By Emma Castleberry
The nonprofit Read to Succeed (R2S) has brought two Black women onto its leadership team. In July, Ile Adaramola was elected as board chair for a three-year term and Jaimee Stanley was appointed as co-executive director.
Stanley will partner with former interim executive director, Jess McLean, to lead the organization. “I come from a long line of Black women educators,” says Stanley, who was an elementary educator for the first six years of her career, most recently at Claxton Elementary School. “When I began working at Claxton, I found the opportunity gap in Asheville City Schools both egregious and disheartening. As a Black female educator, I want to do all that I can to support our community in closing the opportunity gap for our Black and other historically marginalized students and families.” As co-executive director, Stanley looks forward to providing resources for both the organization and the communities it serves. “Most importantly, I hope to learn from and with community-based assets through deep collaboration and coalition-building,” she says.
Stanley says that placing Black women in positions of leadership is one of the most direct ways to dismantle systems of oppression and close the opportunity gap—the ultimate mission of R2S. “For centuries, organizations have placed white people in positions of power to no benefit of Black people or Black children, regardless of what they say,” she says.
One example of this systemic injustice is the low number of Black female educators—they make up seven percent of public school teachers and 11 percent of public school principals. “Black women are the subject matter experts on raising and educating Black children,” says Adaramola. “It is highly disingenuous to attempt to resolve the issues of equity in education without the leadership and input of Black women. As a result of being home-schooled by a Black educator, I understand the importance of having access to well-qualified teachers and a high-quality curriculum.”
Adaramola is a prominent local Black lawyer and owner of Adaramola Law Firm. Her maternal ancestry has a long history of civil rights activism, including her great-grandfather, who paid poll taxes for Black Americans in his community to ensure they could vote, and her grandmother, who organized a protest on the lawn of her town’s mayor during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Adaramola was initially recruited by R2S founder Isaac Coleman in 2015 to join the board and she also serves on the board of the Asheville City Schools Foundation. “From the perspective of those living in the ongoing consequences of racism and white supremacy, the inequities, especially in education, continue to persist,” she says. “Educational outcomes for Black children are a function of their unequal access to key educational resources. My purpose for this organization, community and world is to advocate for the implementation of policy that establishes education as a fundamental human right.”
To learn more, visit R2SAsheville.org.