Indianapolis Public Schools’ Aleesia Johnson joins national education leadership group

Indianapolis Public Schools interim Superintendent Aleesia Johnson was named to a roster of rising stars by a high-profile education leadership group.

Johnson, a likely leading contender to head the district permanently, was named a future leader by Chiefs for Change, a leadership organization that is considered a springboard for rising school administrators. Former Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Lewis Ferebee, who now leads the Washington, D.C. school system, joined the group in 2017.

Johnson, who served as deputy superintendent until Ferebee’s departure in January, was one of nine school leaders selected for the group’s latest cohort of future school leaders. A native of Evansville, she rose up in the ranks of Teach for America and KIPP Indy before joining Indianapolis Public Schools four years ago.

“I’m honored to be joining this incredible community, and I look forward to the opportunity to work with like-minded leaders who are expanding opportunities for all students,” said Johnson in a statement.

Chiefs for Change is a network of state and district education leaders that has supported charter schools, the Common Core State Standards, and other like-minded policy changes.

“These Future Chiefs are already making a tangible difference for students across the country, and Aleesia is no exception,” said Chiefs for Change CEO Mike Magee in a statement. “We’re impressed by her commitment to the Indianapolis community and her relentless drive to do the right thing for students and families.”

Other new participants in the year-long “future chiefs” program include education leaders from Chicago, Denver, San Antonio, Cleveland, Louisiana, and Florida. The participants will receive training, coaching, and mentoring from members of the Chiefs for Change network.

Founded by former Florida governor Jeb Bush in the 2000s, Chiefs for Change has since split from the foundation that launched it and taken a bipartisan turn. The group advocates for school choice, culturally diverse curriculum, tough accountability standards, and the rights of immigrant students, among other issues.