As Washington STEM transitions to spring and the promise the new year holds, Washington STEM CEO Angela Jones shares her thoughts and reflections on a difficult 2020 and what it means to be an anti-racist organization.


Last year was HARD and our challenges are not over. We saw the stoking of hate and division and witnessed an attempted insurrection that was broadcast across the world. And we continue to face an invisible foe that has taken more than 500,000 American lives. As we move through 2021, we hang onto embers of hope ignited by the wisdom of inaugural poet, and youth poet laureate, Amanda Gorman:

“We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised, but whole, benevolent, but bold, fierce, and free.”

photo of Angela Jones
Washington STEM CEO, Angela Jones, JD

Last year also revealed that it takes collective action and people coming together as a community to rise up and demand that things be different. It has prompted many to reflect on the ways in which we each contribute to, and uphold, inequitable treatment and systems, and has called on all of us to step up and act so that we can build something better, together. Last year made ever clear the work that all of us need to do to change systems, in service of justice—racial justice—together.

And that includes Washington STEM.

Though our own equity journey began before I arrived, it’s work that is ongoing and we still have much more to learn. In the coming year, and for many years to come quite frankly, we will be doing this work—wrestling with what it means to be an anti-racist organization; continuing to take conceptual ideas and translate them into practice.

In the last year and a half, we’ve taken deep dives into the vendors we’re using and have made changes to many of them in service of investing in Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) businesses and partners. We’ve developed a policy evaluation framework that has equity at the center and we use it regularly to determine what we support and advocate for. We have changed internal practices around recruitment, retention, compensation, and benefits to ensure that we are recruiting people from diverse backgrounds and also retaining them once they join us. And we’ve created spaces for our staff to continue to explore issues around diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging through ongoing caucusing. We are far from done learning, but these efforts, along with many I haven’t mentioned, are a start. We know that we have more work to do and in the coming year, some of the questions we will be asking ourselves are:

  • What does an anti-racist approach to data and measurement look like and what are the actionable steps we can take?
  • What is our role in drafting and supporting policy solutions that serve students furthest from educational justice?
  • How do we build authentic partnerships with BIPOC communities and co-create effective systems-level solutions that are transformational and sustainable?

This year we are also embarking on drafting a new three-year strategic plan—a frame in which we can incorporate lessons we’ve learned, hopes we have, and use as an opportunity to think BIG about the future and how we authentically serve our community.

And so, I close the way I began, with Gorman’s wisdom, “And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.”

We look forward to what the future holds and to marching into it, together.

In partnership,

Angela Jones, J.D.
CEO Washington STEM