Founder and CEO
Hiewet Senghor is a visionary leader who believes education is a critical vehicle for the advancement and self-determination of the African-American community. Specializing in nonprofit organizational development, Hiewet’s professional journey exemplifies her deep commitment to supporting the leadership of Black children and pioneering programs that serve those leaders. Hiewet is the Founder and CEO of the Black Teacher Collaborative (BTC), a nonprofit organization that believes in the genius and beauty of Black children and the unique role of Black teachers in cultivating those gifts. As the founder of BTC, Hiewet casts a bold vision for a Black-led education focused social entrepreneurship venture that works to build the mindsets, skills, and knowledge of Black teachers specific to the relationship between positive racial identity and learning and the development of Black children.
Hiewet is uniquely positioned to bring the important and innovative work of BTC to life. Her decision to start BTC leveraged her years of work of advancing the political and social conditions of Black people through traditional civil right organizations like the NAACP and the Children’s Defense Fund along with her solid grounding in the power and perils of education reform gained through six years in leadership at Teach for America. Hiewet is a proud graduate of Hampton University where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. She also completed graduate level work in Public Administration at the University of Georgia. Hiewet is a native of Atlanta, GA where she currently resides.
Dr. Ashley Griffin
Ashley Griffin, Ph.D. currently serves as the Vice President of Policy, Evaluation and Research at the Black Teacher Collaborative (BTC). In this role, Ashley spearheads BTC’s quest to use data as a driver to engage, develop and support a collective of Black educators to ensure that Black children achieve at high levels socially, emotionally, and intellectually.
Before joining the Black Teacher Collaborative, Ashley served as the director of p12 research at for former secretary of Education John King at the Education Trust; one of the nation’s leading education civil rights organizations. Under her leadership, Dr. Griffin used her deep knowledge of and experience in education research and evaluation to advance the educational outcomes for our nation’s most vulnerable children. Ashley’s primary and secondary research has been presented nationally and internationally to numerous education researchers, advocates, policymakers and educators. She has used the findings of her work to push for racial equity and narrative change around issues including educator recruitment and retention, early childhood education, social emotional and academic development and advanced coursework.
For over a decade Ashley has pursued research investigating teacher instructional practices and student outcomes. Previously, Dr. Griffin lead research and evaluation at the Capstone Institute at Howard University, a research, development, and technical assistance center that prioritizes urban and ethnically diverse schools, districts, and communities. There she pursued research examining the instructional practices of urban elementary and secondary school teachers and the instructional preferences of students. Also, while working in collaboration with Howard University’s engineering department, she led and conducted investigations on STEM education, writing and managing grants to study the persistence of Black engineering students at historically black colleges and universities.
Dr. Griffin has taught both graduate and undergraduate courses and is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Ashley completed her undergraduate studies in psychology at Georgetown University and received her master’s degree and Ph.D. in developmental psychology from Howard University.
Ahmed Logan is an experienced educator who seeks to positively impact the lives of young people through education. Ahmed has over eleven years of classroom teaching and non-profit experience. He began his career as a middle school English/Language Arts teacher in Charlotte, North Carolina. Ahmed’s non-profit experience includes service with Teach For America and OneGoal prior to joining the staff of Black Teacher Collaborative in November 2018. Ahmed received a Bachelor’s degree in African American Studies and a Master’s degree in Urban Education both from Eastern Michigan University.
With a background spanning from wall street and public accounting to academia and non-profit management Ms. Copeland is an experienced operations and finance professional passionate about supporting organizations in sustainable administration and growth. Working for over 15 years in the industry, she has amassed a wealth of knowledge and is a leader in best practices around grants management, financial based systems and templates, and policy and procedure creation and implementation. Through her work, Ms. Copeland’s goal is to aid organizations in optimizing their existing resources with strong systems and processes as the foundation.
Akosua Lesesne (Patricia Lesesne) is an experienced high school social science teacher turned educational leader who specializes in curriculum, program and pedagogy that employs an education for liberation approach to inspire Black children. Her work also leverages the transformative characteristics of the Black teaching tradition. Akosua has sixteen years of teaching and district-level leadership experience in predominantly Black and Latinx urban school districts along the East Coast. She began her career as a high school social studies teacher with Broward County Public Schools (BCPS), where she also became a key architect of the flagship Mentoring Tomorrow’s Leaders (MTL) Black male peer mentoring program. Initially, she piloted this program out of her classroom after school, and later served as the Program and Grant Manager for the $5 million USDOE High School Graduation Initiative Grant that eventually funded program expansion. Akosua was a member of this grant writing team that secured this grant, and under her leadership, MTL was replicated at ten additional schools beyond the grant and remains a thriving program throughout BCPS. Akosua also served as a District Supervisor in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Grants Administration, Miami-Dade County Public Schools; Curriculum Coordinator for the Barack Obama Green Charter High School in Plainfield, NJ; and the Director of Integrated Learning in the Office of Educational Technology, School District of Philadelphia (SDP). In 2018, she founded and served as the Retreat Host for the Sisters in Education Circle (SIEC) Retreat. In the same year, she also founded and became CEO of Lesesne Learning. Akosua received a Bachelor’s degree from Harvard University where she concentrated is social sciences, a Master of Arts in Teaching from Tufts University, and she is a doctoral candidate in the Mid-Career Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education.
Nikki Williams-Rucker is a native of Chicago Illinois, now living in the suburbs of Georgia. She is a wife and mother of two with 16 years of experience as an English Teacher. In her spare time, she loves to write. Nikki published a book of poetry, Spoken Word, in 2017. These writings are an expression of her experiences related to love, life, and faith. The betterment of communities and writing has always been her passion and sharing it with others her dream.
For over 15 years, Mashona Council has been fortunate to work in her passion and impact the lives of teens, families and communities through her work with youth development nonprofit organizations around the country and abroad. Beginning as a college volunteer within a national nonprofit and ending her professional career as the Director of Operations for a youth development nonprofit organization, she has seen and experienced a wide range of organizational efficiencies and inefficiencies. Recognizing that most youth serving nonprofit organizations do not fail because of a lack of passion and commitment, but rather a lack of sustainable and capacity-building practices in the areas of staff training, program and curriculum development and evaluation; Mashona launched Council Consulting, LLC. Mashona has facilitated professional development trainings at Boys and Girls Club Keystone Conferences, Association of C5 Youth Programs Annual Summit, Crossroads for Kids summer staff training and the National Afterschool Association. She is also a certified Weikart Center for Youth trainer. She is committed to helping organizations grow by providing leadership training and coaching, strategic planning and visioning and program design, evaluation and management.
Erika S. Williams is the founding Managing Partner of The Albireo Group, LLC. Erika specializes in performance evaluation, fund development and organizational improvement strategies within the philanthropic, government and nonprofit sectors. Formerly, the Senior Research Analyst with the Fulton County Government’s Office of Strategic Planning and Performance Excellence, Erika implemented monitoring and evaluation strategies using a combined logic model and results-based accountability framework for the pursuit of continuous learning and improved social service delivery system for Fulton County’s children, adults and families. Prior to joining Fulton County, she was the Director of Accountability & Communications with the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Atlanta Civic Site. In this role, she focused on strategy development and performance measurement for neighborhood-scale programs, including early care and education and family self-sufficiency programming. Specifically, she secured millions of dollars in co-investment to support the School Readiness & Student Success strategies. Additionally, she coordinated the working collaboration between the Annie E. Casey Foundation – Atlanta Civic Site, the Atlanta Housing Authority and other key stakeholders to support the Atlanta Housing Authority’s Family Self-Sufficiency programs, ensuring a responsible relocation for families and children during the Atlanta Housing Authority’s HOPE VI project and leveraging financial support from public and private sources totaling $13.1 million in partners’ investment. Erika has a background in corporate philanthropy and served as Program Analyst for the Morgan Stanley Foundation where she managed an annual budget of $4 million in Arts & Culture and Diversity & Education grants. As a consultant, she emphasizes innovation in fund development, continuous organizational learning, results metrics, and transforming research and data into actionable knowledge to advance the organization’s mission. Erika has earned a B.S. in Business Administration & Management from Lincoln University in Oxford, PA and a M.S. in Urban Policy & Analysis from the New School University in New York City.