Staff Spotlight: Sinead Chalmers
Sinead Chalmers’ deep commitment to improving public education brought her to the Rennie Center six years ago, where she has since made her mark on nearly every aspect of the organization’s work. Leading research, writing reports, and heading up on-the-ground projects, Sinead works tirelessly to shed light on inequities and elevate strategies to improve our education system for all students.
Sinead was born in the Bronx, NY into a working-class family and immigrant community. Throughout her adolescence, her parents reinforced the importance of education in providing opportunities for socioeconomic mobility, especially in achieving personal security and professional fulfillment. Sinead was the first in her family to earn a postsecondary education, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Stonehill College and then a Master’s degree in Sociology with a focus on education policy from Boston College. Her experience navigating higher education as a first-generation American and first-generation college student inspired her to pursue a career evaluating and improving the public education system.
As a Senior Associate at the Rennie Center, Sinead focuses on the inequities in PK - 16 education pipeline and has produced policy reports that critically analyze trends in state-level indicators that measure progress and proficiency. Focusing on the connection between data, best practice, and policy, Sinead also serves as the lead consultant to organizations that partner with school districts to implement strategies to support the diversity of student populations across the state.
“Sinead’s hard work is driven by her passion for making our education system more equitable and supportive for all students. She has been instrumental in ensuring that equity is at the heart of all we do and has pushed us to take on new and important projects and challenged us to be a better organization,” said Chad d’Entremont, Executive Director of the Rennie Center.
For many years, Sinead has led the Rennie Center’s Condition of Education in the Commonwealth series. This flagship project for the Rennie Center examines broader patterns in Massachusetts public schools and recommends areas for action that are well-supported by research and data. The project’s data dashboard gives state leaders a clear, concise view of student progress across the state, while its action guide points to areas where greater investment and strategic expansion of effective practices can bring us closer to achieving the state’s vision of strong, equitable outcomes for all students.
“My favorite part of the Condition of Education project is getting to connect the work being done across the education landscape by reviewing literature from research experts, getting feedback from our advisory committee, and hearing from experts in the field who are working directly with students,” Sinead said. “The schools, districts, and community organizations we highlight in the Condition of Education are doing work that is inspirational, and that allows our project to be aspirational.”
Sinead also serves as project manager for Open Opportunity – Massachusetts (OOMA) a cross-sector network representing communities, schools, labor, business, nonprofits, and government agencies aimed at transforming our education system by tearing down the barriers that segregate students and their families by race and class. Sinead enables this vast group of more than 40 organizations to work together toward sustainable change. With her support, the group is partnering with the Lawrence and Boston communities to provide support to schools amid the challenges of COVID-19. OOMA is also preparing to launch a Campus without Walls to break down the silos of traditional brick and mortar schools by giving students virtual access to curriculum offered in other schools.
“Sinead’s dedication to addressing opportunity gaps in education is clear. She has become an invaluable part of the OOMA team in helping to shape the vision and direction of work we are doing to diversify the educator workforce. She shows up every time we meet with a positive and can-do attitude. She is truly salt of the earth,” said Amanda Fernandez, CEO of Latinos for Education, a member of OOMA’s leadership team.
Sinead’s commitment to her passions spill over into her life outside the Rennie Center, where she has worked as an adjunct professor at Stonehill College and Bridgewater State University, teaching courses in the fundamentals of sociological practice and a seminar on social movements. Through her work at Stonehill, she supervised a group of students who traveled to Arizona to work at a homeless shelter for a week.
Her passion for long-distance running has driven her to tackle three marathons—with plans to run another next year. She also volunteers and is an associate board member for Girls on the Run, an organization that promotes healthy habits and positive self-esteem for young girls through team sports.
To learn more about Sinead’s work on the Condition of Education, check out our Action Guides and Data Dashboard, and join us for our virtual event on January 28th! To learn more about her work on Open Opportunity Massachusetts visit www.openopportunityma.org.