Blueberries hanging from a blueberry bush

Session Two of our Virtual Conversation Series: Beginning with Families and Communities

Join the Region 16 Comprehensive Center on April 9, 2024, for the second session of our virtual conversation series, Centering Family and Community Wisdom for Systems Change.

In Session Two, “Beginning with Families and Communities,” we’ll explore the stories of actively engaged change-makers who are leading the way in centering family voices within their educational systems. Join us as we hear their stories of success, trials, and tribulations as they actively work to foster authentic collaborations between educational institutions and their communities. 

Through the sharing of real-world examples and experiences, this session aims to inspire and empower participants to rethink their approaches and strategies for involving families and communities in the educational process. Join us for a dynamic conversation that explores the transformative potential of centering voices and co-creation in education.

What to Expect

This session delves into the transformative journeys of three leaders as they navigate the complexities of engaging families and communities in their systems. They will share the challenges and opportunities they have experienced on their journey.  Participants will gain effective strategies for building genuine partnerships, confront common challenges in shifting traditional engagement paradigms, and gain insight from real-life case studies.  

You are invited not only to listen but to engage in thoughtful dialogue. These sessions are designed for deep reflection and interactive participation, encouraging you to explore your role in the critical work of systemic change. Through questions such as “What does genuine partnership with communities look like?” and “How can we move beyond superficial solutions to embrace authentic, equitable collaborations?” we invite you to rethink what’s possible.

Featured Panelists

Headshot of Anna Lees

Anna Lees, Ed.D.
Director Early Childhood Education, Associate Professor 

Anna Lees Ed.D. (Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, descendant) began her career as an early childhood classroom teacher in rural northern Michigan. Now, an Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education at Western Washington University, she partners with schools and communities in teacher preparation. Anna is committed to developing and sustaining reciprocal relationships with Indigenous communities, engaging community leaders as co-teacher educators, and opening spaces for Indigenous values and ways of knowing and being in early childhood settings and teacher education. She is currently engaged in research around a land education professional development model led by tribal nations and a relationship-based site-embedded professional development model with tribal early learning programs.

Headshot of Jennifer LeBret

Jennifer LeBret
Director Native Youth Community Project

Jennifer LeBret attended Whitworth University from 2015 to 2018, where she pursued a Master’s degree in Social and Behavioral Health Social Emotional Learning, with a focus on Education. In addition, she also completed a Native Education Certificate program at the University of Washington in 2018. Jennifer is currently the ECEAP Tribal Specialist at the Division of Children, Youth, and Families for the State of Washington and serves as the Chairwoman of the Washington State Native American Education Advisory Committee at the OSPI Office of Native Education. She previously served as the Curriculum Coordinator at the Wellpinit School District, focusing on incorporating Native American Epistemology into mainstream curriculum and utilizing place-based knowledge systems, and Indigenous Curriculum Coordinator at the same district.

Headshot of Rachel Eifler

Rachel Eifler, Ed.D.
Equity/School Improvement Coordinator

Rachel Eifler began her career 20 years ago teaching preschool, elementary and middle school. Now as the Regional Equity and School Improvement Coordinator at Northeast Washington Educational Service District, Rachel supports school districts in learning about and improving practices related to cultural competency, diversity, equity and inclusion. She serves as a trusted advisor for regional school districts shifting practices toward more equitable outcomes for students with an intentional focus on family and community co-design as an anchor for system and school improvement planning. With an expertise in culturally responsive system’s improvement, Rachel leads the annual Regional Equity Summit as well as numerous ongoing professional learning opportunities for northeast Washington educators.


Headshot of Dr. Anthony Craig

Dr. Anthony Craig is a Washington educator with a passion for developing systems that foster equitable educational outcomes. He is the director of the University of Washington College of Education’s Leadership for Learning (Ed.D.) program. Dr. Craig began his career as a kindergarten teacher and served as an instructional coach, school principal, and central office administrator all in the Tulalip Tribal community. Anthony is a citizen of the Yakama Nation and lives in Coast Salish territories with his wife, their children, and beloved grandson.

Answering the Call

Whether you’re an educator, community leader, business professional, or simply passionate about creating a more equitable education system, these conversations are for you. This series promises to enrich your understanding, expand your network, and empower you to take actionable steps toward systemic change.

Learn more about this virtual conversation series in our introductory blog post.

This is more than an invitation; it’s a call to action. Share this journey with your network and join a community of change-makers ready to reshape our education system.

Ready to be part of the change?

Session Two: Beginning with Families and Communities
April 9  |  Virtual (Zoom)  |  3:30 pm AKT / 4:30 pm PT |  2 hours

Together, let’s harness the power of hope, possibility, and action.

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