Schools as Center of Community

A4LE Deep Thinking Days

April 14-15, 2021

Schools as Center of Community

Kate Mraw, LPA
Tasha Lightning, NAC
Dr. Julie Z. Cramer, Wayfind Education


Schools are positioned to serve as centers of their community and provide a wide range of support programs that advance both civic and educational experiences. It’s time to reimagine the school campus as a community center. Playing a key role in providing resources, schools have given even more support to families beyond the needs of education since the coronavirus pandemic hit in March 2020. What if we took that one step further and developed schools as sustaining community centers, providing resources and supports to neighborhood families from nutrition to wellness, civic and family resources or even co-locating healthcare, housing, or service amenities?

Schools are best positioned to take care of people because that’s what they do. Student success does not occur in a vacuum, it is a function of involvement in the whole community. This conference will explore how we leverage the benefits of the community to the school and the opportunity in how schools can benefit the community, deeply exploring where education meets society and the implications for space design.

This 2-day Virtual Conference will strengthen your core competencies in Community Engagement, Design of Educational Facilities, and Educational Facility Pre-Design Planning. In this interactive event, we’ll learn together how to advance educational environments and create stronger connections between schools and their communities.


Process Idea
  1. Collect tools and research around culturally and community responsive spaces.
  2. Gain a perspective to understand your own community in a deeper way through thought-provoking discussion.
  3. Gain access to a network of community-minded educational advocates.
  4. Challenge each other to boldly redefine the relationship between school and community.


Subject to change | *times shown in EST

11:00am – 11:30am Welcome & Overview
Kate Mraw and Julia Hawkinson
11:30am – 12:30pm Next Generation of Community Schools
Dr. Julie Z. Cramer & Gema Quetzel
1:00pm – 2:30pm Explore 1: Understanding Community Needs
Gregg Behr, Cynthia Campoy Brophy & Laura Elliot
3:00pm – 4:00pm Explore 2: A Conversation to Re-Center the Movement
Hayin Kimner & Dr. Luis Valentino
4:00pm – 5:00pm Explore 3: Intersections between Communities & Schools
Amy Yurko, Mike McGavock, Kerry Leonard, Curtis Sarikey & Steven Bingler
11:00am – 11:30am Facilitated Reflection
Kate Mraw
11:30am – 12:30pm Redefining Relationships
Christian Long
1:00pm – 2:30pm Challenge Break-Out Groups
3:00pm – 4:00pm Share back our WOW (Wisdom, Opportunities & Wonderings)


Gregg Behr
Gregg Behr Gregg Behr, executive director of The Grable Foundation, is a father and children’s advocate whose work is inspired by the legacy of his hero, Fred Rogers. For more than a decade, he has helped lead Remake Learning—a network of educators, scientists, artists, and makers he founded in 2007—to international renown. Formed in Rogers' real-life neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Remake Learning has turned heads everywhere from Forbes to the World Economic Forum for its efforts to ignite children's curiosity, encourage creativity, and foster justice and belonging in schools, libraries, museums, and more. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and also Duke University, Gregg holds honorary degrees from Carlow University and Saint Vincent College. He's an advisor to the Brookings Institution and the Fred Rogers Center, and has been cited by Barack Obama and the Disruptor Foundation as an innovator and thought leader. He is the co-author of When You Wonder, You’re Learning.

Steven Bingler
Steve Bingler Steven has a powerful and compelling message, galvanizing communities to join together, think sustainably and develop solutions to global design challenges that inspire transformation in education. He has served as a special consultant to the Office of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education for development of the policy document, “Schools as Centers of Community: A Citizen’s guide.” He has contributed to research at the behest of the KnowledgeWorks Foundation, the Rural Schools and community Trust, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Steven is listed in Wikipedia’s roster of internationally acclaimed urban planners.

Cynthia Campoy Brophy
Cynthia Campoy Brophy Cynthia Campoy Brophy has worked in the nonprofit sector for many years, with a focus on youth empowerment and the arts. She began her career at The Museum of Contemporary Art and left to launch a nonprofit arts education organization, artworxLA. From founding the organization, to expanding it and eventually passing it on to the next generation of leadership, she worked to link existing resources to young people who lacked access to social, educational, and creative opportunities. She participated in youth empowerment efforts locally and nationally, serving on the national Creative Youth Development advisory board, the National Guild for Community Arts Education, Arts for LA (Board Chair), and was a State appointee on the California Cultural and Historical Endowment Board. She has served on panels and as speaker for organizations including the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, the National Dropout Prevention Conference, the National Guild. Professional learning opportunities include Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Scaling for Impact program and Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders/Arts. Campoy Brophy is a Durfee Foundation sabbatical award recipient.

Julie Zoellin Cramer, PhD
Julie Zoellin Cramer, PhD Dr. Julie Zoellin Cramer is the Executive Director of Wayfind Education. As an education research consultant, Dr. Cramer is dedicated to the development of deeper learning environments to help all students find their place of impact in the world. As a school design strategist, she works with integrated design firms, districts, and schools to align learning and teaching goals with physical learning spaces.

Dr. Cramer is an experienced research administrator and was the founding Deputy Director of the University of San Diego’s (USD) Institute for Entrepreneurship in Education (IEE), launching its Learning Space Design Project.

Dr. Cramer earned a PhD and MA in K-12 public/private school leadership from the School of Leadership and Education Sciences at USD. Her dissertation focused on stakeholder empowerment in the K-12 system. Her current research involves place-conscious education in schools and the implications for physical learning spaces.

Laura Elliot
Laura Elliot Laura has over twenty-five years of experience in the fields of education and youth development, including program design and cross-sector strategic engagement. Her expertise is in creating system-level and sustainable change while keeping community focus on individual student and family level success.

Laura is United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County’s Senior Director for Community Schools and Network Development. In this role, she serves as the co-facilitator of the Asheville Buncombe United for Youth Network, a multigenerational, cross-sector, cradle to career partnership working to ensure all students graduate ready for college, career and community.

She currently serves as the Co-Chair of the Coalition for Community Schools Leadership Network which includes roles on the national Steering Committee and Leadership Team. She has previously served as the chair and co-chair of the Coalition’s United Way Learning Community and participated on national-level workgroups to develop both community school and initiative level best-practice standards.

Hayin Kimner, PhD
Hayin Kimner Hayin Kimner is the Interim Executive Director of Parents for Public Schools of San Francisco and a Senior Policy and Research Fellow for Policy Analysis for California Education. She previously worked as a Senior Program Director for The Opportunity Institute, and led the development of District-wide community school partnership strategies in San Francisco Unified and Emery Unified School Districts. She received her B.A. from Amherst College, and a Ph.D. from Stanford University, Graduate School of Education. She serves as Board co-chair for SF Peer Resources, and is a Scholar Advisory Committee member for the Jackie Robinson Foundation - Pacific Northwest.

Kerry Leonard, AIA
Kerry Leonard Kerry is the Director of Architecture for the Reimagine America’s Schools program. For over ten years he served as a Senior Fellow and Architectural Advisor to the American Architectural Foundation on the Design for Learning and Great Schools by Design programs. Kerry believes we have the responsibility to make better places of learning through design.

For over 35 years Kerry worked for Chicago based K-12 design firms completing hundreds of K-12 projects across the country as an educational programmer, planner, and project principal. Kerry is a past chair of the AIA Committee on Architecture for Education (CAE) and a founding board member of the CAE Foundation. While at OWP/P Architects, Kerry participated in the creation of “The Third Teacher - 79 Ways You Can Use Design To Transform Teaching & Learning” a collaborative project of OWP/P, VS Furniture and Bruce Mau Design.

In addition to his work at reimage America’s Schools, Kerry continues to provide facility planning, programming, and architectural consulting services to schools, architects and other organizations. Kerry advances a culture of continual improvement to create, maintain, improve and enhance educational facilities in the service of students, staff and the community.

Tasha Lightning
Tasha Lightning Tasha Lightning is an applied research psychologist who currently serves as the director of research and experience development for NAC architecture. She specializes in applying integrated, evidence-based insights to the architectural design process. Her areas of focus are empathetic design and environmental psychology, which emphasize understanding the way space impacts holistic personal wellbeing.

Christian Long, M.Ed.
Christian Long Christian Long, M.Ed., serves as Principal – Research & Strategy for Roto, an interdisciplinary creative design agency offering planning, experience design, immersive media, interactive engineering, and custom fabrication for museums, zoos, science centers, aquariums, brands, attractions, and architectural placemaking. He oversees the company’s non-institutional market growth and serves as the strategic liaison between its studios and partner AE firms.

Michael McGavock, AIA
Michael McGavock Michael McGavock is the Director of Learning Environments at McGranahan Architects, leading the engagement, inquiry and planning of meaningful places for learning.

Kate Mraw, RID, ALEP
Kate Mraw Kate Mraw is a Principal with LPA and leads the design and discovery stages of educational projects. Kate has made research-based design part of the integrated approach, focusing on the relationship between physical space and experience. For the last decade, Kate has directed the firm’s research arm, LPAred, which has grown to include pre- and post-occupancy analysis, as well as performance based design research. As an Interior Design Director, Kate leads stakeholder engagement through a focus centered on the learner and educator experience.

Gema Quetzal
Christian Long Gema Quetzal is a proud Salvadoran-Mexican community organizer from East Oakland, CA, and a current sophomore at Stanford University. She is the co-founder and co-chair of Next Generation Coalition, Coalition of Community Schools, and is a member of the Brookings Institute’s Next Generation of Community Schools Task Force.

In the past, Gema served as the Student Board Member, appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to the California State Board of Education (SBE) to represent all 6.2 million students in the state for the term of August 2018-July 2019. Gema served as the sole Student Member on the State Board. Gema is the first Latina Student from Oakland to ever be appointed to this position in California. As the Integrated Voter Engagement Organizer and Praxis Fellow, Gema helped pass Oakland's Measure QQ in November 2020. This campaign lowered the voting age to 16 years olds in Oakland School Board elections, to expand voting rights. Gema plans to continue community organizing in her community and hopes to become a civil rights lawyer in the future. Gema believes in equal and equitable access to opportunities for all youth and has been a righteous champion for education equity throughout her life.

Curtiss Sarikey
Curtiss Sarikey Curtiss is Chief of Staff with the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) and brings over thirty years of experience working to improve communities and schools for children and families. He was most recently at the Stuart Foundation from 2016-17 as Senior Director where he led work for the Foundation on educator leadership, labor management collaboration, and state level policy on continuous improvement and capacity building. He was also the Deputy Chief of Community Schools and Student Services department in OUSD from 2011 to 2016 where he was responsible for student and family support services and district collaborations with public and private partners. In 2016, Curtiss was awarded a Community Schools Initiative Leadership Award from the National Coalition for Community Schools. He was also adjunct faculty for University of San Francisco School Counseling Program where he taught courses in family engagement and school improvement.

His prior experience includes ten years in the San Francisco Unified School District as a supervisor for the Student and Family Services Department, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the East Bay, and social worker with the U.S. Naval Medical Center, Oakland. Curtiss received a BA from the State University of New York at Geneseo, a Masters of Social Work from the University of California at Berkeley, and education credentials from San Francisco State University and Sonoma State University

Dr. Luis Valentino
Luis Valentino Luis Valentino is a career educator with a commitment to the institution of public education and a passion for contributing to its transformation. Luis presently serves as the Chief Academic Officer with the Portland Public Schools, where primary charge is reimaging the teaching and learning experience for student, and redefining the role that parents and community play in this experience. Throughout his career serving in large and diverse urban school districts, Luis has fought to address the marginalization of BIPOC students and communities. He is committed to leading toward the achievement of all students and the health and empowerment of their communities.

During this pandemic Luis worked to ensure that all students, in particular the district’s most impacted, continued to receive academic and socio-emotional support. And while this has been a challenging time for Portland Public Schools, Luis is hoping to leverage the lessons learned from the pandemic to foster the articulation of a truer vision and a stronger school system. This will provide him with the opportunity to reimagine the student learning experience through collective action and advocacy.

Prior to his work at PPS, Luis served as CEO of the Valgar Institute, where he launched several initiatives including District Leader, a podcast for and by educational leaders, Wiredprofiles, a daily education digest, and Valgar Publishing, supporting new writers in their passion. Luis has also served as Superintendent of the Albuquerque Public Schools, Associate Superintendent/Chief Academic Officer for the San Francisco Unified School District, and Director, site administrator, and teacher with the Los Angeles Unified School.

Luis has taught at several universities, UCLA, USC, and Cal State, Los Angeles. This has allowed him to remain connected to current thinking guiding the work in public education. Luis holds a BS degree from University of Texas at Austin, an MS from Pepperdine University and an MA from the Cal State, Los Angeles. He also holds an Ed.D. from UCLA. More recently, Luis completed an Advanced Leadership program at Harvard University.

Luis is married to his wife Libby; they have two children, Audrey and Anthony.

Amy Yurko, AIA
Amy Yurko Amy Yurko, AIA, is Founder and Director of BrainSpaces, Inc. She is both a licensed architect and educator who believes in applying brain-based strategies to the design of learning environments. An internationally recognized expert, Amy is consistently invited to collaborate, coach and share her knowledge with educators, architects and their communities. She has earned the A4LE distinction of “Lifetime Achievement Award” for her excellence in planning and designing powerful environments for learners throughout the world.


Commercial Member – $75
Commercial Non-Member – $150
Public Member – $25
Public Non-Member – $75

Details for accessing the virtual event will be sent prior to April 14. Must be paid in full to receive access.

Payment/Cancellation Policy
All registration payments will be required by the start of the event. Cancellation requests must be made in writing to [email protected]. There is a $15 processing fee for all cancellations, no refunds will be issued for registrations cancelled after March 31, 2021.

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Contact Carla at [email protected] to be a sponsor today!

Thank you to our Sponsors!

Adolfson Peterson Beresford
Mitsubishi Trane
Natural Pod PBK
Perkins Eastman Quinn Evans
Skanska SMMA