Click on a staffperson’s name to view their biography. You can find former staff here.
Allyson Criner Brown, Tellin’ Stories Project Manager
Lena Cohen Amick, Bilingual Parent Organizer
América Calderón, in memoriam
Beatriz Bedoya, Bilingual Program Assistant
Jazelle Hunt, Documentarian
Erika Landberg, Special Project Assistant
Iris Jacob, Professional Development Specialist
Don Allen, Publications Director
Najmah Ahmad, Publications Advocate
Derrick Weston Brown, 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
Amrita Wassan, Publications Advocate
Chris Towne, Publications Advocate
Izetta Mobley, Publications Advocate
Grace Wingo, Publications Advocate
Mae Wiskin, Publications Advocate
Lauren Cooper, Coordinator, Zinn Education Project
Alison Kysia, Program Associate, Zinn Education Project
Jenice View, Civil Rights Movement, Senior Professional Development Specialist
Julian Hipkins III, Curriculum Specialist and Mississippi Teacher Fellowship Project Director
Deborah Menkart, Executive Director
Allyson Criner Brown, Associate Director
Allison Acosta, Communications Coordinator
Pat Corekin, Administrative Associate
Mykella Palmer-McCalla, Communications and Media Associate
SPECIAL PROJECT CONSULTANTS
Enid Lee, Virtual Scholar
Allison joined the Teaching for Change staff as communications coordinator in 2015. She has been active in social justice movements since high school. She worked in the labor movement with Jobs with Justice doing communications for more than a decade. Allison earned a BA in Sociology with a concentration in Multicultural and Ethnic Studies from Bard College. A lifelong D.C. resident, she is now raising her own children in the city. She is active in her children’s school and in D.C. education issues.
Najmah has been a Washington, D.C. transplant since 2009. Originally from Ohio, she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, Gender & Diversity Studies from Xavier University in Cincinnati and a Master’s in College Student Affairs from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL. She is currently pursuing a degree in Education Law. Najmah has always enjoyed working with young people and has worked at various universities in residential life and student affairs. Her experience also includes serving underrepresented youth through college preparation and mentoring organizations. When Najmah is not working at the bookstore, she works full time at a youth-serving nonprofit as the Director of Curriculum Outreach.
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.
Lena Cohen Amick earned her bachelor’s degree at Oberlin College and resides in Washington, DC. She grew up in western Massachusetts as part of an all-women’s karate dojo called Valley Women’s Martial Arts that taught her, “I Am Somebody!” Through labor organizing, immigration advocacy, mental health support, and conflict mediation, Lena fights for that same quality of dignity and justice for people of every class, race, gender, and sexuality. She teaches self defense classes for women and girls, and she believes no one is free until everyone is free. Lena loves writing, drawing, and building communities centered around pizza. She probably wants to join your book club.
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 the coordinator of the Zinn Education Project. She’s Native American (Muskogee Creek and Akimel O’otham) and enjoys “being around books and people who read them.”
Overly influenced by grunge music in the ‘90’s, experimental writers like Samuel Beckett, Paul Auster, and Gertrude Stein, and volunteering many hours at animal shelters, Pat found her way into the 21st century by accident. Starting out as an experimental poet under a pen name, she stumbled upon conceptual web development as an art form. She is developing a site that will feature poetry dealing with mental illness, substance abuse, and ending homelessness. Pat currently lives with an Anatolian Shepherd named Lexi who takes up most of her studio apartment. When not working, writing, or coding, Pat and Lexi roam the streets of DC in search of poetry. And most nights, they find their way home.
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.
Julian Hipkins III is an award-winning U.S. history teacher with a passion for the hidden histories of Reconstruction and WWII history. Hipkins served as a social studies teacher at Capital City Public Charter School in Washington, DC for seven years. His classroom was the go-to model of people’s history instruction, with filmmakers and observers including a French film crew, Backstory, Mississippi students and teachers, and the Japanese minister of education. In addition to his regular teaching responsibilities he has been a Critical Friends Group facilitator, coach of the debate team, National History Day sponsor, and We The People competition adviser.
Hipkins has received numerous awards including the Agnes Myer Outstanding Teacher Award and Gilder Lehrman D.C. History Teacher of the Year. He is a member of the National History Day board of trustees and has traveled to France twice with the NHD Normandy Institute. He has participated in numerous seminars including the National Expeditionary Learning Conference, the Civic Voices workshop, and the Little Rock Nine Expeditionary Learning Conference. Hipkins taught English in Japan for eight years. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in History from Morehouse College and earned his Master of Arts in Teaching from American University in December 2010. Read more.
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 a 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.