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 Rasist organizations, she was able to get a unique view on the global race problem and social inequality.
Barbara Beckwith took White People Challenging Racism in 2000 and has been co-facilitating since 2001. As a white person, she uses her unearned skin privilege to press for racial equity in every sphere of her life. As a writer and former public school teacher, she co-authored Standing Up to the SAT, which looks at, among other things, racial bias in standardized testing. As a journalist and National Writers Union diversity activist, she worked with 100 writers to develop the NWU’s Building Strength Through Diversity: A Handbook for Locals. Her three booklets of personal experience essays reflecting on everyday racism (including her own) are available from www.cddbooks.com (What Was I Thinking? series). She has co-led workshops at White Privilege Conferences and at the Race & Pedagogy National Conference. She and her husband Jon live in Cambridge (MA) where they raised their two sons. 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.
Jane Appleyard Allen is a public health analyst who evaluates mass media campaigns to prevent or reduce smoking, and conducts research to understand factors that influence smoking and quitting, including public health policy and tobacco industry marketing. Through this work, Jane became aware of the degree to which health is associated with power, especially financial resources and race. A focus of Jane’s work has been examining whether public health evaluation tools and interventions function equally well regardless of race and ethnicity, with the goal of reducing tobacco-related disparities. Jane has published 10 research articles that focus specifically on issues of race and ethnicity. She contributed a chapter (“Reducing tobacco-related health disparities: Using mass media campaigns to prevent smoking and increase cessation in underserved populations”) in the Handbook of African American health: social and behavioral interventions (2011, Springer Publications). Jane first took WPCR in 2015. She is passionate about helping to build a movement among white people, like herself, who will work actively toward greater racial justice within their communities. 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 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.
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.
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 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 knit and make art. Xóchi also manages the WPCR website.
Margaret Bad Warrior
Natali (Tali) Freed
Christine Stella Panzarella