ALISHA THOMAS CROMARTIE • Executive Director • Rena Carter Foundation
Trailblazing, purpose-driven, and exceptionally passionate are only a few of the descriptors that are ascribed to Alisha Thomas Cromartie. Successfully blending her expertise in education, the legislature and the nonprofit sector, she stands strong as one of the nation’s most admirable speakers, advocates and transformational leaders in the education arena. Her prodigious ability to inspire, coach and transform seemingly insurmountable adverse situations only adds to her exceptional reputation.
Her success has been lauded through features in Ebony and Marie Claire magazines, as well as the New York Times and CSPAN. Every day, Cromartie looks forward to transforming lives for the better. Her life’s philosophy, which stems from a quote from Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, states, “Every person is born into this world to do something distinctive and unique and if he or she doesn’t do it, it’ll never be done.” This is what drives her work as Executive Director of the Rena Carter Foundation. She states “we are laser focused on disrupting generational poverty in our communities. We believe that if we don’t do it, it will never be done.”
A native of Miami, Florida, Cromartie made Atlanta her home after matriculating Spelman College. Upon completion of her amazing academic excursion there as a Sociology and Drama major, she earned her Master of Education degree in Educational Leadership from Kennesaw State University.
With a heart’s desire to be a voice, transform public education, and to engage real people in the political process, Cromartie made history at age 23 by becoming the first African American elected to the Georgia House of Representatives serving residents of one of state’s largest counties (Cobb). Cromartie was elected to six terms. During her tenure, she served on the Education, Appropriations and Health & Human Services Committees.
In addition to her work in the Georgia legislature, Cromartie also served as Superintendent of Ivy Prep Academies, a network of all-girls public schools of excellence. As a result of her leadership, she designed and spearheaded the turnaround of the network’s operations, academic achievements and financial strength. Specifically, the Kirkwood campus doubled its state performance score from a 43 to an 85, and across the network of schools, the teacher retention rate went from 20% to 80%.
Cromartie is a 2015 graduate of the Broad Superintendents Academy and she holds Superintendents’ certification for K-12 schools. She successfully completed Future Chiefs, a highly selected program for educators who aspire to be superintendents, in 2017. Further, Cromartie is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., a national board member for the Joseph and Evelyn Lowery Institute for Justice and Human Rights, and a national advisory board member for Pathways in Education. The wisdom gained from her vast experiences have been chronicled in her book, No Apologies: Powerful Lessons in Life, Love and Politics.