The Russlynn Ali Fellowship program, named in honor of the founding executive director of The Education Trust–West, lays the foundation for current and future policymakers, researchers, advocates, and educators to become lifelong leaders within California’s education ecosystem.
The cohort of 2019 Russlynn Ali Fellows is a group of teachers, education policy researchers and advocates who represent the diversity and vision of California’s P-12, higher education, and social justice communities.
The four Fellows, who were selected from a highly competitive field of more than 200 applicants, will work on projects to advance educational equity and racial justice issues statewide over the course of the summer. During the 8 to 10 week summer experience, Fellows will gain exposure to the issues, policies, and politics of the current California landscape and will work on projects to advance educational equity and racial justice issues.
The 2019 Russlynn Ali Summer Fellows
Darielle Blevins, Early Learning Fellow
Darielle Blevins, a San Diego, California native has always valued being surrounded by her family. Darielle’s passion for working with young children and families became more apparent, when as a Senior in high school, she worked after school at the Child Development Center that her mother directed. She went on to become a preschool teacher and child behavior specialist. She is currently a doctoral candidate in Education at San Diego State University and a college instructor in the Department of Child Development at MiraCosta College as well as Sacramento State University. Grounded in Black Feminist Epistemologies, Darielle’s work centers on the need for love, equity, and justice, to ensure quality learning spaces for young children. Her current research focuses on the educational experiences of African American girls, on their path from Preschool to College. Darielle has competed in the San Diego State University, Student Research Symposium, winning the President’s Award in 2017, and in 2018 she won the Dean’s Award, for her research on the educational experience of Black children in Early Childhood.
As Early Learning Fellow, Darielle will analyze current trends in Early Care and Education to identify areas that will advance equity for our earliest learners.
Jacques Lesure, Higher Education Digital Fellow
Jacques Lesure is an education scholar-activist from the east side of Atlanta in Dekalb County, GA. He completed undergrad at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA where he designed a major entitled Resistive Education in Theory, Research, and Policy. His current research project explores campus climate dynamics for Black men in higher education around experiences relating to sexuality. He is the founder of Navigate College Now, a social entrepreneurship project that strives to ensure all students maximize available college resources. Beginning fall of 2019, he will be pursuing his Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
As the Higher Education Digital Fellow, Jacques will translate high school practitioner experiences into a compelling story through the usage of digital tools to shine a bright spot on best practices for financial aid application completion. Jacques is excited to engage community members around ETW’s work to ensure that all solutions he participates in building are useful and relevant to those who they are intended to serve.
Kim Vinh, Practice Fellow
Kim Vinh has 14 years of teaching experience at both the high school and graduate school levels, and her career has focused on elevating student and teacher voices. She teaches journalism at Sequoia High School in Redwood City, California, where she advises the nationally-recognized student newsmagazine. Kim has also worked as a lecturer and supervisor for preservice English Language Arts teachers with the Stanford Teacher Education Program, where she worked on teacher wellness initiatives and advised a Teachers of Color group. She earned a B.A. in English and Urban Studies and a M.A. in Education at Stanford University. She is excited to work with ETW to see how teachers can be included in important conversations of policy and advocacy.
As Practice Fellow, Kim will lead our creation of a Teacher Advisory Board by devising a mechanism for selecting teacher applicants, executing an Advisory Board kick-off event, and developing a “Teacher as Advocate” panel or workshop for the Education Equity Forum this fall.
Gissela Moya, External Relations Fellow
Gissela is a proud Hondureña who is deeply committed to serving the undocumented community and the Latino population in the United States. For the past six years, she has worked on issues related to Central Americans, access to legal information for undocumented individuals and access to higher education for people of color. More recently, she had the opportunity to intern at Latino Community Foundation, a philanthropy organization committed to unleashing the power of Latinos in California. There, she assisted the Policy Director on research related to the effects of the 2020 Census on Latino communities and key logistics for the 6th Annual Latino Policy Summit in Sacramento.
Gissela is a graduating senior at UC Berkeley majoring in Political Science with a focus on comparative politics. In the future, she plans to obtain a master’s degree in public policy and use it to champion the needs of communities of color and increase political representation across all sectors. In her free time, she dances Cuban salsa, hikes and watches The Office.
As External Relations Fellow, Gissela will help to develop interactive breakout sessions, engaging plenaries, and networking opportunities for our 3rd annual Education Equity Forum.