Welcome new PAA Board!

We are delighted to announce the new Board of Directors for Parents Across America!

PAA has been in a year-long process of filing for our 501c3 and setting up our permanent structure. The election of a 7-member Board of Directors is the next important step. Please join us in welcoming our new Board of Directors for 2014!

Elected March 2014


New Directors

Dawn2013scaledDawn Collins (Baton Rouge, LA – chapter, PAA-Baton Rouge)

Dawn D. Collins, MPA is a political consultant and community advocate with a diverse background in public service.

Her professional experience began at the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) where she implemented the smooth decentralization of outreach strategies and application processing for the Breast and Cervical Cancer program. During her service at DHH, she also gained expertise in data management through collaborative efforts to develop software for agency specific needs.

Dawn’s desire to empower families soon led her into the world of grassroots organizing. She was drawn to President Obama’s message that community empowerment is a true vehicle of change. In 2008, Dawn’s training included work with nationally renowned agencies such as New Leaders’ Council, New Organizing Institute (NOI) and Governor Howard Dean’s Democracy for America. As one of a 30-person cohort chosen from 500 applicants, Dawn participated in NOI’s 2010 New Media Bootcamp. She received immense instruction from leading practitioners in Washington, D.C. to enhance the strategies of political and issue-based campaigns. She also participated in NOI’s 2012 Data Bootcamp where she received high level training from national leaders in data management, campaign modeling, and targeted voter outreach.

Dawn D. Collins is a staunch advocate for progressive causes.  She gives data-driven strategic consultation to political campaigns, as well as handles government affairs and training programs for non profit organizations through her consulting business Cogent Concepts and Project Management, LLC.


NateHarris2012scaledNathan Harris (Indianapolis,IN – works with PAA-Indiana)

Nate is the owner of Wise Energy LLC in Indianapolis, Indiana, which Is a general contractor serving new and existing commercial customers in need of thermal, acoustical, and fire stopping insulation. Wise Energy is a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certified business.

Most recently, Nate was a Project Director for Upward Bound at Indiana University. Upward Bound is a US Department of Education funded program designed to provide college readiness services to high school students that are low-income and potential first generation college graduates. In this position, Nate managed over $5,000, 000 in funding over an 8 year period and, successfully assisted with grant writing responsibilities during federal competitions. The program enrolled approximately 30 students in college annually over an 8 year period. Nate managed 2 statewide Upward Bound Olympiad projects along with other smaller projects.

Nate’s recent Community Involvement includes the Marion County Commission on Youth (MCCOY), the MCCOY public policy committee, the Indiana Coalition for Public Education, Tutor Mentor Summit, Indianapolis, 100 Black Men Team Mentoring, Norm Brown Scholar Mentoring, Hoosiers for Public Education, New Mission Missionary Baptist Church, and Parents Across America.

Nate is pursuing a PhD in Higher Education Student Affairs at Indiana University, Bloomington, IN. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Anderson University, Anderson, IN, a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Technology from Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, and an Associate Degree in Applied Science from Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.


StevenSteven Norton (Ann Arbor, MI – PAA affiliate Michigan Parents for Schools)

Steve Norton is a co-founder and Executive Director of Michigan Parents for Schools, a non-profit public interest advocacy group working for excellent community-governed public education in Michigan. MIPFS organizes grassroots lobbying efforts and direct lobbying of state policymakers on education issues; it also works to help parents form local organizations to support their schools and to change the current public discourse about public schools through education efforts.

Born and raised in Indianapolis, Steve did his undergraduate work at Yale University and moved to Michigan to pursue graduate study in political science at the University of Michigan. With his wife Lynda, he was partner for over ten years in a business policy consultancy focusing on eastern Europe. He also does communications consulting and web development for small business and nonprofits. Steve lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with his wife and two children, who attend Ann Arbor Public Schools.


Lourdes.Perez-HispanEducaphotoMaria de Lourdes Pérez-Ramírez (Orlando FL – PAA affiliate HispanEduca)

Lourdes is a Bilingual Communications, Education and Translation professional with 28 years experience at the Public Relations agency, nonprofit and corporate arenas. She is a seasoned PR, journalist, and media relations professional, with translation, project management and public speaking experience. She taught at the University of Puerto Rico’s Eastern campus Education and Communications departments; she is also a published business journalist (English and Spanish) with expertise in education, pharma, manufacturing, and food beats.

Lourdes holds a BA in Education and an MA in Communications and Journalism, and is working towards a graduate degree in Nonprofit Management. Currently she is the founder and president of HispanEduca, an education nonprofit organization whose mission is to make education policy and reform accessible to Hispanic parents, school counselors and teachers, to help them become education policy influencers and shapers.

Lourdes has been a volunteer with the Hispanic Education and Learning Parents Program and the Public Relations Specialists of America in Iowa, which she served as one of the Board of Directors and is a current active member. She volunteered for Organizing for America in Orlando and in San Juan, where she supported the Communications Committee in generating interest and placing stories introducing Senator Barack Obama to Puerto Rican voters. Also in San Juan, she was a media relations volunteer for Casa-Escuela, Inc., a home-school association, and for the Puerto Rico Special Olympics

She is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Education Writers of America (EWA).


Returning Board members


pamPamela Grundy (Charlotte, NC – PAA affiliate MecklenburgACTS)

Pamela first started working on educational advocacy about a decade ago, when a court order forced Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools to end its busing for desegregation plan, and district schools rapidly resegregated.

Her first focus was on creating equitable opportunities for students at high-poverty schools. She pursued this effort through the advocacy group MecklenburgACTS.org, and by enrolling her kindergarten-age son in the local high-poverty neighborhood elementary school, Shamrock Gardens.

Pam then ran head-on into the corporate reform movement, which arrived in Charlotte via a new, Broad Foundation-trained superintendent, Peter Gorman. She saw first-hand the problems these strategies were causing for schools such as her son’s, as well as their devastating effects on teachers. She now spend a lot of her time fighting high-stakes testing.

Pamela jumped at the chance to help co-found Parents Across America, and to be part of a national campaign for more rational school policies. It’s been great to work with such dynamic advocates from around the country. She was on the first PAA board, helping to write the bylaws. Now she’s eager to help find ways to expand PAA’s reach and give it a larger national voice.

In her spare time, Pamela works as a historian. She’s currently working on a new edition of a college textbook on the history of American sports. Next up is a history of West Charlotte High School, a historically black school that became the flagship for Charlotte’s nationally acclaimed busing program, and is now resegregated and struggling. Although her son is now in middle school, she’s still the “butterfly lady” at Shamrock Gardens, and spends a good bit of time with first and fourth graders in the school’s butterfly gardens. You can read some of her reflections on her time at Shamrock on her “Seen from the ‘Rock” blog: http://seenfromtherock.blogspot.com/.




Dora Taylor (Seattle, WA – PAA-Seattle)

Dora Taylor is a Founding Member of Parents Across America and the first President of the organization. Ms. Taylor is currently on the League of Women Voters Education Committee and a featured writer of The Progressive Magazine’s new education section Public School $hakedown. Besides being editor of the blog Seattle Education, Dora is an Architect and offers Architecture 101 classes to students in grades 3 through high school. Her daughter is a recent graduate of the Seattle Public Schools.


JWnewheadshotcropJulie Woestehoff (Chicago, IL – PAA affiliate Parents United for Responsible Education)

Julie Woestehoff has been with the Chicago-based organization Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE) for 24 years, and has been its executive director since 1995. She is the parent of two Chicago Public School graduates, a veteran elected local school council member, and writer of the blog, PURE Thoughts, which covers key education issues.

Julie is regularly interviewed by local and national media outlets for the parents’ perspective on education issues; she has been a guest on the TODAY show and on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, and has been interviewed by CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, TIME Magazine and other media outlets.

Julie has written three self-published books; one about creating a powerful parent organization modeled on PURE, one about PURE’s fight against high-stakes testing in Chicago, and a third, co-written with FairTest’s Monty Neill, called “Chicago School Reform: Lessons for the Nation.” She’s published essays in Education Week, Rethinking Schools, and Catalyst. Her chapter, “Just Parents Challenge Mayor Daley, Arne Duncan, and Renaissance 2010,” appears in the book “Educational Courage,” which the Christian Science Monitor named as one of the “15 must-read books about K-12 education in the US” for 2012.

Julie was awarded the 2002 Tobey Prinz Award for Community Organizing by the Rogers Park (Chicago) Community Action Network. In 2003, along with the rest of the PURE staff, she won the Ford Foundation’s Leadership for a Changing World Award, which recognized powerful grass-roots leadership. In 2004, she was named one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago by the Chicago Sun-Times, and was the only non-educator in their Top Ten Powerful Women in Education. In 2010, Julie co-founded the new national group, Parents Across America, which she currently serves as Secretary.

Julie holds a BA from Northwestern University and an MA and ABD from the University of Chicago, where her area of study was medieval Norse literature. She claims that, rather than continue to study Valkyries, she decided it would be more fun to try to become one.

– See more at: http://parentsacrossamerica.org/paa-board-of-directors/#sthash.40FRstC2.dpuf

Posted on by Julie Woestehoff Posted in Misc

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