I am an educator and activist with over 30 years of experience in teaching, administrative, programming, and research associate positions across diverse post-secondary and preK-12 education contexts. My deepest interests encompass representative stakeholder engagement, education for change, and human rights-based decision-making.
My work is significantly shaped through my tribal affiliation with the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, which goes well beyond tribal membership. My formative years were deeply impacted by the time I spent in Oklahoma, with grandparents who were educators within the Bureau of Indian Affairs system, as part of a community that represented many different – and oftentimes conflicting – ways of being and knowing. This was layered on my younger years as the child of a military officer, and moving multiple times before the age of 12. All of this laid the groundwork for my curiosity about people and places and understanding that the world is an interdependent system of shifting, diverse contexts. My own pathway in life has very naturally led me to qualitative inquiry, to openness towards challenging my own frame of reference and inviting that for others, and to investing in the strategies, approaches, and mindsets that make this vast, complicated, interconnected, potential-filled world the very best that it can be for all that is encompassed in our ecological system.
My work has taken me from early childhood education in rural and urban settings to collaborative services for women and children to low wealth neighborhood leadership development to leading study abroad programs in sub-Saharan Africa and Nepal – as highlights in a fairly non-linear career path – and the common denominator between them all is human potential, the approaches we use to understand what is working and how to build on that, opening up the space and the heart to fully humanize one another, and how we sustain that transformative interest in support of overall well-being in every sphere.
I have worked on a number of assessment projects intended to reveal the extent to which and in what ways participants in various education and experiential contexts are being impacted. In that regard, I characterize my work as a mechanism for ‘holding accountable to rhetoric’ – whether that is people, programs, governance, or institutions.
I have been a thought leader and change agent for strategic planning and operationalization of initiatives that represent thoughtful stakeholder engagement in schools and on campuses, with a commitment to inclusive excellence.
My deepest love is teaching, and I have been a part of educator teams from PreK through high school, and have taught courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels in higher education settings including community college, Research 1, private non-profit, and online. I have developed a study abroad course that takes place in Nepal with a focus on sustainability and community engagement, and have co-generated course syllabi for courses that amplify education for positive social change – all with the spirit of bell hooks (1994) in the belief that “the classroom remains the most radical space for possibility.”