CUESEF 2020: Crisis Pedagogies: Communities, Education, and the Public Good

"CUESEF 2020 promotional image"

Held July 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30, 2020

Thank you to all who joined us at CUESEF 2020! Recorded sessions are available on YouTube.

About CUESEF 2020

We are living in hard times. This year has seen unprecedented levels of turmoil due to rising alarm over the COVID-19 pandemic with the most vulnerable populations experiencing the hardest impact. While COVID-19 did not create political, social, and economic injustices that have come to define American life, the virus has surfaced them. In addition, extrajudicial and vigilante killings of Black people have sparked global uprisings at a scale unseen since the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Both COVID-19 and anti-Black state violence lay bare racialized inequities. As Pricilla Borkor, a Brooklyn protestor described in Time recently: “It’s either COVID is killing us, cops are killing us, or the economy is killing us.”

Underexplored in this moment are schools and schooling which bear out the realities of education as sites of power and control. Hence, this year’s Center for Urban Education Summer Educator Forum (CUESEF), takes a closer look at how various communities – youth, parents/families, community members, teachers, and administrators – have been affected in the wake of these crises. With this year’s theme, we hope to foster deep thinking about (in)justice and (un)learning in the U.S. and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, more specifically. A related aim is sharing ideas and strategies for intervention and change that insist on life, equity, and liberatory education as essential to the public good.

This event is co-sponsored by The Heinz Endowments. All five dialogues are free and open to the public and will be moderated by author and activist Marc Lamont Hill. Attendees are welcome and encouraged to attend all sessions. You will be contacted via email with the login information on the morning of the webinar.

Meet the Speakers


Marc Lamont Hill is currently the host of "BET News." An award-winning journalist, Marc has received numerous prestigious awards from the National Association of Black Journalists, GLAAD, and the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. He is the Steve Charles Professor of Media, Cities, and Solutions at Temple University. Prior to that, he held positions at Columbia University and Morehouse College. 

Marc is a founding board member of My5th, a non-profit organization devoted to educating youth about their legal rights and responsibilities. He is also a board member and organizer of the Philadelphia Student Union. Over the past few years, he has actively worked on campaigns to end the death penalty and to release numerous political prisoners. He is the author or co-author of four books: the award-winning "Beats, Rhymes, and Classroom Life: Hip-Hop Pedagogy and the Politics of Identity;" "The Classroom and the Cell: Conversations on Black Life in America;" the New York Times bestseller "Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on The Vulnerable from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond;" and "Gentrifier." He has also published two edited books: "Media, Learning, and Sites of Possibility" and "Schooling Hip-Hop: New Directions in Hip-Hop Based Education." 

Teach the Teachers - Youth Panel

July 2, 2020 | 2 - 4 p.m.

Aaliyah Brown, Chrissy Carter, Christa Sims, Harmony McDonald, Kahlil Darden, and Nekiya Washington-Butler.

Several dialogues about schools and schooling concern youth, but do not include them. This year's CUESEF not only includes youth across all panels but Part I centers the voices of youth who will share their thoughts and insights about education and school experiences before and during COVID-19 as well as after the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery and the ensuing uprisings.

Aaliyah Brown is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and attends Woodland Hills High School where she is a cheerleader and upcoming senior. She has spoken on gun violence and police brutality. She comes from a broken home and can voice the opinions and cries of the youth with a strong and understanding voice.

Chrissy Carter is 19-years-old and is a queer Black activist in Pittsburgh. In 2017, they co-led a march of 300 students from multiple school districts in protesting DeVos as Secretary of Education. Previously, they sat on the executive board for a Black student union, a Youth Advisory Board for the Carnegie Museum of Art, and was a board member for sisTers PGH, a nonprofit that supports homeless Black trans-women. Currently, Chrissy works for the Alliance for Police Accountability as the Lead Youth Organizer. They also Co-Founded Youth Power Collective, a student-led, multi-issue based group. In their spare time they enjoy going to art shows, dancing with friends, voguing in their bedroom, and acting. Carter is an artist at heart and a vessel for greatness. They will continue to capture stories of their community, teach young people to see themselves in their education, and will always remain an advocate for Black and brown youth.

Christa Sims is set to enter eighth grade at the Manchester Academic Charter School this fall, where she is a F.A.M.E. Scholar (Fund for the Advancement of Minorities through Education), regular honor roll recipient, and developing leader. She is currently a student facilitator for the Cult Studios student voice project developed by a Center for Urban Education Heinz Fellow mentor.

Harmony McDonald is a Pittsburgh Public Schools graduate, who is an eloquent spoken word artist and has a passion for humanity. She is unapologetic in her fight for Black life. Harmony's activism is demonstrated through her voice, brilliance, and courage within organizing and protesting in Pittsburgh.

Kahlil Darden is a Clark Atlanta University freshman business administration major with a dual-concentration in marketing and management and a minor in political science. He created an organization to reach out to young African American men in the city of Pittsburgh that believed in being active in their communities. After creating this organization, Darden knew that the organization had to extend and grow to make a larger impact. Darden worked alongside Tamia Coleman and created a branch for female activists. Now, they stand strong and united under the name of Young Black Motivated Kings and Queens. Darden also co-authored the book "Younger Black Pittsburgh."

Nekiya Washington-Butler is an upcoming freshman at the University of Pittsburgh who will be studying early education with a focus on kindergarten through fourth grade. She is proud of the person that she is becoming and has learned that the more she continues to speak on things, the more issues she can bring to light. She gets especially excited to talk about racism and White privilege, and loves to debate controversial issues with facts to support or discredit opinions. She first got involved with protesting during the student actions in support of Antwon Rose and has been activated to do more on behalf of young people. She was really excited to find an internship at Pitt’s Center for Urban Education that matched her passion of wanting to change school systems to make it equal for all children, changing the tactics they use for Black children because the school system wasn’t built for Black youth. Her experiences in attending predominantly White schools, then transferring to predominantly Black schools, has given her a deeper perspective of the impacts of implicit bias from teachers and classmates alike. Raised by a single mom, her mom is her biggest supporter and she credits her for all of her positive attributes.

Care-Giving and Circles of Support

July 9, 2020 | 2 - 4 p.m.

Amber Thompson, Angel Gober, Brittani Murray, Lori Delale-O'Connor, Maria Searcy, Medina Jackson, and Windafire.

Caregivers, families, and guardians of color are often excluded from conversations about education transformation. Hence, this session explores caregiver ways of knowing as essential to the educational needs of their communities. Our conversation includes parent-activists, homeschooling parents, homeschooled youth, and researchers of family-school relations. Participants are asked to rethink policy and practice through the knowledge traditions shared. 

Amber Thompson is a Black radical mother who resides in Pittsburgh, PA. She has advocated for disenfranchised and underserved populations since she was a young girl. Working on behalf of underrepresented populations within the non-profit and private sectors, Thompson saw an opportunity to increase equity throughout businesses and communities. After completing her master’s degree in organization development at Penn State, she founded a change management consulting company. As the Principal Consultant for Leaders of Change, she wants to use the knowledge she gained as a community activist and a project manager to help companies develop strategies to create equitable and sustainable business solutions.

Angel Gober is the Western Pennsylvania Director at OnePA. Angel started building a tenants’ union in public housing where she lived with her daughter fifteen years ago. Since then, she has been a fearless community organizer, working on housing and education justice. She has been a winning campaign manager for local school board campaigns, and co-authored a policy to stop the school-to-prison-pipeline. Angel envisions and strategically works towards a world resourced and beautiful for Black children. She is dedicated to state-wide and national coalitions to make change.

Brittani Murray is a passionate Pittsburgh activist and organizer, having participated in #BlackLiveMatter and #TransLivesMatter protests and rallies, as well as leading community-oriented healing events over the years. Considered a “movement aunty” by some, she is a staunch anti-capitalist and proud hood femme. She is a member of the Allegheny County Black Activist/Organizer Collective which recently delivered list of demands for police reform to the Pittsburgh mayor, she is co-founder of OKRA Ethics, a grassroots Black and Indigenous collaborative, she served on the board of SisTersPGH, and she was part of the Black Brilliance Community Cohort. Murray hails from a long lineage of union workers, and carries that torch by being a member of the USW LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee and acting as LU 3657 Treasurer.

Lori Delale-O'Connor Ph.D., is an assistant professor of education at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Urban Education. Her research focuses on examining the connections between families, communities, and education across spaces with a particular focus on fostering equity and justice for children and youth in urbanized educational systems. Dr. Delale-O'Connor earned her Ph.D. in sociology from Northwestern University. She also holds an M.Ed. in secondary education from Boston College where she was a Donovan Urban Scholar and taught secondary social studies in the Boston Public Schools. Dr. Delale-O'Connor's research has been published in the American Educational Research Journal, Teachers College Record, and Urban Education, among other outlets. She is also co-author of the 2019 book, "'These Kids Are Out of Control:' Why We Must Reimagine Classroom Management for Equity" (Sage Publications).

Maria Searcy is a dedicated community activist, wife, mother, writer, tutor, artist and entrepreneur. She’s employed by the PA Department of Education, as a Parent Involvement in Education (PIE) consultant that provides training to parents, teachers, and administrators in school districts across the state of Pennsylvania to help them increase parent involvement in their schools. With family and education as primary core values, Searcy recently co-founded Searcy Consulting Group, LLC with her two daughters to empower African American families in the areas of parent advocacy, college and career readiness, school governance, and entrepreneurship. A published author ("The Western Journal of Black Studies") and 12-year member of the PA Title 1 State Parent Advisory Council, Searcy was presented with the Racial Equity Community Empowerment National Award for her work in education and community advocacy. Maria is member of the Equity Advisory Panel, PPS; a graduate of Pittsburgh Public schools, and Robert Morris University. Authored: “A Mother’s Journey: Advocating in Urban Public Schools” in The Western Journal of Black Studies, Volume 41, Number 1 & 2-Spring & Summer 2017; pg. 20-23.

Medina Jackson, MSW is the Director of Engagement for The P.R.I.D.E. Program (Positive Racial Identity Development in Early Education), an initiative out of the University of Pittsburgh School of Education’s Office of Child Development, who’s mission is to help young Black children ages 3-8 understand race and embrace their heritage, by sharing knowledge, skills and developing resources with the primary adults in their lives (educators, artists, parents and caregivers, community professionals) to counter the impact of racism in America. With P.R.I.D.E., Medina oversees community and arts engagement strategies including the popular PRIDE Pop-Up Mini Art Festivals. Medina (artistically known as “I Medina”) is also a spoken word and Hip Hop artist, writer, mama, community educator, and 2017 Pittsburgh 40 Under 40 honoree. She is a proud member of the facilitation team for the Black Transformative Arts Network, birthed from the Heinz Transformative Arts Process, equity consultant for the Shifting Power in Educational Research and Development Initiative, and an Advisory Board member of The Pittsburgh Foundation’s Social Justice Fund. Originally from South Berkeley, CA, Medina moved to Pittsburgh in 2001 to obtain her master’s degree in social work (community organization and social administration concentration) from the University of Pittsburgh and has been committed to the city ever since.

Windafire is a 16-year-old healing artist who uses music, fashion, magic, and meditations. His first single "Alive With Pride" produced by Liz Berlin through Creative Life Support, had its debut as an opening act for Big Freedia at People's Pride Pittsburgh in 2019. He is an active co-founder and co-collaborator with rest doula Onika Reigns on Black Dream Escape, a therapeutic practice that focuses on Black and Indigenous rest/sleep/dreams. He is also an active member of Dreams Of Hope and an intern with Youth Express.

Community Perspectives: Health, Faith, and Action

July 16, 2020 | 2 - 4 p.m.

Dara Mendez, Dustin Gibson, Kelvin and Ronda Taylor Bullock, Nekiya Washington-Butler, John Wallace, Timothy Jones, and Walter Lewis. 

This week’s CUESEF crosses modalities of health, faith, activism, and non-profit work to explore these world-shifting times. This essential conversation among a faith leader, activists, youth, a public health scholar, and education professionals will examine this historic dual moment of pandemic and sociopolitical mobilization and what it means for education settings in Pittsburgh and the U. S.

Dustin Gibson develops he(art)work that embodies a practice of disability justice that can live, build, support, and be implemented by marginalized communities to address the nexus between race, class, and disability. Gibson brings lived experience, scholarship, histories, art, and resources into classrooms, neighborhoods, and carceral institutions to support people in collectively imagining and building a world free from institutionalization and incarceration. He's a founding member of the Harriet Tubman Collective, the Disability, Access & Language Justice Coordinator at Peopleshub, and a Peer Support trainer with Disability Link. He co-authored a piece in Disability Visibility: "First Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century."

Kelvin Bullock Dr. Daniel Kelvin Bullock is a graduate of UNC -Chapel Hill (bachelors and masters) and NC State University (doctorate) and currently works as the Executive Director for Equity Affairs with Durham Public Schools. In this role, he specializes in identifying and reducing inequities that exist in students' educational experiences. While not restricted to any particular disparities, the foundation of his work is in addressing racial inequities. Dr. Bullock has been an educator for 15 years and previously served as a social studies teacher and curriculum specialist. Dr. Bullock is the husband of Dr. Ronda Taylor Bullock and father of son, Zion and daughter, Zaire. Author of Book chapter in "Engaging the African Diaspora in K-12 Education," edited by Kia Lilly Caldwell and Emily Susanna Chávez.

Ronda Taylor Bullock is originally from Goldston, NC and earned her doctorate in 2018 at UNC Chapel Hill in the Policy, Leadership, and School Improvement Program. Her research interests are critical race theory, critical whiteness studies, White children’s racial identity construction, and anti-racism. Prior to entering her doctoral program, Dr. Taylor Bullock taught English for almost ten years at Hillside High School in Durham, NC, where she now resides. Dr. Taylor Bullock is the co-founder and Lead Curator of We Are, which stands for working to extend anti-racist education. She is the wife of Dr. Daniel Kelvin Bullock and mother of son Zion and daughter Zaire. She is the author of "Raising Conscious Kids: A Community-Based Approach to Anti-Bias Education."

Nekiya Washington-Butler is an upcoming freshman at the University of Pittsburgh who will be studying early education with a focus on kindergarten through fourth grade. She is proud of the person that she is becoming and has learned that the more she continues to speak on things, the more issues she can bring to light. She gets especially excited to talk about racism and White privilege, and loves to debate controversial issues with facts to support or discredit opinions. She first got involved with protesting during the student actions in support of Antwon Rose and has been activated to do more on behalf of young people. She was really excited to find an internship at Pitt’s Center for Urban Education that matched her passion of wanting to change school systems to make it equal for all children, changing the tactics they use for Black children because the school system wasn’t built for Black youth. Her experiences in attending predominantly White schools, then transferring to predominantly Black schools, has given her a deeper perspective of the impacts of implicit bias from teachers and classmates alike. Raised by a single mom, her mom is her biggest supporter and she credits her for all of her positive attributes.

Timothy Jones is an esteemed educator and youth development specialist whose work is centered at the intersections of hip-hop pedagogy, youth development, and artistic empowerment. Jones is the Chief Visionary Officer of HipHopEd. Since 2011, he has served as its curator and lead moderator for the weekly Twitter "Cyber Cypher." As a business leader, Jones founded Techniques4Learning LLC, to house his consultancy and artistic works. Timothy is a sought-after lecturer, trainer, and curriculum developer for schools and youth serving organizations throughout the nation.

Toward Critical Pedagogy: Teachers and Teaching

July 23, 2020 | 2 - 4 p.m.

Amil Cook, Janet Niethamer, Kari Kokka, Harmony McDonald, Monica Ruiz, and Muffy Mendoza.

Bringing together teachers in various context, researchers, and youth, this session will continue a conversation about what it means to center equity and justice in education—both inside and outside schools. Panelists will discuss their reactions to school re-openings in the current moment, culturally responsive pedagogy, and ideas for policy and practice with a focus on teachers and teaching.

Amil Nyerere Thomas Cook, M.Ed. is a passionate African-American, male, urban educator who has been devoted to serving his community for nearly 15 years. Throughout his professional career, Cook has served in multiple capacities from a clinical supervisor for adjudicated youth to a classroom teacher. Cook challenges his students to embrace their personal narratives, dive deep into their historical narratives, and incorporate cutting-edge technology and media skills as they navigate into the future. Cook currently serves as a computer science and graphic design teacher at Propel Andrew Street High School, while also coordinating the school's after school program. Cook is also a founding member and lead technologist of the international community of Hip-Hop Educators better known as #HipHopEd. Authored "Computer-Based Technology for Special and Multicultural Education:" Enhancing 21st Century Learning.

Janet Niethamer, EdD, is a strong and enthusiastic educator with a vast teaching competency procured over the past 25 years. She has taught high school, kindergarten, first grade, and was an elementary school librarian, all while studying and advocating for social justice and equity within her community and school district, one of the most diverse districts in Allegheny County. Niethamer has completed research on the acquisition and use of multicultural children's literature in community libraries and more recently participated in professional practitioner groups such as Educators for Equity, Love, and Justice and the Empowered Educators Series. She also co-presented “Pathways to Culturally Responsive Teaching” at last year’s CUESEF! Currently, Niethamer is adjunct faculty at CCAC, a Title I Reading Specialist for grades K-6, provides professional development on culturally responsive teaching, is a member of her district’s Equity Team, and serves on the board as the Teacher Liaison for RAMP-Raising Achievement in Monroeville and Pitcairn.

Kari Kokka, EdD is an assistant professor of mathematics education in the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh. She studies student and teacher perspectives of social justice mathematics and STEM teacher activism. She has been an educator for the past 21 years, and her most influential teaching experiences were learned during her ten years as a mathematics teacher organizer at Vanguard High School, a public Title I New York City high school and part of the Coalition of Essential Schools and New York Performance Standards Consortium. She is co-founder of the Creating Balance in an Unjust World Conference on STEAMM Education and Social Justice, former co-chair (2017-2019) of the Critical Educators for Social Justice SIG, and has been part of the Radical STEMM Educators of the Bay Area, People’s Education Movement, and the New York Collective of Radical Educators. She completed her Ed.D. at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (2017), her M.A. with the Stanford Teacher Education Program (2001), and her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University (1999).

Harmony McDonald is a Pittsburgh Public Schools graduate, who is an eloquent spoken word artist and has a passion for humanity. She is unapologetic in her fight for Black life. Harmony's activism is demonstrated through her voice, brilliance, and courage within organizing and protesting in Pittsburgh.

Mónica Ruiz is the Executive Director at Casa San José. Ruiz holds a master’s degree in social work with a focus on community organizing and social action. She earned her bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Pittsburgh with a concentration in psychology. Ruiz is a powerful advocate for Latinos on legal, housing, development, and educational issues. She fights for those facing deportation proceedings and launches projects to assist women, children, and youth. In addition, she partners with political, labor, religious, and law enforcement leadership to make Pittsburgh stronger and more welcoming to all.

Muffy Mendoza is the founder, creative and business woman behind Brown Mamas, a sisterhood that connects thousands of moms with resources, advice and, best of all, each other. Muffy has created a line of educational books and products focused on helping Black moms be the best moms. Her first book, "The Brown Mama Mindset: A Blueprint for Black Moms on Life, Love & Home," was featured at the Essence Festival and is currently sold in various cities across the U.S. Muffy champions the beauty and complexities of the Black mothering experience everywhere she goes, even on the TEDx stage. She received a standing ovation at the inaugural TEDx Strip District after giving a compelling depiction of modern-day Black motherhood. From the TEDx stage she went on to create a stage for other Black moms. That same year, she debuted the first annual Brown Mama Monologues showcase to an audience of over 200. To date, The Brown Mama Monologues is hosted in two cities: Pittsburgh and the DC Metro region with the hopes of becoming a multi-city showcase. To add to the list, Mendoza was nominated for the prestigious Iris Award in 2018 for the outstanding work she’s done as a writer, influencer, and content creator on When she’s low-key, Mendoza loves reading African history books, forcing her kids to watch the most boring documentaries, and snuggling with her number one supporter and husband, Mr. Mack Mendoza. You can learn more about Muffy

Planning for Black Futures: Leadership and Policy Perspectives

July 30, 2020 | 2 - 4 p.m.

Cecil Price III, Phillip Woods, Linda Tillman, Monica Lamar, Muhammad Khalifa, and Terri Watson

Our final CUESEF dialogue brings together school district administrators, principals, researchers, and youth to explore what it means to center justice in education practice, policy, and planning. This conversation will push thinking about culturally proficient leadership in our current moment of COVID-19 and institutional anti-black racism.

Cecil Price, III is currently an Oprah Winfrey Scholar of the prestigious Historically Black College, Morehouse College, as the class of 2024 where he prides himself on being a conscientious, civically, and socially engaged student, brother, son, and friend. He graduated as the class of 2020 from the Barack Obama Academy of International Studies in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he was the first student body president, who was also valedictorian in the school’s history, completing International Baccalaureate (IB) courses and maintaining a 4.661 grade point average. With his continuous involvement in the lives of students and the community at large, he has been given the title of student ambassador. Accompanied by this title, he has had many leadership roles to help advocate for student-voice, one of these being the first President of the African American Centers for Advanced Studies (AACAS) Executive Committee to serve two terms, consecutively, in the Pittsburgh Public Schools district.

Dr. Phillip Woods is a servant-leader with a passion for developing and educating underrepresented and underperforming students through the implementation of proactive diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives which have greatly benefited the students at Woodland Hills High School. Dr. Woods began his educational journey at Indiana University of Pennsylvania earning a B.S. in elementary education, a master’s degree in special education and a principal certification from SlipperyRock University. He returned to IUP and completed a D.Ed in administration and leadership studies. He is the recipient of multiple awards including the John S. Shropshire Graduate Scholarship for academic achievement, the IUP Foundation Doctoral Fellowship Award for excellence in teaching and research, the Carter G. Woodson Outstanding Graduate Student Award, the National Parent Teacher Association Dr. Walk Kealey Leadership Award, and most recently, the Tried Stone Baptist Church Men of Excellence Award, the Men of Distinction Award, sponsored by the Women’s Achievement Club. His work at Woodland Hills was a featured story titled "Guiding Principle," in IUP’s alumni magazine, an international publication. As principal at Woodland Hills High School, Woods’s focus has very much been on instituting changes that benefit the education and well-being of a very diverse student body with the most significant change of a graduation rate that rose from 87 percent in 2018 to 95 percent in 2019. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette documented the school's transformation in a series of articles that highlighted a once “failing school’s” educational renewal. Dr. Woods’s accomplishments stem from the ideology that it takes a village to raise a child and through modeling, hard work, and perseverance can motivate one to overcome life’s adverse circumstances and progress beyond expectations.

Dr. Linda C. Tillman is professor emerita of educational leadership in the School of Education, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and currently serves as an adjunct professor at Teachers College, Columbia University in the Urban Education Leadership Program. Dr. Tillman’s research and scholarship focus on school leadership, the education African Americans in K-12 education, mentoring in higher education, and culturally sensitive research approaches, and her work has been featured in publications including Educational Administration Quarterly, Educational Researcher, Review of Research in Education, and Review of Educational Research. She is editor-in-chief of the SAGE Handbook of African American Education, co-editor of the Handbook of Research on Educational Leadership for Diversity and Equity (with J.J. Scheurich), and recent publications include “Achieving Racial Equity in Higher Education: The Case for Mentoring Faculty of Color” (Teachers College Record, 2019). Dr. Tillman is the former Vice President of Division A (Administration, Organization and Leadership) of the American Educational Research Association and the former Director of the Barbara Jackson Scholars of the University Council for Educational Administration. She is a consultant for school systems, universities, educational foundations, the U.S. government, and most recently conducted a year-long investigation of the status of education for African Americans in a west coast school district. Dr. Tillman received her bachelor’s degree in secondary education from The Ohio State University, her masters degree in educational administration from the University of Dayton (Ohio), and her Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy studies from The Ohio State University.

Dr. Monica D. Lamar is an assistant superintendent of fourteen K-5 & K-8 schools for the Pittsburgh Public Schools. Dr. Lamar served as the principal of Pittsburgh Dilworth Pre-K to 5th grade in the Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) for fourteen years and a principal in PPS for a total of nineteen years. During her tenure as Principal, Dr. Lamar has successfully led two schools to be student focused with achievement. Additionally, Dr. Monica D. Lamar attributes her success to the team she has collaborated and coached as the school leader. Dr. Lamar as graduated from Duquesne University from the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program for Education Leaders (IDPEL), and her completed dissertation is entitled, “A School for Our Children: A School Successfully Closing the Student Achievement Gap.”

Dr. Muhammad Khalifa is the Robert Beck Endowed Professor in the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. His research examines how urban school leaders enact culturally responsive leadership and anti-oppressive schooling practices. He has written extensively on minoritized student identities in school, how schools can become liberatory spaces for youth, and how schools can begin to recognize and value the ancestral knowledges in and around schools. In addition to his previous work as an urban educator in Detroit, he has worked with education ministers in Africa and Asia and has helped them craft educational goals and reforms. He is the author of the top-selling new book, "Culturally Responsive School Leadership" (Harvard Education Press, 2018). He is also coeditor of three other earlier books: "Handbook on Urban Educational Leadership" (Rowan & Littlefield), and "Becoming Critical: The Emergence of Social Justice Scholars" (SUNY Press), and "The School to Prison Pipeline. The Role of Culture and Discipline in School" (Emerald Books). Dr. Khalifa has also recently published in the highest ranked education journals, including Review of Educational ResearchTeachers College Record, QSE, Urban Review, Educational Administration Quarterly, and Race, Ethnicity, and Education, to name a few. Dr. Khalifa has developed an advanced online “equity audit” tool for use in U.S. schools—a researched-based way to reduce achievement and discipline disparities in school ( And through the Culturally Responsive School Leadership Institute, he and colleagues have developed academies and learning modules that will help schools and leaders to become culturally responsive (

Terri N. Watson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Leadership and Human Development at The City College of New York. A Harlem native, her research examines effective school leadership and is aimed to improve the educational outcomes and life chances of historically excluded and underserved students and families. Dr. Watson is the guest editor for a special issue of the Journal of Educational Administration and History (Taylor & Francis Group) titled, "A Seat at the Table: Examining the Impact, Ingenuity, and Leadership Practices of Black Woman and Girls in PK –20 Contexts" (Publication Date: August 2020). She will join the University at Buffalo’s Center for Diversity Innovation as a Distinguished Visiting Scholar for the 2020-21 academic year.

Audience Engagement Facilitator/Visiting Student Fellow

A native of Brunswick, Georgia, Derric I. Heck is a graduate research associate and doctoral student at the Stanford University Graduate School of Education. This current post follows his tenure as a K. Leroy Irvis Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Urban Education. His research includes issues of implicit bias and racial/gender/sexual identity development within learning spaces. 

Heck, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education and Wolaita Sodo University, is a 2017 Fulbright-Hays grant recipient. He holds a degree in Architecture from the Florida A&M University (FAMU) School of Architecture; conducted graduate studies at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. He is a contributing author to the recently released book, "Critical Race Theory in Teacher Education: Informing Classroom Culture and Practice." Heck has presented his scholarship at the inaugural Teach Africa Conference at the University of Pittsburgh; the Conference of the Pennsylvania Council for International Education; and the annual meeting of the American Educational Studies Association. 

Heck is a member of the American Educational Research Association; the 100 Black Men of Western Pennsylvania; the FAMU National Alumni Association; and the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.  

The Art of CUESEF 2020

The Talk by Cue Perry, 2019-2020 CUE Artist-in-Residence.

"Whenever I decide to have children, I dread the day my child looks up at me and we have "the talk," not the birds and the bees, but when I have to explain to them the dangers of having Black skin. The three kids was the first thing I painted since the quarantine. It just got me thinking about how carefree and fun life was when we were all kids. I was trying to get back into a creative groove during these rough times."