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Dr. Shawn Joseph Names Chief of Staff

Dr. Jana Carlisle is the final member of the executive cabinet

Nashville, Tenn. (August 22, 2016) – Director of Schools Dr. Shawn Joseph has hired the final member of his executive cabinet, completing the leadership team for Metro Nashville Public Schools. Dr. Jana Carlisle will join the team as chief of staff beginning September 15. Dr. Carlisle currently serves as Chief Strategy Officer at the NYC Leadership Academy, a nonprofit that has helped develop educational leadership talent in New York and across the country since 2003.

“The Chief of Staff is the final piece of our leadership structure, and in a lot of ways, will be the keystone role,” said Dr. Joseph. “The job helps provide coherence and effective communication both internally and externally. Dr. Carlisle will help oversee and manage the performance of our different divisions, as well as directly supervising the communications, government relations and research and assessment teams. Dr. Carlisle has the breadth of experience necessary to fill those many roles, from pedagogy to policy and strategy to communications and engagement. I am proud to bring her to Nashville and have her support an already talented team.”

As the Chief of Staff, Dr. Carlisle will lead collaboration between internal and external stakeholders to integrate the strategic research and planning happening right now with work that was begun prior to Dr. Joseph’s arrival. She will help bridge existing district programs and community initiatives, like Project RESET from the Nashville Public Education Foundation, with new research and efforts including:

  • recommendations provided by the transition team
  • feedback gathered from the 13 Listen and Learn sessions
  • district engagement with multiple stakeholder groups through focus groups, surveys and internal and external conversations

Dr. Carlisle’s leadership will unify all of these elements in order to develop and implement a bold new strategic plan that will articulate Metro Schools’ vision for the future.

In addition to the departments that will directly report to her, Dr. Carlisle will closely collaborate with the three major divisions of Metro Schools:

  • Division of Teaching and Learning under Dr. Monique Felder
  • Division of School Improvement and Support under Dr. Sito Narcisse
  • Operations Division under Chris Henson

Dr. Carlisle will effectively manage the operations of the Director’s office by supporting other members of the leadership team, planning for the Director’s meetings and events and serving as a key contact for department heads and community members.

“With the transition team now deep into their work, we will soon have a clearer picture of our new strategic direction and the steps we need to take to get there,” said Dr. Joseph. “Dr.

Carlisle will be here to make sure every step we take is directly aligned with the goals we set in the new strategic plan. She shares our values of equity and access for all children and a clear focus on what is right for our diverse community.”

Dr. Carlisle is originally from Michigan and has spent 25 years in education working in leadership roles for public school districts, nonprofit organizations and the philanthropic community.

“Educational success is a right, not an economic privilege,” said Dr. Carlisle. “Throughout my career, I have brought together diverse sets of partners to work for educational equity and access for all students, regardless of their backgrounds. I have deep experience framing and facilitating improvement processes and practices, as well as helping others plan and manage for change and successful implementation. Nashville has many of the right pieces in place for such a change, and I look forward to aligning our organizational goals, objectives and practices to achieve the results we need.”

Personal Biography

Raised in Michigan as the daughter of a university professor and a K-12 special education administrator, Jana L. Carlisle grew up thinking that all children enjoyed the privilege of high- quality schools and an understanding that college was for anyone who aspired to attend. As a political science student studying at Michigan State University, she realized that in America, there are clear opportunity gaps that exist based upon citizens’ socio-economic status and, in many instances, citizens’ race.

Dr. Carlisle recalls, “As a middle-class white woman with highly educated parents, I had the privilege and expectation of dreaming big. Many children, however, including those who were poor and children of color not living too far away in Michigan’s urban core, had fewer opportunities and different expectations set for them. It wasn’t right, and I felt compelled to do something about it.”

Throughout the last 25 years, Dr. Carlisle has sought to improve public education for all students through leadership positions in the not-for-profit, public and philanthropic sectors. Her roles have placed her in an upstate New York urban superintendent’s office, an upstate New

York employer association that ran education programs, a major Seattle-based international foundation on the college ready team, a Washington state-level business-education partnership organization, two different national education not-for-profit organizations located in Washington, DC and New York City, and an independent consultancy.

Dr. Carlisle earned her B.A. in International Relations from Michigan State University, a M.S. in Public Policy Analysis from the University of Rochester and an Ed.D. in Educational and Organizational Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Carlisle paraphrases Ron Edmonds powerful commentary on our desire to educate children stating, “We can educate any child we choose to educate.” She goes on to share, “Our public school systems have the unique opportunity to motivate all children to challenge themselves to maximize their potential. They can also expose children to opportunities that can transform their lives and the lives of their families for generations to come. We must work to ensure that all schools work to advance all children each and every day.”

Dr. Carlisle has three young adult children – Emma who is starting graduate school at Kings College of London, Jared who is a rising senior at University of Washington and Isabelle who is a rising sophomore at Oberlin College and Conservatory.


Metro Nashville Public Schools is one of the nation’s top 50 largest school districts, preparing 88,000 students for higher education, work and life. With the goal of being the first choice for Nashville families, Metro Schools is committed to #ExceedingGreatExpectations with the mission of delivering a great public education to every student, every day. The district is earning a national reputation for urban school reform, social and emotional learning and rising academic achievement. The governing body for Metro Schools is the Metropolitan Nashville Board of Public Education, a nine-member elected body. For more information, visit MNPS.org, or follow us on Twitter @MetroSchools or Facebook /MetroSchools.