Staff

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

 

PROGRAMS AND PROJECTS

Allyson Criner Brown, Tellin’ Stories Project Manager, Associate Director
Rosalie Reyes, Coordinator of Teacher Engagement and Professional Development

Katie Orr, Communications Manager, Zinn Education Project
Cierra Kaler-Jones, Education Anew Fellow

América Calderón, Parent Organizer, in memoriam

 

ADMINISTRATION

Deborah Menkart, Executive Director
Allyson Criner Brown
, Associate Director, Tellin’ Stories Project Manager
Allison Acosta, Communications Coordinator
Mykella Palmer-McCalla, Creative Coordinator
Pat Corekin, Administrative Associate

 

SPECIAL PROJECT CONSULTANTS

Alison Kysia, Project Director, Islamophobia: A People’s History Teaching Guide

Enid Lee, Virtual Scholar

Jenice View, Civil Rights Movement, Senior Professional Development Specialist

 

 Staff Biographies


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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.


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Allyson Criner Brown, Associate Director

Allyson Criner Brown, MPA, is the associate director of Teaching for Change. She is an educator, facilitator, public speaker, writer, advocate, and seasoned practitioner who is nationally known for her work at the intersection of racial equity and family engagement. Allyson fervently believes that deep and systemic inequalities that harm the rights, dignity, and potential of people of color and low-income families can be undone, and she pursues this ambition through her work in education. Since 2010, she has led the Tellin’ Stories parent organizing project, recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Harvard Family Research Project as a leading innovation in family engagement. Allyson applies a critical literacy approach to children’s book reviews for Teaching for Change’s SocialJusticeBooks.org project and as part of the See What We See coalition of writers, scholars, educators, librarians, and activists. Most recently, she began producing and hosting the Freedom Reads: Anti-Bias Book Talk video series. Among her proudest accomplishments, Allyson contributed an essay, “Engaging and Embracing Black Parents,” to Lisa Delpit’s most recently published book, Teaching When the World is on Fire (The New Press, September 2019), and she features in chapter 8 of Sir Ken Robinson’s You, Your Child, and School (Penguin Random House, 2018).  She is the editor of the second edition of Between Families and Schools: Creating Meaningful Relationships (2016) and Teaching for Change’s Parent-Principal Chats Manual (2019). Allyson has represented Teaching for Change in interviews, articles, symposiums, conferences, and workshops for Education Week, NPR, The Atlantic, ASCD, ThinkProgress, PTO Today, the U.S. Department of Education, the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and more. When the opportunity arises, she enjoys hanging out with LeVar Burton and hosting events with thought leaders such as Ibram Kendi and Lisa Delpit. Locally, she represents Teaching for Change in the Coalition for DC Public Schools and Communities (C4DC), is an active member of the Ward 7 Education Council, and serves on the leadership committee of Black Women Bike DC. A former middle school teacher and track and field coach, Allyson’s professional experiences are centered around schools and community-based organizations that focus on education, social justice, and youth development. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from The George Washington University and served on the Advisory Board for the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration. Originally from Oakland, Calif., she lives with her husband and two daughters in Washington, D.C., where she is a proud DCPS parent and a huge fan of D.C.’s parks, trails, pools, and community organizing efforts. To get a sense of what drives Allyson’s passion for education and social justice, listen to this story she shared in 2014 about her time as a teacher and her work organizing with parents in a DC Public School that serves predominantly Black students: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqQ0aIEQUp0.


Cierra Kaler-Jones, Education Anew Fellow

Cierra Kaler-Jones comes to Teaching for Change as the Education Anew Fellow through Communities for Just Schools Fund. She is currently a Ph.D. student in the Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership at the University of Maryland, College Park studying minority and urban education. Her work examines how Black girls use arts-based practices (such as movement and music) as forms of expression, resistance, and identity development. As an educator, Cierra has worked with preschool students, K-12 students, and college students. She previously served as an intern and fellow at the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. Cierra is also an arts education advocate — she teaches dance classes for all ages, choreographs for local companies, and runs a program that offers culturally-sustaining arts-based programming and curriculum for girls. Her experiences teaching, running community-based art programs, crafting policy, and conducting research all shape her commitment to social justice and educational equity. She enjoys taking and teaching fitness classes, going on road trips, and writing. Cierra is excited to join Teaching for Change and Communities for Just Schools Fund to support their work in transforming education.


Alison Kysia, Project Director

Alison Kysia is the project director of “Islamophobia: a people’s history teaching guide” at Teaching for Change. Previously, she designed Islamic studies and anti-Islamophobia teaching modules for adult education audiences, including religious leaders, social justice activists, and teachers. She taught U.S., world, and Islamic history in an urban community college and English language to adult immigrants. Alison holds a B.A. in Race, Class, and Gender Studies and an M.A. in History. In addition to being an educator and curriculum developer, she is also an avid potter who is creating a three-part public art installation called “Islamophobia: A dhikr in clay.”


DEBORAH MENKART PHOTO

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.

Katie Orr, Zinn Education Project Communications Manager

Katie Orr is a public historian and history communicator who grew up in the Harpers Ferry area west of Washington, DC. Both inspired by the power of the First Amendment and disenchanted with American leadership after reading All the Presidents Men at 16, she tested for her GED and left home to earn a B.A. in journalism from Marshall University in Huntington, WV, and then a Masters in U.S. History from American University in 2011. Before joining the Zinn Education Project, Katie was a National Park Service Historian working to promote inclusive K-12 education at Parks and expanding the scope of narratives told by the National Park Service to emphasize underrepresented or marginalized perspectives. She is interested in national conversations about identity and geography, education policy, and the healing power of relevancy in history. Katie credits Joe Strummer of The Clash for her political awakening and aspires to be as thoughtful as bell hooks and as steely as Alice Paul. Off hours, she volunteers for social justice through her local Unitarian congregation, serves as a National History Day judge annually, and is always looking forward to the next camping trip in Shenandoah.


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Mykella Palmer-McCalla, Creative Coordinator

Mykella Palmer is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park where she was a Banneker/Key Scholar and a member of the highly select, nationally acclaimed Hinman CEOs living-learning program. She has over 15 years of web and graphic design experience and manages the design of all things visual for Teaching for Change and the Zinn Education Project.


Rosalie Reyes, Coordinator of Teacher Engagement and Professional Development

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Rosalie received her M.S.Ed., in education entrepreneurship from the Graduate School of Education and Wharton School of Business. Rosalie comes to Teaching for Change from the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center, where she served as a museum educator, curriculum designer, and movement and mindfulness instructor for children with special needs. Focusing her research and practice of anti-bias education with support from the Early Childhood Education Initiative at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Rosalie is passionate about educational equity and exploring race and representation in children’s literature.  Rosalie is a native to the Bronx, NY where she began her career as early childhood educator at a local HeadStart program. Rosalie enjoys yoga, reading poetry, and supporting her community’s farmer’s market.


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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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