Diversifying Early Education Leadership in Philadelphia


Diversifying Early Education Leadership in Philadelphia

I recently had the opportunity to chat with some of the Fellows and Host Organizations who are part of the inaugural cohort of the Diversifying Early Education Leadership Fellowship (DEEL), a program that aims to build more inclusive and representative leadership for Philadelphia’s early childhood education (ECE) community. Funded by the William Penn Foundation in 2019 and managed by Temple University, the two-year fellowship focuses on strengthening the leadership skills of DEEL Fellows, who are mid-career professionals of color working in ECE, and by offering Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training to the ECE organizations that host a DEEL Fellow.

DEEL is designed to support and prepare more local professionals of color to expand their leadership roles in Philadelphia, because they have an important perspective to bring to the table. Their viewpoints are often informed by their experiences in the classroom and as program administrators, and, equally important, from their cultural awareness of the needs of diverse children and families.

DEEL pairs each Fellow with a host organization, offering an opportunity to explore the ECE sector from a different lens. Fellows complete two graduate courses, leading to a Temple University certificate in Diversity Leadership, and participate in seminars and mentoring activities, facilitated by Diverseforce, to build new skills and professional networks.

DEEL Host Organizations mentor the Fellows and work with them to identify a project they will lead. Host Organizations also participate in a self-study, led by Temple faculty, to understand and enhance their commitment to diversity and inclusion in hiring, promotion, and service provision in ECE.

DEEL is currently recruiting Fellows and Host Organizations to take part in the second cohort! Learn more here and consider applying by July 30th.

In my conversation with DEEL participants, I heard from Fellows and Host Organizations about the benefits the program has offered. They have gleaned insight from one another and recognize the value that each adds to their shared development. I am deeply inspired by each of the Fellows and Host Organizations and their determination to persist over the past two years, amid widespread social unrest and the traumatic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The inaugural DEEL Fellowship cohort could not have come at a more significant time, as our nation reckons with systemic racism. We need more leaders in all sectors, including ECE, who are willing and prepared to disrupt cycles of racial oppression and disenfranchisement.

Take a look at this video from my discussion with some of the amazing DEEL Fellows and Host Organizations about their experiences and how DEEL will shape their work moving forward.

Finally, check out the words shared by another DEEL Fellow:

“As a fellow, I am working with Wonderspring Early Education in improving its ability to support diversity, equity, and inclusion through its employment practices and services for children. To accomplish these goals, I am working with Wonderspring's leadership team to form a diversity position statement and create an employee resource group leadership handbook. At the moment, we are in the process of creating focus groups to gather input from Wonderspring's employees on how they see diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. The answers gathered during these focus groups will help to shape the diversity statement.

“I applied to the DEEL Fellowship program because I wanted to network with a group of like-minded individuals passionate about the ECE sector in Philadelphia. I consider myself a lifelong learner. As the city of Philadelphia continues to change in its needs and population, we as educators must constantly be refreshing our "toolboxes" to best meet the needs of our little learners and the adults who support them.  Therefore, the opportunity to earn a graduate certificate from Temple University as a fellow was another draw. Lastly, the inclusion of a stipend for our participation and reimbursement for transportation to and from our Host Organization demonstrated the program's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

- Sophia Ezomoghene, Lead Early Childhood Literacy Specialist, Youth Services and Programs at the Free Library of Philadelphia, and DEEL Fellow placed with Wonderspring Early Education

Featured in the video:
Unis Bey, CEO/Executive Director of Grays Ferry Early Learning Academy, and DEEL Fellow placed with Action for Early Learning
Stephanie Blake, Early Childhood Literacy Specialist for the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation, and DEEL Fellow placed with the City of Philadelphia Office of Children and Families
Zakiyyah Boone, Chief Executive Officer, Wonderspring Early Education, a DEEL Host Organization
Sherilynn Kimble, Alliance Manager, Action for Early Learning, a DEEL Host Organization
Annemarie Hindman, Professor of Educational Psychology and Early Childhood Education, Temple University
Emily Garcia, Assistant Director, ECE Initiatives and Field Placement, Temple University


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