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Our Team

Black Wildflowers Fund is led by experienced Black education leaders who have worked alongside Teacher Leaders who successfully designed and launched a Wildflower School. They are raising awareness about racial and economic disparities that create barriers for Black education entrepreneurs to thrive.

Maia Blankenship

Maia Blankenship is an accomplished education entrepreneur and advocate for equity leading Wildflower’s Charter Pathways and Replication Circle and serving as the Co-CEO of Black Wildflowers Fund. Maia galvanized a board and founding group of education advocates to obtain charter approval and launched DC Wildflower Public Charter School in 2021. This unique charter model will grow to serve over 200 students through intentionally small liberatory Montessori microschools over the next four years. Maia is also an advisor and connector to organizations actively working to dismantle systemic racism and oppression, including serving as Co-Chair of The Equity Lab. In 2020, she was recognized in the inaugural cohort of Black Voices for Black Justice Fund. In 2023 she was named as an NBCDI Public Voices Fellow for Racial Justice in Early Childhood Education with the OpEd project. She is a Ward 5 D.C. resident and the proud mother of an independent and adventurous seven year old who inspires her daily.


Dr. Erika L. McDowell

Dr. Erika L. McDowell is a former NJ governor’s award recipient and honors graduate of Howard University and New York University. Erika currently leads Wildflower School’s growth and partnerships in New Jersey and is an Equity Steward for the organization. She earned her EdD from Drexel University in Educational Leadership and Management, in May 2020. Dr. McDowell has received the Association for Positive Behavior Support’s 2020 E.G. “Ted” Carr Early Career Practitioner Award and has been elected to the APBS Board of Directors for the 2021-2024 term, serving in the inaugural Racial and Ethnic Diversity Seat. Most recently, Erika was honored as one of Drexel’s 40 under 40 in 2022. She has served as an Executive Director of Professional Development and Director of PBIS/Youth Court for The School District of Philadelphia. Other positions previously held include assistant principal and teacher. Her in-depth experience includes restorative practices, equity, positive behavioral support, conflict resolution, classroom management, coaching, leadership development, and behavioral data support. In June 2022, she began her appointment as a clinical associate professor of educational leadership and policy at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo. Dr. McDowell continues to be committed to nurturing the minds and gifts of school leaders, teachers, and youth nationwide.


Simone Webster

Simone Webster is passionate about solving complex challenges with creativity and pragmatism. She is proud to have developed the implementation of an equitable grantmaking process to support Black teacher leaders launch microschools through Black Wildflowers Fund. With over six years of experience in the philanthropic sector, she is committed to creating transformative change by removing barriers to resources. Simone earned a BA in Sociology from New York University and an M.P.A. from Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs and began her career as a mathematics teacher which influences much of her work today. As a product of one of the largest public-school systems and a daughter of a teacher, Simone believes deeply in the power of education.

Chief Program Officer

Listen in as Maia and Dr. Erika discuss their vision behind the fund.

Join our liberatory education movement and invest in the limitless potential of Black children and Black leaders.

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