Vilma Seeberg, Ph.D.
Vilma Seeberg, an internationally renowned scholar in international comparative and multicultural education, is associate professor emerita at Kent State University, Ohio. She has researched the empowerment of marginalized people and groups in Chinese and American public education.
Dr. Seeberg earned her Ph.D. in 1990 at Hamburg University in Germany, where she was born and raised. Dr. Seeberg began her profession in K-12 education when she co-founded a street academy for school dropouts in Wisconsin. Since then, she has divided her interests between marginalized local communities in the United States and village girls in China.
In March 2021, she published Family Engagement in Black Students’ Academic Success: Resistance and Achievement in an American Suburban School to counter the prevailing narrative about Black American participation in American society. This 20-year study was led by Seeberg and the Shaker Parent and Research Teams who were deeply embedded in the Shaker Heights, Ohio community and schools. The Cleveland inner-ring, affluent suburb is renowned for pioneering housing desegregation, maintaining a diverse population, and excellent schools – – fraught with long baked-in racial inequities and challenges. This research project set out to find how Black families successfully contest and negotiate such a school system and forge a path for their students to achieve a high-quality education, as Shaker Black families did.
Xiaoqi Yu is an adjunct instructor at Kent State University and coresearcher
on the Shaker Project. She is a student development manager and family education advisor at Cambridge Network, a Boston-based international education agency.
She served at Onaway Elementary School’s PTO Community Builders promoting conversations on race relations and school equity. She has two Black-Chinese sons attending Shaker Heights Schools. Born in Shanghai, she has lived in the Cleveland Metropolitan area. Her research interests include students’ social-cultural border crossing and its impact on their educational outcomes.
Larissa Malone, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in Teacher Education
Department at the University of Southern Maine. Larissa served as
a graduate assistant, co-coordinator, and researcher of the Shaker Project. Her research centers on how the marginalized navigate educational
institutions, inclusive of students, families, and teacher experiences.
A native of Northeast Ohio, Larissa attended a K-12 suburban school
district in close proximity to Shaker Heights and completed her undergraduate degree at a university adjacent to the Shaker area. She earned her Ph.D.at Kent State University and taught preschool and kindergarten in Cleveland metropolitan area.
N. J. Akbar, Ph.D. is associate vice president for Diversity, Equity
and Inclusion at Kent State University and vice president of Akron
Board of Education. His research areas include race, racism, parent
engagement, Black male collegiate success, school funding, and school equity.
He earned his Ph.D. in 2019 at Kent State University, Black Male Collegians
Cultivating Success: Critical Race Aspiration Ethos. Ph.D. dissertation.
Reuben Harris owns an insurance agency. His avocation has been the
improvement of the Shaker Heights City School District’s service to
the Black community. He continues his tireless community organizing,
lead several incarnations of parent and community groups, for the
delivery of equitable quality education in Shaker Heights.
He has served as vice president of the School Board of Shaker Heights City
School District (SHCSD) between 2011 and 2015. It can truly be said,
that Reuben Harris has carried the load of moving the community
organizations forward in negotiations with the SHCSD to culminate
in its 2019 commitment to equity in education in strategic plan and