Collaborative Member Biographies
(Click on each member link for their profiles)
Founder and Executive Director
W. Hayward Burns Institute
James Bell is spearheading a national movement to address racial and ethnic disparities in the youth justice system. The BI, which is named after civil rights pioneer W. Haywood Burns, was recently awarded the prestigious MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. The award is presented to select organizations worldwide that have made a “remarkable impact in their fields.” Mr. Bell and his colleagues at the BI work with juvenile justice systems across the country to reduce the disproportionality of youth of color. Mr. Bell guides the BI’s Community Justice Network for Youth (CJNY), a national network of programs as alternatives to confinement working successfully with young people of color. Mr. Bell also works closely with the Casey Foundation’s JDAI jurisdictions and the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change Initiative. Mr. Bell is being recognized this year for his “profound contribution to human rights,” by the American Education Research Association Human Rights Award Committee, which has selected him to receive the second annual Ella Baker/Septima Clark Human Rights Award.
Judith Browne-Dianis has an extensive background in civil rights litigation and advocacy in the areas of education, voting rights, housing, immigrants’ rights, and employment. Judith is a recipient of the distinguished Skadden Fellowship and joined Advancement Project at its inception in 1999, after serving as the Managing Attorney in the Washington, D.C. office of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. At Advancement Project, Browne-Dianis has directed the Opportunity to Learn Project, and now directs the Strategic Initiatives Project.
She is widely respected for her legal work on voting rights and fair housing issues, and in the public advocacy arena, Browne-Dianis’s work on discipline policies and the criminalization of youth in public schools has received national recognition. From its inception, Advancement Project has worked with grassroots organizations to eliminate zero tolerance, as well as advocating for equitable schools. Under Browne-Dianis’s leadership, Advancement Project has been successfully dismantling the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track, reducing the unnecessary criminalization of students by their schools. Browne-Dianis and Advancement Project staff have authored several reports including the groundbreaking study in 2003, Derailed: The Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track and Education on Lockdown: The Schoolhouse to Jailhouse that documents how public schools are becoming feeders to the juvenile justice system. Browne-Dianis also co-authored the highly acclaimed report, Opportunities Suspended: The Devastating Consequences of Zero Tolerance and School Discipline, which examines harsh disciplinary measures, racial disparities in school discipline, the long-term consequences of suspensions and expulsions including loss of educational opportunities, and alternatives to strict discipline.
Browne-Dianis’s work has been published in journals, newspapers and in Essence magazine. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Center of Fair and Open Testing (FairTest), which challenges the misuse of standardized tests and is a Convener of the Forum for Education and Democracy. She is also on the Board of Directors of the Twenty-First Century Foundation. Browne-Dianis is a graduate of Columbia University School of Law and served as a Tobias Simon Eminent Scholar at Florida State University Law School and is currently an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown Law Center. She has appeared on national and local news and was named one of the “Thirty Women to Watch” by Essence Magazine.
Stanford University, School of Education and (by courtesy) Sociology
Prudence L. Carter is Professor of Education and (by courtesy) of Sociology at Stanford, and Faculty Director of the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities. Her expertise ranges from issues of youth identity and race, class, and gender, urban poverty, social and cultural inequality, the sociology of education and mixed research methods. She is the author of the award-winning book, Keepin’ It Real: School Success beyond Black and White (2005); Stubborn Roots: Race, Culture, and Inequality in U.S. & South African Schools (2012); and co-editor of Closing the Opportunity Gap: What America Must Do to Give Every Child an Even Chance (all published by Oxford University Press), along with numerous other journal articles, book chapters, and essays.
Executive Director of African American Male Achievement
Oakland Unified School District
Chris Chatmon presently is the Executive Director of African American Male Achievement for the Oakland Unified School District in Oakland, CA. In this role he is leading a campaign to ensure the best education possible by improving the educational outcomes for African American Male students from preschool through 12th grade. Mr. Chatmon has been working with children, families and communities in the Bay Area for the past 25 years. He is an active member of the Bay Area Chapter of 100 Black Men, Brotherhood of Elders and Concerned Black Men of Oakland, co-founder of the Panthers Youth Baseball team, Board Member Oakland Babe Ruth Youth Baseball League and 100 Black Men of the Bay Area, Inc. Community School for Boys.
Mr. Chatmon joined the faculty of Thurgood Marshall Academic High School in Bayview / Hunter’s Point teaching Modern World History and Herstory and Ethnic Studies. While teaching at Thurgood Marshall he coached the girls basketball team, sponsored the Black Students Union, and established the Black College Tour.
Other non-profit and community service activities Mr. Chatmon has been involved in include: head coach and athletic director for South San Francisco Parks and Recreation Department; Teacher for UPWARD BOUND, University of San Francisco; consultant for the Multicultural Alliance August Institute; counselor for the Summer Youth Employment Training Program, Director of Day School Summerbridge a unique academic enrichment program for rising 4th & 5th grade students; Executive Director of the Urban Services Division of the YMCA of the East Bay; Principal of Youth Chance High School.
Chris Chatmon received his bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in Physical Education from San Francisco State University and a Master of Arts in Education from Brown University and a secondary teaching credential in social science.
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Tanya Coke is Distinguished Lecturer in the Department of Public Management at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. Her recent past professional experience include program development consultant for major foundations and social justice nonprofits in the United States. Past clients include the American Civil Liberties Union, the Open Society Institute, the Brennan Center for Justice, the Ford Foundation, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and the Atlantic Philanthropies. Ms. Coke was previously Program Manager for the US Human Rights Fund, a donor collaborative of Public Interest Projects. The US Human Rights Fund provides field-building support to human rights advocacy in the United States. Ms. Coke’s areas of expertise include racial justice, criminal justice and human rights.
From 1998 to 2002, she was a program director at the Open Society Institute, where she supervised OSI’s grantmaking on indigent defense, death penalty and sentencing reform. Ms. Coke began her career at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund as a research director in its capital punishment project. After attending law school, she practiced as a trial attorney in the Federal Defender Division of the Legal Aid Society, from where she defended clients in drug, immigration and other federal matters in New York City. Ms. Coke graduated from Yale College and New York University School of Law, where she was a Root Tilden public interest scholar and Editor-in-Chief of the New York University Law Review. She served as law clerk to the Honorable Pierre N. Leval of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Ms. Coke received the Reebok Human Rights Award in 1988 and the Distinguished Recent Graduate Award from NYU’s School of Law in 2004. She serves on the advisory board of Human Rights Watch’s US Program, and on the board of directors for the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana and the IMANI College Advocacy Center of Montclair, New Jersey. Currently she is leading a Montclair Public Schools task force commissioned to update the school district’s nationally recognized integration program.
Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice
Matt Cregor is an education attorney and an expert on school discipline law and policy. Matt recently joined the Lawyers’ Committee in Boston, where he handles a variety of education matters including discipline, special education, and student assignment. Before that, Matt worked as a staff attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), where he led its federal advocacy on school discipline, partnering with national civil rights groups and parent-led, student-led, and teacher-led organizations in the Dignity in Schools Campaign to secure the issuance and introduction of discipline-related federal policy guidance and legislation. Matt also co-facilitated the School-to-Prison Pipeline Legal Strategies Collaborative, which convenes legal organizations from across the country to develop novel legal strategies for improving school discipline. Matt has served on discipline-related advisory boards for the Council of State Governments, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and the School-Justice Partnership Task Force of the New York State Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children. Prior to his time at the Lawyers’ Committee and LDF, Matt worked on local, state, and federal education matters as a staff attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama.
Director of Organizing
The Labor/Community Strategy Center
Manuel Criollo is a Bus Riders Union lead organizer, son of immigrants from El Salvador, life-long resident of Pico/Union neighborhood of Los Angeles where he knows “just about everyone”. Manuel received a BA from University of California, Santa Barbara, was elected to the BRU Planning Committee before joining staff. His work focuses on grassroots leadership development and mentoring organizers-in-training and new organizing staff, he is also a co-host of the Voices from the Frontlines radio show, and key staff liaison with regional elected officials including the LA mayor and County Board of Supervisors.
Managing Director, Programs
Jim Eichner joined Advancement Project as Managing Director, Programs in April 2012. As Managing Director, Programs, Jim oversees the Opportunity to Learn, Power and Democracy, and Strategic Initiatives programs. Prior to joining Advancement Project, Jim was a staff attorney in the policy group of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Education, and served as Executive Director of a commission on equity and excellence in K-12 education chartered by the Secretary of Education. Jim also spent five years investigating and litigating cases at the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, including almost two years supervising cases and investigations. Jim also investigated and litigated cases while working at the Enforcement Division of the Securities and Exchange Commission and litigated cases and did policy and legislative work for the Environment Division of the Department of Justice. Jim served as a law clerk to the Honorable John G. Koeltl in the Southern District of New York after graduating from NYU School of Law in 1996.
New York University, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development
Dr. Fergus is a practitioner and researcher whose work explores the effects of educational policy and practices on the lives of people living in vulnerable conditions. More specifically his current work is on the educational outcomes of boys of color, disproportionality in special education and suspensions, and school climate conditions for low-income and marginalized populations. His work is intended to provide ways in which practitioners can develop schools as protective environments for low-income and marginalized student populations. Dr. Fergus has been a secondary school history teacher, evaluator of state and federal programs, and program director of out-of-school time programs. Most recently served as Deputy Director of the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education (2004-2013) and during this time he directed the state contract with the New York State Department of Education on disproportionality and conducted numerous studies on educational equity on boys of color, and school practices. Fergus also was appointed in 2011 to the Yonkers Public Schools Board of Education and currently serves on the Governor’s New York State Juvenile Justice Advisory Group. He has published numerous articles on disproportionality in special education, race/ethnicity in schools, and is the author of Skin Color and Identity Formation: Perceptions of Opportunity and Academic Orientation among Mexican and Puerto Rican Youth (Routledge Press, 2004), co-editor of Invisible No More: Disenfranchisement of Latino Men and Boys (Routledge Press, 2011), and co-author of upcoming book Schooling For Resilience: Improving Trajectory of Black and Latino boys (Harvard Education Press, 2014).
Dr. Fergus received a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Education from Beloit College and a Doctorate in Education Policy and Social Foundations from University of Michigan.
City University of New York (CUNY), The Graduate Center
Michelle Fine is a professor in the Social/Personality Psychology Program at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and previously taught for 12 years at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research program surrounds questions of community development with a particular emphasis on urban youth and young adults. She is working on projects funded by the Spencer Foundation and the Carnegie Foundation, both of which focus on the “spaces” created for and by youth in which political, spiritual and/or recuperative work is pursued. She and her colleagues, such as Lois Weis at SUNY-Buffalo, Linda Powell at Teachers College, Columbia University and students from the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York, are interested in understanding life within such spaces; that is, political life of the group and the personal development of the individuals so engaged.
The “space” in which we are located includes those designed explicitly to be diverse and democratic (e.g an integrated World Literature classroom, a complex of new, small, community-based public schools, and an arts center in Buffalo, New York); those designed explicitly to be segregated and activist (a Black church; an ethnic immigration center; a youth group for black adolescent males living in public housing; programs designed explicitly for adolescent female activists) and those designed to be richly recuperative and supportive for politically marginalized young men and women and sometimes for elites (lesbian/gay community center; a teen mother’s school-based group).
In these spaces, questions are raised about identity, critical consciousness within and beyond the group, the relation of critique and social action and the impact of external surveillance in individual and group life. Beyond these spaces, she is interested in understanding the relations between these corners of social possibility and larger movements for social change. Her recent books include: The Unknown City (with L. Weiss, 1990), Becoming Gentlemen (with L. Guinier & J. Balin, 1997), Off-White: Readings on Society, Race, and Culture, (with L. Powell, L. Weiss, & M. Wong, 1996, Charting Urban School Reform: Reflections on Public High Schools in the midst of change (1994), Beyond Silenced Voices: Class, Race and Gender in American Schools (1992), Disruptive Voices: The Transgressive Possibilities of Feminist Research (1992), and Framing Dropouts: Notes on the Politics of an Urban High School (1991). She has provided courtroom expert testimony for cases including Anthony T. Lee et. al & the United States of America, & the National Education Association, Inc. V. Macon County Board of Education; Shannon Richey Faulkner & the United States of America V. James E. Jones et. al for The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina; Ulcena V. Board of Education of the Borough of Tenafly. She was been awarded the Janet Helms Distinguished Scholar Award (1994), and a Spencer Foundation National Mentoring Award (1998).
University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Department of Psychology
Phillip Atiba Goff was born in Philadelphia, PA, and raised in the nearby suburbs. He concentrated in Afro-American Studies at Harvard University and studied Social Psychology at Stanford University before taking his first appointment at The Pennsylvania State University. While there, Dr. Goff created the Africana Research Center’s Post-Doctoral Fellowship Program and coordinated it for 2 years before leaving. His research has led him to become an expert in race, policing, and intersectional identity. In that capacity, Dr. Goff has been recruited as an equity researcher and consultant for police departments around the country, a role he continues to play enthusiastically. Later in his career, Dr. Goff hopes to teach a course on the intersections of Allen Iverson, Prince, and Sonia Sanchez.
Senior Vice President
Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning
Paul Goren joined CASEL as vice president for research and knowledge use on April 1, 2012 and was promoted to senior vice president in April 2013. He has worked across education in senior positions in practice, policy and research. Most recently he was a senior advisor on strategy and accountability to the Chicago Public Schools and the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute as director of the Consortium on Chicago School Research. He served as senior vice president of the Spencer Foundation from 2001 to 2010 and executive director of the Spencer Forum, which focused on the dissemination of research and policy studies to the policy and practice communities. Previously, he was the director of child and youth development at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
A former middle-school teacher, Paul worked as executive director (assistant superintendent) for policy and strategic services in the Minneapolis Public Schools from 1995 to 1998 and as a policy director and education analyst in the San Diego City Schools in the mid-1980s. He worked in and subsequently directed the education policy studies division of the National Governors Association (NGA) in Washington, DC between 1991 and 1995.
Paul has written on professional development and public engagement for the NGA; served as chief accountability officer in the Minneapolis Schools, where he helped develop capacity for data-driven decision-making; and led the Spencer Foundation’s efforts to disseminate studies and findings to multiple audiences. He recently led a team that evaluated the University of Michigan School of Education. Along with numerous presentations at philanthropic, practitioner, policy and research forums, he served on the National Academy of Science Task Force on How People Learn. His writing includes commentaries for the National Society for the Study of Education Yearbook on Developing the Teacher Workforce, for Education Week on the relationship of philanthropic foundations to school districts, and for the Peabody Journal on formative assessments. He recently wrote a commentary for the American Journal of Education on the challenges of using data for improvement.
In 2009 he received the Ian Axford Fellowship in public policy to study Maori education policy through a New Zealand Fulbright fellowship. He wrote an analysis of strategies to improve Maori education and eliminate achievement gaps, presenting his findings to practitioners and policymakers across New Zealand.
Paul currently serves on the board of Y.O.U., a social service and support agency for elementary and secondary students in the Evanston, IL public schools. He also serves on the boards of the Donors Forum of Illinois and the national Center for Teaching Quality. He is a trustee of the Noyce Foundation, located in Palo Alto, CA, which focuses on out-of-school learning, STEM education, and school reform. He holds a PhD from Stanford University, a master of public affairs degree from the LBJ School at the University of Texas, and a bachelor’s degree from Williams College.
Rutgers University, Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology
Anne Gregory is an associate professor in the school psychology program at Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology. Dr. Gregory investigates school and teacher characteristics associated with school safety and student cooperation. She conducts in-depth research on best teacher practices in classrooms as well as optimal school-level practices in a statewide sample of high schools. She also addresses the persistent trend that African American students are issued school suspension and expulsion at higher rates than adolescents from other racial and ethnic groups.
Through research and intervention, she aims to strengthen characteristics of teachers, classrooms, and schools associated with the successful schooling of African American students. Dr. Gregory has published her research in journals such as the Journal of School Psychology, American Journal of Community Psychology, School Psychology Review, and Journal of Educational Psychology. She recently co-authored, “The achievement gap and the discipline gap: Two sides of the same coin?” in Educational Researcher (39). Dr. Gregory served on the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on Resiliency and Strength in Black Children and Adolescents and consults with school districts on how to reduce suspension rates. Dr. Gregory has received grant funding from a range of sources including the Institute of Education Sciences and the US Department of Justice.
Senior Advisor, U.S. Programs
Open Society Foundations
Damon T. Hewitt Is currently Senior Advisor in the U.S. Programs division of Open Society Foundations. Previously, he was Director of the Education Practice Group at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF). Damon initially joined LDF’s New York office as a Skadden Fellow in October 2001. He was formerly Director of the Katrina (Gulf Coast) Project. In that capacity Mr. Hewitt worked on assignment in New Orleans to facilitate LDF’s post-Hurricane Katrina litigation and advocacy, including Wallace v. Blanco (the first post-Katrina federal voting rights lawsuit) and Boisseau v. Picard (a suit challenging the denial of education to displaced children in New Orleans). From 2009-2010 he took leave of absence from LDF to serve as Executive Director of the New York Police-on-Police Shootings Task Force – an entity created to address the implications arising from the deaths of two off-duty African-American police officers who were shot by fellow officers after being mistaken for criminal suspects. Damon is co-author (with Catherine Y. Kim and Daniel J. Losen) of The School to Prison Pipeline: Structuring Legal Reform (NYU Press, 2010).
Director, Center for Civil Rights Remedies
The Civil Rights Project at UCLA
Dan Losen is the Director of the Center for Civil Rights Remedies (CCRR) at The Civil Rights Project/Projecto Derechos Civiles (CRP) at UCLA. CCRR is committed to producing useful education data analysis along with research on effective alternatives to disciplinary exclusion from school. For example data on most large school districts can be found on CCRR’s web-tool located at www.schooldisciplinedata.org. Losen has worked on the School to Prison Pipeline and other issues at the CRP since 1999, when it was affiliated with Harvard Law School. In general, his work concerns the impact of law and policy on the rights of children of color, children with disabilities and language minority students to equal educational opportunity. On these and related topics he: conducts law and policy research; publishes books, reports, and articles; has testified before the U.S. Congress and the United Nations; helps draft model legislation; and provides guidance to policymakers, educators and civil rights advocates. As part of his work with the Discipline Disparities Research Collaborative, in 2014 Losen will be editing a book of new research (including many of new the studies referenced here) slated for publication by Teachers’ College in 2014.
The Labor/Community Strategy Center
The Labor/Community Strategy Center (LCSC) is a multiracial, intergenerational “think tank/act tank” based in Los Angeles. LCSC is home to the Bus Riders Union, building a vibrant mass movement of thousands of low-income bus riders; the Community Rights Campaign, addressing the school-to-prison pipeline and the mass criminalization of black and brown communities; and the National School for Strategic Organizing, training new generations of conscious organizers. Tammy is on the Coordinating Committee of the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, advancing trans-local organizing and building grassroots internationalism. Tammy received the 2013 Changemaker Award from the Liberty Hill Foundation.
Head, Racial Equity Programmes
Kavitha Mediratta is programme executive at The Atlantic Philanthropies, a global foundation dedicated to advancing opportunity for disadvantaged people. An Indian immigrant to the US, her career is dedicated to improving educational equity and challenging discrimination. In her current position, she led Atlantic’s strategic grantmaking to address the negative and racially-biased effects of zero tolerance school disciplinary policies on children’s educational attainment, successfully putting the school-to-prison pipeline on the national reform agenda. She also led the education program at the New York Community Trust, a community foundation in New York City, and served as co-chair of the Donors Education Collaborative, a pooled donor fund committed to systemic reform of the New York City public schools.
Ms. Mediratta founded and directed programs in school reform organizing and applied research at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform of Brown University and the Institute for Education and Social Policy at New York University. She has authored numerous publications, including the ground-breaking book, Community Organizing for Stronger Schools: Strategies and Successes, published in 2009 by Harvard Education Press.
Ms. Mediratta has received several awards for her work, including the prestigious Warren Weaver fellowship at the Rockefeller Foundation and the Aspen Institute’s non-profit fellowship for research on people’s movements in India. She has taught in elementary and middle schools in New Jersey, Chicago and India. Ms. Mediratta holds a B.A. from Amherst College, a Masters of Education from Columbia University’s Teachers College and a Doctorate in Philosophy from New York University. Ms. Mediratta resides in New York City, with her husband, son and dog.
The Metropolitan Center for Urban Education
Pedro Noguera is the Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at New York University. He holds tenured faculty appointments in the departments of Teaching and Learning and Humanities and Social Sciences at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Development and in the Department of Sociology at New York University. He is also the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education and the co-Director of the Institute for the Study of Globalization and Education in Metropolitan Settings (IGEMS).
An urban sociologist, Noguera’s scholarship and research focus on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic conditions in the urban environment. Noguera has served as an advisor and engaged in collaborative research with school districts throughout the United States. He has also done extensive research on issues related to education and economic and social development in the Caribbean, Latin America and several other countries throughout the world. From 2000 – 2003 Noguera served as the Judith K. Dimon Professor of Communities and Schools at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. From 1990 – 2000 he was Professor in Social and Cultural Studies at the Graduate School of Education and the Director of the Institute for the Study of Social Change at the University of California, Berkeley.
Pedro Noguera has published over one hundred and fifty research articles, monographs and research reports on topics such as urban school reform, conditions that promote student achievement, youth violence, the potential impact of school choice and vouchers on urban public schools, and race and ethnic relations in American society. His work has appeared in several major research journals and many are available online at inmotionmagazine.com. He is the author of The Imperatives of Power: Political Change and the Social Basis of Regime Support in Grenada (Peter Lang Publishers, 1997), City Schools and the American Dream (Teachers College Press 2003 – winner of Foreward Magazine Gold Award), he is the co-editor of Beyond Resistance: Youth Activism and Community Change, (with Shawn Ginwright and Julio Camarota – Routledge 2006), Unfinished Business: Closing the Achievement Gap in Our Nation’s Schools (with Jean Yonemura Wing – Josey Bass, 2006), City Kids, City Teachers with Bill Ayers and Greg Michie (New Press 2008) and his most recent book is The Trouble With Black Boys, and other reflections on race, equity and the future of public education (Wiley and Sons 2008). Noguera has served as a member of the US Public Health Service Centers for Disease Control Taskforce on Youth Violence, the Chair of the Committee on Ethics in Research and Human Rights for the American Educational Research Association, and on numerous advisory boards to local and national education and youth organizations.
Dr. Noguera was a K-12 classroom teacher for several years and continues to teach part-time in high schools. From 1986-1988 he served as the Executive Assistant to the Mayor of Berkeley, and from 1990 – 1994 he was an elected member and the President of the Berkeley School Board. From 2005 – 2006 he served as the President of the Caribbean Studies Association and a member of the Commission on the Whole Child (Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development). In 1995 he received an award from the Wellness Foundation for his research on youth violence, in 1997 he was the recipient of the University of California’s Distinguished Teaching Award, in 2001 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of San Francisco and the Centennial Medal from Philadelphia University for his work in the field of education, and in 2005 he received the Eugene Carothers Award and the Whitney Young Award from the National Urban League, both for leadership in the field of education. Noguera is the father of four children and resides in New York City.
Local Government Initiatives, The Justice Center
Blake Norton oversees the Justice Center’s Local Initiatives division, which focuses on the four program areas of Law Enforcement, Mental Health, Reentry, and School Discipline. In addition to working with legislators, consultants, researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to help raise the level of public awareness about critical criminal justice issues, the Local Initiatives division provides technical assistance to cities, counties, and nonprofits focused on cross-system collaborations between law enforcement and other criminal justice entities, with a significant focus on the intersection between law enforcement and behavioral health systems. Before joining the center, Blake spent more than 19 years with the Boston Police Department, where she helped shape the agency’s reentry efforts and successfully worked with citizens and faith-based organizations to advance consensus-based strategies for improving public safety. She designed and managed the police department’s community affairs activities, including programs for court-involved and at-risk youth. She received her B.A. from the University of Massachusetts and her M.Ed. from Boston University.
University of California San Diego (UCSD),
Center for for Research on Equity, Assessment, and Teaching Excellence
Mica Pollock is an anthropologist of education and recently joined UCSD’s Center for Research on Equity, Assessment, and Teaching Excellence (CREATE) as its new Director. Pollock’s work explores communications that support student success in diverse schools and communities. Her first book, Colormute: Race Talk Dilemmas in an American School (winner of the 2005 AERA Outstanding Book Award), helped readers navigate six core U.S. struggles over talking (and not talking) in racial terms in schools. Because of Race: How Americans Debate Harm and Opportunity in Our Schools (2008), examined the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights as the background for analyzing common debates over improving the everyday school experiences of students and families of color. In Everyday Antiracism: Getting Real about Race in School (2008), Pollock next organized 70 scholars to write short essays for teachers. Winner of a 2008 Outstanding Book Award from the Gustavus Myers Center, “EAR” is being used to spark inquiry in schools and districts across the country.
In 2009-11, Pollock began collaborating with educators, families, young people, and technologists in The OneVille Project in Somerville, MA, a participatory design research project piloting new ways that commonplace technology — cell phones, computers, free software — might help people who share students, schools, and a diverse community to communicate and collaborate regularly to support young people’s success.
Pollock, OneVille participants, and others are now exploring a bicoastal partnership to improve the “communication infrastructure” of public education — that is, to assemble a set of free and low cost communication tools and strategies that support everyday collaboration in diverse schools and communities. As the new Director of CREATE, Pollock is excited about the prospect of helping to network UCSD’s students, researchers, and professional development experts with the diverse K-12 educators, youth, and families of San Diego County. Pollock previously taught high school in California and received her Ph.D. from Stanford.
University of Arizona, Norton School of Family and Consumer Services
Stephen T. Russell is Distinguished Professor and Fitch Nesbitt Endowed Chair in Family and Consumer Sciences in the John & Doris Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Arizona, and Director of the Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth, and Families. Stephen conducts research on adolescent pregnancy and parenting, cultural influences on parent-adolescent relationships, and the health and development of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth. He received a Wayne F. Placek Award from the American Psychological Foundation (2000), was a William T. Grant Foundation Scholar (2001-2006), a board member of the National Council on Family Relations (2005-2008), and was elected as a member of the International Academy of Sex Research in 2004. He is President-Elect of the Society for Research on Adolescence.
The Equity Project at Indiana University
Russell Skiba is a Professor in the School Psychology program at Indiana University. He received his doctorate in special education from the University of Minnesota in 1987. He has worked with schools across the country in the areas of disproportionality, school discipline, and school violence. He has been project director or principal coordinator on numerous federal and state grants, and has published extensively in the areas of school violence, zero tolerance, and equity in education. Dr. Skiba is currently Director of the Equity Project, a consortium of research projects offering evidence-based information to educators and policymakers on equity in special education and school discipline. He was a member of the writing team that produced the U.S. Department of Education’s document on school safety Early Warning, Timely Response, and a member and lead author of the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on Zero Tolerance. In Indiana, he served in 2008 as co-chair of the Education Subcommittee of the Indiana Commission on Disproportionality in Youth Services.
He was awarded the Push for Excellence Award by the Rainbow Coalition/Operation PUSH for his work on African American disproportionality in school suspension. Skiba has testified before the United States Civil Rights Commission, spoken before both Houses of Congress on issues of school discipline and school violence, and in 2008, acted as a special consultant to OSEP on issues of disproportionality and equity in special education.
Interim Director, Education Practice
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
Leticia Smith-Evans is Interim Director of LDF’s Education Practice, which uses legal, policy and legislative advocacy to ensure access to equal educational opportunities at the pre-K through higher education levels. At LDF, Leticia challenges discriminatory programs that negatively impact students and supports policies designed to promote critical opportunities for all students. Leticia has successfully litigated and mediated complex cases in trial and appellate state and federal courts nationwide. She is a proponent of utilizing multi-stakeholder approaches to close educational opportunity gaps, and frequently speaks and writes on eliminating racial, gender and other disparities in education. Prior to joining LDF, Leticia was a litigation associate at O’Melveny & Myers LLP, a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Dickinson R. Debevoise of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, and a policy advisor and agency liaison to former Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle. She has served as adjunct faculty at a number of educational institutions, including the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School of Education. She is also a former public elementary school teacher.
Leticia received her J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School and her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She received her B.A. from Williams College in History and completed concentrations in African-American and Women’s and Gender Studies. She serves on a number of other nonprofit boards and committees.
American Federation of Teachers
Lisa Thomas is an Associate Director in Educational Issues with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Dr. Thomas is Special Education Policy Analyst and the AFT’s Special Education Cadre Coordinator. In addition, she is the AFT’s Educational Research and Dissemination Course Coordinator for Managing Anti-social Behavior, Managing Student Behavior for Support Staff, and Meeting the Standards for Paraprofessionals. Dr. Thomas represents the AFT on a number of national leadership and coalition groups, including the IDEA Partnership, Center for Evidence Based Practice for Young Children w/Challenging Behavior Advisory Board, National Center on Student Progress Monitoring Advisory Board, National Accessible Reading Assessment Project Advisory Committee, Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education Advisory Committee, RTI Action Network, National UDL Task Force and State Accountability for All Students Advisory Board. In addition, Dr. Thomas is a former general and special educator and served on numerous state and district committees on issues of disproportionality, cultural competency, and equity and access for diverse student populations.
Dr. Thomas received her undergraduate degree from the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, in Industrial Management. She completed master course work at the College of Charleston (SC), in Early Childhood Education and received a M.A. in Special Education from Trinity University in Washington, D.C. She completed doctoral studies at the University of Pennsylvania, concentrating her studies in Organizational Leadership and Minorities in Special Education in urban settings. Her leadership philosophy is based on a collaborative model in which she believes effective leaders are developed when they value collaboration with all stakeholders and understand dynamics of cultivating collaborative relationships and using them to foster systemic change. Dr. Thomas is married to Dr. Irvin Thomas and is the mother of three children.
The Justice Center
Michael Thompson is the director of the Council of State Governments Justice Center, a national, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, which provides data-driven, consensus-based strategies to policymakers in all three branches of government to increase public safety, reduce government spending, and strengthen communities. Mike joined CSG in 1997. During his tenure, he has launched and overseen various national policy initiatives to improve outcomes for people with mental illnesses in the criminal justice system; enhance the ability of people released from prisons and jails to succeed in the community; and increase public safety, reduce spending on corrections, and improve conditions in the neighborhoods to which most people released from prison return. These efforts have prompted congressional hearings, federal legislation, national news coverage, and bipartisan legislative and programmatic initiatives in states across the country. Prior to joining CSG, Mike worked for three years for the Office of the Court Monitor, which a U.S. District Court Judge established, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Mike received his B.A. with honors from Middlebury College.
The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Ivory Toldson is the newly appointed Deputy Director, for the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Prior to this role Dr. Toldson served as an associate professor at Howard University, senior research analyst for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, and editor-in-chief of “The Journal of Negro Education.” He was also contributing education editor for The Root, where he debunked some of the most pervasive myths about African-Americans in his Show Me the Numbers column. Dr. Toldson has more than 60 publications and research presentations in 36 US states, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Scotland, South Africa, Paris, and Barcelona. He has been featured on C-SPAN2 Books, NPR News, POTUS on XM Satellite Radio, and numerous local radio stations. His research has been featured on The Root, The National Journal, Essence.com, BET.com, The Grio, and Ebony Magazine. Dr. Toldson was named in the 2013 The Root 100, an annual ranking of the most influential African-American leaders.