Tell us about your work to achieve racial equity in education.
Before started my job at the Public School Forum, my research and work focused on school segregation/desegregation, school choice, and critical whiteness studies/critical race theory in education policy. I studied how parents- especially white parents- make school choice decisions, and how those decisions are driven by perceptions about public schools in relation to racial demographics. I also studied how racial power dynamics play out within racially diverse schools and what policies and practices are needed to build truly inclusive, anti-racist, and culturally responsive schools and classrooms. I was excited to join the Forum as Senior Director of Policy to continue working to advance research-informed education policies that will lead to a more equitable system of education in North Carolina.
Why did you join the Color of Education collaborative?
The Color of Education is a powerful collaborative bridging research, policy, and practice- something I think is critical to achieving real progress towards racial equity in our schools. Too often, we are siloed in this work, and there is so much that those from various points of view- researchers, educators, students, parents, nonprofit leaders, policymakers, etc- can and should learn from each other to strengthen our efforts. I have already learned so much from leaders across the state who are doing incredible work in schools, in community organizations, etc and look forward to continuing to work alongside them.
Who influenced or mentored you in this work?
This is a very long list! I learned so much from my mentors in undergrad and graduate school including Dwight Mullen at UNC Asheville who created and led the first cross-sector, community-based research project I ever worked on called the State of Black Asheville. His mentorship is the reason I got involved in this work. My graduate school advisor, Amy Stuart Wells, and many others at Teachers College have also guided my thinking in so many ways. And I learn every day from my colleagues and collaborators.
What advice would you give someone wanting to become involved in efforts to address racial inequities in education?
There are so many people doing great, transformative work- connect with others in your own field and others! Check out our map to find groups in your community or who are involved in similar efforts across the state.
Please share a favorite quote, article or book.
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin. It’s a classic of course, and was the first of his books that I read. For me, it was life-changing.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Hiking, cooking, exploring new places.
If you could change something tomorrow for the children of NC, what would that be?
Race would no longer be a predictor of childrens’ opportunities, how they are perceived and disciplined in their schools, or their academic outcomes. As a first step, I want us to have honest conversations about past and present racism and inequity, including in our schools. This is a necessary part of healing and creating real, lasting, structural solutions.