Meet the Editors
As editors of Multiple Voices - Disability, Race and Language Intersections in Special Education Drs. Kathleen King Thorius, Cristina Santamaría Graff, and Seena Skelton bring a wide breadth of lived experience and personal commitment to continued excavations and examinations of critical issues affecting special education at the intersections of disability, race, ethnicity, language, national origin, and class.
Kathleen King Thorius As an associate professor of special education and founder and executive director of the Great Lakes Equity Center, Kathleen makes explicit her positionality as a white, non-disabled scholar, focusing on theoretical and practical tools for facilitating white, non-disabled educators’ critical examination of their own beliefs and practices, particularly in relation to how they construct their roles, their students, and the function of special education for their students at the intersection of race and disability. Published extensively in practitioner and research outlets, including Harvard Educational Review, the International Journal of Inclusive Education, Remedial and Special Education, and Race, Gender, & Class, Kathleen was a school psychologist before earning her Ph.D. from Arizona State University as an USDOE-funded doctoral fellow in an interdisciplinary program to prepare culturally responsive special education professors. During this time, she was the professional learning coordinator for the National Center for Culturally Responsive Education Systemsand the National Center for Urban School Improvement—and co-directed the Equity Alliance at ASU. Kathleen presents nationally and internationally on race, language, and dis/ability equity, and multi-tiered systems of support including culturally responsive school-wide discipline approaches. Her expertise undergirds past and current work with myriad urban, rural, and suburban school districts and state departments of education. She has been awarded over 14 million dollars from the U.S. Department of Education toward her educational equity research and practice and is co-editor of Ability, Equity, and Culture: Sustaining Urban Inclusive Education Reform published by Teachers College Press.
Cristina Santamaría Graff has built upon a wealth of varied experience in schools as both a Spanish/English general educator and bilingual special educator, as well as an English as a New Language teacher for adult learners, through her scholarly praxis that centers families in research and practice. Her experience as an educator working primarily with Latino/a/x students in K-1 settings provided her with extensive understandings of the ways language difference (i.e., acquisition of English as New Language) was conflated with learning challenges associated with categorical labels (e.g., learning disabilities). As a self-identified, biracial Mexicana Cristina’s positionality as a white and Mexican non-disabled female scholar with citizenship is greatly important in her work, particularly with Latinx immigrant families of children with dis/abilities with whom she collaborates. Cristina strongly believes in being transparent about her outsider, peripheral, or insider status within different communities as a way to address privilege and power. Her efforts are currently focused on “Family as Faculty” approaches in special education programs that position community stakeholders’ knowledge and knowledge-making as central to the process of transforming systems. Currently, Cristina is an Associate Editor for the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education (QSE). Over the past three years she has written reviews for over forty manuscripts and has contributed to the organizational, structural, and procedural functioning of the journal. She is also a recipient of several community engaged awards affiliated with her implementation of Family as Faculty approaches in her teaching and research. Further, she has been published in peer-refereed journals including Multiple Voices, Intervention in School and Clinic, and Journal of Hispanic Higher Education.
Seena M Skelton brings twenty-two years of extensive training in principles of learning, teaching, and assessment, and broad professional experience working in the areas of school improvement and educational equity. As a Black woman with a dis/ability, and with professional experiences as an educational consultant for a special educational regional resource center, project lead for state-wide special and general education reform initiatives, and former school psychologist, she brings into her scholarship and praxis the intersectional experiences of her own K-12 educational history, and her history as a practitioner, which enable a particular perspective and a personal awareness of the intended and unintended consequences of being a student of color with a dis/ability. In her capacity as Director of Operations at the Midwest and Plains (MAP) Equity Assistance Center, one of four federally-funded equity assistance centers in the U.S., she has worked extensively with educators engaged in professional learning around such issues as disproportionality, cultural responsiveness, response to intervention, early intervening, and positive behavior support. Seena leads the publication process for the MAP Center’s robust repertoire of practitioner-focused educational equity resources. She has given numerous invited keynotes, served as adjunct special education faculty, and authored several book chapters, including co-authoring a chapter on Practices in Professional Development: Moving School Systems to an Integrated, Three-Tier Model of Academic and Behavior Supports in Best Practices in School Psychology IV published by National Association of School Psychologist; her most recent publication is a single-authored article in the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education entitled Situating my Positionality as a Black woman with a Dis/ability in the Provision of Equity-Focused Technical Assistance: A Personal Reflection.
Maureen (Nickie) Coomer, Managing Editor is an Assistant Professor in the Education Department at Colorado College. She taught special education for ten years, working specifically with students labeled as having emotional disturbances. While teaching, she also worked as an educational liaison for adjudicated youth with educational disabilities in a residential facility. Before coming to Colorado College, she worked as a doctoral research assistant for the Great Lakes/Midwest and Plains Equity Assistance Center: one of four technical assistance centers supported by the United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. She has also served as a doctoral (and now Associate) Editor for the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education for five years, and as the managing editor for Multiple Voices: Disability, Race and Language Intersections in Special Education for two years.