Keynote Speakers & Panelists

  • Marcela Betancur


    Marcela Betancur is the proud daughter of Colombian immigrants. Marcela is a graduate of Central Falls High School and Rhode Island College. She has focused her work on housing, education, and civil liberties during her professional career. As the Executive Director of the Latino Policy Institute, she advocates for policies and investments to achieve greater social, political, and economic equity for Latinos in Rhode Island. 



    image0.jpeg Maribeth Calabro is a proud, 31-year veteran, teacher of differently-abled students in Providence. She graduated from RIC, with a Bachelors Degree, received a Master’s Degree from Providence College, and recently received certification in Dyslexia and Reading Science from the University of Rhode Island. For the past 10 years, Calabro has had the honor of being union president of the best teachers in the state. Her greatest accomplishment in life is her son and is humbled daily by the amazing students she serves.



    Ministries of presence: Alum couple closing dignity and belonging gaps in  workplaces and schools | Yale Divinity School

    Jason Craige Harris is a voice for healing, transformation, and the power of storytelling. He brings together insights from diverse fields as a facilitator, conflict mediator, leadership coach, and spiritual teacher. He works in a variety of contexts, with a range of constituents, and across industries to promote cultures of dignity, belonging, and repair. He regularly advises leaders on how to solve big challenges, manage complex crises, and pursue lasting change.


    As a researcher, educator, and strategist, Jason holds expertise in organizational development; dignity and belonging; dialogue and group dynamics; the psychology of identity and leadership; and conflict transformation and restorative justice. In all of his work, Jason draws on a deep well of research, practice, and mindfulness to transform leaders, teams, and organizational cultures.


    Jason is the Managing Partner at Perception Strategies, a consulting firm working at the intersection of leadership, strategy, culture, and resolution––of crises and conflicts. Jason also serves as a Senior Advisor at Perception Institute, a research consortium prioritizing equity in social systems. In addition, Jason is a member of the speakers bureau at Pollyanna, a national organization working to promote racial literacy and cultural competency. 


    Jason is the author of the following pieces: “The Paradox of Isolation” (Friends Journal), “Between Love and Truth––Navigating Racial Conflict Using Restorative Justice” (CSEE), and “Black or Bruised” (AMBO). He is also the Social Impact Producer for a new documentary with Impactful entitled Race to Be Human, a film on how to talk about race and mental health.


    Previously, Jason was the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at a NYC independent school, where he co-led the school’s Peace, Equity, and Justice Department, and taught courses at the intersection of ethics, history, and religion. Jason sits on the boards of Seeds of Peace, Hidden Water, and Getting to We.



    Dr. Mark Gooden

    Dr. Mark Anthony Gooden is the Christian Johnson Endeavor Professor in Education Leadership and Director of the Endeavor Antiracist & Restorative Leadership Initiative (EARLI) in the Department of Organization and Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University. Mark’s research focuses broadly on culturally responsive school leadership with specific interests in principalship, anti-racist leadership, urban educational leadership, and legal issues in education. Mark is the 2017 recipient of the UCEA Jay D. Scribner Mentoring Award and the 2021 recipient of the UCEA Master Professor Award for distinguished service in teaching, curriculum development, and student mentoring. His research has appeared in a range of outlets, including American Educational Research Journal, Educational Administration Quarterly, Teachers College Record, Review of Educational Research, and The Journal of Negro Education & Urban Education. He is the Past President of the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA).



    Dr. Javier Montañez has dedicated nearly his entire career in education to supporting PPSD students as a teacher, assistant principal and principal. He began his career in Providence as a bilingual teacher at Spaziano Elementary--then known as Laurel Hill Elementary--in 1996. In the nearly 25 years since, he has been promoted multiple times ascending to assistant principal and principal.


    Dr. Montañez received a Masters of Education from Rhode Island College and a doctorate in educational leadership from Johnson & Wales University. Under his decade of leadership at Leviton Dual Language, the elementary school has seen significant growth, having gone from being a one- to three-star in the state’s ranking system. Leviton was one of only three schools in the entire state that grew by at least two star levels.


    On a personal level, Dr. Montañez understands the transformative power of education because it changed his life. As a student in Providence, Montanez experienced homelessness, and he often attended school only because he knew he would receive two meals a day if he did. In high school, he struggled with reading and dropped out of Hope High School. Through perseverance and a drive to succeed, he went back to school and received his GED. Decades later, he earned his doctorate and superintendent’s certification, and is ready to work to support PPSD students.



    Dr. Folami Prescott-AdamsDr. Folami Prescott-Adams, Ph.D., is the CEO of HTI Catalysts, a collaborative network of consultants whose mission is to create and hold spaces that build community, evoke organizational shifts, and promote cultural justice. Folami has made significant contributions to education transformation and youth development initiatives, working with the Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network, The Wallace Foundation, CREATE Teacher Residency and Boys and Girls Clubs of America.


    She is the author of SETCLAE, a self-esteem through culture curriculum and singer and songwriter on Come Be With Me, her latest CD compilation of her unique brand of Family Music.


    In 2020, she created Listening 4 Justice, a storytelling experience grounded in personal and collective history to help us face the world. She is currently writing a book about her own cultural justice journey which includes a guidebook for all to use to reflect on their own journey.


    She has degrees from Brown University, Temple University & a Ph.D. in Community Psychology from Georgia State University. She has four adult children who constantly remind her that all education begins at home. 




    Raymond Two Hawks Watson, J.D., M.C.P. is a Community Advocate, Cultural Practitioner, and Business Professional with over 16 years of experience in nonprofit executive administration.  Watson’s skills consist of program development & implementation, grant writing, motivational speaking, leadership & cultural equity consulting, community organizing and event planning, supplemented by an extensive background in cultural equity related initiatives and programming in the Rhode Island community.  Watson holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Union College in New York, a master’s degree in community planning from the University of Rhode Island, a juris doctorate from the Roger Williams University School of Law in Rhode Island, and successfully passed the February 2023 Rhode Island Bar exam. Watson is the recipient of the Rhode Island Foundation’s 2016 Carter Innovation Fellowship; a 2021 recipient of the U.S. President’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Voluntary Service; a 2022 co-recipient of the Feinstein Center for Pro Bono & Experiential Education at RWU School of Law’s Public Interest Award; a 2022 recipient of the University of Rhode Island Black Scholar Awards Committee’s The Tossie E. Taylor, Jr. Community Spirit ; and was a 2022 Mayoral appointee to the City of Providence’s Municipal Reparations Commission.