As spring shyly emerges from its sleep in the northeast, we at the NYU Metro Center are delighted to share our annual report for 2020-2021. In the face of great precarity, while a global pandemic raged on and enemies of equity and justice deployed their best efforts, my brilliant and capable colleagues at the NYU Metro Center remained unrelenting in the fight for the humanity and dignity of historically marginalized youth and families.
As you will discover in these pages, the valiant researchers, practitioners, and advocates that comprise our committed community at NYU Metro Center remained deeply engaged in partnership and in support of those at the forefront of educational transformation–community and family members, students, teachers and other school-based professionals, school and district leaders all who experience the schooling system first hand, day in and day out–all who strive towards equitable educational experiences for our youth.
I enter my tenure as the center’s fourth Executive Director, and I am struck by the persistence of this center which for decades has been a site of radical imagination for an equitable future centering marginalized children and youth, families, and communities. I am also firmly grounded in my dreams of the future for this distinguished center. I am honored to pick up the baton and sustain and advance the work of my esteemed predecessors and as the first woman to lead the center and the first Black woman center director at NYU Steinhardt, I look forward to furthering the work of NYU Metro Center in a way that I am uniquely equipped to accomplish.
I have had the privilege of beginning my journey with NYU Metro Center by hearing firsthand its many parts and its heartbeat: the important work that carries forward Metro’s mission, vision, and core values. It was a pleasure to receive an intimate understanding of the anti-racist, strengths-based, and restorative practices this team engages in while carrying out their work. My learnings from this listening tour have allowed me to generate a strategic plan for immediate, short-term, and long-term actions and initiatives that uplift the strengths of our team and bolster us as we move forward.
In this next phase of NYU Metro Center, one key priority is to restate our organizational structure to ensure our efforts are clearly articulated to the outside world. We are at once a traditional university research center and a team that provides supportive services to community and family members, students, teachers and other school-based professionals, and school and district leaders. It is important that the work we do is uplifted in a holistic fashion that weaves our efforts into a strong tapestry committed to anti-racism and the empowerment of those historically marginalized in educational spaces.
Historically, our unique and ambitious enterprise has been organized into two collaborative and synergistic units. The Research and Evaluation unit conducts and supports rigorous original research related to educational equity. This includes hosting long-term faculty-led research projects, providing individualized grant support to faculty and researchers from conception through closeout, and fostering an intellectual community and thought partnership for faculty affiliates. The School Change and Community Engagement unit builds the capacity of youth, families, community members, educators, administrators, schools, and school districts to build robust and equitable environments that foster student success through applied research and evaluation, technical assistance, professional development, consulting, evaluation, and teacher education.
My goal for 2022-2023 is to develop a third unit, which I call the Metro Core, that will host research training institutes for doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows, and early career faculty or researchers pursuing questions central to dismantling educational inequities; mobilize the sub-units under School Change and Community Engagement to provide collaborative, comprehensive support services; and house NYU Metro Center’s operations.
I look forward to leading with joy, curiosity, and love and dreaming with our community and partners about what else the next phase in NYU Metro Center’s life might hold, and how we can expand our reach and deepen our collaborations.
As I look ahead to the future of the NYU Metro Center, I am inspired by the words of the inimitable scholar, writer, and activist bell hooks, “To be truly visionary we have to root our imagination in our concrete reality while simultaneously imagining possibilities beyond that reality.” May we heed this call and let it guide the work that lies ahead of us.
Executive Director, NYU Metro Center
Associate Professor of Early Childhood and Urban Education, Department of Teaching & Learning
NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Urban Education