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Race, Reflection, and Practice Towards Action (RRPA) was developed in response to the numerous challenges faced by our Pahara community in 2020. COVID-19, racial disruption, and political fracture within this country have stretched us at every level. You, our Pahara community, called on us to do what Pahara does best: bring leaders together in thoughtfully crafted containers where personal transformation can occur, and vulnerability, authentic connection, and care for one another become the prism through which tough but necessary conversations are had.


RRPA creates the conditions for Paharans to draw closer to one another, and to do transformative work toward racial justice in spaces of racial affinity as a means for braver connection leading to brave actions. 


The cornerstone of our work has always been to engage leaders across the spectrum of identity - and this work continues. Following the sessions, RRPA alumni have the opportunity to continue their practice together and deepen dialogue across lines of difference and identity. Further details of this content will be shared with workshop participants. 


A first-order priority for Pahara is to address racial inequity and racial justice in our program design. We also believe that an approach centered on racial affinity creates room for each group to center their own healing and development needs before moving into a space of collective action. As an organization, we have work to do in ensuring our commitment to equity is reflected in our programmatic structure, content, and interactions within our Fellowship community. Our goal is to offer content and experiences rooted in equity and focused on community and trust as key levers of brave and values-driven leadership. 


Additionally, in the early spring of 2020, Pahara’s CEO, Kriste Dragon, and SVP, Idrissa Simmonds-Nastili, began conducting a series of one-on-one strategy meetings and have to date spoken with over 140 Fellows, funders, and other stakeholders within the Pahara community. Themes from these calls informed the development of Race, Reflection, and Practice Towards Action:

  1. Fellows highlighted the need for dialogue centering racial equity and justice, with a belief that Pahara is uniquely positioned to offer this type of dialogue with high quality across lines of difference with a far reach within the field;

  2. Fellows noted the value of the space for reflection that Pahara provides with a community of peers - in particular, how such dialogue feels urgently needed in this national moment of fissure and racial reckoning; and

  3. Fellows of color expressed a deep desire to center identity in a space of affinity, citing isolation, exhaustion, and a need for connection with others whose experiences might resonate with their own. A number of white Fellows have also named a desire and need to strengthen experiences in allyship in spaces where there is room to grapple, question, and learn.


Race, Reflection, and Practice Towards Action is a six-session program for Pahara Fellows committed to deepening their engagement in personal reflection and empowerment, dialogue, and action focused on racial equity and racial justice, systemic change, and combating anti-Blackness in the education sector. The sessions will take place across six cohorts of racial affinity to enable each group to more narrowly focus on their learning, reflection, and connection within a (semi) shared racial experience - though we expect, acknowledge, and honor significant diversity exists in each of these cohorts. Racial affinity groups offer space for powerful work to occur, but are still imperfect and complex. The diversity within each of these racial groupings is vast - it is our intent in the experience design to honor and create space for the range of experiences and identities that make up this community. As racial identity is fluid and complex, we will be offering an open space cohort designed for Fellows whose racial identities extend beyond our current racial affinity group offerings. Each cohort is supported by teams of co-facilitators with experience in leading and holding critical conversations about race for a range of audiences. 


In a post-program survey for the Spring 2021 pilot, 94% of RRPA participants who completed the survey felt that the program achieved (and some even said exceeded) their expectations. Leaders cited supportive conversations, real connections and community, learning and growth, and a strengthened sense of leadership in this work as important factors.


“[RRPA] exceeded expectations in that it has pushed my identity, framework for taking anti-racist actions, and comfort with communicating about this work in ways I didn't expect.”


The program consists of a total of 22 hours of content:

  • Six three-hour weekly sessions (reference each affinity group for specific dates and times)

  • Three 75-minute “communities of practice”, consisting of three participants from a cohort meeting out of session for peer coaching, feedback, and shared insight to further their learning and concrete actions. These groups are self-scheduled by the individuals within each small group. 

  • Participants should also anticipate holding an additional 1-2 hours each session week for readings and homework reflections.

Each session builds upon the previous week to create the full experience and a commitment to full attendance is requested. There are six cohort offerings based on racial affinity. Applicants may apply to the following affinity offerings with which they identify:

  • Asian, Pacific Islander, and Middle Eastern leaders

  • Black leaders

  • Indigenous leaders and Multiracial leaders

  • Latinx leaders 

  • White leaders

  • Open Space, for Fellows whose racial identities extend beyond our current racial affinity group offerings

Individuals who identify with more than one race or ethnicity may express interest in multiple affinity groups (though will only be accepted into one).


The scope of these sessions is reflection, connection, practice, and pathways to concrete action. This is not a DEI training. For those looking for racial equity and DEI training, we encourage you to connect with Pahara Fellows who are leading such work in the field.


Participants will leave this offering in deeper community with Pahara Fellows, clearer on aligning their values to racial justice practices in their personal and professional lives, and with greater awareness of how their identity impacts and contributes to how they shape change. Specific outcomes are as follows:


  1. Participants have reflected on their own experiences navigating race in leadership and America.

  2. Participants have articulated a practice for centering racial justice and combating anti-Black racism within their work and lives.

  3. Participants have begun to articulate a vision for moving the field towards racial equity at the systemic level.

  4. Participants have connected deeply with one another and strengthened bonds within the Pahara community, with the potential for future collaboration.

  5. Participants have engaged in communities of practice that support and further the learning taking place in each session.

Meet the Facilitator Team! Click here.


Expressions of Interest are due on Monday, November 1st. We will be in touch by mid-November.


The Expression of Interest is intended to help us learn about the ways you hope to benefit from the experience. The form consists of two brief essay responses. We view this as an opportunity for leaders to expand their knowledge and practice in this area, and anticipate cohorts will include leaders across a spectrum of points in their racial equity journey.  

Pahara is committed to fostering intimacy and depth of dialogue in cohorts and will select groups of no more than 21 participants. We are aiming for diversity of voice across programs that is representative of the makeup of our community in sectors within education, geographic location, political perspective, and role. Should interest in this offering exceed the number of available seats, we will be in touch with all waitlisted participants to share information on future sessions. Our goal is to ensure that everyone who is interested is given the opportunity to participate in RRPA.


We do not want cost to be prohibitive for any participant. Pahara Fellows may take this program at no cost or can pay what they can. For those in a position to contribute financially, the below sliding scale based on an organization’s budget offers suggested registration costs. A registration form to select a payment option will be sent to confirmed participants.

Organizational Budget
Suggested Registration Cost
Under 2 million
Between 2 and 5 million
Over 5 million


  • Asian, Pacific Islander, and Middle Eastern leaders - facilitated by Lizzie Choi & Godfrey Santos Plata

    • Wednesdays from 9am - 12pm PT, 12pm - 3pm ET on the following dates:
      February 2, 16, 23, March 9, 16, 23, 2022


  • Black leaders - facilitated by Traci Dove & Idrissa Simmonds-Nastili 

    • Wednesdays from 9am - 12pm PT, 12pm - 3pm ET on the following dates: 
      February 2, 16, 23, March 9, 16, 23, 2022


  • Indigenous leaders and Multiracial leaders - facilitated by Jamilyn Salonga Bailey & Anpao Duta Flying Earth

    • Tuesdays from 9am - 12pm PT, 12pm - 3pm ET on the following dates:
      February 1, 15, 22, March 8, 15, 22, 2022


  • Latinx leaders - facilitated by Tina Fernandez & Meralis Hood

    • Thursdays from 9am - 12pm PT, 12pm - 3pm ET on the following dates:
      February 3, 17, 24, March 10, 17, 24, 2022

  • White leaders - facilitated by Kara Allen & Adam Falkner 

    • Tuesdays from 9am - 12pm PT, 12pm - 3pm ET on the following dates:

    • February 1, 15, 22, March 8, 15, 22, 2022


  • Open Space - facilitated by Lizzie Choi & Idrissa Simmonds-Nastili (This group is for fellows whose racial identities extend beyond our current racial affinity group offerings)

    • Tuesdays from 9am - 12pm PT, 12pm - 3pm ET  on the following dates:

    • February 1, 15, 22, March 8, 15, 22, 2022


Please review and confirm all session dates before completing your interest form.

Interested but cannot make these dates? Let us know here.

    Nominations are accepted on a rolling basis and, while they are not required for entry into the Fellowship, they are critical to our ability to identify exceptional leaders from across the education ecosystem. Ideally, a nominator knows enough about the leader’s work to share their thoughts on why they would be an excellent choice for the Fellowship. Each nominee is notified and invited to submit an application for consideration. We believe that a broad, diverse coalition is needed to reimagine the role and manner of education in society. While the Fellowship is open to all education leaders who meet our selection criteria, we are particularly seeking to identify innovative leaders of nonprofit schools and from organizations serving nonprofit schools, and leaders bringing perspectives from across the political spectrum. We are sensitive to the ways sponsorship practices can disadvantage women and Black, Indigenous and leaders of color who are less likely to have sponsors. When thinking of incredible changemakers to bring to our attention, we encourage nominators to consider leaders from within and outside of their close circles.
    Leaders who meet our program criteria are welcome to apply to the Fellowship, with or without a nomination. The application is an essential and required part of the process, and allows candidates to share information about their work and leadership, alignment with our selection criteria, and how they most hope to benefit from participation in this powerful development experience. For applicants advancing beyond this stage, this information serves as rich background information on which to base deep, reflective dialogue during interviews taking place during candidate consideration. While the Fellowship is open to all education leaders who meet our selection criteria, we are particularly seeking to identify innovative leaders of nonprofit schools and from organizations serving nonprofit schools, and leaders bringing perspectives from across the political spectrum.
    During this stage, we seek to understand candidates’ motivations and challenges, learn more about their background and leadership journey, and determine candidates’ willingness and ability to negotiate the multiple domains of difference that contribute to the tapestry of Pahara cohorts. Candidates participate in a 90-minute virtual interview with a Pahara Fellow or a member of Pahara staff via Zoom. This conversation also provides candidates an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the Fellowship. The interview is followed by referencing carried out by our team. This includes reviewing feedback provided by the three references named by the candidate, and checking for potential conflicts of interest amongst candidates being selected into the same cohort. We may also reach out to Fellows in our community who are familiar with a candidate’s work to understand the full scope of their leadership. Given the degree of openness and vulnerability expected in this phase of our process, information shared with us by candidates or in the reference process is held with the highest degree of confidentiality.
    Once we have identified a pool of values-driven leaders who have demonstrated readiness throughout the selection process, we begin the careful, complex process of curating cohorts. We aim for cohorts that are inclusive of the breadth of our humanity across multiple domains of difference, including socioeconomic background, race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical ability, religious affiliation, and political ideology. Cohorts are also distinctive in their inclusion of leaders from various organization models, multiple sectors in education, different geographic regions, and various leadership roles. This careful cohort curation is critical, as the cohort is the container within which the personal and professional transformation Pahara is most known for occurs. Cohort dialogue is confidential and both professional and personal in nature. We seek to foster an environment that celebrates the lived experiences of all of our Fellows.
    We strongly believe curating a myriad of perspectives in each group is a vital component of the program’s value and impact on participants. We receive many more nominations and applications than we have available seats in each cohort, and because of this level of demand, we are sometimes unable to select leaders who meet our selection criteria. When a candidate meets the selection criteria but is not placed, we encourage them to opt-in to be considered for a future cohort, which can take time. It is not uncommon for a Pahara Fellowship candidate to be considered for a few years before being selected or released.
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