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Loyola’s interim School of Education dean named to national leadership fellowship

Afra Hersi, Ph.D., interim dean of the School of Education

Afra Hersi, Ph.D., interim dean of the School of Education at Loyola University Maryland, was recently named an Impact Academy fellow through national non-profit organization Deans for Impact. Hersi joins a cohort of leaders chosen for their commitment to improving educator preparation rooted in equity.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to engage with dean colleagues around the country who share a commitment to transform teacher education and harness the power of teaching to create a more equitable and justice society,” said Hersi. “I look forward to collaborating with and learning from leaders preparing educators to enact practices that nurtures every child’s learning and actively disrupts patterns of injustice.”

Educator-preparation programs today face complex challenges as they prepare teachers and K-12 leaders who are well-equipped to identify and address educational inequities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. More than ever, the field needs leaders who can foster individual and organizational learning and ensure that all children have access to rigorous, content-rich instruction. Deans for Impact aims to fill this need through its year-long Impact Academy fellowship, which empowers dean-level leaders with skills, knowledge, and strategies to pursue instructional excellence in the face of new challenges.

Hersi is one of 20 leaders announced as part of this fellowship’s seventh cohort. Since 2015, Deans for Impact has built the capacity of more than 100 leaders of educator-preparation programs through the Impact Academy, positioning them to make pedagogy a priority within their programs and advocate for more equitable systems of teaching and learning.

The 2022-23 Impact Academy fellowship combines monthly virtual sessions and two in-person gatherings with regular learning modules and ongoing leadership coaching from veteran leaders. Fellows strengthen their ability to engage faculty, staff, and K-12 school partners in a shared vision for change, grounded in a deep scientific understanding about how students learn.

“We’re excited to welcome this new cohort of 20 fellows committed to grounding their educator-preparation programs in equity and improving the field of education more broadly,” said Valerie Sakimura, vice president of program at Deans for Impact. “As we continue to support outstanding educator-preparation leaders to drive transformative change, Deans for Impact aims to realize our long-term vision of building a national collective of leaders who are creating and sustaining conditions for teachers to create rigorous, equitable, and inclusive classrooms where all students thrive.”

Deans for Impact is committed to reflecting the broad diversity of programs preparing new educators in this country, and this year’s fellowship cohort reflects that commitment. Thirty percent of fellows are leaders of color, and they represent institutions in more than 15 states from New Jersey to California and from Iowa to Louisiana. These include public and private universities, 35 percent Minority-Serving Institutions, and non-traditional programs. Collectively, these institutions serve more than 10,000 future teachers annually, with 46 percent of current candidates identifying as people of color.

About Deans for Impact

Deans for Impact is a national non-profit organization committed to ensuring that every child is taught by a well-prepared teacher. Deans for Impact is building a movement to make pedagogy a priority in the way teachers are prepared. It does this by connecting leaders of educator-preparation programs, helping them to transform programs and influencing policy that affects their work. Guided by principles of learning science, Deans for Impact creates collaborative spaces that address real problems of practice, and provide concrete examples while recognizing the importance of local context. Deans for Impact aims to help teachers create rigorous, equitable and inclusive classrooms–so that all children thrive. For more information, visit