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Veronica Benavides, Director

NoneAware of educational inequity at a young age, Veronica has always been deeply committed to improving schools in underserved communities. With a sense of purpose and urgency, Veronica began her career in education as a social studies teacher at Essex Street Academy (ESA), a Coalition of Essentials Schools high school. For the past four years, Veronica has engaged in the work of lead learner. She has partnered with educators, from teachers to superintendents, to develop their capacity to lead classrooms, schools, and systems. At the NYC Leadership Academy (NYCLA), Veronica worked to design, build, and launch comprehensive engagement strategy that develops principal capacity to improve educational outcomes for boys and young men of color. In collaboration with expert educators in NYC, she developed adult learning experiences that are aligned to research-based standards for leading equitable school environments. In her current role, Veronica partners with communities across the US to create strengths-based learning environments that are responsive to the needs of students and their families. Veronica earned her doctorate in education leadership from Harvard University, and holds an MS in Teaching from Fordham University. Her research interests include racial identity development, family engagement, community organizing, adult development, and organizational change.

Faith Lamb-Parker, Senior Research Scientist

NoneFaith Lamb-Parker is a Senior Research Scientist at Bank Street College of Education, where she is the founder of the Center on Culture, Race & Equity. She was formerly the Director of the National Center on Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness, also at Bank Street College. Prior to 2011, Dr. Lamb-Parker was Assistant Clinical Professor of Public Health at Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, where she conducted research/evaluation, taught child development and social policy, and directed the international and domestic practicum program. She has over 25 years of experience in community-based research, where she uses her skills as a mental health professional to develop and implement evidence-based programs for disenfranchised communities and families and children.

Takiema Bunche-Smith, Director of Early Childhood Programs

Takiema Bunche-Smith, Director of Early Childhood Programs

Takiema Bunche-Smith is the Director of Early Childhood Programs at CCRE. Takiema has worked for over two decades in support of young children and families in New York City through her work with teachers, program leaders and policy makers. She began her career as a preschool and elementary teacher and then transitioned into various early childhood education management positions where she supported the implementation of developmentally and culturally appropriate curriculum and programs serving prenatal moms through four year olds. Her work has been guided by a deep commitment to racial equity, social justice, and a belief that collaboration and reflection has the power to change people and systems for the better.

Takiema holds Master’s degrees in Early Childhood & Elementary Education from Bank Street College of Education and NYU Wagner’s School for Public Service.

Lisa Gordon, Associate Director of Early Childhood

NoneLisa Gordon is responsible for the development and implementation of projects that address issues of culture and implicit bias that have created opportunity gaps for children and families in disenfranchised communities and children and families of color. She was formerly an Early Childhood Materials Developer and Trainer with the Office of Head Start National Center on Culture and Linguistic Responsiveness at Bank Street. Lisa has worked in early childhood education for the past 20 years designing and delivering professional development, training, technical assistance, and programs at both the state and federal levels that facilitate the well-being of children and families. Her areas of expertise include creating high quality culturally responsive learning environments, supporting social emotional development and school readiness, building early childhood leadership capacity, and teacher effectiveness and professional development.

Erica Licht, Assistant Director for Research and Implementation

NoneErica's background has focused on collaborative community and education projects through engagement models of dialogue, training and radio. Her work is rooted in African Diaspora studies encompassing Caribbean, Sub-Saharan African, and Black American studies through the angles of inclusion and equity. Prior to joining CCRE, she has worked most recently as a consultant and facilitator on leadership development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and as a Fulbright Scholar in Lagos, Nigeria where she developed a pilot on youth-police dialogue. In her current role at CCRE, she manages research aims and implementation design of the Center; with a passion for developing meaningful educational partnerships. She holds a Masters in Justice Policy from the London School of Economics, and a Bachelors in Africana Studies and Human Geography from Vassar College.

Maried Rivera Nieves, Project Manager

Maried Rivera Nieves, Project Manager of CCRE

Maried Rivera Nieves is the Project Manager at CCRE. A native of Puerto Rico by way of Minnesota, Maried has worn the hats of educator, scholar and practitioner. She has worked and volunteered with nonprofits serving refugee and immigrant communities and advocating for gender equity. Through the Institute of Latin American Studies and the Coalition of Latinx Scholars at Columbia University, Maried helped develop culturally-responsive curricula, as well as workshops that center Indigenous knowledges in education, demystify graduate school for first-generation students of color, and transform dialogue about the War on Drugs in schools. Maried is on the planning committee for the Comparative and International Education Society’s annual conference and volunteers as a tutor for the International Rescue Committee. She holds a Masters in International Educational Development, focusing on Latin American and Latino Education, from Teachers College and earned her Bachelor’s from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Jonayah M. Jackson, Project Manager

NoneJonayah M. Jackson, Jo, supports the CCRE and the Learning Agenda in the Innovation, Policy, & Research Department by providing graphic design, social media maintenance, film editing, administrative, technical, and research support to both teams. A graduate of Williams College with a major in Anthropology and a concentration in Africana Studies, Jo brings her experience conducting field work, creating materials, and working in nonprofits to the team. Outside of Bank Street, she is the co-founder of a nonprofit dance school in Brooklyn, NY called Lotus Creations Academy of Performing Arts and is an independent consultant for a Brooklyn-based education advocacy firm.

Margaret Jimenez, Operations Manager

NoneMargie Jimenez is currently the Operations Manager for the Division of Innovation, Policy & Research (IPR) at the Bank Street College of Education. She supports the Center on Culture, Race & Equity (CCRE) by providing administrative and operational support to the team. In this capacity, she works to ensure and improve the performance and efficiency of CCRE operations. Margie brings to her role over 35 years of knowledge and professional expertise cultivated in both the Corporate and Academia sectors. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Creative Nonfiction with a Concentration in Latino Studies at Columbia University.