THE FOUNDATION OF THE HUMAN ROOT
The Apprentice at THR
THE HUMAN ROOT (THR) aspires to radically challenge the dominant ideologies of the workforce, steering it towards equity based practices. Each spring we offer an Apprentice the opportunity to explore why their transition to adulthood matters, what networks are necessary for expansion and which skills best support their professional development. After this first stage of professional development THR hopes for the Apprentice to seek an opportunity to be hired as an Equity Practitioner. Extending the Apprenticeship to this role provides the opportunity for the young adult to practice learned skills and experiences while developing the knowledge, mindful facilitation skills as well as the social emotional capacity to hold space for THR participants in workshops or trainings.
The Equity Practitioners of THR
The Equity Practitioner is responsible for practicing THR Core Values as a foundation to facilitating and delivering training and brave spaces for change. Community Partners that hire The Human Root have different forms of hierarchy, power frameworks and communication cultures intersecting and in need of a container to understand equity empathy and action in the context of their personal community. The curriculum used is designed to actively challenge prejudice, stereotyping and multiple forms of discrimination while providing guidance and feedback to training/workshop participants. To be successful in this role, the equity Practitioner is called to be familiar with various social and emotional engagement and educational techniques for different roles and skill sets.
Ana Catalina Duque is a parent, partner, immigrant, and Brooklyn-raised advocate and educator. She partners with schools and community organizations to support equity and justice education through curriculum development, community building, and collective empowerment. Ana believes in the power of critical love as the foundation for anti-bias practices. She combines empathy, an understanding of historical context, and deep self reflection as the basis for her work with educators. Ana began her career as a classroom teacher in independent and charter schools. She is currently an adjunct professor for the School of Education at Hunter College and a clinical supervisor of student teachers. Ana is also a trainer for Border Crossers working with educators to disrupt racism in their classrooms.
Damond Haynes is a Brooklyn-based youth development educator focused on improving the quality of life of traditionally underserved youth by raising expectations through cultural pride and social justice. For the past 15 years, he’s created and facilitated college and career, professional development, and life skills workshops for teens throughout New York City. As an equity practitioner, Damond is interested in holding space for safe and brave discussions about exclusion, privilege, and healing.
Hannah Lucal is a learner, organizer, and trainer. As a white person, she continues to learn about her role in upholding racism and other systems of oppression, and believes white people have a clear stake in the organization to dismantle racism and injustice. This belief guides her work to uncover and tell her own stories through a lens of racial justice. She is inspired by her belief that social change work is also healing work. Hannah currently partners with Border Crossers, an organization that trains and empowers educators to disrupt racism in schools. She is also an associate director for the nonprofit Open MIC, where she works with impact investors to improve corporate policies around issues of digital surveillance, online privacy, and equitable hiring. Hannah’s approach to anti-racist organizing is guided by the principles of the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. Previously, she worked at Color Of Change and was a Coro Fellow. She received her BA from Carleton College. Hannah enjoys reading, dancing and snacks.
Christopher Neal is a proud “native son” of Detroit Michigan. He is the oldest child of two great talents - Harold L. Neal, a celebrated painter and Claire L. Neal, a classically trained vocalist. Christopher began his formal art training at the infamous Mumford High School and at the College of Creative Studies' Saturday Workshops and went on to study Fine Art with a concentration in painting, African-American Studies, and Women's Studies at Eastern Michigan University. After Howard University's Master of Fine Arts program he professionally developed through experiences in Arts Education, Youth Leadership Development, Anti-Racism/Racial Equity Work, Interpersonal Transformation and Educational Consulting. He’s developed integrated arts curriculum for several NYC schools; taught in classrooms across all five Boroughs and Connecticut, and spent 10 years as Director of Youth Programs and Initiatives for Coro New York Leadership Center where he helped develop the City of New York's plan for a city-wide youth leadership council initiative, and over-saw various in-house youth development programs and partnerships. His mission in this work is to bring participatory youth voice to city agencies and government institutions whose policy and practices directly or indirectly impact the lives of NYC Youth -towards creating more equitable outcomes for all kids, but especially kids of color. He works to dismantle biases and creates a safe space for people regardless of sexual identity, race, or socioeconomic backgrounds and facilitates education, training, and conversations that motivate acceptance and develop equitable practices.
Nia Ostrow Witherspoon is an NAACP-nominated playwright, director, vocalist/composer, and cultural worker investigating the metaphysics of black liberation, desire, and diaspora. She is passionate about creating cultural, physical and imaginative spaces of freedom and possibility amidst neo-colonial empire. Called “fascinating” by Backstage Magazine, and featured on NPR for her curation of BlackARTMatters, Witherspoon is a current Artist in Residence (AIR) at Brooklyn Arts Exchange, former 2050 Playwriting/Directing Fellow at New York Theatre Workshop, and Equity/Restorative Justice educator with the NYC Department of Education. Her work has been supported by BRIC, HERE, National Black Theatre, the Mellon Foundation, Astraea Foundation, Theatre Bay Area, Painted Bride, 651 Arts, and Lambda Literary, among other prestigious entities. Recent publications include “Missy’s Trick/(Un)Making Queer” in the Journal of Popular Culture and “SHE” in Imagined Theatres (Routledge). She holds a B.A. from Smith College and a PhD from Stanford University. In September, she will join the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) as a visiting artist. She is currently at work on a play cycle The Dark Girl Chronicles, which explores the criminalization of black cis and trans women through Yoruba sacred stories.
Nicole Acosta Nemergut is an educator and artist based in New York City. She has taught humanities and world history for the last 12 years at independent schools and been active in social justice movements since high school particularly around anti-war, labor, immigration, racial justice and anti-gentrification work. As an artist and zine maker, her work weaves together personal narrative and historical research to address migration, loss, parenting, dislocations, ancestors and racial identity. Nicole draws deeply from autonomist movements in Latin America, queer women of color feminisms and decolonial theory. She believes that transformation and lasting change come from connection and being seen. She is inspired to work with others as an equity practitioner because she has experienced the profound discomfort and growth that occurs when we look closely at the disconnect between dominant narratives and lived experience and begin to integrate that new knowledge into our sense of the world and ourselves.
Trish Farley is a licensed social worker and educator based in New York City. She is an anti-racist community organizer and core trainer with the People's Institute for Survival and Beyond (PISAB). In addition to the guidance of anti-racist principles and mutual accountability with PISAB, she also received gender justice training from CONNECT NYC. Her own journey teaches her that people can change and contribute to justice and transformation, if they make the daily choice to do so. With over a decade of experience in nonprofit programs, her working knowledge draws from building relationships with people in a variety of settings: schools, a transitional housing program, juvenile detention, etc. She is committed to building communities where everyone is valued, healthy, and contributing with a sense of their power. Trish is also a proud daughter, sister, partner, stepmom and mom -- her family keeps her humble and committed.
sára is an indigenous SWANA/Pinay facilitator, cultural worker, and healing artist. She has over a decade of experience creating workshops and holding spaces for healing, organizing, and creativity. Her background as a poet, performing artist, herbalist, and full spectrum doula are integral to her work of curating creative experiences and providing services in education, organizational development, facilitation, event production, and cultural equity. Her life work is dedicated to uplifting radical tenderness, (re)membering embodied knowledge, and building collective liberation.
Kate Engle brings her experiences as a preschool teacher, lifelong introvert, and anti-racism educator to her facilitation practice. Working in early childhood education taught her respect for the pace and non-linearity of human development and the value of creating space for curiosity, exploration, and emotional risk-taking. Kate believes in following the lead of children in bringing critical clarity and radical imagination to dismantling adult-designed inequities. She partners with schools and educational leaders to explore how white racial identity impacts educators, students, and communities. Kate was born in Oregon and lives in Brooklyn, NY. She loves the ocean, dancing, and big rocks.
Megan Pamela Ruth Madison loves being a Black queer woman and dreams of justice. As an equity practitioner, she playfully engages in the daily work of collaborating across generations (with both her ancestors and her future descendants) to get free. She holds an MS in early childhood education from Dominican University and a BA in studies in religion from the University of Michigan. Currently, she is pursuing her PhD at Brandeis University. When she's not working on her dissertation, she works as a trainer for the Center for Racial Justice in Education and the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute, facilitating workshops for teachers and families on race, gender, and sexuality. Beyond her professional work, Megan volunteers on the Board of Directors for Jews for Racial & Economic Justice. Through this work, she's been able to engage in racial justice activism through the process of community organizing. Megan has developed a vision for change that looks like building the collective power of Black communities (in solidarity with other communities of color, and white co-conspirators) to dismantle institutional racism. Megan believes that this kind of community building and institutional change requires that we also engage in the deep work of personal and interpersonal transformation. In other words, as we build power with one another, we heal ourselves and we heal our relationships. As we do this work together, we create moments in which we can more clearly see, imagine, feel, taste the world as it could be. Over time, she is continually in awe of process through which communities develop a shared vision for collective liberation and become accountable to that future. What an honor to witness as people fall in love with themselves, with one another, and the world they are building together!
DIRECTOR / CO-FOUNDER
Anyanwu has 20 years of experience in Education, Youth Development and Social Justice work. Her work has been grounded in building connection between people & communities. She received a BA in Pan African Studies, is certified in Child & Adolescent Treatment from UC Berkeley and is completing her MA in Human Rights Education from the University of San Francisco. Anyanwu uses social and emotional intelligence and social justice work to guide community learning and development. She builds strategies to resolve conflict, impacts of societal oppression and experiences of trauma.