Presenter Bios

Tai Harden-Moore, Founder and CEO of Moore Consultants, LLC, is a dedicated diversity, equity, belonging, and inclusion advocate. As Founder of Moore Consultants Tai is dedicated to helping organizational leaders deepen their knowledge and develop the strategies necessary to create diverse, equitable, and inclusive environments for all. While earning her Juris Doctor degree from Florida A&M University College of Law, Tai served as the Lieutenant Governor for Non-Traditional Students for the American Bar Association Law Student Division, which afforded her the opportunity to work with and be an advocate for underserved student populations, particularly, students of color, women, LGBTQ students, and part-time law students in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and Puerto Rico. Since graduating from law school, Tai has demonstrated her commitment to diversity, equity, belonging, and inclusion, social and economic justice and, racial equity, by being involved in and giving back to the community in various ways. Whether it be through her service to local non-profit boards, her research concerning legal issues surrounding gentrification and displacement in North and Northeast Portland, her work as a Conversation Leader for Oregon Humanities, or using her voice to bring attention to social justice issues through articles published by Diverse Issues in Higher Education, Huffington Post, The Skanner News, Black Commentator, and African American Times; Tai has chosen to use her voice to effect change in our community.

Deepa Bhandaru is an activist educator and writer in Seattle. She is the daughter of immigrants from South Asia and holds a PhD in political theory from the University of Washington. Her work seeks to build transformative power from the margins, especially among communities of color.

Michael Nguyen is the Recruitment and Retention Manager for the Seattle Teacher Residency, focused on diversifying the teacher workforce and preparing K-5 teachers for Title I schools in Seattle.  He began his career in education as an AmeriCorps member with Partners in School Innovation, an education reform non-profit based in San Francisco, where he worked on student assessments and data analysis.   He went on to teach for ten years in poverty-impacted public schools in Los Angeles and Seattle.  While a classroom teacher, Michael was an active member of various leadership committees and community organizations focused on a range of issues ranging from mathematics education and college access to race, equity, and social justice. Michael received his B.A. from UC Berkeley and his M.Ed from UCLA.  In his free time, he likes to run, watch college football, and spend time with his family.

Alma Villegas is a consultant in Washington state with over 25 years of experience in facilitation, leadership development, and community capacity building. She has worked in the private and public sector as an equity and community engagement advisor evaluating policies and practices and advocating for action-driven approaches that ensure diverse perspectives are at the forefront. One of Alma’s areas of expertise is community-driven transcreation assisting agencies in partnering with communities to go beyond translation to develop communication materials that are multi-cultural and multi-lingual. She has developed and implemented several immigrant and refugee community liaison models of engagement building bridges between diverse populations, non-profit organizations, cities, and other government agencies. Prior to being a consultant, Alma worked for many years in the nonprofit sector focusing on public education and community health with local organizations like Community Schools Collaboration, Stand for Children, Summer Search and Global to Local. Alma was born and raised in Tijuana, Mexico and is a certified Spanish language interpreter and translator.

Erin Jones has been involved in and around schools for the past 26 years. She has taught in a variety of environments, from predominantly Black to predominantly White to some of the most diverse communities in the nation. Erin received an award as the Most Innovative Foreign Language Teacher in 2007, while working at in Tacoma and was the Washington State Milken Educator of the Year in 2008, while teaching in Spokane. She received recognition at the White House in March of 2013 as a “Champion of Change” and was Washington State PTA’s “Outstanding Educator” in 2015. After serving as a classroom teacher and instructional coach, Erin worked as an executive for two State Superintendents. Erin left the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2012 to work in college-access at the school district level. She left her job to run as a candidate for State Superintendent and was the first Black woman to run for any state office in Washington state, a race she lost by a mere 1%. Erin has one college graduate, one who graduated from Harvey Mudd College and is now in graduate school at USC and one who coaches high school football with her husband of 26 years, who is an English, ELL and history teacher in North Thurston School District.

Matthew Gulbranson is the Community Partnerships Director at Puget Sound ESD. For the last 12 years he has worked in implementing systems and policy change with emphasis on racial equity and strong partnerships with community-based organizations, K-12, Early Learning, Health Care, and Public Health fields.  He has 10 years of experience coordinating and delivering extensive training, mentoring, outreach, and technical assistance. For the past 4 he has designed and delivered trainings on racial equity and dominant cultural norms that impact how we design and implement programs, practices that perpetuate the status quo and further marginalize students of color and their communities. Matthew firmly believes that by connecting through our shared humanity, we can work together in more effective and transformational ways to improve our systems and, in turn, ourselves.

Marissa McDowell and Tierra Johnson – Education Unchained is an organization founded in Seale, WA by two friends, Marissa McDowell, and Tierra Johnson, who were moved and liberated by learning about their African history. They decided to share that knowledge by bringing opportunities and events to the black community. Centered on providing cultural enrichment and educational opportunities to the black community, they work to analyze the discrepancies within the educational system and cultivate community approaches to eliminate barriers that separate people of color from equity. Their goal is to not only educate youth but to provide visibility to other   businesses and promote the importance of entrepreneurship in the black community.

John Scott, MA, Ph.D., is an educator, clinician, facilitator, writer, and consultant of African and Indigenous descent, who has been providing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion support to organizations and individuals for over 20 years.  He is currently the director of diversity, equity, and inclusion for Washington State with Seneca Family of Agencies. John has created and facilitated trainings with corporations, non-profit organizations, colleges and educational systems, providing support surrounding issues of cultural humility, community leadership development, social justice issues, non-violent communication, and community building processes.  Besides facilitating this dynamic work locally in the bay area, he has also facilitated trainings internationally in South Africa, Egypt, Japan, and Canada. Through the process of socially conscious, playful inquiry, John provides participants with practical and engaging skills in making positive, sustainable changes in their lives, communities, and organizations.  By utilizing highly interactive modalities such as applied theater, creative writing, and audience centered pedagogy, he also creates a learning environment that strives to integrate both theory and practice. John holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in Drama Therapy, and a PhD, centered, grounded, and focused on issues of social justice, ecology (water), and indigenous knowledge.

Amanda Chin, Library Faculty, Green River College, 12401 SE 320th Street, Auburn, WA, 98092;  Amanda has been an educator in ESL and Japanese for the past eight years in various locations around Hawai’i, Japan, and Washington. She is currently entering the world of librarianship, and hopes to take her work in critical, inclusive, and anti-racist pedagogy to create bridges between librarianship and ESL education.

Carlos Sibaja, International ESL Faculty, Seattle Central College, 1701 Broadway, Seattle, WA 98122;  Carlos Sibaja is currently a full-time instructor at Seattle Central College. His areas of interests are grammar and writing. He believes in the power of testimony and looks for ways to promote storytelling in his writing classes. Carlos’ life and professional work are influenced and shaped by queer and Chicano studies, as well as race and women’s studies.

Ila de Leon is the daughter of an undocumented citizen and the granddaughter of rice farmers. She is multilingual and a first-generation Filipina immigrant. She has been teaching for almost two decades in K-5 and at community-based organizations in partnership with Seattle Colleges. She currently teaches English with a racial equity lens and a focus on strategic uses of students’ native languages at South Seattle College.

Laura DiZazzo, Dean, Seattle Central College, 1Laura has been a Dean in the WA community college system for 12 years. She focuses on centering experiences of non-traditional students in ABE/ESL throughout campus efforts.

Lauren Plitkins, ESL Faculty, Literacy Source, Lauren has worked in language education at a community-based nonprofit for five years, primarily serving immigrant and refugee adult learners. Recently accepted to the University of Washington as a doctoral student in Language, Literacy, and Culture, Lauren intends to pursue research into the use of translanguaging practices as a means to disrupt English supremacy and monolingual ideologies in language acquisition programs.

La Shonda Lipscomb, Basic & Transitional Studies Director, Seattle Central College,  La Shonda currently serves as Director of Basic & Transitional Studies at Seattle Central College, Director of Education for SEAF and as Board Member for the Pan Eros Foundation. She thrives in helping to ensure education is accessible and inclusive for all folks, especially for groups that are traditionally not seated at the table.

Marjorie Richards, ESL Faculty, Seattle Central College, Marjorie Richards has a M.A. in Adult Education and has been co-creating learning environments using the lens of critical pedagogy with immigrants and refugees for 17 years.

Tram Dang, ESL Faculty and Student Development Specialist, Seattle Central College, Tram teaches ESL and provides navigational support to students in the Basic & Transitional Studies Department at Seattle Central College. She is interested in exploring structural conditions that allow non-traditional students to cultivate social capital for college success. Tram is a PhD candidate at the University of Washington.

Dr. Breyan N. Haizlip – “I am a teacher, an intuitive healer, and an author… and a University Professor. Helping people discover the wisdom and healing that is within, is my Life’s work.” With over a decade of international and national experience, Dr. Bre is an award-winning speaker and teacher. Her work, as a counseling professor, researcher, therapist, and education consultant, draws from a broad range of Western theory and Eastern philosophy to deepen awareness of the more subtle, but more profound bioenergetic and quantum dimensions of healing and evolution. Her practice combines the Science of the Individual and Organizational Mind and the Art of Ancient Philosophy & Culture- to awaken mindful, culturally-affirming, and empathic leaders. As the Founder/Owner of Whatcom Diversity Academy®, the organizational mission is to advance equity and eliminate disparities through holistic approaches that provide individuals, schools, and organizations with the tools needed to cultivate and sustain the collective genius that comes from diversity of culture and thought. Dr. Bre holds subject matter expertise in Multicultural Counseling, Gender & Racial Equity, Cultural-Responsivity Training for Educators, Educational Equity, Qualitative Research Design, Organizational Behavior, Curriculum Design, Bioenergetic Somatics, and the study of Culture & Consciousness. This work has resulted in the opportunity to speak with over 150 national and international audiences, through academic publications, and corporate & NPO trainings, seminars, and workshops.

Erika Strauss Chavarria is a Spanish teacher in Columbia, MD. She serves on the National Education and Maryland State Education Association Board of Directors. She is also a board member of community organizations Racial Justice NOW! and Equity4HC.

Kriya is a first-generation immigrant and a queer Filipinx American who is interested in the intersection of history, identity, and education. He is currently investigating how the revitalization and reclamation of ethnic identities, which some scholars have termed “decolonization,” can conscientiously happen within the context of settler colonialism. Improvising Filipinx cooking and writing poetry are some of the ways that he cares for himself.

Dujie Tahat is the Communications Hub Director. His first job in politics was as an Obama for America Field Organizer in central Washington—making him just one of a few to organize in the community he grew up in. He has since worked on behalf of over a dozen electoral campaigns and advocacy organizations. Dujie is interested in building and exercising political will in communities traditionally left out of the process.

Alison Cheung is the Communications Hub Manager. She helps grassroots activists and leaders tell more equitable, just, and powerful stories to build a statewide narrative for change. While at Fuse, Alison has worked most extensively on democracy reform and economic justice for communities of color. Outside of work, you can find her riding bikes, petting other people’s dogs, and trying to get better at Cantonese cooking.

Mary Fertakis is the CEO of her own consulting business, specializing in P-12 education and equity issues, and the intersection of education with housing, transportation, workforce, health, and human services policies. She is a Consultant with the National School Boards Association Equity Department, providing training and assistance to state school board associations on equity and diversity issues, and a member of the WSSDA Leadership Consultant Cadre, which provides training to school boards in Washington State. She is an original member of the Racial Equity Policy Design Team of the Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD) and WSSDA, which created a process for school district leadership teams to develop Race and Equity policies, and delivers this content through a series of all-day convenings. Fertakis served on the Tukwila School Board for 22 years, representing a school district that has been called the most ethnically-diverse in the United States. She is the founder of the Tukwila Children’s Foundation, which helps meet the unmet needs of children in the Tukwila community, and serves on the Board of Still Waters, a non-profit serving homeless families in Tukwila. Fertakis holds a B.A. in Political Science and a B.A. in International Studies from the University of Washington, an ELL Teaching Certification from Seattle University, a Master’s degree in Education Policy from the University of Washington School of Education, and certification in P-3 systems work from the UW’s P-3 Executive Leadership Institute, She has received certifications from the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s P-3 Institute and their Family Engagement Institute.

Sharonne Navas is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Equity in Education Coalition. The first American born child of immigrant parents from Guatemala and El Salvador, Sharonne understands, and values, the complexity of being mutli-lingual and multi-cultural in America.  A native of New York City, Sharonne moved to the Seattle area in 2009. Past professions include being a community organizer with Stand for Children, Executive Director of Para Los Niños, Assistant Director of Development for NARAL Pro-Choice America, Deputy Executive Director for Ayuda, Inc., and Development Coordinator for the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. In 2010, she was appointed as Commissioner for the Washington State Commission on Hispanic Affairs. In 2016, she was appointed to the Board of Trustees of Green River Community College. Sharonne was an advisory member for the Thrive By Five‘s “Talk, Love, Play” initiative, a cohort member of Thrive by Five’s “Advancing Racial Equity Theory of Change in Early Learning,” a committee member of the WA State Education Opportunity Gap Oversight and Accountability Committee.  Sharonne is currently a member of the advocacy caucus, community network steering committee and sponsors group of the Road Map Project of CCER. She also volunteers for the South King Council on Human Services and was a Board member of the League of Education Voters and is on the Steering Committee of the Southeast Seattle Education Coalition.  Sharonne holds a BA in Psychology and Sociology from St. John’s University. She spends her off-time exploring the various foods and wines of WA State with her Husband Steve and their tweenie dachshunds, Manny, and Porter.

Damian Davis NoOneElse, is an story-teller and attorney who represents young people in Washington’s Juvenile Prisons. Born in Denver, he grew up in the Eastbay, and Mississippi.

Reneeka Massey-Jones is a 2018 graduate from Central Washington University with a bachelors of arts degree in English- Professional and Creative Writing. Since 2013, Reneeka has worked in customer service roles while making her way through college. She got her first experience in state work as a Student Co-op in the Migrant and Bilingual Education office at the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction as a senior in high school. Having gone to many schools and been the only or one of the few black students in her class or school as a whole, Reneeka is eager to play a role in closing the opportunity gap and working to achieve equity in all tiers of education.

Ali McKay leads the Seattle Chapter of Integrated Schools, and professionally is a lawyer specializing in technology transactions with Summit Law in the International District. Most importantly, she is mother to two Seattle school students.  Ali also is a national champion in track cycling.

Stephan Blanford is a leader committed to social justice by building strong relationships across many sectors and exerting leadership to improve community outcomes across the education and social service fields.  Dr. Blanford was elected to the Seattle School Board in 2013 with a historic margin of victory, and advocated for policies and practices that balance academic excellence and equity, receiving the “Leadership for Equity” award from the Principals Association of Seattle Schools at the end of his term. Professionally, Stephan is principal and co-owner of LIGHTHOUSE Consulting, specializing in the equity objectives of Washington State’s public schools and nonprofits. Dr. Blanford holds a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies (Social Justice) from Antioch University Seattle, a Masters degree in Public Administration and a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Washington. He leads a group of aspiring nonprofit executives as a lecturer for Seattle University’s Masters in Nonprofit Leadership Program, serves as a board director for United Way of King County and leads the national advisory board of Integrated Schools.

Charles Adkins is an enrolled member of the Yurok Tribe of Klamath, California. He is a survivor of Chemawa Indian School, One of the few remaining boarding schools still run by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He served as one of the youngest Native American Delegates to the Democratic National Convention in 2016. He has spent the past three years serving as the student lobbyist for the Evergreen State College.

Sui-Lan Ho’okano current journey is as the Cultural Program Director for the Enumclaw School District and works collectively with local Tribes and districts. Sui-Lan currently serves on several community boards and committees here in Washington; Green River College Diversity and Equity Committee GDEC; Pierce College ASPIRE committee, Pacific Island Summit Uprise Pierce committee, ECLC, Muckleshoot Tribal College and Career Committee, servicing  communities and students of color in reestablishing cultural educational pathways. Sui-Lan is an Alumnus of the University of Hawaii and has over 28 years working collectively with educational institutions community partners locally, nationally, and globally in honoring and Reestablish understanding of Indigenous pathways, cultural capital, and its traditional shared values and relationships in education and STEAM programs.   Sui-Lan was the opening speaker for last year’s Washington Cross-Institution Faculty of Color Mentorship Program Spring Retreat “Restorative Practices through Our Own Stories”  Sui-Lan has presented at SOCC, FOCC, YELL, Pierce College and many other community events and conferences here in Washington as well as out of state.  It is not enough to be conscious of the problems of the world, how we involve ourselves in the solutions is the most important thing that we could ever do in our journey. When we begin to move towards these restorative practices, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities will benefit.

Tamasha Emedi is in her sixth year as a general education elementary classroom teacher. She just completed her graduate degree in educational leadership, and is taking this year to explore powerful work that is already being done in and around the Puget Sound area.  Tamasha attends conferences such as Institute for Teachers Of Color in order to find inspiration in meeting folx around the country furthering the movement.

*We are still missing a few presenters bios but will update this page as they come in. Thank you for your patience.

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