Washington Our Team Our TeamKaaren AndrewsAjai HujaJennifer Wiley Kaaren Andrews Over the past 20 years, Kaaren has worked as a leader in public schools in Washington and California to address systemic and structural inequities that continue to negatively impact the most vulnerable youth. She’s served as a principal for five schools, serving students from preschool through 12th grade. While recognizing the structural challenges of meeting the diverse needs of individuals, particularly those impacted by institutional racism, poverty, and inequitable access to opportunity in our communities, she maintains a firm belief in our public schools as the central ecosystem most capable of promoting broad social change through thoughtful assessment, provision, and monitoring of intentional and intensive academic, behavioral, social-emotional, and vocational support. She’s spent the past nine years building an alternative high school program in Seattle called Interagency Academy that serves almost 2000 students each year across twelve campuses. The students served represent almost all the students in Seattle who have not been supported adequately by traditional schools. Disproportionately students of color, they represent the failure of a large system to recognize and dismantle the forces of institutional racism. For most students, Interagency is the last chance for education after falling behind due to suspension, incarceration, homelessness, untreated mental health issues, drug and alcohol addiction, and other life-changing events that have left them discouraged and years behind their same age peers. All of her work was done in partnership with multiple local government and community organizations bringing resources and expertise in adolescent health, housing support, addiction, mental health, vocational training, community college, and the arts. She’s learned very intimately what happens to students when they don’t succeed in high school, and she has been integral in correcting the course for many students through alternative school education. Kaaren played basketball and graduated from Princeton University, and it was there that her passion for this work began. She received her Master’s from Stanford University in Education Policy and Administration. She lives in Seattle, is married, and has two school age daughters that she loves to coach in community sports. Ajai Huja Born and raised in Charlottesville, Virginia as a First-Generation Punjabi-American. Ajai has worked in the field of education for 20 years, the last six as the Principal of the Centennial Park School, a public alternative high school in the Centennial School District. Ajai’s work in education is driven by a desire to fundamentally change an education system not designed to serve the needs of all students. During his career, he has worked to ensure Oregon’s education system holds high expectations and ensures equitable outcomes for all students. The bulk of that career has been spent working with students who have struggled in our traditional systems, ranging from separate programs to very inclusive settings. Ajai is grateful for what he has learned from students every day in his work. When not working, he can be found in SE Portland with his wife Christin, of 12 years, daughter Meera (8yrs old) and son Simran (4 years old), who happily occupy most of his time outside of school. They are often found on their bikes, exploring Oregon, cooking and eating delicious food, and spending time with family and friends. Jennifer Wiley Jennifer’s 29-year career in education includes developing and directing multiple K-12 instrumental music programs and teaching mathematics within public schools in Hayward, Ca. As a first-generation college student, she experienced first-hand the liberation power of a highly effective classrooms. Early in her teaching career she witnessed extreme disparities in public education. These disparities motivated her to pursue advanced degrees in education leadership and policy studies. Jennifer has spent the past 24 years as a high school principal in a wide range of settings to include suburban and urban high schools as well as leading a K-12 urban alternative school. Most recently she served 16 years as a turnaround principal of the highly diverse and nationally recognized Franklin High School in Seattle. Jennifer has spent the whole of her career building inclusive educational systems with focused emphasis on educational equity as a critical strategy toward social justice. She earned her doctorate from the University of Washington studying effective school leadership in urban schools in the United States context as well as abroad culminating in a dissertation focused on the unique challenges and opportunities of school leaders in township schools in post-apartheid South Africa. Jennifer unequivocally believes that public education can and should be a pathway for personal liberation and engine for our representative democracy. Outside of her unrelenting passion for working with schools, Jennifer can be found enjoying long walks, playing her steel drums, traveling, listening to music, enjoying friendships, or chasing her new Boston Terrier, Zazu.