Home » Events » Educational Justice Symposium 2014 – Participant Bios

Educational Justice Symposium 2014 – Participant Bios

Cris Beam is an author and professor in New York City. Her most recent book, To the End of June: The Intimate Life of American Foster Care (Houghton Mifflin-Harcourt, 2013), was named a 2013 New York Times Notable Book, and was a best book on several year-end lists including NPR, New York Magazine and The Boston Globe. She is also the author of Transparent: Love, Family and Living the T with Transgender Teenagers (Harcourt 2007), which won a Lambda Literary Award and was a Stonewall Honor book. Her young adult novel, I am J, was released by Little, Brown in 2011 and was named a Kirkus Best Book and Library Guild Selection, and is the first book with a transgender character to be placed on the state of California’s recommended reading list for public high schools. Her short memoir, Mother, Stranger, was published by The Atavist in 2012 and quickly reached the top ten on Kindle Singles. Cris’ work has also been featured in the New York Times, The Awl, The Huffington Post, The Guardian and on This American Life.

Cris teaches creative writing at Columbia University and New York University. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction from Columbia University and has received fellowships from the Point Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, and the Corporation of Yaddo.  She’s currently working on a novel.

Sharieff Clayton is currently a Program Coordinator for the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES) where he is responsible for the continuity of program services and CBO linkages for clients. In this capacity he also participates in gang identification, deterrence and engagement of gang‐involved youth. Additionally, he has traveled extensively throughout the country speaking about the perils of mass incarceration and marginalization. To this end Clayton has partnered with the NYS Division of Parole to conduct student training sessions throughout NYC Department of Education in efforts to deter students from behavior that leads ultimately to death or incarceration. In 2007, Clayton authored his debut novel Honor Amongst Thieves, which has provided compelling insights into the culture of urban life and mores.

Tiffany DeJaynes received her Ed.D. in Communication and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research involves participatory, ethnographic methods for engaging youth in research with and through media, technologies, and literacies. She currently teaches qualitative research in the New York City public schools and graduate courses in practitioner inquiry at The City College of The City University of New York.

Eric J Fernandez is a Social Entrepreneur with interests in people’s life stories and how they are influenced by their societal structure. Eric’s employment background includes 6+ years of experience working alongside court-involved youth populations (foster care, juvenile/criminal justice, probation and parole-involved) in positions of an Case Worker and Youth Coach in New York City, as well as consulting with non-profit organizations that provide services to court-involved youth. Eric is also a research assistant (volunteer) at Teachers College, Columbia University studying the dynamics of the connection court-involved youth have with arts, media, education, and justice.

Michelle Fine is a Distinguished Professor of Social Psychology, Women’s Studies and Urban Education at the Graduate Center, CUNY.  A student of Morton Deutsch at Columbia University, Fine was trained in the tradition of Kurt Lewin. Her work addresses theoretical questions of social injustice that sit the intersection of public policy and social research, particularly with respect to youth in schools and criminal justice.  After 12 years as The Goldie Anna Chaired Professor of Human Development at the University of Pennsylvania, Fine joined the Graduate Center at the City University of New York in 1992. Fine’s work integrates critical psychological theory with feminist and post-colonial theory, participatory designs, qualitative and quantitative methods and strong commitments to research for social justice.

The Hon. Douglas E. Hoffman has been the Supervising Judge of New York County Family Court since July, 2009, and is an Acting Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York. Judge Hoffman was first appointed to the Bench in 1996 by then‐Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman to preside in New York County Housing Court. Mayor Michael Bloomberg thereafter appointed him as a Criminal Court Judge in 2003. Judge Hoffman was made an Acting Justice of the Supreme Court and assigned to Family Court, first in Kings County and then Bronx County. Mayor Bloomberg appointed Judge Hoffman as a Family Court Judge in 2005.

Prior to appointment to the Bench, Judge Hoffman served in various positions with the Civil Division of The Legal Aid Society, including Litigation Director for the Bronx Neighborhood Office, Director of Training, Attorney‐in‐Charge of The Brooklyn Office for the Aging, and staff attorney for the Harlem Neighborhood Office. Judge Hoffman served as Law Clerk to Hon. Anne E. Thompson, United States District Judge, District of New Jersey, for two years following graduation from New York University School of Law. At NYU, he was a Root‐Tilden‐Kern Scholar and Arthur Garfield Hays Fellow in Civil Liberties.

Judge Hoffman is a member of numerous professional organizations and serves as Chair or a member of a wide array of Family Court‐related Committees. He is married with three teen‐aged children.

Melanie Hibbert is a media producer for Columbia University School of Continuing Education where she produces videos online for course content. Melanie is a doctoral student at Teachers College, Columbia University in the Instructional Technology and Media program. She has a B.A. in media studies from the University of Florida and M.ED. from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She was an Alaska Teaching Fellow for two years and taught in a village school located in rural Alaska; she was also an Arthur T. Zankel Fellow for two years, working with youth involved in the criminal justice system in NYC.

Demetrius Johnson

Kristine Rodriguez Kerr is pursuing an Ed.D. at Teachers College, Columbia University in Communication and Education. Before returning to graduate school, Kristine taught English language learners in the Boston public school system to first-year high school students. For the last four years, she has been part of the Reimagining Futures: Digital Arts and Literacy project in New York City. She is currently a research partner in BrightBytes. As a facilitator of creative writing and digital literacies workshops, Kristine encourages youth to create portraits of their lives and reflect upon their future goals through multiple modes and a variety of authentic audiences.

Joshua Laub is the Director of Youth Development for District 88 for the New York City Department of Education. During his ten-year tenure as a high school principal in the South Bronx, Joshua became aware of problems in the school system’s delivery of a wide range of social and academic supports to the City’s most needy children. This was most evident in the uncoordinated treatment of young people transitioning back to school after long-term suspensions and incarceration.

Now, in an effort to decrease recidivism among suspended and incarcerated students, as well as improving their chances to graduate, the Office of Safety  and Youth Development is launching an effort to engage school teams to rethink their current practices for young people in transition. This effort includes intense training for the adults, supervising mentors for the young people, and connecting these students to a wider array of resources and services in the community, including tutoring, housing, health, and employment.

Yasmin Mistry is an Emmy-nominated designer and animator based out of Brooklyn, NY. Her work has been displayed in exhibitions, film festivals, and design publication worldwide including recent showings at the United Nations and the Louvre.

When not working as an artist, Yasmin dedicates her time to the foster care children of New York City. As a Court Appointed Special Advocate, she received the 2012 Advocate of The Year Award for her dedication to getting services for foster care children with special needs. Yasmin was inspired to create this film when she realized the voices of the children she worked with were not being heard and their stories never told.

Ahram Park is a doctoral student at Teachers College, Columbia University. Ahram’s research focuses on how digital artifact can highlight awareness, raise questions, and catalyze dialogues about the issues facing the communities in which she participates and beyond. She has a masters in International Educational Development from Teachers College, Columbia University and bachelors in business administration and communication from The Ohio State University.

Kenny Phillips is the Artistic Director of the Foster Care Program at The Possibility Project. He holds a B.A. in Communication Studies and has been involved in the arts since the age of four. He has studied music and theater passionately for over twenty years. During college Kenny began directing and producing shows alongside his pursuits as an actor and musician. Kenny first began volunteering for The Possibility Project as an acting coach in 2005 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. From 2007-2009 he continued to work for TPP as the Artistic Director of that program. During this time Kenny also had the opportunity to mentor youth in the Big Buddy program, helping develop their afterschool curriculum and teaching classes in theater and conflict resolution. Kenny relocated to New York to lead the Foster Care Program as Artistic Director in March of 2012 and is entering into his 8th year of youth development work.

Joe Rogers, Jr. is the founder and facilitator of Total Equity Now, a nonprofit organization that empowers Harlemites and other Uptowners as active participants and decision makers in advancing educational excellence and equity. He also doubles as a senior researcher and civic-engagement specialist with the Campaign for Educational Equity at Teachers College, Columbia University.

A former co-chair of Manhattan Community Board 9’s Youth, Education and Libraries Committee, Joe currently serves on the board of directors of the Harlem Council of Elders, a nonprofit organization that engages senior citizens in facilitating and strengthening learning opportunities for children. Having mentored a local elementary-school student for over four years, including three with The Brotherhood-Sister Sol, he co-founded the annual Harlem Mentoring Fair in order to ensure more young people the benefit of positive, empowering mentoring relationships. Joe is also a sought-after speaker and panelist, delivering remarks and participating in public discussions at local schools, colleges, and universities several times a year.

Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, Ph.D. (New York University), is Assistant Professor at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research interests include racial literacy development in urban teacher education, critical English Education with Black and Latino male high schools students, culturally responsive pedagogy, and the narratives of african American college re-entry women. Her work has appeared in Teachers College Record, Journal of Curriculum & Pedagogy, Urban Review, English Quarterly, Adult Education Quarterly and she is co-editpr of a special issue of Journal of Negro Educationon teacher preparation and the Black community.

Daniel Stageman is Director of Research Operations in the Office for the Advancement of Research, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and a PhD candidate in Criminal Justice at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He has worked in a variety of settings as an educator with serving and ex-prisoners of all ages, as well as middle and high school students in the New York City public schools. He works to incorporate everything he learned about racial and social justice during his years as a practitioner into his research agenda, which focuses on the influence of political/economic context and profit motive on federal-local immigration enforcement partnerships.

Taylor Turntime

Lalitha Vasudevan, Ph.D. (University of Pennsylvania) is Associate Professor of Technology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University in the Communication, Computing, and Technology in Education Program. She engages participatory, ethnographic, and multimodal methodologies to study how youth craft stories, represent themselves, and enact ways of knowing through their engagement with literacies, technologies, and media. Lalitha is co-editor of two volumes — Media, Learning, and Sites of Possibility (Peter Lang, 2007) and Arts, Media, and Justice: Multimodal Explorations with Youth (Peter Lang, 2013) — and has published her work in a variety of journals including Curriulum Inquiry, Digital Culture and Education, English Education, Review of Research in Education, and E-Learning and Digital Media.



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