Washington Our Team Our TeamKaaren AndrewsAjai HujaKeith SmithSarah SmithJennifer 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. Keith Smith Born in Flint, Michigan, Keith Smith is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University (BA, Economics) and also had an exceptional career as a basketball star at LMU. Keith Smith was a three time All Conference point guard that received All American status during his playing days. He averaged 17.8 points and 6.4 assist as a sophomore, 25.1 points and 5.6 assist as a junior, and 21 points and 7.0 assist as a senior. After his stellar colligate career Keith was drafted By the Milwaukee Bucks and played during the 1986-87 season. During his playing days Keith had the opportunity to play for three legendary coaches, Don Nelson, Paul Westhead, and George Karl. In 2001 Mr. Smith was inducted into the LMU Athletic Hall of Fame. Keith’s career was cut short by injuries and he moved into the private sector, co-founding a Cellular Phone Company in Los Angeles. After three years in the private sector Mr. Smith transitioned to education and became the Athletic Director at Valley High School from 1995-1999. Mr. Smith and his family moved to Seattle, WA in 1999 and he started his now 20-year career in the Seattle School District. Mr. Smith now serves as the Principal at Rainier Beach High School. Rainier Beach High School has a long tradition as a powerhouse basketball program with distinguished alumni that includes Jamal Crawford, Doug Christie, Nate Robinson, Dejounte Murray, and many others. Rainier Beach is also an International Baccalaureate School that has won the Distinguished School honor the past two years under Mr. Smith’s leadership. Prior to his current role, Mr. Smith served as the Principal at South Lake Alternative High School and the Assistant Principal at Franklin High School for nine years. During that time, he supervised the math department, athletics and special education. He also oversaw the ninth-grade city levy investment as well as the intervention and prevention case management team. During his tenure in the Seattle School District Mr. Smith also served as a House Administrator at Meany Middle School, a teacher at John Marshall Alternative High School and a Site Coordinator for the Interagency Academy. Mr. Smith earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Loyola Marymount University, and a Master’s in Education and his Principal Certification from Heritage University as well as his Professional Administrator’s Certification from City Year University. Mr. Smith is passionate about strengthening the bonds between school, families, and community with student success as the focus. He has strong beliefs in growing teacher capacity through collaboration and coaching. And he brings extensive experience in building systems and supports for students and staff. Mr. Smith believes in high quality instruction, collaboration and positive relationships as the foundation for building a strong educational community. In his words, “education gives our youth the opportunity and access to successful futures.” Mr. Smith is committed to being a change agent for youth. He wants the youth of America to continue to excel while being productive citizens with a focus on social Justice and innovation. Mr. Smith is the father of two fantastic sons. His 22-year-old son Keith Smith is in his Senior year as a student athlete at Pepperdine University. His youngest son Stephen Smith is a Freshman student athlete at College of Southern Idaho. Mr. Smith states his greatest accomplishment in life is being the proud father of both Keith and Stephen. Mr. Smith’s passion for academics continues to drive his efforts to make a difference for the youth that he serves. Sarah Smith A native of Virginia whose family had deep roots in the Civil Rights movement, Sarah earned a scholarship to attend boarding school at Phillips Exeter Academy for her later high school years. That experience set the course for her life’s work in education, with a particular focus of closing the gaps in our society via access to equitable educational opportunities. A singular book, Jonathan Kozol’s Savage Inequalities, assigned in an 11th grade ethics class shaped the course of her next 30+ years as a public school educator and non-profit founding team member. For the past 20 years, Sarah served in multiple roles at Rainier Scholars (executive director for the past ten), an educational and leadership development program in Seattle which she helped to start in 2000. Rainier Scholars identifies low-income students of color striving to become the first in their family to graduate from college and offers academic enrichment, leadership, college and career development opportunities from 5th grade through college graduation. She has worked with thousands of scholars and families over the past two decades and is ever-inspired to see where their hard work, commitment and belief in the power and value of education has taken them. A growing core of alumni graduates emerging into the community stepping up to work, serve and lead serves as the humblest reminder of how impactful the work has been. Sarah is excited to join the Stand team and return to her roots in public education. Early in her career, she taught at Nathan Hale High School, co-designing a “9th grade academy” program which shared so many of the goals of the Washington High School Success program. Believing deeply in the power of the transition experience into high school shaping so much of what’s to come, she’s excited to work with principals and freshman teams to design and deliver impactful outcomes. Sarah graduated from the University of Virginia where she served as captain of the women’s rowing team and earned a Master’s in Education degree from Stanford University. She remains a nationally competitive rower, avid runner, backpacker and college hoops fan. She lives in Southeast Seattle with her spouse, son and daughter who while proving to be great company in quarantine 2020, do look forward to getting back to their baseball and soccer teams respectively when the pandemic has slowed. 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.