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
Anne Romney is a lifelong learner and educator who took WPCR in the fall of 2017 and knew that anti-racism work was something she wanted to be part of in a meaningful way. With an M Ed in counseling and a background in human resources, training and group facilitation, becoming a WPCR co-facilitator was a natural step. Anne was first introduced to “racial and gender awareness” training in the 80’s as a corporate HR professional during the days of active Affirmative Action implementation. Over the past couple of years she has intensified her journey by exploring her own privileged white life experiences and is profoundly troubled about our racial history and present day reality. Anne brings passion and commitment to this work and, by engaging with others who want to learn and take action to confront these enormous inequities, believes she can make a difference. As a facilitator her philosophy is that we all enter this journey from our own unique place – and that’s what makes each group a powerful learning community. Anne lives in Portsmouth NH and bringing WPCR to the Seacoast region became her Action Plan coming out of her first course in 2017.
Barbara Beckwith was raised in racially isolated NY and NJ suburbs that had been regulated, by law and commerce, to insure they were all white. She had no teachers of color: not in K-12 nor at her New England college, where racial inequity was assumed to be caused by “the culture of poverty” while down South, Black people were risking their livelihoods — and lives — to desegregate buses, libraries, schools stores and the ballot box. She earned two graduate degrees (B.A. from Wellesley College, M.Ed. from Tufts U., M.S. from Boston U.) but understood the depth of racial inequity only when she took White People Challenging Racism in 2001. She now uses her unearned privilege to press for racial equity in every sphere of her life. She has co-authored a book that exposes racial bias in standardized testing. She has written three booklets of personal experience essays (What Was I Thinking? series, www.cddbooks.com) to reflect on everyday racism, including her own. She identifies as white, cis-gendered, and lives in Cambridge (MA). She is 82 years old. 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-offense 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 offenses, 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.
Blake Benton is a white cisgender able-bodied man. He spent most of his childhood and adolescence, and a portion of his young adulthood, in a predominantly white suburb of Kansas City. He graduated from Simmons College School of Social Work in 2017, with a master’s degree in social work, and now works full-time in the field of mental and behavioral health. Before attending Simmons, Blake participated in groups that encouraged their members to reflect on the topic and concept of privilege. However, the Simmons College course, ‘Dynamics of Racism and Oppression,’ was the first time he was asked to conduct an in-depth examination of his own white racial identity and white privilege. He now recognizes that white supremacy allowed him to live safely for almost 25 years without having to critically examine his white racial identity and white privilege. He also recognizes that alternatively, white supremacy forces People of Color to be constantly aware of their racial identity, in order to survive. Since graduating, Blake has sought out continuing education opportunities that focus on racial equity and racial justice, as a way of furthering his racial awareness learning. In some of his free time, Blake also enjoys listening to musical theater cast albums.
Colin Stokes is the Director of Communications, Outreach, and Engagement at METCO, Inc., the historic school desegregation program between Boston and its suburbs. He speaks about privilege, parenting, and popular culture at schools, non-profits, and corporations. His four talks at TEDxBeaconStreet have been viewed nearly 10 million times, and he has coached several speakers who have been featured on TED.com. He has worked at a number of other education non-profits, supporting their missions with branding, employee engagement, and organizational learning about racism and inclusion. Before all that, he was a professional actor and graphic designer in Boston and New York. He studied visual arts at Harvard and now lives in Brookline with his wife and two children.
Devon Davidson is fortunate to have spent her career working for social justice organizations as a peace activist, fundraiser and community educator. She has actively promoted affirmative action and has been a racial justice educator for many years. She has also taught English to Students of Other Languages. Currently she is active in the sanctuary and immigrant rights movement. She has a BA with honors from Oberlin College and an MA from Brandeis University. She loves to travel and has lived for a year each in Paris and Barcelona and shorter periods of time in Oaxaca, Mexico. Devon identifies as a white woman.
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 Hart is a trilingual public health professional with nearly 20 years of domestic and international experience in sexual and reproductive health education and training, specifically in the stigmatized issues of abortion, HIV/AIDS, teen pregnancy, sexual and gender-based violence, and sexual identity and rights. Jennifer was formally introduced to anti-racism work and the associated concepts of white supremacy and systemic oppression by her current employer, Planned Parenthood. Through her work she has attended workshops on micro-aggressions, implicit bias, stereotype threat, racial anxiety, power/privilege/oppression, and participated in white people affinity groups . As a co-facilitator of WPCR, Jennifer hopes to uphold a brave space for white people to acknowledge, learn, discuss, and grapple with concepts and realities of race, power, oppression, and personal accountability. Jennifer loves supporting others in their self-discoveries, seeing the “light bulb” moments, and honoring the vulnerability and humility that accompanies learning. Jennifer was raised in CT, lived for 13 years in NC, and 3 years each in NYC, DC, and Boston. She has traveled to many countries in Central and South America, Western Europe, as well as Nigeria and China. Jennifer identifies as a white, cisgender, straight woman of Irish/English ethnicity.
With the encouragement of CCAE’s Tracy Gibbs, Jennifer Yanco developed and facilitated the first White People Challenging Racism: Moving from Talk to Action workshop series at CCAE in the fall of 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. Jennifer, who identifies as white, 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 herself, the US, and the world. In the 90s she was on the staff of the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, authors of Our Bodies, Ourselves, and from 2003 until 2018, served as the US director of the West African Research Association. In addition to WPCR, she has developed other 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.
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 Michelle received a BSW from Wheelock College in Boston and an MSW from San Diego State University. Michelle is a racial justice educator and the author of the children’s books, “The Skin on My Chin” and “The Story of METCO.” Please visit her website www.theskinonmychin.
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, educator, and activist who has lived in Boston for more than 18 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. She is currently a job skills training instructor in Boston.
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.
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 LGBTQ 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.
Beth Herman-Davis, EdD
Christine Stella Panzarella
Emily Forsyth Queen
Margaret Bad Warrior
Natali (Tali) Freed