Cece Zhou is the director of communications at Deans for Impact. Prior to joining DFI, she served on the communications and public affairs team for a national educational equity nonprofit. Cece started her career in school district administration and has also led marketing and communications for a college of education. She earned her Bachelor’s in English and Political Science from the University of Michigan.

When/why did you start working in education?

In college, I took a course called Education in a Multicultural Society. Up until then, I had attended K-12 public schools in suburban, predominantly white, middle-class communities and took for granted the opportunities afforded to me to pursue my then-emerging career aspirations. The course introduced me to the stark reality that this was not the case for millions of other K-12 students in America; I learned that factors such as ZIP code, race, and socioeconomic class often predetermined a student’s quality of education and access to resources and opportunities. As a result of this course and related experiences, I was galvanized to start a career that contributes toward a more equitable future for all children.

Why were you excited to join Deans for Impact?

In our current climate, countless students have to navigate a broken education system steeped in systemic inequities that have been compounded by the pandemic. Amidst these challenges, Deans for Impact has been working tirelessly in partnership with equity-centered educator-preparation programs, organizations and leaders across the country to prepare effective teachers and illuminate a path forward towards transformative progress for all students. I am deeply compelled by DFI’s mission and growing impact.

Why do Deans for Impact’s guiding principles ring true for you?

The work we do requires enormous responsibility and has implications for our nation’s most vulnerable youth. I appreciate that our guiding principles emphasize accountability, rigor, and high expectations, while also underscoring the abundance of empathy and humanity that’s just as necessary at every level – personal, relational, and systemic.

Who was your favorite teacher, and why?

My college freshman English professor saw potential in my writing and asked me if I was planning to major in English. I had always loved to write but was, at the time, doubtful about the sustainability of turning it into a career. She nurtured my skills and confidence, connected me to our university writing center’s peer community, and encouraged me with the utmost kindness and compassion to explore the vast career possibilities for writers. Her belief and investment in me heavily influenced where I am today.

What’s your favorite food truck and why?

I’m based in Denver, and my go-tos include Yuan Wonton and Beeler Perk!

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