Click on a staff person’s name to view their biography.
Allyson Criner Brown, Tellin’ Stories Project Manager
América Calderón, in memoriam
Jazelle Hunt, Documentarian
Erika Landberg, Special Project Assistant
Iris Jacob, Professional Development Specialist
Sandhya Rajan, Professional Development Coordinator
Don Allen, Publications Director
Deborah Menkart, Executive Director
Allyson Criner Brown, Associate Director
Allison Acosta, Communications Coordinator
Mykella Palmer-McCalla, Creative Coordinator
Pat Corekin, Administrative 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.
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.
Born in Phoenix, AZ, Lauren fled the 110°+ summers as soon as she could to attend the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies in California. In this program, housed in a living/learning environment built on community and consensus, students are responsible for designing their educational path, evaluations are given in lieu of grades, and graduation contracts are negotiated with peers, professors, and administrators. 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 and manages the HowardZinn.org site. 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 is the associate director of Teaching for Change and leads the Tellin’ Stories parent empowerment project, recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Harvard Family Research Project as a leading innovation in family engagement. She is a parent, educator, and seasoned practitioner who has received prestigious honors from the National Academy of Public Administration and the National Forum for Black Public Administrators. Allyson has represented Teaching for Change in interviews, articles, symposiums, and workshops for Education Week, The Atlantic, ThinkProgress, NPR, the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. A former middle school teacher, Allyson holds a master’s degree in public administration from The George Washington University and is driven by her experiences in schools and community-based nonprofits that focus on education, youth development, and social justice. Originally from Oakland, Calif., she is an avid cyclist who lives with her husband and daughter in Washington, D.C.
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 language, Mykella decided to add writing to her artistic pursuits. Today, she’s the Creative Coordinator of Teaching of Change and helps manage the website and all things visual. 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.
Sandhya is a passionate educator with over 20 years of experience working with children and families in a variety of educational settings. She hails from the Bay Area in California, and after attending Howard University where she earned a BA in History and African Studies, Sandhya proudly claims the DC Metro area as her second home. Sandhya understands that education is one of the most vital tools for the youth, families and communities of DC to tap their power. She is extremely delighted to join Teaching for Change in the movement to “build social justice starting in the classrooms!”
In her spare time, Sandhya enjoys exploring the cultures of the world through literature, travel, food, music, dance and human interaction. She also volunteers as a Doula dedicated to supporting women and their families before, during and after childbirth.