Freedom School Partners announced Thursday that Glenda Bernhardt has been named CEO and Executive Director of the organization. Bernhardt most recently served as executive director of Temple Israel in Charlotte.
Bernhardt will succeed Freedom School Partners’ founder Mary Nell McPherson. McPherson, who is retiring from the summer reading program, founded the organization 20 years ago.
“I’m so excited to become the next CEO and executive director of Freedom School Partners, and I look forward to working with the board, staff, volunteers and partners to write the next chapter of this important community agency’s story,” Bernhardt said in a release.
Freedom Schools emerged from the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964. They’re designed to build self-confidence and empowerment, along with reading skills. For children who might otherwise sit at home all summer, it’s a six-week camp where they’re introduced to multicultural books about children of color who confront real-life challenges.
Charlotte’s organization came about when Seigle Avenue Presbyterian Church hired McPherson to run a summer and after-school reading program for children in the Piedmont Courts housing project and the Belmont neighborhood. Soon, Seigle Avenue Partners connected with the Children’s Defense Fund’s Freedom School program, and Freedom School Partners was born.