Beyond our experience as educators, coaches, and professional developers, what makes The Equity Collaborative unique is an effective and pressure-tested approach to adult learning.
Our approach to educational equity is based on some key beliefs:
The fundamental opportunity in equity work is helping adults to grow and change so that they can better support students to grow and change.
No educator entered the field with the desire to create inequity, but inequitable systems persist because of gaps between our intentions and the actions we take and conditions we provide.
Systemic change requires active engagement of all levels of a system, and the most powerful change is possible when people work across levels of hierarchy and across differences.
All change requires practice. Systems change when the people in that system choose something to shift, practice it, and engage in feedback loops to reflect and adjust their change efforts.
The single most fundamental change that schools can make to create more equitable learning environments is to base decisions on the needs of students rather than the desires of adults.
Our approach to educational equity promotes:
High levels of engagement among participants.
Intrinsic motivation to change.
The adoption of new mindsets, beliefs, and values that facilitate shifts in behavior and practice.
Capacity-building among leaders, coaches, and educators in the skills that seed sustainable organization change.
We bring a deep knowledge of school systems, from the classroom level to the central office to the board level. We’ve taught in diverse public schools, designed and led schools, been district-level administrators, and offered innovative professional development and coaching services. We also have a broad network of content experts with whom we subcontract as needed to ensure that every piece of every contract is delivered with a high level of expertise and precision.
The Equity Collaborative: Partners
Jamie Almanzán is a facilitator, teacher, curriculum developer and leadership coach currently working as an Equity Leadership Coach and the owner of The Equity Collaborative in Oakland, California. Prior to leading The Equity Collaborative, he held the position of Senior Coach at the National Equity Project. He has also held the position of Director of Learning and Teaching at Pacific Educational Group in San Francisco. He has focused his career on working with school and district teams to create more equitable learning environments. His goal is to incorporate observation, collaboration, and changing instruction to best meet the needs of underserved populations, particularly African American and Latino students. He is involved in systemic school reform initiatives and is responsible for the development and facilitation of leadership seminars for state, regional, and district teams across the country. He leads professional learning and coaches in a wide range of schools and districts in California and nationally.
Graig Meyer is a social worker, educator, and youth development specialist working as an Equity Leadership Coach and partner in The Equity Collaborative. He has 16 years of experience leading equity work in public schools. Additionally, he was the director of the nationally recognized Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate program. He also served as the Director of Student Equity and Volunteer Services for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro (NC) City Schools. He was one of the co-creators of the Students’ Six: Strategies for Culturally Proficient Classroom Practice, which has been nationally recognized for its innovative use of student voice to train teachers in research-based best practice. Additionally, he works with school districts and nonprofits nationally from his base in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He is also a member of the North Carolina General Assembly.
Aaron Johnson is a teacher, administrator, higher education faculty member, and author, currently working as an Equity Leadership Coach with The Equity Collaborative. He has 20 years of experience in public education and has served as a classroom teacher, principal, director of instruction, and assistant superintendent, with a commitment to equity in public school environments. He most recently served as the assistant superintendent for diversity, equity, and inclusion in a public school district. He has presented at several local, regional, and national conferences, with an emphasis on developing literacy for African American students in schools. He is the author of A Walk in Their Kicks: Literacy, Identity, and the Schooling of Young Black Males, published by Teachers College Press. He is the creator of the Black Male Literacy Paradigm, which is a framework used by schools to engage Black youth in school literacy practices. Aaron is also active in the Detroit area and started the nonprofit The American Literacy Society, whose vision is to engage citizens in literacy to participate in the democratic process.
Bettina Umstead believes that every child is born with purpose and potential, yet the impacts of systemic racism create significant barriers for children of color to thrive. Upon graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Arts in Middle Grades Education, she sought opportunities to fight for equity in education. She worked for ten years at Student U, a community organization that uses the power of education to build a just and equitable Durham, walking alongside Black and brown families on their journey to and through college. Under her leadership, 100 percent of students graduated from high school and 90 percent matriculated to post-secondary education. Her direct service work led to her interest in systemic change to have a greater impact on the lives of students and families. In 2016, she was appointed to the Durham Public Schools Board of Education, where she currently serves as Board Chair. She enjoys serving in her community, spending time with family and friends, and cheering for the Tar Heels.
Jessica Gammell is a facilitator, coach, and teacher who catalyzes adult learning by attending to both the technical and relational aspects of change. She is an Associate Certified Coach, with a credential from the International Coaching Federation. In her work as a high school math teacher and assistant principal in the San Francisco Bay Area, she experienced firsthand how adult professional communities, when committed to learning together and focused on disrupting systemic oppression, could significantly impact student achievement. Her journey to spread that experience to others led her to the National Equity Project and Partners in School Innovation, where she coached school and district leaders and facilitated networks focused on school transformation through equity-centered continuous improvement.
An exemplary educator with rich and varied experiences, Miya Hayes is a trailblazer in the educational field. After teaching bilingual kinder in rural Texas, she worked for a national company integrating technology into secondary classroom instruction. From there, she began work in college access, equity, and inclusion at the University of California, Berkeley, with a focus on low-income, first-generation college bound, and/or historically underrepresented students and their families. In her nearly 18 years with UC Berkeley, she has honed expertise in working with schools and districts (locally and across the state) in developing, promoting, and sustaining college-going culture to support all students in their post-secondary choices. Specifically, this work involves curriculum and course development for AG approval; teacher, counselor, and adviser coaching; and training. She has continued to break new ground working with major districts and organizations in California as well as at the university level to develop and implement policies and practices to support for African American students to and through post-secondary institutions.
Mary Hannula is a high school social studies teacher, facilitator, culturally relevant curriculum trainer, and equity coach/lead teacher currently working at Roseville Area High School, located in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. She has focused her career on reducing the opportunity gap for marginalized populations. Recently, her coaching has focused on transforming curriculum through guiding teachers in the use of an absent narrative lens. She leads equity trainings and coaches teachers on both the high school and district level to use race-based conversations to change practice. She is passionate about creating systemic educational change. She has presented and facilitated at conferences in Minnesota and nationally.