(From left to right: Professor Janel George, Dr. Jamal Watson, Lindsay Heck, Esq., Kaleena Berryman)
Education Law Center is honored to welcome three outstanding leaders in education, law and philanthropy to the organization’s Board of Trustees: Professor Janel George, Dr. Jamal Watson and Lindsay Heck, Esq.
“Our new board members are poised to make a significant contribution to ELC’s expanded pursuit of education justice,” said David Sciarra, ELC Executive Director. “Their commitment to ensuring fair school funding, fostering equitable learning environments, and demanding states effectuate the right to public education will help guide us as we redouble our advocacy for the nation’s students, especially students of color, students with disabilities, and students in poverty.”
ELC also welcomes Kaleena Berryman, an experienced parent and community organizer in Newark, to a new Policy Advocate position. Ms. Berryman will serve as lead convenor of Our Children/Our Schools, the New Jersey network of education, civil rights and children’s rights organizations established by ELC and partner organizations 15 years ago. She also brings her expertise in education advocacy and community engagement to elevate the work of ELC’s policy and advocacy team.
“We’ve worked with Kaleena in her various roles at Newark’s Abbott Leadership Institute,” said Sharon Krengel, ELC Policy and Outreach Director. “Kaleena is a fierce champion of urban public schools, working at the intersection of policy and grassroots organizing. She’ll make an invaluable contribution to advancing education justice and opportunity for New Jersey children, especially those in schools segregated by race and poverty.”
Please read the brief bios below:
Janel A. George is an Associate Professor of Law at Georgetown Law, where she focuses on racial stratification in public education, including the desegregation and resegregation of public schools and resource inequity. She is the founder and director of the Racial Equity in Education Law and Policy Clinic, where student attorneys tackle discriminatory school discipline practices, police presence in schools, school segregation, resource inequities, and narrow and punitive assessments through public testimony, legislative analysis, research, “know-your-rights” trainings and coalition building and collaboration.
Professor George’s scholarship focuses on the potential of legislative interventions to eradicate racial inequalities in education. Her commentary has been published in Ms., CNN, Education Week, Teen Vogue, and other outlets. Her work and scholarship are informed by her experience as a congressional staffer and as a legislative lawyer with several non-profits, including as a civil rights attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. She has also spoken across the country about issues of racial inequality in education.
Professor George is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School, where she served as a Managing Editor of the Wisconsin Law Review, and Spelman College.
Dr. Jamal Watson is an educator and trained historian, whose research focuses on media and the civil rights movement. He directs the Center for Advocacy and Philanthropy at ETS and is on the graduate faculty at Trinity Washington University.
Dr. Watson is a graduate of Georgetown University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English and Theology. He earned a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and a Ph.D. in Afro-American Studies form the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Dr. Watson is a member of numerous boards, including the Melvin C. Terrell Educational Foundation, Inc.
Lindsay Heck, Esq., recently left private practice for public service and is now working for the U.S. Government. She was formerly an associate in the Commercial Litigation Practice Group at White & Case LLP focusing on complex commercial disputes, representing major domestic and international corporations across a range of industries. She was involved in several high profile cases, including litigation arising from the collapse of Enron and the bankruptcy of a major retailer in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
While at White & Case, Ms. Heck began a longstanding relationship with ELC, working on a pro bono basis with Greg Little, ELC’s Chief Trial Counsel, on litigation on behalf of thousands of schoolchildren in high poverty, underfunded school districts. This included an educational and civil rights class action lawsuit on behalf of 30,000 children in Flint, Michigan, who were poisoned by lead in the water during the infamous water crisis. She also worked with Mr. Little on a groundbreaking case representing victims of human trafficking.
Ms. Heck has degrees from Brown University, Harvard Law, and the University of Cambridge.
Kaleena K. Berryman is a social justice advocate, community organizer, author, mentor, and program director committed to the empowerment of children, parents, women, and people of color.
Ms. Berryman has worked for 15 years with the Abbott Leadership Institute at Rutgers University Newark, whose mission is to teach education advocacy and family engagement skills to parents, educators, community leaders, and students in Newark, New Jersey. She is responsible for growing the institute’s youth development portfolio and helping to create a cadre of youth leaders who are helping to shape the future of Newark. Ms. Berryman also developed critical programs to empower and educate parents and created the New-Ark Leaders of Health in partnership with Mayor Ras Baraka’s Office of Youth and College Affairs.
Ms. Berryman founded Newark Circle of Sisters (NCOS), an organization of women in the city of Newark who provide service scholarships to Newark women at all stages in their advanced education pursuits, and founded The Preemie Parent’s Club, Inc., which provides support services to mothers and fathers whose babies are currently in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Newark.
She also serves on the board of the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network of NJ (SPAN) and Mayor Ras Baraka’s National Community Schools Advisory Board. In 2014, Ms. Berryman published her first book, Stronger than We Thought: Poetry for the Preemie Mom’s Journey.
Born and raised in Newark, she graduated with honors from Arts High School, and after being awarded a Presidential Scholarship to William Paterson University, earned a bachelor’s degree in Communications with a minor in African American and Caribbean Studies. She served as President of William Paterson’s college chapter of the NAACP and founded the first culturally responsive campus monthly publication, entitled UMOJA. In January 2011, she earned a master’s degree in Public Administration from Rutgers University-Newark.
Policy and Outreach Director
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Director of Policy, Strategic Partnerships and Communications