Dubois-Hamer Institute

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BYGF 2021: Guest Speakers

Keynote Speaker

Yvette Jackson, Ed.D.Yvette Jackson, Ed.D.

Yvette Jackson, Ed.D. is internationally recognized for her work in assessing the learning potential of disenfranchised urban students. Changing this reality for these students to one in which their intellectual potential is believed in, valued and optimized has been Yvette's calling for her entire career. She has applied her research in neuroscience, gifted education, literacy, and the cognitive mediation theory of Dr. Reuven Feuerstein to develop integrated processes that engage and elicit high intellectual performances from underachievers. She designed the New York City Board of Education's Gifted Programs Framework while serving as Director of Gifted Programs. As New York City's Executive Director of Instruction and Professional Development, she led the creation and implementation of the Comprehensive Education Plan, which maximizes the delivery of all core curriculum and support services in the Public Schools of New York City.

Dr. Jackson currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the National Urban Alliance for Effective Education, founded at the College Board and Teachers College, Columbia University. She works with school district superintendents, administrators, teachers, and students across the United States and internationally to customize and deliver systemic approaches that enable students to demonstrate high intellectual performances. She bases her work on the principles and practices of the Pedagogy of Confidence, which she created to enable educators to accelerate the intellectual development and academic achievement of their students.

Yvette is an adjunct professor at Teachers College, Columbia University and a Visiting Scholar for both the Panasonic Foundation and the Brazilian Department of Education. She has also been a visiting lecturer at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education, Columbia University, and Stanford University and has served as a member of ASCD's (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) Differentiated Instruction Cadre. She is a keynote presenter at national and international conferences including the Feuerstein Institute, Israel, Portugal Department of Education and Thinking Schools International, United Kingdom.

She has been published in numerous educational journals. Her most recent book (co-authored with Dr. Veronica McDermott): "Aim High, Achieve More: How to Transform Urban Schools Through Fearless Leadership" follows her previous bestseller: "The Pedagogy of Confidence: Inspiring High Intellectual Performance in Urban Schools" which received the 2012 ForeWord Reviews' Silver Book Award.

On September 15, 2012 the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences Educators Voice Awards honored Yvette for "Education Policy/Researcher of the Year."

Yvette's mission is to rekindle, in educators, the passion and beliefs that led them to choose education as their career. She is driven to provide and promote pedagogy that enables school dependent students to demonstrate their high intellectual potential, and to enable educators to fulfill their potential as outstanding teachers and administrators.

Featured Speakers

Leonard Clifton

Leonard started out as a print model, which led him to acting. His first role was in Steven Spielberg's Amistad. He went on to have roles in several other films like the cult classic Bring It On, television productions, music videos, and international commercials. Leonard loves writing, supporting his favorite charities, traveling the world, and is always seeking out new adventures. Leonard has five-star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, he was the first author to have a Barnes & Noble book signing for Black History Month at The Grove in Los Angeles. He has been interviewed about his writing on Los Angeles's KPFK radio and he has given a lecture about The Last Prince of Atlantis Chronicles and how it relates to Afrofuturism at California State University, Northridge. The books (The Last Prince of Atlantis) chronicles the adventures of Allen King, a young Black American who discovers he is a prince of ancient royalty. Amidst fighting his mortal enemies, Allen seeks to restore his kingdom. Can he succeed? Allen King is an unassuming Black teenager living in a blue-collar family in Miami, Florida. After finding a magical crystal necklace he discovers that he's actually an Atlantean prince. Suddenly things change for the gawky teenager. He gains the powers of telepathy and teleportation and finds that he is able to communicate with sea animals. Along with a beautiful Greek Goddess, his orphan best friends, and zany uncle, Allen keeps the Earth safe as they fight against his mortal enemies in an attempt to restore his kingdom, the lost city of Atlantis.

Solomon ShujaaSolomon Shujaa

Solomon Shujaa is an alumnus of California State University Northridge (CSUN) and a founder and CEO of Golden Aya Corp. Solomon graduated from CSUN in 2018 with a bachelor's degree in Business Marketing with two minors, one in Africana Studies and the other in Entrepreneurship. During his time on campus, he was a student leader and a part of several clubs and organizations on campus like the Black Graduation Committee, DuBois-Hamer Institute for Academic Achievement, Black Student Union, Black Male Initiative, CSUN Naturals, and many others. He also completed his internship at the Black House, where he assisted in putting together several events. Before attending College, Solomon served in the United States Marine as a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Defense Specialist. As a Marine, Solomon has received several letters of appreciation, meritorious mast, and other awards for performing his duties in an exemplary, technical acumen, and highly professional manner. After graduating from CSUN, he started his own nonprofit, Pan-African Corporation that focuses on uniting, educating, and creating a self-sustainable Africa and African Diaspora that will lead the charge in achieving world peace. Solomon is currently a Director and CEO of Golden Aya Corp as well as a Director of Golden Aya Tanzania Organization. Golden Aya has its headquarters in Miami, FL, and one branch overseas in Arusha, Tanzania. Before starting Golden Aya, Solomon traveled to 12 different countries with his travel brand "The Adventures of Cav and Cash." He has visited countries like Barbados, Jamaica, Cuba, Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, Suriname, and others. These trips inspired him to create his organization in order to make an impact around the world. Golden Aya provides services in the areas of Education, Health, and Development like its afterschool program. His goal is to continue to open Golden Aya branches across the globe, further his education, and continue to create businesses that will make changes around the world.

Ezana ShujaaEzana Shujaa

Ezana Shujaa is an alumnus of George T. Baker Aviation College (GTB) and a founder and CEO of Golden Aya Corp. Ezana completed his Aviation Technician courses at GTB College in 2013 and received his Mechanic 2 Certificate. During his time at GTB College, Ezana took lead in several projects from assembling electric generators to refurbishing Continental engines to full capacity. He also was selected to be a part of a special team to assemble and inspect a Pratt & Whitney JT3D for a major college event. Before attending college, Ezana was a committed volunteer in his community. Ezana volunteered with several organizations performing duties as a kitchen helper, maintenance worker, and data entry personnel. Ezana received recognition in his community as a passionate humanitarian because of his hard work and dedication to his community. After graduating from GTB College, he started his own nonprofit, Pan-African Corporation that focuses on uniting, educating, and creating a self-sustainable Africa and African Diaspora that will lead the charge in achieving world peace. Ezana is currently a Director and CFO of Golden Aya Corp as well as a Director of Golden Aya Tanzania Organization. Golden Aya has its headquarters in Miami, FL, and one branch overseas in Arusha, Tanzania. Before starting Golden Aya, Ezana traveled to 12 different countries with his travel brand "The Adventures of Cav and Cash." He has visited countries like Egypt, Israel, Jamaica, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Suriname, and others. These trips inspired him to create his organization in order to make an impact around the world. Golden Aya provides services in the areas of Education, Health, and Development like its afterschool program. His goal is to continue to open Golden Aya branches across the globe, further his education, and continue to create businesses that will make changes around the world.

Dean Shari Tarver Behring, Mike Eisner College of EducationSpecial Guests

Dean Shari Tarver Behring, Ph.D., NBCC
Michael D. Eisner College of Education

Dr. Shari Tarver Behring, Ph.D., NBCC, has served as the Dean or Interim Dean of the Michael D. Eisner College of Education since July 2017.  During this period, she has overseen successful reaccreditation from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) for 27 credential pathways in one of the largest Colleges of Education in the CSU, fostered a research culture while increasing research grants and philanthropy, launched the Teaching Inspires Recruitment and Marketing Campaign, supported the only undergraduate department in the college, Deaf Studies, in achieving high freshman retention rates and surpassing 3 year graduation targets, and championed college faculty as leaders of educational initiatives addressing social justice, equity, access, and inclusion.

From 1991 to 2017, Dr. Tarver Behring served a number of roles at California State University, Northridge. She served as faculty and Co-coordinator of the School Counseling Program in the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling in the College of Education, Chair of this department from 2008-2017, Chair of the Council of Chairs, Consultant for the Teaching, Learning, and Counseling Consortium, and Program Director of a college-wide self-care program for faculty and staff, now in its 5th year.

Dr. Tarver Behring earned an M.S. degree in Clinical Psychology from Marquette University,  and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is a California Licensed Psychologist, a National Board Certified Counselor, and holds California Credentials in School Psychology and School Counseling.

She is a recipient of the Blenda D. Wilson Diversity in Education Award. She served as the Clinical Director of the Infant/Toddler and Preschool Day Treatment Programs at the Santa Clarita Child and Family Center from 1987-1993. As Department Chair, she has overseen the operations of Mitchell Family Counseling Clinic on campus and the Strength United Center, supporting those who have experienced physical or sexual abuse.  She has served as Principle Investigator on grants totaling more than 7 million dollars. She is the author/co-author of numerous publications in the areas of school consultation with diverse children and families, inclusion of students with neurodiversity in general education, and self-care in higher education.

Shiva ParsaShiva Parsa
Director, CSUN Educational Opportunity Programs

Shiva Parsa has been with the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) for over 30 years. She began her career in EOP Admissions. Ms. Parsa worked in various capacities throughout the years, including serving as director of EOP's transitional programs, and associate director of EOP. Shiva now serves as the Director since 2016. EOP is designed to improve access and retention of California's historically low-income, educationally disadvantaged college students.

Shiva is responsible for, assessment, planning, coordination, monitoring and reporting for all programs and activities in EOP, including but not limited to EOP Admissions, Outreach Efforts, Transitional Programs/Bridge Programs, Advising Resource Center/EOP, Resilient Scholars (e.g., a program designed specifically for foster youth), and the Trio Student Support Services Program (SSSP).

Ms. Parsa has led EOP's Bridge programs for over 20 years. Bridge is an intensive transitional program intended to help students build on their academic skills and assist with their acclimation to the university environment. These programs emphasize academic preparation and community-building for students through a focus on mentoring. The programs are based on long term learning communities, which are formed in the summer before a student's first semester.

Shiva enjoys helping to plan, develop, and implement initiatives that expose students from various backgrounds, cultures, life experiences, belief systems, and ways of life to the value and benefits of being in a diverse college environment.

Breakout Group Speakers

Joyce WattsJoyce Watts, PhD.

Joyce Germaine Watts is a career educator who has served in elementary through doctoral teaching and leadership roles where she promotes equity and excellence, culturally and linguistically responsive instruction, counseling, guidance, leadership, bilingual education, and systemic school transformation. Currently she is Executive Director of The Village Nation, an L.A.-based nonprofit that helps stakeholders enhance their capacity to unlock the genius of African American students, with unprecedented success.

Dr. Watts credits her teachers and mentors for the insights and capacity she has gained over the years, including her parents and Dr. Lewis M. King, Dr. Asa G. Hilliard III, Paulo Freire and so many others. She is grateful for patient tutoring from peers and younger generations of family, mentees, students and friends.

A lifelong learner, Dr. Watts has travelled and studied on five continents where she engaged with the peoples and cultures of Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Spain, Canada and Japan, as well as diverse ethnic groups in the U.S. She was a delegate to the 2001 NGO Forum of the United Nations World Conference Against Racism, Xenophobia and Intolerance in Durban, South Africa.


Geni CobbGeni Cobb

Ms. Cobb grew up in Mid City Los Angeles and attended Our Lady of Loretto Bishop Conaty High School. She then went on to attend California State University Northridge and received two Bachelor degrees; Chicano Studies and Deaf Studies. She went on to receive her masters in Educational Psychology and a post graduate certificate in College Counseling from CSUN as well. Ms. Cobb has worked in all educational levels from elementary school to college systems. She has worked in a variety of positions from tutor, teacher’s assist, and academic counselor to college recruiter, coordinator, and advisor at the collegiate level. She understands student transitions and is a champion at fostering and mentoring students to reach their highest potential. Ms. Cobb is currently the 9th and 10th grade college counselor at Cleveland Charter High School.






Frankie Augustin, DPPD, MSHA Frankie Augustin, DPPD, MSHA
Full Professor, Department of Health Sciences
Student Success Faculty Affiliate, Office of the Provost

Dr. Frankline (Frankie) Augustin, MSHA, is a proud daughter of immigrant parents. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology and her Master’s degree in Health Administration, both at CSUN. She graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) with her doctorate in Policy, Planning and Development. Known as “Dr. A” by her students, she is an award-winning Full Professor in the Health Administration Program at California State University, Northridge (CSUN). She has worked for CSUN for 31 years. Dr. A’s previous CSUN roles include: (1) Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) Satellite Director for the College of Science and Mathematics in which she improved access and retention of minoritized students for 8 years; (2) Special Assistant to the Dean of the College of Health and Human Development for Student Success Initiatives; and (3) she currently serves as a Student Success Faculty Affiliate for the Office of the Provost, co-facilitating discussions on eliminating racial equity gaps. Dr. A’s research focuses on cultural humility and investigating strategies that increase and retain racial diversity in the healthcare leadership workforce. She has facilitated cultural competence/cultural humility discussions for various organizations such as the University of Findlay Ohio, School of Pharmacy, Diversity Grand Rounds; ZOE International Los Angeles and J2 Global, Inc. Dr. A served her community by completing 8 years of governance for MEND Poverty (Pacoima, CA) as Governing Board Director and a 2-year term as Program Board Chair. MEND (Meet Each Need with Dignity) Poverty is a nonprofit that serves lowest income families & individuals in the San Fernando Valley by meeting their most immediate basic needs and helping them build resources and skills to address and overcome long-term poverty.

Kacie Blackman, PhDKacie Blackman, PhD

Dr. Blackman is an Assistant Professor in the Health Equity Research and Education (HERE) Center and the Department of Health Sciences at California State University, Northridge. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Human Performance (Minor: Chemistry) from Howard University (with honors) and PhD in Human Nutrition, Foods, & Exercise from Virginia Tech. Dr. Blackman completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Cancer Prevention and Control in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California. Upon completing her fellowship, she was a Research Analyst at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Division of HIV & STDs, Research and Innovation Sector. Dr. Blackman and her lab focus on community partnered participatory research approaches to support birthing persons and their families primarily through developing, implementing, evaluating perceptions, experiences, and health outcomes in perinatal care. This includes studying the roles of communities, environments, policies, structures, birth equity workers (midwives, doulas, lactation & childbirth educators), and health literacy on the health of birthing persons and their families. Further, Dr. Blackman examines ways to promote breastfeeding/chestfeeding equity with an emphasis in Black families. Dr. Blackman is also interested in employing culturally appropriate mobile health technologies with underserved communities. Her current work also emphasizes how the structural and social determinants of health play an integral role on maternal and infant health. She is a Community Health Advocate Leader for iDREAM for Racial Health Equity. Dr. Blackman is a southern California native, daughter, sister, wife, mother of two girls and son.

Amoré JacksonAmoré Jackson

North Carolina native, Amoré Jackson, teaches 8th grade honors and general science in Palmdale, CA. She also leads after school programs such as the Black Student Union (BSU) through the African-American Parent Advisory Committee (AAPAC), Pre-Medical Cub, and assists with Boys’ Basketball and Track & Field.  She has spent time with the Antelope Valley College Science Olympiad, NASA, and UCLA Hospital to help compound drugs for COVID patients.  She is also a professor at East Los Angeles College and teaches pharmacology courses in the pharmacy technology program. Jackson has a degree in Biology and Africana Studies which fits her goal to gain more minority students to find a passion for the sciences.



 Dr. Lester PowellDr. Lester Powell
Los Angeles Unified School District

My name is Lester Powell, Ed. D. Since being hired in 2004 by LAUSD I have served as a special education teacher, as a special education administrator and an assistant principal. I am currently serving in my seventh year as the proud principal of Tulsa School for Advanced Studies in Granada Hills. I recently graduated from University of Southern California in August 2019 with my Doctorate in Urban Education with a focus on the Under-representation of African American Boys in Gifted Programs in LAUSD. In the last few months I officially became a member of Black Lives Matter, Los Angeles where I continue to fight as a part of this historic movement taking place around the world. I reside in Los Angeles just a few miles from Downtown Los Angeles, with my partner, Bennie, and our 11 year old son, Alex, along with our dogs, Tank, Chase, and Jaxx.




 Fluke FlukerFluke Fluker
High school teacher, former U.S. Marine Corp Sergeant and co-founder The Village Nation nonprofit


Born and raised in the republic of Brooklyn, New York, Fluke Fluker was inducted into the USMC and at 19 ½ he became one of the youngest sergeants in Marine Corp peacetime history. Following his dream of playing college basketball, he received an Associate of Arts degree from Mira Costa Community College and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Kinesiology as well as a teaching credential from California State University, Northridge. During his 28 years of teaching, Mr. Fluker has demonstrated his leadership skills by creating, developing and implementing conflict resolution, cultural awareness and life skills curriculums. In 2003, Fluke co-founded The Village Nation a non-profit organization designed to unapologetically challenge and empower African American youth.  His vast experience and passion for teaching has not only made him an effective coach, mentor, teacher and activist but has led him to appear on the Oprah show, the MoNique show, the Essence Music Festival, featured in the 2009 & 2010 Who’s Who of Black Los Angeles publication, and invited speaker at the United Nation’s annual commemoration to the ending of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. In 2015, The White House Initiative on Educational Excellent for African Americans celebrated Mr. Fluker’s commitment and dedication. Fluke has established him as a man of integrity and character bringing him numerous awards and acclamations but none greater than his Fatherhood Forever award giving by Judge Mablean Ephriam’s Foundation. Fluke and his wife, Darnique, are the proud parents of two beautiful daughters, Brooke-Lynn and Jazz.

Dr. Portia Jackson Preston

Dr. Portia Jackson Preston
Assistant Professor, California State University, Fullerton


Dr. Portia Jackson Preston, DrPH, MPH is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health at California State University, Fullerton. Her research focuses on the impact of stress on health, with an emphasis on burnout and self-care in minority populations and among non-clinical health professionals. She is particularly interested the identification and promotion of culturally accepted positive stress coping practices among professional women of color to help reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. She has published on organizational strategies to mitigate stress in the workplace, and has provided speaking and consulting services to hospitals and universities on this topic. Her works in process focus on self-care in black women and the role of discrimination in influencing health outcomes and health care utilization.



Robert D. ParkRobert.D.Park, Academic Advisor
CSUN College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.


Robert is a staff member at the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences, Student Services Center, where he is the academic advisor for the Psychology department. Robert has been with the CSBS-SSC for over 10 years, holding a variety of roles from student assistant, graduate intern, assistant coordinator (A.G.E. program), and academic advisor. Mr. Park received both his B.A. & M.S. degrees from CSUN. His Bachelor' degree is in Sociology Option IV: Interviewing & Counseling and his Master's degree is from the department of Education Psychology & Counseling, Option: College Counseling & Student Services. He is currently working towards achieving a Career Counseling Certification. Robert is passionate about working with college students and draws from his personal experiences, educational knowledge and professional skills to support students in following their dreams.