2019 Award Winners

Unsung Hero

Beverly Brown, PhD is the Early Middle College (EMC) Manager in the Office of Career and Technical Education (OCTE) at the Michigan Department of Education (MDE). Dr. Brown regularly analyzes EMC data for Michigan and uses her position to advocate for equity for those who might benefit most, including students of color and economically disadvantaged students.

Dr. Brown’s educational career includes numerous efforts to foster equity across Michigan, including contributing to Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative during two national convenings through the Michigan College Access Network, presenting Cultural Competency and Equity concepts to the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and providing public testimony on equity, serving on MDEs Equitable Education Advisory Team, and designing and delivering multiple gender equity programs for K-12 audiences.

Prior to joining the OCTE, Dr. Brown worked with low-performing schools in the State School Reform Office and helped lead the department-wide effort to close the academic achievement gap with a laser focus on African American males. The 2012 initiative included the establishment of monthly state-level professional learning community “Brown Bag Lunches” and the development of a research pilot to narrow academic achievement gaps. The pilot is now an ongoing, full-scale project delivered by MDE under the name “African American Student Initiative.”

A native of Detroit, Dr. Brown earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing from Western Michigan University, her MSA degree from Central Michigan University, and her doctorate in educational leadership from Oakland University.

Kathy A Johnson

Kathy A. Johnson is a co-founder and consultant for CQ Strategies, LLC. Equity initiatives across Vermont and beyond have benefited from her expertise, involvement, and support. She works with administrators and employees in organizations, schools, municipalities, and businesses to address issues of inequity and implicit bias.

Ms. Johnson has worked her entire adult life to advance gender and racial equity—at Vermont Institutes for Science, Math & Technology (VISMT, an NSF-funded statewide systemic initiative); as facilitator of workshops for thousands of K-12 students and adults, in collaboration with the Vermont Agency of Education and Vermont Human Rights Commission; as gender equity consultant to technical schools for Vermont Works for Women; and as Senior Training Consultant for A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE Institute.

During her 10 years at VISMT, Ms. Johnson developed strategies to engage underrepresented groups in STEM-related programs. Under her leadership, VISMT launched Tech Savvy Girls, one of the country’s early programs to attract middle and high school girls to careers in computer science. As a Board member at Vermont Works for Women, Ms. Johnson helped launch Women Can Do, a statewide conference for high school girls to explore nontraditional careers, which now attracts more than 500 students annually. As consultant to Vermont Works for Women, Ms. Johnson worked for 5 years with the Center for Technology, Essex to systemically increase gender equity for students, staff, and community partners.

Ms. Johnson is a trailblazer whose passion for equity has kept her in the field for more than three decades, where she has cultivated many enduring initiatives. Ms. Johnson has mentored many equity advocates. She encourages others and readily spies opportunities for collaboration. Ms. Johnson has a BA from Saint Michael’s College in economics and a master’s degree from Champlain College in mediation and applied conflict studies.

Rising Star

Snehal Bhakta

Snehal Bhakta is the CTE Administrator for Nevada’s Clark County School District (CCSD), the fifth largest school district in the nation. Mr. Bhakta’s focus is on ensuring that Nevada’s future workforce is prepared for success.  

Mr. Bhakta leads regional projects such as National Job Shadow Day, the Annual Student Workforce & Innovation Summit, and CCSD’s #GirlsinSTEM and #GirlsinTECH Initiative. Mr. Bhakta has promoted the growth of Career & Technical Student Organizations and STEM programs across 59 middle and 47 high schools in Nevada for all students, especially underserved and underrepresented students.

Mr. Bhakta also serves as the Affiliate Coordinator for the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), marketing and event chair for the Society of Information Management of Las Vegas, and steering committee member for the Intermountain STEM (IM STEM) network, and he holds board positions on several other local organizations.

Prior to entering public education, Mr. Bhakta started his professional career in the private sector primarily as a business and technology consultant. When the opportunity presented itself for him to lead a new career and technical education program focusing on technology, he welcomed the opportunity to fuel his passion for helping others and working with the next generation of innovators.

Lifetime Achievement

Mimi Lufkin started her career as an agricultural educator at Etna High School in a small rural northern California town. She was an early participant in a California Department of Education (CDE) program to eliminate sex bias in vocational education. Later, she implemented a single parent program for Yreka Union High School District, helping women find support services as they returned to school and employment. In addition, on behalf of CDE, she provided technical assistance to school districts and community colleges on implementing best practices in sex-equity and single parent programs. Eventually she became the Director of Project TIDE, California’s sex-equity professional development program, managing the state’s annual equity conference and working with 10 regional consultants to conduct regional trainings.

Mimi founded Women’s Economic Growth (WEG), a microenterprise development program helping low-income women in Siskiyou County, California start small businesses to increase their family income. After 7 years serving as the Executive Director of WEG, she became College of the Siskyous (COS) Director of Development, responsible for fundraising to support programs and facilities. While at COS, Mimi married Allen Leslie, and they moved to their horse farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

In 1995, the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE) was looking for a new Executive Director—the perfect position for Mimi. As a consultant she provided membership management and communication services, ran the annual Professional Development Institute, and managed federal policy analysis and advocacy efforts. Over the years, NAPE’s national influence grew, and her responsibilities expanded to include conducting professional development and providing technical assistance to state and local educational agencies (LEAs). She worked closely with states to share best practices for serving special population students and for developing and analyzing accountability data to determine their progress and outcomes. At the federal level, Mimi worked extensively with other national organizations to advocate for equity in all federal legislation. She also worked with federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and the Office for Career Technical and Adult Education, to ensure the inclusion of the equity provisions in federal legislation.

Mimi served as the founding CEO of the NAPE Education Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit. Under her leadership, the organization grew from one part-time consultant to a staff of 10 and a budget of $2.5M annually. It now serves all 50 states, reaching thousands of educators annually with professional and curriculum development, and provides technical assistance to state and local education agencies (LEAs). Mimi has been the Principal Investigator on six NSF grants and successful in securing millions of dollars through corporate grants. Her influence on NAPE helping states and LEAs use data to conduct equity gap analysis, identify root causes, and implement research-based effective practices has transformed career and technical education. She retired from NAPE in August 2018 and currently supports NAPE as CEO Emerita.

Congratulations to Mimi Lufkin for 23 years of service to NAPE. She is widely admired as a pathfinder seeking equity for all and a long-time builder of partnerships among organizations working for equity. Her “can-do” attitude is contagious, even in the face of enormous obstacles. Through her talent as a grant writer and her brilliant communication and successful grant implementation, she has influenced federal policy and shaped state and local practice. In addition, she helps others gain confidence through unofficial compassionate mentorship. Most importantly her extraordinary leadership has changed the experience and landscape for educators and students throughout the United States. She is a Model for Equity in Education.

PS: Throughout her life Mimi has had a passion for a rural lifestyle and for horses. She has pursued her equestrian endeavors with aplomb, becoming a national award winner in eventing and dressage. She has bred, raised, and trained most of the horses that she has competed. Mimi is looking forward to having more time to spend with her horses and to compete at the national level. She and Allen also look forward to spending time with family and friends and traveling the world!


Roseburg High School 2019

The Roseburg High School team in Roseburg, Oregon, led by instructor Sheri Carson, discovered through an equity environmental scan and student surveys that girls were not taking manufacturing courses (including welding) in part because the protective gear/clothing was too big, making it difficult to operate the equipment. Their action research and the subsequent strategies implemented were as a result of their participation in the first cohort of NAPE’s Program Improvement Process for Equity (PIPE) through Oregon Department of Education and the Office of Community Colleges and Workforce Development .

The team implemented four strategies to address the low participation of girls in the program. The first strategy was to purchase welding gear in smaller sizes. Second, the school began a new “Freshman Cruise” class, in which all first-year students rotated through each of the school’s CTE programs over a 2-week period. During the welding rotation the instructor intentionally asked the girls in the class to demonstrate various welding techniques. Third, the school highlighted the welding program and its female students in a community open house. Fourth, through funding from the Douglas Educational Service District (ESD), Analicia Nicholson, who was site lead for their PIPE project, used NAPE’s Explore Nontraditional Careers Toolkit to help educators to recognize and address cultural stereotypes and the ways in which implicit biases created barriers to students’ success in nontraditional career preparation programs.

The results from these efforts were truly remarkable. The enrollment of girls in welding at Roseburg High School jumped from 4 in the fall of 2015 to 38 in spring 2016, in only one semester! Since this time, the team at Roseburg HS has continued to have success in recruiting and retaining girls in Welding. For more information on the work of Oregon PIPE and the remarkable results from the efforts of the team from Roseburg High School, visit www.napequity.org/pipe.

Team lead Sheri Carson is a Family and Consumer Science Instructor. Ms. Carson was the first female CTE Division Leader and Perkins Grant Coordinator for Roseburg Public Schools. She is extremely committed to re-building and expanding Roseburg High School’s CTE Department. Having co-owned her family construction company she has a very diverse background, which helps her both as an educator and business leader.

Ms. Carson received her AA in general education from Umpqua Community College and her BS in health/physical education from Western Oregon University. She earned another 75 graduate credits though Southern Oregon University and Grand Canyon University.

Supporting Ms. Carson and her team is Analicia Nicholson, who is the Assistant Superintendent of Douglas ESD. Ms. Nicholson received a BS from Oregon State University and an MA from Willamette University.