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A teacher stands in the middle of two desks with students seated at either side of her. She is helping them with their work.

Season 2, Episode 6: Investing in Education’s Future

We’re looking at how Teach For America’s investment in BIPOC educators is transforming America’s education system one teacher at a time.

Air Date: March 28, 2023

Host Jonathan Santos Silva speaks with Teach For America leaders about the importance of investing in BIPOC educators and the work TFA is doing to remove the barriers that keep them out of the classroom.


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About The Show

Host Jonathan Santos Silva (South Dakota ‘10) will sit down with innovative nonprofits from across the country that are committed to attracting, training, and retaining BIPOC educators. Each episode will feature thoughtful conversations about how organizations are investing in and providing careers where BIPOC staff can flourish.

Meet The Host
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Jonathan Santos Silva (South Dakota ‘10)

Jonathan Santos Silva is the Founding Executive Director of The Liber Institute and creator and host of The Bored of Ed, a podcast that amplifies the voices of inspiring BIPOC educators who are changing the face of education. He has provided technical support to South Dakota’s Native American Achievement Schools and has served as a school founder and principal, instructional coach, and education consultant.

Featured In This Episode
Elisa Villanueva Beard, the CEO of Teach For America

Elisa Villanueva Beard (Phoenix '98), CEO of TFA

Elisa joined staff in 2001 to lead the organization’s work in her hometown as Executive Director of the Rio Grande Valley region. Four years later, she became Chief Operating Officer, leading Teach For America’s field operations as the organization expanded to more than 300 communities, growing its network from 12,500 to more than 43,000 leaders in 2013 while improving student outcomes each year. In 2015, Elisa became Chief Executive Officer of Teach For America. Today, under her leadership, Teach For America corps members reach hundreds of thousands of students each year in nearly 2,000 schools across 37 states and the District of Columbia.

Dr. Barbara Logan Smith, Chief of Equity and Belonging at TFA

With over 25 years as a dedicated teacher, administrator, and master trainer, Dr. Barbara Logan Smith has worked to build capacity in over 20,000 educators, business executives, and non-profit leaders on a national scale and to ensure the achievement of educational equity, excellence, and access for all children. With previous service as Vice President of the Efficacy Institute and Executive Director of Teach For America’s Greater Delta region of Mississippi and Arkansas, Dr. Logan Smith currently works in the non-profit educational sector as the Chief of Equity and Belonging at Teach For America. Focused on illuminating brilliance, her work centers on increasing equity, belonging, and grace in the world. 

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Darin Lim Yankowitz, Senior Vice President of Recruitment at TFA

Darin leads our work to find talented and diverse leaders who will devote their lives to the pursuit of racial and educational equity. ­­Previously, Darin was the Vice President of People and Performance, where he led the recruitment team to hire talented and diverse leaders.­­ Darin is a Pahara fellow, Schusterman senior fellow, and serves as the board president of Reach University. Outside of education, Darin co-leads Tzedek Circle, a monthly gathering of Jewish people dedicated to the pursuit of social justice.

WaziHanska Cook

WaziHanska Cook, Senior Managing Director of Native Alliance at TFA

WaziHanska, is an enrolled citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation. Since 2010, he has served as Senior Managing Director and Founder of the Native Alliance at Teach For America, supporting Indigenous American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian students, teachers, schools and communities. Wazihanska has held many National leadership positions including past President of the National Indian Education Association and a Presidential appointment on the National Advisory Council on Indian Education. A 2005 Milken National Educator and NIEA's National Teacher of the Year, Wazihanska continues to serve on many boards and councils serving Native Education. 

Tamila Gresham

Tamila Gresham (Connecticut ‘09), Senior Managing Director of Black Community Alliances at TFA

Tamila was exposed early on to the realities of anti-Black racism in America which informed her identity as a Black, queer woman from a low-income background and sparked her passion which is to secure the liberation of Black people across the diaspora and all intersectional identities, as well as all oppressed peoples. Tamila began her career as a founding 6th grade Reading & Writing teacher in a low-income school in Connecticut as a 2009 TFA corps member. She also founded Represent, a nonprofit working to reach equal media representation for people of color, women, the LGBTQ+ community, folks with disabilities, and those at the intersection of identities. For the past five years, Tamila has worked at Teach For America utilizing her DEI lens to revamp hiring and compensation, design and facilitate DEI supports, and serve as an advisor to senior leaders. 

A headshot photo of Soukprida Phetmisy.

Soukprida Phetmisy, Senior Managing Director of Asian American and Pacific Islander Community Alliances at TFA

Soukprida (she/they) is a queer Lao American activist, DEI capacity builder, teaching artist, and anti-racist/anti-bias organizer-educator. Her passion for community, storytelling, and disrupting the status quo was catalyzed by a decade of organizing and advocacy within the arts and education sectors. In her role leading Teach For America’s national Asian American and Pacific Islander Alliances, she works in coalition with community leaders, organizations, and media committed to strengthening the leadership of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander educators, students, and their communities.

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