Trustees and Fellows
We are fortunate to have a diverse, talented group of people who provide guidance and support for our equity work under the mission. The Board of Trustees serves as steward of the financial resources that we manage for the community good and the Fellows help us to expand the way we think and practice equity internally and externally.
Tagan Engel’s work spans numerous fields and is rooted in a profound sense of love and empathy for people and communities, as well as a deep understanding of systems of oppression. Her lived experience has shown her that creativity, collaboration, and courage can bring about transformational social change. Tagan is the Founder and Producer of the radio show, podcast and website, The Table Underground: stories of food, radical love, and creative social justice. Her work draws on a lifetime of anti-racism and community building work, and more than 20 years of professional experience as an educator, entrepreneur, activist, chef, policy maker, and facilitator. The Table Underground illuminates stories of inspiring people and communities in order to shift the cultural narratives that contribute to internal and societal oppression.
Through The Table Underground, and as the Inspiring All Equity Fellow with the Graustein Memorial Fund, Tagan has been able to bring her work full circle and highlight personal stories of community and school based education. These audio, written, and photo stories illuminate the ways that people are affected by racial and economic oppression and the creative tools they are using to change these systems and create equitable and vibrant education and communities. This fellowship also supported trainings and a deepen of knowledge in restorative justice practices and media as a tool for social change.
Tagan started her career as a teacher in progressive city schools and then followed her love of food into work as a chef in New York, Boston and New Haven. In 2007, after returning to New Haven, CT her hometown, she began to work with food as a vehicle for social justice. As the Community Food System Director at CitySeed, and the Chair of the New Haven Policy Council she built a grassroots network of food activists and led the effort to use participatory policy making to draft and pass the first ever Food Action Plan for the City of New Haven. She ran numerous community based programs, consulted on food and sustainability with Yale Dining and New Haven Public Schools, and built a commercial kitchen at CitySeed to serve as a business incubator and community gathering space.
Tagan is also a Mentor in Residence at the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale, served on the ConnCAT Culinary Program Advisory Team, and is a Board Member at Soul Fire Farm, which is committed to ending racism and oppression in the food system.
The Education Project specific stories
Elizabeth Hammond, LCSW, is an experienced facilitator and leader with a passion for supporting courageous conversations about racism, power, and privilege in organizations and communities. She has experience leading organizational change around these themes, especially as the first Organizational Culture Equity Fellow (2016-2018) with the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund. Committed to positive community change, she has held positions at Public Allies CT, The Institute of Living, the Yale Child Study Center Childhood Trauma Clinic, and the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and furthered her studies in social justice, anti-racism, and clinical skills as she earned her master’s degree from Smith College School for Social Work, where she authored a thesis examining race consciousness in the relationship between White clinicians and their White supervisors. She believes in the power of speaking to and listening for each other’s humanity while naming historical truths of the United State’s racist roots, and is passionate about creating ways to promote dialogue and movements that seek equity and justice.
Kia Levey-Burden, MSW is the President and Founder of Launch Consulting, LLC where she works to inform, equip and encourage others to be powerful advocates and work in service of their values. Kia is a leader dedicated and deeply committed to igniting the passions and unleashing the power within others and an advocate who raises hard issues and works to collaboratively create solutions. Kia has worked over 15 years in the nonprofit sector of New Haven, CT including, direct service, philanthropy and community development. Prior to Launch Consulting, Kia served as the Project Director for the Yale-New Haven MOMS Partnership, a community- academic partnership working to improve the mental and emotional wellness of mothers in New Haven. Kia also works as adjunct faculty in the Social Work Department at the Southern Connecticut State University. Kia holds a BA in Communication from Central Connecticut State University and a Masters of Social Work from the University of Connecticut. She has a particular passion for parent advocacy, women in leadership and a desire to ignite courageous leadership in her community. Kia is the mother of a 11 -year-old son Seth and 22-year-old daughter Whitney, both who inspire her to continue to believe in what is good and possible for the world.
As the Co-Creating Equity Fellow, Kia supported the Memorial Fund’s grantmaking team toward the advancement of educational equity through the convenings and consultation of partners and grantees focused on Parent Organizing. Kia also contributed to the design and creation of the Memorials Funds’ expanded support and investment in Organizing work as a field. As she supported the Fund’s work, she has also been able to develop and grow some of her own work . Kia engages and convenes parents of color to share stories of occurrences of racism experiences through the disproportionate discipline and suspension of their children in publics schools and support those parents in building community and taking action.
Hanifa Nayo Washington is a cultural activist, youth worker, spoken word poet, creative writer, storyteller, director, producer, actress and healing justice practitioner who graduated from Beloit College in 2001 with a B.A. in Communications & Russian & Soviet Studies. As a cultural activist Hanifa views her creativity as radical tool for liberation, healing, and community building.
In her 15+ years of leading youth to excellence she has developed and taught youth programs throughout Connecticut, co-founded a food justice cooperative in Portland, Maine, engaged in seven years of at-sea education programs, and has guided scores of youth service learning projects domestically and abroad. In 2014, Hanifa shifted her focus from youth development to cultural activism and community building.
Hanifa is currently working in community engagement and community building with Co-Creating Effective and Inclusive Organizations, The Word, and as a Fellow of the Community Leadership Program. Hanifa served as an Inspiring Equity Arts Fellow at the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund from 2017-2018.
The focus of Hanifa’s Inspiring Equity Arts Fellowship was developing and launching her latest solo project Circle Up! CIRCLE UP! is curated connective experience, which calls on creative play, story sharing, authentic relating games, and Hanifa’s original music to invite a deeper awareness of self, other, and community. CIRCLE UP! is a welcoming practice space for deep listening and expanding emotional intelligence.
According to healing justice pioneer Cara Page, “healing justice...identifies how we can holistically respond to and intervene on generational trauma and violence, and to bring collective practices that can impact and transform the consequences of oppression on our bodies, hearts and minds.” https://inciteblog.wordpress.com/2010/08/05/ reflections-from-detroit-transforming-wellness-wholeness/
Dedicated to the Healing Justice Movement, Hanifa specializes in Reiki and Intuitive Healing Sessions at low to no cost for New Haven area social justice change makers on the front lines across all movements.
Julia B. Rosenblatt, is a playwright, actor, theater educator and an adjunct theater professor at Capital Community College. She is an Inspiring Equity Fellow with the Graustein Memorial Fund (2017-2018), for which she is currently writing a play around the topic of equity in education.
Julia was the Co-Founding Artistic Director of Hartford, Connecticut’s HartBeat Ensemble for 16 years. HartBeat is an award winning ensemble theater company whose mission is to create provocative theater that connects the community beyond traditional barriers of class, race, geography and gender. While with HartBeat, Julia co-wrote and performed in Graves (2001), News to Me (2004), Ebeneeza–A Hartford Holiday Carol (2006), The Pueblo (2007), and Rich Clown, Poor Clown, Beggar Clown, Thief (2008). In 2011, Julia wrote the critically praised Flipside, which received 2012 Best New Ensemble Work at the NY International Fringe Festival. In 2016, she wrote HartBeat’s critically acclaimed Gross Domestic Product, a full-length musical that explores motherhood in the "post-feminist” era and its relationship to our country’s economy.
In 2015 and 2016, Julia was the Playwriting Consultant at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center where she worked with the museum’s interpretive staff, project specialists and media consultants to create a new tour that uses theater to focus on Stowe’s life as an activist writer.
In addition to her playwriting and performance work, Julia is a recognized theater educator. She studied Augusto Boal's Theater of the Oppressed (TO) at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and has taught TO workshops throughout the United States, Nicaragua and Mexico. She has developed a unique approach to civic learning while teaching theater skills at a high level, which has evolved into HartBeat’s acclaimed Youth Play Institute (YPI). Other core programs Julia developed for HartBeat are Startin’ Drama (empathy training) and Arts-Based Curriculum Integration (ABCi).
Julia received a BA from UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television and, as of November 2018, she will hold an MFA in Playwriting from Spalding University.