Design Team

Teaching Democracy was anchored by a team of community partners and Tufts university faculty, staff, students.

Suzanne Lee is the President Emeritus of the Chinese Progressive Association with 40 years of experience organizing immigrant communities to fight for Equality, Justice, and Democracy. She is an award winning teacher and principal in the Boston Public Schools, championing child centered and whole child focused education. Currently she spends most of her time coaching and mentoring the next generation of social justice fighters.

Meridith Levy is Deputy Director at Somerville Community Corporation, serving on its staff since 2003.  Before that, she was Organizing Director at Twin Cities CDC in Fitchburg. She started organizing in Minnesota with family farmers in the mid-90s. Meridith received master’s degrees at Tufts University from the UEP and AFE programs. Meridith specializes in organizing around land use issues, and has led community participatory planning processes. She is committed to employing participatory and popular education methodologies as a means to inspire community action. Meridith is also keenly interested in community food security, and going on adventures with her daughter.

Koko Li is a graduate student at the Tufts Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning program. They were a Seeding Change (a national center for Asian American grassroots movement building) fellow, where they worked with the Boston Chinese Progressive Association on the Chinatown Landtrust and stabilizing Chinatown in the face of aggressive gentrification. They have worked on various other projects addressing gentrification and displacement in working class people of color neighborhoods. They are interested in creative funding strategies for grassroots organizing and creating economic sustainability and power, especially for queer and trans people of color. They enjoy scenic hikes with their rescue Chihuahua-Terrier, Chaco.

Penn Loh is Lecturer and Director of the Master of Public Policy Program and Community Practice at Tufts University’s Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning. He partners with various community base building organizations in the Right to the City Alliance and Center for Economic Democracy. From 1996 to 2009, he served in various roles, including Executive Director, at Alternatives for Community & Environment (ACE), a Roxbury-based environmental justice group.

May Louie is a Visiting Practitioner at the Tufts Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning Department (UEP), serving as the curriculum designer for this Teaching Democracy pilot. As a long-time social justice activist-organizer, she chaired the Boston Rainbow Coalition (created in the aftermath of Mel King’s historic run for mayor) and spent 20 years on the staff of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative. She is currently part of the core training team for the Activist Training Institute and a Senior Fellow at the Community Democracy Workshop.

Shirley Mark is director of community partnerships for the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University. She facilitates opportunities to build partnerships that advance civically-engaged research, education, and practice between Tufts University and local communities in the greater Boston area. Prior to Tufts, Shirley worked in philanthropy and has extensive experience with community organizations and public agencies

Eliza Parad is a community organizer at the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, working to engage residents in planning processes around local development, organizing small businesses to build economic power and supporting grassroots groups around Greater Boston to create community land trusts. Eliza has worked as a community organizer for the past 8 years in Chelsea, Cambridge and Boston since completing the Jewish Organizing Initiative fellowship. Her experience in popular education comes primarily from her training role as a member of the Boston Interpreters Collective and from her 3 years at the Chelsea Collaborative organizing in multiple languages with a diverse immigrant population.

Carolyn L. Rubin is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine at Tufts University.  She is also the Director of ADAPT, an academic-community research partnership between Tufts and the Chinatown community.  She has over 20 years of experience working with Asian American communities around the country.  As a researcher she has worked on various projects focused on health disparities within the Boston Asian American community.  As a teacher, she uses community engaged pedagogical approaches in the classroom.  Carolyn has been active in Boston Chinatown since she moved from California to Boston in 2001 and is currently chair of the Friends of the Chinatown Library, a group that is trying to bring a branch library back to Boston Chinatown.  She is the mom of a three-year old son, who continues to motivate and inspire her to work for a healthy Chinatown.

Rebecca Tumposky was a graduate student in Urban Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University where she worked as the graduate assistant for the Teaching Democracy pilot. Previously, she worked as the coordinator of the Boston Climate Action Network, as a trainer with Catalyst Project-a San Francisco-based center for political education and movement building, and with an Oakland-based environmental health collaborative. She is interested in programs that connect college access for working-class communities with a social justice experiential learning curriculum grounded in accountable partnerships with grassroots organizations

Jean Wu teaches in the American Studies Program at Tufts University, working in higher education for over forty years.  Her present research and teaching continues to focus on three main areas: 1) on the impact of race on the development of identity and ethics in young adults, 2) how race is lived and experienced in late adolescence, and 3) the development of anti-White supremacist learning spaces. She has published a number of articles on teaching about racial inequality and community activism and is the co-editor of two anthologies:  Asian American Studies: A Reader (with Min Song) (2000), and Asian American Studies Now: A Critical Reader (with Thomas Chen) (2010). She is active in Boston’s Chinatown, paying particular attention to the development and sustenance of a pipeline for college students and graduates in community-based anti-racist work.