Meet the 2019 Charter School Hall of Fame Honorees

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Graphic for 2019 Hall of Fame blog post

Each year since 2007, the National Alliance has welcomed a new group of outstanding leaders into the Charter School Hall of Fame. This year’s honorees join 41 individuals and organizations, all nominated by their peers for their long-term commitment and contributions to the charter school movement. We are thrilled to add the following visionaries to the roster this year!

Please join me in congratulating Margaret Fortune, Fernando Zulueta, and Joe Nathan!

[Click to Tweet] Congratulations to the 2019 Charter School Hall of Fame inductees @fortuneschool’s Margaret Fortune, Center for School Change’s @JoeNathan9249, and @Academica’s Fernando Zulueta! 


Margaret Fortune
President and CEO, Fortune School of Education
Margaret has been an advocate for public education for decades and began leading charter schools in 2003 when she turned around Sacramento High School, changing the campus into a charter school and subsequently increasing the college going rate from 20 percent to over 80 percent. She then joined the Fortune School of Education in 2008 and expanded the organization’s impact by building a charter school network. In 2017, Margaret established partnerships with local colleges to allow students to earn their high school diploma and associate’s degree upon graduation. The seven schools, serving more than 1,700 students in San Bernardino and Sacramento, aim to close the African American academic achievement gap. Nearly 80 percent of the network’s students would be the first in their family to obtain a four-year degree—something the school community works towards every day. As part of her commitment to the broader charter school movement, she chairs both the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) and CCSA Advocates Board of Directors.

Joe Nathan
Director, Center for School Change
Joe was one of the earliest advocates of the charter school movement, helping to shape the nation’s first charter school law in Minnesota. Since then, he has gone on to testify in more than 25 states to help implement and improve state charter laws. If you Google “Joe Nathan Charter Schools” you can see the impact of his work—from the comments section of small educational blogs to USA Today, the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, Joe is relentless in his pursuit of high quality public school options for students. In 1990, he founded the Center for School Change to help improve student outcomes through community engagement. The organization is still active today, helping to educate Minnesota families and engage educators, business people, and policymakers in thoughtful conversations.

Fernando Zulueta
President, Academica
In 1997, Fernando joined parents and community members to establish one of Florida’s first charter schools—Somerset Neighborhood School. He went on to found Academica in 1999 – a network that has grown to more than 180 charter schools serving approximately 90,000 students across the country. Academica’s schools have been recognized as National Blue Ribbon Schools, ranked among U.S. News & World Report’s Best High Schools, and College Success Award winners by Great Schools. And, Fernando’s partnerships have undoubtably helped to bring more resources and visibility to the charter school movement—he founded the highly successful and sought-after SLAM (Sports Leadership Academy Management) charter schools with Pitbull, catching the attention of celebrities including Kanye West, who toured one of the schools with Fernando and Pitbull just last year.

2019 Hall of Fame Inductees


Peri Lynn Turnbull, APR, is the chief external relations and strategy officer for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.