When Alisha Thomas Morgan was sworn in to the Georgia House of Representatives in 2003, she became the first African-American to ever represent Cobb County and, at age 23, one of the youngest legislators in state history. She used that youth to bring a fresh approach to lawmaking, and it quickly garnered her respect from colleagues. “Too often, we don’t have enough conversations about why we’re doing things and the ends we’re trying to reach,” she says.
Morgan, a Democrat, has since left office following an unsuccessful run for state school superintendent, but much of her work centered on education. She helped craft bills updating the state’s teacher evaluation system and allowing students to freely transfer to other public schools with open seats. Morgan also frequently hosted conferences to teach local teenagers professional development skills.
At the governor’s inauguration ceremony in January, she watched as students from one of the newly created charter schools she supported sang a song. “I knew I was leaving,” she says, “but the work that I’ve done to create opportunities for kids will go well beyond my time in office.” Morgan says she plans to continue to pursue her passion for public education as a district school superintendent.