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On September 17, 2020, Junior Achievement of Southwest New England moderated a roundtable discussion titled MIND THE GAP | DISPARITIES IN EDUCATION as a part of JA RESPONDS, a series of conversations created as a direct result of the pandemic and growing attention to racial injustice. We, at JASWNE, are committed to bringing relevant topics to the forefront for discussion, debate, and most importantly – solution.

This most recent conversation with community members representing Educators, Parents, Students, and Business helped us see that a one-hour dialogue on the realities of education for black and brown students was not enough. The systemic issues are far-reaching and deep-rooted in our society.

Of the nearly 50,000 young people we reach each year, more than 50% are classified as minority and more than 60% identify as coming from lower-socioeconomic communities. We know our educators, administrators, and business partners are doing the best they can. But our recent dialogue demonstrated that even with high-quality educators, committed parents, and dedicated corporate support – the system may still be failing thousands of students in our most underserved communities.

On October 14, 2020, at noon, we invite you to be part of the solution. We are fortunate enough to welcome back our panelists and continue this exchange of ideas while we move in a direction of hope and change. Junior Achievement of Southwest New England remains committed to doing our part in bringing viable solutions to community issues directly affecting the students we serve.

Use this link to register and watch our live JA RESPONDS webinar on October 14, 2020, at noon. We will also be streaming live on our Facebook page.

Meet the Panelists:

Tara N. Spain is Vice President of the Travelers Foundation and Second Vice President of Community Relations at Travelers. Ms. Spain manages strategy, operations and analytics for the company’s philanthropic arm, as well as key national partnerships throughout the United States. In this role, she was instrumental in launching a national small business initiative for women, veteran and minority-owned businesses and a college access initiative for underrepresented students.

Prior to her role in community relations, she was a marketing project manager and account manager with Citigroup, managing marketing strategies for five product lines. Tara has served on several non-profit boards including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Hartford, TheaterWorks and The University of Hartford’s School of Education, Nursing and Health Professionals. She is currently serving on the board of ReSet (Social Enterprise Trust) and is an advisor for the Pell Institute, a research and public policy think tank in Washington, DC.

Tara has been recognized with several honors including Forty Under 40 by the Hartford Business Journal, A Women of Influence by Usher’s New Look and the Recent Distinguished Alumni Award by the University of Connecticut. She holds a B.S. in Marketing from Virginia State University, Magna Cum Laude, a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Connecticut, and a Certificate in Community Involvement Leadership from the Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management. She currently lives in West Hartford, Connecticut.


Dr. Terrell M. Hill is currently the Assistant Superintendent for HR for Windsor Public Schools. Dr. Hill was the founding Principal of High School, Inc.: Hartford’s Insurance and Finance Academy, which he opened in August 2009. During his 5 years as Principal, High School, Inc. received many honors and recognitions. Dr. Hill is also serves as the Alumni Trustee on the Board of Trustees, at Westfield State University in Westfield, MA.

Prior to opening the school in Hartford, CT, Dr. Hill served as a Vice Principal at Windsor High School in Windsor, CT for 7 years. He has taught in the Windsor Locks, CT Public Schools, as well as in the Newport News, VA, Public Schools. He has also taught as an adjunct faculty member at Springfield College and Westfield State University in Massachusetts. He is currently teaching for the NEAG School of Education UCAPPS Program (administrator preparation) at UCONN. His work as an educational leader has been chronicled in books and dissertations, as well as Black Enterprise Magazine.

Dr. Hill is a graduate of the High School of Commerce in Springfield, MA. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from Westfield State College. He earned a Masters Degree, Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study, and a PhD in Education Policy and Leadership from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA. His dissertation study looked at “The career paths of Black and White superintendents.” He is the founding President of BLAC (Black Leaders and Administrators Consortium, Inc.); an organization born out of his research that endeavors to provide career development and support for Black leaders, particularly in the education field.

Dr. Hill has consulted organizations in the areas of Leadership Development, Equity & Diversity, and Team Building. He serves on the Board of Directors for JA (Southwestern New England).  He is also a proud veteran of the United States Army.

Subira Gordon is currently the Executive Director at ConnCAN. She was born and raised in Jamaica, in a small rural community with a 2% literacy rate. Her mother was one of the few people who could read, and Subira quickly realized the value of schooling, as her mother was often asked to assist neighbors with undertakings that required more than a 1st grade education.

Upon graduation from high school, Subira attended Bates College where she earned a bachelor’s degree in history, and spent years afterward organizing workers in Connecticut to advocate for their rights. This was her passageway to political mobilization, policy change and the ins-and-outs of the legislative process, eventually leading her to the Connecticut General Assembly’s Commission on Equity and Opportunity.

At the Capitol, Subira worked closely with grassroots advocates and legislators to create equitable solutions for communities of color. With a focus on education, criminal justice and housing, Subira created a space for honest conversations around equity and inclusion for those underrepresented or marginalized in The Constitution State. Issues that she championed include a diverse educator pipeline, affordable housing options and comprehensive criminal justice reform.

Stephen Sam is a 2nd year graduate student at the University of Connecticut. He is currently pursuing a Masters in Computer Science & Engineering. Born in Hartford, CT, he spent the majority of his life growing up in East Hartford, CT.

As an undergraduate and graduate student, he was a member and executive board member of the National Society of Black Engineers over the last four years serving both local and regional boards. As a former President of Brothers Reaching Our Society, he was part of developing the partnership with BSL Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Inc. to work with high school Black boys from Capital Preparatory Magnet School on academic and social development. The Leadership Initiative was designed to ensure that the students developed leadership qualities to workshops, discussions, and mentoring with undergraduate/graduate students and professionals.

Additionally, he serves as a mentor to first and second year students in ScHOLA2RS House (Scholastic House Of Leaders in support of African American Researchers & Scholars).