DeRay Mckesson Named Interim Head of Human Capital for Baltimore City Public Schools


Civil rights activist and former Baltimore mayoral candidate DeRay Mckesson will return to his old stamping grounds at city school headquarters to lead the district’s office of human capital. 

Mckesson was named interim chief human capital officer on Tuesday by incoming schools CEO Sonja Santelises. It was the second and most high-profile cabinet appointment made by the new chief, who begins her tenure Friday.

Santelises said Mckesson, who spent about two and a half years overseeing key reforms as a strategist and special assistant in the human capital office, would lead the office at least through the fall.

“He has the depth of knowledge of the system, and he has proved that he can lift the work in a short amount of time,” Santelises said in an interview. “And he has proven his dedication to the children of Baltimore.”

Mckesson called Santelises a “gifted leader” and said he was proud to join her team.

“At its core, this role is about finding great people, matching them to the right role, and helping them to develop and experience careers in the service of our kids,” Mckesson said. “I am excited to return to city schools … and to continue doing the work to ensure that every child in Baltimore City receives a world-class education.”

The 30-year-old Baltimore native and Black Lives Matter activist is fresh from an unexpected run for mayor of Baltimore. He finished sixth in the Democratic primary.

Mckesson catapulted onto the national media stage nearly two years ago when he took a leave of absence from his job as senior director of human capital in the Minneapolis Public Schools system to protest the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

Mckesson founded and leads We the Protesters, a group that advocates policy changes against police violence.

Mckesson, who will earn a salary of $165,000, will be the district’s third chief of human capital in two years, and manage of a budget of $4 million and 56 employees.

In a release, school officials said they would conduct a nationwide search for a new chief of human capital. The current interim head of the department, Deborah Sullivan, will return to her former position as executive director of organizational development.

He is the second cabinet appointment for Santelises. In May, she announced that Alison Perkins-Cohen, currently an executive director of new initiatives, will serve as her chief of staff and earn a salary of $178,500.

McKesson returns to the district as Santelises’ new administration prepares to open schools in August, a task that Santelises said was both challenging and crucial.

“We have no time to waste. Every day in class is precious for our students, and every school must be ready to go when the opening bell rings,” she said in a statement. “Mr. Mckesson has the hand-on experience, leadership skills, and energy to help us make that happen.”

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Source: Baltimore Sun | Erica L. Green and Luke Broadwater