Shavar Jeffries has been an advocate for social justice and educational equity for more than two decades. He joined the KIPP Foundation as CEO in January 2023, a culmination of his many years as a champion for KIPP schools. Shavar was founding board chair of KIPP Newark in 2001; joined the KIPP Foundation Board in 2019; and is a proud KIPP parent, as his two children graduated from KIPP Spark Academy and KIPP Team Academy in Newark. His commitment to improving education stems directly from personal experience. As a first-generation college graduate, he understands implicitly the life-changing power of a high-quality education.
Prior to joining the Foundation, Shavar was President of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) and its affiliate organization, Education Reform Now, where he led the organization in passing well over 100 policies at the federal and state level that expanded educational opportunities for low-income students of color. Throughout his career, Shavar has practiced law, worked as an assistant attorney general in New Jersey, and served as the elected president of the Newark school board. Among many career highlights, Shavar, as school-board president, led Newark Public Schools in implementing systemic changes that produced historic gains in student outcomes; as state assistant attorney general, executed a strategy shifting juveniles from detention centers to community-based programs that produced nation-leading reductions in recidivism; and, as a civil-rights lawyer, litigated numerous class-action cases that released hundreds of millions in education funding, rescinded racially discriminatory tracking of students of color to remedial classes, and provided special-education services to tens of thousands of children.
Shavar graduated from Duke University and Columbia Law School, where he concentrated on civil rights law and policy. He has been recognized broadly for his work—by the NAACP, the National Bar Association, and the Congressional Black Caucus, among others.