DFER President Shavar Jeffries Announces Departure

Press Releases

September 12, 2022

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                               CONTACT: Victoria Fosdal
September 12, 2022                                                             victoria@dfer.org

Board of Directors hiring firm to select a successor

NEW YORK, N.Y. (Sept. 12, 2022) – After seven years leading Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), National President Shavar Jeffries has announced that he will leave the organization at the end of the year.
Jeffries is stepping away from DFER to transition as the CEO of KIPP Public Charter Schools. DFER’s Board of Directors is securing a search firm to select a successor for Jeffries.
“It has been my honor and pleasure to serve DFER and its affiliate ERN. We have done extraordinary things for young people, from helping to pass over 100 pivotal pieces of legislation—including securing $2.8 billion in federal and state charter funding through state increases and the federal Charter School Program, ensuring accountability measures remain in the Every Student Succeeds Act—to supporting victories for education reformers in more than 100 key races,” said Jeffries.
“After many years leading this remarkable organization, I believe it is now the right time for me to pass the baton to a new leader—one who will bring a fresh perspective to the helm, and help DFER continue to carry out its mission to ensure that every child has access to a high quality public education,” added Jeffries.
Under Jeffries’ leadership, DFER tripled the size of its team, maintained budget surpluses for seven consecutive years, and grew its partnerships with education reform, civil rights, and education advocacy partners.
Among many other things, DFER and its affiliate ERN played a pivotal role during the pandemic, helping to persuade the federal government to set-aside $28 billion in recovery-act appropriations for evidence-based interventions, and in several states, ERN was influential in pushing local legislatures to enact small-group tutoring programs, serving over 1 million students. Affiliate ERN’s team also helped to persuade federal and state governments to preserve critical assessments concerning student academic progress, invest more heavily in teacher-training programs at minority-serving institutions to diversify the teaching force, and increase access, equity, and affordability in higher education.

Giving truth to his commitment to empower leadership within communities of color, Jeffries implemented the first-of-its-kind Leaders of Color fellowship to recruit, elect, and elevate Black and Latino leaders who are committed to education reform. Since the program’s founding in 2018, 210 alumni have graduated from Leaders of Color, with 38 having run or currently running for office, and 78 serving in non-elected positions of influence.
“Shavar has brought tremendous vision and dedication to DFER to solidify our presence as a national player in the fight to create transformational opportunities for our nation’s historically underserved students,” said DFER COO Shakira Petit. “We have all benefited from his leadership, and wish him well as he brings his talents and vision to supporting a high quality education for the 175,000 students and alumni of KIPP.”
Upon his departure, Petit will serve as Interim President.