Meet the diverse and dedicated staff of the National Equity Project.
LaShawn Routé Chatmon, Executive Director
Lchatmon (at) nationalequityproject.org
LaShawn Routé Chatmon is the founding Executive Director of the National Equity Project, leading the organization’s transition from the Bay Area Coalition for Equitable Schools (BayCES). Under her leadership, the National Equity Project has become one of the leading voices in a movement to change the conversation and approach used to achieve racial equity in education. LaShawn has a 13-year tenure in the organization and previously served as a coach and director of the high school redesign initiative, where her team pioneered new school design processes, principal network development and site coaching that transformed educational experiences and outcomes for teachers and students in Oakland, CA.
Prior to joining the National Equity Project, LaShawn served as a teacher and leader at Redwood Day School, Alameda, CA; The Wheeler School, Providence, RI; and Berkeley High School, Berkeley, CA. While at Berkeley High, she served as Co-Director for The Diversity Project with Dr. Pedro Noguera at the University of California at Berkeley. The Diversity Project is a school-university action research project designed to address the disparity in achievement between white students and students of color and to investigate the causes of racial separation.
LaShawn is a contributing author in the book Class Dismissed: A Year in the Heart of An American High School a Glimpse into the Heart of a Nation and has presented at numerous education conferences and convenings across the country. She was a MetLife Teaching Fellow, and is currently a LeaderSpring ED Fellow. LaShawn earned a B.A. in political science from University of California, Berkeley; a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Brown University; and an Administrative Credential from California State University, Sacramento’s Urban Leadership Program. LaShawn is a California native and resides in Oakland, CA with her husband and their three sons.
Victor Cary, Senior Director
Vcary (at) nationalequityproject.org
Victor Cary has worked in education for over 40 years, starting as a high school teacher in Richmond, CA. As Senior Director at the National Equity Project, he leads the development of our equity-centered coaching and leadership model, and currently facilitates Leading in C.A.O.S. (Complex, Adaptive, Oppressive Systems) with educators and communities across the country, particularly collective action initiatives.
Prior to joining the National Equity Project, Victor served as Director of the California Alliance for Mathematics and Science (CAMS) Initiative – a statewide initiative aligning secondary and post-secondary institutions around mathematics. He also served as Director for Regional Center and School Support in the national office of the Coalition for Essential Schools. He received his B.A. and Teaching Secondary Credential from UC Berkeley, and M.A. in Education from Stanford University.
Lisa Lasky, Senior Director
Llasky (at) nationalequityproject.org
Lisa Lasky has worked in education for over 25 years as a teacher, leader, school and district coach, and has led several organizational and system change projects across the country. Before joining the National Equity Project in 1995, Lisa worked with Theodore Sizer at the national office of the Coalition of Essential Schools – a national school reform movement that began with five high schools and expanded to thousands of schools and several centers across the country.
She moved to the Bay Area from the East Coast to grow a local center (BayCES). As a founding member of our organization, Lisa has served in many roles including Associate Director, Director of Elementary and Middle Schools, Director of the School Grants Program and Deputy Director. She currently leads our Leadership Development and Coaching Division – overseeing support and services to a portfolio of clients from California to Mississippi. Lisa holds a B.A. in Sociology and English from the State University of New York, College at Cortland and an M.A. in Education from UC Berkeley.
Sara Gray, Interim Managing Director
sgray (at) nationalequityproject.org
Sara joined the National Equity Project in 2006 and has played many roles in the organization. As Interim Managing Director she currently oversees our finance and operations as well as our marketing and outreach, product development, special events, and is the voice behind our social media. Prior to joining the National Equity Project, Sara worked in nonprofits spanning the arts, advocacy, and criminal justice. Sara holds B.A. in American Studies from Trinity College and is pursuing a certificate in Graphic Design from UC Berkeley.
Kathleen Osta, Regional Director, Midwest Region
kosta (at) nationalequityproject.org
Kathleen rejoined the National Equity Project in 2015 as the Regional Director of our Midwest Region. Kathleen previously served our Associate Director before leaving to do independent consulting for a few years. During her 12 years in the organization, Kathleen delivered professional development and provided coaching services to school, district, and community leaders, collaborated on the development of a Coaching for Educational Equity methodology, and was responsible for program development and operational management of the organization. She previously worked as a School Social Worker and Project Facilitator for the Comer School Development Program in the Chicago Public Schools where she led the development of school-community partnerships and facilitated multi-disciplinary teams responsible for meeting the academic and social emotional needs of children and families. Kathleen has also served as a bilingual kindergarten teacher and has done extensive research on educational approaches aimed at meeting the needs of racially and culturally diverse learners. Kathleen earned her undergraduate degree from the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio and a Masters in Social Work from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago.
Brett Bradshaw, Senior Associate
bbradshaw (at) nationalequityproject.org
Brett joined the National Equity Project to support our expansion of Leading for Equity services in January 2010. He works with partners in the Midwest including the Kellogg Foundation on racial equity initiatives in school districts and communities, and contributes to program development, fundraising, and other areas. He has expertise in Promise Neighborhoods and Collective Impact initiatives. Previously, Brett was Senior Director of Strategic Communications at the Coalition of Essential Schools, where he developed and implemented its national communications and advocacy agenda. Previously, he taught elementary school in Los Angeles and was a member of the founding leadership team of a small, autonomous high school in Austin, Texas. He holds an M.A. in public affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School at the University of Texas.
Colm Davis, Senior Associate
cdavis (at) nationalequityproject.org
Colm has extensive experience coaching principals, district leaders, leadership teams, and Professional Learning Communities to improve instruction and support the development of effective learning partnerships with historically underserved students. Together with Mark Salinas, Colm co-leads our Center for Equity Leadership, which offers professional development services, networking and community events, and our Leading for Equity Fellowship program – all in service of building equity-focused leadership at multiple levels. Prior to joining the National Equity Project in 2004, Colm worked as a Fellow Advisor for the New York City Teaching Fellows, developing curricula for the Fellows program, teaching a graduate course on curriculum and instruction, and coaching new teachers. In addition to teaching pre-school children in Head Start programs, Colm taught English and Core Humanities at Satellite High School in New York City. Colm received his B.A. from Carleton College and his M.A. in English Education from New York University.
Dana Fitchett, Events & Marketing Associate
dfitchett (at) nationalequityproject.org
Dana recently moved to the Bay after having been born and raised in the Boston area, and returning to Boston after attending college in New York. Prior to landing at NEP, she worked with Oakland’s Family Independence Initiative and also with multiple education and social justice organizations in Boston, including the Boston Compact, the Wheelock College Aspire Institute, and the Steppingstone Foundation. Most of her work has focused on justice in schools, transformative family engagement, and support and retention of teachers of color. In addition to her innate passion for justice, Dana has an insatiable appetite for dance, music, and art; she teaches Afro-Modern House Dance classes in Oakland and sustains projects in dance and visual art, which often also intersect with justice work. She holds an A.B. in Urban Studies from Vassar College and a certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from Tufts University’s Institute for Nonprofit Management and Leadership.
Heidi Gill, Senior Associate
hgill (at) nationalequityproject.org
Heidi has extensive experience coaching principals and teachers and leading professional development both site-based at schools and through leadership cohorts. She re-joined the National Equity Project staff in 2009. Most recently Heidi was a coach in Emery Unified School District supporting teachers and administrators. She is a leader of our Teaching for Equity services, responsible for program and staff development. Heidi has over 20 years of K-8 teaching experience, including middle school math and science. She has also worked as a literacy consultant, and focused her Master’s work on teacher inquiry.
Daneen Keaton, Associate
dkeaton (at) nationalequityproject.org
Daneen joined the National Equity Project in September 2015. Daneen’s educational career began as a high school student when she tutored at her elementary school. Since then it has always been a priority of hers to learn and grow in order to best serve young people, especially students of color and those who live in poverty. As a school leader Daneen’s strengths were uniting people around a student centered vision and creating school wide systems and structures focused on improving adult practices that in turn increase student achievement. Most recently, she was the principal at Cesar Chavez Public Charter School Capitol Hill Campus in Washington D.C. where she led the school in transforming its grading practices and improving school culture – changes that resulted in the school graduating the largest class in its history. Prior to her time in D.C., she was a founding teacher and leader at East Oakland Community High School in Oakland, CA and a math teacher at Thurgood Marshall Academic High School in San Francisco, CA. Daneen holds a BA in secondary mathematics education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MA in Educational Leadership from CalState Hayward. She was also in the New Leaders 2008 cohort. Most of what she has learned comes from years of listening to and collaborating with students, families, teachers, and other colleagues. Daneen loves this work and the people she serves. She continues to be grateful for the opportunity to impact the lives of our young people and therefore our world.
Deja Kono, Business Operations Manager
dkono (at) nationalequityproject.org
Deja joined the National Equity Project in October 2015 to provide support for our internal business operations. Her experiences growing up in Oakland and attendance at local public schools fostered a longing to see equity and justice across the city, and inspired a commitment to working toward that reality. Most of her work has focused on collaborative engagement to buttress quality education, housing, and economic opportunities that support healthy communities. Prior to joining NEP, Deja worked as project coordinator for the Center for Youth Wellness and for Alameda County Public Health Department, and focused on program development, management, and community engagement at both organizations. She holds a BS in Biochemistry from Notre Dame de Namur University and currently serves as an Advisory Board Member at the Center for Community Health and Engagement at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland.
Tom Malarkey, Senior Associate
tmalarkey (at) nationalequityproject.org
Tom has worked with the National Equity Project since 1996 and specializes in equity-centered inquiry practice with teachers, teams, and whole schools. He is a lead developer of our Partnerships for Learning services. For the last twenty-five years, he has focused his work on urban schools, teachers, and students. He has taught high school English and first grade, and was the director of the Summerbridge Program in San Francisco, an academic empowerment program for middle school students. Tom holds an M.A. in international development education from Stanford University and is currently working on his Ph.D. in Education at UC Berkeley, focusing on the dynamics of collaborative teacher inquiry and its relationship to equity and urban school change. In addition to being a school and leadership coach at the Project, he has co-led the Teacher Inquiry Project and led the Inquiry for Equity Network. You can read his article, “Inquiry for Equity: What Does it Mean for Teacher Research?” here.
Rachel Rosen, Associate
rrosen (at) nationalequityproject.org
Rachel joined the National Equity Project the summer of 2015. As the newest Associate, she provides facilitative and instructional leadership coaching, as well as professional development to district leaders, principals, teacher leaders and teams. Prior to joining NEP, Rachel worked in Oakland Unified School District for nine years. She started her teaching career in OUSD at Castlemont High School in 2006. After teaching there four years, she went on to become an Administrator at Elmhurst Community Prep for four years. At Elmhurst, she held a school change vision that involved restorative justice and also held a vision for teacher collaboration and professional learning. Rachel has a passion for working with students outside the sphere of success, and she cares deeply about creating conditions for students to have access to more opportunities and ultimately equitable outcomes. Rachel holds a B.A from Austin College and an M.A. in Educational Policy, Leadership, and Organizational Studies from Stanford University.
Mark Salinas, Senior Associate
msalinas (at) nationalequityproject.org
Mark has worked for the National Equity Project since 2002. He provides facilitative and instructional leadership coaching, as well as professional development to district leaders, principals, teacher leaders and teams. Mark was born and raised in San Francisco, and attended San Francisco public schools. He received his B.A. from San Francisco State University in African American Studies, as well as his Teaching Credential. Prior to joining the National Equity Project, Mark helped start a new high school in San Francisco where he taught and coordinated grade level teams, as well as a variety of student leadership groups. In the mid-90’s, Mark taught one of four pilot Academic Literacy courses that became the foundational work for the nationally recognized Reading Apprenticeship framework for the Strategic Literacy Initiative (SLI). Mark has a passion for working with students furthest from opportunity, and has spent several summers leading intervention programs for middle school students in New Orleans, Berkeley, CA, and San Rafael, CA. Mark is a proud parent of two young boys and a self-described “family guy.”
Asha Sitaram, Associate, Research Services
Asitaram (at) nationalequityproject.org
Asha joined the National Equity Project in January 2013. In her role, she both facilitates professional development experiences for district leaders, principals, and teacher leaders, as well as provides expertise in the design and execution of the organization’s research and discovery services in order to help leaders better sense and understand their contexts and articulate their equity challenges.
Prior to joining NEP, Asha worked at the Akanksha Foundation in Mumbai, India, where she designed and managed a year-long leadership fellowship to prepare teachers for future leadership roles in the organization’s growing network of schools serving children from under-served communities. Asha also taught third grade social science in two Akanksha schools. In addition to her work at NEP, Asha’s research experience includes leading and publishing participatory research on women’s health, community development, and disaster resilience across six states in India. Furthermore, while a student at Stanford’s M.A. program in International Educational Administration and Policy Analysis, Asha conducted various studies, including her M.A. research on South African history education and the development of students’ critical consciousness. Asha loves all forms of dance and taught classical Indian dance for over a decade to youth and adults in Canada. She also enjoys travel, snowboarding, and meditation.
Rodney Thomas, Senior Associate
rthomas (at) nationalequityproject.org
Rodney Thomas joined the National Equity Project in August 2016. Most recently he was Special Assistant to the Superintendent in Madison, Wisconsin and responsible for the implementation and design of district wide strategic initatives. Rodney began his career as an 8th grade teacher in Chicago Public Schools where he was honored as Teacher of the Year. After spending several years in the classroom, Rodney transitioned into the private sector and worked for several fortune 500 companies (Accenture, Motorola, Unilever, ABN AMRO) with a focus on organizational development and design, executive coaching, change management and leadership development. Rodney made the decision to come back to Chicago Public Schools and was responsible for several large scale projects from the implementation of Freshman On Track to the co-creation of The Chicago Leadership Collaborative, a principal training and support program. Rodney currently resides in Chicago and is the proud father of a teenage daughter and mentor to many.
Quan Truong, Accounting Associate
qtruong (at) nationalequityproject.org
Quan joined the National Equity Project in October 2015. She was born and raised in Oakland and attended local public schools and community colleges; she holds an A.A. in Accounting and Business Administration. Quan has gained most of her accounting experiences with private companies. She is grateful for the opportunity to join our Finance Team to help improve our community. Quan is a proud parent of one young boy and she is known as the “Sports Mom.”
Hugh Vasquez, Senior Associate
hvasquez (at) nationalequityproject.org
Hugh Vasquez joined the National Equity Project as a Senior Associate in January 2010 with responsibility for developing and expanding our Leading for Equity work. He works with a range of school district and nonprofit partners to plan and implement racial equity initiatives. He was most recently the Executive Director of the San Francisco Education Fund, a non-profit working to bring educational equity to public schools. Hugh is a partner with the Center for Diversity Leadership and the founder of the Todos Institute in Oakland, whose mission is to help individuals and groups heal from the effects of oppression, build cross-cultural alliances, and create environments where youths and adults from all cultures are honored, valued, and respected. Hugh has worked with hundreds of organizations to establish diversity initiatives and has provided training to thousands of individuals. He is a presenter with Speak Out, a national organization providing top speakers on social justice topics. He is a primary cast member in the award-winning film The Color of Fear and appeared with the rest of the cast on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Hugh is also the lead facilitator in the film Skin Deep, a documentary on race relations with college students. He has co-authored the books No Boundaries: Unlearning Oppression and Building Multicultural Alliances and Making Allies Making Friends: A Curriculum For Middle Schools, as well as published various articles on strengthening cultural roots and eliminating privileged systems. Hugh has a Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.