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Community-Based Research Proposal Review Committee

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Crystal Alba Crystal is the Diverse Business Contract Supervisor for the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD). In her role she is responsible for overseeing the Diverse Business Program at Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD). She assists small, women and minority businesses looking to work with TRWD. With over 17 years of experience in public and non-profit partnerships, she has dedicated her recent years to procurement and small business development. She is a graduate of University of North Texas, with a concentration in Economics. She is involved in other areas in the community as well. Crystal sits on the Executive board of the North Central Texas Regional Certification Agency as Vice Chair and a member of the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber Board. She is also an alumna of Leadership ISD and Leadership Fort Worth. Through these organizations she is an advocate for diverse and equitable needs for students, parents, and the small business community. She has previously chaired the Hispanic Women’s Network and sat on numerous planning committees for events with area non-profits, including Girls Scouts of Texas Oklahoma Plains and Camp Fire Texas.

Jerry Hawkins Jerry is the Executive Director of Dallas Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (DTRHT), an initiative by The W.K. Kellogg Foundation. He co-founded The Imagining Freedom Institute (The IF Institute) and has held positions at The Dallas Foundation and Zero To Five Funders Collaborative. Jerry is a 2022-2023 Independent Sector Bridging Fellow, a 2020-21 Presidential Leadership Scholar, and serves on multiple boards and advisory councils.

His accolades include being named an American Graduate Champion in 2017, an Outstanding Child Advocate in 2020, and one of the “Dallas 500 Most Powerful Business Leaders in North Texas” in 2021 and 2022. His first editorial, A People’s History of Dallas, will be published in late 2023. Jerry has a degree in Early Childhood Education and Child & Family Services from Southern Illinois University, and a Master's in Education from Northeastern Illinois University.

Gabriel Huddleston, Ph.D. Dr. Huddleston is an Associate Professor at Texas Christian University (TCU) and heads the Department of Counseling, Societal Change, and Inquiry. He directs the Center for Public Education and Community Engagement (CPECE) and is ailiate faculty with the Women and Gender Studies and Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies departments. Gabriel's teaching interests lie in curriculum studies, teacher education, and qualitative inquiry. His research uses a Cultural Studies theoretical framework to explore the relationship between schools and society, particularly regarding neoliberal education reform and teachers. He has written for various journals and contributed to book chapters. Gabriel was honored with the Critical Issues in Curriculum Studies and Cultural Studies SIG Early Career Scholars Award in 2020. His current projects involve community-based research studies and he is part of a National Science Foundation-funded study supporting women faculty in STEM fields. Gabriel has also held various positions within the American Education Research Association (AERA).

Carmen Kynard, Ph.D. Dr. Kynard is the Lillian Radford Chair in Rhetoric and Composition and Professor of English at Texas Christian University. She has previously worked at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her work focuses on race, Black feminisms, AfroDigital/Black languages and cultures, and the politics of schooling. Kynard has an extensive teaching background, including high school, writing program administration, and teacher education. She has published in numerous academic journals and her book, "Vernacular Insurrections: Race, Black Protest, and the New Century in Composition-Literacy Studies" is award-winning. She's also involved in various digital projects focusing on Black Feminist rhetorics and anti-racist/anti-colonial pedagogies. Her website, "Education, Liberation, and Black Radical Traditions" has received over 2 million hits since its inception in 2012.

Melissa Mendoza, Ph.D. Dr. Mendoza is the Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in Bilingual Special Education at Texas Christian University where she is a core member of the Alice Neeley Special Education Research and Service Institute and ailiate faculty of the Center for Public Education and Community Engagement. Her research focuses on inclusive education policy implementation, teacher education for inclusive learning environments, and the student transition from school to employment.

Dr. Mendoza completed her doctorate in Comparative Education in the School of Education and Information Studies at University of California, Los Angeles and received the 2023 Department of Education Award for Outstanding Ph.D. Dissertation. She is a former special education teacher and has worked in teacher education supporting novice and pre-service dual language and general education teachers in the field for over five years.

She is a Fulbright scholar and was a fellow at the WORLD Policy Analysis Center twice, focusing on inclusive education for people with disabilities, gender equality in education, and approaches to special education services.

Leila Santillían Leila came to Fort Worth over a decade ago to teach third-grade dual language in Fort Worth ISD. Since then, she has served in a variety of capacities in the education space, initially working to retain high-performing educators in the education sector and later at a national education research and consulting organization that works with education agencies across the country.

Today, she serves as Vice President of Operations at Fort Worth Education Partnership, a grant-making nonprofit working to increase access to high-quality educational experiences for kids in Fort Worth, where she manages partner grants, data initiatives, and organizational operations and is responsible for ensuring the organization delivers on its program commitments.

Leila studied Public Health and Political Science at Saint Louis University, Education Finance at the Georgetown Edunomics Lab, is a Society for Human Resources Management – Senior Certified Professional, and is currently pursuing her Credential of Readiness in Business Analytics, Economics, and Financial Accounting from Harvard Business School.

She enjoys volunteering her time as a Board Member for the Foundation for the Young Women’s Leadership Academy of Fort Worth and an Executive Board Member of BoardBuild. Leila and her husband Juan, a public school teacher, reside in the Fort Worth area with their three boys, Amir, Karim, and Keivan.