Wednesday, July 7, 2010

DOE Names New Director - Ojeda Hall - for Family Engagement by Pamela Wheaton - :: Blogs

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Ojeda Hall, a community organizer and youth minister, was named today as the director for family engagement and advocacy at the Department of Education, effective Aug. 2. She replaces Martine Guerrier who left  in June to become a senior policy advisory in the mayor’s office.

Hall will work with parent associations, Community Education Councils, and oversee the family engagement office’s outreach efforts to parents.  Unlike the former “chief mom,” as the chancellor liked to call Guerrier, Hall is not a parent.

As a “citizens’ organizer” for East Brooklyn Congregations (EBC) and Empowered Queens United in Action and Leadership (EQUAL), her work involves “parent and safety issues at large-scale traditional public schools, small schools founded by EBC, and charter schools,” according to today’s announcement.

She organized local church leaders to support the founding of a new charter school in southeast Queens, the Rochdale Early Advantage Charter School. The school, which will be housed in the New Jerusalem Baptist Church, will open in September with a kindergarten and 1st grade and will grow to include a 5th grade.

“The transition from supporting families in the community, to serving as an advocate for families at the Department of Education, will be seamless for Ojeda,” Chancellor Klein said in a statement. “With her experience working with troubled students and their families, Ojeda will bring an important perspective to debates over school policy.”

EBC, a community organization in Brooklyn, was instrumental in founding several small high schools including the EBC High School for Public Service, and the Bushwick Leaders High School for Academic Excellence. A third school, the EBC/East New York High School for Public Safety and Law is being closed for poor performance. On its website, the organization states its support of  “Mayoral Control and Accountability, which has been critical to many of the improvements in the school system over the last seven years.”

In addition to her work as a community organizer, Hall, a graduate of Harvard College and Drew University Theological  School, is actively involved in the Bethany Baptist Church in Jamaica, Queens as a youth pastor, mentor, and teacher. She talked about her experiences there in a New York Times “One in 8 Million”  profile last August.

Prior to her work in the non-profit sector, Hall worked as a manager as J.P. Morgan and Salomon Smith Barney (now Citigroup).

Click here to read the press release with today’s announcement.