- Janet Jones Preston: Community Leader
Community Leader Janet Jones Preston recently retired from Seattle Public Schools after serving 30 years, 2 months, first as a Classroom Instructional Assistant, then as one of the first ten Family Support Workers (FSW), followed by many years as Program Supervisor and finishing her district career as Interim Program Manager and the last original FSW to leave the program.
Janet is a Washington State Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Education recipient. One of her proudest accomplishments is the founding of the Kasoa, Ghana “Peoples School for Positive Education” that opened its doors in 2006 and has expanded to serve 260 K-9 students. Janet earned her B.A. in English Literature and Minority Studies from the University of Washington.
Janet would be the first to tell you how proud she is to be a mother, a grandmother and a foster mother. Janet serves her community through her membership in Mt. Zion Church in Seattle and the African American Leadership Forum, support of Grandparents as Parents, advocacy for the Foster Parents Association of Washington State and as sponsor and advocate for the Black Prisoner’s Caucus at Monroe Reformatory.
- Dr. Donald Felder, Community Advocate
Donald Felder has dedicated his career to teaching, leading and advocating for children. Recently retired from Casey Family Programs, Felder’s 30 years as a skilled and compassionate teacher, consultant and principal at Seattle Public Schools helped to positively transform the lives of thousands of students.
During his years running Interagency Academy, Felder effectively protected the education rights of struggling students that included those who were pushed out from traditional schools and those who were adolescent offenders, homeless or in foster care. His leadership resulted in a significantly expanded and improved alternative education program that continues to successfully serve and educate 6th-12th grade students. He is currently an educational consultant, lecturer, and active advocate for children and for race and social justice in education.
- Dr. Geneva Gay: Professor of Education, University of Washington, Seattle
Geneva Gay is Professor of Education at the University of Washington, Seattle where she teaches multicultural education and general curriculum theory. A specialist in curriculum and multicultural education, she is an internationally known expert in race relations and in multicultural education. Professor Gay has contributed to numerous journals, book chapters and books in these fields and is author of At the Essense of Learning:Multicultural Education, and Culturally Responsive Teaching: Theory, Research and Practice for which she received the 2001 Outstanding Writing Award from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE).
Geneva is the recipient of numerous distinguished scholar and lecturer awards.
- Alejandra Diaz: PTSA President, Roxhill Elementary
- Nelrica Mosqueda, Community Advocate, Dearborn Park Family Partnerships
Nelrica Mosqueda is the cornerstone of family, community and school connections and engagement at Dearborn Park PreK-5 School. As School Relations Coordinator, she has initiated and staffed multiple programs that welcome and engage the great diversity of Dearborn’s families as volunteers in the school and as “teachers” to their students at home. She’s established family and community events in five languages to ensure all families understand and can access the programs and resources they need. Nelrica is deeply rooted in the community and draws on her many relationships to provide funding and resources that greatly benefit students, families and her school. She launched Dearborn’s first PTSA seven years ago which has grown from a membership of three to over 70 this year. She has been honored and awarded by her school and Seattle Public Schools and has received awards of recognition from Johns Hopkins for outstanding family engagement work. Rica is the proud mother of a Seattle Public Schools’ graduate who is studying now at the UW with plans to become a Seattle Public School Teacher.
- Faisal Jama, Executive Director, East African Community Services
Faisal Jama is Executive Director of East African Community Services (EACS). He’s been active in the East African community throughout his life and spent several years as an EACS volunteer. Faisal graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in Economics. As Executive Director, Faisal is determined to build EACS’s program strength and develop the organization’s effectiveness and efficiency.
- Anita Koyier Mwamba, Community Advocate, Seattle Public Schools Family Partnerships
- Dr. Caprice Hollins, Co-founder, Cultures Connectings
Caprice D. Hollins, Psy.D.has over 20 years of experience researching, studying, and working with ethnically diverse populations. She is co-founder of Cultures Connecting and works part-time as an Assistant Professor of Counseling at the Seattle School of Theoloy and Psychology. Her experience includes opening and directing the Department of Equity & Race Relations for Seattle Public Schools. She has a B.A. in psychology from Seattle University and M.A. and Psy.D. degrees in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Multicultural and Community Psychology. She works hard to balance her passion and commitment to equity and social justice while at the same time raising a family with her husband.
- Marcus Harden, Community Advocate, Outreach Manager, WA State Charter Schools Association
- Uti Yamassee Cleveland, Elementary Teacher
My name, Uti Yamassee, means Gentle Earth in Creek Seminole. Its sentiment has guided me, as your given name is meant too. My career as an educator centers on a desire to work with underrepresented and historically impacted communities. In the past years I have sought out teaching positions that center on alternative schooling models with a goal of learning best practices that may work to better my communities, the Native and African American communities. I have come to understand that the underlying historical inequity of the traditional school system has had a pervasive imprint on students; the overwhelming feeling that they do not deserve to be well educated. This notion is heartbreaking and drives me forward professionally.
I received a degree in Anthropology from the University of California Santa Cruz, a Master’s in Education from the University of Southern California, and am a WA Charter School Association’s Aspiring Leaders Fellow. I have worked as a Native Education Title VII worker for Puget Sound Educational Services District, as a coordinator for the National Urban Indian Family Coalition and with First Place School who provides education and family supportive services to the most vulnerable students dealing with homelessness, poverty and/or trauma. As a founding board member I helped in developing First Place Scholars, Washington States first charter school. Importantly, I still remain in the classroom teaching in a Title 1 elementary school with Seattle Public Schools. In the future I look forward to pursuing my PhD researching Native American student learning, specifically developing best practices that address the widening achievement gap for Native learners, bringing attention to the deplorable number of misclassifications that track Native learners into special education.
- Harriet Bakken, Community Advocate
- Sarah Sense Wilson, LMHC, CDP, WSGCC-II, NCGC-I, President of Urban Native Education Alliance
Sarah Sense-Wilson is Oglala, Sioux, serving as the elected Chair for the Urban Native Education Alliance (UNEA). Sarah is committed to strengthening our urban Native community through tireless advocacy, organizing, and networking both within the Native community and greater King County area. Central to Sarah’s values is student voice, "As an organization we need to be cognizant of its purpose at all times, we are here to serve the academic, social, emotional, cultural, and spiritual needs of our Native children". Collaborating, consulting and sharing in decision making with students supports our emphasis on being student centered.
Sarah’s educational background includes a B.A. in Political Science, UW 1999, Chemical Dependency License 2004, and she completed her MA degree in Applied Psychology from Antioch University in 2010. Sarah is a Washington State licensed Mental Health Counselor, and a certified Problem Gambling Counselor. She has worked in the chemical dependency field for over 8 years, specializing in both family and couples counseling. Sarah is currently employed at Tulalip Tribes Behavioral Wellness as a Problem Gambling Coordinator.
Sarah and her partner Mark have one daughter who attends Western Washington University. Sarah enjoys her multiple volunteer roles and is highly motivated to improve academic and cultural enrichment experiences for our urban Native youth. Sarah believes both cultural knowledge and education are vital to strengthen and build the future for our urban Native community.
- Dr. Debra Ren-Etta Sullivan, President Seattle Affiliate of the National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI)
Dr. Sullivan serves as the President of the Seattle Affiliate of the NBCDI. The focus of her work is implementing appropriate learning environments for Black children and increasing advocacy for their educational rights. She has worked in higher education for thirty years as a teacher, researcher, curriculum developer, administrator, and education coach. As a college administrator, she has participated in the education and preparation of many of Seattle’s teaching workforce. Dr. Sullivan has a doctorate in Educational Leadership, a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction, and a bachelor’s degree in Cultural Anthropology and is the author of two books. Learning to Lead: Effective Leadership Skills for Teachers of Young Children (RedLeaf Press), is a self-directed guide to leadership development and her second book (co‐authored with Holly Elissa Bruno, Janet Gonzalez-Mena, and Luis Hernandez) is titled, Learning From the Bumps in the Road: Insights from Early Childhood Leaders. Her third book, Cultivating the Genius of Black Children, guides teachers in creating classrooms that support the learning needs of Black children (available from RedLeaf Press in February, 2016).
- Sarah Pritchett, Executive Director, Seattle Public Schools
Sarah Pritchett has been in education for over 20 years. Before becoming an Executive Director of Schools in 2013, Ms. Pritchett served as Principal at McClure Middle School for six years. Under her leadership, McClure Middle School has been recognized twice as a Washington State School of Distinction in 2010 and again in 2012.
Ms. Pritchett started her educational career in 1993 for the Seattle School District. First, teaching at Sharples Alternative High School and then moving up to serve as the House Administrator at Mercer Middle School. In 2000 she accepted the position of Assistant Principal at Rose Hill Junior High in the Lake Washington School District and continued to serve there for seven years. Ms. Pritchett returned to the Seattle School District in 2007 to take the helm at McClure Middle School where her leadership practice was grounded in three critical areas: building capacity in teacher leaders and building leadership to take targeted instructional risks that positively impact student growth; the personalizing of school programs to ensure that all students can be successful; and establishing and maintaining authentic dialogue with parents and community.
Ms. Pritchett holds Bachelors of Science in Psychology from Washington State University and a Masters of Education from Western Washington University. She is proud to be the parent of a daughter currently attending Washington State University.
- Anita Koyier-Mwamba, Human Rights Advocate
Anita Koyier-Mwamba was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. She is a passionate Human Rights Advocate. She holds a BA in International Studies from Southern Oregon University and a JD from Seattle University School of Law. Her greatest pride is in being a mother of two wonderful children.
I am thrilled to be involved with McERA because it is an organization that is impacting change in society through education. Most significantly, McERA is committed to working with teachers in a safe, yet dynamic transformational model. Teachers in turn are supported by authentic partnerships with families, students, school leaders and communities. Teachers learn how to engage in very difficult dialogs with each other and with families and students. I love witnessing transformation across race, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender. I look forward to the day when McERA is rendered redundant because the work is complete.