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Florence Chang and Nicole Fields join KDE to work on equity and community engagement

Florence Chang, Ph.D., and Nicole Fields, Ed.D., have joined the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) to help work on equity and community engagement.

Chang is the Strategic Learning Analyst and Fields is the Community Engagement Coordinator, both in KDE’s Office of Teaching and Learning. They started working on March 1.

“I am extremely excited to bring new talent to KDE in Dr. Florence Chang and Dr. Nicole Fields,” said Damien Sweeney, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the Office of teaching and learning. “Both have a passion for equity and a desire to create impact that ripples through the classroom.

“Dr. Chang will help us create systems and tools that work in assessing equity, and Dr. Fields will help us make sure we listen to the needs of our stakeholders, including students, families , educators, colleges, and nonprofits. We know that change only happens when we really listen to the stories of our people.”

Both Chang and Fields said they are ready for challenges in their new positions at KDE.

“I’m so excited to have this opportunity to work at the state level with Dr. Sweeney and his team,” Chang said. “My passion is helping schools and districts determine if their policies, practices, and programs are improving student lives and outcomes.

“We know that the pandemic has been a difficult time for education, and now more than ever, it is essential to promote the research and evidence-based practices that have the greatest impact to create the environments of joyful and rich learning that all students deserve. Ultimately, we must ensure that strategies and resources are effectively deployed to empower our students and educators and that we at the state level work hand-in-hand with our educators and students to ensure that our state policies and practices support high quality programs, stimulating and equitable learning environments for all,” she added.

Fields said she looked forward to using her experience to expand her work with educators, stakeholders and families across the Commonwealth.

“As Community Engagement Coordinator, I am excited to partner with all Kentucky educators, be a connector for our community stakeholders, and support the Kentucky Department of Education in resources around the family commitment,” she said.

“Florence and Nicole are already assets to education and I am delighted that their journey has led them on this new path at KDE. Their knowledge and dedication will benefit every student in Commonwealth Public Schools. We want all students have the support they need to reach their potential,” said Kentucky Education Commissioner and Chief Learner Jason E. Glass.

Florence Chang

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Florence Chang

Prior to joining KDE, Chang was an Executive Administrator in Research for Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS).

She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois-Champaign Urbana and her doctorate from the University of Louisville in cognitive psychology.

She began her career in 2002 at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill as a postdoctoral fellow at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, where she studied the relationship between the quality of early learning environments and student results in 13 states, including Kentucky.

Chang joined JCPS in 2005 as an evaluation specialist and has served as a researcher and evaluator on several large federally funded evaluation studies. From 2013 to 2016 she lived in the UK, where she studied school engagement among at-risk secondary school students. She returned to JCPS in 2016 and has since supported a wide range of areas, including district and school improvement, strategic planning, and academic return on investment.

Her passion is to support research and evidence-based practices that support the whole child and create communities of caring learners. She has published her work in over a dozen journals, including Child Development, Applied Developmental Science, and Early Education and Development.

Chang received the 2018 Mary Jaeger Visionary Leadership Award and the 2019 JCPS Outstanding Educator of Color Award.

She lives in Jefferson County with her husband, Tim, and two daughters.

Nicole Fields

Photo of a smiling woman wearing glasses.
Nicole Fields

Nicole Fields brings over 15 years of experience in social service, community education and training to KDE.

She holds a doctorate in education in leadership and organizational development from the University of Louisville (UofL), a master’s degree in educational counseling from Spalding University, a master’s degree in human resource development from the University Webster and a bachelor’s degree from UofL.

Fields has been a vocational school counselor at Iroquois High School (Jefferson County) since 2020 and an adjunct professor at Spalding University in 2021. Her other experience at Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) includes serving as a vocational school counselor at Marion C Moore School from 2018-2020 and at Greenwood Elementary from 2015-2018, and Family Resource Center Coordinator for Laukhuf and Wilt Elementary Schools from 2010-2015. Prior to that, she served as Director of Outreach from 2008-2010 and Facilitator Outreach for Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana

Some of his career highlights include being selected for the 2021 JCPS Spotlight (Caring Adult segment), being part of the 2017-2018 JCPS Elemental Counselor Leadership Team, and receiving the JCPS Golden Oar Award. 2014. Since 2010, she has offered more than 75 programs in Laukhuf and Wilt Elementary Schools to serve Early Years, Head Start, and Elementary and Immediate Students.

Currently, Fields is involved with the Women of Color Coalition at UofL, the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. (Louisville alumni chapter), the American School Counseling Association, and the Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana (as an adult mentor ). She was also a member of the Women in School Administration and she served as chair of the International Outreach and Involvement Committee of Sigma Theta Sorority.

She is the recipient of the 1998 Girl Scout Gold Award, the 2009 Girl Scout Professional Development Award, and the 2005 Business Professional Women of Louisville Young Careerist, where she was also the local speech contest winner and regional runner-up.

Fields and her husband, Tyrone, have three children. They reside in Louisville.

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