"Putting Race on the Table" Forums, 2004-present


Since 2004, The Community Foundation’s signature conversation series, Putting Race on the Table, has done just that—examined some of the most pressing community issues through the lens of race and ethnicity. With a major focus on education, Putting Race on the Table has drawn nationally-recognized speakers and resources in convenings that have gathered more than 1000 community members. Our events have included:





Our initial forum presented local donors with an exciting opportunity to discuss the root causes of the academic achievement gap between students of color and white students, as well as presented national and local best practices to boost minority student success. Speakers included:

  • Stephanie Robinson, Principal Partner for the Education Trust and former Education Director for the National Urban League
  • Jay Mathews, Education Reporter for the Washington Post
  • Ray Moreno, IMPACT Silver Spring
  • Jill Weiler, Tellin’ Stories Project of Teaching for Change
  • Stephen Bedford, Community Superintendent, Montgomery County Public Schools


The 2005 forum examined race, ethnicity and class as defining factors contributing to low parent involvement in urban and suburban school systems. The forum also provided promising examples of how to better integrate parents into their child’s academic success from both inside and outside the metro Washington region. The forum included a tour of Piney Branch Elementary school in Montgomery County, MD, with speakers including:

  • Stephen Bedford, Community Superintendent, Montgomery County Public Schools
  • Bertram Generlette, Principal, Piney Branch Elementary
  • Norm Fruchter, Director of the Institute for Education and Social Policy at New York University
  • Eric Zachery, staff member of the Institute for the Education and Social Policy and Coordinator for Community Collaborative to Improve District 9 Schools
  • Yvonne Torres, Instructional Superintendent for District 9 in the Bronx, New York
  • Carol Body, parent member of Community Collaborative to Improve District 9 Schools
  • Herb Katz, Representative for United Federation of Teachers District 9
  • Mrs. Hilda L. Ortiz, Chief Academic Officer, DC Public Schools 
  • Janice Euell, Executive Director, Reaching Objectives Through Joint Action
  • Ruth Dinzey, Coordinator, Education Committee, Tenants’ and Workers’ Support Committee
  • Tom Israel, Executive Director, Montgomery County Education Association
  • Viki Betancourt, The World Bank 


The Foundation held two forums in 2006, with the first convened in April and focused on learning about the spectrum of issues involved with maintaining quality teachers in schools, including professional development programs for both veteran and new teachers. The dialogue tackled the issue of quality teachers through the lens of race, ethnicity and class, raising lingering questions around the equitable distribution of competent teachers to low-income and racially diverse schools. Speakers included:

  • Enid Lee, Enidlee Consultants and National Education Expert
  • William Miles, Director of Policy and Public Responsibility Initiatives, Public Education Network 
  • Dr. Ronald Ross, Superintendent, Roosevelt Union Free School District, New Jersey
  • Superintendent Rep.: Dr. Weast, Montgomery County Schools
  • Deborah Menkhart, Teaching For Change
  • Dr. Kathleen A. Travers, University of Maryland
  • Stacey Davis Stewart, Fannie Mae Foundation
  • Arthur Dade, Freddie Mac Foundation


Our second 2006 forum in November looked at the issue of teacher and community expectations of students and their relationship to race, ethnicity, and class-based perceptions, how they interact with student beliefs and behaviors, and looking at how this helps to perpetuate the “Black/Brown and White” achievement gap. Speakers included:

  • Charito Kruvant, CFNCR Board Chair
  • Ronald Ferguson, Lecturer in Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government Faculty, Harvard University
  • Mr. Kojo Nnamdi, WAMU 88.5 FM
  • Dr. Robert Smith, Superintendent,  Arlington Public Schools
  • Nataki Reynolds, Principal, Maya Angelou Evans Campus
  • Gabriel Benn, Principal, Rock Creek Academy
  • David Stuart, University of Maryland student and graduate of DC Public Schools 


Our 2007 forum investigated that fact that today more African American and Latino students drop out of school and are incarcerated than graduate from high school. After billions of dollars of public and private investment in public education throughout the region, why are many of our African American and Latino children not achieving their potential? Speakers included:

  • Pedro Noguera, PhD, professor in the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education, and Co-Director of the Institute for the Study of Globalization and Education in Metropolitan Settings
  • Abigail Thernstrom, Senior Fellow, The Manhattan Institute
  • Jay Matthews, the Washington Post 


Our 2008 forum noted that communities of color now comprise more than one third of the nation’s population overall, yet African American and Latino average household incomes are only 60% and 72% that of their white counterparts, respectively. In the context of massive education reform to meet minimum standards, as well as income equity rising to the forefront of public debate, how does race play a role in preparing youth for success outside the classroom? Speakers included:

  • Maria Echaveste, Center for American Progress, UC Berkeley
  • Lucretia Murphy, Jobs for the Future
  • Carmen James Lane, Senior Program Officer, Meyer Foundation and Co-Chair, Youth Transition Funders Group
  • Alex Orfinger, Washington Business Journal
  • Eleanor Clift, Newsweek Magazine