Waterford.org is pleased to announce the appointment of an esteemed group of national education equity thought leaders to its National Advisory Committee on Inclusive Practices (NACIP). Formerly known as Taking All Students to Success in Early Learning (TASSEL), the committee serves as an advisory body to Waterford.org leadership to support the development of strategies and programs aimed at advancing access, excellence and equity for all learners.
Members of the NACIP bring their national perspective and lens for inclusive excellence to:
Veda Ajamu serves as the Managing Director of DEI Programs and Community Engagement at the National Civil Rights Museum where she has worked since 2010. In addition to her work there, Veda is a passionate and longtime criminal justice reform advocate and a Justice Reform Fellow at FAMM. She also has served on the Institute of Museum and Library Services Museums for America Community Anchors (2021) and Wayfinder Foundation Community Activist Fellowship Program (2018) grant review panels. Ajamu is the recipient of Southwest Tennessee Community College 2020 Carter Godwin Woodson Award of Merit for her personal and professional work.
Natalie Alvarez has been with the Greater Phoenix Urban League (GPUL) for over 25 years and is now the Chief Operating Officer. She has dedicated her career to working with children and families; the GPUL provides one of the largest Head Start programs in the city, providing services to Phoenix’s most vulnerable populations. Natalie partnered with Tucson Urban League and State of Black Arizona on the No Ceilings on Success, Education Equality for All program, examining if and how Arizona is advancing equity in schools. The team has been meeting with the community to not only bring awareness around the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) State plan, but to hold the State leaders accountable.
Luis Chavez, a senior director with Career Ladders Project, has worked with more than 75 community colleges across California, in coalition with many of their K-12 districts and community partners to address student success and equity issues. His driving mission is to ensure that Latinos and other underserved students are prepared and have equitable access to postsecondary opportunities that builds familial prosperity, supports their identities, and acknowledges their contributions and values their communities.
Luis serves as the Equity Chair on the Education Subcommittee for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), is a founding member of the Latino Institute for Corporate Inclusion, which he has led since 2011, and helped create the Latino Tech Summit to foster diversity and inclusion in Silicon Valley.
A transfer alumnus of Mt. San Antonio College, Luis holds a bachelor’s degree from UC Irvine and a master’s degree from California State University, Dominguez Hills. His training also includes programs with the Harvard Institutes for Higher Education, the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility, the Harvard Business School, and UCLA Anderson School of Management’s Latino Leadership Institute.
Jacob Crane is from the Tsuut’ina Nation, Alberta, Canada. He attended Utah Valley University in pursuit of a Business Management degree with a minor in International Business, pausing his scholastic endeavors to focus on his career and small business passion. Currently, he is the Executive Director for a new startup nonprofit, Culture Fire Events Inc which specializes in hosting Indigenous events, gatherings, and celebrations that focus on building community and strengthening bridges to the greater Utah area. When he is not event planning, he fights for climate justice with Indigenous Climate Action (ICA). In past years, Jacob was part of the Renewing Indigenous Economies cohort through the Hoover Institute located at Stanford University. He also received congressional recognition from Secretary of State Deb Haaland for his work in Indian Country.
Advocating for Indigenous rights is something that Jacob holds dear to his heart and has contributed to the work that he does now, shaping his outlook on ensuring BIPOC communities have a seat at the decision-making table. By creating space for Indigenous people, Jacob believes that we advance not just diversity and inclusion but equity and transformational change.
Carrie Gillispie is a Senior Policy Analyst of Early & Elementary Education at New America. She conducts research and develops policy recommendations related to young children in special education as a part of the Early Childhood team. Prior to joining New America, Carrie was a Senior P-12 Associate at The Education Trust, an instructor and graduate assistant at The George Washington University, a contractor for the U.S. Department of Education, a school psychology trainee in North Carolina and Massachusetts, an assistant special education teacher in Maryland and Hawaii, and a research trainee at the National Institute of Mental Health.
Carrie holds a doctorate in Special Education and Disability Studies from The George Washington University, a master’s degree in School Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from Bates College.
Matt Grimes (he/him/his) is an award-winning Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) scholar-practitioner whose work centers on helping organizations develop a highly skilled, culturally proficient, & racially diverse workforce at all levels. A multiracial-millennial, functional poverty survivor, and education evangelist, Matt unapologetically advocates for social justice and courageous conversations by practicing asset-based framing and co-designing anti-racist practices and policies.
Matt has spent the last decade providing culturally responsive leadership, consultancy, thought-partnership, training, and executive coaching services to schools, non-profits, cities, and corporate organizations in New York, Massachusetts, Arizona, Ohio, Spain, and various countries in Latin America.
Matt currently serves as the Head of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion for the Cleveland Guardians Baseball Organization. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish & Multicultural Studies from Siena College and earned his Master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he served as an Equity & Inclusion Fellow. Matt received his Doctor of Education degree from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in leadership and equity. Matt is also a former United States Fulbright Scholar and Teach For America Alumnus.
Chase Hobson was raised in the Greater Salt Lake Area. He is Yurok, Hoopa, Modoc and Klamath and a citizen of Elk Valley Rancheria (EVR) in Northern California. Chase holds a BA in Integrated Studies of American Indian Studies and Peace and Justice Studies, and a minor in French from Utah Valley University. His academic career also consisted of internships with EVR, American Indigenous Business Leaders, Indian Gaming Association, classes at Johns Hopkins Center for Indigenous Health and certificates in Tribal Leadership & Governance from California Tribal College.
Chase is an involved Tribal member and cares deeply about issues facing his community, culture, and Indigenous people all over Turtle Island. He saw an opportunity to be of service when he became a principal founder of the nonprofit organization Indigenous Health and Wellness Connections (IHAWC), whose mission is to uplift the lives of Indigenous people by providing service, strengthening community, and promoting health and wellness through a culturally-tailored lens. Chase also serves on the board of the Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake.
Lee A. Means (he/him/his) is the Director of Family Equity + Justice at Family Equality. He is a longtime New York City educator with a background in law and the performing arts. He taught in various K-12 environments as a teacher and teacher leader in New York City and Newark, NJ.
Lee has a Bachelor of Arts, Religious Studies, and Doctorate of Jurisprudence from Indiana University. Lee also has a Masters of Science, Education Policy degree from University of Pennsylvania. He has studied courses in Dutch and European Law at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam and ESADE in Barcelona. All these experiences are important parts of his identity as a lifelong learner.
The unifying element of all of Lee’s work has been a heavy engagement with a diverse group of stakeholders, but especially with families and children. Coming from a huge diverse family, it is natural for him to navigate towards families and to seek to understand how they function regardless of geography, composition, socioeconomic status, race, gender identity, citizenry, ethnicity, and sexuality.
Lisia Satini serves as the CHW Program Director for the Utah Pacific Islander Health Coalition (UPIHC) and the Executive Director for Jordan River Support Services. She’s 1st Generation Tongan American born and partially raised in the Bay Area of California. Lisia serves on the Utah Department of Child Family Services Quality Improvement Committee, Mayor Erin Mendenhall Salt Lake City Commissioner for the Racial Equity Policing Commission, Board Member of Utah Clean Cities, and has served in many various capacities . Previously served as Backman Elementary School PTA President, resident board member for University Neighborhood Partners, and advisory board at Neighborworks America (Utah). She has served on the WIC Advisory Board, substitute teacher for the HeadStart Preschool Program, and was an interim director for the Utah Pacific Islander Civic Engagement Coalition (UPICEC). She worked in Social Services for over 7 years at Children’s Service Society of Utah in the Parents As Teachers Home Visitation Program as the Program Manager, and a previous member of the National Child Welfare League of America.
She received her Case Management with the University of Utah College of Social Work program. Utah State Department of Health & Human Services Community Health Worker, QPR/CPR/First Aid certified, DTTAC Diabetes Lifestyle Coach, Living with a Healthy Lifestyle with Chronic Diseases & Diabetes Facilitator, and Certified Medical Interpreter (Tongan).
Emily Simon is currently a consultant with TNTP and the contract she is working on is with the State of Massachusetts to implement a statewide reading foundational skills curriculum for Kindergarten-Grade 2. Her immediate past position was as the Preschool-Grade 2 Program Manager with the Office of Early Childhood Education at Chicago Public Schools where she designed and implemented district-wide professional learning. Within the field of early childhood, her experience includes working as an administrator, teacher, and service provider to children and families in different programmatic models including public schools, federally-funded Head Start, and community-based partnerships. Central to her 15 years of professional experience is working as an advocate and communicating the importance of cultural and educational initiatives to sustain our communities.
Her educational background includes holding a Master of Arts Management, with an interest in Arts, Youth, and Community Development (AYCD), a MSEd in Early Childhood Education with endorsements in Special Education and English as a Second Language, and, most recently, a Ed.M. from the School Leadership Program at Harvard Graduate School of Education/Harvard University.
Dr. Ivory A. Toldson is the national director of Education Innovation and Research for the NAACP, professor of counseling psychology at Howard University and editor-in-chief of The Journal of Negro Education. Previously, Dr. Toldson was appointed by President Barack Obama to devise national strategies to sustain and expand federal support to HBCUs as the executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (WHIHBCUs). He also served as president and CEO of the QEM Network and contributing education editor for The Root.
Dr. Toldson is the executive editor of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Research, published by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. He is also the author of Brill Bestseller, No BS (Bad Stats): Black People Need People Who Believe in Black People Enough Not to Believe Every Bad Thing They Hear about Black People. Ranked among the nation’s top education professors as a member of Education Week’s Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings, Dr. Toldson is an advisory board member for Generation Ready and the Morehouse Research Institute, and on the board of directors for the National Council on Educating Black Children.
Toldson received his Ph.D. from Temple University and has held teaching and research positions at Emory University, Drexel University, Morehouse School of Medicine and Southern University. He also holds an honorary doctorate from Florida Memorial University.
Daniel Vivas is the son of immigrants who migrated to the United States during periods of civil unrest in Nicaragua in the 1980s. He has worked in education for 15 years as a paraeducator, teacher, dean of culture, program director, professor, assistant principal, DEI director, and Principal. Daniel has worked at all levels of K-12, Higher Ed, and in public, CMO, and private schools across the country. He currently serves as the Director of Special Projects for Strive Preparatory Schools in Denver, Co.
Daniel is guided in his work by the principal of Paulo Freire and community-responsive education. He is a firm believer that the point of schooling and education is, and always should be, serving communities authentically while helping ensure cultural perpetuity. He believes that his job is not to save but rather to bear witness and provide support to communities and the struggles they face. He ascribes to the concept of helping make the familiar strange for his students and their families while pushing colleagues and other educators to believe that the world that is is not the world that must be.
He is a product of Miami public schools, where he earned both his high school and International Baccalaureate diploma. He received his bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary, his masters from the City College of New York, and is completing his doctoral degree at the University of Maryland.