First as a parent/community organizer, she was part of the effort to bring small schools to Baltimore. She then worked as the director of the Resident Teacher Program (pre-cursor to Baltimore City Teaching Residency Program) for 9 years, recruiting, placing, mentoring, and providing course work for career changers entering city schools. Following this, Dr. Atkinson started and led a successful full-time teacher mentor program with 40 full-time mentors. The program was geared toward schools with high teacher turnover. In 2004, she switched from administration to teaching and, with three other teachers, started a very small, highly unusual high school for students who were having problems in large city schools. She wrote her PhD at UMBC about her work in this teacher led school. In 2010 she became the executive director for the Baltimore Teacher Network. In this position she had two primary roles: she worked to create a citywide network of teachers looking for a voice in education policy at the school and district level; and she supervised the leaders at two innovative charter schools. In March 2014, she began work as the executive director for the Teachers’ Democracy Project.