Kate Woicke

Director of Educational Equity

kate@ceipdx.org

What do you do at CEI?
I partner closely with school districts, universities, government, non-profit organizations, and advocacy groups to help create more equitable, culturally inclusive and empowering educational systems, professional development for educators and educational leaders, and learning experiences for children and families.

What did you do before CEI?
I have spent the last twenty years in schools, universities, and educational non-profits trying to create more empowering, rigorous, and rewarding learning experiences for everyone impacted by our system. I began my journey in education as an ESL teacher and Outward Bound Instructor in Central America and then became a high school history teacher and teacher leader for a decade in the Bay Area, Boston, and Portland. After many years in the classroom, I wanted to have a broader impact on the glaring inequities in the education system so I began teaching at the university level as well as serving as the Program Manager and then Director of The Step Up Program (Open School). After years of working within the system to build more equitable supports for marginalized students and families across multiple school districts, I went on to serve as an alternative high school principal and most recently as the co-founder of the Equity Certificate Program for School Leaders. Through it all, I have always been drawn to working alongside and partnering with the students, families, and educators who have all too often been silenced, devalued, or marginalized by an educational system that was never designed (yet) to serve all kids, especially students of color.

Why do you do this work?
I must. I no longer have a choice. As a white woman, I realize that may seem to misrepresent the comfort and choice that privilege certainly affords white folks like me. However, at this point in my life I have wrapped my existence up in the most brilliant, beautiful, and committed diverse community personally and professionally and no longer see a separation between their happiness, the opportunity and success of their children and my own. So I do this work for our children.

What do you believe?
I believe that this work can be deeply empowering, connecting, and transformational for us all. While that experience will most definitely be different based on all the intersectionalities of our identity, I do believe it can ultimately bring us closer as a community than we ever thought possible, in a world that shows us all too often how divisive difference can be. I believe anything we do together and collectively harnessing the power of multiple perspectives is so much more creative, impactful, and lasting than anything we ever create on our own or through sameness. I believe we never actually ever do anything individually despite what we may think. I believe we begin to die the day we stop learning.

What question guides your work?
How can we do this together rather than alone? Am I truly listening to understand? What do I not yet know? Where is there beauty in the struggle?

What quote moves you in this work?
“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” –Words used by Lilla Watson, Aboriginal elder, activist and educator from Australia