Shawon Jackson, Founder | shawon@vocaljustice.org

Shawon Jackson - Headshot.jpg

Shawon launched Vocal Justice because he believes that every student, especially those who have been proximate to the pain of injustice, should feel inspired and prepared to advocate for positive change. Before launching Vocal Justice, Shawon worked with an education nonprofit in the Dominican Republic and did federal consulting with Deloitte. Between those jobs and volunteer efforts, Shawon has helped hundreds of young people tap into the power of their voice and share their stories and ideas with others. He graduated from Princeton, where he studied public policy and served two terms as student body president. He earned his MPP/MBA from Harvard Kennedy School and Stanford Business School. Listen to his talk below about why critical consciousness matters for public speakers.

Founder's Talk: Why Critical Consciousness Matters for Public Speakers
From a competitive pool of 250+ applicants, we hired 4 incredible interns to work with us over the summer. Our interns mapped our curriculum to key education standards, added activities grounded in culturally sustaining pedagogy, and interviewed students about their experiences in and outside of the classroom, so that we better understand their needs.

Aisha Balogun, Research Specialist

Aisha is a recent graduate of Stanford University, where she earned a B.A. in Sociology and a B.S. in Architectural Design. Her interdisciplinary studies allowed her to explore her passion for equity and the built environment, culminating in a university-funded research project that examined Charlottesville, VA’s Confederate-associated public space from the perspective of individuals who are homeless. Through this experience with ethnographic research, Aisha began to fully appreciate the power that comes with the expression of ideas through person-centered narratives. Through her work with Vocal Justice, she was able to apply her skills in social research to help teens shape and share their own narratives. Outside of work, Aisha loves embroidery, trying new teas, and compiling images of art, architecture, and celebrities on increasingly specific Pinterest boards.

Aura Barrera, Research Specialist

Aura is a design researcher from the Bay Area. Since being introduced to technology in high school she has been passionate about tech education and taught through nonprofits such as Girls Who Code, Technolochicas, NCWIT, and Black Girls Code. She studied design, computer science, and social science at UC Berkeley writing her thesis on design and technology for urban equity. Through her experience working in the tech industry, she found a calling in design research where she works to uncover meaningful, impactful, and empowering solutions and thoughtfully bring in the voices of the people who will use it. In her free time she likes to try new recipes, take photos, and add to her Spotify playlists.

Irene Gómez, Education Specialist

A daughter of Venezuelan immigrants, Irene joined the Vocal Justice team with six years of experience in education and a commitment to culturally sustaining content for students. As an undergraduate at the University of Texas, Irene led volunteers in a refugee coalition, tutored Title I and first-generation students, and conducted research for equitable education policies. After graduation, Irene’s time as a congressional fellow and youth civic engagement intern deepened her understanding of educational systems. Now a Master’s student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Irene researches policies that support quality Ethnic Studies classes and anti-racist civics. She looks forward to a post-pandemic dance party with the Vocal Justice team.

Kahlil Greene, Education Specialist

Kahlil is an undergraduate student at Yale, studying History with a focus on social change and social movements. He was Yale's first Black student body president in the school’s 319-year history. His academic accolades consist of membership in the prestigious Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy, the Institute of Social and Policy Studies Director’s Fellowship, and the Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society. As a child, he attended Boys and Girls Clubs for seven years and was inducted into the inaugural class of their Greater Washington Hall of Fame. Kahlil is passionate about advocacy, management, and charity. After graduating, he hopes to go to business school and study nonprofit management. 

A group of former educators and leadership development facilitators joined our team in spring 2020 to evaluate and update our curriculum, and analyze student data from past pilots to inform what improvements we should make.

Lauren Hogan, Education Specialist

Lauren joined the Vocal Justice team with over 4 years of experience as an elementary school teacher. While she was a teacher, she designed and implemented social justice curriculum in multiple subjects that aligned with California standards. She also facilitated a professional development course on social justice education for a group of 30 professionals. Her background in social justice education helped inform Vocal Justice activities. Lauren earned her MA in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership Studies from Stanford, and her BA in Liberal Studies from the University of San Diego. 

Joshua Jordan, Education Specialist

Before joining the Vocal Justice team, Josh was the Executive Director of the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, which engaged 160+ high school students in a 5-day leadership conference. He leveraged his background in youth leadership development to help shape the Vocal Justice curriculum. Josh also served as the Director of Diversity and Inclusion for Cornell University Sustainable Design, where he led workshops on positionality and privilege. Josh earned his MA in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership Studies from Stanford, and his BA in Government from Cornell University.

Alex Kuehn, Research Specialist

Alex joined the Vocal Justice team after being a social studies teacher for middle and high school students. In his four years as a teacher, Alex developed project-based learning and social studies curriculum to engage students in inquiry and deepen historical thinking skills. He also used research-based pedagogical techniques to create a trauma-sensitive classroom environment. Alex earned his MA in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership Studies from Stanford, and his BS in Secondary Social Studies Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Clare McLaughlin, Research Specialist

Clare completed a Fulbright in Indonesia, where she taught 10th and 11th grade English at a rural, Islamic public school. She also directed  province-wide teacher professional development workshops focused on place-based pedagogies. Afterwards, Clare worked in Kenya for two years, supporting a leadership education organization. While supporting the Vocal Justice team, Clare also did research with the Social Ecology Lab at Stanford. Clare earned her MA in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership Studies from Stanford, and her BA in Environmental Studies from Bowdoin College.