Inaugural Cohort of The Hunt State Policy Fellows Program Announced by The Hunt Institute

May 24, 2021

Innovative Program Develops Education-Focused Future Policymakers

Cary, NC. – The Hunt Institute is pleased to announce the members of its inaugural cohort of the Hunt State Policy Fellows program. The program aims to provide a bipartisan group of future education policymakers and aspiring state and local elected officials in North Carolina with the resources, space, and expertise needed to develop thoughtful positions on a variety of education policy issues. To do so, The Institute has gathered leaders from across the state including county commissioners, school board members, mayors, city councilors, advocates, and other community leaders.

“The Hunt State Policy Fellows program perfectly aligns with The Hunt Institute’s mission to help policymakers navigate an ever-changing education landscape and prepare them to work across the aisle to improve outcomes for all of North Carolina’s students,” said Founder and Board Chair Governor Jim Hunt. “I look forward to working with this group of young leaders to build champions of education.”

From July through November, participants will meet for three sessions discussing North Carolina’s education governance and key policy issues across the continuum from birth to the workforce. These sessions will take place over two days and offer ways for Fellows to engage in constructive dialogue around leadership in the public policy landscape, building consensus across parties, and navigating competing agendas. During each meeting, participants will hear from leading practitioners, elected officials, and state and national resource experts to build their capacity to be informed advocates for North Carolina’s students.

“Creating a pipeline of informed education leaders, beginning at the municipal and county levels, continuing through the North Carolina General Assembly, and on to state and national elected office, will ensure that North Carolina continues to have strong voices for education in policymaking positions,” said Dr. Javaid Siddiqi, President & CEO of The Hunt Institute. “The Hunt State Policy Fellows is a natural extension of our Hunt-Kean Leadership Fellows model, working with officials earlier on in their careers to ensure education remains a consistent focus throughout their time in the policymaking space.”

The 2021 Hunt State Policy Fellows inaugural cohort is:

  • Miles Atkins, Mayor, Mooresville
  • Sherry Butler, Catawba County Commissioner, Newton
  • Hannah Chan, Founder, North Carolina Asian American Coalition, Cary
  • Newell Clark, Mayor, Lexington
  • Rani Dasi, Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board Member, Chapel Hill
  • Amanda Edwards, Buncombe County Commissioner, Weaverville
  • Larken Egleston, Charlotte City Councilmember, Charlotte
  • Franklin Gomez Flores, Chatham County Commissioner, Pittsboro
  • Tim Foster, Onslow County Commission Vice-Chair, Jacksonville
  • Holly Grimsley, Cabarrus County School Board Chair, Concord
  • Kate Groat, Director of Corporate Philanthropy, Live Oak Bank, Wilmington
  • Sharon Harker, Beaufort Town Commissioner, Beaufort
  • Deena Hayes-Greene, Guilford County School Board Chair, Greensboro
  • Deb Hays, New Hanover County Commission Vice-Chair, Wilmington
  • Tai Huynh, Chapel Hill Town Councilmember, Chapel Hill
  • Mark Jerrell, Mecklenburg County Commissioner, Charlotte
  • Monika Johnson-Hostler, Wake County School Board Member, Thomasville
  • Matt Liles,Special Deputy Attorney General, North Carolina Department of Justice, Raleigh
  • Christopher Marsicano, Assistant Professor of Educational Studies and Public Policy, Davidson College, Davidson
  • Todd McNeill, Ashe County Commission Chair, Grassy Creek
  • Pedro Morey, Waxhaw Town Commissioner, Waxhaw
  • Clark Riemer, Chief of Staff, Representative Jason Saine, Raleigh
  • Susan Rodriguez-McDowell, Mecklenburg County Commissioner, Charlotte
  • Zeb Smathers, Mayor, Canton
  • Catrina Thompson, Winston-Salem Chief of Police, Winston-Salem
  • LaShawnda Washington, Nash County School Board Member, Rocky Mount
  • Catherine Whiteford, Chair, North Carolina Federation of Young Republicans, Concord
  • Carol Worley, Clinton City School Board Vice-Chair, Clinton


About The Hunt Institute

The Hunt Institute, an affiliate of the Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy, is a recognized leader in the movement to transform public education. Marshaling expertise from a nationwide partner network since its establishment in 2001, The Institute brings together people and resources that help build and nurture visionary leadership and mobilize strategic action for greater educational outcomes and student success. For more information, please visit:

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