Our Beginnings

READY is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the number of quality public schools in Rochester, NY.

READY was born from the Rochester Education Fellowship- a two-year opportunity funded by the Max & Marian Farash Charitable Foundation dedicated to engaging the community, understanding challenges facing students in the city of Rochester, and learning about national best practices.

Learn more about the Rochester Education Fellowship


Shanai Lee, MBA, Ed.D.

Executive Director

Shanai Lee, MBA, Ed.D., is an innovative leader with over two decades of experience in education and local government. As the founder and Executive Director of READY, Inc. (Rochester Education and Development for Youth, Inc.), she is dedicated to driving positive change in Rochester’s public school systems.

With a deep understanding of the pivotal role education plays in individual success and community viability, Shanai has made it her mission to ensure all children, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, or ethnicity, have equal opportunities for a high-quality public education that prepares them for future success. Her dedication extends beyond her professional role as she actively engages with the community, empowering individuals to shape the future of education in Rochester.

With extensive experience, Shanai brings a diverse skill set to her leadership position. Her previous roles as Regional Senior Director for Uncommon Schools and District Clerk and senior staff member to the Rochester Board of Education showcased her expertise in external affairs, stakeholder engagement, and community service. Additionally, her background as a Marketing Specialist for the city of Rochester demonstrated her ability to foster growth and outreach initiatives for neighborhood businesses.

Shanai is a passionate advocate for educational advancement and actively contributes to various organizations and initiatives. She serves on the boards of the Rochester Housing Authority and Connected Communities, Inc., is a founding member of 100 Women Who Care and a mentor for the Greater Rochester Parent Leadership Training Institute. Shanai is active in national education networks as a member of Education Leaders of Color (EdLoC) and an alum of City Fund’s City Leadership Fellowship.

A product of the Rochester City School District, Shanai holds a doctorate degree in Educational Administration, a master’s degree in Educational Policy, and an MBA in Finance and Accounting from the University of Rochester. She also holds a B.A. in Economics from Cornell University. A mother of three school-age children, she is committed to transforming Rochester’s education landscape and securing a brighter future for all children in the city.