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The 92 Report

Nov 6, 2023

Show Notes:

Angela Romans, a graduate of Harvard, has been an educator since graduating. She studied engineering but wasn’t sure she wanted to pursue this field. A serendipitous ad set her on a new path in education. She realized that she had a passion for education and wanted to make an impact on young people's lives. She began her career as a high school science and math teacher, working in alternative high schools in New York and Boston. Angela also worked in college admission at Brown University, where she worked as an admission officer for eleven years before she became the director of minority recruitment and academic advisor. She missed working on the ground, and moved into a position that focused on coalition building, cross-sector collaboration, and systems change work in education. She worked at an organization that supported opportunity youth and transitioned students who had stopped out of high school back into school.

 In 2009-10, she was invited to participate in the education campaign of Providence Mayor Angel Divaris, who was passionate about education. She was appointed the first Senior Education Advisor in Providence and served for three years of his administration. Angela also had other system building roles, including working with a nonprofit consulting firm that focused on social sector organizations. She led their racial equity work and education work, and was selected as a fellow for Innovation for Equity. She moved on to work in a non-profit consulting firm that worked with social sector organizations. She has since worked with various organizations, including the Annenberg Institute and Innovation for Equity, and continues to work on a variety of projects and initiatives.

Innovation for Equity

Innovation for Equity (IFE)  is a unique organization that focuses on connecting, convening, and supporting senior black education leaders across the entire education ecosystem. It includes senior leaders at various levels, including CEOs, directors, and C-suites in education organizations, superintendents, college presidents, nonprofit leaders, and private sector investors. The organization focuses on two levers: connecting, convening, and supporting black education leaders, and helping to identify and scale solutions specifically working for black learners of all ages. The organization offers a Senior Leadership Fellowship, which is a year-long fellowship that connects black senior leaders for building themselves as a cohort, improving their leadership skills, and connecting them to resources such as mentors and consultants. Learning events throughout the year, such as the annual Black Education Forum and HBCU EdTech summit, help college students understand the power and potential of ed tech careers. IFE is expanding its research agenda this year to identify what's working for black learners and what black leaders need to be successful in their work. They are also expanding their research agenda to identify what black leaders need to be successful in their work to stay in organizations across education and build their coalitions and power to be as effective as possible. One of the solutions for black learners is targeting universalism, which suggests that what works for some of the most underrepresented and least well-served people tends to lift all boats. For example, having a black teacher in the classroom significantly increases the likelihood of black students graduating high school and having one during their career. Research shows that having a black teacher in the classroom leads to better outcomes for all students across the classroom. In conclusion, Innovation for Equity is a unique organization that focuses on connecting, convening, and supporting black education leaders to identify and scale solutions specifically working for black learners of all ages.

Angela shares her experience as a black student of a single mom and has found that telling her story explains her why to employers and organizations to help pull all parties together. She talks about how to support black leaders and shares a story from a recent EdTech Summit. As a leadership coach for executive leaders, Angela talks about the importance of identifying common patterns and understanding experiences to help black leaders solve those problems. 

Angela’s Role as Senior Education Advisor

As the Senior Education Advisor, Angela has been instrumental in bringing people together and improving outcomes for students in Providence. She led the Providence Children Youth cabinet, which aimed to bring together school districts and higher education businesses to work towards improving student outcomes. Major accomplishments include increasing FAFSA completion, helping the mayor prevent the city from going bankrupt, and building community coalitions at individual and larger city levels. Angela is particularly proud of her work on raising awareness about early literacy skills and the role of families and communities in this process. As the director of minority recruitment at Brown University, Angela has a unique perspective on the recent Supreme Court ruling on Students for Fair Admission versus Harvard. She believes that the decision will have a significant impact on selective colleges as an engine of social mobility. She believes that colleges need to have black students who are doing well economically and whose families are doing well, as well as black students whose families are not. To recruit a more diverse class, colleges should be more active in recruiting and visiting schools where diverse groups of students and communities are present. This can help create pipelines of students in specific areas, where some of these students are now graduates and doing amazing things in the world. Brown University has been successful in recruiting students from diverse backgrounds, including students of color, low-income students, and first-generation college bound students. By doing more of this, colleges can continue to diversify their student body and create a more inclusive and supportive environment for all students.


How to Promote Diversity in Education

Angela discusses the importance of supporting black learners in education, focusing on two or three options. The first is to increase the presence of black teachers in classrooms, providing them with professional development opportunities and networks for collaboration. This could lead to their growth and development in leadership roles within schools, districts, and charter school networks. However, barriers to this include policy and practice awareness, as well as the lack of support from school leaders and other black teachers. Paying teachers more at the college level can help bridge these gaps, but it's essential to ensure that black teachers have access to the right resources and networks to progress in their career.  Additionally, creating after-school opportunities for all students in communities with curriculum and resources steeped in black culture can supplement what they receive in school. Investing more in black entrepreneurs who want to start companies can make a difference in the education sector, as having the right people with the right lived experience and technical experiences can make a difference. 

Harvard Professors and Courses of Influence

As a woman of color in engineering thirty years ago, Angela had a difficult time in her program. She mentions that Professor  Howard Stone and Doug Mazur were supportive and helped her through her program. She also mentions the course Black Women Writers in African American Studies, and the course Greek Heroes with Gregory Nagy.


04:48 Angela’s path to becoming an education leader

10:05 The role of innovation for equity leaders

15:34 Solutions that work for black learners

20:43 How to effectively convene a group of leaders

30:00 Impact of the supreme court ruling on diversity

35:20 Supporting non-selective colleges and universities

40:17 The importance of getting more black teachers in the classroom

45:36 The importance of diversity in the classroom

50:49 Courses and professors that continue to resonate with Angela