2013 Presenters and Workshops

portraitDr. Michal Kurlaender

Associate Professor of Education, UC Davis

Michal Kurlaender’s current research projects are focused on investigating access to and persistence in higher education and exploring the relationship between different educational pathways and the labor market. She serves on the Executive Committee of the Center for Poverty Research at UC Davis and is the site director of the UC Center for Educational Evaluation.

Workshop: Improving Equity in K–12/Postsecondary Alignment: Getting Students Ready for College Success

In this workshop, Dr. Kurleander we discussed key strategies to improve students’ trajectory towards college and the labor force. Specifically, she explored the information upon which students make decisions about college and how these relate to actual college success. She also discussed how middle schools and high schools might facilitate greater college success by improving academic rigor and exposure to collegiate information and experiences.


portraitSamuel Nunez

Executive Director, Fathers and Families of San Joaquin

Sammy Nuñez is both a participant and success story of the type of services offered through grassroots youth development and violence prevention programs. Mr. Nuñez is the recipient of the 2010 California Peace Prize by the California Wellness Foundation for his efforts focused on creating proactive community voice by training youth organizers and community leaders to develop and advocate for policies and community centered strategies that bring peace, healing, and hope.

Workshop: Healing the Hood, Changing the Odds

Mr. Nuñez’s presentation applied race and gender as a filter to better understand the root causes and develop solutions for boys and men of color. Participants learned practical ways that organizations and communities can build a stronger multicultural youth movement to promote youth empowerment and social change focused on reducing societal violence by effectively incorporating boys and young men into the community building process.


portraitDr. Arun Ramanathan

Executive Director Education Trust-West

During Arun Ramanathan’s tenure as executive director, Education Trust West has built a reputation as a driving force for educational equity. Dr. Ramanathan has been a teacher and paraprofessional in New England and California and has also worked in large urban school districts as a research
director, executive director of government relations, and chief student services officer where he had responsibility for ten departments and a budget of $350 million.

Workshop: The Promise and Challenges of Local Control Funding Formula

Dr. Ramanathan reviewed the historic new education finance system, Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), signed into law by Governor Brown earlier this year. He will discuss the promise and intention of LCFF to funnel more resources to low-income students, English learners and foster youth. He focused on the upcoming challenges of implementation and the need for transparency, accountability, and community involvement to ensure that these dollars are spent on the students for which they are intended. This is an unprecedented opportunity for social justice, but the most difficult part lies ahead.


portraitDr. Gloria Rodriguez

Associate Professor of Education, UC Davis

Gloria Rodriguez’s current research explore notions of educational investment that reflect efforts to build upon community strengths in order to address community needs within and beyond educational settings. Dr. Rodriguez also engages in research and campus activities that focus on the educational conditions and trajectories of Chicana/o-Latina/o communities, other communities of color, and low-income populations in the U.S.

Workshop: Centering Students and Families in Educational Resource Development and Allocation

As we strive for educational equity and excellence, it is imperative that we broaden our view of “educational resources” to encompass the assets found in our communities. This workshop featured research on the complex challenges of financial and nonfinancial resource development and allocation practices that support student success under difficult circumstances. We highlighted the practices that place students and families at the center of our thinking to support a community responsiveness stance in education. The research was shared to encourage workshop participants to exchange innovative strategies for educational responsiveness in resource development and allocation.


portraitAndreas “Dre-T” Tillman, Jr.

President, Foreign Native

Andreas “Dre-T” Tillman Jr. is a devoted father, artist, and activist. At 15 years old, he began recording and publishing his own music, building a reputation for his witty lyrics and original instrumentals.After a few years and the production of three complete music projects, Dre-T was introduced to Sacramento Area Youth Speaks (SAYS) where he was invited to be a competing poet in the 2010 Poetry Slam Season.At the age of 17, he advanced as a finalist to be part of Sacramento’s first-ever youth poetry slam team.Today, Dre-T is the founder, president and CEO of Foreign Native, an alternative program where he encourages the use of his Five Creative Roots:

  1. Identity Development
  2. Community Integrity 
  3. Engagement & Participation
  4. Truth Seeking 
  5. Meaning Making

Workshop: Literary Arts and Creative Expression: A Model to Provide Educational Achievement and Leadership Advancement

In this workshop, SAYS (Sacramento Area Youth Speaks) Poet-Mentor Educators will guide you through a brief history of the program through personal testimonies and video documentaries. Poet-mentors will then lead participants through an innovative writing workshop that will transform the space into a SAYS safe participant- centered space. SAYS writing is autobiographical, transformative, and includes an organic element of healing through recalling one’s personal experiences. This process helps students become ready for college, career and life.