Caridad (Mini) Martinez is the former President of Crystal Lake Elementary School PTA (a 2017-2019 National PTA School of Excellence) in Lake Mary, Florida. Mini is committed to exploring new ways to create and maintain a culture of inclusion in her PTA by ensuring that there is intentional leadership training and development around diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Mini believes that DEI training is both crucial and the first step in making sure that efforts of engagement align with a school’s needs. She is passionate about providing access to resources in multiple languages, as well as a growing knowledge and capacity for PTAs to be fierce advocates for all students and families. Through the fellowship, Mini is working towards increase awareness and accessibility to DEI resources within her PTA and beyond. She is engaging local units in planning DEI programming and empowering them to continue advocating for DEI initiatives in the future.
Katrina Long is the principal of Reese Road Leadership Academy (a 2018-2020 National PTA School of Excellence) in Columbus, Georgia and is an active member of her school’s PTA. Katrina recognizes that her school’s demographics are quickly changing while PTA leadership has not. Katrina is dedicated to developing her own skills and strategies to become a more culturally responsive educator. Through the fellowship, Katrina is identifying and addressing barriers of representation and inclusion in her site PTA. She is progressively accomplishing her goal of making her PTA’s membership and leadership reflective of her school’s population.
Heather Zirke is the President of Berea-Midpark Middle School PTA (a 2019-2021 National PTA School of Excellence) in Berea, Ohio and is a firm believer that more inclusive groups create better outcomes. She is passionate about including parent, teacher, and student voices in conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Throughout the fellowship Heather has been designing a yearlong, equity-focused panel series led by parents, students, educators and community members on a variety of topics. She believes that this series will particularly help students feel empowered and encouraged to share their stories and experiences. Heather’s intention is that creating these spaces will not only bring different voices to the conversation, but also cultivate a more inclusive school and PTA.
Valentina Conetta has just closed out her second term as President of APPLES PTA in Stamford, Connecticut (a 2019-2021 National PTA School of Excellence) and is transitioning into her new position as treasurer. Valentina decided to take part in the fellowship to learn new ways to engage families from diverse backgrounds because in her words, “you can’t succeed in your mission until all families are engaged and represented.” Valentina is passionate about early childhood and special education, particularly in linguistically diverse communities. During her fellowship Valentina has been working on strengthening parent-teacher partnership and making way for meaningful membership and leadership in her PTA.
Tiffany Foster is the current president of Durham Council of PTAs in Durham, North Carolina and a member of the National PTA Membership Committee. She is a longtime child advocate, committed to championing children and families to have positive, empowering and enriching experiences. Tiffany’s work in membership has driven her to look deeper into PTA communication strategies and diversity in leadership. She understands the importance of communication tactics and the direct correlation between who communication efforts reach and who gets involved. Throughout her fellowship Tiffany has been focused on attracting and retaining new and diverse members by organizing fireside chats, virtual panels and by building partnerships with local non-profit organizations that have helped her PTA reach and assist families facing various realities.