Sharif El-Mekki

Founder and CEO, Center for Black Educator Development
2015 Neubauer Fellow
M.A. Elementary Education, Administrative Certification, Cheyney University
B.A. Criminal Justice, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
“I became a Neubauer Fellow because of the vision for principal development and the leadership that the Philadelphia Academy of School Leaders was demonstrating by bringing principals from various sectors together to improve how we collectively served Philadelphia’s children and communities.”

Sharif founded the Center for Black Educator Development (CBED) in 2019, an extension of the Fellowship—Black Male Educators for Social Justice—a group Sharif helped create in 2014. CBED expands efforts to recruit and maintain Black male and female educators both locally and nationally.

During his Fellowship experience, Sharif served as the principal of Mastery Shoemaker beginning in 2008. Under his leadership, Mastery Shoemaker received the 2016 bronze medal on the U.S. News & World Report high school rankings, 2015 Schools That Can School award, and two Effective Practice Incentive Community (EPIC) awards (Silver, 2011; Gold, 2009). In addition, Mastery Shoemaker ranked as the 7th-best high school for Black student achievement in PennCAN’s Top 10 Schools Report Card.

Sharif is the second prize winner of’s 2017 Escalante-Gradillas Prize for Best in Education. In 2014, Sharif co-founded The Black Male Educators for Social Justice Fellowship to inspire new generations of Black men to work for social justice through teaching. During his career, Sharif has served as a 2013 U.S. Department of Education Principal Ambassador Fellow and America Achieves Fellow. In addition, he received citations from the Pennsylvania Senate and House of Representatives. Sharif blogs at Philly’s 7th Ward and serves on the Philadelphia Mayor’s Commission on African American Males as well as Excellent Schools PA.

Sharif has been an educator since 1993. Prior to becoming a director, Sharif served as principal, assistant principal, lead teacher for Art & Music Academy, Gifted spanish teacher, 6th grade science teacher, and 8th grade literature/social studies teacher. Sharif grew up in Philadelphia and attended Overbrook High School.