Head shot of Omolara Fatiregun

Omolara Fatiregun

2020 Cheng Fellow

Omolara Fatiregun is a doctoral candidate in education leadership at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she is also a Hollyhock Foundation Fellow. Omolara earned an A.B. in Sociology and African American Studies from Harvard College and an M.P.P. from Georgetown. Before returning to graduate school, Omolara was an executive working at the intersections of youth development, applied research, and philanthropy. Omolara served as deputy director overseeing research, evaluation, and performance improvement in DC’s juvenile justice agency to ensure that court-involved youth had access to high-quality education, workforce development, and behavioral health programs. As Vice President at the Milton S. Eisenhower Foundation and as Senior Fellow at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Omolara partnered with school districts and leaders of child welfare and juvenile justice agencies to scale evidence-based programs to improve outcomes for vulnerable youth.

One truth permeates all of Omolara’s work. Poverty is the legacy of racism in America and the root cause of toxic stress, chronic disease, urban crime, and failing schools. Omolara founded Ife School/Thrive! as a dual venture designed to dismantle intergenerational cycles of poverty. Ife School facilitates economic mobility for first-time, low-income moms and their babies through two-generational programming: education, job training, and health services for mom and evidence-based interventions beginning in utero for her baby—via a school designed to garner highly selective college admissions. Because elite colleges are most impactful in encouraging income mobility among low-income students, these coveted spaces must become more accessible. Thrive! is the scaling engine and revenue-generating arm of Ife School. Thrive! works with local governments to implement core components of the Ife School model and create two-generational pathways out of poverty for low-income moms and kids in under-invested communities of color.

Omolara believes that research-driven approaches and innovations in public systems are integral to improving outcomes for America’s most vulnerable populations. To that end, Omolara is a member of Leadership Greater Washington, a community of executives that identifies, examines, and advances solutions to civic issues in the nation’s capital.