We Believe

At the core of National Urban Alliance is the people. We believe in the gifts of our mentors, our leaders, our collaborators in schools and some of our guiding lights in alliance.

Dr. Dorothy Strickland
Dorothy StricklandI recently learned that Dr. Dorothy Strickland has passed. I was devastated by the news. She had an impact on my life that is hard to put into words. She mentored me and guided me as my major doctoral advisor while she was at Columbia University’s Teachers College.

She was integral in shaping the knowledge of literacy and its applications to thousands over the years. I, along with thousands, came to love Dot. She was a giant in her field and her influence will be felt for years. Deeply saddened for her family and for all of us.

From the International Literacy Association:
Her influence in education extended far and wide. She served as the first African American president of the International Reading Association from 1977 to 1978 and also as president of the Reading Hall of Fame from 1997 to 1998. She served on several prominent task forces and committees, including the National Early Literacy Panel and the Common Core State Standards Validation Committee.

Strickland’s career began in 1955 as a fourth-grade teacher. One of the things she valued most was ongoing learning, and she lived by example. She went on to be a reading consultant and learning disabilities specialist, to earn her master’s and doctorate, and to teach courses in reading, language arts, and children’s literature. She taught at Kean College of New Jersey, Teachers College, Columbia University, and Rutgers University Graduate School of Education. She made sure that her work took her away from campus and into schools across the United States so she could remain entrenched in the everyday challenges faced by teachers and administrators and work with them on their professional development efforts.
Eric Cooper

Asa Hilliard
1933 – 2007
Tears are flowing all over the world in memory of Asa. As one of his thousands of friends and students, I sent thoughts and meditations to Ahmes who is like family to Asa. Words can’t express the feelings of the loss, the gratitude of his immense contributions, the wholeness of his spirit, his love of his people, his joy of intellectual work in the pursuit of justice and freedom, his challenges to the education community on behalf of undeserved children, his giving heart when any of his friends was in need, his cutting edge work in culture-centered education for African American people, his understanding of the central place that African history has in the education of his people and all people, his deep deep knowledge of history, and social, political current issues, his hundreds of articles, books and other writings…. The list of his accomplishments and activities goes on and on.

He was especially loved in the community of African American students and scholars who focus on using African-based culture to ground us. Every group of people have their leaders -their heroes –who are special to the larger world, but whose joy is the deepest when among their own people—experiences together that are understood and felt in a special way —those cultural bonds that come into play when we all are among family–the things that can be said only when among your cultural family because they feel it and understand from experiences. Those times are in the memories of so many of us from so many years back. There will be many many memorials in both African and African American communities in many cities for our dear brother.

Many tears, but I think that along with the tears there will be a renewed determination to continue his work–to push on in the battle to win justice and excellence in the education of our children and in the teaching of adults. This will be done by many in his name.

He made his transition in Kemet in Africa–the land of our ancestors–the land that he loved –the land where our ancestors laid foundations of history that so many followed– the ancient history of that land and its deep African roots –the culture that came up from the south….. Asa is part of that land’s history now. What a poignant reminder to us all to teach the truth to our children!

Lovingly, Augusta Mann

Mary Oberg
The National Urban Alliance mourns the death of Mary Oberg, our “Champion for Change” in Minnesota, and dedicates our website in her memory. Mary brought the NUA to Minnesota in 2001, and worked tirelessly in implementation. For the last few years she had been our Minnesota Project Director. Mary clearly understood how to make a difference for the thousands of children, and hundreds of educators in Minnesota. Her dedication to the social justice mission we all serve was unfailing.

We will miss her sense of humor and the love she has for our organization. We will miss her indomitable leadership and her love of life. We will miss the embrace she projected for those she came to know and love.

Some people touch others emotionally in ways that are not always immediately and overtly recognized and identified. Mary, in her quiet yet very strong intellectual and knowing way, pushed hard with determination that never faltered. She didn’t fit the idea of a flamboyant figure, demanding justice and equity. Instead, she was a calm and cool fighter who, behind the scenes, was taking on political battles that few of us knew about – all to keep the work flowing. All of us whose lives she touched will work our hardest and try our best to honor Mary and keep her dreams of a fair and equitable nation alive.

Mamie Jennings Merrifield, MA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMamie Merrifield was a career public school educator with 21 years as a teacher and 9 years as middle school administrator. Her areas of expertise are staff development, instructional leadership, middle school curriculum, and interdisciplinary/arts-infused curriculum. Ms. Merrifield has worked for NUA since 2004 as a Mentor in Indianapolis, WMEP and Newark; and as the Director of the TRUST Initiative in Birmingham.


Evangeline M. Wise, MA
Evangeline M. Wise, MA started her career in education as a kindergarten and first grade teacher in California. She spent many years as an administrator in the Prince George’s County (Maryland) Public Schools. She was the Program Developer for the Challenger Campus, a consortium of educational, health and social service programs that serve children and families from birth to adulthood. Ms. Wise’s other administrative positions included Assistant Supervisor and Staff Development Coordinator in the Title I and Head Start programs, vice-principal in an elementary school, and staff development specialist for the school district. During her tenure in Title I she designed, developed and implemented a multi-year staff development project in collaboration with the National Urban Alliance for Effective Education (NUA). The project included 61 schools and as many as 1,000 participants in a single year. Student outcomes showed a steady increase on the CTBS/4 for the first four years. Title I students netted an overall gain of 10 NCE’s in reading and 9 NCE’s in mathematics. It has been replicated in many sites across the country and remains to be the longest running NUA project.

La Verne Flowers, Ed. D.
La Verne Flowers was the director of the West Metro Education Program/National Urban Alliance for Effective Education (WMEP/NUA) Partnership. Her leadership skills and passion for change has led to K-12 teachers, principals, and superintendents from 10 school districts and 55 schools receiving professional development services in pedagogy to foster high intellectual performances in students and teachers. The WMEP/NUA partnership, which is entering into the ninth year, supports the voluntary integration collaborative between Minneapolis and the surrounding suburban Minnesota school districts. Under her leadership with an emphasis on transformation sustainability, a cadre of teacher leaders have been trained and endorsed to serve as local coaches to sustain the work of NUA.

As a regional director Dr. Flowers also served as the symposium leader for the SF/NUA Principals during the partnership. Participating principals were guided in the basic elements of instructional leadership, the foundational principles and practices of NUA, the Pedagogy of Confidence®, and Mediative Learning Community™. They engaged in collecting data as empirical research using the Mediative Analysis Process™.

Winifred Radigan | Senior Executive Advisor 
The National Urban Alliance mourns the death of Win, a “Champion for Change”, and dedicates our website in her memory. Win Radigan, M.A. is an educational consultant with more than 40 years of experience in education.  She taught high school English in Catholic high schools for 11 years before beginning work in New York City public schools where she taught English at Edward R. Murrow H.S. before becoming Assistant Principal Supervision, English at Erasmus Hall H.S. She also served as Academic Assistant Principal in Brooklyn College Academy, an alternative high school.