Speakers: 2017 Gathering of Leaders

Dr. G Reyes

Dr. G. ReyesComing from East Oakland, California, "Dr. G"Reyes currently works in the Graduate School of Education as a Research Scholar at Stanford University and an Assistant Professor at Mills College. As a professional in the field of Education, he has had a variety of experiences in K-12 schooling, Youth Development, teacher development, and teacher preparation.  He has been blessed to work with committed and passionate professionals, youth, and families as a university lecturer in teacher education; as a high school principal at a small school in East Oakland; an elementary, middle, and high school teacher; an Executive Director and Program Director of a Youth Development community-based organization that focused on intersecting arts and social justice; a teacher/school leader developer/coach; and a youth development cultural worker/program leader developer/coach. 

Dr. G Reyes is a scholar-activist-artivist-public intellectual known for standing.  Standing up.  Standing with. Standing for.  Standing on the corner of the block professing truths and street wisdoms that don’t stop. Standing on rocks. Standing from seeds sown by those who came before.  Standing in concrete fields with new seeds in hand to plant more.  Standing in the pages of history, because history is not predetermined – it is a time of possibility.  Standing tall so he could see. Standing to the side so you could be.  And become. He stands. He don’t run. He stands. But never in the back of the bus.  He stands because he must.   

Jasiri X 

Jasiri XJasiri X is the first independent hip-hop artist to be awarded an Honorary Doctorate, which he received from Chicago Theological Seminary in 2016. This recognition grew out of the spiritual/political urgency and artistic vision he shared on songs like “Justice For Trayvon” and “Strange Fruit (Class of 2013),” which documented the unjust police killings of young Blacks in the Millennial Generation. Likewise, he has been deeply involved with the national Movement for Black Lives, working with organizations like The Gathering for Justice, Blackout for Human Rights, Justice or Else, BYP100 and Sankofa. Still, he remains rooted in the Pittsburgh based organizations he co-founded, the anti-violence group 1Hood as well as the 1Hood Media Academy, which teaches youth of color how to analyze and create media for themselves.

Jasiri emerged on the national scene in 2007 with the powerful hit song “Free The Jena 6” and the groundbreaking Internet video series This Week With Jasiri X, a program that reached millions of Internet views. More recently, his critically acclaimed album Black Liberation Theology (2015) has been recognized as a soundtrack for today’s civil rights movement. He has performed his music from the Smithsonian to the Apollo Theater and has discussed his views on hip-hop, race and politics at leading institutions across the nation, including Harvard University, the University of Chicago, NYU, Stanford, among others. Beyond his work nationally, Jasiri’s focus on social change has also touched the global arena. In 2016, he was commissioned by The Open Society Foundation to travel to Columbia to create a film (War on Us with Grammy Award-winning hip-hop artist Rhymefest) that highlights the international effects of US drug policy in South America.

One of the most important political voices of his generation, in 2015 he received the USA Cummings Fellowship in Music, a BMe Fellowship and a Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Artist as Activist Fellowship.

Dr. Curtis Acosta

Dr. Curtis AcostaDr. Curtis Acosta was a high school teacher for nearly 20 years in Tucson, where he developed and taught Chican@/Latin@ Literature classes for the renowned Mexican American Studies program in the Tucson Unified School District. He is an award-winning educator who was recently named one of the “Top 10 Latinos to Watch in US Politics” by the Huffington Post. Curtis was featured in the documentaries Precious Knowledge and Dolores, and his teaching also received profiles on The Daily Show with John Stewart, CNN, PBS, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times amongst many other media outlets. He has been fortunate to have articles published in The English Journal, Voices in Urban Education, Multicultural Perspectives and the book Educational Courage: Resisting the Ambush of Public Education and Rethinking Sexism, Gender and Sexuality. 

Curtis is also the founder of the Acosta Latino Learning Partnership; an educational consultation firm committed to help educators create empowering and engaging pedagogical practices in their classrooms, schools, and communities throughout the United States. ALLP currently serves school districts and education organizations in California, Texas, South Dakota, Tennessee and Washington.

He is also a founding member of the Xicanx Institute for Teaching and Organizing (XITO), and serves on the advisory board for the Education for Liberation Network where he is organizing Ethnic Studies summits and national assemblies with leading Ethnic Studies organizers and practitioners on the west coast and throughout the nation. 

Curtis received his Bachelor’s of Arts degree from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, and later obtained a Master’s of Arts degree and Ph.D. in Language, Reading, and Culture from the University of Arizona in Tucson. He is currently an Assistant Professor in Language and Culture in Education at the University of Arizona South.

Dr. Darnisa Amante

Darnisa Amante

Dr. Darnisa Amante, as an educational and racial equity strategist, is deeply committed to the study of culture; innovation; and experiential ways to transform organizational and school culture on issues of racial equity. Since earning her master’s degree in Anthropology from Brandeis University, and her doctorate from Harvard’s Educational Leadership Doctorate (Ed.L.D.), Dr. Amante has honed her expertise of culture and communities of color with school and organizational leaders to build capacity in racial equity, parent engagement and design and implementation of equity-based initiatives for leaders, students, and parents.

As the CEO of the Disruptive Equity Education Project (DEEP), Dr. Amante and her team support individuals and organizations using an innovative race and equity framework. This framework and its accompanying toolkit assists schools and organizations in their efforts to surmount the adaptive challenges that arise when working towards racial equity and creating teams that strive together for equitable outcomes. Dr. Amante believes that such challenges can be mitigated using one's purpose; storytelling; and by doing the deep inner work that makes tackling issues of equity, racial equity, and parent engagement so complex for individuals and teams. 

Angela Ward

Angela WardShe manages the Austin Independent School District (AISD) focus on Cultural Proficiency & Inclusiveness and is motivated to study implications of the multiple relationships of education to culture, power, and society. In this role, Angela conducts research, develops and collaborates to offer professional learning opportunities to implement a districtwide level of awareness and attention to issues of bias, bigotry, prejudice and discrimination to eliminate disproportionality and disparities across the system. She directs, organizes and establishes systems and protocols for districtwide Restorative Practices and Culture and Climate innovation. She serves as a liaison to the Central Texas Community and advocates for the safe, welcoming and inclusive development of identity for all students particularly those who identify with marginalized and adversely impacted groups.

Prior to leading this effort as a district administrator she served as campus administrator, teacher leader and classroom teacher. As an expert on differentiation of curriculum, she led her district in writing the first curriculum documents. In collaboration with University of Texas (Austin) partners, Angela presented AISD Central Office Cultural Proficiency work at the 2012 Critical Race Studies in Education Conference, Columbia University. A doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Angela is focused on Cultural Studies in Education. 

She serves on the Greater Austin Area My Brother’s Keeper Violence Prevention & Second Chances Committee, City of Austin Equity Office Tool Planning Team, the Education Committee of the Mayor’s Task Force on Institutional Racism, Austin/Travis County Anti-Hate Crimes Task Force, Equity Advocates and is a founding member of the Collaborative for Racial Equity Work in Central Texas. She served four years on the Learning Forward Texas (LFTX) Board of Directors, an affiliate of the international organization whose purpose is engaging adult learners in the field of education in meaningful, effective professional learning.