2018 Social Justice Activist Award

Each year, this award is presented to an educator who has made an exceptional effort to lead on social justice issues that impact the lives of students, fellow educators and the communities they serve.

Our seven inspiring finalists have passionately organized and engaged fellow educators, parents, and the community to advocate for their students, and we need your help to choose the top activist of the year.

Voting is now closed. The winner will be announced at the Conference on Racial and Social Justice, held June 28-29. Follow the conversation using the conference hashtag #EdJustice2018.

Tawana Akins, Florida

Tawana Akins

Tawana is an elementary teacher and author in Miami, Florida, who has made social justice advocacy a central part of her life’s work. From advocating for healthier meals for pregnant teenagers in high school, to mobilizing community members to protest against state legislation aimed at attacking public education, to organizing various stakeholders around gun violence prevention, Tawana’s commitment to social justice activism is about making her community a safe and supportive environment for everyone.

Angie Powers, Kansas

Angie Powers

Angie is a high school teacher in Olathe, Kansas. She bases her activism on her strong belief in America’s representative democracy and a commitment to ensuring all voices are heard and included. Through her activism, Angie has worked to ensure that all students, especially LGBTQ students, are safe and supported in their communities and classrooms.

Karen Reyes, Texas

Karen Reyes

Karen is a pre-kindergarten teacher in Austin, Texas. She is a dedicated advocate for a myriad of social justice issues, but her impact has been felt most personally in her advocacy and support work for undocumented students and their families. Karen has become a voice for the voiceless, speaking at local, state, and national events across the country, advocating for sensible immigration laws and fairness for her peers, her students, and their families.

Gabriel Tanglao, New Jersey

Gabriel Tanglao

Gabriel is a high school teacher in Bergen County, New Jersey. He is committed to the power of public education inside and outside of the classroom. This commitment has led him to empower diverse communities through programming and events that cultivate a culture of civic activism around racial justice in public education.

Elizabeth Villanueva, California

Elizabeth Villanueva

Elizabeth is a high school teacher in Sacramento, California. She is a dedicated advocate for a variety of social justice issues, most personally and structurally felt through her contributions to the Luther Burbank High School DREAMers’ program and New Age Latinas Leadership class. In her work with her students, school, and community, Elizabeth has worked tirelessly to empower and support undocumented and Latino students and their families.

Erica Viray Santos, California

Erica Viray Santos

Erica is a high school teacher in San Leandro, California. Her commitment to equality and passion for creating an inclusive school climate that empowers students to learn and become social justice activists has led to her becoming a driving force in developing, sustaining, and directing a school campus focused on social justice.

Stephanie Wheeler, Florida

Stephanie Wheeler

Stephanie is an assistant professor in the Department of Writing and Rhetoric at the University of Central Florida and the Chair of the United Faculty of Florida. She has used union activism to work with students from the University to support undocumented students and immigrants in the Central Florida area by establishing partnerships with various organizations, drafting legislation, and campaigning and organizing to get it passed.

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