Part of the Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix’s Sunday Speaker series: Shelly Gordon, Cofounder and Board Chair of ROSAmerica – How I Became an Education Equity Activist in Arizona
Back in December 2019, while scrolling through the New York Times, an ad for The 1619 Project, which challenged the national narrative about our nation’s history, popped up on Shelly’s screen. What she read in those 93 pages about the consequences of human enslavement and the contributions of Black Americans to our democracy forever changed her view of US history and led to the formation of an education nonprofit called Revealing Origin Stories of America – or ROSAmerica. The organization’s mission is to inspire teachers to teach the wide range of origin stories that represent all students, with no one left out.
Shelly will share about her journey as an education equity activist, navigating racist denialism, attacks on teaching hard history, and a mistrust of any school curriculum that strays from the white dominant structure. We will look at how we arrived here and how to break the grip of white supremacy on public education.
Shelly moved to Mesa, Arizona in late 2017 from the California Bay Area. Trying to make a difference has been one of her core values and she has a 40-year volunteer history, from fundraising for international NGOs to serving on the Human Relations Commission and as a volunteer mediator for the city of Palo Alto, to producing a county wide conference on ending hunger and poverty to serving on the Commission on the Status of Women in Monterey County to recognize women leaders. Shelly also served on the executive committee of the largest Sierra Club Chapter in California.
She ran her own medical marketing and PR firm for 20+ years and was named one of Silicon Valley’s Women of Influence.
Today Shelly is a community educator, volunteering at Longview Elementary School in Central Phoenix. She is a precinct committee volunteer for her legislative district in Mesa. In 2019, Shelly started another organization called Arizonans for Community Choice to bring more renewable energy to Arizona through community choice energy programs. Shelly was recently featured in the AZ Daily Star.
Shelly is married to Gordon Gray – yes, they share a name in common – and enjoys her 2 grandchildren, plus birdwatching, photography and hiking in her spare time.