Event Speakers

We are pleased to offer the following break out sessions for our Aug. 4 event.  We have created this program to be deliberately scaffolded.  There is a session for people brand new to social justice education, other sessions for those just dipping their toes into this field, and even some sessions for veterans of this critical work. Regardless of your position on your social justice journey we hope to provide meaningful support to you. 

Anti-Racist Education 101

This session is designed for people who are new to social justice work.  Vital concepts such as oppression, priviledge, and identity will be explored at both the macro-societal level and the intimate classroom level.  Basic definitions of anti-racism (Kendi, 2019)  will be shared, and we will begin to define the necessary steps it takes to become an anti-racist educator. This session is appropriate for all teachers, prek-12.  


Dr. Jennie Burke is an assistant professor in the Department of Early, Middle, and Exceptional Education at Millersville University.  Twelve years of teaching in a diverse public elementary school in central New Jersey fostered her profound interest in the possibility for social justice through education.  Her current research explores how elementary children engage with critical curricula designed to encourage them to examine the role race and gender play in their daily lives.  She is one of the co-founders of this Social Justice for Educators Summit, and the current chair of Millersville’s President’s Commission on the Status of Women. 

Thinking Beyond the Lesson Plan: Culturally Responsive Teaching in Uncertain Times.  

Self-reflection and culturally responsive teaching are critical practices when trying to authentically teach in a diverse environment and to prepare all students for the real world. This workshop will engage educators in activities that promote dialogue in issues and possible solutions related to working in a diverse school environment. 

At the end of the workshop, participants will learn how to recognize the value of the diversity in their classrooms, reinforce cultural perspectives at all levels of the K-12 curriculum, value the skills and knowledge of colleagues from diverse backgrounds, and support development in schools.  


Dr. Deborah Tamakloe is an associate professor at Millersville University. She teaches courses in Special Education. Her research interests include early interventions, assistive technology, reflective practices and multiculturalism. 

Striving for Social Justice in Children’s Literature: Truth-Telling and Harsh Realities. 

While strides have been made in the fight to publish and promote diverse books, teachers still struggle to find, critique, and share literature that goes beyond celebrating differences. What can teachers do to ensure their classrooms feature books that decenter whiteness and invite critical conversations around anti-racism, social justice, and empowerment? 


Dr. Colabucci teaches classes in children’s literature at Millersville University. Her forthcoming book is titled Books As Partners: Diverse Books in the Early Childhood Classroom. 

How We Raise Students’ Social Awareness and Develop Empathy Using Literature 

How do we build a brighter future by raising our social awareness through high-quality literature and conversations about issues? How can we explore social identities and discover how each identity contributes to family, school, and community? This presentation will help educators reflect on how what students read, write, and discuss from literature can help them explore personal identities and social issues. The presenter will discuss literature through “windows” and “mirrors” to help illustrate that stories are powerful tools for social awareness and identity development. 


Dr. Aileen Hower is an Assistant Professor of Literacy and the Graduate Coordinator for the Masters in Language and Literacy with a Reading or ESL concentration at Millersville University where she also runs an annual Summer Literacy Institute on Writing. She is a National Writing Project Fellow through the Capital Area Writing Project at Penn State University, Harrisburg, and the past president for the Keystone State Literacy Association, the state affiliate of the International Literacy Association. 

This presentation represents the work of Dr. Mwenyewe Dawan, Dr. Lynne Dorfman, Dr. Aileen Hower, and Dr. Renee Jacobs.

Reframing Your Curriculum

This session will provide an interactive approach to reimagining and reconstructing literacy and numeracy within Anti-Blackness curriculums. We are reimagining an education system where all educators have the tools to build and develop an inclusive culturally relevant learning environment by reconstructing common teaching pedagogy. Participants will explore ways to develop a culturally relevant classroom through research-based strategies (Gay, 2010; Marzono, 2009; Hammond, 2015).  Participants will explore various culturally relevant teaching techniques, their implicit biases, as well as the benefits of culturally responsive classroom culture. Through interactive scenario-based activities around literacy and numeracy, participants will be able to identify culturally relevant teaching strategies to improve equity in urban, rural, and suburban classrooms in K-12 Education. This workshop is designed to allow educators immediate practical application for increasing personal awareness of how implicit bias manifests itself in the classroom in order to create equitable learning environments that support every student’s potential.


Dr. Keila Foster has over 12 years of experience teaching in rural and urban schools. She has embedded culturally responsive practices throughout her leadership and teaching experiences as an AVID Coordinator, Mathematics Teacher and Special Educator in the DC Metro area and in Memphis, TN. She also served as a New Teacher Project Ambassador in Mississippi. She currently serves as the Chairperson of the Restorative Justice Committee for the Prince George’s County Educators’ Association and the NEA Leaders of Color Pathways Program Founding Member. She is a proud alumnus of Howard University, Ole Miss, and The University of Maryland Eastern Shore.


Rian Reed, MBA is an Educator Entrepreneur who empowers individuals and organizations to reach their full potential through a culturally responsive lens. She has over 8 years of teaching experience in urban areas focusing on K-12 literacy for students who receive Special Education services.  She is the co- author of EduMath 2018, where she discussed culturally responsive recruitment and retention strategies to engage teachers and leaders of color. She also supports designing strong after-school programs through the US Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Center grant and the Founder of #Inclusive4Edu which strives to create safe spaces for children by focusing on culturally relevant practices in Higher Education. She is a graduate of Millersville University and the Jack Welch Management Institute.

The Psychology of Stereotype Threat

As indicated on the Millersville University Social Justice website, “K-12 teachers are uniquely poised to help students understand race and racism. Now is the time to be the change!” In order to achieve this goal and be part of this evolution, educators must dig deep into who they are as a person socialized within a culture that has racism embedded in its history (DiAngelo, 2018).  

A first step into accomplishing this challenging task is to begin to understand the psychological concepts associated with possible actions or language that could be interpreted as detrimental to the identity development for students of color. One of these psychological concepts that has great implications for educators and the students that they teach is stereotype threat. As defined by Claude Steele, stereotype threat is a phenomenon of being in a situation or doing something to which a negative stereotype about (an) identity is relevant.  Stereotype threat has been found to be associated with lower levels of achievement for minority groups (APA, 2015).   

This workshop will engage participants in activities that aid them in understanding current research on stereotype threat and how that research has been used to foster changes in teachers’ practices as they create equitable environments in the classroom.  These activities will be both self-reflective and action-oriented in nature so that participants utilize their own experiences and beliefs as a foundation of empowerment to “be the change” needed in our society.  This workshop will be the first in a series of workshops that engage educators in a deep dive into psychological constructs that aid us in being social justice advocates in our classrooms.  


 Dr. Deemer chairs the Gender Issues and Social Justice committee and is a member of the No Gap Achievement Task Force at Millersville University where she teaches courses that focus on how we utilize the research base in educational psychology to create optimal learning environments for all students.  Her research interests focus on how we use motivational theories to understand and design learning environments that focus both teachers and students on mastery goals. Recent work has focused on how we can translate these ideas into the design and strategies used in online classrooms.   

It Takes A Village: Supporting and Empowering Our Students Through Cultural Trauma

It is now clear that we are facing two pandemics in America, COVID-19 and structural racism. Over the past months we have seen COVID-19 exacerbate existing inequities, and oppressed communities rise to challenge the systems that perpetuate institutional racism. As Coronavirus continues to disproportionately affect Latinx and African Americans and protests are happening globally calling for an end to injustices faced by the Black communities, educators are ramping up for a school year unlike any other. How can we as educators provide holistic and culturally-competent support to our Black and Latinx students during such a tumultuous time? Through intersectionality and a trauma-informed approach, that will empower them and promote healing. This particular workshop will focus on how educational leaders can approach courageous conversations surrounding identity, racism, and trauma. It will also discuss inclusive interventions that intersect culture and education at its core to promote equity and success inside the classroom.


TaLisa Ramos is a licensed social worker in the state of Pennsylvania. She currently serves as the Diversity and Inclusion Officer in the Office of Diversity and Social Justice at Millersville University. Prior to coming to Millersville University, TaLisa spent much of her time developing and implementing multicultural mentorship and academic support programs at various collegiate institutions, increasing ALANA (Asian-American, Latinx, African-American & Native American) students’ success and retention rates.  For the past twelve years TaLisa has worked in both higher education and mental health care settings, providing culturally competent and holistic services and trainings. TaLisa continues her work in the mental health field as a Clinical Psychiatric Specialist at the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute, spending many of her years as a Care Coordinator on the Child & Adolescent units. Her major areas of therapeutic focus are trauma-informed care, cultural trauma, and identity development. 

Multipartiality: Critical Facilitation Connecting Personal Experiences to Structural Inequities 

Creating inclusive environments requires educators to recognize and deal with the dominant narratives and power asymmetry present in every setting. This workshop will share the dialogue approach and necessary skills of inquiry, counter-narratives, and empathy needed to balance social power within groups; a process referred to as multipartialityMultipartiality is an intentional “push back” against the dominant narrative while simultaneously inviting and valuing the participation of members from the dominant group. 


Dr. Karen Rice is an Associate Professor and Department Chair of the School of Social Work at Millersville University of PA. She is trained in Intergroup Dialogue and for the past 13 years has applied this model in youth programs she developed and within her courses she teaches. She also trains others in the dialogue process and how to facilitate dialogue to foster critical consciousness and effect positive social change. 

J Whitlow, pronouns: they/them is originally from Louisville, KY and currently serves as the Inaugural Director of the Dr. Rita Smith Wade-El Intercultural Center at Millersville University. J holds a B.A. in Journalism from the University Kentucky and a MS.Ed in College Student Personnel from the University of Dayton. In their role at Millersville University, they provide various opportunities to engage in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work through leadership and identity development. Outside of MU, J serves on the leadership team for Campus Pride, the leading national nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create a safer college environment for LGBTQ students. Whitlow’s passion for social justice comes from their lived experiences as a Black, Queer, Non-Binary Person and strives daily to create spaces where individuals can live in their truth. Whitlow is unapologetic about their radical approach to naming and affirming marginalized identities and the ways in which our current systems and structures continue to oppress and silence identities and communities.