DEI Symposium

Please be sure to register for the symposium below. Once registered, click on the Access Symposium Workshops button to view the sessions.

COABE’s mission is to inspire educators so adults succeed and communities thrive. We provide leadership, professional development, advocacy, and communication services that encourage greater consciousness and cultural competency in our interactions with teachers, administrators, adult learners, and our partners. We are committed to using our platform and influence to celebrate, engage with, and listen to all adult education communities and diverse voices of our field.

Our organization created the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative in 2020, which has grown steadily over the last two years, leading change and impact for the field of adult education. We invite you to read our recap of activities and contact us if you have related resources that can be shared with the field.

COABE, together with national leaders will hold the first of its kind Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Symposium for the field of adult education on June 8, 2022. This one day virtual event will provide targeted professional development on topics including racial equity, immigrant integration, prison literacy and equity for the justice involved, digital equity, learning disabilities, differences, and difficulties, and how to encourage adult learners to take their place as leaders. 

Each participant will have the opportunity to hear from topical experts and then join attendees in breakout rooms to discuss implementation at the local level. When you join the conversation, you will also be able to access a toolkit of actionable resources that can be used right away. Our goal is that you will leave the symposium inspired and ready to make changes.

Registration is free, thanks to sponsorship that has been provided by Google.

Schedule at a Glance

9:30 am-11:00 am ET – Welcome, Opening, & Keynote Session

Welcome & Opening Session, Sponsored by Google

  • Welcome by Jody Angelone, COABE President
  • Tech Social Capital: A New Education Framework by Shameeka Emanuel

Keynote Session: Racial Equity and Immigrant Integration

  • Sanjita Pradhan

11:00 am-12:00 pm ET – Session 1: Justice Involved, Sponsored by Brainchild

  • The Second Chance Starts Inside the Walls: Implementing IETs and Reentry Services for Justice-involved Students by Mick Normington, and Dr. Brandon Warren

12:30 pm-1:20 pm ET – Session 2: Students as Leaders

  • Ambassador training through an Asset-based Lens by Laura Porfirio, Kristin Hempel, Jessica Wabler, Ana Chavarin, Megan Linzy, Arnold Montiel, and Haziel Zavier Lopez

1:20 pm-2:10 pm ET – Session 3: Digital Equity

  • Digital Equity: An Urgent Opportunity for Adult Learners & Educators by Amanda Bergson Shilcock and Chrissie Powell

2:10 pm-3:00 pm ET – Session 4: Learning Differences, Difficulties, and Disabilities (Accessibility, Mental Health, etc)

  •  Does the “D” in DEI stand for Disability? by Rashida Butcher and Emily McKeough

3:00 pm-3:50 pm ET – Session 5: Workforce Equity

  • Engaging Employers in English Language Upskilling and Career Advancement for Skilled Immigrants by Anson Green and Lee Kreimer

3:50 pm-4:40 pm ET – Session 6: Pulling it All Together to Improve Programming

  • 10 Tips for Increasing DEI in Your Program by Carmine Stewart

4:40 pm-5:00 pm ET – Breakout Session

5:00 pm ET – Final Words

  • Rachel Hirsch, National Governors Association
  • Hector Martinez, DEI Co-Chair


Amanda Bergson Shilcock 

Senior Fellow – National Skills Coalition

Rashida Butcher

Speech-Language Pathologist – Virginia Department of Corrections

Ana Chavarin

Community Organizer – Pima County Interfaith Council

Shameeka Emanuel

Diversity STEM Strategist – Google

Anson Green

Senior Manager of Economic Opportunity – Tyson Foods

Kristin Hempel

Associate Director of Adult & Community Programs – EASTCONN

Rachel Hirsch

Senior Policy Analyst – National Governors Association

Lee Kreimer

Programs Manager – Asian Community & Cultural Center

Megan Linzy

Office Coordinator – Eastern Iowa Community College

Matt McGinnis

Reentry Specialist – Lee College

Emily McKeough

Assistive Technology Access Coordinator – Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Service Virginia Assistive Technology System

Arnold Montiel

Adult Learner – Pima Community College

Kenneth “Mick” Normington

TWC Grants Director and Workforce Programs Director – Lee College

Laura Porfirio

Trainer – Elevation Educational Consulting Group and Creative Narrations

Chrissie Powell

Chief Growth & Impact Officer – Byte Back

Sanjita Pradhan

Senior Consultant – Cook Ross

Carmine Stewart

Vice President of Programming – Seeds of Literacy and President & CEO – Aspire Consulting and Educational Services

Jessica Wabler

Ambassador Training Coordinator – COABE

Brandon L. Warren, PhD

Director of Reentry Services – Lee College

Tracy P. Williams

Reentry Team – Lee College

Haziel Zavier Lopez

Support Technician – Adult Basic Education for College and Career Department of PCC

View Speaker Profiles


Advisory Committee

Hosted by COABE, programming is developed in partnership with advisory committee members from National Governors Association, National Skills Coalition, World Ed, WES Global Talent Bridge, Jobs for the Future, US Chamber of Commerce, Tyson Foods

Shaketta Thomas, DEI Symposium Chair
School Assessment Coordinator – Virginia Department of Corrections

Shaketta D. Thomas is currently the school assessment coordinator for the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC). Ms. Thomas completed her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Virginia State University, a master’s in adult education from Regent University, and is presently pursuing a Ph.D. in educational psychology, also at Regent University. She is a staunch advocate for correctional education. Never one to back down from a challenge, she has made great efforts in ensuring that correctional education is not an afterthought, but an essential component of Adult Education. Ms. Thomas is an active member of the Virginia Association of Adult and Continuing Education where she serves as the secretary on the board. She is also a member of the Correctional Education Association and an active participant in the GEDTS® Corrections Forum and the Virginia Special Education Advisory Board. Ms. Thomas is passionate about adult education and advocating for the needs of her students within correctional education. This advocacy extends beyond the inmates’ period of incarceration and into their functional needs upon reentering into society. She collaborates with adult education centers across the Commonwealth of Virginia to ensure that students continue to receive services upon release. As a trained Dialogue Practitioner, Ms. Thomas understands the importance of using one’s voice to create healing and effective change. She is always looking to engage herself in the latest challenges of adult education with hopes of advancing the individual and group difficulties that impact the field.


Hector Martinez, DEI Symposium Co Chair
Director of Adult Education – Kansas Board of Regents

Mr. Hector Martinez is the Director for Adult Education at the Kansas Board of Regents. Prior to this position he was the director of the Garden City Career Connection Academy at the Garden City Community College for 14 years. Mr. Martinez came from Mexico to the United States in 2000. Working with adults in Mexico for seven years prior to his arrival to the USA, Mr. Martinez’s professional experiences include over 20 years as an ESL Student, Volunteer, Instructor, Coordinator, Director and College Adjunct. Mr. Martinez completed his master’s degree in Education with emphasis in Education and Organizational Leadership from Newman University. Mr. Martinez participated in the Kansas Leadership Academy through the KBOR (2010-12). Mr. Martinez complete his bachelor’s degree in education as Licentiate in Technological Teaching in Mexico. Mr. Martinez has served in different positions for the Kansas Adult Education Association, including, Vice-President, Conference chair, and as President. Mr. Martinez has also served on the national Coalition of Adult Basic Education (COABE) board of directors as regional representative, conference committee, technology committee, and strategic planning committee. Mr. Martinez has also served in different community board of directors; the KansasWorks Local Area One and chair for the One stop committee, president for the Garden City United Methodist Ministries and member of the Garden City Teachers Federal Credit Union. He is passionate and dedicated to the success of adult students. Mr. Martinez also implemented the first Spanish Literacy program in cooperation with the Mexican Government since 2008 at the Garden City Career Connection Academy.


Jody Angelone, COABE President
Staff Training & Development Coordinator for the Ohio Professional Development Network – The Ohio State University

Jody Angelone has served in Adult Education for over 25 years and is currently the Staff Training & Development Coordinator for the Ohio Professional Development Network, at The Ohio State University. She has worked as a reading specialist, instructor, coordinator and program director in the context of Correctional Education, ABLE/GED, Workplace Education, Volunteer Literacy, Vocational Evaluation & Assessment and Professional Development. She has served on various boards, committees and task forces at the local, regional, state and national levels supporting adult education and community services. Currently, she provides program support and training in the areas of CCR Standards Implementation, Program Improvement and Consultation Plans, National Leadership Excellence Academy, and Assessment.  She served as COABE Region 4 Representative between 2014 and 2016 for the Coalition on Adult Basic Education (COABE) national board.  She is currently serving as the Vice President of Membership for the Coalition on Adult Basic Education (COABE) national board and the Advocacy and Governance Chair for the Ohio Association for Adult and Continuing Education (OAACE). Previously, as the Director of the NW Ohio ABLE Resource center, Jody provided oversight for the National Career Awareness Project in Ohio, as well as statewide training and support to the field in the areas of Assessment, Leadership and Transitions. Jody holds a B.S. in Elementary Education with a minor in Psychology, from the University of Toledo, and a M.Ed. in Education Administration and Supervision from Bowling Green State University.


Priyanka Sharma, Vice President, US Division – Word Education, Inc.

As vice president of World Education, Priyanka Sharma oversees the organization’s U.S.-based projects and centers of expertise, including the EdTech Center, National College Transition Network, New England Literacy Resource Center, and SABES Program Support Center. Priyanka leads projects on post-secondary career readiness, technology integration, digital transformation, and digital skills development. She co-leads Digital US, a national initiative with a cross-sector approach to design a learn and work ecosystem that fosters digital resilience for all learner workers. She also directs the New England Literacy Resource Center, leading projects that emerge from collaboration among policymakers, professional developers, and practitioners. Priyanka has authored two resources (Mentoring Toolkit and English Now! Implementation Guide) that support peer mentoring and learning; contributed to Mapping the Financial Journey for adult students; and co-authored Leveraging Technology to Increase Opportunity and Economic Security for Adults. She has a degree in biology and anthropology from the State University of NY.


Amanda Bergson Shilcock, Senior Fellow – National Skills Coalition

Amanda Bergson-Shilcock is a Senior Fellow at National Skills Coalition where she leads the organization’s work on adult education and workforce policies to expand opportunities for US-born and immigrant adults. Throughout her career, Amanda has worked with state and federal policymakers and skills advocates to develop policy solutions that address the challenges facing adult learners and jobseekers, including immigrant workers. As a workforce development expert for more than a decade, Amanda has authored numerous publications and policy recommendations – on immigrant integration, workforce development, and adult education – which have helped educate policymakers, journalists, and the public, and inform public policy at the state and federal levels. Her policy expertise, insights, and commentary have been cited and published in local and national media outlets, including TIME, Fortune, BBC News, Inside Higher Ed, POLITICO, Business Insider, The Wall Street Journal, HR Dive, and many others.


Latricia Boone, Vice President, Equality of Opportunity Initiative – US Chamber of Commerce

Latricia Boone serves as Vice President of the Equality of Opportunity Initiative at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. She brings more than 2 decades of experience and leadership in advocacy, public policy, and communications. Specializing in strategic partnerships, coalition building, grassroots campaigns and mobilization, stakeholder engagement, project management and strategic communications and planning, Latricia has held key positions in the corporate, nonprofit, government and education sectors. Prior to joining the Chamber, she served as Senior Director of Partnerships at Leadership for Educational Equity, where she led a national partnership strategy focused on investing in the development of a diverse pipeline of civic leaders. Before LEE, she was the Director of Congressional Advocacy for the National Urban League, where she collaborated with the Urban League’s affiliate offices and grassroots members to grow the organization’s legislative and policy influence through a multi-level national advocacy program. She also served previously as Director of Advocacy for the University of Maryland, as Director of External Relations for the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities and in senior communications positions with DDC Public Affairs and Sodexo Corporation. Throughout her career she has worked in various roles tackling issues related to education, health, economic empowerment, diversity, equity and inclusion, community development and nonprofit management.


Rachel Hirsch, Senior Policy Analyst – National Governors Association

Rachel Hirsch serves as a senior policy analyst for the Economic Opportunity Division of the National Governors Association’s Center for Best Practices, where she works to assist states in scaling and strengthening best practices in postsecondary education and workforce development. Her areas of focus include work-based learning and apprenticeship, sector partnerships and industry engagement, supportive services for those with barriers to employment, and reskilling and upskilling for adults. Before working at NGA, Rachel was state network manager at National Skills Coalition. There, she led the organization’s first-ever policy academy on work-based learning. She organized multiple statewide coalitions towards achieving policy impacts in expanding access to and success in education and training programs. Earlier in her career, Rachel ran a research project based out of Northwestern University focused on helping underserved high school youth improve their performance in job interviews. During graduate school, Rachel also held an internship on the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Rachel received her Master of Public Policy from Georgetown University and her Bachelor of Arts in communication studies from Northwestern University. Rachel originally hails from Illinois.


Anson Green, Senior Manager of Economic Opportunity – Tyson Foods

Anson Green is a workforce, education, and training trailblazer leading Economic Opportunity efforts at Tyson Foods. His passion is deploying innovative service models for New Americans and other low and middle skilled workers to support their life ambitions.  Anson brings a deep and varied portfolio of accomplishments to his work, and his diverse background in adult, developmental, and immigrant education as well as workforce development drives his bold vision for workforce solutions.


Rachel McDonnell, Associate Director – Jobs for the Future

As a Senior Program Manager, Rachel Pleasants McDonnell is engaged in research, documentation, and technical assistance across JFF’s community college redesign efforts. She also develops and coordinates in-person and virtual technical assistance opportunities including webinars, tools, and online resources. She co-manages Accelerating Opportunity, a national initiative to redesign Adult Basic Education programs and policies at state and institutional levels to substantially increase the number of adults who can earn a GED and a credential and enter the workplace with competitive skills. She is also part of the Workforce Innovation Fund Technical Assistance team. Ms. McDonnell previously worked on the development of skills gap reports for New Skills at Work, a JPMorgan Chase workforce readiness initiative aimed at closing the skills gap, and provided research support for Breaking Through, JFF’s collaboration with the National Council for Workforce Education to create opportunities for adults with little education to prepare for and succeed in college technical programs.


Debra Means-West,  Director, Network and Resource Development, WES Global Talent Bridge

Debra Means-West is the Director, Network and Resource Development within the WES Global Talent Bridge program. In her role, Debra is responsible for designing strategies and systems to engage, inform, support, and grow GTB’s diverse network of both local and national partners in key areas such of workforce development, adult education, and policy. She is also responsible for overseeing GTB’s resource development, which includes developing, designing and disseminating content and information internally and externally as it relates to immigrant and refugee inclusion.


Sharon Bonney, Chief Executive Officer – COABE

Sharon Bonney began her career with COABE as a part-time administrator in 2009, moving up in the organization as she showed an unparalleled commitment to the field of adult education. Sharon has helped advance the organization on a number of fronts, including managing efforts to move it from a 1,300-member group in 2009 to 32,000+ active members in 2020. She was the guiding force behind designing and implementing a new national conference model; developing new state, national and workforce partnerships with more than 100 organizations; rebranding the COABE research journal and a related research-to-practice initiative; and designing all new professional development offerings, including webinars that engage have engaged more than 50,000 members. Bonney spearheaded the development of the internationally acclaimed, six-time award-winning Educate and Elevate public awareness campaign, which brought much-needed visibility to the value of adult education and prompted more than 150,000 contacts with legislators at the local, state and federal levels. These efforts staved off $200 million in funding cuts and added an $82 million increase in funding for adult education. In addition, Bonney has diversified and increased revenue streams for the organization, and envisioned, designed, and implemented many new and innovative strategies for the organization.