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kecia hayes '89
kecia hayes ’89 proves herself a champion of equity in education practices and policies. Her curriculum vitae marks an extensive and indefatigable commitment to transforming organizations to respond to the needs of youth and families in a socially conscious way.

“Hamilton’s open curriculum allowed me to direct my learning,” says hayes, who majored in psychology. “While my parents inspired my passion for education as a mechanism for social justice, Hamilton helped me imagine a vision for the work and gave me the skills to achieve it.”

Having earned a master’s degree from Columbia University Teachers College and a doctorate in urban education from the City University of New York Graduate Center, hayes has worked at New Visions for Public Schools, where she provided school improvement coaching to leaders at seven schools. She also supported the New York State Education Department’s implementation of its Race to the Top initiative.

During her recent tenure with Columbia University, Hayes led three community-focused organizations, including Double Discovery Center, where she transformed the program model and operations to support college access and success for low-income and first-generation youth. As its founding director, she designed and implemented the Raising Educational Achievement Coalition in Harlem, a university-assisted community schools initiative to transform struggling public schools. Hayes also convened and co-chaired Columbia’s Collaborative of Community Programs for Youth & Families to examine and extend the university’s work as an anchor institution in Harlem.

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Currently, hayes is a senior professorial lecturer at American University’s Education Policy and Leadership Program and is developing a social movements and educational change course. Having formerly taught school reform and improvement courses at Montclair State University, she continues to conduct research and consult with organizations on education reform.   

“I want to fundamentally change the educational opportunities, experiences, and outcomes for Black and Latinx students,” hayes says. “Here we are almost 70 years after Brown v. Board of Education, and we are still struggling for educational equity – something that should be the birthright of all children.”

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