kiina dordoni is currently serving in her fourth year as the Director of ELL/Bilingual Programs in the Morris School District in Morristown, NJ, which serves 1300+ students who are multilingual learners across seven elementary schools, a middle school and a high school where she was an Assistant Principal for two years, and where she developed a Newcomer Program for students with interrupted education.
As a Teach for America corps member, she began her fifteen-year career teaching Spanish to phenomenal students in an elementary charter school in Newark, New Jersey (2008). She taught middle school Spanish and social studies and, due to the teacher shortage, jumped in to teach high school bilingual language arts for a few weeks this past year.
kiina’s primary areas of interest are program development, coaching, and facilitating professional development workshops that build the capacity of educators to support multicultural and multilingual learners. She facilitated conversations on race with both her students and professional colleagues, led professional development on Culturally Responsive Teaching and Restorative Practices within her school district and at conferences, and led an initiative to ensure that every single teacher in her district was trained in strategies to support multilingual learners in every classroom. She is excited to be transitioning to full-time consulting work to continue to serve all of our babies by providing high-quality coaching, program, and professional development to districts that serve multilingual and multicultural learners.
kiina is a veteran of the United States Navy. She has a B.A. in International Studies and Spanish from Virginia Wesleyan College, an M.A. in Bilingual/Bicultural Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and an M.A. in Educational Leadership from Montclair State University. She loves to trail running, paddleboarding, polish her nails, and kickin’ it with her kiddos, Skyler and Oz, and her furry baby, Billie Holiday.
Lisa Goodson is an Author and Educational Leader in the New York City Department of Education. Her journey has led her to serve in various leadership roles: Deputy Superintendent, Elementary School Principal, Teacher Development and Evaluation Coach, and NYC DOE Peer Validator. She has devoted over 21 years relentlessly closing gaps and disrupting the status quo for marginalized voices in the Educational System. Her work ensures that these voices are brought to the forefront of the conversation. Additionally, she founded Lit Unlimited, a consulting service for leadership and teacher development. Born in South Boston, Virginia, and raised in Long Island, New York, Lisa loved to write as a child and continues to share this gift with children of all ages, including her three children, Jermaine, Alana, and Taylor.
As a Black Woman, she recognizes the importance of using her voice to create equitable opportunities in the education system. Her purpose is to ensure that no child under her leadership slips through the cracks and to ensure that oppressive systems and policies are disrupted and dismantled. Her passion for empowering young people and closing achievement gaps led her to start the Girlz Dream Too initiative. This initiative emboldens young people to have audacious dreams and live in their purpose. In 2019, Lisa released her first children’s book Mia’s Mission to Be a Mathematician, and in 2021, she released Ronnie Reid Can Finally Read. These books allow Black and Brown students to see mirror images of themselves and the power to break glass ceilings. Forthcoming books include Squirt’s Touchdown, her first middle-grade novel-in-verse.
Annie Huynh, the Elementary School Principal of Global Community Charter School located in New York, dedicated over 16 years to creating high-achieving learning environments in urban schools. Annie started her career as an elementary teacher teaching abroad and at the Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures Charter School, a Blue Ribbon charter school in Philadelphia, a school committed to community-affirming and anti-bias education. Dedicated to teacher leadership, Annie served on the Philadelphia Mayor’s Teacher Advisory Council in 2013 and was nationally selected as an ASCD Emerging Leader in 2014. She has published articles and blog posts about anti-bias education. Later, she transitioned as a school leader at an all-boys charter school in the Bronx and became a founding leadership team member of the WHIN Music Community Charter School, a music-based charter school.
Annie received her B.A. in Anthropology and Chinese Language and Literature from George Washington University and received her M.Ed. in Elementary Education from Temple University and a K-12 administrative certificate from the University of Scranton. As a daughter of refugees, she is committed to diversity and quality education for multilingual learners and enjoys spending time with her two young boys exploring the city.
MaryRose Joseph’s career began twenty-five years ago as a high school science teacher in the New York City Department of Education.
After seven years of teaching in NYC, she moved to Westchester County and continued her career as a teacher, Department Chairperson, and Director of Science Research.
MaryRose currently serves as an Assistant Principal at Edgemont Jr/Sr High School, Scarsdale, NY. She is one of three administrators of color in the small school district. Working in a small district has allowed MaryRose Joseph to work in all aspects of school leadership. She has been able to share her voice and work in improving hiring processes, including recruiting and retaining educators with varied perspectives and lived experiences. To elevate student voices and advocacy, she founded a student-led DEI committee and BIPOC student club at Edgemont.
In the wake of the 2016 election cycle, MaryRose was deeply concerned about the country's direction. Driven by her desire to make a meaningful impact, she launched a campaign and became a trustee on her local school board of education. Throughout her tenure, MaryRose has tirelessly worked to advance DEI initiatives within the district and has been a staunch advocate for antiracist education.
Beyond her role as an educator and trustee, MaryRose actively participates in a DEI leadership network in Westchester County. Recognizing the disparities caused by income-based school zoning, she collaborates with local school leaders in a Regional Consortium, aiming to create equitable opportunities for students, faculty, and administrators across the region.
An immigrant woman from India, a first-generation college graduate and a mother of two young women who are reminders of the importance of social justice work, MaryRose's personal journey shapes her commitment to creating inclusive spaces where students and educators feel affirmed and empowered. Guided by her belief in providing a sense of belonging, equitable access, targeted interventions, and restorative practices, MaryRose advocates for educational experiences that uphold students' dignity and help them reach their highest potential.
MaryRose holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University at Buffalo, SUNY, an M.S. in Secondary Education from CUNY Lehman College, and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Administration and Leadership from SUNY New Paltz. Her dedication to ongoing professional growth is reflected in her certification as a School Building and District Leader.
Carlos Xavier Leal was born and raised in La Frontera between the United States and Mexico in San Benito, Texas. Rooted in a rural upbringing, his calling has always been to serve in an urban public educational setting. Carlos began teaching in San Antonito, Texas before moving to Rochester, New York where he left his footprint in his approach to teaching and administration. Carlos earned a BA in Elementary Education from Our Lady of the Lake University, specializing in Art and Elementary Education. He then earned MS degrees in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Rochester and School Administration from St. John Fisher College.
His work has included serving in large urban districts of over 30,000 students to smaller urban hubs of 3,000 students. Prior to a return to New York State, for his current role, Carlos worked as principal for Nathan Hale Arts Magnet School in New London,Connecticut, a several time award-winning school under his leadership. His infectious leadership led to the school being recognized as Southeastern Connecticut’s Premier K-5 Arts Magnet School. Carlos currently serves as the Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance with the City School District of New Rochelle and previously held the titles of Chief of Staff to the Superintendent and Director of Elementary Schools within the same school system.
Carlos was recognized as an award-winning school leader by the Connecticut Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (CALAS) with the Exceptional Principal Award in 2019. Additionally, he was also a graduate in May 2013 of the Superintendents Leadership Academy of the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents. Carlos is a graduate of Learning Forward’s Professional Learning Academy, a two and a half year academy cohort designed to engage participants in deep learning on adult learning theory, action research, and organizational development. He has developed district equity plans and led strategic planning at the district level. Carlos is familiar with the tenets of Lean Six Sigma and project management. He is most proud of co-designing and facilitating Systemic Thinking for Optimizing Professional Practice (STOPP), a ten-month professional learning series for principals on the use of professional learning strategies to develop their own capacity.
Carlos believes in the power of the collective, high expectations, respecting all with whom he works, challenging the status quo, and—above all—leading with an open mind and an open heart.
Cynthia centers her life around praxis, love, and possibilities. For nearly three decades, her commitment to justice and education has compelled her to design systems for racial, gender, and class equity through cross-cultural coalition and innovation. She considers herself a praxis engineer because she has held many key leadership roles within complex systems - leader, facilitator, educator, principal, coach, and designer.
Most recently, she is on the Education Transition Subcommittee for Mayor Brandon Johnson’s, Chicago’s new mayor. Her experience spans across bilingual education, public and charter schools, universities, and community-based organizations. Cynthia is most proud of her work in community-led contexts as with the Little Village Lawndale High School Campus, which would not have come to be if community members had not engaged in a 19 day hunger strike. As founding principal of Instituto Justice & Leadership High School, she developed an innovative model rooted in equity, competencies, and restorative justice. Currently she coaches school leaders, teachers, and teams for Tapestry, Synsai, AMPT, Office of Equity in the Chicago Public Schools, and the Surge Institute.
Cynthia’s dedication to equity-centered practices is a commitment to the dignity of Black and Brown young people. But it is also more personal than that for her because her greatest pride comes from being a parent of two bilingual Mexican daughters, who have benefited from a dual language lived experience and education.
Cyana Rahming is a social justice advocate and community builder who has found her outlet for doing so through educational leadership. Serving in multiple leadership roles within New York City charter school organizations, her primary mission has been to close the achievement gap between white & BIPOC students; by developing teams to implement equitable practices and culturally relevant pedagogy.
She began her career as a Dean of Students in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Now in her 8th year of school leadership, Cyana has served as a Dean of Instruction and Assistant Principal across schools in Brooklyn. One of which became a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School during her tenure. Cyana is the Founding Principal of Sunset Yards Middle School, the newest edition of Brooklyn Prospect School’s middle years International Baccalaureate aligned program. The school will open its doors for the first time in September 2023 for its founding class.
Her leadership lends expertise around creating and sustaining school systems that prioritize safety, inclusivity, socio-emotional learning, and academic rigor.
Cyana has also coached Varsity Girls' Volleyball and is an extracurricular activity enthusiast. She can often be found cheering for students alongside their families at school events. She profoundly believes that to lead a community, it is best to immerse yourself within it. Her inspiration and motivation is her family, especially her daughter.
Cyana earned a B.A. in English Literature from Hofstra University, specializing in creative writing. She then earned her M.S. in Social Work from Columbia University, specializing in nonprofit management.
Justin Smith is the Founding Principal and current Chief Schools Officer at Forte Preparatory Academy Charter Schools in Queens, New York. At Forte Prep, Mr. Smith worked with his team to build and execute an instructional program that has led his students in Elmhurst, Corona, and East Elmhurst to outperform their surrounding district, New York City, and New York State consistently in Math and ELA proficiency across all grades. He’s continuing his work at Forte Prep Middle School by building a high school that will provide outstanding educational and professional opportunities to young people in Queens; Mr. Smith is excited to continue devoting his work to cultivating a special community of educators and students.
Before working at Forte Prep, Mr. Smith began his career as a Teach for America Corps Member in the Bay Area, where he taught middle school English for three years. He then moved to New York City and served as a founding teacher at Democracy Prep Endurance Middle School in Harlem. In his time at DPE Middle School, Mr. Smith taught 6th grade Global Literacy and 7th grade Reading, worked as a Grade Level Leader, and became an Assistant Principal.
Mr. Smith then moved up with his students and served as a founding teacher and instructional coach at Democracy Prep Endurance High School, where he built the school’s literacy curriculum, coached the initial founding cohort of teachers, and founded the core design of the high school.
Mr. Smith received his bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in Women’s and Gender Studies from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and received his master’s degree in the Teaching of English from Teachers College at Columbia University. Additionally, Mr. Smith received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities to study instruction at Harvard University, and also received a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching which allowed him to do research in the teaching of reading in La Paz, Mexico. He's eager to continue his studies with UELP.
Program Director: Sonya Douglass, EdD & Marcia V. Lyles, EdD
Teachers College, Columbia University
525 W 120th Street