Click on a staff person’s name to view their biography.



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



Lauren Cooper, Coordinator, 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



Enid Lee, Virtual Scholar



 Staff Biographies



Allison Acosta, Communications Coordinator

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.



Don Allen, Publications Director

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.


Lena Cohen Amick, Bilingual Parent Organizer

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.


Lauren Cooper, Coordinator, Zinn Education Project

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.”


Pat Corekin, Administrative Associate

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, Associate Director

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 Bookstore.



Julian Hipkins III, Curriculum Specialist and Mississippi Teacher Fellowship Project Director

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.



Iris Jacob, Professional Development Specialist

Iris Jacob is an author, activist, educator and change agent. Iris has facilitated inclusion trainings at numerous conferences, institutes and schools and given keynote addresses about diversity awareness, women’s empowerment and multiracial experiences. In her free time, Iris enjoys spending time with her friends and growing family. She has a deep passion for chocolate, love, and great conversation.



Erika Landberg, Special Project Assistant

Erika Landberg has just joined the staff of Teaching for Change, but her relationship with the organization dates from her 14 years as Program Director at DC VOICE when the two organizations often worked in partnership on public school reform projects. As the daughter of two public school teachers, she has been involved in public education in some way or other since birth. A former teacher, she was an activist public school parent as her two sons attended and graduated from the DC Public Schools. She served as a PTA president numerous times and also as co-chair of the city-wide organization, Parents United. She served two terms as an elected member of the DC Board of Education. She is still personally involved in the DC Public Schools through her sons, with two grandchildren attending one school and the other son serving as a bilingual counselor in the school system. She also serves as an active lay leader at All Souls Unitarian Church, a diverse congregation deeply involved in multiple civil rights and social justice issues.


Deborah Menkart, Executive Director

Raised in D.C., Deborah’s activism began in junior high school when she protested D.C.’s “taxation without representation” and the “dresses-only” dress code for girls. The dress code changed, but D.C.’s colonial status continues. Her perspective on the world was shaped by being the first born in the U.S. of European immigrants on both sides of her family and being raised by a single mother who worked as a dressmaker. During the 1970s Deborah lived in San Diego, California, where she worked as a shipyard electrician and was active in the antiwar, women’s, international solidarity, and labor movements. Through all of these experiences she decided that for any social justice movement in the U.S. to succeed, a change in pre-K—12 education is essential. Since 1989 she has been pursuing that goal in her work at Teaching for Change.



Mykella Palmer-McCalla, Communications and Media Associate

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.


Jenice View

Dr. Jenice L. View is an Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Education at George Mason University. For more than 20 years, View has worked with a variety of educational and nongovernmental organizations, including a public charter school, the Just Transition Alliance, Rural Coalition, the Association for Community Based Education, and LISTEN, Inc. to create space for the voices that are often excluded from public policy considerations: women, people of color, poor urban and rural community residents, and especially youth. She has a BA from Syracuse University, an MPA-URP from Princeton, and a PhD from the Union Institute and University. View, a native of one of the last U.S. Colonies (Washington, D.C.), is the proud mother of two daughters, Ava and Leah. She hopes to pass on her inheritance of being a politically aware and socially active woman that she received from many including her paternal grandparents (among the first organizers in the Nation of Islam in the 1940s), and her parents (who have helped form and sustain many local D.C. community institutions).


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