The Equity Solutions team is a cross-class collaborative of teachers, trainers, social workers, community organizers, consultants, business owners, and directors of organizations. We bring expertise from our work to address inequality, as well as from our lived experiences as people who are or have been living in poverty. Our expertise also comes from our membership in a community with a wide range of incomes and challenges.

Over and over in this work and in our lives we’ve seen that stigma, conscious and unconscious bias, and structural barriers keep people from benefiting from opportunities and resources that should be available to them. In response, we have developed strategies and techniques to overcome these obstacles. Together we bring decades of experience in community organizing, organizational development, training facilitation, and advocating for ourselves and others to survive and thrive.

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Davey Shlasko

Davey is an educator, author and consultant, and founder and Director of Think Again Training. Since 2000, Think Again has worked with groups and organizations to deepen their understanding and practice of social justice principles using dialogue, expressive arts, popular education, skills training and policy development. Davey has a M.Ed. in Social Justice Education from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and is a lecturer and 2017-2018 Marta Sotomayor Fellow at Smith College School for Social Work.

Deb Witkus

Deb grew up in generational poverty, and has been working with families with limited resources for more than 25 years. In working with families at Harvard University, as well as homeless families through the Horizon Initiative, Deb has seen how class divides us, and how important it is to create shared understanding that crosses the class divide. She is passionate about creating systems that empower people living in poverty to be leaders in finding real solutions. In raising a daughter on her own, she gained intimate knowledge of being poor and trying to access services.

[The training] really connected to the issues the clients and families experience in our community. It was personal, engaging, and great energy.
— Participant, Health Equity Conference

 

Angela Berkfield

Angela grew up in the Midwest in a middle class family and married into wealth. She has spent the last 20 years working with people in poverty - in refugee camps, addiction recovery, with survivors from domestic violence, child protection, and food security. She is dedicated to raising consciousness about oppression and privilege and how we can all make a difference right where we are at. With a MA in Social Justice in Intercultural Relations from SIT Graduate Institute and a BA in Social Work and Spanish from Bethel University, Angela brings knowledge and lived experience, as well as humility that comes from knowing she has so much more to learn.

 

Kendra Colburn

Kendra was born and raised in Vermont in a family rich with the history of both New England’s working poor and its WASP elite. She has worked in the building, metal and farming trades and as a project manager, freelance writer and a classism workshop facilitator, and has organized around environmental, food justice, and socioeconomic class issues since 1997. Kendra has a BA in American Studies from Smith College, where she was an Ada Comstock Scholar and co-chaired a student group advocating for low income peers.

 

Shela Linton

Shela has worked for nearly 2 decades as a grassroots advocate for socially just education, public health, family services (DCF), and housing. She has facilitated dozens of forums on topics including: bullying, harm reduction, race relations, police relations, and universal health care. For 4 years she organized for the Vermont Workers Center – advocating for a democratic society where all people's fundamental needs are met. Her current initiatives are: the “I am Vermont Too, photo story project” which challenges racial micro-aggressions; “Soul Food Sundays” a People of Color only safe space; and the first statewide People of Color Caucus. Shela has a BA in Psychology and associates in Chemical Dependency. She is a 2011 graduate of Governor Snelling: Vermont Leadership Institute.

 

Chad Simmons

Chad is an enthusiastic community leader, organizer and strategist. He brings more than 15 years of experience in strategic development, citizen-led advocacy, media campaigns, training facilitation, and event coordination. While doing substance prevention in a rural Vermont community, Chad co-led story-based and peer-led approaches for youth and family engagement. Chad currently does community organizing and statewide systems building in support of Vermont's young children and families. Chad holds a BBA in General Management from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and MA in Sustainable Development and Social Action Training from SIT Graduate Institute. Chad remains profoundly optimistic.

 

 Kendra, Angela, and Deb at the "Stronger Together" Restorative Justice Conference

Kendra, Angela, and Deb at the "Stronger Together" Restorative Justice Conference

Equity Solutions provided a thought provoking session on Poverty and Class Inequality that has led to numerous requests of training sessions in the state, including our own VT LEND program. Advancing knowledge on poverty and class inequality is essential in rural states like Vermont, and we cannot think of any other group most qualified to lead this work in the state than Equity Solutions.
— Maria Mercedes Avila, PhD, MSW, UVM faculty