Click on a staffperson’s name to view their biography. You can find former staff here.
Don Allen, Publications Director
Jason Biehl, Publications Advocate
Derrick Weston Brown, Publications Advocate
Monét Cooper, Publications Advocate
Alissa Escarce, Publications Advocate
Brittany Fenison, Publications Advocate (Substitute)
Charles Girard, Publications Advocate
Gavin Hutchinson, Publications Advocate
Grace Kaissal, Publications Advocate
Gowri Koneswaran, Publications Advocate (Substitute)
Elena Lacayo, Publications Advocate
Cat Nguyen, Publications Advocate
Brianna Oliver, Publications Advocate
Katie Seitz, Publications Advocate
Amrita Wassan, Publications Advocate
Chris Towne, Publications Advocate
Izetta Mobley, Publications Advocate
Grace Wingo, Publications Advocate
Tamar Cloyd, Development Associate
Allyson Criner Brown, Associate Director
Deborah Menkart, Executive Director
Wiley Reading, Administrative Associate
Mykella Palmer, Communications and Media Associate
SPECIAL PROJECT CONSULTANTS
Enid Lee, Virtual Scholar
Don has been working in bookstores and libraries since his Kent State college days when the South African anti-apartheid/divestment movement reached the campus. His first political lesson about government lying was when Reagan fired his dad for being a striking member of PATCO, the air traffic controllers’ union. Don used his bookstore experience and those political lessons to become Teaching for Change’s first bookstore manager upon the founding of Busboys and Poets. After 5 years in the bookstore, he is looking forward to bringing his experience to the entire Teaching for Change publications department.
Don seriously believes that Naomi Klein is walking strongly in the footsteps of sorely missed Howard Zinn as a writer/activist. When not reading Klein’s tweets and newsletters, Don enjoys international mysteries by writers such as Colin Cotterill, Donna Leon, and Qui Xiaolong. Don and his wife, Kelly, live in Takoma, D.C. with a cat named after a Twain character. He often spends his free time rooting for last place baseball teams and against publicly funded sports stadiums.
Derrick Weston Brown holds an MFA in creative writing from American University. He has studied poetry under Dr. Tony Medina at Howard University and Cornelius Eady at American University. He is a graduate of the Cave Canem summer workshop for black poetsand the VONA summer workshop. His work has appeared in such literary journals as Warpland, Mythium, Ginsoko, Drum Voices, The Columbia Poetry Review, and the online journals Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Howard University’s Amistad, LocusPoint, and MiPOesias. Published by the Busboys and Poets imprint of PM Press, his first book of poetry, Wisdom Teeth, is available here.
Derrick is a bookseller and poetry book buyer for Teaching for Change’s Busboys and Poets Bookstore. As the first Poet-In-Residence of Busboys and Poets, he is the founder and curator of The Nine on the Ninth, a five-year-old monthly poetry series, and helps coordinate the poetry programming at the 14th & V location. He teaches poetry and creative writing to an amazing crew of seventh and eighth graders at Hart Middle School in Southeast Washington, D.C., and to a small class of high school students at the Emerson Preparatory School in Dupont Circle. He is a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, and resides in Mount Rainier, Maryland.
Elizabeth Boyd is a writer, editor, and educator with expertise in the cultural history of the U.S. South. A Mississippi native, she grew up in Jackson in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement, an experience she credits with her decision to learn, teach, and generally “tell about the South.” After an early career in journalism, she earned a master of arts in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi and a doctorate in American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. She then taught, thought, and wrote about the South at colleges and universities including Vanderbilt University, the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Mississippi. Her role at Teaching for Change includes historical research, identifying primary documents, and drafting lessons on the people’s history of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi. When she is not devising novel ways of enhancing the K-12 curriculum, she enjoys sea kayaking, thrift shopping, and cheering on the Washington Nationals.
Usually, I am asked if I was named because of the “country” so I use my name to educate people that America is not a country but a continent. I am from Guatemala. I was forced to flee my country in 1982. For the first six months in the U.S.A., I did not get a bed because I thought the “revolution” was going to win and we could go back soon. Twenty five years later, I am still here, we did not win the revolution, nothing has changed back in my country, but I got a bed. I started working for Teaching for Change with the Tellin’ Stories Project in February 2008 as a program manager and community organizer. I like working with such a diverse group of women in a collaborative, supportive way that I could not get anywhere else. I have three children: one lives in Mexico, one in Pittsburgh, and the youngest is finishing college in Providence, RI. I love biking to work, swimming and my passion is doing ceramics. My great accomplishments are my children.
Tamar Cloyd believes Marcus Garvey was right when he said, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” A native of Chicago, Tamar’s father was dedicated to not only chronicling her family’s history in America, but unveiling the legacy and origins of the so-called black man and woman around the globe. This dedication sparked her curiosity to better understand the collective history of all mankind and to identify how she could best serve the world. Tamar went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Michigan State University and a master’s degree in community social psychology from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. She has over 10 years of experience working in the nonprofit sector, primarily in the area of fund development and communications. Tamar resides in Columbia, Maryland with her husband and three sons.
Born and raised in Phoenix, AZ, Lauren fled the 110°+ summers as soon as she could to attend the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies in California, an alternative college that presumes students are inquisitive individual learners, not passive consumers of education. She discovered how wonderful and challenging learning can be when the student is able to actively participate in the educational process. She studied media and sociology, and graduated in 1998 with a BA in Visual Sociology: Film and Societal Issues.
With an interest in independent media, she worked at the Phoenix New Times back in Arizona, and then the Independent Press Association in San Francisco, accumulating six years of professional publishing experience ranging from editorial to distribution, from marketing to client and vendor management. She was able to fuse her educational and publishing experience when she joined the Teaching for Change staff in 2007. She is a coordinator of the Zinn Education Project. She’s Native American (Creek and Pima) and enjoys “being around books and people who read them.”
The library, poetry readings, bookstores, thrift stores, weekend flea market on U and 9th – you can always find Monét Cooper anywhere you find a book. Now a middle school teacher in the D.C. area, this Georgia Peach hopes her students find the same power of words in the stories, poems and articles they discover in her classroom as she did in her parents’ kitchen. Educating a child is an act of justice, which means empowering a child to own the processes of thinking, acting, speaking, questioning and self-empowerment. When she is not teaching or peddling books, you can find her in one of D.C.’s museums, writing, talking to her ridiculously dope grandma in Georgia, reading a favorite book and perfecting the baking and eating of German Chocolate Cake (and trying not to burn anything in the kitchen). In the winter months she dreams of hot and sticky Atlanta summers in the pool with a glass of lemonade. She gives a panoply of shout outs to her 8th grade reading students, who continue to achieve their best with excellence and sans excuses.
Allyson Criner Brown joined Teaching for Change in September 2010 as associate director and program manager of Tellin’ Stories, our nationally recognized approach to family engagement. A former middle school teacher, she has experience ranging from working with middle school youth to partnering with business and community leaders. Allyson holds a master’s degree in public administration with a concentration in nonprofit management from The George Washington University, and she has received awards from the National Academy of Public Administration and the National Forum for Black Public Administrators. Allyson is driven by experiences in the field and managing programs in community based nonprofits that focus on education, youth development and social justice.
A native of Oakland, California, Allyson is an avid cyclist who enjoys the bike lanes and trails of the metro D.C. area. In her spare time, she also enjoys cooking, exercising and reading recommended books from the history and literature sections in Teaching for Change’s Busboys and Poets Bookstore.
Originally from the Inland Empire in Southern California, Cat earned her bachelor’s degree in Global Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), where she was also very involved in the Asian American Studies department and served as a student advocate at the UCSB MultiCultural Center. After relocating to DC in 2010, she briefly worked with Earth Day Network, and then served as a Corps Member with City Year Washington, DC, an education-focused nonprofit, where she worked as tutor, mentor, and role model for the first and second grade students of DC Scholars Stanton Elementary in Southeast DC. When not at the Teaching for Change Bookstore, Cat can be found working as a conference planner for a nonprofit that advocates for the rights of migrant and seasonal farmworkers in the US. Cat enjoys exploring the sights and sounds of DC, baking cupcakes, and trying new Vietnamese restaurants.
Convinced that her future career title would read Advertising & Design Mogul, Mykella chose to major in marketing at the University of Maryland, College Park, where she was a member of the highly select, nationally acclaimed Hinman CEOs living-learning program. But it was in an African American Rhetoric class where she discovered her true passion. Words. Inspired by the ability of such titans as Frederick Douglass, Cornel West, and Maya Angelou to shape a culture’s ideas through the seductive power of language, Mykella decided to add writing to her list of artistic pursuits. When she’s not working on her first novel, she spends her time as the most recent member of the Teaching for Change admin team. But if you really need her and can’t find her, try looking in a comfy corner somewhere. You’ll probably discover her there, hiding out, curled up with her nose in a book.
Raised in the middle of The Great Swamp in the noble state of New Jersey, Wiley spent her formative years reading everything she could get her hands on, but four years of immersion in a justice-oriented, woman-empowering, queer-friendly university culture was what turned her into the enthusiastic social-justice advocate she is today. While at Smith College in Northampton, MA, Wiley worked as a Digital Music Monitor, but her work as a community educator on transgender rights was her true passion. When not working at Teaching for Change, Wiley draws compulsively, cooks compulsively, connects with Feministe writers over Twitter, and doesn’t take the same route to the grocery store twice, if she can help it.