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The Team
Shamoyia Gardiner Headshot

SHAMOYIA GARDINER (SHE/HER) is the executive director of Strong Schools Maryland. Shamoyia is a first-generation American, first-generation college graduate from Miami, Florida. Due in part to her identities and experiences as a former educator, she’s determined that life is best spent working at the intersection of education, advocacy, and youth development. Shamoyia's other professional experiences include directing the education policy portfolio at Advocates for Children and Youth, cradle-to-career-spectrum policy analysis at the Family League of Baltimore, and project-based work with the Institute for Higher Education Policy, the DC State Board of Education, Atlanta Public Schools, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Atlanta Civic Site.


Shamoyia has chosen to live out her values as a board member at B.O.N.D. (Building Our Nation's Daughters), a board member at The Intersection and as a coordinating “mama” with A Revolutionary Summer.  Shamoyia earned her Masters in Education Policy and Leadership from American University and her undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Florida. She can be reached at

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RIYA GUPTA (SHE/HER) is the Policy Researcher at Strong Schools Maryland. She is originally from northern New Jersey, but has lived in and made Baltimore her home for the past 5 years. Today, Riya is completing her Master’s of Science in Public Health with a concentration in child health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health where she is conducting an equity analysis of Baltimore’s 21st Century School Buildings Program as her thesis. Riya’s work is centered around both public health and data — she aims to create change through data and research that is expressed in an accessible and equitable way.


Riya's enthusiasm for high quality, safe education for all students is rooted in her work within Baltimore City school system including at the William S. Baer school and the Academy for College and Career Exploration as well as the community she found along the way. Riya enjoys exploring the nooks and crannies of Baltimore as well as experimenting in the kitchen. She can be reached at

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JAMAL TURNER (HE/HIM) is the Strong Schools Maryland Network Organizer.

Born and raised in Baltimore City, Jamal is an advocate for educational equity, community revitalization and wealth building for youth and families in Maryland. As former Co-Chair of Baltimoreans for Educational Equity, Jamal worked with a dynamic group of volunteer advocates addressing youth insecurities, building coalitions that address the needs of youth, and holding legislators accountable for their decisions related to education and the youth experience.


Jamal is a proud graduate of Baltimore City College and Morgan State University and attributes his success to investment of time and energy from Baltimore City teachers. Currently, Jamal serves as Co-Chair of Frankford Community Association, on the Police Accountability Board for Baltimore City, and Steering Committee for Healing City Baltimore. Connect with him at

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