Our People

Our extraordinary team of researchers, educators, data analysts, and education technology specialists bring together years of teaching and course management experience to provide support for the program’s design, implementation, maintenance, and sustainable growth as we expand our program offerings in the future.

Amra Sabic-El-Rayess

professor, award-winning author and activist

Amra Sabic-El-Rayess is a professor, award-winning author and activist who grew up in Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina. After surviving genocide and more than 1,100 days under the Serbs’ military siege, she emigrated to the United States in 1996. By December 1999, she earned a B.A. in Economics from Brown University. Later, she obtained two Master’s degrees and a Doctorate from Columbia University. Currently, she is a professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College working on understanding how and why societies fall apart and what role education can play in rebuilding countries. She has published on education-related issues and has lectured around the world to adult and adolescent audiences. Her award-winning memoir, The Cat I Never Named: A True Story of Love, War, and Survival, was published to critical acclaim. In her students’ feedback, Amra is consistently praised as one of the most inspiring professors they have encountered.

Lauren Gonzalez

Curriculum and budget Lead

Lauren Gonzalez is a long-time educator and researcher with a range of academic publications and extensive field-experience. Since 2015, she has been working as a teacher and education researcher, focusing on improving school quality, student safety and health, and overall educational outcomes. She serves as a Director of Research for an education communications and technology company aimed at improving school quality. Moreover, she serves as a Research Teaching Specialist with the New Jersey (N.J.) Safe Schools Program at Rutgers School of Public Health, where she has had experience facilitating in-person and online educator professional development trainings geared towards providing certification for Work-Based Learning (WBL) supervision in conjunction.

Vikramaditya Joshi

research, outreach, and partnership lead

Vikramaditya (Vik) Joshi is a doctoral student in the Philosophy and Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy and Literature from Bard College (Annandale-on-Hudson, New York) and an M.A. in Biography and Creative Non-Fiction from the University of East Anglia (Norwich, United Kingdom). He has served first as a Teaching Fellow and, for the past three years, as a member of the faculty of the Bard Prison Initiative – a college-in-prison program at maximum and medium security prisons in Up-state New York. He has worked on educational programming, through the Initiative, with the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) for five years, focused on the teaching, advising, and tutoring of incarcerated students. He has served as a Fellow at Columbia University’s Center for Justice. He is currently a faculty member at Fordham University in the Philosophy Department.

Tina Keswani

Technology, media, and creative lead

Tina Keswani is currently a master’s student at Teachers College, Columbia University studying Communications, Media, and Learning Technologies Design with a concentration in Computing in Education. Since 2013, she has been working in the ed-tech industry with globally recognized universities to scale, support, and improve learning outcomes by creating innovative online degree programs. She has partnered with hundreds of faculty to design their online courses, continuously striving for the right balance between vision, curriculum, and technology. She has also established processes for faculty to continually reflect and improve upon their courses through a data-driven approach. Her current interests lie in creating digital learning experiences that have a positive social impact using genuinely inclusive and collaborative interactions.

Toomi Al-Dhahi

curriculum development research assistant

Toomi Al-Dhahi (she/they) is completing their M.A in Sociology and Education with a concentration in Education Policy. For five years, Toomi worked in direct youth leadership development before moving into the classroom where she taught high school Social Studies. While in the classroom, Toomi developed and facilitated professional development on Queer inclusion to educators across New Orleans schools. As a Strategist with Conscious Roots, LLC. Toomi has supported the development and facilitation of diversity, equity, and inclusion programming for local and national organizations. Toomi holds a B.S. in Applied Sociology at Texas State University where she published research on hip-hop, race, and youth activism as well as holds a Secondary Social Studies Teaching Certification from Relay Graduate School of Education.

John Doe

Designer

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John Doe

Designer

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John Doe

Designer

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