Arizona Head Start Association and Arizona Association for the Education of Young Children
In a nation still struggling to rectify its racial legacy,
BLACK BOYS illuminates the full humanity of Black boys and men in America.
November 3, 2023 | 8:30am - 3:00pm
Arizona Carpenters, Phoenix
4547 W. McDowell Road, Phoenix
This amazing professional development opportunity is being offered to Head Start Teachers and Early Childhood professionals in the state of Arizona. Participants will screen the movie and have candid conversation about Equity and Race in the Early Childhood.
I was born to two dreamers in Alaska as identical twins and the first granddaughters on both sides of my family. My father, a southern man, was a dreamer and he believed in the idea of what America could be, but the reality of America was far from his dream. He joined the military, to make his dream a reality. My father met and married my mother, after knowing one another for 6 months, while he was stationed in Alaska. They were deeply connected to the notion that love could change the mindsets of people who did not agree with their love. My parents come from different racial and ethnic groups, but they pursued love and happiness and raised 4 children together over a span of 46 years. After my father’s sudden passing in 2022, I felt a tremendous call on my life to continue the work of social justice. This call was important to me, because I was grieving my father, but I knew my life choices were blessed by him and I felt reenergized to center love, empathy, and grace as I continued to engage in social justice work or Love Warrior work. I was inspired, as a child, and filled with purpose, as an adult, to create pathways of love towards liberation for all people- starting with young children and their families. Over the years, I have been a part of several start-ups, owning and operating child development centers, and a staffing agency, as well as being a founder of a collective of activists and artivists to support educators in becoming antiracists (C.A.R.E. Coalition on AntiRacism Education). I truly believe that the love from my family and learning how to love myself, has created a strong foundation to do the work of a Love Warrior. As the Director of Equity and Outreach at Zero to Three, I feel that I have arrived amongst a collective of activists who are committed to creating safe and equitable spaces and policy reform for children and families who have been marginalized. Since 1977, Zero to Three has translated the collective expertise in the science of early childhood development into pioneering programs, field-leading training and resources, and responsive policy solutions. As a membership-based organization, Zero to Three provides a vibrant, connected community for professionals in diverse disciplines focused on child development who are committed to advancing their knowledge and skills. Zero to three work creates lasting, transformative change for children, their families, and our collective future.
Love Warrior: This phrase is loving borrowed from Dr. Cornell West: "A love Warrior is a person who uses their gifts to make the world a better place."
I was born in Salem Ohio, which is a little Quaker town between Pittsburgh and Cleveland. When I was three years old, my father joined the U.S. military and became the first Quaker chaplain in the Air Force. My mother had her masters in education and was an elementary school teacher. Luck was on my side as education became real world connections to new cultures and people while living in Texas, Turkey, Alabama, Germany, and Georgia. Going to elementary school in Montgomery Alabama was a pivotal moment in my life as I was introduced to the American South in 1980. I first heard the "n" word in 3rd grade while visiting a family in Lowndes County, known as "Bloody Lowndes" in connection to the amount of lynchings during the Jim Crow and Civil Rights eras. Although I didn't know what the word meant, I did know that it was never used to describe my young Black classmates at Maxwell Elementary School. From witnessing martial law in Turkey to going through Checkpoint Charlie into East Berlin, I was fortunate to have a childhood that provided an education in real time.
In 2001, I became a teacher and coach at a private high school in Tampa, where most of the young Black men either played on the basketball or football team. At the time, I was very conscious of that dynamic, but didn't have the proper education or language to deconstruct the inequity. I needed more exposure, and left in 2008 to pursue a masters at President Clinton's School of Public Service in Arkansas. It was in Little Rock that I refined my perspective on equity, and my three-month international public service project in Rwanda provided me with a global context. A focus of sports and public service took shape for me as I began to interview professional athletes about their lived experience, and ended up working with an NFL player to shape his community engagement in Cincinnati between 2009-2013. I then went on to launch a K12 initiative that focused on social emotional learning and entrepreneurship back in Arkansas, which helped me understand the complexities of policy and politics as it revealed the need for systems change to create true impact.
Currently pursuing a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction at Northern Arizona University with a research focus on how sports influences young Black boys in early childhood / adolescent development. I'm also a producer and cofounder of a justice-centered media agency out of Brooklyn. Our first feature is called BLACK BOYS, and we're now in post-production of BLACK GIRLS. I live in Washington, DC with my wife (Dr. Heather Williamson) and our two chocolate labs, Demmi and Ferg.
Jon-Thomas (J.T.) Royston is Co-Founder & CEO of Never Whisper Justice, a Brooklyn based creative agency which aligns justice-centered original content with concrete social impact. The son of an Army veteran and a pastor, he was born in San Antonio, Texas and spent his early life in Germany, Hawaii, and Southern California. Contending with frequent moves and new schools – the echoes of deployments and separations built an early resilience that was accompanied by a deep appreciation and preservation of one’s cultural identity.
In 2015, he joined a boutique marketing firm in Los Angeles where he spent four years crafting data-centric engagement campaigns for companies like AT&T, WPP Worldwide, and Anthem Blue Cross. He then partnered with Executive Producer Malcolm Jenkins and Director Sonia Lowman to produce the feature length documentary film BLACK BOYS (2020) on NBC Peacock.
Founded in 2018, Never Whisper Justice is committed to purpose driven campaigns with collaborations to include: #EndingPeriodPoverty (Always) – Advancing Black Women in STEM (Pantene Gold Series) – Promoting Healthy Player Transition (NFL Players Association / The Trust) – Reclaiming the Beauty of Blackness (My Black is Beautiful) and subsequent activations with Barclays, Procter & Gamble, Juniper Networks, Walmart, and the Federal Office of Head Start. Presently, Never Whisper Justice is in production on a companion film entitled BLACK GIRLS (2023).
Jevin D. Hodge is a prominent community and business leader in Arizona. Professionally, Hodge is Director of National Engagement and Partnerships for LINK Strategic Partners, an international consulting firm based in Washington, D.C. Leading operations from Phoenix, Hodge works with community partners and clients around the world to maximize social impact by governments, non-profits, and businesses. His clients have included the District of Columbia, the City of Brownsville (TX), Guilford County (NC), the Austin Independent School District (TX), the Citi Open Tennis Tournament, Lyft, Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership, College Success Arizona, Newfields & the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the UK Town & Gown Association, and other impact-focused organizations.
Hodge is focused on community leadership throughout Arizona. He serves as President and Chairman of the Board for the Booker T. Washington Child Development Center, the longest running Head Start school in the state. BTW provides early childhood education and other critical services to nearly a thousand low-income families at 35 sites around Phoenix. Additionally, he serves on the Board of Directors for Jewish Child and Family Services, an integrated mental and physical health center with several locations across Maricopa County, and as an advisor to the Arizona Director of Public Safety.
Hodge received the City of Tempe's Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Award, the East Valley NAACP's Roy Wilkins Service Award for Lifetime Achievement, Grambling State University's MLK Award, and Maricopa County NAACP's Next Gen Trailblazer Award. He has also received industry awards for his national and international consulting work at LINK Strategic Partners. A sought-after speaker locally and nationally on business, civics, and leadership, he delivers keynote remarks at national conferences, including the American Constitution Society and National Head Start Association. Hodge is regularly asked to comment on issues relating to Arizona government, education, and politics, appearing in local and national media outlets.
He is deeply politically engaged, having served as a leader of a major political party in Arizona, Congressional nominee in one of America's closest and most watched federal races, nominee for the closest Maricopa County Board of Supervisors race in 2020, and has led efforts to secure millions of dollars in bond and override funding for Arizona schools.
The oldest son of a single mom, Hodge grew up in public housing in Tempe, Arizona. He is a graduate of the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Lloyd Hopkins is an author, philanthropist and organizational leader with extensive experience in community and nonprofit work. He has worked in and around education for 18 years. He graduated from Arizona State University with his degree in Nonprofit Management and Leadership and took his passion for ensuring quality education for all to launch the teacher recruitment and retention program, Million Dollar Teacher Project. As a philanthropist he has been a member of Real Engagement through Active Philanthropy (R.E.A.P), which is a fund under the Arizona Community Foundation, that supports programs making positive impacts on African-American Youth, for 6 years and the Chairman for 2. He has also led taskforces with Achieve60AZ and the Department of Education on improving attainment for the African American community in Arizona. For his efforts he was recently a finalist for the Phoenix Center of the Arts Mayor's Arts Awards for his Million Dollar Teacher Tree program, was honored by the East Valley NAACP with the Malala Yousafzai Equity in Education Award and received the “Living the Dream” award by the 2022 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee. He is also an alum of Valley Leadership's Class 40. In 2023 he was recognized as one of Phoenix's Most Admired Leaders by the Phoenix Business Journal and nominated to the Governor of Arizona's Educator Retention Taskforce.
I am the daughter of a Kanaka Maoli wahine and an Alabama-born and raised Black man. My makua raised six children in rural Wai'anae, Hawai'i and taught us that 'ohana and aloha are the ties that bond us, always, to one another and to Hawai'i nei.
I am mother to two children: my son, Nainoa, who was too precious for this life and passed as an infant, and my daughter, Makena Höküle'a, a kind, loving, brilliant human being who teaches me everyday how to stay curious about the world and joyous about life. I am also aunty to 8 brilliant Black boys and 8 bold Black girls, all of whom I keep center in my dreams for all children.
My education and professional journeys have led me to do some incredible work with and on behalf of young children. My favorite role has been as a teacher and I have had the great fortune of caring for infants, toddlers, two-year olds, preschoolers, and kindergartners. I've also been a childcare center director, a professional development coordinator, a state director of special education, and a state deputy superintendent of early childhood education. Currently, I am an education researcher and a facilitator of race-based conversations that support positive racial identity for children of color. In all of my work, I've tried my best to "choose the margins" - a phrase I learned from Linda Tuhiwai Smith - and be a voice for Indigenous, Black, and other children of color who are often excluded, neglected, or otherwise overlooked.