Chanelle Bell (JMSG Alum '06) is a dynamic and fierce advocate for educational equity. Her exuberant personality enables her to make meaningful relationships across lines of difference. Chanelle is the Vice President, External Affairs at Teach For America Greater Chicago-Northwest Indiana. Her team leads three distinct functions: Community Partnerships, Public Funding & Policy, and Marketing & Communications to ensure that Teach For America can continue to recruit and develop culturally responsive and dedicated leaders in education. She is a 2014 Teach For America alumna and was profiled by the organization for her innovative classroom culture and high results in an article titled, "How a Theatre Major Found Her Role of a Lifetime in the Classroom."
Her passion to end educational inequity began when at 20 she became the Assistant Editor of The Post News Group
, the largest Black published newspaper in Northern California. Her articles highlighted Black Excellence and analyzed the education landscape in Oakland.
Chanelle’s education journey led her to move from New York, where she completed a B.A. in Theatre at Fordham University to the South Side of Chicago. While completing her M.S. in Education at Dominican University, Chanelle was able to teach preschool in the same neighborhood that she attended preschool. Her work in civic engagement manifested when she was able to empower and provide resources for the parents of her students as the Manager of Government and Community Affairs at Noble Network of Charter Schools, the largest high school charter school network in the city of Chicago. Chanelle’s work in the South Side communities of Chicago has been featured in The Chicago Citizen, The Chicago Defender, The Chicago Tribune
, and WBBN
In 2018 Chanelle was selected to join the inaugural Obama Foundation Community Leadership Cohort where she has launched an organization called Positively Melanin
, which provides community workshops designed to equip Black youth with the necessary guidance to navigate their success and an online space that highlights Black excellence in various industries in efforts to empower and inform their career aspirations. Positively Melanin
was featured in an NPR segment titled, “In Chicago, The Obamas’ Civic Engagement Programs Are In Action”
. Chanelle hosted the 2nd ever Obama Foundation Summit
that was streamed worldwide to thousands of people. This past November, Chanelle spoke at the TEDxNaperville
convening about how she uses her theatre training to reclaim her power everyday. She is also an alumna of the Surge Institute, which educates, empowers, and energizes educational leaders of color who will create transformative change in the communities that they serve. In addition to her work in the education field, Chanelle is a published writer and actress. She uses those mediums to produce art that highlights inequity and charges the audience to take action against injustices.