Dr. Darnisa Amante is an educational and racial equity strategist that is deeply committed to the study of culture; innovation; and adult development. Since earning her master’s degree in Anthropology from Brandeis University, and her doctorate from Harvard’s Educational Leadership Doctorate (Ed.L.D.), Dr. Amante has honed her knowledge of culture and adult development to transform organizational and school cultures on issues of equity; change management and re-design. Dr. Amante currently serves as the CEO of The Disruptive Equity Education Project (DEEP) and as system level leadership lecturer at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.
Dr. Darnisa Amante
Deaweh Benson is a research associate at the American Institutes for Research. She has a Masters in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a BA from Spelman College. Her primary areas of focus include youth empowerment, persistence in higher education, school-to-work transitions, and social and emotional learning. She has conducted secondary analyses of large-scale national survey data, written literature reviews, and provided consultation to nonprofits on curriculum design and implementation. Deaweh also has experience launching and managing nonprofit organizations, designing programs to promote equitable practices in education, teaching English as a second language in China, and supporting positive youth development interventions for underserved populations.
Sundai K Bestman is an aspiring educational and racial equity strategist that is committed to using his dual passion of art and fitness to positively impact boys of color. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, and being the son of two hardworking parents of African descent, Sundai developed a strong cultural identity early. During his high school and college years, his work as a Camp Counselor, Mentor and Big Brother to boys of color evolved into a passion to use his love of art and fitness to dismantle systemic oppression as it shows up on the mental health and body self-images of boys of color. He currently serves as the Project Coordinator and Executive Assistant to Dr. Amante of The Disruptive Equity Education Project Company.
Over the course of 15 years, I have served as a teacher, an academic coach, and a principal in brick-and-mortar and virtual school settings. The majority of these years were in service to turnaround or ‘Transition’ secondary schools. Prior to entering the field of education, I worked as a restorative therapist and developed personalized plans to speed up recovery for those who suffered from strokes or major injury. I also worked in a genetics laboratory before ultimately joining the Mayo Clinic in the area of neurology. New questions began to emerge that could not be studied in a clinical setting. I headed to the classroom. The learning we often observe is the direct reflection of the kinds of learning experiences we structure for teachers and students. Some environments foster learning and accelerate learning growth while others deprive learners of access to knowledge and richer school experiences. Effective leaders are architects of learning who create experiences that maximize learning opportunities especially for those most marginalized in the world.
With over 10 years of experience teaching in the classroom and serving as a socio-emotional learning (SEL) facilitator, Daisy deeply believes in the power of uniting people from diverse backgrounds and providing experiential opportunities for meaningful coalition building. After earning her undergraduate degree early at the University of California, Berkeley, in ethnic studies and international relations, she lived abroad in Nicaragua where she taught leadership and environmental education. She continues to work in Central America twice a year with global student workshops through the World Leadership School. Daisy has her master’s degree in education from St. Mary’s College and four Montessori certifications for 1st-12th grade education. Daisy teaches a course called “Leading for Equity” at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education and partners with local schools in the Boston area to dismantle systemic racism and create equitable opportunities for all students. As DEEP’s Director of Equity Curriculum and Education she is, first and foremost, the holder of the practice, the toolkit, and the workshop impact.
Since the onset of his career, the Reverend Eric C. Jackson, Senior Minster at Brookside Congregational Church in NH, has worked tirelessly to build the bridge between religion, advocacy, and social justice. With his Masters of Divinity from Drew Theological School, an Engel Fellow at Princeton University Theological Seminary and a current candidate for the Doctorate of Ministry at Hartford Seminary, Reverend Jackson focuses on partnering with communities to leverage the teachings of the Bible and Jesus Christ.
As the current branch president of the Greater Manchester, New Hampshire NAACP, Reverend Jackson has worked tirelessly to bring awareness of racism, prejudice and biases to many communities across New England and New York City. For Jackson, the tandem of religion and advocacy affords communities the ability to combat injustice; garner new forms of justice and to create bridges for reconciliation.
D. Farai Williams, Founder & Facilitator with, Dynamizing Equity (dEQ) & Idjeli Theater Works (ITW), is an artist, theater of the oppressed facilitator, racial equity strategist and cultural organizer. “I use theater and culture-based tools, as a method of personal and social inquiry; to synergies the head, heart & body for radical healing. By acting and dramatizing personal stories, our reflective minds begin to shape stronger ideas against racial oppression and inequity [particularly the racial oppression we have internalized]”. The result-invigoration to rebuild healthy, equitable communities Farai holds a master’s of fine arts degree from the Institute for Advanced Theater Training at the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University. Farai currently serves as a, partner and racial equity strategist with The Disruptive Equity Education Project (DEEP).
Nnaemeka (Emeka) Ekwelum is connector of people and ideas. As an educator and as artist, his personal and professional ethics are rooted in love, using philosophies of care and respect to facilitate conversations around identity development, community building, and social justice. He earned his BA in Comparative Ethnic Studies from Columbia University, and he recently completed an Ed.M. in Arts in Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education. In addition to his work as an equity and inclusion strategist, Nnaemeka is an art teacher for the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services, where he teaches art making and emotional wellness strategies to young men of color who are experiencing adolescence under state confinement.