Nicole Baker Fulgham
President & Founder
Nicole Baker Fulgham is the founder and president of The Expectations Project, a non-profit organization that develops & mobilizes faith-motivated advocates who help close the academic achievement gap in public schools. She is the author of Educating All God’s Children: What Christians Can – and Should – Do to Improve Public Education for Low-Income Kids (Brazos Press, April 2013).
A native of Detroit, Nicole graduated from the University of Michigan and joined Teach For America where she taught fifth grade in Compton, California. Nicole received her doctorate in education from UCLA with a focus on urban education policy and teacher preparation. She joined the national staff of Teach For America, where she held several key leadership roles, including Vice President of New Site Development, Vice President of Teacher Training and Support and Vice President of Faith Community Relations.
Nicole is a Mind Trust Education Entrepreneur Fellow and a Pahara-Aspen Institute Education Fellow. She speaks at national faith-based and education conferences, has appeared on CNN and ABC News and authored several articles about educational equity. Christianity Today Magazine featured Nicole as One to Watch and also named her one of the 50 Women Leaders Influencing the Church and Culture. Nicole serves on the board of several non-profit organizations and lives in the Washington, DC area with her husband and their three children.
Director of Communications and Campaigns
Chris LaTondresse leverages his talents as a communicator, connector, and strategist to help world-changing organizations—from Minnesota to the Mississippi Delta, from East Africa to Eastern Europe to the Middle East—connect the dots between faith-inspired activism and advancing the common good. Before coming to The Expectations Project, LaTondresse served on President Obama's faith-based and neighborhood partnerships team at USAID where he spearheaded efforts to partner with faith and community groups around issues like food security, global health and human trafficking. He started his career as the special assistant to Jim Wallis, CEO of Sojourners, followed by a tenure as the U.S. Director of Questscope, an organization working on education reform and mentoring efforts across the Middle East. He is also founder of Recovering Evangelical, a national movement of Millennial-generation Christians. Raised in the former Soviet Union as the son of American missionary parents, LaTondresse spent his college years working for a Democratic member of Congress and for a Republican governor—providing him with a global outlook and a commitment to the idea that God is not a Republican or a Democrat. He currently lives in Washington, DC with his wife, Ashley (they met at age fifteen at a summer camp in the Lake Wobegone county of Minnesota) and French Bulldog (and Instagram celebrity) Cedar. LaTondresse has been interviewed by CNN, ABC and Fox News. His writings have appeared on the CNN Belief Blog, RELEVANT magazine, Huffington Post, and Sojourner's God’s Politics blog.
Regional Director - Washington, DC
Aria Kirkland-Harris is a child advocate, educator, and intercessor. Before coming to The Expectations Project, Aria taught preschool at Orr Elementary School in Washington, DC. It was there that she came face to face with the achievement gap and began to understand how steep this climb is for far too many of our children. After teaching for three years, Aria made a faith-filled decision to leave the classroom in order to explore and implement community-based approaches to school turnaround.
Before she began teaching, Aria worked for the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and The Aspen Institute’s Initiative on Financial Security. She holds a B.A. in Political Science and Psychology from Columbia University and a Master’s in Education from George Mason University. She is also an alumna of Education Pioneers and Teach For America.
In her free time, Aria supports local public schools in their strategic planning and community engagement efforts. She is a current and founding board member of The Collective-DC, Teach For America’s first network connecting corps members, alumni and staff of color.
After graduating high school in New York, Jeff earned a full track and field scholarship to the University of Rhode Island and earned his B.S. in Corrective and Adaptive Physical Education. In 2002, Jeff earned his MBA from Indiana Tech and is currently completing an Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership.
Recognized for his ability to inspire and motivate individuals, Jeff has a proven talent for building and leading organizations in the corporate sector. Knowing he wanted to do more to support his community, Jeff left the business world and pursued opportunities to improve the lives of children. Ultimately, God led him to The Expectations Project where he is able to use his talents to ensure every child receives a high quality education.
On a national level, Jeff works with Full Circle Consulting and has developed leadership curricula for high school students to assist them in their personal development. Locally, Jeff volunteered as an Instructional Assistant for Pike Township where he further developed his awareness of the education gap affecting many African American students and students of color.
In his free time, Jeff enjoys physical fitness and will compete in his 3rd Marine Corp Marathon in October. In addition, Jeff volunteers as a track and field coach and an NFL flag football youth coach. He is the founder of Fathers 4 Futures, Inc. and currently sits on the Board of Directors for Shalom Healthcare in Indianapolis. Jeff resides in Indianapolis with his wife and best friend Racquel and their two children, Laci and Clayton.
Blythe attended the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA, where she first saw God’s vision for justice as it relates to the Gospel and felt the call to help the Christian Church unify around this vision. Blythe served on the Leadership Team of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship for three years, spearheaded several justice-focused initiatives and was a member of the Pi Sigma Alpha Honor Society. Blythe graduated from UMW in December 2009 with a degree in political science.
Before joining The Expectations Project Blythe was a Fellow with The Clapham Group, where she focused on the intersection of faith and culture and helped to unify Christian leaders around taking action on social issues. She also worked as a Leadership Resident at The District Church where she focused on developing urban ministries to address injustice.
Blythe has a passion for helping the hurting and oppressed. Since marrying her husband (a fifth grade teacher in a low-income public school), her passion has grown to help children disenfranchised by under-performing public schools.
Outside of The Expectations Project, Blythe continues to serve on staff at her church, helping to form partnerships between faith communities and other organizations to more effectively help the hurting. She loves spending time with her husband, being outside, and reading pretty much anything.
Jay Hein is president of Sagamore Institute, an Indianapolis-based think tank that he helped found in 2004. He was Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives from August 2006 to August 2008. Hein serves as Distinguished Senior Fellow at Baylor University’s Institute for the Study of Religion and directs the Foundation for American Renewal, founded by US Senator Dan Coats. Hein was appointed by Governor Mitch Daniels in 2010 to serve as a member of the Indiana Commission on Community Service and Volunteerism. Earlier in his career, Hein was a welfare reform policy advisor to Governor Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin from 1994 to 1997 and director of civil society programs at the Hudson Institute from 1997 to 2004. Hein received a Bachelors of Arts degree from Eureka College and an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Indiana Wesleyan University.
Tracy-Elizabeth Clay is the Senior Vice President of Legal Affairs and on the General Counsel for Teach for America. She provides legal counsel, guidance, and strategic advice in support of Teach For America. She ensures legal and regulatory compliance while promoting Teach For America’s interests in matters related to contracts and general business law, real estate, litigation, employment and labor law, intellectual property, risk management, and insurance. Clay also serves as corporate secretary for Teach For America. Since joining the organization, she has held a variety of positions including director of state and local government affairs, and founding executive director of the Philadelphia region.
Clay was the founding general counsel and corporate secretary for Teach For All, Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization which provides technical assistance and support to social entrepreneurs in more than 20 countries who are applying the teacher-leadership development model pioneered by Teach For America to educational inequities that exist within their countries. Clay also serves as general counsel for Leadership for Educational Equity, a social welfare organization dedicated to fostering the public leadership of Teach For America. Tracy-Elizabeth Clay clerked for the Hon. Anne E. Thompson of the US District of New Jersey and is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School (magna cum laude).
Sekou Biddle leads the United Negro College Fund’s (UNCF) 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 18 years of experience in urban public education reform and is a former at-large member of the D.C. 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 preschool-aged children to prepare them for success in school.
Mr. Biddle previously was director of community outreach for KIPP DC, which operates three middle 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. Mr. Biddle has hands-on experience in the classroom working as a teacher in New York City, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. 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.
Mr. Biddle 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.