K-12 Advocacy: Meet the Team
Sekou Biddle leads UNCF’s advocacy efforts to ensure more African American students will be college-ready and better prepared to enroll in and complete college by driving sustainable education reforms that benefit students and empower parents and communities to demand improvement. He manages UNCF’s advocacy platform, which includes three major components: grasstops partnerships, grassroots engagement and messaging and research.
He has more than 20 years of experience in urban public education reform and is a former at-large member of the District of Columbia City Council. He represented Wards 3 and 4 on the District of Columbia State Board of Education. As executive director of the southern region of Jumpstart for Young Children, he partnered trained adults in year-long relationships with pre-school-aged children to prepare them for success in school.
Sekou previously was director of community outreach for KIPP DC, which operates 16 schools in the District of Columbia. Prior to this, he trained and supported first- and second-year teachers as a program director with Teach For America, the national teacher corps. He has hands-on experience in the classroom working as a teacher in New York City, Atlanta and Washington, DC. While in the Atlanta Public School System, he provided professional development for elementary school teachers through the Elementary Science Education Partnership, sponsored by the National Science Foundation.
Sekou has a bachelor’s degree in business from Morehouse College and a master of education degree in early childhood education from Georgia State University with a focus on urban education. He also completed advanced studies in education policy at Georgia State.
Meredith Anderson, Ph.D.
Senior Research Associate
Meredith Anderson, Ph.D. is a Senior Research Associate in the K-12 Advocacy Department and Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute at UNCF, where she leads and designs empirical research related to K-12 education reform for African American students. Dr. Anderson has over 10 years of extensive research experience, including survey design and management, quantitative and qualitative analysis, and program evaluation.
Anderson's publications have focused on race, educational inequities, African American community voice in education, and the influence of representation on grouping and tracking outcomes for African American male students. Meredith's most recent publications for UNCF are: A Seat at the Table: African American Youth's Perceptions of K-12 Education; Lift Every Voice and Lead: African American Leaders Perspectives of K-12 Education Reform; The Lift Every Voice and Lead Toolkit: A Community Leader's Advocacy Resource for K-12 Education; Building Better Narratives in Black Education; and The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2015: African American Students.
Prior to her work at UNCF, Anderson was program evaluator for Baltimore City Public Schools, where she contributed to the development and management of the teacher and principal evaluation system, conducted statistical analyses to inform decision-making and led the evaluation survey for principals. Anderson also contributed to the Maryland Longitudinal Data System development at the Maryland State Department of Education. Additionally, Dr. Anderson was a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Public Affairs at American University. She has also taught in the Department of African American Studies at Georgetown University and is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at American University where she teaches courses on race and public policy. She is also on the board for the Wayfinder Foundation and The Center for Postsecondary Readiness and Success.
Prior to her work in Washington D.C., Meredith was a Research Associate for the Project for Equity, Representation and Governance (PERG) at Texas A&M University. Meredith earned both her B.A. and doctorate in Political Science from Texas A&M University.
With more than 15 years of management and communications experience, Naomi Shelton is the director of K-12 Advocacy for UNCF and was recently appointed by Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser to serve a four-year term as a member of the DC Public Charter School Board.
Shelton directs UNCF’s efforts to ensure more African American students will be college-ready and better prepared to complete college by driving sustainable education reforms that benefit students and empower communities to demand improvement. Shelton manages the K-12 Advocacy platform, with a focus on driving internal cross-functional collaboration and building external relationships.
Shelton previously served as Interim Secretary of the District of Columbia for Mayor Adrian Fenty's Administration. Prior to being named Interim Secretary, Shelton served as Chief of Staff to the Office of the Secretary, Director of the Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications, and Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff to the Mayor.
With a cross-functional expertise, Shelton has provided operational support, project and crisis management, and public relations counsel to private, public and non-profit organizations. Notably, Shelton served as senior associate with Westin Rinehart, providing marketing and public relations services to clients such as Kwame Jackson of NBC's 'The Apprentice,' the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) and AmeriDream.
Before Westin Rinehart, Shelton served as both co-campaign manager and press secretary during a 2004 congressional campaign for the first African American female to run for office in Mississippi's Second District.
Shelton started her career as deputy associate with Xenophon Strategies, Inc. a boutique public relations and crisis communications firm, managing projects, providing key media relations and crisis communications support surrounding the NTSB investigation of American Airlines Flight 587.
Shelton has a bachelor’s degree in English from Tougaloo College.
Cassandra Anderson joins UNCF and the K-12 Advocacy team as a Community Engagement Manager. As a Community Engagement Manager, Cassandra will help UNCF ensure that, through its advocacy efforts, more African-American students will be college ready and better prepared to enroll in and complete college. Prior to joining UNCF, Cassandra was the 21st Century Cures Grant Director for the Division of Mental Health and Addiction with the State of Indiana, and currently an Adjunct Faculty Member in the Department of Foundations of Success at Ivy Tech Community College. Cassandra earned her B.A.in Political Science from Spelman College, Masters of Science in Sport Administration from Georgia State University, Masters of Science in Management with a concentration in Human Resources from Indiana Wesleyan University and a Professional Coaching Certificate from Indiana Wesleyan University.
Cassandra has spent over a decade working in the nonprofit sector and with youth. She formerly served as the Director of Programs for the 100 Black Men of Indianapolis. Prior to that position, she was a case manager with the Homeless Initiative Program and worked directly with homeless veterans and their families. Cassandra believes her purpose in life is to uplift, inspire, motivate, and encourage people.