Founder, 1619 Freedom School
Nikole is the Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of the 1619 Project, a staff writer at The New York Times Magazine. She has spent her career investigating racial inequality and injustice, and her reporting has earned her the MacArthur Fellowship, known as the Genius grant, a Peabody Award, two George Polk Awards and the National Magazine Award three times. She also earned the John Chancellor Award for Distinguished Journalism and was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists and the Newswomen's Club of New York. In 2020 she was inducted into the Society of American Historians and in 2021, into the North Carolina Media Hall of Fame.
In 2016, Nikole co-founded the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, which seeks to increase the number of reporters and editors of color. She holds a Master of Arts in Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina and earned her BA in History and African-American studies from the University of Notre Dame.
She is a native of Waterloo and a graduate of Waterloo West High School, where she was inducted into the school's Academic Hall of Fame in 2018
Co-Director, 1619 Freedom School
Sheritta is a veteran teacher with the Waterloo Community School District with more than 20 years of teaching experience with a diverse range of students and grades. She has years of experience showing successful growth in students’ reading scores. She is currently a 3rd grade teacher at Dr. Walter Cunningham School for Excellence, teaching all subjects to elementary students.
She has also served as the grade-level team leader for the past five years. She has a reading endorsement and is Title One/Reading Recovery trained. She has worked for both the Jessie Cosby Center and UNI’s Talent Search reading programs. She is the creator of the Black Men Read program in which Afrcian-American men volunteers come to the school and read to students. Sheritta has instilled her love of books and reading in many children over the years.
Talent and Outreach Specialist, Waterloo Community School District
Joy is a consummate DEI professional with over 15 years of experience creating engagement for culture transformation. She currently is the Talent Acquisition and Outreach Specialist with Waterloo Community School District and the Waterloo Career Center. She serves as the business liaison while implementing Grow Your Own programming. Additionally, Joy is the newly appointed Executive Director of the 24/7 Black Leadership Advancement Consortium, which seeks to increase personal and professional development, stimulate the creation of wealth and financial empowerment and build networks of influence with navigational support for Black professionals.
Advisor, University of Northern Iowa Center for Urban Education
Lori Dale is a Recruiter Advisor for University of Northern Iowa Educational Talent Search (ETS) college preparatory program and a ceramic artist. Lori is passionate about building up and empowering youth. Her goal is to empower youth to become productive citizens and leaders in their community. Through her art, she is able to capture the beauty of her people and address difficult issues that plague her society. What she is most proud of is a mentoring program that she developed called ETS Student Ambassadors (ETSSA). Through this program she helps students grow into leaders in college and their communities.
Community Relations Manager, CUNA Mutual Group
Sharina is the Community Relations Manager at CUNA Mutual Group. Sharina is often described as a strategist who is dynamic, resourceful and a consummate professional possessing corporate social responsibility, business, fundraising and development management skills. Sharina has over 20 years of experience in building and fostering relationships, diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and claims management. She also holds the position of Board President for the 24/7 Black Leadership Advancement Consortium.