Question #1: Tell me about yourself and how you came to be involved with Open Education.
My background is in community development. I worked with community organizations in southern Illinois and eastern Oregon. Before coming to Open Education, I was a grant writer for Austin Community College. In that position, I learned about the range of initiatives and best practices being implemented at the community colleges across the country. I also did a lot of equity and cultural competence committee work within the college.
Austin Community College received an Achieving the Dream OER Degree grant, and, even though I didn’t know much about OER, I knew how to make projects work throughout the college so applied for a coordinator position managing the OER initiative along with other initiatives. I promoted OER to faculty, advisors, and students. My focus was on the nuts and bolts of implementation of OER across the district. But as I began to attend local and national Open Ed conferences, I learned about larger issues facing OER such as sustainability and equity.
The other thing that was pretty clear to me from those first conferences was the lack of diversity in the Open movement. I had worked in higher education for eight years at that point and knew diversity and equity was an issue within higher ed, but I noticed it was really an issue in the Open Ed movement. Now, I work with the Digital Higher Education Consortium of Texas, which works with OER across the state, looking at how we can encourage OER use at all colleges, some of which have no OER and some of which have OER degrees.