Project: Office of the Mayor, Libby Schaaf. Oakland, CA. Creating a strategic implementation plan for increasing teacher retention.
Jessica Ball’s initial interest in education was rooted in wanting to tell more well-rounded stories about students in classrooms. She aspired to be an education anthropologist - a contemporary Zora Neale Hurston. Although she did not become an education anthropologist, Jessica’s passion for telling authentic stories manifested into funding and supporting school leaders who shared a common narrative: an unwavering belief that public education must be re-imagined. Over the past ten years, Jessica has leveraged philanthropic grantmaking not only to bring school leaders’ personal stories of transformation to life, but also to create systems of schools that support the full scope of a child’s lived experience.
Before joining Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Doctor of Education Leadership (Ed.L.D.) program, Jessica worked as an associate partner with Innovative Schools at NewSchools Venture Fund. In this role, she invested in and led communities of practice for nearly 100 early stage school teams seeking to create innovative school models across the country. In 2019, Crunchbase named Jessica one of 39 Black Women Investors Inspiring a New Generation of Investors. Prior to joining NewSchools, Jessica was program officer for education at the Hyde Family Foundations, where she closely managed the Foundation’s single site charter schools and investments in human capital partnerships, Pre-K and higher education. Jessica began her career as a 6th grade English teacher with Teach for America – Memphis.
Jessica is interested in working with government and philanthropic institutions to effectively support school districts in tackling persisting, systemic challenges that create barriers to student achievement.