National SEED Project on Inclusive Curriculum Names Two New Associate Directors

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The National SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) Project on Inclusive Curriculum, at the Wellesley Centers for Women--the nation’s largest peer-led professional development program for teachers, college faculty, parents, and community leaders-- appoints two new associate directors.

Jondou Chase Chen and Gail Cruise-Roberson

[They will] lead the program that engages participants through reflective exercises and intentionally structured group conversation to create more equitable and inclusive curriculum, pedagogy, school climates, and communities.

The National SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) Project on Inclusive Curriculum, the nation’s largest peer-led professional development program for teachers, college faculty, parents, and community leaders, announced the appointment of Gail Cruise-Roberson and Jondou Chase Chen, Ph.D., as associate directors.

Cruise-Roberson and Chen join Founder and Senior Associate Peggy McIntosh, Ph.D., and Co-directors Emily Style, Emmy Howe, and Brenda Flyswithhawks, Ph.D., to lead the program that engages participants through reflective exercises and intentionally structured group conversation to create more equitable and inclusive curriculum, pedagogy, school climates, and communities.

“As SEED enters its 28th year, I am so happy to expand our leadership team with Gail and Jondou as associate directors,” notes McIntosh. “For many years, they have used their wonderful professional skills and personal experiences to train and support other SEED leaders, run their own local SEED seminars, and help make SEED’s vision of inclusive education ever more relevant and engaging.”

Cruise-Roberson has worked in public education reform and adult education in New Jersey, Illinois, Minnesota, and New York City. She became a SEED leader in 1994, co-facilitating SEED seminars for community leaders, teachers, and professional development colleagues in the South Orange/Maplewood, N.J. public school district, and subsequently worked with parents and teachers in Chicago and Oak Park, Illinois.

“SEED changed the way both I and the participants viewed our experiences with privilege and oppression,” she said. “It gave us the tools to have productive conversations about such topics without blame, shame, or guilt. I became a SEED summer staff member in 1999 in order to help new SEED leaders learn these methods that help all voices to be heard.”

Currently, Cruise-Roberson co-facilitates a group of New York City-area SEED leaders who run their own school-based SEED seminars. She is also a hospice volunteer and is exploring new ways of working with the aging that incorporate the vision and strategies learned through her work with SEED. She has a B.A. in English and graduate work in communications from Queens College (CUNY), with a focus on small group communication.

Chen has been a SEED leader since 2003 and a SEED summer staff member since 2005. He is an associate in the department of Human Development at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he teaches, advises, and provides research and grant support. He co-facilitates a graduate-level SEED course, as well as a monthly SEED support group for recently trained New York City-area SEED leaders.

“SEED has helped me to understand how all of our stories matter, and how combined, they call for systemic change,” he said. “SEED work helps me to create the world I want to live in and pass on to the next generation.”

His own research investigates the potential impact of neighborhoods and schools on youth. Chen has a doctorate in developmental psychology and a masters in applied statistics. Prior to joining the SEED lead team, he served as program director of the Student Press Initiative and postdoctoral manager for the Mindset + Motivation research project at Teachers College, which looked at how students’ perceptions of their brains, intelligence, history, and society shape their ability to overcome life challenges and systemic oppression.

For 28 years, the National SEED Project’s peer-led seminars have engaged teachers, college faculty, parents, and community leaders from all subjects, grades, and geographic locations to create gender fair, multiculturally equitable, socioeconomically aware, and globally informed education. SEED seminars put participants at the center of their own professional development, assisting them in valuing their own voices so they can, in turn, better value the rich diversity of their students’ and children's voices.

SEED is a program of the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College, one of the world’s largest gender-focused research-and-action organizations.

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Donna Tambascio