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Episode #20 - Rooted in community with Jemia Cunningham-Elder

Episode #20 - Rooted in community with Jemia Cunningham-Elder



Jemia Cunningham-Elder, Chief Executive Officer at North Lawndale College Prep High School

Connect with Jemia on LinkedIn






In this conversation, Jemia Cunningham-Elder, CEO of North Lawndale College Prep, discusses the importance of being part of the community and developing strong community partnerships. She emphasizes the need to listen to the community and not assume their needs or solutions. Cunningham-Elder shares examples of successful partnerships, such as the Peace Warriors program and Phoenix Hall, and highlights the role of external affairs and grant writing in operationalizing partnerships. She also encourages regular evaluation of partnerships and the importance of adapting to the changing needs of the community.


  • Being part of the community is essential for educational organizations to understand and meet the needs of the community they serve.
  • Developing strong community partnerships requires listening to the community and not assuming their needs or solutions.
  • Regular evaluation of partnerships is necessary to ensure they continue to serve the organization and the community effectively.
  • Operationalizing partnerships can be facilitated by having a dedicated person or team responsible for managing partnerships and gathering data.
  • Partnerships should be adaptable to the changing needs of the community and the organization.



North Lawndale College Prep High School: https://www.nlcphs.org/



00:00 Introduction and Housekeeping
08:18 Evaluating Community Perception
26:55 Examples of Successful Partnerships
34:18 Current Community Partnerships
40:49 Conclusion and Resources



Jemia is a nonprofit leader of a $15M charter organization with more than 100 employees. 
Her primary leadership focus is change management and leadership coaching to build sustainable organizations that stand the test of time. 
She deeply invested in breaking cycles of trauma, creating pathways for education, violence prevention, and breaking the barriers of systemic racism. 



Daniel Casselli is a life-long learner whose passion for education has driven his professional endeavors. He is a former classroom teacher and youth ministry director whose entrepreneurial spirit landed him in the world of education technology. At EVERFI Inc., Daniel helped run the business development efforts for EVERFI’s Financial Education Program and the company was eventually sold to Blackbaud for $750M in 2021. Shortly before EVERFI’s acquisition, Daniel joined Class Technologies as one of the earliest sales hires and went on to lead K12 Enterprise Sales and helped the company land its first 100+ K12 customers across public, charter, and private schools. Daniel brings his unique experiences to BuyQ where he is focused on growth, operational excellence, business strategy, and client satisfaction. He is a graduate of Grove City College where he studied Religion and History. 


You can listen to Charter School Insider: Lessons from the Nation's Top Charter School Operators on your favorite podcasting platform...

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