What is social justice? Adams, Bell and Griffin (2007) define social justice as both a process and a goal. "The goal of social justice education is full and equal participation of all groups in a society that is mutually shaped to meet their needs. Social justice includes a vision of society that is equitable and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure."
SJTI believes and cares about respecting the humanity of all people and seeks to live in a world where justice and liberation can be experienced by ALL. Therefore, we expect participants to enter SJTI with a commitment to Stay Engaged, Experience Discomfort, Speak Your Truth and Hear the Truth of Others (with a racial justice lens), and Expect and Accept Non-Closure.
A forum for the professional and personal development of social justice educators and practitioners to enhance and refine their skills.
An opportunity for college students to gather and do their own inner work related to social justice issues and focus on living their commitments when they return to campus.
An experience focused on creating space for alumni of the professional institute to renew their passion for social justice education and reconnect with colleagues committed to dismantling oppression.
The Social Justice Training Institute was founded in 1998 by Jamie Washington, Kathy Obear, Vernon Wall, and Maura Cullen to provide diversity trainers and practitioners with an intensive laboratory experience where they can focus on their own learning and development to increase their multicultural competencies as social justice educators. In 2010 SJTI: The Student Experience began, bringing the same immersive focus on self-work to an institute designed specifically for college students.
Over the past 20 years we have hosted over 40 SJTIs for professionals and 9 Institutes for students. As of 2019 there are over 2500+ professional alumni and 450 student alumni who continue to apply their learnings and insights as they partner to create greater inclusion on college campuses, in community organizations, and throughout the global community.
We envision many more years of Institutes and are grateful for the ongoing support and development we receive as faculty in this process.
SJTI is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
Co-Founder and Facilitator, SJTI
Vernon A. Wall (he/him/his)
has accumulated over 30+ years of professional Student Affairs experience at Iowa State University, the University of Georgia, UNC-Charlotte, and UNC-Chapel Hill and has experience in Greek life, new student orientation, student activities, leadership development, global education, and university housing. Vernon currently lives in Washington DC and is the Director for Business Development at LeaderShape, Inc. Vernon is also President and Founder of One Better World, LLC – a consulting firm specializing in engaging others in courageous social justice and equity conversations. In 2020 – 2021, Vernon served as President of ACPA – College Student Educators, International.
With degrees from North Carolina State University and Indiana University, Vernon is the consummate scholar-practitioner. He has received several awards for his contributions to the quality of student life, is a nationally known speaker in the areas of social justice and leadership and is one of the founders and facilitators of the Social Justice Training Institute.
Visit Vernon at www.vernonwall.org.
Co-Founder and Facilitator, SJTI
Kathy Obear (she/her/hers or they/them/theirs) is the president of her organizational development consulting firm, The Center for Transformation and Change. Her life focus is manifesting greater equity, inclusion and racial/social justice at the individual, group and organizational levels.
As she consults with and trains leaders and change agents, she challenges them to do the necessary depth of self-work and skill development to disrupt implicit biases and shift unproductive, oppressive behaviors that perpetuate exclusionary policies and practices. Through authentic engagement, Kathy challenges others to examine ways the status quo supports the needs and success of some groups, while possibly creating barriers and obstacles for others. She partners with internal leaders and change agents to develop meaningful, sustainable organizational culture change that accelerates progress towards strategic racial and social justice goals.
In addition to her speaking, leadership coaching, and training, Kathy is an accomplished author, recently publishing several books: Turn the Tide: Rise Above Toxic, Difficult Situations in the Workplace; But I’m NOT Racist: Tools for Well-Meaning Whites; and It For the Long Haul: Overcoming Burnout and Passion Fatigue as a Social Justice Agent.
Visit Kathy at drkathyobear.com.
Co-Founder and Facilitator, SJTI
Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington, (he/him/his) is the President & Founder of the Washington Consulting Group (WCG). WCG was named by the Economist as one of the Top 10 Global Diversity Consultants in the world. Dr. Washington has served as an educator, administrator, and consultant in higher education for over 36 years. He serves as an invited instructor in the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Lancaster Theological Seminary. He is the President and Co-Founder of the Social Justice Training Institute and a Past President of the American College Personnel Association. (ACPA)
Dr. Washington earned his B.S. degree from Slippery Rock State College; a double Masters' of Science degrees from Indiana University/Bloomington; a Ph.D. is in College Student Development, from the University of Maryland College Park; and a Master of Divinity from Howard University School of Divinity. He has received many awards and honors. He was honored with the University of Maryland Baltimore County’s Legends of Excellence Award for his contribution to the lives and education of Black and LatinX faculty, staff and students. In May 2019, he received an honorary Doctor of Business Administration from Shepherd University in West Virginia. He received the 2020 Annuit Coeptis Senior Leader Award from ACPA. He is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, Golden Key, Alpha Phi Omega, Phi Delta Kappa and a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity Inc.
In addition to his work in higher education, Dr. Washington has an extensive list of corporate, non-profit, government and faith organization clients. Some of his clients include, Starbucks, Wachovia and Wells Fargo, Shell Oil, Boston Bank, Green Peace, Human Rights Campaign, The Taskforce, The Peace Corps, the Government Office of Accountability, The Presbyterian Church International, Metropolitan Community Church and the Baptist Church Convention.
He has authored several articles, book forewords and chapters. He is in the process of writing and editing two books: The Ride to the Airport: The Real Stories About Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Called Out To Serve: LGBT Clergy, Answering the Call to Ministry. He is a passionate, inspiring and strategic thinker on issues of organizational change through a DEI lens.
Dr. Washington also serves as the Pastor of Unity Fellowship Church of Baltimore and is an Elder in the Unity Fellowship Church Movement. He is the grandfather of 7 and great uncle to 8. His hobbies include, his grandchildren, cooking, music, laundry and is binge watching TV programs. Some of his favorites are, The Walking Dead, Greenleaf, This is Us, Power, Empire, Game of Thrones, How to get away with Murder, Kim’s Convenience, Pose, Grace and Frankie, AJ and the Queen, 911, All Law and Orders and of course Murder She Wrote and The Golden Girls :)
Known and “The Engagement Specialist”, He sees himself as an instrument of change. He works every day to help people find the best in themselves and others. He lives by the words of one of his favorite song, sung by the late Mahalia Jackson at the funeral or the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr:
If I can help somebody, as I pass along: If I can cheer somebody, with a word or song:
If I can show somebody, that he, she, zi or they, are traveling wrong, then my living shall not be in vain
Visit Jamie at www.washingtonconsultinggroup.net.
"I trust this experience will be exactly what you need in your life’s journey – stretch, feel, connect, do, and 'be'.
I am honored to be part of SJTI – what I define as my 'light-switch' in my role as a change agent. I continue to learn about the intersections of my identities and the ways those frame my work and my life. Through power and humility, I strive to be my definition of leader – a woman of color living with compassion, integrity, and boundless possibilities in contributing to community and humanity."
dr. becky martinez (she/her/hers) is an organization development consultant and trainer with a focus on social justice, leadership and organizational change. Her work focuses on dismantling systems of oppression through critical dialogue and reflection intertwined with theoretical foundations. She works with organizations seeking to meet shifting demands, resources, and leadership to develop goals, vision, and purpose. She believes that while organizations may have a depth of diversity, there is a great deal of work to do to create an inclusive environment, and it is our responsibility as community members to create such space.
She has worked in a variety of settings to create dynamic, engaging learning opportunities. In her administrative roles, she provided vision and advocacy for professional, administrative and paraprofessional staff, and students. becky is passionate about social justice, transformation, and being an instrument for people to tap into their full potential. Her work includes diverse groups at the college level, with community-based organizations and with for-profit companies. She brings a variety of skills to tailor around her clients needs. Her experience and knowledge results in highly effective training workshops and coaching relationships.
becky’s career portfolio includes being a business owner as a organization development consultant, working as an administrator within the California State University, the University of California, and the Colorado State University systems as well as private liberal arts colleges. She is a faculty member for the Social Justice Training Institute, a Lead facilitator for the LeaderShape Institute, a certified trainer for the Anti-Defamation League, a certified trainer for the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, a member of the Southern California Trainer’s Institute, and a former certified counselor-advocate through Peace over Violence (previously Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women) and works with a Title I elementary school in California regarding going to college. She holds a Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership from the University of La Verne with her research focused on the union of transformative learning, social justice and racism, a Master of Science in Student Affairs in Higher Education from Colorado State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from the University of La Verne.
Contact becky at www.infinitymartinez.com.
Facilitator, Student SJTI
Dr. Carmen Rivera (she/her/hers) currently serves as the Talent Manager for Organizational Development for the Division of Student Affairs and as a faculty member at Colorado State University (CSU). One of the first things she tells folks is that she is from northern New Mexico and where she’s from is fundamental to who she is. As a first-generation student, she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Mexican American Studies and Spanish from the University of Northern Colorado. She then went on to earn her Master’s degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education as well as her PhD in Higher Education Leadership from CSU.
Her higher education career began when she worked for the Upward Bound program. She worked in TRiO for over 13 years then worked in international education as the Director of Student Experience at INTO CSU for several years. Additionally, she’s a faculty member for the Social Justice Training Institute and a consultant in the areas of social justice and leadership. One of her most important roles is raising her two super awesome sons with her super awesome wife. She loves 90’s R&B, traveling, doodling, and is obsessed with all things Frida Kahlo.
To contact Carmen, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Facilitator, Student SJTI
"Wow! Challenging! Soul searching! Life changing! These are only a few of the expressions that come to mind when I think of my SJTI experience (2008). This pivotal moment in my life has been one of the most transformative I have ever experienced. I am honored to return as the first apprentice! Though my role is mostly observational in silence, having the opportunity to relive my own journey helps me to see growth and the areas where I can create new learning edges."
Rev. Samuel Offer (he/him/his) serves as Vice President and senior consultant with the Washington Consulting Group, a Multicultural Organizational Development Firm out of Baltimore, MD. Sam has served as an educator and administrator for over 30 years.
A native Marylander, Sam earned his B.S. from Calvary Christian College with a concentration in Early Childhood Development studies. Other studies included Sexuality, Religious and Spiritual Pluralism, Religious Issues within the LGBTQ community (particularly through a Christian lens), and Social Justice. Sam is an alumnus of Landmark Education and the Social Justice Training Institute. Sam serves as a lead facilitator for LeaderShape, Inc., and lead faculty for the Social Justice Training Institute: The Student Experience. He has spent many years working with the development of youth and young adults in education and within the community. Sam is a member of Maryland Black Family Alliance and is an advisor to Pride and Faith, organizations advocating for equity of all people. Sam served as co-chair of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force premier conference, Creating Change 2012. Sam served as chair of the African American People of Faith Caucus for Marylanders for Marriage Equality. His leadership and efforts helped to uphold Civil Marriage Law during a referendum in 2012. He has been named as on of the most influential leaders in LGBTQ community in Baltimore, MD. He travels the world advocating social justice and equity for all humanity. He is known for his witty personality, style and love for the work he does.
His work includes developing presentations and workshops for colleges, universities and corporate and non-profit businesses; developing and implementing curriculum for local religious and community organizations to engage social justice issues in order to build more inclusive communities; developing and implementing curriculum for engaging spirituality and religion in the workplace; facilitating group sessions and trainings on topics including leadership, organizational change development, spirituality, diversity, inclusivity, leadership and social justice.
To contact Sam, please email email@example.com.
Alejandro Covarrubias (he/him/his)
is currently the Executive Director of Student Inclusion and Belonging at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Prior to Cal Poly Pomona, he served as an Assistant Professor in Leadership studies for three years and as a Student Affairs Practitioner in the areas of housing and residence life, multicultural affairs, gender equity centers, and LGBTQ centers. Alejandro also has over ten years of experiences as a diversity and social justice educator and consultant.
Academically, he earned his Ed.D. in International and Multicultural Education with an emphasis in Human Rights Education at the University of San Francisco. He also earned an MS in Student Affairs in Higher Education with a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies from Colorado State University and a BA in Psychology with a certificate in Ministry from Gonzaga University.
Personally, Alejandro is grounded in the power of critical hope and the examination of oppression from the individual, group, and systemic levels. He approaches social justice work through an intersectional and analytical lens that bridges the power of storytelling with theoretical foundations. He is dedicated to challenging himself and others to think critically about social justice and identity issues holistically through the head, the heart and the body.
Visit Ale at www.covarrubiasconsulting.com
Beth Yohe (she/her/hers) is a facilitator, consultant and training designer focused on social justice, inclusion, leadership and organizational culture. With over 20 years of experience, she has written and delivered training programs on a variety of topic areas including intentional climate and culture, dismantling privilege, inclusive management practices, ally-building, and analyzing curriculum through a social justice lens and facilitation skills. Beth has worked in the non-profit field for over 20 years and is currently the Executive Director of The Conflict Center (conflictcenter.org) in Denver, CO. Beth is also a consultant with Authentic Seeds (www.authenticseeds.org) and also serves on the boards of The Privilege Institute, International Bullying Prevention Association and the Mapleton Education Foundation.
Raised in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas, Beth graduated from Texas A&M University with a BA in Speech Communications and received a Master of Science degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education from Colorado State University. Happy to call Denver home, she spends her free time hanging with her fabulous family who keeps her grounded and connected to the importance of the work.
Contact Beth at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Facilitator, Student SJTI
Craig Elliott (he/him/his) is a father, a partner, a feminist anti-racist, and a revolutionary-at-heart. He is married to Nicole (over 22 years) and is father to Jackson and Thomas. He has worked in student affairs for over 25 years, and currently serves as the Assistant Vice President of Enrollment and Student Services and Assistant Professor at Samuel Merritt University in Oakland, CA. He identifies as white, cisgender male, heterosexual, upper middle-class, Buddhist, able-bodied, U.S. citizen, and in his early 50s.
Craig has presented numerous programs at the local and national level on equity, inclusion, social justice, and leadership, and has served in a variety of leadership capacities in ACPA, NASPA, and NCORE. Notably, Craig is currently serving as Past-President of ACPA-College Student Educators International, after having served as President in 2019-2020. He is a Social Justice Training Institute (SJTI) alumnus, serves on the faculty with Student SJTI, is a Co-Lead facilitator for the LeaderShape Institute, and is on the board of World Trust.
Craig recently co-authored a book with fellow SJTI alums Robert Brown and Shruti Desai on Identity-Conscious Supervision in Student Affairs: Building Relationships and Transforming Systems. His research interests explore white supremacy and internalized dominance, feminism and masculinity, the intersection of transformative learning and social justice, and institutional change. Craig also is part of the editorial collective for Rad Dad, a zine on feminist and social justice parenting. He has also contributed chapters on feminism, fathering, co-authored articles on institutional barriers to inclusion and equity, and transformative learning, and co-edited three anthologies on feminist parenting.
Craig also serves in his local community in scouting and youth soccer. He loves soccer, music, time with friends and family, and really good, strong coffee.
Visit Craig at www.drcraigelliott.com
Tanya O. Williams’ (she/her/hers or they/them/theirs) mission is to provide and create spaces in relationships, conversations, communities for all people to feel seen and appreciated for their authentic selves. She believes that educating and working toward equity within organizations and with working with individuals to invite them into their authentic power and agency will get us closer to that goal. Born and raised as a working class in Houston, Texas, Tanya is based in New York City leads Authentic Coaching and Consulting to move closer to her mission and vision of a socially just world. She’s done work with colleges and universities, non-profits, and K-12 schools including NYU Stern School of Business, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), American College of Greece, The Moth, Spence School, Harvard University Law School and others. She has over 20 years of diversity, inclusion, and social justice teaching, programming and facilitation experience in higher education including professional roles at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Mount Holyoke College, and Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. She holds a doctorate (Ed.D) in Social Justice Education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and her dissertation focused on internalized racial oppression and process toward liberation. She also holds an MS in Educational Administration (’96) and BA in Journalism and English (’94) from Texas A&M University.
Visit Tanya at www.authenticseeds.org
Beth Douthirt-Cohen, (she/her/hers or they/them/theirs) has been deeply engaged in racial justice, disability justice, LGBTQIA+ justice, gender justice, and addressing religious bias for the past 20 years. The former Deputy Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD), and the former senior diversity officer at Frederick Community College (MD), Beth’s work focused on building the capacity of institutions, groups, and individuals to interrupt and effectively address current and historical legacies of all forms of oppression, always centering racial justice, transformation, and healing, from boardrooms to playgrounds to faith-based spaces to living rooms to classrooms. In 2022 and early 2023, Beth worked at The United States Institute of Peace in the Gandhi-King Global Academy where her work focused on projects between groups with historical and contemporary conflicts, strengthening Intergroup dialogue and prejudice reduction training, and trauma-informed policing for projects in Kenya and Rwanda. Currently, Beth is the DEIAB Activist-in-Residence (a clinical faculty role focused on anti-racism and anti-oppression in all aspects of the community) at the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland.
Beth has her PhD from UMD, her MEd from Harvard, and her BA from Barnard College of Columbia University. Beth’s research and teaching on solidarity explores how we can strengthen the capacity of majoritized people to engage—ethically, effectively, authentically, and with accountability—across power and identity differences. Beth lives in Maryland with three of the loves of her life: her wonderful partner, her passionate and hilarious toddler, and her delightfully grumpy cat, who rightfully believes he is everyone’s elder.