Cheryl Watson-Harris lands new job one year after being fired by DeKalb School BoardSuperintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris comments during the DeKalb County Board of Education regular meeting on Monday, April 18, 2022. Photo by Dean Hesse.
Atlanta, GA — Cheryl Watson-Harris has a new job with a local nonprofit.
Watson-Harris will lead Achieve Atlanta as its new president and executive director. The nonprofit supports Atlanta Public Schools students.
“Dr. Watson-Harris’ impressive career as an educator, administrator, and community leader is grounded in Achieve Atlanta’s vision, making Atlanta a city where race and income no longer predict postsecondary success,” a press release from Achieve Atlanta says. “Dr. Watson-Harris is set to start at the beginning of May.”
In a statement on Twitter, Watson-Harris said she is “Honored to join Achieve Atlanta as President/ Executive Director! Removing barriers to student success has been my life’s work and I found a new home to live out my purpose & passion! I’m excited to support #AchieveAtlanta in this next chapter.”
The announcement came a year after a divided DeKalb County School Board abruptly fired her for unknown reasons.
That event came amid controversy about poor conditions at Druid Hills High School. Later reporting by Decaturish revealed that Watson-Harris was pushing a plan to reorganize the central office before her firing. Still, it’s unclear if that played any role in her termination.
Following the firing of Watson-Harris, the school board hired Dr. Vasanne Tinsley as interim superintendent. On April 19, the DeKalb County School Board hired Dr. Devon Horton as Watson-Harris’ replacement. He will start after June 30.
Here’s the full press release from Achieve Atlanta:
After an extensive national search, the Achieve Atlanta board and staff are pleased to announce Dr. Cheryl Watson-Harris as our incoming President/Executive Director. Dr. Watson-Harris’ impressive career as an educator, administrator, and community leader is grounded in Achieve Atlanta’s vision, making Atlanta a city where race and income no longer predict postsecondary success. Dr. Watson-Harris is set to start at the beginning of May.
Dr. Cheryl Watson-Harris is an exceptional educational leader with three decades of experience in and out of the classroom. She has drawn praise for her innovative leadership style that improves employee engagement and capacity throughout organizations and positively impacts student achievement. Dr. Watson-Harris will leverage her demonstrated effectiveness in family engagement and community partnerships to strengthen our cross-sector approach and the work of Achieve Atlanta and its partners.
“Our partnership with Achieve Atlanta has been extraordinary and extremely rewarding for Atlanta Public Schools students. I’m excited about the naming of Dr. Watson-Harris to lead Achieve Atlanta’s work–she deeply understands the importance of the investment in our children’s future and the critical work tied to preparing them for postsecondary education.”
–Dr. Lisa Herring, Superintendent, Atlanta Public Schools
Dr. Watson-Harris is driven by the belief that every child deserves access to quality postsecondary education and support through their postsecondary journey. College access and success is a deeply personal topic. She is a mom of three with two “bonus children” and as one of the first in her family to attend college, navigated the application process on her own.
“Dr. Watson-Harris’ deep knowledge and experience as well as her caring for those we serve is evident in every aspect of her being. We’re fortunate to have her leadership to build on Achieve Atlanta’s successes over the last seven years. We also thank our dedicated staff and partners who served our scholars–without missing a beat–during this transition.”
–Claire “Yum” Arnold, Achieve Atlanta Board Chair
With Dr. Cheryl Watson-Harris as the next President/Executive Director of Achieve Atlanta, we are excited to begin planning for the 2023-24 academic year. We look forward to her leadership as she joins our team and carries forward the work led by our Founding Executive Director Tina Fernandez, taking Achieve Atlanta to even higher levels.
“Dr. Cheryl Watson-Harris is an ideal choice to lead Achieve Atlanta not only because of her significant experience working in school districts, but because of her passion for the all young people and the community Achieve Atlanta serves. We are eager to work with Cheryl to improve and grow Achieve Atlanta.”
–Russ Hardin, President, Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation
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