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Dr. Thomas Maridada


Dr. Thomas Maridada served as The Children’s Defense Fund’s (CDF) National Director of Educational Policy, Practice and Strategic Initiatives. Maridada leveraged funding to support CDF initiatives to improve the well-being of children, families, and communities. He also provided senior thought leadership for the National Freedom Schools Education Initiative, boosting improved reading proficiency for 200,000 students in 102 cities and 29 states.

Prior to joining CDF, Maridada served as superintendent of several urban school districts in Michigan where he was named “Michigan Superintendent of the Year” by the NationalAssociation of School Administrators. The award honored Maridada for using innovations in STEM, Early College, IB, world language immersion, along with a robust investment in teacher professional development as drivers for district transformation. In addition to his work as superintendent, Maridada served as a leader of two U.S. Department of Education National Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence, one of which were featured on Good Morning America for being a professional learning community that achieved sustained, high academic performance in a school which had been previously plagued by persistently low student achievement, earning recognition of his team at the White House.

Also in Michigan, Maridada developed a county-level plan that boosted student reading/math achievement 15-40 percent over two years in 24 urban schools in Detroit that were in “corrective action” under No Child Left Behind. Maridada was named Outstanding Teacher of the Year in 1993 and 1997. Maridada was given the Innovator Award by CBS Broadcasting for his tireless efforts to raise money to fund scholarships, provide access to extended learning opportunities and implement an Early College Program which allowed students from vulnerable communities to earn an Associates of Arts degree concomitant with their high school diploma. He also received honors from the Metropolitan Detroit Youth Foundation, the National Urban League, and the NAACP for his dedication and work with young people.

Maridada serves as a policy ambassador, along with senior-level policy makers, academics and educational leaders who study educational equity and access in schools around the world, including delegations to Marrakech, Portugal, Switzerland, Germany, France, Australia and New Zealand. Most recently, Maridada was a Jim and Susan Swartz Fellow at Harvard Divinity School and earned a Master of Divinity from Harvard University. While at Harvard Divinity School, Maridada was awarded the Buechner Prize for Excellence in Writing. Maridada holds a Bachleor of Arts in Education from the University of Detroit-Mercy, a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from Wayne State University, and a doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from the University of Pennsylvania.

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