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Karla E. Vigil


As co-founder and chief connector for EduLeaders of Color Rhode Island, Karla oversees the creative vision and all the development of the organization’s initiatives.  Karla also works as a District and School Design (DSD) Senior Associate at the Center for Collaborative Education where she works as a thought partner in the development of frameworks and resources centered on equity, culturally responsive teaching, and personalized learning. Prior to joining CCE, she was an Education Strategies Specialist with Highlander Institute where she supported the implementation of culturally responsive teaching with blended and personalized learning initiatives in classrooms across Rhode Island.  She also served as a 4th-grade classroom teacher dedicated to broadening students' perspectives through multicultural and social justice education.

Karla also serves as the founding board chair of the Wangari Maathai Community School. She is a Deeper Learning Equity Fellow and is deeply committed to promoting equity in education.  She regularly leads workshops on culturally responsive teaching and diversity and equity in education.

She earned her Masters of Arts in Teaching with a focus on social justice and multicultural education from Roger Williams University through the Gordon Teacher Residency Program.  She earned her Bachelor's degree from the University of Rhode Island.


Carlon Howard


Carlon is the executive director of Breakthrough Providence where he oversees program strategy and implementation and is the co-founder of EduLeaders of Color RI - an initiative that aims to support education leaders from underrepresented backgrounds.

Prior to his current role, Carlon served with City Year Providence as an Impact Manager where he oversaw the implementation of the Whole School Whole Child service model at a local elementary school. He also served one year as a City Year Providence AmeriCorps member, taught 5th grade math as a Teach for America corps member, and was an Urban Leaders Fellow under Colorado State Senator Mike Johnston.

Carlon graduated from the University of Georgia with undergraduate degrees in Criminal Justice and Political Science. During his time at the University of Georgia, Carlon led several student organizations, was a Richard B. Russell Leadership Fellow, and was recognized as Pandora Yearbook’s Outstanding Senior Leader.  He completed a graduate degree in education from Rhode Island College and was a member of the New Leaders Council Rhode Island class of 2017.


Joann Ayuso

Program Catalyst

Joann “Jo” Ayuso (she/ her) is a community collaborator who practices hands-on healing, poetry, love for food and the outdoors with emphasis on social justice, honoring ancestors and undoing negative perceptions of the outdoors and wellness. She has been working as a self-care educator for 21 years holding an MS in Exercise Science and Physiology. Working in the health care, fitness, education and within prison systems has shaped her communication as well as her desire to work in community with Black and Brown farmers and youth. Jo spends her days organizing Movement and Education Outdoors, a youth outdoor experience program, supporting community-based organizations in understanding inclusion and equity and uniting with educators and leaders of color on how to increase access to health and wellness in the education system for low-income, Black and brown students in Rhode Island.

Jade Eckels

Jade Eckels

2019 Policy Project Team Member

Jade Eckels is pursuing a master's degree in Urban Education Policy from Brown University where she also serves on the Education Department´s Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan Committee. Concurrently, Jade is the Resident Director for the Hill Houses and Apartments area at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Jade seeks to be a change agent in the field of student affairs, advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion within institutions of higher education. She is passionate about facilitating the positive growth and development of minoritized and marginalized students by creating pathways to and through college.

Katya Rodriguez

Katya Rodriguez

2019 Policy Project Team Member

As a researcher and consultant for EduLeaders of Color RI, Katya will be tracking demographic and quality assurance data, writing policy memos, producing issue briefs, and recommending strategies to support and better prepare educators to effectively work with all students as well as improve the educational outcomes of students from historically underserved communities.

Katya formerly served as a City Year AmeriCorps member in Providence, RI helping 6th grade English Language Learners improve their reading, writing, speaking, and socio-emotional skills. Additionally, she conducted research for organizations including the Urban Institute, The Swearer Center and the Rhode Island Department of Education.

Katya graduated from University of La Verne in 2017 with a B.S. in Anthropology. She is currently a Masters Candidate in the Urban Education Policy program at Brown University.

Alysha Romain

Alysha Romain

2019 Policy Project Team Member

Alysha Romain is a graduate student at Brown University studying Urban Education Policy. Prior to Brown, she earned a bachelor's degree in International Relations and French from Connecticut College. After graduating, she worked as a pre-kindergarten co-teacher in Connecticut. Romain is interested in social-emotional learning, early childhood education, teacher diversity, and alternative measures of student achievement and success. She enjoys working with community members to develop innovative approaches to ensure that all young people are well supported along their journey.

Lilian Smith

Lilian Smith

Design Strategist

Lilian Smith (she/they) is a designer, developer, and multimedia artist who's delivered design and multimedia solutions to non-profits and businesses for 6+ years. Lilian works closely with the EduLeaders and Equity Institute team to develop elegant and meaningful branding and tech solutions. Currently based in NYC, they've worked in Chicago, IL; Paris, FR; and Providence, RI. They received their BFA from Northwestern University, and they are an AmeriCorps alum. Lilian values listening, research, and comprehensive problem-solving.



Teresa Guaba

Community Development Project Manager, N4R at CYC

Dr. Barbara Mullen

Director of Learning Leader Network at Center for Leadership and Educational Equity (CLEE)

Janice Dru

Former Higher Education Administrator & Parent

Deidania Peña-DaRosa

Dual Language Educator

O'Sha L. Williams


Christina Turner

Director of High School Apprenticeship Program at the New Bedford Whaling Museum

Dr. Taino J. Palermo

Program Director of Community Development & Healthy Communities at RWU

Vanessa Vigil

Medical Care Manager & Parent

Stephanie Gyamfi-Darkwah

Eligibility Worker at State of Rhode Island

Yovanny Vargas

Dean of Culture at Blackstone Valley Prep
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