Ed Trust—West’s Education Equity Forum 2018 will give school and district leadership teams as well as higher education administrators and practitioners an opportunity to converse, connect, and collaborate. Attendees will learn about new and best practices for supporting students, strengthening our schools and colleges, and closing opportunity and achievement gaps.

This year’s Forum will include interactive breakout sessions, engaging plenaries, and increased networking opportunities.

Featured speakers at this year’s Education Equity Forum will include: 

Sylvia Mendez

Civil Rights Activist & Plaintiff in Mendez v. Westminster, historic education civil rights case, & Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient

Civil rights activist Sylvia Mendez is the oldest daughter of Gonzalo Mendez, a Mexican immigrant, and Felicitas Mendez, a Puerto Rican, who challenged segregation so that she and other Latino children could be provided the same quality education provided to white students. Her parents were plaintiffs in the landmark Mendez v. Westminster School District (1947) case that paved the way for Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and ended school segregation in California. Today, Sylvia continues the legacy left by her parents by fighting for quality education and by encouraging students to stay in school.Miss Mendez, who still resides in Orange County, attended Cal State Los Angeles, earning a BS in Nursing. She worked 33 years as a nurse at the Los Angeles USC Medical Center, becoming Assistant Nursing Director of the Pediatric Pavilion. Since Miss Mendez retired, she has traveled to all seven continents and visited over 60 countries. On February 15, 2011, President Barack Obama presented Sylvia Mendez with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.




Dr. Shaun Harper

Provost Professor, Rossier School of Education & Marshall School of Business & Founder & Executive Director, Race & Equity Center, University of Southern California

Shaun R. Harper is a Provost Professor in the Rossier School of Education and the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. He also is the Clifford and Betty Allen Chair in Urban Leadership, founder and executive director of the USC Race and Equity Center, and immediate past president of the Association for the Study of Higher Education. Dr. Harper’s research focuses primarily on race, gender, and other dimensions of equity in an array of organizational contexts, including K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and corporate environments. He has published over 100 peer-reviewed journal articles and other academic publications, and received more than $13 million in research grants. His research has been cited in more than 8,000 published studies. The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Chronicle of Higher Education, and over 11,000 news outlets have quoted Professor Harper and featured his research. He has interviewed on CNN, ESPN, and NPR, and has been recognized in Education Week as one of the 10 most influential professors in the field of education. Dr. Harper spent a decade on the University of Pennsylvania faculty, where he founded the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education.



Dr. Tyrone Howard

Professor of Education, Associate Dean of Equity and Diversity & Director of the Black Male Institute University of California, Los Angeles

Dr. Tyrone C. Howard is professor in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA. He is also the associate dean for equity, diversity and inclusion, and he is the director and founder of the Black Male Institute at UCLA. Professor Howard’s research examines culture, race, teaching, and learning. He has published over 80 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and technical reports.  Best known for his scholarship on race, culture, and education, Dr. Howard is one of the most renowned scholars on educational equity, the African American educational experience, Black males, and urban schools. His most recent book, “Expanding College Access for Urban Youth” (Teachers College Press, 2016) documents ways schools and colleges can create higher education opportunities for youth of color, and he also recently published “Black Male(d): Peril and Promise in the Education of African American Males.” Before entering higher education, Dr. Howard was a classroom teacher in the Compton Unified School District. A native of Compton, California, Dr. Howard is one of the foremost experts on race, culture, teaching and learning in urban schools.



Anurima Bhargava

Founder & President
Anthem of Us, Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School, & former Chief of the Educational Opportunities Section of the Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice

Anurima Bhargava is the Founder and President of Anthem of Us, a strategic advisory firm promoting dignity and justice in the building of our schools and communities. From 2010-2016, she led federal enforcement of civil rights laws in schools and institutions of higher education at the U.S. Department of Justice. She managed groundbreaking litigation and policy guidance to address sexual assault; harassment and bullying; school segregation; school discipline and policing; and protecting educational access and services for students with disabilities, English Learners, LGBTQ and undocumented students. Since leaving the Administration, she has continued to play a leading national role in protecting civil rights in schools and institutions of higher education. Ms. Bhargava has been actively involved in numerous political campaigns. She produces and regularly consults on films, and has both chaired and served on numerous boards, including Doc Society, Poverty Race Research Action Council, the Leadership Council to End Sexual Violence in Education and the Advisory Board for Public Service at Harvard University.  She is a 2017 Presidential Leadership Scholar, a Partner with the Truman National Security Project; and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.


Dr. Laurie Olsen

Founding Director and Strategic Advisor, Sobrato Early Academic Language Initiative

Dr. Laurie Olsen was the founding Director of the Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL) PreK-5 initiative of the Sobrato Family Foundation, currently being replicated in 100 schools across 20 school districts in California. As SEAL’s strategic advisor, she is currently focusing on the early education and dual language aspects of the model piloted in Los Angeles, Long Beach and Fillmore. Dr. Olsen has spent the last five decades researching, writing, advocating, and providing leadership development and technical assistance on educational equity with an emphasis on dual language, immigrant and English Learner education, language access and rights. Working with hundreds of school districts, school leadership teams and county offices of education across the nation, Dr. Olsen has designed, demonstrated, evaluated and implemented powerful PreK-12th grade English Learner programs and services, which support effective school change strategies. Dr. Olsen has published dozens of books, videos and articles on Dual language/English Learner education.




Eloy Ortiz Oakley

Chancellor, California Community Colleges

The California Community Colleges Board of Governors appointed Eloy Ortiz Oakley as chancellor for the California Community Colleges beginning December 19, 2016. Eloy Ortiz Oakley is best known throughout California and the nation for implementing innovative programs and policies that help students succeed in college. Oakley strongly believes that California’s emerging economies demand a workforce with quality credentials and that the state’s 114 community colleges play a pivotal role in moving California forward. Under Oakley’s leadership, the Long Beach Community College District has received numerous awards and recognitions for its efforts to improve student completion rates and for directly supporting a strong small business and entrepreneurship eco-system throughout the greater southern California region.Oakley’s trailblazing efforts have been acknowledged through his appointments to the California Chamber of Commerce, the University of California Board of Regents, the Fair Shake Commission, the College Futures Foundation and the LA 2024 Advisory Board. He is frequently invited to speak to education, philanthropic and business organizations throughout the nation. Oakley himself is a community college success story. After serving four years in the U.S. Army, he enrolled at Golden West College. He then transferred to the University of California, Irvine where he received his degrees of Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Analysis and Design and Master of Business Administration.


Karin Chenoweth

Writer-in-Resident, Ed Trust

As writer-in-residence at The Education Trust, Karin leads the organization’s efforts to learn from and write about successful and improving schools with significant populations of children of color and children living in poverty. She is author most recently of Schools that Succeed: How Educators Marshal the Power of Systems for Improvement (Harvard Education Press, 2017) and the producer of ExtraOrdinary Districts, Ed Trust’s podcast that explores what ordinary districts do to get extraordinary results for students. Her other books are “It’s Being Done:” Academic Success in Unexpected Schools (2007), and How It’s Being Done: Urgent Lessons from Unexpected Schools (2009) and, co-authored with Christina Theokas, Getting It Done: Leading Academic Success in Unexpected Schools (2011) — all published by Harvard Education Press.



Jorge Aguilar

Superintendent, Sacramento City Unified School District & Associate Vice Chancellor for Educational and Community Partnerships, UC Merced

Superintendent Jorge Aguilar leads the thirteenth largest school district in California with 46,843 students, more than 4,200 employees and a budget of more than $566.99 million. Aguilar was selected Superintendent by the Board of Education because of his proven track record using data to improve student outcomes. Superintendent Aguilar has more than twenty years of K-12 and higher education experience with a strong focus and background on issues of equity and student achievement. Prior to his appointment, he served as Associate Superintendent for Equity and Access at Fresno Unified School District. In his career, Superintendent Aguilar has also served as an Associate Vice Chancellor for Educational and Community Partnerships and Special Assistant to the Chancellor at the University of California, Merced; as a Spanish teacher at South Gate High School; and a legislative fellow in the State Capitol.



Eric Rodriguez

Vice President, UnidosUS

Eric Rodriguez, UnidosUS Vice President, oversees the Office of Policy and Advocacy which is charged with directing the organization’s legislative affairs, public policy research, policy analysis, and field advocacy work.  He is responsible for the UnidosUS federal and state legislative priorities and agenda.  Headquartered in Washington, DC, UnidosUS is the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States.  Through its network of nearly 300 affiliated community-based organizations, UnidosUS reaches millions of Hispanics each year in 41 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.

Mr. Rodriguez has extensive experience overseeing the UnidosUS public policy and advocacy activities on a wide range of issues.  From 2007 to 2008, he served as deputy vice president of the public policy department and previously directed the Policy Analysis Center, a position he held for five years.  His background also includes work on such issues as tax policy, Social Security reform, welfare reform, workforce development, retirement security, as well as housing, and financial market regulations.  He has authored, coauthored, and supervised the preparation of several dozen policy and research reports, journal articles, and editorials.  He has also frequently testified at congressional hearings and has represented UnidosUS at research conferences, policy conferences, and symposia.  His work has been widely cited in the press, and in policy and academic literature.

Mr. Rodriguez also serves on the boards of the Food Research, and Action Center, the Fair Elections Center, the NCLR Action Fund, and is a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance.  Prior to UnidosUS, Mr. Rodriguez was a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Fellow and served in U.S. Representative Nydia Velázquez’s (D–NY) office.  Mr. Rodriguez holds a master’s degree in public administration from American University and a bachelor’s degree in history from Siena College.  Mr. Rodriguez is originally from Red Hook, Brooklyn.



Dr. LaShawn Routé Chatmon 

Founding Executive Director, National Equity Project

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 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.



Jenn Guerrero

English Learner Program Coordinator, Sonoma County Office of Education

Jenn Guerrero is the English Learner Program Coordinator at the Sonoma County Office of Education. She works closely with Pre-K-12 teachers and administrators to support high-quality instruction for English Learners. She also serves as the Region I, Title III Lead. Her passion for working with English Learners and their families was first ignited when she began her career in education as a teacher in the Oakland Unified School District. She then taught in the Roseland School District and served as a principal for Migrant Education summer programs. Jenn firmly believes in the limitless potential of every child.



Keith Dsyarz

Director of P-12 Practice, The Education Trust

As the Director of P-12 Practice, Keith works to ensure that lessons from classrooms, schools, and districts inform Ed Trust advocacy and its policy development process.

Prior to joining The Education Trust, Keith worked for 13 years in various academic roles throughout the Baltimore City Public Schools district, most recently as the special assistant for the chief academic officer. In this role, he worked to help manage, monitor, and support the academic efforts of Baltimore City Schools. He also spent two years as the director of teacher effectiveness and Common Core implementation, where he oversaw the development and training on the qualitative standards that defined excellence in teaching for the district, in addition to coordinating Baltimore City School’s transition to the Common Core State Standards. Keith’s prior work was as the coordinator of curriculum and assessments, where he led the advancement of the district’s benchmark assessment and curriculum development programs. He began his career in Baltimore as an elementary mathematics teacher, a position he held after coming to the district as a Teach for America corps member.

A native of Michigan, Keith holds a master’s degree in teaching from Johns Hopkins University, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Michigan.



Dr. Tanji Reed Marshall

Senior Practice Associate for P-12 Literacy, The Education Trust

Tanji Reed Marshall, Ph.D., is the senior practice associate for P-12 literacy, leading Ed Trust’s Equity in Motion literacy assignment analysis work.

Prior to joining Ed Trust, Tanji worked in the Office of Academic Programs at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University to prepare the school of education’s accreditation with the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. Before that, she supported prospective secondary English teachers who were working to obtain licensure through the school of education.

Before joining Virginia Tech, Tanji worked for as a district-level literacy specialist in Charlotte–Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina, where she supported middle schools across the district to refine their literacy practices. She also worked to prepare the district as they transitioned to Common Core standards. Additionally, as a Title I literacy coach, Tanji worked with targeted schools to improve literacy instruction for traditionally underserved students. Her career also includes elementary and middle school classroom teaching in North Carolina and New Jersey, which has allowed her opportunities to consult with school districts across the country to refine and focus teacher practice on literacy and to strengthen student achievement — with an emphasis on traditionally underserved students.

Tanji holds a doctorate in curriculum and instruction, with an emphasis on teacher practice with high-achieving African American students, from Virginia Tech; a master’s degree in English education, with a focus on critical literacy, from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Boston College.



Ryan J. Smith

Executive Director, Ed Trust-West & Vice President, Ed Trust

Ryan J. Smith is currently the Executive Director of The Education Trust–West, a research and advocacy organization focused on educational justice and the high academic achievement of all California students, particularly those of color and living in poverty and Vice President of The Education Trust.

Under Ryan’s leadership, Ed Trust–West continues to expand its work with a specific focus on producing actionable, accessible research and advocacy tools that reach state policymakers and on-the-ground community advocates and education leaders alike. Since taking the helm of Ed Trust–West, Ryan led the team’s development and production of 2015’s Black Minds Matter: Supporting the Educational Success of Black Children in California, a report championed by the California Legislative Black Caucus, and leveraged by state and local education leaders, students, and other advocates.

Ryan also guides the organization’s strategic work to better serve communities fighting for change at the local level, leading to Ed Trust–West’s launch of the inaugural Community Data and Research Hub in Southern California. A previous Annie E. Casey Foundation Children and Family Fellow, Ryan holds a B.A. in Political Science from UCLA. Ryan has authored dozens of editorials and opinion pieces published in the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Sacramento Bee, Education Week, US News and World Report, and others. He was named by Education Week as one of the “Ten Education Leaders to Watch” nationally and also received the Families in Schools’ “Parent Engagement Leader of the Year Award”.




A Recap of the 2017 Ed Equity Forum

The 2017 Education Equity Forum provided educators and administrators with strategic ways to actively address disparities in opportunities and outcomes for California’s P-12 students. The Forum included opportunities to hear from and interact with renowned education leaders from across the state and nation, including breakout sessions on how to support English learners, students of color, and low-income students. Breakout sessions included pertinent topics such as: preparing all students for college and careers using A-G for All, leveraging science & math for English learner equity, and discussing equity initiatives in a town hall format with statewide education leaders from CASBO, ACSA, CSBA and the California State PTA.