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Human-Centered Approaches to Education, Philanthropy, and Systems-Change with Charles Dukes, Nora Flood, and Ulcca Hansen

Many of us are grappling with what it will take to achieve profoundly different levels of racial, social and economic justice in our communities and systems, including education and philanthropy. In today’s episode join guests Charles Dukes and Nora Flood from the Wend Collective and Ulcca Joshi Hansen from Grantmakers for Education for a deep (but still very lively) conversation exploring human-centered approaches to education, philanthropy and systems-change. This trio of practitioner-advocates believes that we cannot tinker our way to new approaches in either sector because injustice and inequity are built into the very DNA of our current systems – and in ways that harm all of us in profound ways. Unless we truly understand the assumptions and values that drive our current systems, and dig deep to transform how we show up inside of the work they believe we will only continue to make marginal impact. Their conversation will cover five centuries of history; a framework that helps us understand how conversations we are having in education, philanthropy, policing, healthcare, climate change and economic justice are all connected; and concrete examples/practical tips for how to build emergent theories of change and community-based partnerships that center human well-being and maximize the potential of individuals and communities. More about our guests below the video.

Episode Guests

Charles Dukes serves as an Educational Strategist for Wend Collective. As a member of the Wend team, Charles coordinates youth development opportunities to enhance and improve the educational ecosystem. Before joining Wend Collective, Charles dedicated a significant amount of his career as an education policy director and central office school district administrator. As an Education Policy Director, Charles served as a liaison between the City of Denver and Denver Public Schools to support the alignment between educational institutions, companies, and governance structures. As the Director for College and Career Success at Aurora Public Schools, Charles was a catalyst for changing systems at both the school and district levels to ensure all students have access to postsecondary education and workforce credentials. As the Director of College Access Initiatives at Denver Public Schools (DPS), Charles actively worked with the Denver community, parents, and schools to ensure all DPS students were prepared academically and socially to enter postsecondary opportunities. Charles holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Colorado Mesa University, a master’s degree in Education Foundations Practice and Policy from The University of Colorado at Boulder, and a second master’s degree in leadership from Grand Canyon University.

Nora Flood’s title is Education Rabble Rouser for the Wend Collective, a social impact fund that supports learner-centered, student fit experiences for all youth.  Nora joined Wend after serving for nine years at the Colorado League of Charter Schools, first as the Vice President of School Services and then as President.  Nora has over thirty years of experience in education as a teacher and principal in international, traditional public, charter public, and private schools.  She was the co-founder of The Classical Academy in Minneapolis, served as Head of School of Madison Country Day School and as Director of Sonoma Charter School.  Nora’s passion is ensuring equity, access, and opportunity for all families to meet their priorities and their children’s needs.  Her work supports innovative school and program designs, collaborating with local, state, national and international pedagogues and practitioners, and exploring partnerships with like-minded organizations to create systems change from the bottom up.

Ulcca Joshi Hansen is a mother, educator, researcher and advocate working to change the way we think about and do education. She believes each young person deserves the chance to discover their unique potential, and to explore what that means for how they contribute to the world. Making this happen is the future of smart. It requires us to expand access to relationship-based, relevant and real-world learning experiences for young people and adults throughout their careers. An internationally-recognized expert on educational transformation at the level of instruction, assessment, organizational design and policy systems, Ulcca has addressed audiences at conferences including World EduLead, SxSW Education and iNACOL, and has presented twice at TEDx events. Her new book, The Future of Smart, explores the underpinnings of modern educational systems and offers a path forward towards more human-centered approaches. Ulcca earned her Ph.D. (DPhil) in education and philosophy from Oxford University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. She has been recognized nationally for her work and commitment to public service through education as a Harry S. Truman Scholar; a British Marshall Scholar; and a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow.