Ed Trust-West launches fellowship to elevate key education equity thought leaders

Dec. 12, 2017

The Education Trust-West’s new Senior Equity Fellows initiative aims to advance the organization’s advocacy for educational justice and high academic achievement for all California students.

Comprising public policy, business, academic and community leaders, the eight first-cohort fellows will participate in a nine-month fellowship designed to provide a platform for California’s educational equity leaders. Fellows were selected based on their contributions and commitment to creating policies and practices that rapidly improve the lives of disenfranchised youth, including students of color, English learners and low-income students.

“We hope that our Senior Equity Fellows will help shape the state’s future educational equity policies and practices as well as advocate for equitable education for all of California’s students,” said Ed Trust-West Executive Director Ryan Smith.

“Far too many children in California have to overcome economic and social barriers in order to even begin competing at the same level as their peers, (when) resiliency and perseverance become part of their daily efforts to succeed,” said Senior Equity Fellow José Atilio Hernández, founder and president of IDEATE California. “This fellowship provides an opportunity for my colleagues and I to further develop and advocate for the solutions that will impact our most vulnerable students.”

The Senior Equity Fellows, whose profiles follow, will be available for speaking engagements, research opportunities, and participation in taskforces that advance equitable education throughout the state.

• Tyrone Howard is professor in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA. He is also the associate dean for equity, diversity and inclusion, and he is the director and founder of the Black Male Institute at UCLA. Howard’s research examines culture, race, teaching and learning. He has published more than 80 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters and technical reports. His most recent book, “Expanding College Access for Urban Youth” (Teachers College Press, 2016) documents ways schools and colleges can create higher education opportunities for youth of color, and he also recently published “Black Male(d): Peril and Promise in the Education of African American Males.” Howard was the recipient of the 2015 UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award. In 2016 and 2017, he was listed by Education Week as one of the 50 most influential scholars in the nation, informing educational policy, practice, and reform.

• Francisca Sánchez has served in a variety of leadership, administrative and teaching positions at the district, county office, regional and state levels, including as associate superintendent for educational services with Hayward Unified School District and chief academic officer for San Francisco USD. She also served as president of the California Association for Bilingual Education for two terms. Sánchez has been named to a number of influential national and state task forces and served for many years as a member of the statewide Curriculum and Instruction Steering Committee. This year, she was elected to the Board of the National Association for Bilingual Education and serves as secretary on the Executive Council. She is currently CEO of Provocative Practice, an educational consulting organization.

• Betty Hung is Asian Americans Advancing Justice-L.A.’s policy director, overseeing the organization’s strategic policy and advocacy initiatives to promote equal access and equal justice for Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities in solidarity with other underserved communities. Hung helped to co-found the national Asian American Pacific Islander DACA Collaborative, as well as the statewide multiracial College for All Coalition. The College for All Coalition partnered with Sen. pro Tem Kevin de Leon in 2016 to enact landmark state legislation that promotes equal opportunity, access and success for low-income and underrepresented students to attend and graduate from California’s public universities. Hung is actively involved in intersectional movement building and serves on the boards of several community organizations. She has been honored by Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, the Japanese American Citizens League, National Lawyers Guild, and Sexual Assault Crisis Agency. She is a graduate of Harvard University and Yale Law School.

• José Atilio Hernández has worked for the past 18 years developing and implementing policy solutions at the local, state and federal levels. Currently, he serves as the founder and president of IDEATE California, a public relations and policy management firm. He is also the founder of IdeateLabs, a non-profit policy think tank and training lab. Prior to IDEATE California, Hernández served as director for external affairs and community relations for ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career. Hernández worked for six years in the California State Senate as the director of policy and development, and he is currently a board member on the California Public Utilities Commission’s Low-Income Oversight Board. He began his public engagement and community relations work at Latino Issues Forum. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of California at Berkeley.

• Andrea Venezia is an associate professor in the Public Policy and Administration Department and executive director of the Education Insights Center (EdInsights) at California State University, Sacramento. Her work focuses on improving student readiness for, and success in, postsecondary education, particularly for students who are traditionally underserved. She also runs the CSU Student Success Network and co-runs the California Education Policy Fellowship Program. Before she joined Sacramento State, Venezia worked at WestEd, the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, Stanford University’s Bridge Project, and a variety of other state, federal and nonprofit organizations. She has written numerous reports, chapters, articles and books. Venezia received a Bachelor of Arts in English from Pomona College, a Master of Arts in Administration and Policy Analysis in Higher Education from Stanford University, and holds a Doctorate in Public Policy from University of Texas at Austin.

• Samuel J. Casey serves as the executive director of Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement. COPE, founded in 2000, is dedicated to building effective leadership among clergy, community members and parents through local, regional and national trainings that build the capacity of individuals to revitalize the communities in which they live, work and worship. COPE has successfully organized and led outreach campaigns in support of San Bernardino City USD’s Task Force for African American Student Achievement and the Local Control Funding Formula. Casey has received numerous awards for his social justice/prophetic work in the community, including the 2012 NAACP Advocacy and Justice Award. He is the senior pastor and founder of New Life Christian Church.

• Aurea Montes-Rodriguez is the executive vice president of Community Coalition, a social justice non-profit based in South Los Angeles that serves as a vehicle for everyday residents to tackle the most pressing community issues. She possesses a wealth of experience as a community organizer and champion for equity. Montes-Rodriguez oversees the strategic direction of education reform campaigns to address the role policy plays in creating a more equitable society that can dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline and develop the next generation of leaders. She is a co-founder of Partners for Children South L.A., a multiagency initiative that seeks to improve children’s development and reduce the risk of involvement with the child welfare system. She is also a member of the Building Movement Project, working to build capacity within the non-profit sector to promote social justice.

• Connie Wun is the founder and director of Transformative Research, an institute that trains organizations and community groups in community-driven research and data analysis and also works with agencies as a strategic partner on issues of racial/gender advocacy. In this capacity, Wun has worked with organizations such as Girls for Gender Equity in NYC. She has also been a recipient of the National Science Foundation Fellowship, American Association for University Women Postdoctoral Fellowship, and University of California at Berkeley Chancellor’s Fellowship. She is a former high school teacher, advocate for sex workers, and anti-sexual assault counselor. Wun holds a Doctorate in Education from UC Berkeley. Her work has been published in Critical Sociology, Education Policy, Educational Theory and Practice and Race, Ethnicity and Education. She has also written for The Feminist and Truthout.org, and is currently working on a book manuscript on schools and violence against girls of color.

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