Carmelo Piazza (Carmelo the Science Fellow) is the Founder of the Brooklyn Preschool of Science. He is a Brooklyn born educator who taught for the Department of Education for 17 years and is now the owner of three independent science based preschools.
Hear the conversation about equity in education from these experts based in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This podcast is part of the ADR Black-Jewish Dialogues.
Ardena Garth Hicks: Education Activist
Ardena is a Hamilton County native and practicing attorney who is the 2020 Legal Aid Society Pro Bono Attorney of the Year. She is a member of the Hamilton County Partnership Network Board of Directors, appointed by TN Education Commissioner Candace McQueen. The Partnership’s charge is to “review the progress of the five schools in the Partnership Network- which have been deemed priority schools by the state…and make recommendations to the Hamilton County Board of Education and Network leadership to support students’ growth and development.”
She is President of Chattanooga Endeavors, Inc., a non-profit organization which advocates for the interests of citizens repatriating from incarceration. Ardena previously was Special Prosecutor for Child Abuse cases with the Hamilton County District Attorney’s office. She served as Hamilton County’s first elected District Public Defender from 1990 to 2014 (3 successive 8-year terms), having been appointed to the newly-created position by Gov. Ned McWherter in 1989. Ardena graduated as a Ooltewah HS valedictorian, earned her bachelor’s degree at Middle TN State U. and earned her Juris Doctor (JD) degree from the U. of Kansas.
Dr. Jill Keegan Levine: Education Administrator
Jill is the Chief of Innovation and Choice for Tennessee’s Hamilton County Schools, a district of over 45,000 students. Prior to this role, she served as the Chief of the Opportunity Zone, a learning community focused on turnaround of the twelve highest needs schools in the district, as well as serving previously as the Chief Academic Officer of the school district.
After graduating from Wellesley College with a double major in Music and History, Jill began her career teaching 3rd grade and directing musical theater productions in the New Orleans Public Schools. She was the principal of Normal Park Museum Magnet, a Chattanooga Pre-K through 8th grade school, for 14 years. She led the transformation of two low performing schools into award winning, innovative, exciting and challenging places of learning. In 2012, Jill was recognized as the National Magnet Schools Principals of the Year. From 2013-2015, she served in the Obama administration as the first full time Principal Ambassador Fellow at the US Department of Education. In that capacity, she worked closely with Secretary Arne Duncan to increase the department’s focus on the importance of school leadership.
American Diversity Report, Chattanooga News Chronicle, Mizpah Congregation, Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga, Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda (C.U.R.B. )
Dr. Tana M Session is an organizational development strategist, international speaker, and media contributor. Dr. Session changes lives at work through transformative Inclusion, Diversity & Multigenerational workforce strategies . She is the CEO and Founder of From Foster Care to Fabulous Foundation.
Christopher. Lafayette is an Emergent Technologist in medtech, virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, climate and applied sciences. He is a Silicon Valley national and international speaker, Thought Leader and Culture & Inclusion Advocate. He is the Founder of Black Technology Mentorship Program (BTMP)
Forest T. Harper Jr. is the President and CEO of INROADS, the nation’s largest non-profit model of salaried corporate DEI internships and corporate and community leadership development for outstanding ethnically diverse talent at the pipeline and mid-career level.
This year marks 50 years for INROADS. Hear how the organization is important to corporate America’s landscape today and is proving effective in closing America’s Racial Wealth Gap. Understand how to execute diversity & inclusion strategies to accelerate organizations in today’s multicultural market. Harper shares how vital it is to establish talent pipeline development for attracting, recruiting and sustaining diverse talent as well as securing C-Suite alignment.
Laurel Taylor is the Founder and CEO of FutureFuel.io, a student loan repayment platform that uses innovative, technology driven solutions for customers to pay down student debt quickly and efficiently. Financial wellness and equal opportunities should go hand in hand, however, historically that’s not always the case. Regardless of one’s diverse background, financial literacy should be at the forefront of an overall healthy relationship with financial wellness. Laurel has used her own personal experiences with student debt as a catalyst to founding FutureFuel.io and dedicating her life to help those burdened with student debt.