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AASA Leading for Equity: Michigan’s Journey to Create Social Justice Leaders Through Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Thursday, April 22, 2021 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm EDT

Leading for Equity

Presented by Dr. Sarena Shivers, Deputy Executive Director, Michigan Association of Superintendents & Administrators; Dr. Shayla Griffin, Co-Founder & Facilitator, Justice Leaders Collaborative; and Dr. Brian Davis, Superintendent, Holland Public Schools (MI)
Moderated by Dr. Valerie Truesdale, Assistant Executive Director, AASA, The School Superintendents Association

Hosted by AASA, The School Superintendents Association 
AASA’s Leadership Network, providing premier professional learning for educational leaders

Watch the Recording Listen to the Podcast

Closed captioning will be added to the recording within 2 weeks of the live presentation.
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We are living in a time when we must confront the issues of equity, social justice, diversity, race and racism in schools. The necessary work and change needed to address these deep-rooted challenges, playing themselves out every day across the state, begins with each of us. What doesn’t challenge you, can’t change you! At the heart of this edWebinar is the conviction that civic responsibility and ethical citizenship are fundamental competencies that every learner must develop—and all schools and districts must model and reinforce.

Watch Michigan’s MASA leaders of SDEI (Social Justice through Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) to hear more about their work, their journey, and their plans for an 18-month collaborative to build a better, equitable education system for all students. Their collaborative focuses on real issues, lived experiences, district transformation, and student voice and activism. Presenters include Dr. Sarena Shivers, Deputy Executive Director, Michigan Association of Superintendents & Administrators, Dr. Shayla Griffin, Co-Founder & Facilitator of the Justice Leaders Collaborative, and Dr. Brian Davis, Superintendent, Holland Public Schools, Holland, Michigan.

This recorded edWebinar will provide strategies, examples, and recommendations for educational leaders engaged in the work of addressing the needs of diverse student populations, promoting students’ success in post-secondary education and the 21st century world of work, and creating and sustaining an inclusive organizational culture free of implicit bias and structural racism.

This recorded presentation will be of particular value to school superintendents, K-12 school and district leaders, and aspiring leaders.


Sarena ShiversAbout the Presenters

Dr. Sarena Shivers has been an educator for nearly 30 years. She has served as an elementary teacher, elementary assistant principal, elementary principal, director of curriculum, director of school services, transportation director, assistant superintendent of achievement and five years as the superintendent of Redford Union School District No. 1, in Southeast Michigan. In July 2020, Dr. Shivers became the deputy executive director of the Michigan Association of Superintendents & Administrators.

Dr. Shivers received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Morgan State University, master’s in administration and supervision from Ball State University, and doctorate in educational leadership and policy analysis from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.

Dr. Shivers’ key areas of expertise and professional accomplishments are curriculum and instruction, program development and alignment, program evaluation and opening innovative and award-winning secondary school programs (alternative high schools, early college, and honors programs). She has steep knowledge of teaching and learning and has led key initiatives in the areas of school change, adolescent literacy, writing, mathematics, STEM, cutting-edge instructional technology (augmented reality and artificial intelligence) and school leadership. For over a decade, Dr. Shivers has led work regionally and across the state of Michigan in cultural relevancy, cultural proficiency, equity, social justice and diversity in education.

In addition, Dr. Shivers has been an external reviewer for AdvancED national accreditation institution, a national consultant for The College Board in their College Readiness Division, a “Data Teams” trainer, and trained to be a restorative practices facilitator. Dr. Shivers teaches doctoral-level coursework at Madonna University. She has also been a guest lecturer at Eastern Michigan University since 2005 teaching a pre-service teaching course on assessment/evaluation and currently a graduate-level course in culturally responsive teaching.

In September 2014, Dr. Shivers received the SL Roberson Community Leadership Award, the highest award the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office bestows on a civilian. She was chosen for the honor because of her work in helping to develop and train over 4,000 staff in active shooter/threat procedures known as A.L.I.C.E.

In 2017, Dr. Shivers taught in the professional learning series overseas at the University of Science and Technology in Beijing, China. She currently serves as a regular contributor, partner and/or consultant for Hanover Research, The Futures Institute, The Flying Classroom, National Superintendent’s Advisory Council and HWC Executive Leadership Institute. In 2021, Dr. Shivers became a leadership coach, mentor and consultant for Huling and Associates.

Finally, in 2018, Dr. Shivers received the Redford Community Foundation Service Award and in 2019, she was named to Michigan’s Crain’s Notable Women in Educational Leadership. She has four children and currently resides in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan.


Shayla Griffin

Dr. Shayla Griffin received her Ph.D. and MSW from the joint program in social work and cultural anthropology at the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor and her B.A. in African American studies with a minor in Spanish from Spelman College—Atlanta, GA. Her work focuses on issues of diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice, especially in K-12 schools. Dr. Griffin has extensive experience in dialogue facilitation, social justice education, coaching and consulting, and youth programming. She has worked with thousands of P-12 teachers, high school students, and college students, from more than 15 school districts around issues of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and disability. She has also served as a social justice consultant and trainer with a number of non-profit organizations.

Dr. Griffin has taught courses on race, social justice, and diversity at the University of Michigan for the Program on Intergroup Relations, the School of Social Work, and the Department of Anthropology. She has been the recipient of a number of research grants and fellowships including the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, the Andrew W. Mellon Graduate Fellowship in Humanities, and a postdoctoral fellowship with the University of Michigan School of Education’s Center for the Study of Black Youth in Context. Currently, Dr. Griffin is the education justice consultant for the Washtenaw Intermediate School District where she is tasked with providing professional development to educators across the county in order to help them improve their practice in the areas of teaching and learning, relationships and climate, images and celebrations, behavior and discipline, and policies and procedures.

Dr. Griffin is the author of Those Kids, Our Schools: Race and Reform in an American High School (Harvard Education Press, 2015) and co-author of Race Dialogues: A Facilitator’s Guide to Tackling the Elephant in the Classroom (Teachers College Press, 2019). She also developed the Education Justice Assessment and Transformation Tool (EJATT): A Vision for Classrooms, Schools, and Districts, which a number of teachers, schools, and districts are using to create more socially just education systems. Dr. Griffin serves on the State of Michigan’s Advisory Council on Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing and was on the Advisory Council of Detroit Disability Power. She resides in Detroit, MI with her spouse and three children.


Brian DavisDr. Brian Davis is the current superintendent of Holland Public Schools. He is completing his 13th year as Superintendent in the district and nearly 30 years in K-12 education. He has worked in urban, suburban, and rural districts as an elementary/middle school teacher, middle school counselor, elementary principal, and assistant superintendent of instruction.

Dr. Davis was named by the Michigan Association of Superintendents & Administrators as the 2011 Michigan State Superintendent of the Year. Since this acknowledgment, he has had the opportunity to participate at the state and national levels in assisting in shaping education policy and school reform efforts. He currently sits on the Executive Council of the Michigan Association of Superintendents & Administrators (MASA) and the Middle Cities Education Association (MCEA). He is also a member of the MASA Professional Growth and Leadership Committee currently developing an equity model of professional support for superintendents across the state and co-developed the MASA Mentor Coaching Cadre Model. He served as a school leader as part of the Michigan School Finance Research Collaborative to address the base funding needed in Michigan to provide equitable education and services aligned with the Michigan Standards and Top 10 in 10 initiatives. He has also served on multiple Michigan Department of Education committees.

Dr. Davis has a Ph.D. from Western Michigan University in educational leadership, research and technology; an Educational Specialist degree in K-12 leadership from Michigan State University; a Master of Arts in K-12 school counseling from Eastern Michigan University; and a Bachelor of Science in education from Central Michigan University.

His passion lies with ensuring that each child not only has access to, but receives high-quality, engaged and meaningful learning experiences with the supports necessary that prepare them for an ever-changing world.


Valerie TruesdaleAbout the Moderator

Dr. Valerie Truesdale joined AASA early in 2019 as the assistant executive director responsible for guiding leadership development services and programs. With years of experience in the superintendency and roles in instructional technology, she knows that AASA’s Leadership Network can be a substantial resource for school leaders trying to keep pace with the rapidly changing delivery of K-12 education.


Closed captioning will be added to the recording within 2 weeks of the live presentation.

Join the Leading for Equity community to network with educators, participate in online discussions, receive invitations to upcoming edWebinars, and view recordings of previous programs to earn CE certificates.


The AASA Leadership Network drives superintendent success, innovation, and growth, shaping the future of public education while preparing students for what’s next. We are the largest, most diverse network of superintendents in America. Passionate and committed, we connect educational leaders to the professional learning, leadership development, relationships, and partnerships they need to ensure a long career of impact.



Thursday, April 22, 2021
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm EDT
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