Good Reasons to Lead Fellowship


Applications are now CLOSED for the 2022-23 cohort.

Interested in learning more or have questions about the fellowship? Email Fellowship@GoodReasonHouston.org.



Program Overview & Goals:

Over the course of eight months, the Good Reasons to Lead fellows will engage in a fast and focused fellowship meant to give experience leaders a way in which to reflect, imagine, and rethink. Experienced education leaders will be given the tools needed to go beyond being a successful leader to being a successful, innovative, entrepreneurial leader. The three overarching goals of this fellowship are to:

  • Identity: Understand how you show up and how that shows up in the work. Keeping true to yourself as a leader.

  • Inspiration: We aim to intentionally expose school leaders to people and ideas beyond their own context. Through virtual inspiration visits, we will expand each participant’s view of what a school can and should be.

  • Influence: Through knowing ourselves, we can dig into how we influence change. We aim to practice strengthening our problem-solving and self-awareness muscles to think through how we approach problems and bring others along with us. Through a series of case studies and examining our own current context, we will think outside of the box and use our own experiences to find innovative solutions to problems.

  • Impact: We aim to create impact through using our identity and influence to create change. We aim to provide quality professional development for campus leaders across Houston. Anchoring in a set of leadership competencies, we will provide space for experienced leaders to inspire a new future.

If you are interested in more details about fellowships at Good Reason Houston, please contact: Fellowship@GoodReasonHouston.org 

2022-23 FELLOWS



Michelle Watts is a native Houstonian who recently returned to the greater Houston area. She received her Bachelors from Mount Holyoke College and Masters and Doctorate from Rice University Dr. Watts has taught at Rice University, Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and the University of Cincinnati. While at Miami, she was recognized as an Honored Professor for her ‘remarkable commitment to students.” She has extensive experience in the public sector where she has worked to advance educational equity and social justice causes in youth-serving organizations.

Dr. Watts continues to actively research African American life and culture and received the 1905 Alumnae Fellowship from Mount Holyoke to research Black girlhood and civic engagement. She recently published an article on children’s literature of the Harlem Renaissance. She currently works for Houston ISD as a Senior Manager and AVID District Director in the College Readiness Department. 


LaFredrick Smith, born and raised in College Station, Texas, is an educational leader who is committed to leading and teaching in the name of love. He has demonstrated this passion throughout his career by serving in the positions of 4th-grade self-contained teacher, instructional specialist, assistant principal, principal resident, and principal of both elementary and secondary schools.

Mr. Smith has had the honor to be awarded and recognized as the Rookie Teacher of the Year (2015), Parents Choice Teacher of the Year (2016), Who’s Who in Black Houston – Educators – Real Time Media (2016), Prairie View A&M University 40 under Forty Alumni (2017), the Apple Educators Appreciation Award (2017), Houston’s Top Teachers – Local Houston Magazine (2018) and Local Spotlight – Vogue Magazine (2019). Mr. Smith is a member of the Brazos Valley Alliance of Black School Educators, the Texas Alliance of Black School Educators, and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund Teacher & Quality Retention Program. He is also a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., the Eta Rho Sigma Chapter, where he served on the executive leadership board as Director of Education. 

Mr. Smith received his bachelor’s degree in sociology from Prairie View A&M University, his master’s degree in curriculum & instruction from Houston Baptist University, and his principal certification from Lamar University. He is currently pursuing his Ed.D in Executive Educational Leadership and Superintendent Certification from Houston Baptist University. His dissertation topic is “Lead in the Name of Love: Principal Preparation in Leading Effective Schools through Positive School Culture.”  

Gillian Nelson


Jummy Akinyode is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor and has dedicated 12 years to specializing in child and adolescent mental health with an extensive focus on BIPOC youth in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. She has spent the last four years developing a School Based Treatment Program at YES Prep Thrive Disciplinary Alternative Education Program (DAEP) school to eliminate the societal barriers BIPOC students face when attempting to access mental health services. Jummy founded Happy Soul Counseling and Wellness in 2020 with the mission to provide approachable, down-to-earth therapy by treating our clients with dignity and genuine care. She works to dispel the myth that therapy is not for everyone. She is committed to anti-racism work and has three initiatives to disrupt health inequities, support mental health for all and celebrate BIPOC representation in mental health.

Jummy received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Texas Austin and master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from St. Mary’s University San Antonio. She has advanced training in hypnotherapy and mind-body medicine and is passionate about incorporating this holistic approach with students and professionals of color.


Dr. Ana Treviño-Godfrey, DMA, is the Director of Prelude Music Classes for Children and co-founder and Director of Education of The Prelude Music Foundation. She is passionate about music, music-making, and education. Ana graduated from Rice University (DMA, MM) and The Cleveland Institute of Music (BM). She performed opera and early music in the US and abroad and has appeared as a featured soloist with professional orchestras around Houston. Her love of music led her to co-found Mercury Chamber Orchestra.

In 2011, Ana stopped performing to focus on her vocation: to serve children and their families through music education. She believes music is the great equalizer that builds bridges where barriers exist. Together with her husband, Ana co-founded the Prelude Music Foundation, a non-profit bringing Music Together® to marginalized communities in Houston, TX. The foundation currently serves over 2,000 students in Title 1 schools, Casa de Esperanza de Los Niños, and families at the Ronald McDonald House, supporting children’s cognitive, emotional, physical, social, and language development through the power of music. Partnered with like-minded organizations like the Houston Symphony, Ana believes music education in Houston has the power to change lives, help us heal, and bring us peace.

Ana is a presenter at early childhood and music education conferences, including the NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children), and has taught at Rice University, Houston Community College, and Interlochen Arts Camp. In addition, she is a worldwide Music Together teacher trainer. Dedicated to lifelong learning, Ana is currently a Board fellow with Latinos for Education, and a fellow with Good Reason Houston in the Good Reason to Lead program.

Naquina Marks

FELLOW alumni


Jasmine Booker is a native Houstonian and first-generation college student. She received her bachelor’s degree from University of North Texas and a Master of Education from the University Texas at Tyler. Jasmine spent the first half of her educational career serving students and families in Fort Worth ISD and Dallas ISD before transitioning to Houston to be a Dean of Instruction for Yes Prep Public Schools.

In 2019, Jasmine was accepted into the rigorous Principal Residency Program with IDEA Public Schools. She managed a team of teachers to reach ambitious goals throughout the school year. In just one school year, the campus attained significant gains in both Reading and Advanced Placement courses under her leadership. In August 2020, Jasmine launched IDEA Spears College Prep as interim Principal, and was later named Principal in October 2020.

Jasmine’s achievements as a principal led her to expand her influence to reach more communities and students. She is now the Chief Executive Office of Beyond the Books Consulting. She continues to use her leadership knowledge and skills to coach other leaders to achieve optimal success in their districts and campuses.

Good Reasons to Lead - Derrick

Derrick Bass Jr. was born in Chicago, IL, and went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from Chicago State University. He was a collegiate athlete in baseball and is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Inc fraternity. He has over 11 years of educational leadership and school development experience. Derrick Bass Jr. is currently the Principal at New Vision Middle School located in Highland, CA. 

Derrick began his professional career in the Financial Services industry as a personal banker. He earned his MBA from Roosevelt University. That is where he developed his passion for building relationships. He decided he wanted to make more of an impact in the community that influenced him, so he transitioned to the education field. He worked as a Dean of Students, Assistant Principal and an Instructional Support Specialist while in Chicago and that is where he learned how to develop systems and interventions that impact student achievement. Derrick believes that academic achievement is possible when a safe learning environment is paired with high quality instruction and strong relationships. 

In 2013, he moved from Chicago to Houston, Texas in search of a fresh perspective in the educational landscape. He was hired as the Dean of Students at YES Prep, one the country’s premier charter school systems. While there he developed and led male empowerment summits for black youth, participated in the organization’s Elementary school focus group, and completed both tracks of their leadership development program Leading Excellence. During this time, he was inspired to start his clothing brand The Opulent Brand which was created to provide opportunities to youth from underserved communities through urban fashion. He is also the co-founder of Dream II Inspire which is a non-profit that provides mentoring and educational opportunities for at-risk youth. 

Since moving to Houston, Derrick has continued his pursuit of educational excellence for underserved children. He has facilitated numerous professional development training on building relationships, restorative practices, and how to ensure a safe and secure learning environment for students experiencing trauma. He is also a member of numerous organizations that promote excellence in the urban community like the 100 Black Men of Metropolitan Houston, New Leaders Council, Houston Black Leadership Institute Class VII and most recently joined American Leadership Forum. 

Derrick continues to add to his leadership toolkit through attending professional development training throughout the country. He attended the Ron Clark Experience; he is a graduate of the University of Houston’s S.U.R.E. program and most recently he attended the Harvard National Institute for Urban School Leaders.

Fallon Presley-Armstrong is an experienced teacher, and mentor in Parent & Family Engagement. She has several years of experience including operating and working with STEM programs, parents/communities, and educators in multiple school districts across the Greater Houston/Surrounding areas. Fallon has a passion for using free educational resources within the community and around the home to better serve families from multi-cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. Her best qualities include collaborating, implementing, and organizing events with families on how to better support at-home learning and school connections between families, educators, schools, and the community.

Kellie Thompson is a passionate school leader, curriculum writer, and secondary English educator. She was born in Missouri City, Texas, and a graduate from Texas State University. With over a decade of experience working in underserved communities, infusing social justice and culturally responsive practices into her work with students and faculty alike. Inspired by the impact she could have in her own Rhetoric and Composition classroom, Kellie began writing curriculum for teachers across the district. Over the years, her lesson plans have reached thousands of students across Houston. Today, she coaches and develops teachers and teacher coaches in pursuit of academic excellence as a Director of Academics at YES Prep Public Schools.

In addition to her work on campus, she is active in the local and national chapters of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and Conference of English Leaders (CEL). Through these organizations, she has written and facilitated professional development to English educators in the areas of Race & Culturally Responsive Teaching. Similarly, Kellie has served as a Diversity Ambassador at YES Prep, leading campus-wide training sessions.

Motivated by the opportunity to grow alongside phenomenal, equity-minded educators, she loves her work as a Facilitator and School Leader. In her free time, Kellie enjoys trying new recipes and restaurants, binge watching ALL the shows and playing board games.


Dr. Shontoria Walker is a graduate from the University of Houston with a degree in Professional Leadership with an emphasis in Literacy. Her research focuses on using culturally relevant pedagogy to influence literacy achievement for Middle School Black Male Students based on her experiences as a former 8th grade English teacher at an all-boys preparatory academy. She has also served on the Texas Teacher Advisory Board, a Teach Plus Policy Fellow as well as a Senior Policy Fellow with Teach Plus Texas from 2014-2019.

During her time and beyond she has advocated for educational policy laws that directly impacted the classroom as well as contributed to policy briefings for the revision of The Every Student Succeeds Act and national policy reports such as If You Listen, We Will Stay: Why Teachers of Color Leave and How To Disrupt Teacher Turnover.

She currently works as a Campus Instructional Specialist in the Southwest Schools district in her hometown of Houston, Texas. In her everyday work she is committed to collaborating with teachers, administrators and district leaders to ensure that all students receive an equitable literacy education across the district.

She also currently serves as the Executive Director of Education PowerED. Graduating with distinction as summa cum laude of her doctorate cohort, her passion and dedication to literacy education and equitable educational policy laws is interminable. As a hobby, she enjoys reading historical and/or realistic fiction novels. Her most recent favorite novels are “The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois” by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers, “The Sweetness of Water” by Nathan Harris and “The Water Dancer” by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Dr. Jessica Faith Carter is a native Houstonian and career educator. She has served as a K-12 teacher, campus leader, university instructor, and consultant. Currently, Dr. Carter works as a Partnerships Specialist for EdReports, a national organization that increases the capacity of educators to seek, identify, and demand the highest quality instructional materials for students. She is also the Founder of J.F. Carter Solutions, an educational consultancy that supports parents, schools, and districts in their efforts to achieve exceptional outcomes for students.

Dr. Carter holds a bachelor’s degree from Rice University and graduate degrees from Texas Southern University, Prairie View A&M University, Harvard University, and The University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Carter is currently pursuing an MBA at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business. In her spare time, her hobbies include traveling, cooking, volunteering, building Lego sets, and volunteering with youth and community-focused organizations.


Mark Samuel is a native Texan born and raised in the Houston area. He completed his undergraduate studies at Dillard University in New Orleans, LA, and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. He returned to Houston, Texas, to teach history, social studies, and literacy at the middle and high school levels with the Houston Independent school district. Following his success, as a teacher and various other campus-based teacher leadership roles, he served as an Instructional Specialist and later a Teacher Development Specialist. In these roles, he focused on coaching and supporting secondary teachers throughout the district, primarily in curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

Next, he returned to the campus level, where he served as an Assistant Principal and later the Dean of Instruction at Fondren Middle School. Mark was instrumental in the transformation efforts that occurred, such as the authorization of the International Baccalaureate-Middle Years Programme, the implementation of the Leader In Me, and the creation of a culture and climate of high expectations for students and staff. As a result, Mark was named the principal at Shadowbriar Elementary School on July 14, 2014. His team, along with the support of the staff and community, have led transformational efforts at the campus, such as the addition of grades PK-2 in one school year, becoming the district’s first elementary STEAM magnet school, and the implementation of the Leader In Me. Under his leadership, a more than 60% increase in student enrollment and the development of logistical and instructional systems have led to improvements in student safety, campus efficiency, and academic achievement.

In addition, to his undergraduate degree, Mark also earned an M.Ed., Curriculum, and Instruction from the University of Houston; M.Ed., Educational Administration from the University of Texas; and is currently enrolled in the Ed.D., Educational Administration-CSP at the University of Texas. His professional interests include equity and diversity in teaching and learning, school programming and design, school systems and Instructional leadership, and professional learning communities. 

Mark enjoys traveling and spending quality time with his wife and daughter, watching television, reading, listening to vinyl records, and barbecuing in his free time. Mark is also a big fan of the Houston Texans, Houston Rockets, and Houston Astros.