(We are currently in the process of building our Advisory Board. Our goal is to assemble a diverse team of people who believe in the Integrated Schools mission and who bring a variety of experiences to the table. We firmly believe that Integrated Schools must be led by and accountable to people of color — especially parents and educators of color.
ANDREW GRANT THOMAS
I’m a dad to Lola and Lena, a partner to Melissa, a son, a friend, a social justice worker and long-time racial justice guy, a black man of Jamaican origins in the United States, born on the 4th of July.
I have good friends, decent health, two lovely, healthy girls, a wonderful partner, and nice degrees from elite institutions. Most members of my immediate and extended families live solidly middle class lives at a time when fewer and fewer people can claim that. I’ve been able to do work meaningful to me for a long time and do it alongside good people whose examples inspire me.
With reference to all I’ve seen, learned, and experienced about the diverse ways people live their lives in the United States and elsewhere, I understand myself to be an enormously privileged human being. (The depth and breadth of my privilege was never more apparent than during my recovery from a serious illness a few years ago. I touch on that here.) In that respect, we have waaaay more than our “fair” share of people like me in these United States.
In myriad ways, the most fortunate people in this country have built their good fortune largely on the backs of the least fortunate, just as the United States has built its cultural, economic and military preeminence largely on the backs of people outside our borders. I believe race has played a prominent role in both cases.
Knowing what I know, and the examples of people everywhere I look doing heroic work to push back against injustice, racial and otherwise, it would be obscene for me not to lend my effort to that struggle.
Co-Founder and Co-Director IntegrateNYC
Sarah is committed to transforming school systems so that a sound, basic education and self-actualization are available for all students regardless of race, class, family structure, or gender. Her experience in education reform and advocacy ranges from teaching ESL in District 7 of the South Bronx, working with The Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies as an educational consultant, conducting educational research for Sesame Street’s Plaza Mexico, and organizing for restorative justice practices with Teachers Unite. Two years ago, she co-founded IntegrateNYC4me with six students from her high school advisory class. She is committed to building democratically elected committees of students within the city, state, and national departments of education so that every young person can co-create, inform, and sustain the integrated schools that they attend.
STEPHAN BLANFORD, Ed.D.
Dr. Blanford recently completed a 4-year term of service as an elected director on the Seattle School Board, providing leadership for a 54,000 student, $1.5 billion urban school district. He was elected with a mandate to lead for excellence and equity and has worked closely with parents, teachers, administrators and the community towards those twin goals.
Stephan holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and a Masters in Public Administration (Nonprofit Leadership), both at the University of Washington. His research interests center on the ways in which leaders advance equity issues in schools and communities. He co-owns Lighthouse Consulting, which offers research, evaluation and management services to universities, school districts and nonprofit organizations across the state.
Dr. Blanford has appointments as a lecturer at the College of Education and the Evans School of Public Administration on the University of Washington campus, has been published in local and national periodicals and journals and has presented his research in classrooms, central offices and before large audiences throughout the state. He was recently appointed to newly elected Mayor Jenny Durkan’s transition committee, is a member of the Board of Directors of United Way of King County, and serves on a number of community boards. Married to Janet Blanford, a teacher and educational administrator, he is the doting father of high school freshman Delaney.
EILEEN GALE KUGLER
Embrace Diverse Schools
Eileen’s commitment to the strengths of diversity was inspired by the education of her children at one of the most diverse high schools in the United States, with students from wide-ranging races, ethnicities and economic backgrounds, hailing from nearly 90 nations. Blending her professional skill as a communications expert with her volunteer commitment, Eileen worked collaboratively with administrators, faculty, parents, students and community members to rebuild the school’s crumbling community support and turn it into a vibrant focal point of its multicultural community. The school’s success was highlighted in global media and earned her multiple awards.
Eileen’s award-winning book, Debunking the Middle-Class Myth: Why diverse schools are good for all kids, inspires honest dialogue on how diversity enriches education for every student. Her latest book, Innovative Voices in Education: Engaging Diverse Communities – praised as an “essential resource” – shares strategies from 17 ground-breaking educators and community leaders around the world in passionate first-person accounts.