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Kindred Spirit Vol. 13 (Spring 2021)

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We are incredibly fortunate to have found Kindred’s next leader in Zakiya Reid…her experience in education, her wit, energy and exceptional communication skills match what Kindred needs to have continued success and growth. 

– Laura Wilson Phelan, Kindred‘s founder and former executive director on Kindred‘s leadership transition. Read more about the transition here.

Meet Zakiya!

Building upon our first five years of success, Kindred is entering its next chapter with a leadership transition from founder and executive director Laura Wilson Phelan to Kindred’s deputy director, Zakiya Reid. Get to know more about Zakiya and her hopes for Kindred!

How did you get your start in education? Tell us about your background.

I came to Washington 25 years ago to work as a statistician for the Internal Revenue Service. I quickly learned that my day-to-day work needed to have deep meaning for me so I became an after school teacher in a private school in the area. I worked with kindergarten and first grade students who were reading grade levels ahead, playing chess and having dinner at the White House. However, in my personal life I met my nephew through marriage who was reading on a first grade level. The contrast in these two experiences became the catalyst for my lifelong commitment to educational equity. 

What are you most proud of that Kindred has accomplished to date?
I’m most proud of the work that the inaugural Parent Advisory Council (PAC) has done this year. PAC members have seized the opportunity to advocate for educational equity at every level of the system. This year, PAC members met with Deputy Mayor Kihn to share their perspectives on school reopening and testified before the DC Council. In addition to the city-wide focus of their work, each PAC member has served as an equity warrior within their school community.  

As Kindred’s new leader, what are your biggest goals and priorities?

My goal in this transition is to build on Laura’s vision for Kindred and extend the impact that the team has had over the last five years. My top priorities are to:

  • Ensure that we explicitly adopt anti-racist practices in all aspects of our work, both internally and externally
  • More intentionally engage school leaders and school staff to coalition build with caregivers to co-create equitable, inclusive, racially just, and loving school communities.
  • Solidify and expand our programming to work effectively with PK-12 schools across the country

What is something personal you’d like Kindred’s network and supporters to know about you? 

I am a mom of three young people whose ages range from 8 years old to 15 years old. One of my favorite activities is what we call, “Mommy Adventures” where we take a day to explore a location in the area of my choosing. The kids favorite Mommy Adventure to date has been an evening at the Wharf to enjoy food, the swings and the DMV skyline.

Kindred Meets with Policy Makers

Kindred participants and alumni met with DC’s Deputy Mayor of Education, Paul Kihn, to discuss educational equity and reopening schools. Participants shared their thoughts on reopening and what would make access to educational experiences more equitable. Here are highlights of what participants shared:

Kindred testifies before DC Council

Kindred created a space where people could feel safe to share their truths so that we could learn from each other and grow as a community. My frame of thinking went from being about what was best for my children to being about what was best for our children.” – Ali Cavanagh

Ali Cavanagh, a parent at E.L. Haynes PCS and with Kindred’s inaugural Parent Advisory Council (PAC), testified before the Committee of the Whole. Ali shared how her experience with Kindred deepened her racial consciousness and shifted how she shows up in support of advancing educational equity at Haynes and beyond. Kindred founder and former executive director Laura Wilson Phelan also testified.

Ward 1 Group Connects and Shares Resources

Kindred‘s first-ever ward level group with Ward 1 has met for over one year, meeting most recently for Pupusas in the Park. The group continues to grow, and recently launched an onboarding team to welcome new participants. Meeting two times per month, the group uses WhatsApp to stay in touch, provide support, and exchange resources and ideas between meetings. In this past year, the group shared more than 150 resources ranging from opportunities to meet with council members to supporting community members through difficult times. If you are connected to a Ward 1 school as a caregiver, school staff member or resident and would like to join this group, please email: info [at] kindredcommunities.org.

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