Simona Simpson-Thomas image

Simona Simpson-Thomas
CEO and Founder


With over 15 years in education as a teacher, district leader, and building administrator, Simona is an advocate for racial and educational equity. She believes strongly in the power of the collective and remains a champion for improving outcomes for Black and Brown students. Her efforts have allowed urban students to have increased access to dual enrollment, work-based learning, and college and career opportunities. Most recently, Simona was selected to be a 2023 Deeper Learning Equity Fellow, and, in 2020, she was named the New England Secondary School Consortium Champion for the State of Rhode Island by Great Schools Partnership. She earned her bachelor’s degree in history from Howard University and her master’s degree in teaching from Brown University. Simona is a wife and a mother to her two sons, Liam and Eli Thomas. 

Andres Escobar
Development Specialist


Andres has a passion for connecting with people and a talent for leveraging data-driven insights to inform institutional decision making. He has broad experience with driving successful outreach and engagement initiatives and innovative programming and strategic partnerships. He is dedicated to fostering meaningful connections, facilitating growth, and centering racial equity and diversity in his work. Currently, Andres works at the Community College of Rhode Island, supporting hundreds of small business owners throughout the state. He resides in Rhode Island with his partner and their puppy, Mocha.

Cristin Jensen Lasser, PhD
Data Consultant

Dr. Lasser has over twenty years of experience serving in various roles throughout the education system, from a bilingual paraprofessional and elementary school teacher to instructional coach and university professor. She loves developing and delivering educational programs, projects, and professional development to culturally and linguistically diverse educators and students. She is currently the Bilingual Coordinator for Secondary Bilingual Programs in Denver Public Schools (DPS) and a Field Literacy Consultant for Zaner-Bloser’s SuperKids 
K-2 literacy curriculum.  

Jael Lopes
Justice Diversity Equity Inclusion Strategist


With over 15 years of experience in the not-for-profit field as a public school district administrator, classroom educator, and youthful development practitioner, Jael's expertise includes building and leading cross-functional teams, operationalizing systems, performance evaluation, community engagement, and executing strategic campaigns to drive growth. She is also a co-founder of Diaspora Academy, a non-profit organization focused on Liberatory Design Thinking. Jael speaks four languages and is a dog mom, traveler, baker, and photographer. 

Domingo Lora Medina
Retention Specialist


Domingo is responsible for conducting research to identify factors that contribute to high teacher turnover rates and, simultaneously, developing strategies to improve teacher retention within the state of Rhode Island. As a transdisciplinary Ph.D student at URI's College of Environmental and Life Sciences, he specializes in vector control and equity-building within biological studies. Domingo's work takes a unique approach to bridge the gap between different disciplines, aiming to disrupt oppressive systems within the educational landscape. 

Erick Pagan
Bilingual Specialist


With over 12 years of experience in the education field, Erick supports the translation and facilitation services necessary to ensure accessibility and community engagement. He has a Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education with a concentration in Special Education, a Masters in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, and a certification in Dual Language and Bilingual Instruction. Erick has experience as an assistant principal and continues to be a community advocate for dual language and bilingual education. 

Allison Singleton
Communications Intern


A recent Brown University alumna, Allison currently supports Freedom Dreams with communications. She has had several experiences working in education, including interning at the Highlander Institute in Rhode Island, serving as the Diversity and Inclusion Outreach Coordinator for the Brown University Writing Fellows Program, and teaching English as a Fulbright Scholar in Germany. Passionate about social justice, Allison aspires to become an attorney and will attend Harvard Law School as part of the Junior Deferral Program.

Kathryn Trites
Graphic and Web Designer 


Kathryn has over 15 years of teaching experience working with students from elementary school-age to adults in Rhode Island and throughout Central America. She has a bachelor's degree in Peace and Justice Studies along with a teaching certificate from Wellesley College, a master's in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Rhode Island College, and a graphic design certificate from Rhode Island School of Design. In addition to working on the Freedom Dreams team, Kathryn also loves dancing and its ability to create instant community. She currently teaches math and science to 8th-graders in Providence. 

Betzabel Vazquez
Community Specialist


Betzabel engages with stakeholders to support an antiracist vision that upholds youth and community voices. She is a spirited Providence native who is passionate about learning, making a difference in her community, and improving the educational landscape across the United States. She always seeks opportunities to do what she loves, which is engaging with students and families and creating curriculum where students truly feel seen and challenged. Currently, Betzabel works in Providence as an 8th-grade English teacher.   


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