Who We Are

Dr. Heather W. Hackman

Dr. Hackman conducting a trainingDr. Hackman has been teaching and training on social justice issues since 1992 and was a professor in the Department of Human Relations and Multicultural Education at St. Cloud State University in St Cloud, Minnesota for 12 years before she began focusing full time on consulting. She has taught courses in social justice and multicultural education (pre-service and in-service teachers), race and racism, heterosexism and homophobia, social justice education (higher education leadership), oppression and social change, sexism and gender oppression, class oppression, and Jewish oppression. She received her doctorate in Social Justice Education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 2000 and has taught at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Westfield State College, Springfield College, St Cloud State University, Hamline University, and the University of St Thomas. In 2005 she founded Hackman Consulting group and consults nationally on issues of deep diversity, equity and social justice and has focused most of her recent training work on issues of racism and white privilege, gender oppression, heterosexism and homophobia, and classism. She has published in the area of social justice education theory and practice, racism in health care (with Stephen Nelson), and is currently working a book examining issue of race, racism and whiteness in education through a model she calls “cellular wisdom”. In 2009, she was awarded a Research Fellowship with the Great Place to Work Institute and has developed corporate training rubrics that combine her social justice content with GPTWI’s “trust” frameworks. She has sat on the board of Minnesota NAME as president, the board of Rainbow Families, has served on numerous committees committed to multicultural and social justice work, and since 2012 has served as a member of the Advisory Council for the White Privilege Conference. Her most recent research and conference presentations have focused on climate change and its intersections with issues of race, class and gender.

Marie Michael

Marie Michael headshotMarie taught high school English for 13 years and is now the PK-12 Department Chair of Equity and Instruction at the Blake School. She runs affinity groups for students and parents of color, advises Middle School Allies for Diversity, and teaches classes on racial identity. She works with faculty and administrators to explore their identities and biases, to dismantle racism and white privilege, and to develop inclusive curriculum, pedagogy, and practices. Marie has a husband of 13 years and two daughters. She’s passionate about racial justice, growing food, and relearning the skills we need to build sustainable, just and equitable communities.

Dr. Stephen Nelson

Stephen Nelson headshotDr. Stephen Nelson is currently a physician specializing in the treatment of Sickle Cell Disease at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He attended medical school and completed his pediatric residency at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia. His pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship was completed at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. Dr. Nelson joined the hematology/oncology program at Children’s of Minnesota in 1993. Dr. Nelson received a Bush Fellowship in 2009 to study the role of racism in the treatment of patients with SCD and has presented the findings of that study, conducted with Dr. Hackman, at conferences, staff development sessions, and professional meetings, and more recently has co-authored an article on the findings with Dr. Hackman.

Sonia Keiner

Sonia Keiner is a Prince George’s County, MD-based artist, activist, and community leader in the food justice movement. Her work in both major universities and local community groups has afforded her a unique perspective on how to educate, train and organize around food justice, environmental justice and leadership development issues. In 2006 she earned a Master’s degree in Educational Policy and Leadership from the University of Maryland, College Park and has extensive program development and education organizing and administration experience. Most recently, Sonia served as Executive Director of The Orchard School & Community Center in Alstead, New Hampshire (a nature & farm-based school) and directed the efforts of a Community Center in a working class neighborhood outside of Washington D.C., bringing much-needed resources through fundraising and partnership cultivation. Sonia is also the recipient of a number of local, state, national and federal grants for her social justice and community-based public art projects. Her photography has been exhibited locally and her series of farmer portraits are part of the permanent collection at BusBoys and Poets Restaurant in Hyattsville, MD. She has facilitated many community photography courses, helping students create powerful images to tell their story. She lives on an historic farm where she spends as much time possible growing and sharing food and herbs, cooking, organizing and creating. Sonia’s CV.

Maria Graver

Maria GraverMaria Graver was born and raised on Chicago’s south side and currently spends her days enjoying the community of Murray Middle School in St. Paul, Minnesota. Prior to her time as a middle school administrator, Maria taught elementary school in Washington D.C.; Tucson, AZ; and Edina, MN. A proud mestiza, Maria has been an outspoken advocate for racial equity and social justice throughout her time as an educator. She has worked with students and staff to build the historical context necessary to understand our current racial and sociopolitical climate. Maria is married to a multimedia artist and is the mother of two children.



Jorge Zeballos was born in Washington, DC but grew up in Lima, Peru. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Rutgers University and a Master’s degree in Organizational Management and Development from Fielding Graduate University. Mr. Zeballos is an independent equity consultant with years of expertise conducting workshops, presentations and leading long-term equity initiatives at K-12 schools, colleges and universities, international and national conferences, and non-profit organizations.

Mr. Zeballos is also the Executive Director of the Center for Diversity and Innovation at Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, Michigan. The mission of the Center is to build the capacity of all institutions in Battle Creek to implement effective racial equity practices.