Jennifer Reid Davis, our former Chief Equity Officer, is now moving into her newly minted role: Head of Strategy & Equity. Davis has been at Noble Schools since 2010, serving in a variety of roles. She kickstarted our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) work in 2017, and now she’s looking to take DEI to an even higher level at Noble.
>> Another of our leaders, Mike Madden, also stepped up into a new role. Read more about him and his role here.
Read more about Davis, her journey through education, and what her new role will look like:
Davis’ journey from teacher to principal to Noble Schools leader
Jennifer Reid Davis was born in Chicago but raised in Gary, Indiana. Attending Spelman College, an HBCU (historically Black colleges & universities), Davis got her bachelor’s in psychology and developed a passion for urban education.
“I can tell you without equivocation or argument that going to Spelman was for sure the best thing I did and changed the trajectory of my life,” Davis said, “It’s one of the reasons why I went into education – because of how education changed my life. It’s personal to me.”
After undergrad, Davis and a group of her Spelman peers applied to Teach for America, a corps program for educators. Davis was sent to a school in Houston in 2007 – where she supported many kids who had been displaced by Hurricane Katrina. This was Davis’ first step into the classroom and where she decided she wanted to become a principal in her second year of teaching.
“I knew then that I wanted to be a principal because I could just see how much impact my principal was having over our school. Sometimes, it was for the better, and sometimes it wasn’t,” Davis said.
She got her masters in educational leadership & administration at the University of Pennsylvania. During her time there, she worked at a middle school in a low-income neighborhood where she saw firsthand what oppressive school policies can do to students.
“I loved those kids… but the school was awful. If the kids were ‘bad’ that day, the principal would change their lunch options, and they wouldn’t get to eat hot lunch. They would only give the kids cold lunch options,” Davis said, “I was just so angry.”
She could no longer stay at that school, so she left. Then, she saw an ad for teaching at Rauner College Prep in the Teach for America alumni magazine. She applied, got hired, and taught 9th-grade Civics at Rauner for 3 years. She fell in love with Noble and has been here ever since.
She served as the principal of Rauner from 2013 to 2017 and the principal of DRW from 2017 to 2020.
While serving as principal, Davis led the efforts to establish DEI as a core value for Noble, headed up Noble’s first DEI Steering Committee, launched our Diverse Leaders Fellowship, and partnered with Promise54 to implement Noble’s first-ever DEI audit for staff experience. She was also integral in partnering Noble Schools and Teach for America’s School Leaders of Color Conference.
She moved to head the new DEI team in June 2020 as the Chief Equity Officer.
“I felt this great responsibility to get ‘it’ right, even though I didn’t know what ‘it’ was…” Davis said about her move to the DEI team, “I felt responsible to Noble and to the education community to get it right because the world was in an uproar after George Floyd’s murder.”
Davis started as Chief Equity Officer only four days after Floyd’s death. She took a week off to recover but then jumped into the work – hiring D. Nigel Green, our Director of Equity, Inclusion, & Diversity; going on a listening tour with Noble alumni; and leading the work that ultimately created Noble’s Anti-Racism Commitment in 2020. This past year, she worked to help implement and refine what it looks like for our campuses to be antiracist in practice.
Now, she is stepping into her new role as Head of Strategy & Equity.
How is this new role different from the last one?
The biggest difference between Davis’ previous role and this new one is that she will now have more reach and leadership at Noble Schools to push forward and center DEI initiatives at all levels of the organization.
The Head of Strategy & Equity role puts her in direct charge of four departments at Noble Support Team: College, Development, DEI, and Public Affairs.
This new position also puts her onto Noble Schools’ senior executive leadership team – composed of the CEO, the President, and the Head of Schools.
“I am excited about what it really means to realize our commitment to anti-racism and to support our Schools team and our President in building an antiracist school district from top to bottom,” Davis said.
Davis shared a few of her goals as she moves into this position:
- Ensuring that the DEI team has the support and staff it needs to move DEI work forward
- Supporting all the teams she now leads
- Laying down the foundation for better structures, systems, and processes centered in DEI and anti-racism at our schools
- Telling the story of who we are and who we are becoming
- Ensuring that our fundraising efforts continue to put us in a place to provide the kind of positive and equitable school experience our children and staff deserve
“My vision for Noble is that we really become a model for how you run and build antiracist schools for Black and Brown babies,” Davis said.
Davis is a proud wife and mommy and is clear that raising a healthy Black family is always her most important job.