Danyika Leonard


Policy Director


As policy director at Education Evolving, Danyika advocates for policies that clear barriers and create opportunities for educators to design student-centered learning experiences. That is, learning experiences that equitably honor the unique assets, interests, identities, and aspirations of all students—and prepare them to thrive in the 21st century.

Danyika’s first exposure to student-centered learning came when she worked at a project-based school in South Minneapolis, where she saw students take ownership over their own learning experiences. This influenced her decision to get an individualized bachelor’s degree from Metropolitan State University.

Most recently before joining Education Evolving, Danyika was the Collective Impact Director of Family Support at Northside Achievement Zone. Her work focused on building an innovative collaborative of state, county, and local organizations for system and policy innovation for family success. Her leadership on collaborative projects included designing and implementing the state rental assistance pilot Homework Starts With Home, and the Minnesota 2 Generation Policy Network multi-year initiative to advance two-generation approaches to Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) policies and practices to improve outcomes for children and families.

She has a background in social work, mental health case management, workforce development, housing, design thinking, and family-centered engagement. As an advanced results-based facilitator and Art of Hosting Practitioner, she is passionate about bringing people together to get things done.

Danyika earned a Master of Public Affairs degree from the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and is a 2016 Roy Wilkins Community Policy Fellow. She lives in North Minneapolis with her husband and two children.

You can reach Danyika at danyika@educationevolving.org.