Perception Founding Team

Alexis McGill Johnson, Co-Founder and Co-Director (currently on leave)

Photo of Alexis McGillAlexis McGill Johnson is Co-Founder and Co-Director of Perception Institute – a national consortium of researchers, advocates, and cultural strategists that turns cutting-edge mind science research on identity difference into solutions that can be applied to everyday individual interactions and institutional practices. Alexis collaborates with social scientists on empirical research to identify the efficacy of interventions that reduce discrimination and create opportunity. She leads workshops and lectures for a wide range of public institutions and private corporations, seeking to address the role of implicit bias, identity anxiety, and stereotype threat in their work. Alexis brings lessons learned and decades of experience to help individuals and institutions build new muscles to navigate identity difference. She is an author of The Good Hair Study and contributor to Perception’s report series entitled The Science of Equality, as well as several additional reports.

Alexis earned her undergraduate degree from Princeton University and holds graduate degrees from Yale University in political science. She taught in the Department of Political Science and African American studies at both Yale and Wesleyan Universities. Motivated by connecting research to practice, Alexis left academia during the 2004 election cycle to serve as Political Director to hip hop mogul Russell Simmons and subsequently became Executive Director of Citizen Change, a leading nonprofit founded by Sean “Diddy” Combs aimed at educating young diverse voters through grassroots and tailored social media efforts. During her tenure at Citizen Change, Alexis launched the “Vote or Die!” campaign, building a new model for non-traditional voter engagement and mobilization, and later her own firm to provide political research and strategy.

Alexis’s philanthropic and service work mirrors her professional passions. She is a former Chair of the Board of Planned Parenthood Federation of America; current board member of Planned Parenthood Action Fund; and Chair of the Planned Parenthood Political Action Committee. She also serves on the board of Revolutions Per Minute, a nonprofit agency that supports artists with strategy and support for their activism and philanthropy. Previously, she has served on the boards of New York Civil Liberties Union, Center for Social Inclusion, and Citizen Engagement Lab. She is a founder of the Culture Group, as well as a frequent commentator on FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, and in the press.

Rachel D. Godsil, Co-Founder and Co-Director

Photo of Rachel D. Godsil

Rachel Godsil is Co-Founder and Co-Director of Perception Institute and a Professor of Law and Chancellor’s Scholar at Rutgers Law School. She collaborates with social scientists on empirical research to identify the efficacy of interventions to address implicit bias, racial anxiety, and stereotype threat. She regularly leads workshops and presentations addressing the role of bias and anxiety associated with race, ethnicity, religion, and gender, focusing on education, criminal justice, health care, and the workplace.

Godsil is a lead author of Perception Institute reports, including The Science of Equality in Education: The Impact of Implicit Bias, Racial Anxiety, and Stereotype Threat on Student Outcomes (2018), The “Good Hair” Study: Explicit and Implicit Attitudes Toward Black Women’s Hair (2017), and The Science of Equality, Volume 2: The Effects of Gender Roles, Implicit Bias, and Stereotype Threat on the Lives of Women and Girls (2016). With Perception, she has collaborated with other organizations to produce influential reports, such as a research review with Story At Scale entitled What Are We Up Against? An Intersectional Examination of Stereotypes Associated with Gender? (2020), a toolkit with the Executives’ Alliance, His Story: Shifting Narratives of Boys and Men of Color (2018), and a volume of the PopJustice initiative, Pop Culture, Perceptions, and Social Change: A Research Review (2016). Rachel has also co/authored numerous articles and book chapters such as: Promoting Fairness? Examining the Efficacy of Implicit Bias Training in the Criminal Justice System (Bias in the Law, 2020), Prosecuting Fairly: Addressing the Challenges of Implicit Bias, Racial Anxiety, and Stereotype Threat (CDAA Prosecutor’s Brief, Vol. 40, No. 2, 2018),  The Moral Ecology of Policing: A Mind Science Approach to Race and Policing in the United States in The Routledge Handbook of Criminal Justice Ethics (The Routledge Handbook of Criminal Justice Ethics, 2016); Why Race Matters in Physics Class (64 U.C.L.A. L. Rev. Disc. 40, 2016); Race, Ethnicity, and Place Identity: Implicit Bias and Competing Belief Systems (37 Hawaii L. Rev. 313, 2015), Implicit Bias in the Courtroom, (59 U.C.L.A. L. Rev. 1184, 2012), and A Tale of Two Neighborhoods: Implicit Bias in Environmental Decision-Making, in Implicit Racial Bias in the Law (Cambridge University Press, 2011). She also co-authored amicus briefs on behalf of empirical social psychologists in both iterations of Fisher v. Texas and the National Parent Teacher Association in the Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District litigation at the Supreme Court.

Rachel is on the advisory boards for Research, Integration, Strategies, and Evaluation (RISE) for Boys and Men of Color at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education, The Systemic Justice Project at Harvard Law School, and the Poverty and Race Research Action Council. Her teaching and research interests include civil rights, constitutional law, property, land use, environmental justice, and education.

Her recent property work focuses on gentrification, the mortgage crisis and eminent domain, as well as the intersection of race, poverty, and land use decisions. Rachel served as Chair of the New York City Rent Guidelines Board in 2014 and 2015. After serving as the convener for the Obama campaign’s Urban and Metropolitan Policy Committee and an advisor to the Department of Housing and Urban Development transition team, Rachel co-directed a report to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan entitled “Retooling HUD for a Catalytic Federal Government.

During law school, Rachel served as the Executive Article Editor of the Michigan Law Review, was awarded the Henry M. Bates Memorial Award, and elected to the Order of the Coif. After graduation, she clerked for John M. Walker of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Rachel was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. She was an Associate Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, focusing on environmental justice, as well as an associate with Berle, Kass & Case and Arnold & Porter in New York City.

Previously, Rachel was Eleanor Bontecou Professor of Law at Seton Hall University Law School. She joined the School of Law in 2000 and was recognized for her teaching by being nominated for Professor of the Year in 2011, 2002 and 2003.  In 2003-2004, she was awarded the Researcher of the Year in Law by Seton Hall University. During fall of 2007, Professor Godsil was a Visiting Professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and she taught property at New York University Law School in spring 2009. Rachel resides with her family in Brooklyn, NY.

john a. powelljohn a. powell, Board Chair

john a. powell is an internationally recognized expert in the areas of civil rights, civil liberties, structural racism, housing, poverty, and democracy. john is the Director of the Othering & Belonging Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, a research institute that brings together scholars, community advocates, communicators, and policymakers to identify and eliminate the barriers to an inclusive, just, and sustainable society and to create transformative change toward a more equitable world.

john holds the Robert D. Haas Chancellor’s Chair in Equity and Inclusion and is a Professor of LawAfrican American Studies, and Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley. Previously, he was the Executive Director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University where he also held the Gregory H. Williams Chair in Civil Rights & Civil Liberties at the Moritz College of Law.

john has written extensively on a number of issues including structural racism, racial justice, concentrated poverty, opportunity-based housing, voting rights, affirmative action in the United States, South Africa and Brazil, racial and ethnic identity, spirituality and social justice, and the needs of citizens in a democratic society. He is the author of several books, including his most recent work, Racing to Justice: Transforming our Concepts of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society.

john also founded and directed the Institute on Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota. He has also served as Director of Legal Services in Miami, Florida and was the National Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, where he was instrumental in developing educational adequacy theory.

john led the development of an “opportunity-based” model that connects affordable housing to education, health, health care, and employment and is well-known for his work developing the frameworks of “targeted universalism” and “othering and belonging” to effect equity-based interventions.

john has lived and worked in Africa, where he was a consultant to the governments of Mozambique and South Africa, and has also worked in India and Brazil. He is one of the co-founders of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council and serves on the board of several national and international organizations. john has taught at numerous law schools including Harvard and Columbia University.

Perception Core Team

Afua Addo, Deputy Director of Programs and Training

Afua Addo is the Deputy Director of Programs and Training at Perception Institute and a trauma-focused mental health specialist who specializes in the intersection of trauma, justice and equitable, trauma-informed service provision.

A nationally recognized advocate, Afua supported White House Roundtables in 2015/2016 Intervening Public Systems: Interrupting the Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline and has facilitated training to over ten thousand people. Afua created municipal, state and federal legal training curricula and court-based programming to transform approaches to gender-based violence and address the needs of systems-involved women and youth with the NYS Unified Court System with the Center for Court Innovation. She has consulted with A Call to Men, V-Day, Women’s Prison Association and the Southern Poverty Law Center and is on the board of Girls for Gender Equity.

For over twenty years, Afua has served as an advocate while also pursuing art as a professional vocal/performance artist and debuted in concert at Carnegie Hall in 2009. In 2016, Afua was selected as a Move to End Violence Fellow and by Essence Magazine as one of the Woke100 women blazing trails to achieve equity; she is a graduate of the University of Virginia and Fordham University and proudly from Brooklyn, NY.

Dr. Sandra (“Chap”) Chapman, Deputy Director of Programs and Curriculum

Dr. Sandra "Chap" Chapman

Dr. Sandra (“Chap”) Chapman is the Deputy Director of Programs and Curriculum at Perception Institute and the Founder of Sandra Chapman Consulting, an organization rooted in the belief that, through teamwork, we can learn more about ourselves and others; discuss and discover the foundational research needed to address the needs in a community; create conversations that support individuals where they are and confront barrier issues; and create actionable steps towards building stronger educational communities.

For over a decade Dr. Chap served as the Director of Equity and Community at the Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School (LREI), a progressive independent school in the West Village section of Manhattan, NYC.  In her role at LREI she worked on issues related to equity, diversity, social justice, inclusion and anti-bias curriculum. In addition to her years at LREI, Chap has worked at Manhattan Country School and the Bank Street School for Children, all independent schools in New York City.  With 30 years in NYC independent schools, and a lifetime of personal experiences in school and other not-for-profit organizations across the country, Chap has a broad range of knowledge regarding students and their social, cognitive, physical, spiritual and emotional selves, as well as the role loving adults play in children’s lives and in the workplace.

Chap is a member of a grassroots organization that supports Latinx identified educators and students called Latinx Educators in New York Independent Schools (LENYIS). LENYIS runs an annual Latinx Youth Conference in the spring. You can learn more about this organization by visiting For over five years, she has served on the faculty of the National Association of Independent Schools Diversity Leadership Institute, where she facilitates conversations on racial identity development.

Dr. Chap is a native New Yorker, born and raised in El Barrio, or Spanish Harlem, in New York City. Her mother migrated from Puerto Rico and her father immigrated from the Dominican Republic. Dr. Chap holds a Masters and doctorate degree in Education. Chap, and her wife Imani, are proudly raising Sophia (20), Andrei (15) and Ale (6), with their two cats, Milo and Samuel.

Yolonda Harrison, Deputy Director of Programs and Strategy

Photo of Yolonda Harrison

Yolonda P. Harrison, Deputy Director of Programs and Strategy at Perception Institute, is a facilitator, strategist, librarian, and attorney.  Through Perception, Yolonda collaborates with organizations to develop initiatives, strategies, and solutions.  Yolonda’s work centers around the importance of belonging and how empathy relates to interventions for implicit bias, identity anxiety, and stereotype threat.

Yolonda’s prior experience includes serving as the inaugural Director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and the Director of Student Services, Diversity, and Inclusion at Seton Hall University School of Law.  She has also worked for the legal divisions of Dignity Health and Thomson Reuters; and held law library faculty appointments at Seton Hall University, North Carolina Central University, and Florida International University.

Yolonda received a joint Juris Doctor and Master of Library Science, summa cum laude, from North Carolina Central University. She received a dual Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and African American Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Yolonda is currently admitted to practice in New York, and is based in Phoenix, AZ.

Jessica MacFarlane, Deputy Director of Research and Assessment

Photo of Jessica MacFarlane

Jessica MacFarlane (she/her) is the Deputy Director of Research and Assessment at Perception Institute. Jessica manages Perception’s original studies and translates academic research into accessible reports and presentations. She leads Perception’s needs assessments within organizations; utilizing Climate Surveys, focus groups, and/or one-on-one interviews, the Assessment team examines how identity dynamics show up within the workplace and offer targeted, evidence-based recommendations at the organizational level to bolster strengths and to address areas of concern. In addition, Jessica facilitates workshops on implicit bias, identity anxiety, and stereotype threat across a variety of sectors, including education, criminal justice, healthcare, philanthropy, and media, with the aim of equipping individuals and institutions with the tools to override unconscious phenomena and live their values.

Throughout her career, Jessica has focused on using research to drive equity. Her published research spans the fields of social psychology, behavioral HIV prevention, and harm reduction, in both domestic and international settings. With Perception, Jessica has co-authored reports, such as The ‘Good Hair’ Study: Explicit and Implicit Attitudes Toward Black Women’s Hair (Perception Institute, 2017), The Science of Equality, Volume 2: The Effects of Gender Roles, Implicit Bias, and Stereotype Threat on the Lives of Women and Girls (Perception Institute, 2016), and #PopJustice, Volume 3: Pop Culture, Perceptions, and Social Change (Liz Manne Strategy, 2016), and articles including “Creating Safety and Community: Preventing Implicit Bias and Racial Anxiety from Undermining Neighborhood Safety” (Poverty & Race Research Action Council, 2016) and “Our Brains & Difference: Implicit Bias, Racial Anxiety, and Stereotype Threat in Education” (CSEE Quarterly, 2016).

In 2015, Jessica earned a Master of Public Health (MPH) from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Her studies focused specifically on the role of anti-Black bias in driving the life expectancy gap and other health disparities between Black Americans and white Americans. Jessica holds a BA in Psychology and Spanish from Duke University. She is based in Los Angeles, CA.

Aya Taveras, Director of Story and Representation

Aya Taveras is the Director of Story and Representation at Perception Institute. Aya develops new program content to support learning and development, and facilitates mind science workshops on implicit bias, identity anxiety, and stereotype threat. She has worked in the public and private sectors, with domestic and international leadership, managers, and staff, facilitating ongoing institutional development as well as individual workshops. She also engages in individual coaching as part of post-workshop support.

Aya has also led Perception’s work in the media and culture context, developing original on-line content, assessing the efficacy of media campaigns through a mind-science lens, and providing content advice for innovative AI work in the field.

Early in her career, Aya taught 6-8th grade English Language Arts in Brooklyn and Washington Heights, before moving into strategic work in the education equity landscape. Prior to joining Perception, she worked in education advocacy, seeking to elevate the voices of teachers who identify as women of color, and supported program expansion at Girls Who Code.

A native New Yorker, Aya is driven to the mind sciences as a function of her own experiences as a student in New York City and at Middlebury College, where she was one of very few women of color. She is compelled and committed to using her expertise to ensure that organizations and institutions learn to grapple effectively with identity difference to ensure belonging for all. Aya has a M.A.T. from the Relay Graduate School of Education, and B.A. in International Studies: Political Science and Latin American Studies from Middlebury College. Aya is based in New York, NY.

Rebecca Willett, Deputy Director of Programs and Operations

Rebecca Willett is the Deputy Director of Programs and Operations at Perception. With 15 years of experience leading tech programs for social justice organizations, Rebecca has a passion for organizational capacity and team-building. Her focus at Perception is to structure the organization’s work with clients and manage internal resources to ensure effective and timely project completion.

Prior to joining Perception, Rebecca worked at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America for ten years, where she helped to build and lead a nationwide digital tech program that currently reaches 120 million young people in the U.S. each year.

Rebecca holds a B.A. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California at Berkeley. A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Rebecca lives in Oakland.

Perception Partners

Anurima Bhargava

Anurima Bhargava the President of Anthem of Us, a strategic advisory firm promoting dignity and justice in the building of our schools, workplaces and communities.  She conducts investigations of harassment and discrimination, assesses institutional culture and climate, and makes policy and practice recommendations.

From 2010-2016, Anurima led federal civil rights enforcement in schools and institutions of higher education at the U.S. Department of Justice.  She managed groundbreaking litigation and policy guidance to address school segregation; sexual assault and harassment; religious discrimination and harassment; school discipline and policing; and the protection of educational access and services for students with disabilities, English Learners, LGBTQ and undocumented students. Anurima previously directed the education practice at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and served as counsel to the New York City Department of Education.

In December 2018, Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed Anurima U.S. Commissioner on International Religious Freedom. From 2016-2018, she served as a fellow at the Open Society Foundations, where her work was focused on addressing the trauma that children experience after incidents of racial violence. In 2017, she was named a Presidential Leadership Scholar. In 2016, she served as a fellow at the Institute of Politics and the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard.

Bhargava currently chairs the board of Doc Society and the National Advisory Board for Public Service and serves as a senior advisor to several think tanks and foundations. She also regularly advises and produces documentary films.  Bhargava grew up on the south side of Chicago, where she currently resides.

Richard Buery

Richard Buery photoRichard Buery is a Public Service Fellow at the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and served as Distinguished Visiting Urbanist during the Spring of 2019. He is also a Senior Fellow at the GovLab at NYU, where he advises on projects relating to cities and non-profits, a partner at the Perception Institute, and a distinguished Visiting Professor at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering.

Richard is President of Achievement First, a network of 37 public charter schools providing an excellent education to 15,000 students across New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island. He manages the organization’s internal operations and external relations, and his core responsibilities include strategic planning, talent recruitment and development, school operations, information technology and data systems, post-secondary programs, community outreach, fundraising, and board relations.  He came to Achievement First from the KIPP Foundation, where he serves as Chief of Policy & Public Affairs for a national network of over 224 college-preparatory, public charter schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia educating nearly 100,000 early childhood, elementary, middle, and high school students.

Richard previously served as deputy mayor for strategic policy initiatives in the administration of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. He managed some of the City’s most successful initiatives, including Pre-K for All, which for the first time offers free, full-day Pre-K for every 4-year old in NYC, increasing enrollment from 19,000 to 70,000 children in 18 months and launching its expansion to 3-year olds; School’s Out NYC, offering free afterschool programs to every middle schooler in NYC; ThriveNYC, a comprehensive effort to improve New Yorkers’ mental health, and the Community Schools Initiative, creating 215 new community school service partnerships during the first term, more than the double the number the Mayor initially pledged to create. He managed a range of city agencies, including the Departments of Probation, Aging, Youth and Community Development, People with Disabilities, and Immigrant Affairs. As leader of the NYC Young Men’s Initiative, he created NYC Men Teach, a historic effort to recruit 1,000 men of color to become public school teachers. He also led the creation of the New York City Children’s Cabinet, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Mayor’s Office of Minority and Women Business Enterprises.  Under his leadership, the City exceeded $1 billion of spending with M/WBEs for the first time in its history, double the annual spend before Mayor de Blasio took office. He also managed the City’s relationship with the 250,000 student City University of New York System, managing significant investments that improved college persistence for NYC students.

While in college, Richard founded the Mission Hill Summer Program in a Roxbury, Massachusetts housing development, and went on to teach fifth grade at an orphanage in Bindura, Zimbabwe. After serving as a staff attorney at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Richard co-founded iMentor, a national college access program which empowers low-income first-generation high school students to graduate college, and Groundwork, supporting the educational aspirations of Brooklyn public housing residents. He was the first African-American CEO of the Children’s Aid Society, one of the nation’s oldest and largest youth serving organizations, and the youngest leader since its founding in 1853.  At Children’s Aid, he expanded early childhood programs, opened a state of the art community health clinic, and co-founded South Bronx Rising Together, a network of neighborhood residents and program providers collaborating to build pathways of success for youth from cradle through college, and the Children’s Aid College Prep Charter School, providing students a rigorous instructional program supported by expanded learning opportunities and a comprehensive set of student support services.

A 2016 Pahara-Aspen Institute Education Fellow, and a 2012 Fellow of the British American Project, he was named one of Ebony Magazine’s “30 under 30,” and Crain’s “40 under 40,” and received the Extraordinary Black Man Award for Humanitarianism from the United Negro College Fund. He has taught social entrepreneurship and nonprofit financial management at the Baruch College School of Public Affairs and New York Law School, and serves on the boards of the Kresge Foundation, iMentor, and New York City Head Start.

Richard is a graduate of Yale Law School and Harvard College.

Yasmin Cader

Yasmin Cader photoAs a former federal defender, Yasmin Cader has tried more than thirty criminal cases to resolution before juries and judges in state and federal courts in Los Angeles, New York and Washington D.C.  At the Offices of the Federal Public Defender in the Southern District of New York and Los Angeles, Yasmin represented witnesses and individuals facing a variety of federal criminal charges, including complex white-collar criminal and regulatory matters. Yasmin also served as the Chief of Training in Los Angeles, a position in which she developed and executed substantive legal and trial skills training programs for attorneys in Los Angeles and across the country.  While representing individuals in Washington D.C. with the Public Defender Service, she defended juveniles and adults facing the most serious felony charges in Superior Court.

Yasmin is also an experienced civil litigator.  She began her career as an Honors Program Trial Lawyer with the Employment Litigation Section of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, where she litigated individual and class-action claims of sexual and racial harassment and discrimination.  Prior to that, she served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Damon J. Keith of the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In private practice, Yasmin continues to teach trial skills to practicing lawyers and law students alike.  She is a member of the faculty at Harvard Law School’s Trial Advocacy Workshop and the National Criminal Defense College.  She has served as a guest lecturer at local and national bar associations across the country, as well as at Yale Law School, Harvard Law School, New York University School of Law, UCLA School of Law and Loyola Law School.   She currently serves on the Yale Law School Executive Committee and is also on the board of a national non-profit dedicated to effective messaging for social justice issues.

Anjali Chen

Anjali Chen is Senior Consultant with Catalyst Collaboratives, LLC. At Perception, Anjali manages client projects and teams, working closely with staff and consulting partners to ensure smooth operation. Before joining the Perception team, Anjali was Director of Operations, and Trust Services, at Groundwork USA for 8 years. She managed the organization’s financial and program operations during a period of change and rapid growth, and worked closely with its network of 20 Trusts (local chapters) on their growth strategy, capacity building, and fundraising. Through her work addressing and operationalizing diversity, equity and inclusion across the organization, she gained an in-depth understanding of what it takes to implement and manage change within varying organizational structures and cultures.

Anjali brings deep experience in public policy to her work. She worked as a Senior Economist and Energy Analyst with consulting firms for federal agencies, and as an advocate for sustainable development and social justice with local, national and international non-governmental organizations.

Anjali is active in her community, and served as Vice President and board member of RiverArts from 2013 to 2019, helping to expand the organization from a volunteer to staff-run organization, and is now a member of the Village of Hastings-on-Hudson’s Parks and Rec Commission and its Climate Task Force, working to restore a local gem, Hillside Woods – a rapidly deteriorating 100-acre urban forest. Anjali has a B.A. in Economics & Sociology from Brandeis University in Waltham, MA, and an M.A. in International Affairs & Environmental Policy from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs in New York, NY.

Jason Craige Harris

Jason Craige Harris is an educator, speaker, facilitator, and restorative justice practitioner and circle keeper who works in schools, nonprofits, community spaces, religious institutions, and conferences, moving smoothly between kindergarten classrooms, professional trainings, and governing board meetings. His workshops, writings, and advocacy work focus on identity, intersectionality, trauma, spirituality, and healing.

Currently, Jason serves as the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Friends Seminary, where he is a member of both the Senior Administrative Committee and the leadership team of the School’s Center for Peace, Equity, and Justice. As a member of the History and Social Sciences Department, Jason teaches courses on social justice, human rights, ethics and philosophy, and religion. Working with all constituencies of the School and across academic departments and divisions, Jason weaves together practices and insights from the fields of diversity and inclusion, civic engagement, and global education. He formerly served as co-director and senior editor at Postcolonial Networks, a think tank and research hub focused on global justice, religious progressivism, and intellectual activism.

Jason holds a BA (honors) in religion and African American Studies from Wesleyan University, where he was a fellow at both the Center for the Humanities and the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Program, and a MA (summa cum laude) in religion, ethics, and cultural studies from Yale Divinity School, where he was a Marquand Merit Scholar and Extended Year Program Fellow.

For several years, Jason sat on the NYSAIS Diversity Committee. He is a trustee at Inwood Academy, a charter school in the Inwood neighborhood of Upper Manhattan that aims to “empower students in Inwood and Washington Heights to become agents for change through community-focused leadership, character development and college preparedness.” Jason has an abiding commitment to ending global oppression and healing the planet with yet more love and light.

Sheila Foster

Sheila R. Foster is the Scott K. Ginsburg Professor of Urban Law and Policy at Georgetown. She holds a joint appointment with the Georgetown Law School and the McCourt Public Policy School.  Prior to joining Georgetown, she was a University Professor and the Albert A. Walsh Professor of Real Estate, Land Use and Property Law at Fordham University. She also co-directed the Fordham Urban Law Center and was a founder of the Fordham University Urban Consortium. Prior to joining Fordham, she was a Professor of Law at the Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey.

Sheila is the author of numerous publications on environmental law, and is one of the country’s leading scholars on environmental justice. She is co-author of the classic text From the Ground Up: Environmental Racism and the Environmental Justice Movement (NYU Press 2001) (with Luke Cole) and co-editor of The Law of Environmental Justice: Theories and Procedures to Address Disproportionate Risks (American Bar Association 2009) (with Michael Gerrard). Over the last two decades, Sheila has worked with government agencies, non-government organizations, scholars, and policymakers to reform environmental and land use policies and practices consistent with the principles of environmental justice.  In 2018, she received the Senior Scholarship Award from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Academy of Environmental Law

Sheila’s most recent work explores city growth and governance through the lens of the “commons,” bringing the analytical lens of her environmental law and policy to the city and the management of urban resources. Her latest article, The City as a Commons, is published in the Yale Law and Policy Review (with Christian Iaione) and is the basis of a forthcoming book Co-Cities for MIT Press. Sheila has been involved on many levels with environmental and urban policy. She was a member of the New York City Panel on Climate Change (co-chair of the working group on community-based assessments of vulnerability), is chair of the advisory committee of the Global Parliament of Mayors, and an advisory board member of the Marron Institute for Urban Management at NYU.

Dushaw Hockett

Dushaw Hockett is the founder and Executive Director of Safe Places for the Advancement of Community and Equity (SPACEs), a Washington, DC-based leadership development and technical assistance organization dedicated to bridging the gap between what people imagine and what they achieve. A native New Yorker who now resides in Maryland, Dushaw has over 20 years of experience in training, community building and organizational development.

Dushaw is the former Director of Special Initiatives for the Center for Community Change (CCC), a 40+ year old national social justice organization founded in the memory of the late Robert F. Kennedy.  During is 12-year tenure at CCC, Dushaw led projects focused on affordable housing, immigration and race. He is also a former aide to Representative Nydia M. Velazquez (NY), the first Puerto Rican woman elected to the U.S. Congress.

Dushaw has written several publications focused on citizen engagement and conflict transformation.  They include Not Part of the Plan, Crossing Borders and A Hope Unseen. He has served on the boards of numerous local and national organizations including the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) and the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC).

Dushaw’s current and recent projects include the following:

Allies for Inclusion — a multi-year project with the National Park Service (NPS).  The project equips park service employees with the skills needed to create environments that support inclusion and belonging.

Beyond Bias – a partnership with various institutions including but not limited to AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees), IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) and the New York City Department of Education.  Beyond Bias introduces the science of implicit bias and equips managers/leaders and other stakeholders with skills in the area of bias reduction and bias interruption.

Facilitating Change – a project that provides transformative facilitation support to organizations/institutions.  Recent clients include the Quad Caucus of the National Coalition of State Legislators (NCLS) and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).

Finally, for the past six years Dushaw has served as a healing facilitator/practitioner through the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Initiative (TRHT).  In this capacity, he has facilitated healing circles for numerous organizations including but not limited to the Independent Sector, the American Library Association (ALA), the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AACU) and the Michigan Council on Foundations.

Zipporiah (Zipp) Mills

Zipporiah (“Zipp”) Mills is a Facilitator & Content Developer at the Center on Culture, Race & Equity at Bank Street School of Education in New York, NY.  She has over 30 years of experience as both a teacher and school leader, all of which are schools throughout Brooklyn, NY. She most recently retired from the New York City Department of Education as the Principal of PS 261, one of District 15’s most diverse elementary schools.

At a young age, Zipp understood that education plays an important role in creating an anti-racist, equitable society. She sought to bring cultural pride, respect for all, and a progressive education to her students.  She holds fast to the belief that anything private school students have access to, public school students should too. Zipp believes that equity begins with caring, supportive partnerships between teachers, parents, and students. Her goal is to support schools through this demanding, ever changing terrain. Her mission is to create culturally responsive communities for learning and success.

William Snowden

Will Snowden is the Director of the Vera Institute of Justice’s New Orleans office. In this role, he continues and strengthens Vera’s existing partnerships with criminal justice actors and community leaders while identifying new collaborative relationships with government entities and community organizations. The collaborations will focus on improving criminal justice systems in the South.

Prior to joining Vera, Will was a public defender for five years representing New Orleanians in all stages of a case from arraignment to trial. Will also developed a focus and specialization in advocacy around reforming the procedures, systems, and policies around jury duty in an effort to promote diversity and representativeness in the jury box. Will also launched The Juror Project—an initiative aiming to increase the diversity of jury panels while changing and challenging people’s perspective of jury duty.

Will leads workshops around the country as it relates to how implicit bias, racial anxiety and stereotype threat influence actors and outcomes in the criminal justice system. He received his JD from Seton Hall University School of Law and a BS from the University of Minnesota.

Core Team headshot credit: Heather Weston,