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Please register for the Saturday, April 27, 2024 symposium below.

Speaker Bios

[View FULL Session Schedule & Descriptions]
 

 

  Nathan Baez (he/him) is a multi-dimensional poet and an innovative educator whose work revolves around liberation practices and dismantling psychological systems of oppression. His music and art are vessels for exploring ideas that seek to shift social and economic paradigms. To Nathan, every conversation is an experiment, an experience, and an invitation to learn more about yourselves and how to interact with the material conditions of the world. He is currently working on his first novel, which is a fictional story touching on the impending realities of technological advances and our withdrawal from nature.
 
  Jim Beauchesne served as the Visitor Services Supervisor at Lawrence Heritage State Park from 1998 to his retirement in 2021. He was responsible for the Park's educational and cultural programs, including historical exhibits and tours. He is now President of the Friends of Lawrence Heritage State Park. For many years he was a member of the Bread and Roses Heritage Committee, which organizes the Bread and Roses Labor Day Heritage Festival. He has served as a board member of the Lawrence History Center, Lawrence's historical society. He also worked at Lowell National Historical Park. He holds an M.A. in Public History from Northeastern University, and a B.A. from Merrimack College. He has lectured on topics including the Bread and Roses Strike, and the French-Canadian immigrant experience in New England. Jim was born and raised in Lawrence and was educated at St. Anne’s School through the eighth grade.
 

 

  James Carras is a Lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and has been an advisor to the Mayor of Lawrence in preparing a transition plan for the return to local control. See: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carras/
 
  Kathy Flynn was an early supporter of the Immigrant City Archives (now the Lawrence History Center) during the 1980s and 1990s, volunteering and serving in several board capacities, including president. A graduate of Regis College, she received advanced degrees from Northeastern University in counseling and Fitchburg State College in educational administration. Kathy was a founding member of the Bridge Over Troubled Waters Program in Boston, MA. After 33 years of service, she retired as an administrator from Whittier Regional Vocational Tech High School in Haverhill, MA. Currently she supports LHC as a volunteer and researcher. Kathy authored A Sacred Space, a history of St. Mary and Immaculate Conception Cemeteries in 2010; a history of the Catherine McCarthy Family and development of the Memorial Trust Fund entitled The Catherine McCarthy Memorial Trust Fund, in 2019; and co-authored a chapter entitled, "Lawrence, Massachusetts and the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike at Street Level: Interpretation Over Time" in the University of Illinois Press publication, "Where Are the Workers? Labor's Stories at Museums and Historic Sites", a part of the Working Class in American History series in June 2022. Kathy is a board member and annual walker for the Just'Cause 60-mile Walk for Breast Cancer.
 

 

  Robert Forrant is Distinguished University Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Principal historian on numerous projects funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Lowell National Historical Park, and the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, his newest book, Where are the Workers: Interpreting Labor and Working-Class History at Museums and Historic Sites, with Mary Anne Trasciatti, was published by the University of Illinois Press in 2022.
 
  Lorena German is a three time nationally awarded Dominican American educator focused on anti racist education. She has taught English Language Arts from 6th through 12th grades in both public and private schools, including Lawrence High School, her alma mater. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, NPR, PBS, Rethinking Schools, EdWeek, Learning for Justice Magazine, and more. She published The Anti Racist Teacher: Reading Instruction Workbook, and Textured Teaching: A Framework for Culturally Sustaining Practices about curriculum & lesson development focused on social justice. She is a Co-Founder of #DisruptTexts through which she encourages teachers to work toward an inclusive ELA curriculum. As Co-Founder and Academic Director at Multicultural Classroom she leads professional development for teachers and creates teaching materials with and for leading literacy organizations. Lorena is also the Chair of NCTE’s Committee Against Racism and Bias in the Teaching of English. She lives in Tampa, Florida.
 
  Wangeci Gitau (she/they) is a Kenyan-born writer, artist and teacher from the Kikuyu tribe living in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Her work explores taking up space on American soil as an immigrant queer African femme. She is the author of poetry collections “there’s the truth then there are other things” (2019) and “i'm not allowed to explain (only foreshadow and reminisce)” (2021). In 2021, she was chosen to interview Dr. Angela Davis through her local library’s lecture series. In the same year, she had the opportunity to read her poetry through UC Berkeley’s Radical Kinship Series. In 2022, she was featured on the show “Stories from the Stage" on WorldChannel and PBS, advocating for her community after a devastating gas explosion. Wangeci is co-founder & prose editor at Exposed Brick Literary Magazine and an 8th grade ELA teacher in her neighborhood. She is working on her Masters in Literary Arts at the BreadLoaf School of English at Middlebury. She is currently the secretary of the Bread and Roses Heritage Committee.
 

 

  Wadscar Gomez is an educator turned scholar activist and policy analyst. He has spent the past decade in education where he held roles as school safety, student support management, teacher in biology and math, and advocacy. Passionate about racial justice and equity in education for Black and Brown students, he focuses on amplifying student voices through advocacy and research. He holds an Associate of Science in Criminal Justice from Northern Essex Community College, a Bachelor of Arts in Multidisciplinary Studies from Cambridge College, and a Master of Public Policy in Education Policy from Vanderbilt University Peabody College.
 

 

  Ms. Kassie Infante earned her B.S. from the University of North Carolina Wilmington and has extensive experience working in the non- profit, educational development/philanthropy and political advocacy field. Her experience working in private schools, reconciled with her educational upbringing in public schools and the realization of deep disparities, led her to pursue a career advocating for equity and justice in public education. While serving on the Lawrence School Committee in 2020, Ms. Infante attended the Harvard Graduate School of Education and earned a Masters in Education. Her studies and interest lie in advancing progressive education policy, community organizing and critical participatory action research as methods to disrupt and dismantle systemic racism.
 

 

 

Chandaranee Khoeun is a second-year student at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where she is pursuing a degree in History. She is a second-generation refugee with a strong interest in arts and culture, aiming to preserve the legacies of Cambodian Americans, as well as highlight minority voices. Her work for UMass Lowell and UMass Boston’s joint project focuses on anti-Asian racism and violence surrounding the Cambodian diaspora. In the future, she intends to research the revival of Khmer art after the genocide.
 

 

 

 

Elizabeth Pellerito  is the former President of the Bread & Roses Heritage Committee and current Vice President. She is the Director of the Labor Education Program at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and uses popular education techniques to develop and deliver training for workers; she also teaches Labor Studies courses at UML. She is a Gist Yarn weaver-in-residence in 2024 and is completing a manuscript about the history of weaving and struggles for liberation.
 

 

  Dr. Marianela Rivera (she/ella) is a physical therapist and has focused the majority of her career in serving students receiving special education services. Her experiences while working for Lawrence Public Schools revealed systemic issues impacting her students and their families, which motivated her to run and win a last-minute write-in campaign for the Lawrence School Committee in 2015 and was re-elected as Vice Chair in 2017. Dr. Rivera’s efforts helped organize parents, teachers, students, activists, and concerned citizens to propel public education forward with the Fund Our Future campaign that led to the passing of the Student Opportunity Act. Dr. Rivera was one of the first Table Coordinators of the Greater Lawrence Education Justice Alliance, a role that was taken over by Kassie Infante in 2020. She co-founded HomePlace Collective with Kassie Infante, a Department of Education (MA-DESE)-approved consultancy group that helps educational institutions, community spaces, and nonprofits drive social change by building transformational civic skills and critical socio-political literacy. In addition to education consulting, she continues to work in special education, coaches students in UMass Lowell's Pathway program, and is an adjunct professor at UMass Lowell.
 

 

  Katharine K. Rodger, EdD, joined Northern Essex Community College in 1985 to direct the Lawrence Education Employment Project (LEEP), retiring as Dean of the Lawrence Campus in 2002. Prior to working at NECC, she was Executive Director of the International Institute of Greater Lawrence, Inc., before that, served as Community Liaison for the Lawrence Public Schools, interfacing with Hispanic students, their families, and the school system. Kathy earned her B.A. from Macalester College in 1966; her Masters in Education from the University of Lowell in 1982; and her Doctorate in Education from UMass Lowell in 2000.
 
  Brian Sheehy is the History Department Coordinator at North Andover High School in North Andover, MA, where he teaches AP European History, AP US History, and Sports of the Past. He is the 2020 Organization of American Historians: Mary K. Bonsteel Tachau Teacher of the Year Award winner and Williams College: Olmstead Secondary Teacher of the Year Award winner. He created the North Andover High History Learning Lab, which focuses on enriching and enhancing the history curriculum through object-based learning. Brian has also presented at several conferences on the merits of and pedagogy behind the use of object-based learning. He also developed and published a lesson plan that National History Day published focused on Baseball, WWI, and Patriotism. Brian is also a sports historian who has traveled all over the country giving presentations at conferences, symposiums, historical societies, and museums. He wrote a chapter in the book Stories of Sport: Critical Literacy in Media Production, Consumption, and Dissemination entitled “"Selling Patriotism On and Off the Field: Media Connections Between Baseball, the Military, and the Government". He has designed and created PD on a variety of topics including local history and how to incorporate sports themes in their classrooms.
 
  Stacy Szczesiul is the Associate Dean of Online Education, Accreditation & Licensing in UMASS Lowell’s College of Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Prior to moving to the Dean’s Office in Fall 2021, Szczesiul served as a faculty member in the School of Education for 11 years. During that time, she led the design and implementation of an Ed.D. Leadership in Schooling program that has been nationally recognized for its emphasis on critical improvement science and equity literacy. As Associate Dean, Szczesiul has prioritized efforts to diversify the educator workforce in the Commonwealth by building out high school Grow Your Own pathways in Lowell and Lawrence and partnering with nonprofits like Latinos for Education and He Is Me. Szczesiul is an established researcher with interests in the role of internal and external accountability systems in school improvement and in the occupational expectations of teachers in a changing policy context. She received an Ed.D. in Education Policy, Leadership and Instructional Practice from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education in 2009.