Dawan Julien

Dawan Julien


Dawan Julien is a visionary leader who has advocated for educational equity for communities of color for over twenty years. Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, her mother was constantly seeking the best educational opportunities for her and after transferring between multiple public schools, she was awarded a scholarship to attend Bryn Mawr, an independent school for girls. From 6th-12th grade she navigated between the separate and unequal worlds of West Baltimore and Roland Park. Out of this experience, Dawan’s lifelong commitment to racial equity work, particularly in education, was born. 

Dawan began her career in Teach For America, as a Bilingual/ESL teacher at CJHS 145 in South Bronx, and later as a social studies teacher at KIPP:STAR College Prep Charter School. From there, she became Director of High School Academic Support for KIPP NYC Through College, where she designed programming to support STAR’s first three graduating classes on their path to and through college. Prior to joining the Courageous Conversation team, Dawan was the Managing Director of Out-of-School Time Programs at East Harlem Tutorial Program where she provided strong leadership through a critical period of growth for the organization. There, Dawan ensured that the needs of students, families, and the community were central. She created innovative initiatives including: establishing the College Scholars program, expanding social services across all grade levels, and designing professional learning for all staff around racial identity development, anti-racist teaching practices, and culturally responsive pedagogy. She has presented at several conferences, including NYSACAC, Student Success Network Expo, and PASE@Pace. 

Dawan served on the board of the College Access Consortium of New York (CACNY) as its founding Vice Chair for Development and is also a co-founder of the College Access Anti-Racism Coalition. She earned her B.A. in African-American Studies from Columbia University, an M.A. in TESOL from Teachers College, and lives in Harlem with her husband and two children.

What calls me to this work?

When I entered the field of education as a classroom teacher, I was driven by a love for black history and culture that was nurtured by my family and my teachers from a young age. I recall singing “Lift Every Voice” at the start of the school day and memorizing and reciting Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” in pre-Kindergarten. Years later as a high school senior, I wrote a research paper on the Black Power movement that solidified my decision to major in African American studies at Columbia. I was fortified by the radical ideas, unparalleled creativity and stories of resilience that I learned through my undergraduate studies, and went into education in order to provide those same experiences to young people, in particular during an era of high-stakes testing in public schools which minimized the importance of history and cultural studies. When schools and systems commit to anti-racism work at all levels, we position ourselves to topple the status quo and reconnect to our own humanity by celebrating the identities and cultures of all people. My role is to advocate for racial equity from inside dominant culture institutions, particularly for families from all over the African diaspora who are seeking fulfilling and self-determined lives for their children and future generations.