DFER Hires Shakira Petit as New Chief Operating Officer

Press Releases

October 15, 2021

NEW YORK, N.Y. (Oct. 15, 2021)—Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) announced today that Shakira Petit has joined the organization as Chief Operating Officer to support DFER’s continued growth and impact in its mission to advance educational outcomes for historically underserved students.

Petit brings 16 years of experience in teaching, managing, and leading, most recently serving as Deputy Superintendent of Greenburgh-Graham Unified School District—which specifically serves students in need of academic or emotional support—where she led historic improvements in both high-school graduation and college attendance rates. She previously worked at the Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ), serving as a department chair, principal, and key advisor to Geoffrey Canada at a time when HCZ distinguished itself as a national model for addressing issues of educational equity and interconnected social issues.

“Shakira has an unyielding dedication to expanding opportunities for young people and has been a transformational leader throughout her career—from streamlining talent development and retention for 300 school employees, to leading the implementation of cross-department accountability measures, to spearheading her school’s continued growth on the New York Regents exam by 20-30% as principal,” said DFER National President Shavar Jeffries. “She brings exactly the mix of management, team building, and results-oriented leadership DFER needs as we seek to grow our impact as an organization.”

In her new role, Petit will manage high-level daily operations for DFER, its affiliate organization, Education Reform Now, and the Leaders of Color program. She’ll serve as a strategic partner and member of the senior leadership team, drive goal setting and strategic development, and support operational function.

“I am excited to join DFER because its mission is aligned with my core beliefs,” said Petit. “I believe that we are responsible for balancing the glaring inequities that children of color experience every day in and out of school. DFER functions as a gap dweller that creates opportunities for children and families who are underserved, underrepresented, and those whose geographic location sentences them to generational patterns of poverty.”

About Democrats for Education Reform
Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) is a national political organization that supports elected Democrats and candidates for office who seek to expand policies and practices that increase educational equity for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds. It is affiliated with Education Reform Now, a non-partisan, nonprofit think tank and advocacy organization that promotes increased resources and innovative reforms in K-16 public education.