Derecka Purnell is an organizer, writer, and dancer. She believes in loving on oppressed people holistically: identifying problems and working together to meet pressing needs while fighting for systemic change. Her commitment to social justice stems from her personal experiences as a poor, Black girl living in an immigrant-refugee neighborhood in South St. Louis. She believes that community building provides liberation and empowerment for all people. Focusing on educational inequity, racial justice, and social movements, Derecka’s organizing and scholarship speaks to the intersections of marginalized communities. In August 2014, Derecka was a part of the Ferguson Uprising that took place in her old neighborhood in the wake of the murder of Michael Brown. She served as a legal observer in the later uprisings in St. Louis, Boston, and Baltimore, and helped organize legal strategy and clinics for police brutality victims. Derecka has engaged in civil rights work and activism across campuses, communities, and countries, and has been published or featured in a number of publications and media outlets, including Boston Review, Huffington Post, MSNBC, Vox, The Guardian, Boston Globe, and the New York Times. She is a third year law student at Harvard Law School.
Derecka has previously served as Contributing Editor and Contributor for the HJAAP.
Managing Editor, Digital/Director of Art & Special Content
Gil Perkins d/b/a Sage Salvo
Gil Perkins, dba Sage Salvo, is the founder of Words Liive and currently a Halcyon Incubator Fellow as well as a 2017 MPA candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School. Armed with a patent for his literary algorithm, Mr. Perkins built the education start-up, Words Liive, to deliver a teaching methodology called C.G.I. (Contemporary Grammar Integration) to local school systems. His mission is to eradicate illiteracy in marginalized communities.
Sage has been featured at SXSW (South by Southwest) thrice where Words Liive was named among the Top 3 EdTech start-ups of 2016. The Washington DC native gave a TEDx Talk in 2012 and is a 2016 SOCAP scholarship entrepreneur.
Gil Perkins has written nationally published Op-Ed’s and been featured in FORBES and The Washington Post. Mr. Perkins is a 2011 MBA graduate from the University of Toronto and received two distinct Bachelor Degrees in Accounting and Finance from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, in 2003 and 2004, respectively.
Managing Editor, Print
Caleb Gayle is a joint MBA/MPP student at Harvard’s Business School and Kennedy School, where he attends as Sheila Johnson Fellow at the Center for Public Leadership. At Harvard, Caleb serves as an Innovation Lab Coordinator at the Ash Center and a non-resident tutor at the Lowell house. Prior to his time at Harvard, Caleb worked as a program officer at the Kaiser Foundation. A Truman Scholar, Caleb also served as Technical Adviser to INADEM, Mexico’s version of the Small Business Administration, designing policy interventions for female entrepreneurs. Caleb received his bachelor’s at the University of Oklahoma and received his master’s from University of Oxford.
Rae Shih is an MPP candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School and a concurrent degree student with the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She worked as a Policy Analyst at StudentsFirst, an education reform organization focused on educational equity, and is a former Teach for America high school math teacher in New Orleans. Most recently, she worked at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights where she researched Title VI anti-discrimination policies.
Rae served as Senior Editor of HJAAP for the 2015-2016 school year.
Malcolm is a Master in Public Policy Candidate at Harvard Kennedy School. Prior to joining HKS, Malcolmworked for the UN World Food Programme in Rwanda and led classroom lessons on topics such as immigration and social movements in the U.S. as a High School Teaching Assistant in France. A Phoenix native, he is passionate about migration and economic and environmental justice in the global south. In his spare time, he can be found riding his bike, practicing his photography skills or listening to the latest Afrobeat and Reggae hits.
Alen Amini is currently a dual-degree MPP/MBA candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School and the Dartmouth College. Alen has served as Editor-in-Chief of The Citizen, the HKS student newspaper and associate editor with the Journal of Middle Eastern Policy and Politics at Harvard. Previously, he served as the executive director of CMEF, and was a high school math teacher and vice principal in Southeast Arkansas.
Alexis Morgan has spent over ten years advocating for students with disabilities. She began her career as a special education teacher in Camden, NJ before working as a State Interventionist/Special Education Specialist for the New Jersey Department of Education. In addition, she served in the role of Executive Director of Instructional Supports for the Office of Special Education for The Newark Public Schools in Newark, NJ where she lead a reform to decrease the number of students in self-contained settings. Currently, she is a second year doctoral student in the education leadership program at Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Deloris is a 2016 JD/MPA graduate of Georgetown University Law Center and Harvard Kennedy School of Government where she served as a Public Service Fellow, an Ash Center Innovation Fellow, and a Pro Bono Scholar. As an experienced policy, public relations and public sector innovation professional, her studies focused on the intersection of the cultural and creative industries, social entrepreneurship and economic development in minority communities. As former Editor-in-Chief of HJAAP (2014-2016), she helped to illuminate the complexities of protest in the aftermath of police violence, as well as chronicled student movements seeking to reaffirm the input and identity of students of color.