Peeling Back the Onion on the Civil Rights and Charter Movements

Is there a really a disconnect between civil rights and charter advocates? If so, what’s behind it? What issues are ubiquitous to all of public education? What issues are ones that truly are problems of the charter sector that we need to address? How do we move beyond the current situation productively? 


Sonia Park is the Executive Director of the Diverse Charter Schools Coalition. Previously, she worked for John King as a Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Innovation and Improvement at the US DOE. Her work experience includes being the Executive Director of The Manhattan Charter School in NYC, the Charters Schools Accountability and Support office at the NYC Department of Education, the NY Metro Program Director at the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, and consultancy for NYSED, the Charter Schools Institute of SUNY,  NACSA, New Visions for New Schools and the Children’s Aid Society.


Thierry Uwilingiyimana, MBA is a technologist, human-centered designer, and visionary entrepreneur. He co-founded and now advises ClassTracks Inc. He is currently the Product Director at SchoolHack, where he manages the product team and strategy. He also works to spread the meaningful adoption of technology to support student-centered & interest-driven learning. Prior to ClassTracks he worked with the founders of Acton Academy DC to develop a progressive school built on the same principles of student-centered and interest-driven learning. Born in Rwanda, Mr. Uwilingiyimana and his family came to the United States seeking asylum from the war-torn country.  He earned his undergraduate degree in Engineering at Stanford University, and his MBA in Entrepreneurship from the Acton School of Business. His mission is to thoughtfully and faithfully utilize technology to humanize learning environments.

Linda Nathan, EdD is the Executive Director of the Center for Artistry and Scholarship (CAS), overseeing key programs including the Perrone-Sizer Institute for Creative Leadership (PSI) in partnership with the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She works closely with the leadership of Conservatory Lab Charter School to support its development as a national model of project based learning and arts immersed education, and was the founding Headmaster of Boston Arts Academy. As an experienced leader in education, Dr. Nathan actively mentors teachers and principals, and consults nationally and internationally on issues of educational reform, leadership and teaching with a commitment to equity, and the critical role of arts and creativity in schools. Dr. Nathan also facilitates workshops and conversations about issues of race, equity, and culturally relevant pedagogy for school leaders, teachers, parents, and students across the nation. She is the author of two books: “Hardest Questions Aren’t on the Test” and “When Grit Isn’t Enough” (October 2017, Beacon Press).

Dr. Steve Gallon III is the elected District 1 School Board Member for the Miami-Dade County Schools in Miami-Dade County, Florida. The District has been honored as a recipient of the Magnet Programs Shine Nationwide Award for its commitment to expanding new choice/magnet programs. Steve started his career as a classroom teacher, and has served as an assistant principal, principal, district administrator, university professor, and Superintendent of Schools. Steve was named recipient of the National School Boards Association Council of Urban Boards of Education’s (CUBE) prestigious 2017 Benjamin Elijah Mays Lifetime Achievement Award for his longstanding commitment to the educational needs of urban school children.