2024 Community Mentors

Ali Alowonle

Hi, amazing humans! I am a parent, teacher, and organizer. I was a public school teacher for 18 years before I moved into my current role of supporting metro schools with school improvement. My main focus areas, professionally and personally, are the following: restorative justice; centering and healing students that have been pushed to the margins; family/community engagement; curriculum and instruction; and working alongside students, families, and teachers to realize and build our power in schools. We are not to be silent spectators in our children’s schools–we must be vigilant, critical, active transformers of education!

Mouakong Vue

Mouakong Vue is a Hmong-American educator in St. Paul. He graduated from Concordia University St. Paul with a major in Secondary Education and minor in Hmong Studies. He has spent the last 10 years working with various organizations and programs supporting youth development and leadership, arts education, cultural identity, and literacy empowerment. Part of his work now involves Ethnic Studies program development and implementation, advocacy, and curriculum and instructional support for educators in SPPS. He’s passionate about advancing more teachers of color and centering young voices in education. Currently, he’s a graduate student at Metro State University’s MAPL (Masters in Advocacy and Political Leadership) Program.

Gevonee Ford

Gevonee Ford has been at the forefront of progressive education in Minnesota as a teacher, trainer, program director, and community organizer. Mr. Ford is the Founder and Executive Director of Network for the Development of Children of African Descent (NdCAD), a non-profit family education center located in Saint Paul, Minnesota that was established in 1997 and is focused on education and community revitalization in communities of African descent. Mr. Ford’s mission through NdCAD is to strengthen important cultural connections within African communities that help prepare children for success in school and life. Mr. Ford has continued a tradition of Black leadership by working with hundreds of children and their families each year to increase reading proficiency and learning confidence among students and increased reading levels and academic performance in school as well as increased parental and community involvement in the education of children.

Danyika Leonard

Danyika Leonard (Dan-yee-kah) is the policy director at Education Evolving, where she advocates for policies that clear barriers and create opportunities for educators to design equitable student-centered learning experiences. As a restorative practitioner by calling and social worker by trade, her work has focused on building and facilitating innovative collaborations of state, county, schools, and local organizations for systems to advance systems transformation and equitable policy change. Danyika is also a part of the Minnesota Ethnic Studies Coalition, where she collaboratively advocates to advance access to Ethnic Studies instruction throughout the state of Minnesota.

Alex Vitrella

Alex Vitrella is the Program Director at Education Evolving. Alex aligns EE’s program to its mission and nurtures partnerships between students, educators, and communities to ensure EE’s work is co-designed, co-created, and of value to those we impact. As program director she supports all areas of our work: policy, research, and school support.

Alex is a former Minneapolis Public Schools teacher and has a JD from the University of Minnesota with a focus on immigration and education law, and a BA from Carleton College. She has done extensive research on multicultural education and its role in self-determination. Alex is a native Spanish speaker and believes in the power of language reclamation.

Previous Mentors

2023 Community Mentors

Yelena Bailey

Marika Pfefferkorn

Sai Thao & Jim Vue

Beth Swanberg & Jay Wahi

2022 Community Mentors

Marika Pfefferkorn

Norma Garces

Sommer Greene

Lars Esdal

2020 Community Mentors

Lars Esdal

Robin Wonsley-Worlobah

Anthony Galloway

Paul Spies