Graphic reading: KDE News, Kentucky Department of Education

Florence Chang, Ph.D., and Nicole Fields, Ed.D., have joined the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) to help work on equity and community engagement.

Chang is the strategic analyst of learning and Fields is the community engagement coordinator, both in KDE’s Office of Teaching and Learning. They started work March 1.

“I am extremely excited to bring new talent to KDE in Dr. Florence Chang and Dr. Nicole Fields,” said Damien Sweeney, director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Office of Teaching and Learning. “Both have a passion for equity and a desire to create impact that trickles down to the classroom.

“Dr. Chang will help us create systems and tools that work in assessing equity, and Dr. Fields will help us ensure we are listening to the needs of our stakeholders, including students, families, educators, colleges and nonprofits. We know that change only happens when we truly listen to the stories of our people.”

Both Chang and Fields said they are ready to meet challenges in their new positions at KDE.

“I am so excited to have this opportunity to work at the state level with Dr. Sweeney and his team,” said Chang. “My passion is in helping schools and districts examine whether their policies, practices and programs are improving the lives and outcomes of students.

“We know the pandemic has been a challenging period for education, and now more than ever, it is critical to promote research and evidence-based practices that are most impactful in creating the joyful, rich learning environments all students deserve. Ultimately, we must ensure that strategies and resources are effectively deployed to empower our students and educators and that we at the state level are working hand-in-hand with our educators and students to ensure our state policies and practices are supporting high-quality, nurturing and equitable learning environments for all,” she added.

Fields said she is looking forward to being able to use her experience to expand her work with educators, stakeholders and families around the Commonwealth.

“As the community engagement coordinator, I am excited to collaborate with all educators in Kentucky, be a connector for our community stakeholders and to support the Kentucky Department of Education in resources around family engagement,” she said.

 “Florence and Nicole are already assets to education and I am excited their journey has taken them down this new path at KDE. Their knowledge and dedication will benefit each public school student in the Commonwealth. We want all students to have the support they need to reach their potential,” said Kentucky Commissioner of Education and Chief Learner Jason E. Glass.

Florence Chang

Picture of a smiling woman.

Florence Chang

Before joining KDE, Chang was an executive administrator in research for Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS).

She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois-Champaign Urbana and her doctorate from the University of Louisville in cognitive psychology.

She began her career in 2002 at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill as a post-doctoral fellow at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, where she studied the relationship between the quality of early childhood learning environments and student outcomes in 13 states, including Kentucky.

Chang joined JCPS in 2005 as an evaluation specialist and served as a researcher and evaluator on several major federally funded evaluation studies. From 2013 to 2016, she lived in the United Kingdom, where she studied school engagement in at-risk secondary students. She returned to JCPS in 2016 and has since supported a wide-ranging number of areas, including district and school improvement, strategic planning and academic return on investments.

Her passion is supporting the research and evidence-based practices that support the whole child and create caring communities of learners. She has published her work in more than a dozen journals including Child Development, Applied Developmental Science, and Early Education and Development.

Chang was the recipient of the 2018 Mary Jaeger Visionary Leadership Award and the 2019 JCPS Outstanding Educator of Color Award.

She lives in Jefferson County with her husband, Tim, and two daughters.

Nicole Fields

Picture of a smiling woman wearing glasses.

Nicole Fields

Nicole Fields brings to KDE more than 15 years of experience in social service, community education and training.

She has a doctorate in education in leadership and organizational development from the University of Louisville (UofL), a master’s degree in school guidance counseling from Spalding University, a master’s in human resources development from Webster University and a bachelor’s from UofL.

Fields has served as the professional school counselor at Iroquois High School (Jefferson County) since 2020 and was an adjunct professor at Spalding University in 2021. Her other experience at Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) includes being the professional school counselor at the Marion C. Moore School from 2018 to 2020 and at Greenwood Elementary from 2015 to 2018, and the family resources center coordinator at Laukhuf and Wilt elementary schools from 2010 to 2015. Before that, she was an outreach director from 2008 to 2010 and an outreach facilitator for the Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana

Among her career highlights are being selected for the 2021 JCPS Spotlight (Caring Adult segment), serving on the 2017-2018 JCPS Elementary Counselor Leadership Team and receiving the 2014 JCPS Golden Oar Award. Since 2010, she has provided more than 75 programs at Laukhuf and Wilt elementaries to serve early childhood, Head Start, and primary and immediate students.

Currently, Fields is involved in the Women of Color Coalition at UofL, the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. (Louisville alumnae chapter), the American School Counseling Association and Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana (as an adult mentor). She also has been a member of Women in School Administration and she was the chair of the Sigma Theta Sorority International Awareness and Involvement Committee.

She is the recipient of the 1998 Girl Scout Gold Award, the 2009 Girl Scout Professional Development Award and the 2005 Business Professional Women of Louisville Young Careerist, where she also was the local speech competition winner and regional runner-up.

Fields and her husband, Tyrone, have three children. They reside in Louisville.