Cardell Orrin, the board chair of Freedom Prep Charter Schools in Memphis, Tennessee, came to his role at the charter school having already made a significant impact in other realms. He grew up in a family of political activists who helped elect Memphis’s first black school board member. After attending the University of Pennsylvania and entering the information technology field, Cardell returned to Memphis where he took on several senior leadership roles, including the chief information officer position at a Memphis-area university, and he also founded and led his own successful consulting firm. During this time, he was asked to serve on the boards of several Memphis-based organizations including the Hattiloo Theatre and the Memphis Urban League Young Professionals.
Cardell also sought to make a difference in public education and joined the board of Freedom Prep where he has served as board chair for nearly a decade. Under his leadership, Freedom Prep has grown to enroll over 2,200 students on five campuses and is now helping to open one of the first charter schools in Alabama located on a campus that was part of Martin Luther King’s historic 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery.
As Cardell has grown to understand the unique challenges charter schools face, he has also come to recognize that his experiences growing up in a family of political activists was of great value to the broader charter movement. Cardell is now the executive director at Stand for Children Tennessee, an education reform organization that has helped elect many student-supportive candidates, including one cycle where he helped elect five out of nine school board members, taking his parents successful activism directed at local offices to even greater heights.
Another exceptional board member is Emmy Award winner and Academy Award nominee, Moctezuma Esparza is not only a successful entertainment producer, but he’s also the founder and a current board member of the Los Angeles Academy of Arts and Enterprise. While on the board of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Esparza helped expand charter school opportunities for thousands of students. Read his story: