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Cultural Responsiveness Faculty and Facilitators

Please click on the faculty member’s picture below for their bio.

Vivian Elliott
Educational Consultant, Coach

Vivian Elliott, Educational Consultant/Coach

Vivian Elliott is a Senior Consultant with Learning Forward and with Elliott Service Systems, Inc. She provides professional development and leadership coaching to teachers, school administrators, and managers in organizations throughout the United States. Dr. Elliott earned her Ph.D. at the University of Colorado, Boulder studying organizational change, equity, and leadership. For more than thirty years, she has conducted educational research, designed and facilitated workshops, and published educational writings to promote cultural responsiveness and bias elimination. Her recent publication, The Principal Story Guide, commissioned by The Wallace Foundation and Learning Forward, is widely used in conjunction with the documentary, The Principal Story. Vivian Elliott is known in school districts, universities, and non-profit organizations for skillful facilitation, excellent team leadership, and quality project management. Dr. Elliott co-created the Colorado Coalition for Equity in Education, and served in leadership roles for the National Coalition for Equity in Education and the Colorado Partnership for Educational Renewal.

Scott VanLoo
Assistant Principal

Scott VanLoo, Assistant Principal

Scott VanLoo is an Assistant Principal at a dual language elementary school in the mountains of Colorado. He has over 24 years of experience in education including elementary and high school teaching and central and building-level administration with a background in Special Education, English Language Learners, Homeless Education, Equity and Diversity training and parent programs. Scott is the former Director of the César Chavez Cultural Center at the University of Northern Colorado where he helped recruit, retain and support hundreds of Latino(a) students and helped raise over $60,000 for endowed student scholarships. He has been a facilitator with the National Coalition for Equity in Education, Respecting Ethnic and Cultural Heritage Center, the Anti-Defamation League and the Generating Expectations for Student Achievement program. As a consultant, Scott is passionate about creating transformational experiences that promote and challenge participants’ thinking and professional growth. He has worked with colleges, universities, and school districts across the mid-West. Scott has volunteered with the U.S. Armed Forces Entertainment Unit, traveling overseas for three tours and entertaining hundreds of service men and women and he currently plays in a Denver-based salsa band. He has a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies: Music and Business, an M.A. in Special Education, and post graduate work in Educational Leadership including a Principal’s license and doctoral course work. Scott is an extremely proud father of two boys.

Laura Weaver
Classroom Faculty Director

Laura Weaver, Classroom Faculty Director

Laura Weaver is an educational advocate, writer, parent, teacher, and the Director of Transformative Learning at the PassageWorks Institute. Laura’s writing history includes co-authoring the recently published book The Five Dimensions of Engaged Teaching (Solution Tree, 2013), co-authoring numerous curricula for the transitions years, and publishing dozens of poems, book chapters and essays on topics ranging from school-based rites of passage to death and dying. Over the last decade, Laura has taught numerous courses and workshops, offered presentations at schools and conferences, and facilitated transitions and rites of passage programs for young people. A passionate participant in the movement to transform education from the inside out, Laura supports individuals and learning communities to understand and access their own unique wisdom and resources. Laura regularly consults with school leadership to design experiential professional development programs for teachers and continues to develop innovative resources for educators and parents. Before joining PassageWorks, Laura taught English and Creative Writing in a variety of university settings and founded and directed Bridges—an all-volunteer agency serving the needs of homeless communities in the greater Philadelphia region. Laura earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Trinity College in Connecticut and her Master’s Degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Maria Gabriel
Director of Language, Culture, and Equity

Maria Gabriel, Director of Language, Culture, and Equity, Thompson School District

Maria has worked as a PK-12 Latina educator in public education in Northern Colorado since 1997. She has devoted her career to increasing access and opportunity for culturally and linguistically diverse students through direct student support, family engagement, professional development, and community-based educational research. Dr. Gabriel served as a board member for the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME) 2008-2013 and is currently the Vice-President of the Colorado NAME chapter. Her research interests include arts-based and community-based participatory action research, Latina student achievement, and educational equity. She has served on local and national boards focused on equity, and she presents locally, nationally, and internationally on topics related to multicultural education, equity, and student voice.

Barb Catbagan
Professor, Mediator

Barb Catbagan, Professor/Mediator

Barbara Catbagan is a retired Associate Professor of Education and current Senior Faculty for PassageWorks Institute. She has spent decades dedicated to bringing transformative and culturally responsive teaching and learning to individuals and organizations throughout the U.S.  She was Chair of the Contemplative Education Department at Naropa University, and is an Associate Professor. Barbara’s commitment to transformational leadership is grounded in her K-12 teaching background and her association with the National Coalition for Equity in Education through which she works with institutions of higher education on issues and initiatives of equity, social justice, and personal and professional development. Through her past work as the Director of the Human Rights Resource and Education Office for the City of Fort Collins, she facilitated professional development and community educational opportunities on topics of civility, communication and human rights, and investigated and mediated allegations of discrimination. As a certified mediator, she has worked with individuals and groups on workplace mediation and to settle disputes of discrimination. She consults with businesses, organizations and educational institutions, and has presented locally and nationally on topics germane to diversity and social justice. She has a B.A. in English and a M.Ed. from Colorado State University.

Rona Wilensky
Leadership Faculty Co-Director

Rona Wilensky, Leadership Faculty Co-Director

Rona Wilensky was principal and founder of New Vista High School in Boulder, Colorado from 1992-2009. Previously, she worked as an education policy analyst for the Governor of Colorado, the Education Commission of the States, and various education reform initiatives in Colorado. During the 2009-10 academic year, Rona was a Resident Fellow at the Spencer Foundation in Chicago. A contributor to state and national conversations on high school reform, her essays have appeared in Education Week, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Phi Delta Kappan and Education News Colorado.

Recent projects have included work with the Leadership Project of Passageworks Institute, with the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education and with the Language, Literacy and Culture Division of the Colorado Department of Education. She collaborates with Peter Senge to bring systems thinking strategies to educators and policy makers in Colorado.

Rona began her personal meditation practice in 2005 and received her certificate as a Mindfulness Instructor from Naropa University in 2012. She is a member of the Leadership Council of the Garrison Institute’s Initiative on Contemplative Teaching and Learning.

Rona holds a B.A. and Ph.D. in Economics from Yale University and taught that subject at Williams College and the University of Denver in the early 1980’s.

Greg Cocking 
Director of Human Resources

Greg Cocking, Director of Human Resources, Greeley-Evans School District

Greg is Human Resources Director in Greeley-Evans School District 6. He has over 25 years of experience in education, including middle school and high school teaching and building-level administration. He has been a cohort member in the Equity In Mathematics Education Institutes, and with the National Coalition for Equity in Education. He has served as a facilitator with the Boulder Valley School District’s Equity Institutes and the Boulder Valley School District’s Collaborative Decision Making Initiative.

Diana Gamboa
Educational Consultant and Advocate

Diana Gamboa, Educational Consultant and Advocate

Diana Gamboa heeded the call to leadership early. After military service, she hoped to continue serving her community and expected to return to an engineering career. Instead, she found her way to a 25 year career teaching and leading in public education. Along the way, she founded a high school Engineering Academy, opened a STEM K-8 school, and was Principal for an online school. Diana was among the first women to graduate from the the US Military Academy at West Point. There she marched her way to a degree in engineering and a true love for military parades! She holds a Master’s in Curriculum and Instructional Development and multiple graduate hours in engineering, English Language Development, and Equity.


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