Strong Schools Maryland Leadership Team
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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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Allie Carter (she/her) is the lead organizer at Strong Schools Maryland. From 2014 to 2020, Allie taught middle school vocal music and theatre at Baltimore County Public Schools. She was nominated for BCPS Teacher of the Year 2016-2017. An advocate for equity in schools, Allie has organized for safety and equity in classrooms across the state. Most recently, she co-founded the Racial Justice Work Group of TABCO to study the School to Prison Pipeline in Maryland and Baltimore County as well as the impact of Covid-19 on public school equity.


Allie earned her Bachelor of Music in Music Education/Voice from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania and her Master of Education in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership with a focus in Diversity and Equity in Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her notable graduate research includes the correlation of healthcare access to education outcomes, equitable practices for English Language Learners, rights for students with chronic illness, the impact today of Brown vs. Board of Education, and the urgency of elevating and expressing student identity in the classroom. Allie can be reached at

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Dave Heilker (he/him) is the communications specialist at Strong Schools Maryland. Dave is a community organizer who has been involved with education organizing in Baltimore City and throughout Maryland since 2015. He has served as the communications chair of Baltimoreans for Educational Equity (BEE) and has been a fierce advocate and activist in Baltimore and Annapolis for schools, social justice, and racial equity. He is a graduate of public schools, of the Baltimore City Planning Academy, and of Baltimore Rising, a community organizing and leadership development training. 

Dave grew up in Hamilton (northeast Baltimore City) and currently resides in the Remington neighborhood with his wife Emily, and his dog, Tomato. He can be reached at