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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) will sponsor a dialogue on how communities, especially educational institutions, can respond to racial tensions. Veronica Benavides and Tracey Benson from the Harvard Graduate School of Education facilitate a conversation about their case study, “Letters from Ferguson: A Community’s Response to Race and Racism.” This discussion will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Monday, April 27, in the Feigenbaum Center for Science and Innovation, room 121. 

The event is free and open to the public.

According to Dana Rapp, chair of MCLA’s education department, this event will explore the circumstances that informed the organizational response of three school districts in St. Louis County to the civil unrest that followed the shooting of Michael Brown by a local police officer.

“How should organizations, particularly education organizations, respond to incidents involving racial tensions? This case brings to the forefront the racialized context in which educators operate, but often do not acknowledge,” Rapp said.

Benson is a second year doctoral student in Harvard’s Educational Leadership Program. Prior to entering the Harvard Graduate School of Education, he served as a high school principal in Pittsfield. 

During his career, Benson has served as a vice-principal, district trainer and classroom teacher. His primary area of focus is working with historically marginalized communities in pursuit of access to high quality educational opportunities, as well as enhanced lifetime outcomes.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and his master’s degree in school administration from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Benavides is a second year doctoral student in the EdLD program. Prior to entering the Harvard Graduate School of Education, she taught middle and high school students in New York City and Mexico City. 

She is the co-founder of Movement Makers, an organization that looks to increase the agency and academic performance of high school students through culturally relevant curriculum. Her research interests include student motivation, family engagement, community organizing, adult development and organizational change. 

Benavides earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in government and philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin, and her Master of Science degree in teaching from Fordham University in New York, N.Y.

For more information, contact Rapp, (413) 662-5197, or

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth's public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.