Updated Jul 11, 2023 - Education

The new faces of Chicago's Board of Education

two head shots

Chicago Board of Education President Jianan Shi. Photo courtesy of Deandra Cadet. Vice president Elizabeth Todd-Breland. Photo courtesy of Moya Bailey.

You might have heard the Chicago Board of Education recently got some new leadership.

If you want to sound well informed when you drop your kid off at camp or while waiting for a beer at a street fest, Axios has you covered.

Driving the news: Mayor Johnson announced six new members and re-appointed one member last week. They'll serve until at least 2025, when a 21-member, partially elected board takes over.

Context: The board oversees all major decisions for Chicago Public Schools, and historically it has included mayoral allies and well-connected people from business and political circles.

The intrigue: Johnson has signaled a sea change by appointing a group of activists and educators.

  • All, aside from Board president Jianan Shi, are current or past CPS parents.

Meet the board: Shi, a former science teacher, joins the board from Raise Your Hand (RYH), a parent advocacy group that was especially active during the 2013 school closings. Shi also has advised undocumented students fighting for immigrant rights.

  • Vice president Elizabeth Todd-Breland has served on the board since 2019 and is a history professor at UIC.
  • Mariela Estrada has been an organizer on the city's Southwest Side and worked in the Inspector General's Office.
  • Mary Fahey Hughes is the founder and director of the 19th Ward Parents for Special Education. She's also worked with RYH.
  • Rudy Lozano, son of Latino activist and Harold Washington ally Rudy Lozano Sr., has been a youth activist and organizer in Little Village for decades.
  • Michelle Morales has worked in alternative education throughout the city and as a community organizer in Humboldt Park.
  • Tanya Woods leads Westside Justice Center in East Garfield Park and teaches law at Loyola University.

What's next: Board members begin their terms on July 18. The next meeting is July 26.


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