Schools attended: Duke University, Bellaire High School, T.H. Rogers School (K-6)
I didn’t learn about the role of journalism in holding public institutions accountable until college, but something seemed fishy when I got into a conflict with my high school’s journalism sponsor over starting a blog that might reflect poorly on the school. Since then, I’ve become more acutely aware of the ways power and privilege seep through every aspect of our lives, and the material struggles and narratives that are forgotten in the process. My interests lie at the intersection of data and storytelling, as they both have the power to give context and meaning to complex lived experiences. I hope Shift Press can be a space to explore both of these tools.
Schools attended: University of Texas at Austin, Worthing High School, Thompson Intermediate School, Laureate Primary School (Dar es Salaam)
Okay, so boom, there I was, shouting and aggressively pointing my finger at my university president. He was on a stage in the middle of an interview boasting about the university’s commitment to diversity. Having witnessed and experienced systemic racism on campus, I was infuriated and could no longer be contained by that auditorium chair.
That day, as I loudly called into question the university’s institutional diversity practices, I learned the incredibly riotous power of my own voice. I observed its endlessly unruly and courageous grit take up room where it was otherwise unheard! I want Shift Press to be a platform for frustrated young people to question power. I want this bold project to be a testament to the urgency in and disruptive force of young voices.
Schools attended: University of Houston, DeBakey High School, Meyerland Middle School, Jenard Gross Elementary School
Growing up, my power playground was at the Meyerland Middle School KickStart Karate room. I brought all of my burdens (family troubles and poor grades) to class. Mrs. Stinson would always channel my energy into kata, sparring, or even tears. As my instructor, she graced me with opportunities to practice and understand agency. I want Shift Press to be a power playground for young homies in Houston to practice agency. I’m excited to see their stories shape all the action in this city.
Cassandra D. Jones is an organizer, strategist, and filmmaker based in Houston, Texas. She currently serves as the National Deputy Director of Organizing for Faith in Action National Network.
Chris Valdez (he/him/el) is the Director of Communications at Houston in Action, an activated network of over 100 Houston region community-based organizations, former Next City Vanguard and New Leaders Council alum.
Jaison Oliver is an organizer and educator based in Houston who brings together people and institutions to facilitate collaborative policymaking and catalyze community-led change. As an organizer with the ImagiNoir/BLMHTX Collective, he works alongside artists, academics, technologists, and educators building abolitionist learning spaces through which we might imagine and create more equitable communities where Black people can thrive. An avid supporter of the arts, Jaison works with Black Lunch Table and Art+Feminism to fill gaps in contemporary art history through Wikipedia edit-a-thons. Jaison is a Detroit native and an alumnus of Yale University.
Steven Wu is the Organizing and Policy Manager of Woori Juntos. He works with impacted Asian and migrant community members to co-create and implement a holistic policy and organizing platform that advances the full safety, agency, and vibrancy of our communities. In other efforts to advance the interests of migrant communities, Steven is the Coalition Lead of the Texas Data Quality Coalition, a group of community based organizations, health groups, and advocates that aim to pass health equity policy at the local and state level. Previously, Steven was the Health Policy Associate of the Scholars Strategy Network and Vice President of OCA-Greater Houston. He graduated from Georgia Tech with a B.S. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in 2013. When not engaged in advocacy, Steven enjoys tossing a frisbee on a brisk fall day, snapping candid pictures of Houston, learning Spanish, dabbling in poetry, camping/hiking the beauty of Texas, and reminding any non-Southerner to say “all y’all”.