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Advisory Council

Amanda Brown Lierman serves as co-chair of the Strong Schools Maryland Advisory Council. Amanda is a voting rights advocate, career organizer, and executive director of Supermajority, a national organization supporting women's civic engagement and political empowerment. Amanda's passion for voting rights and civil liberties work is longstanding: her resume includes serving at the White House Office of Political Affairs, leading the National Women's Business Council, and Rock the Vote. She is a proud alumna of Dartmouth College and lives in Silver Spring with her husband, three daughters, and rescue pup. 

Walter Fields.jpg

Walter Fields serves as co-chair of the Strong Schools Maryland Advisory Council. Walter is an award-winning journalist, social justice advocate, and founder of the Black Parents Workshop, Inc., an organization mobilizing families for educational equity in New Jersey's public schools. He has also been involved in campaigns to preserve the civil justice system, close the racial achievement gap in public education, protect voting rights, and more. Walter holds an undergraduate degree from Morgan State University and graduate degrees from New York University and the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center. He is a proud member of the Gamma Omicron Omega Alumni Chapter of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc and lives in Beltsville with his wife.


Dr. David Hornbeck is the founder of Strong Schools Maryland and chaired the organization's Executive Committee prior to the formation of the Advisory Council. He has been engaged professionally in education for 54 years, serving as Maryland’s State Superintendent, Philadelphia’s superintendent, and Pennsylvania’s Executive Deputy Secretary of Education. David chaired the board of the Children’s Defense Fund for 11 years and the Public Education Network for 16, in addition to serving as President of the board of the Council of Chief State School Officers. He has served in on a number of national commissions dealing with Title 1, adolescent youth, vocational education, education accountability and service learning.

David is the author of Choosing Excellence in Public Schools, Where There Is A Will, There Is A Way, book chapters, and articles in a variety of publications. David lives in Baltimore City with his wife of 58 years, Becky, has two sons who are Baltimore City principals, and four grandchildren, all Baltimore City school students.

Taylor Stewart

Taylor Stewart is the vice president of organizing leadership at Leadership for Educational Equity and formerly served as vice chair of Strong Schools Maryland’s Executive Committee. Prior to joining LEE, Taylor worked for Teach For America – Baltimore in development and taught 10th grade government at Heritage High School at the Lake Clifton campus. Her civic involvement includes organizing in education for the last 10 years; working on several political campaigns; and serving on the boards of Brown Memorial/Park Avenue Presbyterian Church, Live Baltimore, DC Mizzou Alumni Association, and Strong Schools Maryland.


Taylor was born and raised in Kansas City, MO, and found her way to Baltimore in 2007 as a Teach For America corps member. She has a B.A. from the University of Missouri in Political Science, a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Johns Hopkins University, and a J.D. from the University of Maryland.


Donald Manekin is the co-founder of Seawall Development Company and a former member of the Strong Schools Maryland Executive Committee. He has worked on community-focused real estate development, civic leadership, and philanthropic missions in the Baltimore-Washington region for more than four decades, serving as the Senior Vice President of Manekin Corporation, the chief operating officer of the Baltimore City Schools, and graduate professor at Johns Hopkins University, M.I.T., and Loyola University Maryland.


Ongisa Ichile-Mckenzie is the founder of Southern Marylanders for Racial Equality, formed to address disparities in her community, Charles, Calvert, and St. Mary’s counties. A realtor, activist, and former educator, she is the mother of two children in the Charles County public school system. She has served on the Charles County Board
of Social Services, and been active with the Parent-Teacher Organization at both of her children’s schools. Her other professional experiences include work with  Girls and Boys Town, DC Public Schools, Montgomery County Schools, and the Spanish Education Development Center in Silver Spring. 


Ongisa is a graduate of Howard University in Washington, DC, and began her career with Teach for America in Atlanta. A self-described “Marylander by Choice,” she hopes to make educational equity a reality for the Southern Maryland region and the entire state.

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