N. Akosua Burris
Nicole Akosua Burris is a native Detroiter and comes from a long line of educators and community organizers. Her professional career spans more than 20 years of school and community based programming for youth and families in Metropolitan Detroit. She is proud graduate of Detroit Public Schools and received her Bachelor in Fine Arts from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is currently pursuing a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from Grand Valley State University.
Ms. Burris has extensive experience in school leadership and youth program development. As a full-time student at the University of Michigan, she not only managed her performance training and academic studies, but also served as a youth counselor, supervised college peers to host middle school campus visits, and worked two years as live-in resident advisor at a home for pregnant and teen mothers. She soon realized she not only had passion and talent for the arts, but also a gift for working with adolescents and creating real-world educational experiences.
After pursuing a performance career in New York, Ms. Burris returned to Michigan and became the Founding Director of the City of Detroit Youth Department’s program, the Resident Youth Council (RYC). As Director, she single-handedly improved the educational and cultural opportunities of over 80 high school youth from nine of Detroit’s Public Housing Development communities. The RYC achievements also include 95% graduated from high school and of those 85% enrolled into a college or university. While directing the RYC program, Ms. Burris was also the Performance Coach for the Black Caucus Foundation’s Drug Free Youth in Detroit program, traveling with youth to schools and communities throughout the metro area to spread the anti-drug awareness.
After more than a decade of community youth programming, Ms. Burris decided to broaden her impact on student academic achievement and set her sights on school administration and leadership. She served two years as Student Support Manager in Inkster Publics Schools, and seven years as the Community Resource Director at Detroit Edison Public School Academy. As a school leader, she has exposed hundreds of students and their families to academic resources, cultural arts, college exploration, and service learning opportunities.
Ms. Burris is currently one of the founding school leaders of Henry Ford Academy: School for Creative Studies, Detroit’s first college preparatory middle-high school with a curriculum emphasis on visual arts and design. As the Director of Student Programs and Partnerships, she is responsible for student enrollment, parent engagement, developing programs that align with the overall school design and incorporating community partners to support academic achievement and artistic expression. She also has served the Detroit community as a policy advocacy trainer for the University of Michigan’s Detroit Urban-Research Center, a steering committee member for Neighborhoods Taking Action for education policy change and as a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Detroit Alumnae Chapter.
N. Akosua Burris