Sherri Chisholm joined Leading on Opportunity as its new director in September 2020, bringing nearly a decade of experience as an educational and nonprofit strategist to the role. She has worked in senior leadership at national nonprofits and major school districts across the country, where she drove transformation through strategic planning, organizational effectiveness, and leadership development. Prior to joining Leading on Opportunity, Sherri served as the founding Executive Director of Urban Alliance Detroit, a national youth workforce development nonprofit that aims to expand access to economic opportunity for youth from under-resourced neighborhoods through paid internships, job skills training, and mentoring. She is also the founder and CEO of FreeSpace Consulting Group where she has worked to guide and support districts and nonprofit organizations across the country seeking to effect positive change in public education. Sherri has spent her career advocating for better outcomes for underserved communities through education and youth development. Before starting FreeSpace, Sherri led Strategy, Talent, and Operations for the Teach for America’s Metro Atlanta Region (TFA); served as Chief of Staff for The School District of Palm Beach County, Florida – the nation’s 10th largest school district with over 200,000 students; and worked as the Director of Strategic Planning and Project Management in the Fulton County School System in Metro-Atlanta. Before transitioning to public service, Sherri worked as an organization and change management consultant with Deloitte Consulting LLP. Her client portfolio includes Sheltering Arms for Kids, Oakland Unified School District, Departments of Public Welfare and Education in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Los Angeles Unified School District Charter Schools, The Coca-Cola Company and AT&T. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Sherri also holds master’s degrees in education leadership from Harvard University and the Broad Center for the Management of School Systems. Her lifelong interest in advocacy and education stems from her mother, a Detroit public school teacher. Sherri and her husband Joseph are thrilled to be new Charlotteans. Together, they enjoy outdoor activities, classic cars, and unique eats.
Dr. Virginia Covill
Deputy Director, Strategy and Operations
Dr. Virginia Covill is a community psychologist focused on improving outcomes for children and families in Charlotte through systems change and strategic problem solving. Dr. Covill earned her PhD in Community Health Psychology and M.A. in Clinical & Community Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Prior to joining Leading on Opportunity, Virginia was Vice President of Research, Evaluation and Impact for Communities In Schools (CIS) of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, an organization dedicated to keeping kids in school and helping them succeed in life. During her time at CIS, she led collaborative efforts to quantify impact, improve program implementation, and leverage CIS research to inform local systems change. Virginia was also formerly Vice President for Thompson Child & Family Focus, where she oversaw program evaluation design and outcomes reporting for all of Thompson’s early childhood and mental health services. Virginia currently serves on the board of directors for the Institute for Social Capital and the Council for Children’s Rights. Outside of work, Virginia loves hiking with her two labs, yoga, and trying new local restaurants,
Sr. Manager, Policy and Community Advocacy
Tonya Jameson is a consigliere providing consultation and campaign management services to elected officials, community leaders and rising political stars seeking to make Charlotte a better place to live, work and raise a family. She managed winning campaigns for Mayor Vi Lyles, District Attorney Spencer Merriweather, State representatives Brandon Lofton and Becky Carney as well City Council members Larken Egleston and Julie Eiselt. She began her career in Charlotte as a reporter and columnist for the Charlotte Observer, and later worked as online editor for Radio One Charlotte. Tonya earned her Master’s in Communications from the University of Maryland and her Bachelor’s in Communications from the University of Alabama. Tonya is a serial hobbyist who rides motorcycles, bikes, kayak, backpacks and visits national parks whenever she cans.
Senior Manager, Data and Evaluation
AJ is the Senior Manager of Data and Evaluation at Leading on Opportunity. He brings 5 years of experience applying rigorous, human-centered policy design and evaluation methodologies to the challenges of economic mobility. His work and research have taken him to 30+ countries to partner with groups such as Airbnb, World Resources Institute, Chicago Community Trust, and the Consultive Group to Assist the Poor at the World Bank. Prior to joining Leading on Opportunity, AJ was a research fellow at United Way of Central Carolinas where he supported a coalition of local funders including Knight Foundation, Foundation For The Carolinas, and Bank of America to develop Healthy Affordable Communities, a strategic plan for disrupting displacement across Mecklenburg County. AJ holds a master’s in public policy from the University of Chicago, Bachelors’ in urban studies and political science from Furman University (go ‘Dins!), and spent two years in Malaysia as a Fulbright scholar. He is a Charlotte native whose passion for community development was sparked growing up in the local YMCA. Outside the office, AJ enjoys cooking, hiking, and learning about flags.
Coordinator, Operations and Engagement
A native of Charlotte, Nandi Relford is a motivated and results-focused professional adept at solving problems with integrity, ingenuity, and sensitivity while supporting executives and teams. With a background in operations management and customer service, Nandi is skilled at assessing the urgency of priorities and managing stakeholder expectations. Nandi also holds the title of Third Class Petty Officer in the United States Navy. She currently serves in the United States Navy Reserves to support her fellow sailors and their families providing medical support and patient care. Nandi has been a servant partner in all her professional roles. Nandi is excited to assist organizational efforts to improve economic mobility in her hometown by leveraging her successes in previous strategic and operational development roles. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and a B.A. in History from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University. Nandi lives in Charlotte with her son Evan.