ESJ Faculty Mentors

We're pleased to introduce to you the Faculty Mentors of the Education & Social Justice minor! Get to know more about the scholarship and fieldwork of some of our key faculty, who are available to provide academic advising and to support you in pursing your interests and career paths.


ANGELA FILLINGIM (She/her) is Co-Director of the Education and Social Justice Minor and an Assistant Professor in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California at Berkeley in 2015. She was a UC President's Postdoctoral Fellow and was the Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellow in Criminology, Law & Society at UC Irvine. Her research interests include human rights, international relations, law and society, Latin America, and race. She is preparing a book manuscript that uses "relational politics" to re-examine the United States' response to similar instances of human rights abuses in three Latin American nations during the Cold War. In addition, she is in the process of developing another project that applies relational politics to U.S. foreign and domestic policy by focusing on internal security programs and immigration enforcement and deterrence.

Nini Hayes

NINI HAYES (They/them) is Co-Director of the Education and Social Justice Minor and an Associate Professor in the Huxley College of the Environment. They were born and raised in Washington and are a first-generation college student. They are an alumnus of Huxley’s Environmental Education program ’03 and now teach in the program. They earned a Masters in Teaching from Seattle University and taught 5th grade for several years before returning to graduate school where they earned an Educational Specialist degree in Social Justice Education and a doctorate in Teacher Education and School Improvement.

Dolores Calderon

DOLORES CALDERON (She/her) is an Associate Professor of Youth, Society & Justice in Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies. Her areas of interest include American Indian education, critical Indigenous studies/decolonizing approaches, Federal Indian law and policy, Teacher education, Border studies, and land-based education and thought that centers Indigenous notions of land as starting points to ask questions about the world. All these perspectives are born from Calderon’s own background. She grew up on the border of the U.S. and Mexico, as well as the border of the Ysleta Del Sur reservation immersed in her family’s rich Tigua and Mexican cultures. The complex interactions of land, culture and peoples Calderon draws from informs her teaching and research practice and she looks forward to critically engaging students to interrogate the world around them both in time and place.              

Hope Corbin

HOPE CORBIN (She/her) is Associate Professor and Director of the Human Services program in the department of Health and Community Studies. She has a PhD in health promotion and development from the University of Bergen, Norway. Hope is deeply committed to scholarship and teaching that improves peoples’ ability to express and amplify their voices in pursuit of their own development and that of their communities. Hope focuses on how partnership can be a vehicle to share and leverage experiences, strengths, knowledge, power and privilege for the emancipation of all. Hope has published research on such partnerships and is the originator of the Bergen Model of Collaborative Functioning. Hope serves on the Editorial Board for Global Health Promotion and is Deputy Editor-in Chief of Health Promotion International.

Kristen French

KRISTEN B. FRENCH (Blackfeet/Gros Ventre; She/her) is an associate professor in Elementary Education and director of the Center for Education, Equity and Diversity. She currently assists Woodring in professional development and planning for the new required K-12 curriculum, and in 2016 was involved in planning a state-wide summit on the role of teacher education colleges in preparing teachers for this new curriculum. Kristen’s engaged scholarship includes Indigenous education, decolonizing theory, multicultural teacher education, and critical performative pedagogy. Kristen earned an Associate of Arts degree from Pierce College, Tacoma; two Bachelor’s degrees from Western Washington University—in Education and Anthropology —as well as a minor in Native American Studies; a Master’s in Bilingual ESL and Multicultural Education; and an EdD in Language, Literacy and Culture from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Vicki Hsueh

VICKI HSUEH is an Associate Professor of Political Science. She completed her PhD in Political Science at Johns Hopkins University and joined the faculty of the WWU Political Science Department in 2003.  Her research and teaching interests include Politics of Representation, Protest Movements and Civic Action, Identity Politics and Theory, Indigenous Politics and Post-Colonial Theory. Currently she is director of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Western.

anna lees

ANNA LEES (Odawa; She/Her/hers) is an Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education. She began her career as an early childhood teacher in rural Michigan and the United Arab Emirates. Now,she partners with schools and communities to better prepare teachers for the holistic needs of all children, families, and communities. Anna is committed to developing and sustaining reciprocal partnerships with Indigenous communities to engage community leaders as co-teacher educators, creating spaces for Indigenous knowledge in mainstream schools and institutes of higher education, while endeavoring towards a postcolonial state. She is engaged in site-based teacher professional development to expand tribally specific, land/water curriculum with early learning programs.


LONGORIA (They/them) is an Assistant Professor of Secondary Education and affiliated faculty for the Education and Social Justice minor and Family and Community Engaged Teaching (FACET). Their education includes a PhD in multicultural education from University of Washington, Seattle, a Master in Teaching from Seattle University, and a BA in English from San Francisco State University. Their research focuses on trans- and inter-disciplinary scholarship exploring broadly the concepts of identity, migrations across borders, and home. Additionally, they are interested in the intersections of Queer identities in K-12 schooling, teacher education, and praxis. Originally from El Centro, California, Longoria is the grandchild of immigrants from China’s Pearl River Delta and the state of Zacatecas in Mexico. Outside of the classroom, they enjoy bel canto opera, reading, and cooking.

Bill Lyne

BILL LYNE is an Associate Professor of English in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Additionally, he teaches in the American Cultural Studies program, teaching African American Studies and Critical and Cultural Theory. His research and teaching interests include African American studies and U.S. radicalism. Dr. Lyne received his Masters and PhD in English from the University of Virginia. He is also the president of the United Faculty of Washington State.


CLAYTON PIERCE (He/him) is an Associate Professor of Youth, Society, & Justice in Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies. His teaching is concerned with the neoliberal reconstruction of public education and specifically how free market governance models of schooling perpetuates racial, economic, and gender inequalities in school and society. Secondly, his teaching and research engages critical theories of education from Marxist, post-structuralist, and the Black Radical traditions with the goal of better understanding how public schooling has and currently preserves racial capitalist interests in U.S. society and culture. Building from these two areas of focus, Pierce is interested in connecting environmental/food justice movements with educational praxis—specifically looking at how alternative food production and sovereignty can create and model liberatory and more just community learning spaces.


MARGARITA RUIZ GUERRERO is an Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education. She earned her MS in ECE and an EC-6 Bilingual Certification at University of North Texas. She worked as a preschool teacher at the University of North Texas Child Development Lab. She earned her Ph.D. in ECE from New Mexico State University. Her interests are in connecting theory to the lived experiences of students and she engages in innovative projects such as using gardening as the center of integrated learning for young children in Las Cruces, New Mexico. She is interested in young children and wellness and began her academic career with a BS in Nutrition in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico. Her interests also include: marginalized feminist perspectives, social justice, multicultural education, critical pedagogies and bilingual education.


TAMARA LEA SPIRA (She / her) is an Associate Professor of Queer Studies and American Studies in Fairhaven College. She is a scholar of Feminist Studies, Critical Ethnic Studies and Latin American Studies. Spira obtained her PhD in the History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies Departments at UC Santa Cruz and was also UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Davis. Spira’s research and teaching are informed by over a decade of work within transformative justice and prison abolitionist struggles. Her classes interrogate intersections and disjunctures of anti-racist, queer of color, anti- imperialist, and Black feminist movements. Dr. Spira is inspired daily by her ESJ students; she particularly enjoys supporting a new generation of brilliance through student writing and publication.

Michael SOC

MICHAEL SCHULZE-OECHTERING CASTANEDA is an Assistant Professor of Comparative Ethnic Studies. He received his Ph.D. in Comparative Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. His research uses social movement history and comparative ethnic studies to explore how communities of color in the United States have both questioned and crossed racial boundaries. His current book project, No Separate Peace: Multiracial Struggles Against Racial Capitalism in the Pacific Northwest, examines the parallel and overlapping activist traditions and grassroots organizing practices of Filipino cannery workers in Alaska and Black construction workers in Seattle between the 1970s and the early 2000s. His teaching interests include critical ethnic studies, freedom movements, histories of capitalism, critical Asian American/Native Pacific Studies, and the Black Radical Tradition. 

Dr. Vélez

VERÓNICA (VERO) VÉLEZ (she/her) is an Associate Professor in Secondary Education and Education & Social Justice. Her research is grounded in Critical Race Theory (CRT), Latinx Critical Theory (LatCrit), Radical and Tactical Cartography, and Chicana Feminist Epistemologies. Influenced and inspired by these varied, but interrelated frameworks, she pioneered Critical Race Spatial Analysis (CRSA), a framework and methodological approach that seeks to deepen a spatial consciousness and expand the use of geographic information systems (GIS) in critical race research in education.

Read more about Dr. Vélez's work, research, publications, and conference presentations.

Dr. Velez is on sabbatical Spring 2021.