teach For America working on creating equitable selection systems within the organization. In her free time, she enjoys being a dance mom for her 4 year old and teaching fitness classes.



RAHMAN BRANCH has built an illustrious career by helping executives, educational leaders and heads of government agencies unlock their transformative power to effect organizational and community change. He’s served as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, executive director, leadership coach, and expert on equity totaling 25 years, which gives him a unique set of skills and perspective. Rahman’s commitment to serving others and his ability to advance the development of inclusive and socially responsible leaders and business practices has impacted countless organizations. Corporate innovations aligned to stakeholder needs and the current racial climate is a direct result of his coaching and consultancy.

Rahman entered the field of education wanting to impact the system that has historically underserved students of color. During his tenure as an educator in Washington, D.C., he gained prominence as a turnaround specialist for low performing schools. By developing culturally competent teachers, dismantling policies that negatively impacted students of color and focusing on inclusive culture, school violence decreased by 60%, school suspension was reduced by 30% and test scores increased 20% in less than three years.

Rahman’s continued school gains and leadership performance earned national attention, which led to a groundbreaking appointment by District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser as the nation’s first Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office on African American Affairs. In this role, he leveraged his skills and experience to improve policies, programs and resources around education, economic opportunities, and housing for the purpose of a more equitable city. He was routinely called upon to analyze current and proposed legislation that impacted African American residents including marijuana regulation reform, affordable housing and mandatory African American History in schools. In addition, Rahman chaired the Committee for Equity and Access in all Neighborhoods as part of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative and worked with the Urban Institute to publish The State of Black DC, a baseline data report on the state of DC’s largest demographic.

Following a successful tenure in the Mayor’s office, Rahman founded Inside Urban to help leaders grow beyond basic DEI efforts to build anti-racist, inclusive organizations. Since its inception, his team has contributed to programs at the University of Louisville and Newberry College to recruit, retain and graduate black males and also partnered with Credo and the Campaign for Black Male Achievement on various initiatives around creating equitable company culture. In addition, Rahman continues coaching business executives and community leaders in partnership with universities and charter school networks nationwide. He has created tactical staff development and ongoing training modules for universities, athletic teams, companies, consulting firms and nonprofits that want to better serve and engage marginalized groups.



GREG PONIKVAR is the founding Executive Director of the Marshall Leadership Institute at Marshall Street and the moderator of the Leadership Fellows Program. Greg received his Master’s in Education and Teaching Credential from Stanford University. From there, he was a founding History Teacher at Everest Public High School where he earned his National Board Certification. He then founded the Summit Expeditions Program where he led a team of teachers offering elective, enrichment, and passion-exploration courses across the ten Summit schools in California. He then moved to Tacoma, Washington to be the founding principal at Summit Olympus High School, which was among the first charters in the state to graduate a diverse group of students with a 100% college acceptance rate. Now, he dedicates his time to build scalable solutions to problems facing the training and retention of a set of high-quality school leaders by running diverse-by-design leader fellowships through the Marshall Leadership Institute.


Cohort 2021-22 Testimonials