Mass LEAP Executive Board of Directors
CHALOEA WILLIAMS I Board Chair
Chaloea Williams currently serves as a law clerk in federal district court in Massachusetts. Previously, Chaloea was a senior associate in the Boston office of WilmerHale LLP. While there, Chaloea maintained a robust pro bono practice, including appearing on behalf of a family facing eviction from subsidized housing, representing asylum seekers, and motion practice on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union in support of the Boston Police Department’s body-worn camera pilot program. Chaloea received her B.A. from Vanderbilt University and her J.D. from Boston University School of Law, where she served as President of the Black Law Students Association, defended adults and children in Boston Municipal Court, and delivered the 2014 J.D. commencement speech. Chaloea is passionate about mentoring young people from traditionally marginalized communities and dismantling institutional barriers to access and opportunity.
DR. EVE EWING | Chair Emeritus
Dr. Eve L. Ewing (Board President) is a writer and sociologist. Her research focuses on racism, social inequality, and urban policy, and the impact of these forces on American public schools and the lives of young people. She is a Provost's Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Chicago; in fall 2018, she will begin as Assistant Professor in the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. She is the author of Electric Arches, a collection of poetry, prose, and visual art, and Closed: Shuttered Schools and the History of Racism in Chicago's Black Metropolis, forthcoming from University of Chicago Press. She often uses public platforms to discuss social issues, particularly Twitter, where she is a well-recognized commentator with over 120,000 followers and 40-50 million views each month. Her work has been published in many venues, including The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Nation, The Washington Post, The New Republic, Poetry Magazine, The Indiana Review, and the anthology The Breakbeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop. She co-directs Crescendo Literary, a partnership that develops community-engaged arts events and educational resources as a form of cultural organizing. Eve is one-half of the writing collective Echo Hotel, alongside Hanif Abdurraqib. Find more about Eve at eveewing.com.
JUSTIN KANG | Board Treasurer
Justin Kang is the Executive Director of City Awake, a civic innovation lab of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce which focuses on the bold ideas necessary to solve the urban issues we deem frustratingly inexcusable in modern society. Most notably, he has been recognized by the City of Boston, Boston Magazine and the Boston Globe for his efforts to mobilize and empower the next generation into important contributors to the civic process in Greater Boston. Specifically, he is engaging over 500 young adults representing 200 organizations as they undergo a nine-month process to produce the first-ever local report in understanding how this generation perceives Greater Boston as well as identifying key issues and solutions prioritized by this cohort. His background is in community organizing and entrepreneurship and he is graduate of Brandeis University. He serves on the boards of directors for multiple nonprofits and is a proud Big Brother.
MICHELLE GARCIA FRESCO
Michelle Garcia is a Latina Boston-based poet who is currently a freshman at Umass Lowell, hoping to achieve her MFA and masters in international relations. Focusing on slam poetry, Garcia has performed across the Boston community featuring for venues such as the America of the Arts conference, Teach for America, and The institute of Contemporary Arts. In addition to performing in Boston, Garcia was one of the five selected among 300 poets to represent the Boston area in the international poetry competition known as Brave New Voices, placing 6th overall among 60 teams across the world in 2016, then taking 2nd place in 2017. Garcia was also selected to be part of the competitive YAWP Grubstreet fellowship program, Youth Spoken Word Leaders internship, and was recently featured in the Huffington Post where her work was highlighted. Her favorite hobby is eating cheese fries with bacon.
Kofi Dadzie is a Ghanaian slam poet from Westborough, Massachusetts by way of White Plains, NY. Dadzie has been competing in youth slams since 2013, and was recently a part of the 2016 & 2017 Mass LEAP Brave New Voices Youth Poetry Slam teams ( placing 6th & 2nd respectively at the international level), Kofi served on the inaugural Youth Spoken Word Leadership program in Boston and now co-organizes YUNG House Slam. Kof also represented the House Boston Adult slam team at the 2017 National Poetry Slam and Individual World Poetry Slam (placing 3rd & 5th respectively). Most recently, Kofi places 5th at the 2017 Individual World Poetry Slam Tournament in Spokane Washington. Outside of slam poetry, Dadzie is a year-round track and field athlete UMass Boston, where he is studying History & Communications.
Ralph Bouquet is the Education and Outreach Manager at NOVA, the PBS science documentary series produced at WGBH. At NOVA, Ralph manages a team that supports science educators through the creation of digital STEM resources, professional development opportunities, and partnerships with STEM education organizations. Before NOVA, Ralph taught high school biology and chemistry in Philadelphia and later developed web and mobile apps as a co-founder with the Canary Calendar team. Ralph received his B.A. from Harvard University and studied secondary science methods and urban education while completing his M.Ed. at UPenn.
Richard Weissbourd is a Senior Lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he directs the Human Development and Psychology Program, and the Kennedy School of Government. His work focuses on moral development, vulnerability and resilience in childhood and effective schools and services for children. He co-directs the Making Caring Common Project, a national effort to make moral and social development priorities in child-raising and to provide strategies to schools and parents for promoting in children caring, a commitment to justice and other key moral and social capacities. He is a founder of several interventions for at-risk children, including the citywide literacy initiatives ReadBoston and WriteBoston, and a pilot school in Boston, the Lee Academy. He is the author of The Vulnerable Child: What Really Hurts America’s Children and What We Can Do About It (Addison-Wesley, 1996), named by the American School Board Journal as one of the top 10 education books of all time, and His most recent book, The Parents We Mean to Be: How Well-Intentioned Adults Undermine Children's Moral and Emotional Development.
Jessica Fei is an educator and a researcher whose interests center on social justice youth development, youth-adult partnerships, out-of- school time learning, and themes of place and identity. Recently, her work has explored processes of critical and creative place-making, and the experiences of teaching artists and young people in community arts
settings. Previous projects have included developing curriculum for international online learning communities, conducting case study research on teen recreation centers, and planning programs related to racial justice and wellness for Harvard undergraduate students. With over a decade of professional experience in urban public schools, arts agencies, and non-profits, Jessica draws from her knowledge as a researcher and as a practitioner in her teaching, her scholarly writing, and her conference presentations. Jessica holds a B.A. in Literature and Ethnicity, Race, and Migration from Yale University, and is currently a doctoral candidate in Culture, Communities, and Education at Harvard University.
Sofía is a Boston-raised artist, educator, and community organizer. Her work has been featured in a range of literary publications, as well as in The Boston Globe, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Generation Progress, and elsewhere. Prior to her arrival in New York, Sofía was the Outreach Coordinator for the University of Wisconsin’s pioneering First Wave program, the world’s first and only full-tuition scholarship program for hip hop and urban arts. Currently, she oversees all elements of Urban Word NYC off-site programming as the Partnerships Program Director, including the management and development of performances, workshops and semester-long residencies across New York City’s five boroughs.
JENNY XU I Board Secretary
Jenny Xu is the poetry editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, where she also edits non-fiction. She's passionate about working with and supporting marginalized voices, and mentors through the Representation Matters Mentorship Program, a volunteer organization dedicated to helping PoCs learn more about and get a foothold into publishing. She is also part of the Grubstreet Writers of Color Social Committee. Introduced to Louder than a Bomb by a friend, Jenny has been excited to be a part of the 2018 organizing group as a fundraiser. Prior to working in publishing, Jenny was writing about food. She has also moonlighted as a "Cheese Ambassador" at the Boston Public Market and can recommend you a great local fromage. She graduated with a degree in English and Creative Writing from Columbia University.
Melissa Dognazzi is the Development Coordinator at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, where she helps facilitate individual gifts that support various art educational programming. Prior to joining the ICA/Boston, Melissa worked as a grants consultant for academic and social service nonprofits throughout Worcester, Massachusetts. When not writing poetry or making choreography, she serves as the co-chair of the Northbridge Cultural Council, a local cultural council a part of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, to diversify arts funding and opportunities throughout her local community. Melissa earned her B.A. from Worcester State University studying creative writing, theatre, and film.