Click on a staff person’s name to view their biography.
PROGRAMS AND PROJECTS
América Calderón, Parent Organizer, in memoriam
ADMINISTRATION and COMMUNICATIONS
Deborah Menkart, Executive Director
Nakeesha Ceran, Associate Director
Allison Acosta, Communications Manager
Mykella Palmer-McCalla, Creative Coordinator
Pat Corekin, Publications Specialist and Office Manager
Lauren Cooper, Howard Zinn Website Coordinator
Jesse Hagopian, Zinn Education Project, Writer and Organizer
Ana Rosado, Zinn Education Project, Researcher and Writer
Abby Saul, Zinn Education Project and Social Justice Books, Social Media
Ursula Wolfe-Rocca, Zinn Education Project, Writer and Organizer
Allison joined the Teaching for Change staff in 2015. 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 has been active in social justice movements since high school. Allison is active in her children’s school and in D.C. education issues. Her photographs of the D.C. punk scene have been published in books and newspapers, and you can find some of them at the D.C. Punk Archive.
Nakeesha “ Keesha” Ceran is motivated by her passion for social justice to positively impact and influence her circles, both domestically and globally. She strives to present a mindset that focuses on equality and equity and is actively involved in community development, particularly as it relates to education policy, Haitian advocacy, and women’s interests in politics and racial reconciliation at the intersection of faith. A first-generation American of Haitian immigrants, Keesha has lived in many parts of the U.S. An Ohio native, Keesha grew up in a college town, spent her adolescence and first few years of college in California, and a year with family in New York before settling in the D.C. Metro area for the last 12 years. Keesha holds three degrees in Political Science and is a proud community college graduate and a double alumna of American University. She currently serves as a member-at-large of the American University Alumni Board and spends her off time volunteering with a local organization striving for racial unity & justice within the church. A lover of words, you’ll often find Keesha with a book in hand, taking notes with her colorful pens. Keesha enjoys running, listening to music and traveling, among many other interests.
Lauren Cooper started at Teaching for Change in 2007 as a Publications Associate managing the mail order catalog, online store, and bookstore accounts. In 2008, she helped launch the Zinn Education Project (ZEP), and was ZEP’s project coordinator for the first 10 years. In that time, she also took on the role of Howard Zinn website coordinator, beginning with a site re-vamp in 2014. In 2018, she earned an MLIS degree at the University of Maryland, College Park specializing in archives and digital curation. She became the project manager and librarian for the Colored Conventions Project (CCP) at the University of Delaware (a collaborative student/faculty/librarian digital humanities project that brings the buried and scatter histories of 19th-century Black activism to digital life) while continuing part-time as the Howard Zinn website coordinator. In 2020, she, along with CCP, moved to Penn State University to launch the Center for Black Digital Research, #DigBlk. She continues her work on the Howard Zinn website as the digital curator, implementing scholarly digital work and publishing to foster new engagement with the life and legacy of Howard Zinn. Read more.
Jesse Hagopian teaches high school Ethnic Studies and English Language Arts in Seattle. Jesse is an editor for Rethinking Schools magazine and the director of the “Black Education Matters Student Activist Award.” Jesse is the co-editor of the books, Black Lives Matter At School: An Uprising for Educational Justice, and Teaching for Black Lives, and editor of the book More Than a Score: The New Uprising Against High Stakes Testing. Jesse is the recipient of the 2019 “Social Justice Teacher of the Year” award from Seattle Public School’s Department of Racial Equity, the Seattle NAACP Youth Coalition’s 2019 “Racial Justice Teacher of the Year” award winner, and the 2013 national “Secondary Teacher of the Year” award winner from the Academy of Arts and Sciences. He plays a lead role at the Zinn Education Project’s Teach the Black Freedom Struggle campaign. Read more at Jesse’s website, I Am An Educator. See Jesse’s articles and lessons at the Zinn Education Project site.
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 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.”
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.
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.
Ursula Wolfe-Rocca has taught high school social studies since 2000 in a public school in a suburb of Portland. Ursula is on the editorial board of Rethinking Schools magazine. She has written articles and lessons on voting rights, redlining, deportations, COINTELPRO, climate justice, Red Summer, the Cold War, and more. The era of U.S. history she finds most inspiring, humbling, and relevant is always the one she is currently unlearning, relearning, and building curriculum around. See Ursula’s articles and lessons at the Zinn Education Project site.