Border Crossers Staff

Executive Directors

Benny Vásquez

Co-Executive Director

Benny Vasquez describes himself as a lifelong learner and a seeker of justice. A native of Brooklyn, he graduated from Wesleyan University with a B.A. in African American Studies and Sociology, and completed his Masters Degree in Curriculum and Teaching from Columbia University. He is currently pursuing an MPA at New York University.

Benny’s journey includes working as the Director of Diversity at The Town School, an independent school in New York City. Prior to creating impactful cultural change at Town, Benny was the Director of Education at GLSEN – the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. In this position, Benny worked with educators across the country to create safer schools irrespective of sexual orientation and/or gender identity and expression. He also organized students across the country in celebrating various national days of action that focused on combating the inequalities faced by the LGBTQ community in our schools. His work has included co-chairing the Diversity Committee for the New York Association of Independent Schools, training public school teachers on the Respect For All initiative, collaborating with the NEA in developing materials for No Name Calling Week, and developing social justice focused programing for mission based non-profits. He is also one of the co-founders of The CARLE Institute (Critical Analysis of Race and Learning in Education): An Institute for White Educators in independent schools.

Benny is also a published writer – his work has been included in anthologies focusing on race and identity. He has always had a strong passion for social justice, education reform and anti-racism work within educational settings and lives and breathes in the intersectionality of his work.

Laura Shmishkiss

Co-Executive Director

Laura Shmishkiss, MPA, has committed her life to working for equity, youth empowerment and social justice. She brings over 20 years experience as an educator, trainer, organizer and organizational leader in both non-profit organizations and schools.

Laura’s past roles include School Director at Bronx Community High School, a transfer school in New York City, where she infused structures and policies that supported youth voice, restorative justice and social emotional learning for students. She also founded Coro New York’s “Exploring Leadership,” a youth activism program that trained New York City teens to organize for change in public education. A seasoned educator and trainer who brings an equity lens to all of her work, Laura has provided training, coaching and consulting to hundreds of youth and adults to cultivate purpose-driven, participatory, community-based leadership development in schools and organizations.

Laura is an active White anti-racist trainer and organizer, and is deeply committed to and passionate about racial justice work in her community. She also serves on the Board of Directors at Camp Kinderland, a 90 year old summer camp that promotes social and racial justice education.

Laura earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Colby College, and a teaching certification from San Francisco State University. She was recently featured in The Limited’s “Leading Looks Like” campaign which highlighted the unique ways in which women redefine and inspire leadership. Laura loves to spend time cultivating her small garden in Brooklyn, and nurtures her own vitality through dancing, running and practicing yoga. She is committed to collectively building liberatory spaces where all humanity can thrive.

Bianca Anderson

Dallas-Fort Worth Director

Bianca Anderson, a Dallas native, is a seasoned educator and trainer, as well as a published writer and racial justice advocate who works to dismantle racial inequities in education both nationally and internationally.

In addition to her many years of experience as an elementary and middle school teacher, teacher coach and curriculum developer in Dallas, she also served as the middle school Equity and Inclusion Coordinator at the Greenhill School, and has consulted with organizations such as Teach for America DFW and the Bickle and Brewers Future Leaders Program.  Recently, she served as a Graduate Scholar at the Diversity in Communities, Nations, and Organizations Conference in Granada, Spain, where she presented her published article about the marginalization of Black girls in school.

Bianca received her bachelor’s degree in Communications and African American History from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and is currently pursuing her Masters Degree in Educational Leadership at Dallas Baptist University.

Hannah Lucal

Program and Development Associate

Hannah Lucal is the Program and Development Associate at Border Crossers. She also serves as a trainer.

Hannah is continually learning and working to advance racial justice. Previously, she worked on campaign research and strategy at Color Of Change. Hannah also works with Open MIC, a nonprofit engaging investors to influence corporate policies in areas like online privacy, digital equity and diversity. As a Coro Fellow, Hannah learned about New York City as a system while working in government, business, nonprofit, labor union and campaign organizations. Hannah is a member of European Dissent, a white anti-racist group using the organizing principles of the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. She graduated from Carleton College.

Ana Defillo

Communications Manager

Ana Maria Defillo is the Communications Manager at Border Crossers. Ana has over 11 years of experience in social justice and media. She has a masters from New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, a graduate certificate from Columbia University for Human Rights and a B.A from the University of Central Florida for Cinema Studies and Nonprofit Management. Ana has worked for several NGOs and media organizations in NYC that focus on gender, gender identity, race, Latin America and social justice issues.

Ana has written about many social issues including immigration, race, intersectional feminism, social impact, forced labor, and diversity in media for several online publications such as Fusion, Teen Vogue, Mic, and Americas Quarterly. She was born in Venezuela, raised in Miami, FL and has worked and spent time in Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Sierra Leone, China, and Thailand.

Natalia Ortiz

Training Director

Natalia Ortiz, a mother of two, and a Chilena-Riqueña native New Yorker was educated in the public schools of New York City and brings twelve years of experience as a classroom teacher, university professor, coach, mentor, organizer, writer, and trainer. She is a former founding social studies teacher at a transfer high school located in Brooklyn, NY. She has coached professors with the implementation of writing and student centered pedagogy as a Writing Across Curriculum Fellow at LaGuardia Community College. In addition, she has taught both undergraduate and graduate students in Social Studies Education as part of the Curriculum and Teaching program at Hunter College.

Along with her work in schools and academic institutions, Natalia is a core member of the New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE), a grassroots organization that fights for social justice inside and outside the classroom. As a core member she is the co-coordinator of NYCoRE’s Annual Inquiry to Action Groups (ItAGs), teacher study groups that engage in one topic of interest and develop action projects, such as creating curriculum, resource guides, performances, etc. Natalia is a passionate educator and parent who believes change is necessary and possible in order to ensure equity for all children in New York City.

Natalia co-authored an article titled, Critical Professional Development: Centering the Social Justice Needs of Teachers, in the International Journal of Critical Pedagogy and is featured as one of the four teacher activists in Keith Catone’s recent book, The Pedagogy of Teacher Activism. She also has been invited to speak on panels, present papers/workshops and give keynote addresses at academic institutions and conferences such as the American Education Research Association’s Annual conference, Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Alumni of Color Conference and Teachers College, to name a few. Natalia received her Bachelor’s degree in Latin American Studies from Wesleyan University, her Master’s Degree in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and is currently all but dissertation (ABD) in pursuit of her PhD in Urban Education at The CUNY Graduate Center.

Neriel David Ponce

Administrative Coordinator

Neriel David Ponce is the Administrative Coordinator at Border Crossers. As a queer, Filipino immigrant and a product of NYC public education, his experiences of alienation in higher education and in xenophobic, racist experiences growing up pushed his involvement in organizing spaces in NYC.

He is an active member and co-founder of RAISE, a pan-Asian undocumented youth-led group, leading workshops, panels, and coordinating national work with larger Asian American nonprofit organizations. He has also worked with high school youth, facilitating political education and activism workshops with Chinatown Youth Initiative’s Summer Leadership Institute.

Neriel earned his BA from Hunter College, studying cultural anthropology and Asian American studies, and plans to pursue a degree in Ethnic Studies in the future. In his free time, he loves to travel to new cities, hike, yoga, and write critical pieces on Asian America, and the Filipino/American experience. Neriel fights to see a world where people are rooted in community and racial and social justice, and are free to live as their full selves. He is excited to contribute his experiences in community organizing, facilitation, and sharp political analysis to the growth of Border Crossers.

Roberto Tito Soto-Carrion

Research and Evaluation Manager

Tito is a Bronx, NY native and passionate educator. He currently serves as Research and Evaluation Manager and as a trainer for Border Crossers. Tito’s work is grounded in restorative and culturally sustaining approaches. His past roles include Dropout Prevention Counselor with The Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, where he coordinated culturally responsive social and emotional support services for youth in high schools in Brooklyn and The Bronx. Tito also served as the Restorative Justice Coordinator for Make the Road New York, where he directed restorative approaches to school culture and discipline in four public high schools in New York City.

Tito is currently a member of the Hunter College School of Education faculty in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching where he teaches courses on critical pedagogy and culturally responsive education for pre-service bilingual teachers.

Tito earned his Master’s Degree in sociology from The University of Chicago, with a specialization in education and completed his doctoral coursework as a Ph.D. candidate at Brandeis University.

Monique Wilson


Monique Wilson has been an intern with Border Crossers since summer 2015. A New York native, Monique is now beginning her journey in social justice and racial equality. She is currently a Junior honors student at High School for Environmental Studies, and will graduate in 2018.

Her scholastic achievements include earning Summa Cum Laude for her dedication to academics. Since 2011, she has been a part of Girl Scout Troop 3106 in Manhattan. Additionally, she has been a participating member of the Girl Scout Leadership Institute throughout the school year. Furthermore, she is an officer of the Model UN club at her high school, and is part of the National Honor Society, which encourages community service in NYC neighborhoods.

When she’s not doing extracurricular activities at school, Monique works at Border Crossers. Her experience at Border Crossers has been quite splendid since she started in 2015 as a summer intern. At Border Crossers, Monique does the behind-the-scenes work. For example, she inputs evaluations and sign-in sheets from trainings and prints all materials. She tries to bring ease to her co-workers job because they do so much to address race issues in NYC and Dallas, one training at a time. She plans to bring her experiences at Border Crossers to college and future endeavors.

Border Crossers Trainers

New York City

Jade Nicolette Harriell Arrindell

Jade Nicolette Harriell Arrindell is a native of our nation’s capital who joined Uncommon Collegiate Charter High School as the founding English teacher during the 2012-2013 school year. She served as the founding Special Education teacher during the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years.

Jade was also the 10th Grade Level Lead, Director of Uncommon Brooklyn High School’s Summer Academy, and served as the Assistant College Placement Coordinator from 2015-2016. She has also worked closely with network leaders on Uncommon’s Diversity Facilitation Working Group and Summer Teaching Fellows Program.

As a product of D.C.’s public school system, Mrs. Harriell Arrindell is dedicated to problem-solving some of the socio-economic obstacles that urban youth face. In 2004, she enrolled in Temple’s five year combined B.A./Master’s Program where she pursued undergraduate majors in English and African American Studies, as well as a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction Technology Education and a teaching certification in Secondary English Education.

Ruben Brosbe

Ruben Brosbe is a 3rd grade teacher in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood of New York City with 8 years experience in NYC public schools. He is passionate about social justice oriented project based learning, and finds that young people make the best activists.

Ruben is a Cohort 14 NYC Teaching Fellow and in 2012 earned a Masters in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. When he is not teaching, Ruben likes to explore new neighborhoods in NYC, go hiking, or cook a good meal.

Lyudmila Bryzzheva

Lyudmila (“Luda”) Bryzzheva is a Russian immigrant and a mother of two little men, who are learning to ask questions about race and racism and deal with truthful answers. She is an associate professor of Bilingual and Multicultural Education at Adelphi University, NY. She is a co-founder of the Conversations on Race group and a member of the emerging Racial Justice Alliance at her university.

Randy Clancy

Randy Clancy is an antiracist educator who partners with organizations to cultivate equity, justice, and kindness by exploring the impact of systemic racism on individuals and communities. Randy believes that studying the roots of race and racism, examining history through a critical lens focused on race, and reflecting on one’s own racial story, creates a foundation for understanding power, oppression, and the potential for positive social change.

As a co-founder of the CARLE Institute, Randy has the opportunity to do her most essential work: collaborating with other white people, creating accountable partnerships with People of Color, and challenging racism in schools.

Tatesha Clark

Tatesha Clark was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, where she still resides. A mother, educator, writer and avid beach lover, Tatesha can most often be found with her nose in a book, or fervently writing in one of her many journals.

Educated at Brooklyn College and Bank Street College of Education, Ms. Clark has spent the last seven years of her career as a second grade teacher and Diversity Consultant, with a focus on Anti-racist practices in the Early Childhood classroom.

Bonnie Cushing

Bonnie Cushing is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and an Antiracist Organizer and Educator. She has worked in the mental health field for 25 years as a family-systems therapist and group facilitator, and has devoted herself to the movement for racial and social justice.

She received her MSW from Adelphi University, her training as a family therapist from the Multicultural Family Institute of New Jersey, and her antiracist training from the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. In 2010, she was the Lead Editor of the book Accountability and White Antiracist Organizing: Stories From Our Work, and is currently editing a book about the quest for a spiritualized racial justice practice.

Bonnie is a trainer with the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, a member of the People’s Institute’s Northeast Leadership Collective and its white affinity group, European Dissent, and a co-founder of the North Jersey Chapter of the AntiRacist Alliance. She has been the Vice President of the board of the Center for the Study of White American Culture for the past 5 years, where she also develops curriculum and co-facilitates workshops on issues of white culture, white privilege and white identity.

Nina Czitrom

Nina Czitrom teaches 3nd–5th grade theater at The Calhoun School. She taught kindergarten at The Cathedral School for eight years and at multiple pre-schools for seven years before that. Nina facilitates white affinity spaces at the White Privilege Conference, the CARLE Institute, and in her own school community. She also leads white affinity spaces for young children. Nina was a presenter at the 2014 Little Chairs, Big Differences conference where she co-led with her colleague of color in a workshop titled “Identity Work is Not Just For Children of Color.”

She is currently serving on the leadership team of WARE (White Anti-Racist Educators in Independent Schools). Nina does this all in service of dismantling the system of white supremacy.

Ana Duque

Ana Duque is a learner and educator with a focus on anti-bias and anti-oppressive curriculum building. Ana has taught early elementary in both independent and charter schools and is a proud parent of a 4 and 6 year old.

Aside from working with Border Crossers, Ana also works with the Hispanic Federation assisting families with their children’s pre-literacy skills and consults with teachers and schools on constructing anti-racist classroom communities.

Kate Engle

Kate Engle’s actual favorite hobby is talking to young children about identity, stereotypes, and using their voices to make change. It is also her job! Kate has been teaching 3-year-olds for 10 years, the last 7 at Brooklyn Friends School.

Kate organizes with the Brooklyn Friends School Faculty/Staff White Affinity Group and the city-wide White Anti-Racist Educators in Independent Schools. She has an MSEd in Early Childhood Education from Hunter College and has co-developed and co-presented workshops on Intersectional Identity in Early Childhood, Gender & Sexuality Diversity, and Talking About Differences in Early Childhood.

Anyanwu Glanville​

Anyanwu Glanville​ has been grounded in building connection between people and communities over the last 20 years in Education, Youth Development and Social Justice work. Influenced by her mother, community leaders and ministers in Marin City, CA during her adolescent years she gained a commitment to the legacy of The Civil Rights Movement and Black Panther Party. An experience of persistance and resiliance in the face of struggle led her to learn and receive a BA under the wings of professors in the field of Pan African Studies while researching the sociological impact of racial oppression and transgenerational trauma.

She is now focused on the impact, outcome and healing interventions of PTSD while completing her MA in Human Rights Education from the University of San Francisco. Using social and emotional learning and social justice work she desires safe strategies to disobey societal oppression, unpack experiences of trauma and restore will, hope and connection within the individual and between people.

As a co-founder of THEHUMANROOT she is curating a dream of building a crossroad between lived experiences, critical research and emotional connection to create spaces for human beings to resist oppression and take collective action.

Xiomara Hall

Xiomara Hall is thrilled to be returning to her hometown of NYC after spending the last 7 years in Washington, DC and PA. She has been an educator and administrator in independent schools and higher education since 1999 working with age levels as young as early childhood.

Xiomara’s most recent experience was at a boarding and day high school where she was an administrator and dorm parent. Her passion for the “work” of equity and social justice began in high school and she is honored to work with the Border Crossers community. Her interests include travel, movies, and book club.

Ben Howort

Ben Howort is an alternative educator focused on working with youth and adults on social justice issues. His professional development has been deeply impacted by engaging in the Social Justice Training Institute that took place during his years at Grinnell College. Using social and emotional development as a cornerstone of his practice, he creates safe spaces where students learn to bring their whole self into the community.

Ben uses democratic process, collective decision-making and restorative justice techniques to engage with others around issues of identity and equity. He has worked with students from Pre-K-high school in schools, after school programs, camp and in art studios. For the past 3 years Ben has been working as the Middle School Teacher at the Brooklyn Free School developing and implementing powerful curriculum about race, gender, class and restorative justice. Ben inspires youth to push past their perceived limitations to reach their full potential and sense of self.

Elena Jaime

Elena Jaime has taught in early childhood and early elementary settings for the past thirteen years. She is passionate about her mission to develop “angelic troublemakers” in the school communities in which she works. Elena’s work is grounded in the belief that young children are capable of developing a critical lens and can engage in reflection and action around anti-bias work. Elena has presented at a number of local and national conferences, and has partnered with teachers across New York City as they work to examine the ways in which they can fully integrate equity work into early childhood curriculums.

Elena also co-founded the CARLE Institute for White educators, an institute designed to provide white faculty members with the necessary historical framework, interpersonal skills, and curriculum development strategies they need to teach a diverse student body. Elena teaches second grade at the Chapin School in New York City. Elena received her B.A. in psychology from Wesleyan University and her MS.Ed. in early childhood general and special education from Bank Street College of Education.

Ramon Javier

Born and raised in the Washington Heights section of New York City, Ramón is a life-long New Yorker, proud of his Afro-Latino roots. A member of Prep for Prep’s contingent XI, Ramón graduated from The Hackley School, Williams College and received his MA. & Ed.M in Psychological Counseling from Teachers College, Columbia University.

After college, Ramón worked in law and advertising, but his passion for helping kids led him to education. He worked for Prep for Prep, The TEAK Fellowship, and KIPP NYC in a variety of roles. Currently, Ramon is the Director of Diversity and Community at Trinity School.

Cardozie Jones

Cardozie Jones is a native of Philadelphia, and has worked as a teacher, director, administrator and educational consultant in New York City for over 10 years. Having viewed a complex system from a variety of vantage points, Cardozie understands that schools have limited capacity and can often benefit from greater support in how best to create and sustain a positive and thoughtful culture in which all members of its community—students, staff and families—feel supported, inspired and valued. With an immersive background in theater, Cardozie believes that true education comes from rich, purposeful and transformative experiences driven by empathy.

Kathe Karlson

Kathe Karlson, born and raised in New York City attended public schools. Currently retired from the NYC Department of Education as a Bilingual Licensed Social Worker. She worked individually and in groups with youth and families and has done community education around HIV/AIDS (in communities and in prisons).

Kathe ran a special shelter for women returning to the community from prison hoping to reunite with their children. In her work with others, she has tried to contextualize the experiences to reduce personalizing, individualizing, and internalizing racism, poverty, and sexism, the systemic realities that exist all around us.

Jaime-Jin Lewis

Jaime-Jin Lewis is a racial equity activist, educator, and organizational strategist. She designs and leads interactive lectures and workshops for diverse audiences that aim to transform thinking and inspire action. She also coaches organizations and groups in how to use creative strategies and tactics to achieve social justice goals. Merging data and analysis, theory and practice, her aim is to create robust learning experiences that provide participants with tools for social change.

Jaime-Jin served as the Executive Director of Border Crossers, a New York-based racial justice and education equity nonprofit, where she launched the Talking About Race curriculum for teachers and trained over 2,000 educators from over 900 schools nationally. Jaime-Jin has been cited in The New York Times, Colorlines, Resources in Independent School Education and multiple other publications. She has also served as a Strategist at and Director of Development at Caring Across Generations.

Jaime-Jin has a Bachelors of Urban and Environmental Planning from the University of Virginia and serves on the Board of Scholarly and Community Advisors for the Crossing Borders, Bridging Generations project of The Brooklyn Historical Society and on the Advisory Boards of the Third Wave Fund,, and TabiiJust. She hails from Charlottesville, Virginia, has spent extensive time in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.

Heidi Maria Lopez

Heidi Maria Lopez is a queer, first generation Quiskeyana who believes strongly in people and their power to shape this world. Heidi works to build relationships that will shift this world so that people of color / in the African diaspora, especially those impacted most deeply by these systems, take back was has been taken from them, (re)claim their history and shape their own lives without the intervention of racist and oppressive systems. Their current organizing efforts include base building in Washington Heights, hosting gatherings around spiritual herbalism and bringing all this work within and to their family.

Megan Madison

Megan Madison is a doctoral student at Brandeis University studying Social Policy. Her research examines the effects of colorblind policymaking on racial inequities in early childhood education. Before graduate school, she co-led a preschool classroom in a multicultural community-based organization located in Chicago. This experience grounds her dual passions for education and social justice.

Megan holds a bachelor’s degree in Studies in Religion and a masters degree in Early Childhood Education. In her free time she blogs, bakes, and co-facilitates the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC) Diversity & Equity Education for Adults Interest Forum.

Chris Neal

Chris Neal is a “native son” of Detroit, Michigan. Born in 1966, Christopher, or Chris, is a mixed media visual artist and began his formal art training at Center (now College) for Creative Studies’ Saturday Workshops as a teenager. He later went on to study Fine Art, African-American Studies, and Women’s Studies at Eastern Michigan University. After completing his undergraduate studies he enrolled in Howard University’s Master’s of Fine Arts program.

Chris identifies as a Fluid man of African descent. He began his work in alternative spaces and with marginalized identities within communities of color, initially through his work at the Whitney Museum of American Art, where he taught in a visual arts and literacy collaboration with The Hetrick-Martin Institute’s Harvey Milk High School.

Chris’s work as an artist, educator, and community organizer has focused on re-envisioning the psycho-emotional spaces that black men (men of color) have traditionally occupied – questioning, broadening, and expanding those spaces via a critical investigation of race, culture – with an eye of reimagining the creative and compassionate possibilities within masculinity.

Bindi Patel

Bindi Patel has worked in higher education administration for over 10 years focusing on access and equity work for underrepresented students. Currently in the community college sector she works with developing social justice focused Peer Mentors that support academic and social integration.

At NYU, focusing on diversity and social justice education, she worked with Intergroup Dialogue, facilitating classes and training/coaching other facilitators. She has served on the boards of the Asian Pacific Islander Caucus of the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity and the National Association of Student Personal Administrators. Bindi is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education at Northeastern University.

Steve Quester

Steve Quester is a white early childhood educator who’s taught at The Children’s School, an all-inclusion public elementary school in Brooklyn, since 1994. He served as the teachers’ union representative for The Children’s School for 11 years. He is a graduate of Bank Street College, and of a whole bunch of Undoing Racism Workshops.

Steve has been active in the anti-apartheid movement, AIDS activism, Queer Nation, Jews Against the Occupation, and the International Solidarity Movement in Palestine. He’s a member of European Dissent NYC, and a co-convener of New York’s Antiracist Alliance of Educators.

Carlos Quintana

Carlos Quintana is a life long New Yorker who has worked in New York City public schools for the past 9 years. He attended New York City public schools until high school when he attended a private high school. These experiences helped shape his understanding of educational inequity. Carlos is passionate about education and working to make our schools equitable for all of our students. He is also a huge sports fan who loves talking to other fans about the intersection between sports the “isms”.

Nayantara Sen

Nayantara Sen is an activist, writer, network builder, and social and racial justice educator. She is a racial equity trainer with Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation and Border Crossers, and the Communications Manager at Emc Arts. Nayantara has a background in interdisciplinary programs curation and community organizing for immigrant rights and reproductive justice. She writes and produces race-explicit training curricula and supports clients in organizational integration of equity frameworks and strategies.

Since the mid 2000’s, she has trained thousands of non-profit professionals, students, educators, funders, teachers, grassroots activists, labor organizers, and change-makers. She is a Board member of CAAV and Youngist, and an M.A candidate at NYU in Postcolonial Literature, Social Movements and Creative Writing.

Purvi Shah

Purvi Shah inspires change as a non-profit and media consultant, anti-violence advocate, and arts activist. In 2008, during her tenure as Executive Director of Sakhi for South Asian Women, she won the inaugural SONY Social Service Excellence Award for her leadership fighting violence against women.

She has taught underserved youth, organized racial justice convenings, and spearheaded policy change around language access. Terrain Tracks is her award-winning book of poetry. Dark Lip of the Beloved: Sound Your Fiery God-Praise is her new poetry chaplet. She is known for her sparkly eyeshadow and raucous laughter. Discover her work at or @PurviPoets.

Sonny Singh

Sonny Singh is an educator, writer, and musician based in Brooklyn, NY. Upon completion of his Master’s Degree in Social Justice Education at UMass Amherst in 2003, he worked as a community and labor organizer in New York City for several years.

Since 2010, he has been teaching social justice and humane education in NYC public schools through the organization HEART. Sonny also regularly facilitates workshops on racial justice, anti-oppression, and post-9/11 racism in high schools, universities, and nonprofit organizations. His writings on racial justice, Sikh identity, and Islamophobia have appeared in the Huffington Post, Colorlines, Asian American Literary Review, Open City Magazine, Jadaliyya, and India Abroad.

Orinthia Swindell

Orinthia Swindell is a mother, educator, activist and life- long learner. She is from the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn and has worked in a New York City area independent school for over 20 years. Ms. Swindell has had a lifelong passion for equity and justice. This especially became apparent after she began participating in professional development around issues related to race and identity development. She has presented at various national conferences over the past 5 years. During her free time Orinthia enjoys spending time with her family, friends, playing guitar and dancing.

Leigh Thompson

Leigh Thompson is a social justice artist, a critical educator and a raging queer and has spent his adult life working for political and social justice, especially within the queer and trans* communities. He is a white and mixed race queer and trans person with disability. He has been studying and working with Theatre of the Oppressed techniques since 1997 and has worked with and learned from dozens of skilled trainers and facilitators around the world, including founder Augusto Boal on multiple occasions.

Leigh is the President Elect of Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed, Inc. and has been a member since 2001. Leigh has worked for several local, state and national organizations, including the Empire State Pride Agenda, the ACLU, GLSEN, and the Applied Research Center and In 2012 Leigh became The Executive Director of The Forum Project and works to guide the operations and programming of the organization. He has worked with many different communities, including immigrants, survivors of sexual violence, transgender people, people with disabilities and queer youth.

Leigh has a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre with an emphasis in Directing from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and an individualized Master of Arts from Gallatin at New York University, focusing on utilizing Theatre of the Oppressed for political and social change.

Blanca Ruiz-Williams

Blanca Ruiz-Williams graduated Georgetown University abandoning the notion of being a lawyer, and instead pursuing a career as a teacher. She began her teaching career as a TFA corp member in Paterson, NJ teaching 3rd grade bilingual. After her two-year commitment, Blanca came back to her home state where she taught 5th and 6th grade. Reading at KIPP Academy in the Bronx for 6 years. In those six years, she earned a title of Director of Solutions – by far one of the coolest titles ever – which is simply translated to Dean.

Blanca then became a principal for four years, before moving on to her roles as Director of Leadership Development and Leadership Coach. In her 15 years with KIPP NYC, Blanca had the privilege of seeing her 1st class graduate high school and college, and become teachers across KIPP.

Blanca received her Doctorate in Educational Leadership in 2015 with a focus on authenticity in Latina leadership and increasing racial consciousness in schools/organization. She also gains amazing joy in spending quality time with her amazing husband, and two beautiful, courageous and curious children who continue to teach her the infinite capacity to love, learn and be comfortable in who we are.

Border Crossers Trainers

Dallas / Fort Worth

Joseph Babeu

Joseph Babeu – 6th Grade Reading Language Arts Teacher, Ann Richards Middle School

Originally hailing from the northeastern United States, Joe has made Dallas my home as a Teach For America Corps Member teaching 6th grade Reading Language Arts.

Before moving across the country, he attended Brandeis University and studied Linguistics, Russian, and Comparative Literature. One of his favorite things is to learn about cultures, experiences, backgrounds, and stories that differ from his own.

April Bowman

April Bowman – Educator, Mentor

April Bowman, M.S. is an educator of over 13 years who is commitment to ensuring that young people from under-resourced communities have access to a quality education and the tools needed to be successful across all areas of life. Through her company, Bold Believers United, she provides educational consulting services, professional development, curriculum design, motivational speaking and youth empowerment programs locally and nationally.

As the first person in her family to graduate from college, April earned a Master of Science degree from Northwestern University in Learning and Organizational Change and a Bachelor of Arts from University of Washington in Sociology and Geography.

April is also a licensed minister, through the Potter’s House School of Ministry under the leadership of Bishop T.D. Jakes. She also serves a mentor for the 282nd Dallas County Court Empowerment Program and is a 2017-2018 Leadership ISD Fellow. April is the Northwestern University DFW Young Alumni Chair, a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. as well as an alumna of the Education Pioneer Fellowship Program and the Mayor Star Council.

Julianna Bradley

Julianna Bradley​ serves as a director of leadership development for Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE) to provide training and mentoring to teachers and former teachers who seek to influence change in their communities. Julianna is a former teacher and lifelong activist who has been a founding partner on critical community-building projects in Dallas such as the U Got This college initiative, For Oak Cliff, and is a partner and trainer for Dallas Faces Race and Border Crossers. Julianna holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and political science from the University of Arizona.

Rodeeia Carson

Rodeeia Carson – Teacher, Teach For America

Rodeeia is a senior high school government teacher in Pleasant Grove. Her ultimate goal is to be a founder for a charter network but as she continues to grow her skills she hopes to have real conversations about about oppression and privilege that can grow people.

Anthony Castro

Anthony Castro – Bilingual Teacher, Dallas ISD

Anthony is originally from the Miami-Dade area in Florida and a University of Florida alumnus with a degree in Women’s Studies. He currently works as a lower elementary bilingual teacher in the Dallas Independent School District and is currently finishing a Master’s in Bilingual Education. He’s also, quite proudly, a queer Latinx gamer.

Kamilah Collins

Kamilah Collins – Principal Consultant, Collins Collaborations

Kamilah is a catalyst for change and has a strong desire to create long-lasting community impact. President of Collins Collaborations, a Dallas based consulting group, specializing in facilitation, strategic planning and implementation.

She has published editorials in the Dallas Morning News, Texas Diversity Magazine, and the Huffington Post. Collins is a member of the Texas Diversity Council, serves on the Board of Directors for the Friends of Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy and Dallas Dinner Table executive team.

Erin O. Crosby

Erin O. Crosby – Educator, Mentor

Erin O. Crosby has more than 10 years of professional experience in the social sector focused on organizational management, communications, and program development. She serves on the education committee of Showing Up for Racial Justice – Dallas, and she previously served as the DFW Co-Leader for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priest. Her op-eds on clergy sexual abuse and racial violence have been published on and In her free time, Erin enjoys calligraphy and kayaking. She holds degrees from Boston University and SMU.

Jonathan Feinstein

Jonathan Feinstein – Director of Community Engagement for The Commit! Partnership

Jonathan is the son of first-generation college graduates, both the children of Jewish immigrants, and the proud product of a public school education that exposed him to diverse educators and friends in his hometown of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. After graduating from Wesleyan University, where he concentrated in Ethnic Studies and advocated for its rightful place within the institution, Jonathan returned to rural northeast North Carolina to teach middle school English and History in both traditional and charter settings. He has lived in Dallas since 2007 and has served as the Director of Community Engagement for The Commit! Partnership since its founding in early 2012.

Sandra Godina

Sandra Godina, 5th Grade Dual Language Teacher, Fort Worth ISD

Sandra Godina is a 5th grade dual language teacher in Fort Worth, TX. She is the daughter of Mexican immigrants and a graduate of the University of Georgia.

Her work as a teacher allows her to empower parents and students to seek and attain opportunities for growth. She looks forward to gaining a new knowledge set to better serve her community.

Jessica Johnson

Jessica Johnson – History Teacher, Dallas ISD

Jessica is currently a U.S. History Teacher at H. Grady Spruce. She helped create a program called SUFEO that matches suspended or expelled Middle and High School students with Law Students to help advocate to get them back into school.

Nelly Kaakaty

Nelly Kaakaty – Educator, Writer, Researcher

Dr. Nelly Kaakaty is an educator, writer, and researcher interested in authentic narratives and representations of marginalized groups. Her current work is twofold: she is a learning specialist, building an academic support program for middle school students with learning differences, and she is a professor, teaching courses in psychology and special education at the graduate and undergraduate level. Whether she is with 12-year-olds or 22-year-olds, Dr. Kaakaty encourages students to expand their thinking beyond themselves, seek to understand others, and value the world around them. Outside the classroom, she serves as the Vice President of American Muslim Professionals of Dallas and a Human Rights Ambassador for the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas.

She earned a B.S. in Psychology and Child Learning and Development from the University of Texas at Dallas, an M.S. in Psychology from Texas A&M University-Commerce, and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with an emphasis in Special Education from A&M-Commerce.

Monserrat “Monsie” Muñoz

Monserrat “Monsie” Muñoz – Upper School Spanish Teacher, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator, Greenhill School

Monsie is a first-generation Latina who grew up in Dallas, TX. She has a B.A. in History and Latin Studies from Williams College. Monsie started teaching soon after graduating from college and she has never looked back.

Monsie is a product of public and private schools. Her goal is to lead Equity and Inclusion work in her school community, as well as the larger DFW area.

Alicia Nance

Alicia Nance, Ph.D. – Chief Equity Officer and Founder of She Who Learns

Alicia is the wildest dreams of her ancestors, and her work in education is rooted in her family’s legacy as educators, organizers, and revolutionaries who leveraged education to liberate and uplift their communities. Undoing anti-Blackness and adultism, anti-racist and culturally sustaining education, youth and community voice, and the healthy racial identity development of young people have always been at the center of Alicia’s work in education. With over 15 years of professional experience in a wide range of PS-20 educational settings, Alicia has served as a school leader, instructional coach, department and grade level chair, Special Education Coordinator, program manager, and classroom teacher focusing on literacy, numeracy, and exceptional learners.

Alicia holds advanced degrees from Louisiana State University and George Washington University in Curriculum and Instruction, English, Africana Studies, Special Education, Women’s and Gender Studies, Curriculum Theory, and Ethnic and Cultural Studies.

When she is not disrupting and organizing with communities, Alicia loves to spend time with her family, friends, current and former students, and two fur babies as well as volunteer, mentor, read, participate in ultramarathons and triathlons, Cross-fit, travel, play retro video games, dance, and laugh.

Claire Price

Claire Price – Teacher, Stevens Park Elementary School/Dallas ISD

Claire Price considers Ohio and Florida home. She earned her degrees in Psychology and Spanish-Latin American studies at Florida State University.

She’s currently finishing her Masters in Bilingual Education at Southern Methodist University. She loves to travel and has a 30 before 30 goal; traveling to 30 countries before age 30.

Catherine Sims

Catherine Sims – Teacher/DEI Facilitator, Teach For America

Catherine is a Texas-made revolutionary educator with backgrounds in government and politics, philosophy, and international law. She studied at St. John’s University and came back to north Texas to inspire young bright minds in the classroom. She’s also particularly interested in taking part in social justice movements taking place all over the country ranging from the Black Lives Matter movement to people simply standing up to advocate for themselves and their communities

Aditi Sinha

Aditi Sinha is the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director for Teach For America.

The daughter of Indian immigrants, Aditi’s path was laid out for her from an early age—go to medical school and become a doctor. However, the more she learned about the racial inequities in this country—the same country her family moved to because it was “the land of opportunity”—she realized she couldn’t sit by and do nothing.

After graduating from Case Western Reserve University with a B.A. In Biology and Spanish and a minor in Chemistry, her intentional journey for equity began as a high school Biology teacher in East Dallas at a charter school serving predominantly Latino students.

Aditi worked at Teach For India as a teacher coach in Mumbai for three years where she experienced and began to better understand how systemic racism manifests on a global scale. Aditi now works as the Director, Diversity and Leadership at Teach For America Dallas-Fort Worth.

Carrie Stewart

Carrie Stewart – Owner/Principal, One World Consulting

As an intercultural communication consultant, Carrie founded One World Consulting and has been a trainer, speaker and educator on diversity, cross-cultures, inclusion & equity for 25 years. Carrie is a community leader and engagement professional using conflict transformation, mediation, dialogue convening, compassionate communication, and leadership and identity development models.

As a longtime PTA volunteer and leader, and a recent substitute teacher, Carrie is committed bringing conversations about race to the classroom where the experience is lived every day in hopes of engendering increased justice in our world.

Shynise Stiff

Shynise Stiff

Shynise Stiff has a passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion work in education. While acquiring a Master of Education from Southern Methodist University, Shynise worked as a Middle School Science Educator in Dallas, Texas for three years. Over the past eight years, Shynise has designed and facilitated cross-cultural dialogues with middle school students, high school students, college students, and education professionals. She currently works in School Operations for a charter school network in Brooklyn, New York. Shynise also partners with organizations to create learning experiences that investigate, strategize and promote social equity and justice.

Ben Taylor

Ben Taylor –Teacher, Researcher

Ben was an English and AVID teacher in Dallas for three years. He is currently a writing tutor for graduate students as he pursues his Master’s in Theological Studies at Brite Divinity School. He writes about the intersections between hip-hop, race, and religion. Ben’s research focuses on hip-hop artists as the authors of literature for a generation resisting systems of oppression in pursuit of liberation.

Amy Tran

Amy Tran – Impact Manager, Education Opens Doors

Amy Tran, a proud native Californian, received her BA in Sociology and Mass Communications from the University of California, Berkeley in 2009. Following her passion to advocate for the rights of underrepresented communities, Amy pursued a career in both the labor and student organizing movements in San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Amy’s experience in organizing strengthened her commitment for social, racial, and educational justice. In 2012, she returned to UC Berkeley to earn her Masters in Social Welfare. During her studies, Amy served as a counselor at a school-based health center where she practiced narrative therapy and restorative justice with high school youth.

Today, Amy is an Impact Manager at Education Opens Doors in Dallas. She provides leadership for the Roadmap to Success, a program that teaches, trains, and empowers over 5,500 middle school and high school students to purposefully navigate through high school to college.

Vickie Washington

Vickie Washington – Cultural Worker, Organizer

Vickie Washington is a theatre maker, cultural worker, teacher, social justice advocate-activist-organizer; moving through the world as an African-centered, anti-racist Black Woman. She was born free in a space, time and place that neither recognizes, respects, nor honors her freedom. She proudly uses the spiritual gift of the art of theatre to connect with and work with others to break the chains of systemic racism and re-member people, families, and communities, so that we all live and be free. Having lived in close quarters with racism, she firmly believes that owning a clear analysis of racism and how it affects and infects our lives is a critical necessity for justice for all. This work she does is for her children, her children’s children, and for all the children to come.

Walter Witt

Walter Witt – Teacher/DEI Facilitator, Teach For America

As a Chicago native, now Texas transplant, Walter has had the opportunity to dive deep into racial relations personally both in an urban and suburban area.

As a child of a teacher, he grew up understanding the importance of education and its direct affect on a young adults’ success. He’s eager to share his passion of racial justice with new educators in order to ensure that all students have an equitable educational experience.

Board of Directors

Natania Kremer

Director of Service Learning and Civic Engagement
Brooklyn Friends School

Natania Kremer is a white anti-racist educator, social worker, and community organizer with 15 years in the field. A graduate of Bank Street College of Education and Columbia University School of Social Work, Natania is currently the Director of Service Learning and Civic Engagement at Brooklyn Friends School, where she Co-Chairs the Department of Equity, Justice and Civic Engagement. She has infused a commitment to racial justice and equity into her professional roles as an educator, social worker, early childhood mental health consultant, supervisor, and diversity trainer. Natania has served on the Border Crossers Board of Directors since 2012.

Nicole Rodriguez Leach

Board Chair, Head of Education
Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation

Guided by her commitment to social justice and equity – a dedication cultivated by family members with a long history of community organizing activity, and reinforced by her work in education and social service agencies in New York City, as well as with school districts and non- profits nationwide. Ms. Rodriguez Leach has over fifteen years of experience as an educator and trainer, non-profit administrator and evaluator, policy analyst, and grantmaker.

Ms. Rodriguez Leach currently serves as Vice President/Education Program Officer at Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation. Prior, she held the Program Officer position at the Stella and Charles Guttman Foundation, where she oversaw grantmaking in education, health and human services.

Before entering the philanthropic sector, she served as Director of Admissions and Summer Institute for The TEAK Fellowship, where she selected intellectually curious and accomplished, low-income students from NYC’s public and parochial schools for a comprehensive program that includes placement in the most prestigious high schools in the country.

Ms. Rodriguez Leach also worked as an Education Coordinator at the East Harlem Tutorial Program, where she coordinated all programming for 500 children and their families, managed volunteer recruitment and training, and played a leadership role in its annual program evaluation process. In this position, she also provided extensive technical assistance in curriculum development, program evaluation, and staff training to organizations in New York City and throughout the country. Before her service at EHTP, she was Program Director of Summerbridge Germantown (now known as Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia) and held a teaching position at Germantown Friends School.

Ms. Rodriguez Leach is an alumna of Coro’s Leadership New York program (2006-2007). As a Coro Fellow at Milano the New School for Management and Urban Policy, she specialized in education and social policy, with a strong interest in community development. In her policy consultancies, she undertook two important research initiatives: (1) an analysis of the impact of public school finance, evolving political climates, and community development initiatives on the charter school movement in Newark, New Jersey, and (2) an examination of community school initiatives across the country, particularly in cities with mayoral control of the public school system, that inform ways to advance advocacy for scaling up the community school strategy in New York City.

Ms. Rodriguez Leach holds a MS in Urban Policy Analysis and Management, and received the Jacob M. Kaplan Award for Outstanding Student in Urban Policy Analysis, a top honor given by Milano faculty to the student who exemplifies academic excellence and makes meaningful and significant contributions to the field of urban policy. She earned a B.A. in Socio-Cultural Anthropology from Wesleyan University.

David R. Rosas

Assistant Principal
Heketi Community Charter School

David R. Rosas, a native New Yorker, works in education to foster critical consciousness and self-determination with young people since 2000. He is the assistant principal at Heketi Community Charter School in the Bronx.

As a classroom teacher, he has taught several grades from Kindergarten to 7th grade for 12 years in urban public and private schools. As a school leader, he coaches and designs curricula with teachers in grades K-5. David’s work in education has been shaped by his experiences as the child of Bolivian immigrants and growing up within the culture of hip hop. Infusing culturally relevant teaching and critical race theory into his work with children and teachers stems from his personal experiences as a student in NYC schools.

David has earned a B.S. in Human Development and Latino Studies at Cornell University, an M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction at Arizona State University, and a second M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University. He is currently working towards a Ph.D. in Urban Education at the CUNY Graduate Center. He also teaches graduate students at Hunter College as they prepare to work with children in schools. David recognizes the power and relevance of connecting children’s and adults’ learning to their realities through education.

Serge St. Leger

Board Treasurer
Senior Director, NYC Dept. of Education

Serge has worked at the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) for the last 13.5 years in various positions supporting partnerships between schools and community based organizations. He also has 10 years of private sector experience before his career at the NYCDOE; three years at PriceWaterHouse Coopers and 7 years at various Wall Street firms (Goldman Sachs, Barclays, Deutsche Bank).

Serge attained his Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from Adelphi University in 1988 and recently attained a Master of Science in Urban Policy Analysis and Management from The New School – Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy in August 2016. Serge currently lives in Brooklyn.

Matthew Stuart

Head of School
The Caedmon School

Matthew Stuart is currently the Head of School at The Caedmon School in New York City, a Montessori Pre-school and Montessori-inspired Elementary School. He has been teaching in independent schools since 1985. Prior to Caedmon, he was the Head of the Upper School and the Director of Secondary School Placement at the Town School in NYC and the Middle School Director at the National Cathedral School in Washington DC. Before NCS, Matthew was on the faculty of the Spence School in NYC, where he taught drama and speech, was the Head of the Performing Arts Department, and the Director of Student Affairs. He began his teaching career as the Middle School Drama teacher at the Hewitt School in NYC. In 1994 and 1995, Matthew was also the Co-Director of the Spence Teaching Institutes, weeklong faculty workshops focused on issues of diversity and anti-racism. During the summer, Mr. Stuart has been co-teaching an ISM (Independent School Management) Leadership Institute, called Leading the 21st Century Middle School since 2009.

In addition to his work in independent schools, Matthew has been a professional theatre director. He holds a B.F.A. in Theatre Arts from Syracuse University and was a Klingenstein Fellow, earning a M.A. in Educational Administration, with a focus in private school leadership, from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Matthew Stuart was a 1998-99 Klingenstein Fellow at Teachers College, Columbia University, where his research explored Heads of Schools working to be inclusive of gay/lesbian support in independent schools. Mr. Stuart was also awarded a NAIS/EE Ford Fellowship in 2004, as an Aspiring Head of School. He is currently serving on the Independent School Advisory Board for the Academy of Teachers in NYC. He is a Trustee for Border Crossers, as well as a Trustee for Leadership + Design, an leading organization for innovation in education.

Matthew Stuart has also facilitated numerous workshops and conference presentations for faculty, administrators, trustees, parents and students across the country. He believes that all schools have a moral mission that all students will have an equal opportunity for personal discovery and educational prosperity.

Kehinde Togun

Senior Director
The Arkin Group

Kehinde A. Togun is a senior director at The Arkin Group. He was previously the deputy director of PartnersGlobal Sub-Saharan Africa team where he led the portfolio of governance and security programs. Prior to Partners, Kehinde worked at the National Democratic Institute (NDI), with stints on the Eurasia, Middle East and North Africa, and Southern and East Africa teams. Kehinde also served as the Monitoring and Evaluation officer for NDI in Iraq; and during Nigeria’s 2011 elections, he trained and advised civil society in Delta state, Nigeria as they monitored the electoral process.

He previously worked with the Kigali-based Imbuto Foundation, writing a guide for parents on how to talk to children about sex and conducting a national evaluation of the African First Ladies’ Campaign, “Treat Every Child as Your Own.”

Lavita McMath Turner

Director of Government and External Relations
Guttman Community College, City University of New York

Lavita McMath Turner has over 20 years of experience in government affairs and politics in New York City. She is currently the Director of Government and External Relations at Stella and Charles Guttman Community College, CUNY’s newest community college in 40 years.

Before joining Guttman, Lavita served nine years as the Director of Government Relations at Kingsborough Community College where worked to strengthen college’s relationships with all levels of government and the community, resulting in funding for key capital projects including the renovation of the athletic field as well as infrastructure and nursing lab upgrades.

Lavita’s extensive background in the non-profit and public sectors and passion for public service led her to spearhead the college’s effort to establish a civic engagement graduation requirement and the Center for Civic Engagement, becoming its first Director. Prior to Kingsborough,

Lavita served as the Government Relations Officer for seven years at Brooklyn Museum during which she received major government support for the renovation of the Museum’s front entrance. Lavita is a member of the Steering Committee for The Democracy Commitment, a national initiative aimed at engaging community college students in civic learning and democratic practice.

Lavita is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, and has a Master’s Degree from the New School. Lavita is currently a doctoral candidate in urban education at CUNY’s Graduate Center.


Sachi Feris
Staff Blogger/ Workshop Facilitator
Raising Race Conscious Children