WPCR workshops are the ongoing project of a group of facilitators. We believe that dismantling racism is a life-long process and, based on what we have learned from our workshops, one that is most successfully approached in community. Initially, all facilitators were white; over time, we have become a multi-racial group of diverse backgrounds. All of us were once students in the WPCR workshop and have gone on to take a role in facilitating the course. We meet monthly to build upon our experiences, improve the workshops, and share our abiding commitment to working with others to build our capacity to challenge racism and white privilege.
In alphabetical order by first name
Afrah Farah is a vocational ESL instructor/career Coach at a nonprofit in Boston, and a documantary filmmaker. Born and raised in Kuwait of Somalian heritage, Afrah was educated in Germany, where she earned a Masters in Biology from the University of Heidleberg/Germany. She speaks four languages and she is passionate about empowering refugees and immigrants from diverse countries. She first took WPCR in 2015 and started co-facilitating in 2016. She lives in Cambridge MA. Being in Germany and USA as an activist for Womens rights against FGM, against Neonazi and Racist organizations, she was able to get a unique view on the global race problem and social inequality.
Alexandra Steinhauer co-facilitated White People Challenging Racism at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education for the first time in 2015. Alexandra is committed to the process of understanding how, as a white woman, she can best advocate for an equitable and anti-racist society through education. Alongside her ‘day job’ in education data & evaluation, she works to support white educators reflect on how power and internalized supremacy show up in their classrooms and impact their students.
Barbara Beckwith is a white woman who grew up in racially isolated white suburbs in NY and NJ but now uses her unearned privilege to press for racial equity in every sphere of her life: as a freelance writer, public school teacher, adjunct professor of journalism, National Writers Union leader, and as a co-facilitator of the White People Challenging Racism workshop. She co-authored Standing Up to the SAT, which looks at, among other things, racial bias in standardized testing. In personal experience essays (What Was I Thinking? series, www.cddbooks.com) she reflects on everyday racism, including her own. She has a B.A. from Wellesley College, M.Ed. from Tufts University, M.S.in journalism from Boston University. She and her husband Jon live in Cambridge (MA). www.barbarabeckwith.net
Beth Hampson is an educator who has always brought a social justice perspective to her teaching. Beth first understood the inequality in American education as an undergraduate in Washington DC. After graduating, she worked for Head Start coming face-to-face with systemic economic inequality. She supported poor, underserved families, preparing them for kindergarten. As a classroom teacher Beth developed curricula that asked students to take the perspective of the oppressed, teaching American colonialism from the perspective of Native Americans, for example. Beth currently works with schools to implement restorative justice. The current approach to discipline in most schools asks, “What rule was broken?” “Who broke the rule?” And “What is the consequence?” This approach creates a system of suspension, re-offence and higher drop out rates. Poor and minority students are disproportionately impacted by this approach. Restorative justice shifts the paradigm asking rather, “Who was harmed?” “What do they need?” “How can the harm be repaired?” This approach repairs relationships, supports victims and offenders, leads to fewer suspensions, reduces repeat offences, builds relationships and tolerance, and results in less disruptive and bullying behavior, ultimately improving school climate. Beth lives in Melrose and is excited to work with WPCR as a co-facilitator.
Beth Herman-Davis, EdD, is an educator with over 19 years of experience as a literacy coach, teacher, and college professor. Beth taught and coached at the middle and high school levels in a variety of school districts with diverse populations, and led faculty book groups on racism, culturally responsive teaching, and equity. Beth provides professional development on a variety of subjects including: multicultural literature, cultural competency, equity, and social justice. Beth is an alumni of the Oregon Writing Project and is currently a teacher-consultant for the Buzzards Bay and Boston Writing Projects, as well as an adjunct faculty member at Lesley University. She has an Ed.D. in educational leadership and her dissertation, A Student-Centered Classroom for Struggling Readers Transforms a Teacher’s Identity and Pedagogy, focuses on Latina students, culturally responsive teaching, and student engagement/voice.
Denise Garcia The first time I noticed my whiteness was as a child. My mom had me pack up some old clothes to give to my cousins in our multi-cultural family. But, I didn’t really begin to examine this part of myself until I was in college. And, after years of working in marketing for a nonprofit I shifted towards social justice work where I continue to examine it. My professional journey has taken me full circle from volunteering as an ESOL instructor, to organizing for immigrant rights, and once again I’m working part-time teaching English after becoming a full-time parent. (I also run a crochet shop on Etsy). In between this, I completed my M.A. in the Intercultural Relations Program at Lesley University, where my research focused on issues of immigration, conflict and racism. In the recent past, I worked as a Welcoming MA Intern with the MIRA Coalition and focused on creating conversations to promote understanding of immigration and refugee issues. I have volunteered with Chelsea Collaborative’s CLIC (Chelsea Latino Immigrant Committee) to assist with wage theft recovery as well; worked as an Immigrant Rights Intern for Massachusetts Jobs with Justice; and interned as a Case Manager for refugees at Catholic Charities in Boston too. In addition, I volunteer as a Steering Committee Member and a prayer Vigil Organizer with the Boston New Sanctuary Movement. I first took WPCR in 2011 and started co-facilitating in 2012. I continue to co-facilitate classes as needed. https://about.me/denisealexia
Devon Davidson teaches English to students of other languages at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education. She is retired from a long career with various social justice organizations, especially the American Friends Service Committee where she helped build a racially diverse staff and committee membership. In the 1970s, she co-founded both Vocations for Social Change and the People’s Yellow Pages, which helped people find ways to work for peace and social justice. Later she directed a national HIV prevention project that worked to get bilingual, culturally appropriate sexuality education to migrant farmworker adolescents. She is an active member of Old Cambridge Baptist Church where she serves on the Steering Committee of their Dismantling White Supremacy project. She is active in the Rainbow Lifelong Learning Institute, which offers educational courses to LGBTQ older adults. She first took WPCR in 2003 and has just completed her second WPCR at Rainbow LLI. Devon identifies as a white, bisexual woman. She lives in Cambridge.
Emily Forsyth Queen is a cis, hetero, white woman who is passionate about bringing people together to learn from each other and work toward more equity. Her focus on racial justice and uprooting and dismantling power intensified in fall 2016, inspired by Ford Hall 2015 activists and calls to action by women of color after the US presidential election. Emily grew up in the suburbs in the Washington, DC area, lived and worked on girls’ empowerment in Burkina Faso in West Africa for three years, continued working in the international development field for another 5 years before moving to Waltham, MA. She plans to graduate from the Heller School at Brandeis University in May 2018 with dual MA degrees in conflict transformation and sustainable international development.
Jane Appleyard Allen is a public health analyst who conducts research to develop and evaluate public health policy related tobacco and marijuana. She has a long-standing interest in health disparities, and the ways in which seemingly benign systems often produce different and less favorable results for people of color than for white people. Through her work she has been able to contribute to the scientific literature on the effectiveness of evaluation tools and public health mass media campaigns for populations of color. Jane is passionate about helping to build a movement for racial justice. She believes that movement must include a large and active population of white people, like herself, working as allies within their spheres of influence, with and accountable to people of color. Jane began co-facilitating in her hometown of Melrose, MA, in Fall 2015.
Jennifer Yanco started White People Challenging Racism: Moving from Talk to Action classes at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education in 1999, mentoring new facilitators who have taught the workshop at various venues and who, in turn, have mentored other new facilitators, in a continuing process of renewal and change. She grew up in the Pacific Northwest and spent much of the 70s and 80s in Africa — first as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Democratic Republic of Congo and then in Niger, experiences which forever changed her perspective on the US and the world. In the early 90s she was on the staff of the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, authors of Our Bodies, Ourselves. For the past ten years, she has served as the US director of the West African Research Association www.bu.edu/wara. She has developed anti-racism curricula and has, together with colleagues of color, provided diversity/anti-racism training to a range of organizations and offered workshops on friendships and work partnerships that cross lines of race and ethnicity. Jennifer’s book, Misremembering Dr. King: Revisiting the Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., was published in January 2014 by Indiana University Press. Jennifer is a long-time resident of Medford.
Katherine Blake Gendron comes from a white working class family in a small town outside of Hartford, Ct. She has a BS from Boston College in Nursing; an MS from Boston University in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing. She established her practice of psychotherapy in Newburyport in 1986, having worked before that time in community mental health centers. She is recently retired, having spent over 33 years working therapeutically with individuals, couples and families from the Merrimack Valley area. She took WPCR in Cambridge in the spring of 2016 and again in the summer of that year. She has co-facilitated WPCR several times since then with Marian Leighton Levy in Newburyport. She plans to continue the work of WPCR as a means of combating racism and raising awareness of white privilege.
Katy Allen is the program manager for a MA-based AmeriCorps program, where she works with a diverse group of 40 members to develop their personal leadership skills. Prior to working in the AmeriCorps world, Katy spent time fundraising within higher education and working with youth empowerment organizations in Roxbury, MA, and Oakland, CA. She feels called to continually learn and work against racism as a way to reclaim her individual humanity. She holds a B.S. in Biology and Society from Cornell University and a M.S. in Nonprofit Management from Northeastern University. She is white.
Lavette Coney is a courageous educator. Lavette’s cultural competency journey began as a high school student in a diverse school on Newbury Street in Copley Square where she also took anthropology courses at the University of Massachusetts. Her eight years in Japan as a teacher and writer for various Japanese publications, initiated her research on “race” and social justice long before she first took the WPCR course in 2012 (and again in 2016). Since then, she has developed many workshops and presentations for various conferences at NAIS’ PoCC (National Association of Independent Schools’ People of Color Conference), MATSOL (Massachusetts Educators of English Language Learners) and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) on the topic of teacher self-reflection and implicit bias. Some of Ms. Coney’s research is featured in an anthology on social justice entitled, Social Justice in English Language Teaching.
Lisa Graustein is an out Quaker high school teacher, diversity trainer, and youth worker with a MEd in racial justice education. She works locally with schools on equity issues related to race, gender, and sexual orientation. Lisa is a co-trainer for the Beyond Diversity 101 program and leads workshops nationally on diversity and racial justice/healing. Lisa first took the White People challenging Racism course in the spring of 2005. She lives in a semi-co-op in Dorchester with her child and two other families.
Marian Leighton Levy was a history major in college and graduate school, B.A. Clark University, and M.A. Northeastern University, with emphases in political, literary, and psychoanalytic theory. While semi-retired, she is still active in the music business, where she has worked all of her adult life, as co-founder of Rounder Records in 1970, in part as a political and counterculture collective. Marian took WPCR in the fall of 2015, with an Action Plan to start a similar course to Newburyport, where she has lived since 1985. Joined by Katherine Blake Gendron as co-facilitator, she has helped the course to evolve quickly into another White People Challenging Racism workshop, now having been offered several times. She identifies as white, and she grew up in downeast Maine, in a county with a significant Native American population. Her class of origin is the rural poor; class and income inequality among people of color and the working poor generally remain an ongoing concern for her, as part of anti-racist work.
Mark Schafer is a straight-identified, White, Jewish man who grew up in segregated Acton, MA, in the 1960s and 70s. As a young child, his parents were active in anti-racism work in the western suburbs of Boston. At the same time, children of working class, Eastern European Jewish immigrants to Brooklyn, NY, they were assimilating into the White, suburban, middle-class of the U.S. Northeast. Spanish, which entered into Mark’s life from a variety of sources, provided him with an alternative language, culture, and perspective to that of his provincial childhood and youth in Acton. He followed the path of Spanish in college at Wesleyan University to studies in Colombia and then to a career as a literary translator and bilingual textbook editor. In the late 1980s he moved to the town of Tepoztlán, Morelos, in central Mexico, where he taught English, worked as a translator, and adopted (and was adopted by) the neighborhood of Sta Cruz. Back in Boston in the 90s, he met and eventually married his wife, Marjorie, a Haitian American woman, and became a fluent intermediate Haitian speaker. In 2006 they moved to Roxbury, and in 2012, they adopted their daughter, Carmel, who was born in Léogâne, Haiti, in 2009. Mark first took WPCR in 2001, and has co-facilitated the class many times since.
Mary Gardner is an organization development consultant and has led her consulting business, WorkVision, for the past 32 years. In the past few years, Mary has developed a clearer understanding of her white privilege and has turned her focus to creating awareness and action for racial equity. She was on the planning team for the White Privilege Symposium New England, and is a co-founder of the Marblehead Racial Justice Team and the Salem Confronting Racism Task Force. Currently she is developing a roadmap for communities to form action teams to advance racial equity in their communities. She earned her B.A. magna cum laude at Fordham University and her M.A. in Organizational Psychology at Columbia University. She lives in Marblehead.
Mary Green is a white woman who grew up in the segregated South, receiving a B.A degree from the University of South Carolina which admitted the first three African American students in 1963, her freshman year. Taking WPCR for the first time in 2013 transformed her life and gave her the perspective and framework to act on her long held belief that segregation and racism were simply wrong. A retired banker who left the South in 1970 and moved to New England in 1992 after living in London, Chicago and New York City, she is a committed volunteer in various non-profit organizations that support social justice and progressive agendas. She took WPCR again in 2015 to continue her lifetime learning and active involvement in fighting systemic racism. She is excited and honored to co-facilitate WPCR for the first time in 2016. She and her husband Tim live in Wellesley.
Melanie (Mel) Roche-Laputka is a white woman raised in Pennsylvania. A first generation college graduate, she studied International Affairs and Spanish and Latin American Literature at The George Washington University. Volunteering with Big Brothers and Big Sisters in Washington D.C. instilled in her a passion for educational equity. She joined Teach for America, taught high school Spanish at New Haven Public Schools, Bridge Academy in Bridgeport, and City on a Hill in Roxbury. She earned a Masters in Educational Leadership at Simmons College and then became Dean of Citizenship and later a Racial Equity Advisor at City on a Hill. She provided professional development to teachers on issues of racial equity, and helped revise policies and practices at the school to be more racially equitable and just. She is now Director of Curriculum and Instruction at the Phoenix Charter Academy in Chelsea. She lives in East Boston.
Melissa Braaten has been teaching adult education in Dorchester for the past seven years. Her work brought her into contact with issues of race and systemic inequality and made her start to look deeper. After reading Debbie Irving’s Waking Up White and Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, she finally started to realize how much she didn’t know, and sought to learn more. As a white woman, she knows it will be a lifelong project to continue to see and understand her white privilege and to take action for racial justice. She is especially interested in issues of race in education; as a white teacher with adult students who are predominantly people of color, this is a critical dynamic in her life and work. Melissa has an educational background in math, philosophy, and theology. She received a Master of Theological Studies from the University of Notre Dame. She is conversationally functional in Spanish. When she is not teaching, she enjoys writing and taking long walks with her basset hound.
Michelle Chalmers, MSW lives in Wellesley, MA with her husband and two sons. Michelle received a BSW from Wheelock College in Boston, an MSW from San Diego State University. Michelle is the author of the children’s books, “The Skin on My Chin” and “The Story of METCO.” Please visit her website www.theskinonmychin.com. Michelle is available for author visits for children of all ages, parent and teacher training on having difficult conversations with young children and understanding human diversity.Michelle identifies as a white woman and is married to a man who identifies as Black, for 26 years.
Myles Green is an educator, artivist and grad student of Conflict Resolution and Mediation at UMass Boston. He was born in Boston and grew up around the 95-belt in overwhelmingly white towns. His undergraduate thesis focused on the history of race relations in America in which he examined his ancestors’ roles in the colonization and invasion of North America. He is a performer in a local Playback theater troupe which seeks to build community through empathy and storytelling. He believes that if people came together and shared personal stories in a meaningful way, barriers would fall and our common humanity would be more apparent. He identifies as white and is excited to share with others why this is important.
Nikki Moore is one of the founding members of the Marblehead Racial Justice Team, started and moderates the Marblehead Conversations on Racial Justice and co-facilitated the first showing of Making Whiteness Visible. Having brought up her children here in Marblehead she brings an awareness to what it is to be a Person of Color and parent of African American children in a majority white community. Nikki is committed to raising awareness and promoting opportunities that encourage diversity. She was a major force in getting Afro Flow Yoga to Marblehead and hopes to see it, and other diversity-promoting events, continue.
Shannon Fuller is a writer and activist who has lived in Boston for more than 16 years. As a white person, she is trying every day to better understand her privilege and to share that awareness with others. She believes it is the responsibility of white people to work against systemic racism. Shannon also has a strong interest in helping people learn to make informed, compassionate, and sustainable choices as citizens and consumers. Her work focuses on the belief that the Earth’s health, human rights, and animal rights are not separate issues and must be addressed simultaneously in order to be sustainable.
Stephen Pereira was born in Boston and currently lives in Brockton. After 32 years as an Arlington Public Schools administrator, he is now the President of Massachusetts Partnership for Diversity in Education and an adjunct faculty member of Empowering Multi-cultural Initiatives (EMI). He formerly served as President of the METCO Directors Association and is one of the longest-standing members of the Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers (MAPS) Board of Directors. Steve is also sits on the Board of Directors for Community Change, Inc. (CCI) and the National Black Doll Museum in Mansfield. He holds a BA from Boston College and an M.Ed, from Antioch University. He is active in many local cultural, civic, political and professional organizations and in his time off, he enjoys traveling the world and relaxing on the nearest beach. He also loves music and is an avid automobile enthusiast and bowls on a professional league. He took White People Challenging Racism in the winter 2012 and is now part of the co-facilitator group. He identifies as a person of color and as 2nd generation Cape Verdean American.
Steve Saranga is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who has worked in the Greater Boston Area since 2000. He spent his teens in rural/suburban Pennsylvania where he had several confrontations with various white supremacist groups and recognized that racism was more than the individual acts of bigotry of these groups. He first took White People Challenging Racism with Jennifer Yanco in 2000 and continued meeting monthly with other White folks who met during that class to discuss how white privilege and systemic racism affect their daily lives, what they can do about it, and to give one another support in challenging themselves and the system. He started co-facilitating in 2003. He lives in Jamaica Plain.
P. Stewart Lanier is the Interim Director of Consulting and Executive Transitions at Third Sector New England, a nonprofit capacity building organization whose mission is to shift power to create a more just and democratic society. He is the founder of LAOS Consulting, through which he provides organization development consulting and interim executive leadership for small nonprofits. Stewart began his career as a pastor and maintains his ordination in the United Methodist Church. He received experiential training in inclusiveness in the American University master’s program in organization development and participated in anti-racism training offered by Community Change, Inc. As a white male raised in the South, Stewart is called to participate in the ongoing struggle to make racism more evident to those with privilege and to respond with actions that bring justice. Stewart is interested in supporting diversity/inclusion in non-profit leadership and raising awareness of racism in predominantly white Boston suburban congregations.
Xóchitl (Xóchi – pronounced SO-chee) Kountz is a mental health counselor in private practice. She’s also a cis queer white woman. She began to recognize white privilege and racism while taking a course in Identity Development. Her graduate research on privilege and oppression in relation to sexual trauma survivors led her to recognize her own white privilege and participation in systemic racism and oppression of people of color. She took the White People Challenging Racism course in 2000 with Jennifer Yanco as the facilitator. As her action plan, she set up a monthly meeting with several other white people in order to discuss how white privilege and systemic racism affect their daily lives, what they can do about it, and to give one another support in challenging themselves and the system. This group continued to meet for several years. She spent many years working in conjunction with the Department of Mental Health, doing home-based family therapy with children with mental illnesses and their families. She lives north of Boston and uses most of her free time to make food, make art, and take silly pictures of her dog. Xóchi also manages the WPCR website.
Margaret Bad Warrior
Natali (Tali) Freed
Christine Stella Panzarella