Cami J Thomas

Cami is the Program Director for Public Allies at Eagle Rock (PAER). They manage the fellow program administratively but also serve as a mentor and coach to fellows through their PAER experience. Cami comes to us with over 5 years of experience with Public Allies (PA) programming. They are an alum of Public Allies Milwaukee where they also served as the Training and Learning Director. Cami has a variety of experiences that makes them uniquely qualified to cultivate a robust and effective Public Allies Program here at Eagle Rock. They earned their BA in Africology and their MA in African and African Diaspora Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Cami is dedicated to the liberation of Black people. Cami has served the academic and non-profit sectors in Milwaukee in program management, youth development, racial equity, and reproductive justice for over 10 years. Initially focused on economic development and financial independence, Cami served on many boards of cooperative businesses/organizations along with facilitating grassroots workshops and programs around supporting Black businesses. After serving in PA and having a child, they shifted their focus to understanding and implementing healing justice for Black and queer communities. In 2016, Cami co-founded the reproductive justice organization Maroon Calabash where they served as the Policy and Advocacy Director. Through their experiences as a parent, healing justice and beloved community have become the frameworks for how Cami executes their work focusing on relationship building and community care. Cami believes in the words of Fannie Lou Hamer “Nobody’s free, until everybody’s free.”


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I am really moved by young people discovering their own power.

My rock is my spiritual practice which keeps me grounded and grateful.

Jennifer DeBarros

Jennifer DeBarros is a New Bedford, MA native who is a passion-driven, creative, critical thinker and community educator with over twenty-six years of experience in diverse leadership roles. After dropping out of high school and obtaining her GED, she enrolled at Bristol Community College and through a co-op opportunity was able to discover her passion at a local non-profit organization. It was at this time when her spark for positive youth development and social justice was ignited as she quickly learned that her own personal struggles were tied to a larger, historical, and collective movement for humanity through civil rights advocacy and activism. While fulfilling various roles as a professional and volunteer through non-profit, school-based, and community-based social service organizations, she continued her educational pursuits and completed a bachelor’s degree in Sociology at Bethune Cookman University finishing Magna Cum Laude. Recognizing the importance of education and having a particular interest in working with young people, she has crafted her life work around creating several engaging and empowering programs, as well as, educational workshops and culturally relevant curricula. She has spoken at several engagements focusing on her own journey through adversity, in addition to, issues surrounding social justice and public health. As a Distinguished Doctoral Fellow at UMass Dartmouth, she completed her dissertation research for a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies which consisted of a historical contextual analysis of a local police shooting that examined the intersections of schooling and cultures of control through the oral histories of community residents. As the Director of Prevention & Intervention Programs at NorthStar Learning Centers, she designed and developed the HEAL (Health, Education, Action, & Leadership) Center for gun violence prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery program. She also worked as a Lecturer for the Crime and Justice Studies program at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. As a parent and formerly disengaged learner, she understands the barriers in accessing high-quality education opportunities and hopes to be a bridge that connects Eagle Rock to the wider community through her role as Dean of Admissions. She is happiest when investing time with her children and grandchildren, dancing at a Hip Hop concert, and supporting youth to actualize their dreams.


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I am really moved by the power and promise of young people.

Shawna Perales

Shawna is originally from Nebraska and also spent time in Colorado while growing up. After receiving her Associate of Arts Degree, her path of secondary education took her to New Mexico, where she graduated from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, NM with a Bachelors’ Degree in Business Administration. After Graduation, she spent time in Albuquerque and Taos where she grew her career in Hotel and Hospitality Management and over the years and realized how this industry really fed her servant’s heart. Her Hospitality Career continued as a Director of Sales for Kessler Collection, a boutique luxury brand of hotels, but wrapped up in 2020 when she began homeschooling her son, Oliver. With Oli back in school, Shawna joined the Eagle Rock Team supporting Finance and Operations. She, her husband Josán, and son Oliver reside as House Parents of Pinon.


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Shawna is inspired by her family and by making people happy so being able to serve the Eagle Rock community from an operations standpoint brings her much joy.

Chris Bennett

Chris Bennett is a Colorado native and culinary veteran with 20+ years of experience in the industry. At 18, Chris attended New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont, where he earned his AOS degree in Culinary Arts. For most of his early career, Chris specialized in upscale French cuisine,  Mediterranean, and “New Style American Cuisine”, honing his skills and building his repertoire in some of the best restaurants in Las Vegas, as well as Denver. From Joachim Splichal’s Pinot Brasserie in the Venetian, and Daniel Boulud’s DB Brasserie in the Wynn, to Denver’s Rioja, Bistro Vendome, and Elway’s to name a few, Chris gained a solid foundation. In 2014, Chris became the only chef to be selected for Sister Cities International’s international Chef exchange program which took him to Brest, Bretagne France to stage within a couple restaurants/resorts as well as shadow instructors and present to Students at the Fenelon School of Culinary Arts. Upon his return, Chris set his sights on learning Asian cuisines and earned his way from part time line cook to Executive chef of Uncle Joe’s Hong Kong Bistro within a year. Not only earning new skills but also earning the restaurant a feature on the Travel Channel’s hit show “Food Paradise”. After 3 years as Executive chef there, he expanded to Japanese, becoming executive Sous chef at Ototo Den (of the Sushi Den family of restaurants) training in the intricacies of Japanese cuisine before turning his sights on global street food, helping open Street Feud in 2019. In 2021, Chris saw an opportunity arise to join the kitchen team at Eagle Rock, and made it his mission to become part of the team, where he has been able to use his years of experience in multiple cuisines to help not only provide ERS students and staff with balanced meals but also give expose them to flavors and cuisines they may not have tried before.


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My favorite thing about Eagle Rock is getting to work with such a diverse group of people from different backgrounds and areas of expertise, as well as cooking for such a diverse group of students.

 

Sara Nicholson

Sara is our outdoor education course manager; responsible for inspiring exploration in the wilderness, managing risk, and leading our multiple wilderness courses. Growing up with Wisconsin’s forests and waterways has fostered an early love for the outdoors. Her love continued to grow and expand as she was introduced to the mountains and the ocean, attending college at Colorado State University and Florida International University. Earning a degree in environmental sustainability and gaining experience with environmental justice. Prior to arriving at Eagle Rock, Sara honed her outdoor skills leading canoe and backpacking trips for youth. Ranging from 4 to 45 days, these experiences took place in the Brooks Range, Saskatchewan, Isle Royale National Park, Bahamas, Rockies Mountains, Zirkel Wilderness, and Northern Wisconsin chain of lakes. Most recently she was a math teacher in the Bahamas, teaching place based statistics. She is excited to join Eagle Rock’s community, and embrace all its beauty.


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My favorite thing about Eagle Rock is feeling the souls of others.

 

Julian Rechtschaffen

Julian is a Public Allies Fellow from Oakland, California. He attended school in Berkeley, CA and plans to take his education to UC Santa Cruz in the following years to continue studying both Childhood Psychology and Marine Biology. Julian found his passion working with youth when he joined a teen leadership program in a YMCA camp just outside of Santa Cruz and has spent the past five years working at Anthony Chabot Elementary School while also attending college. In his free moments, he takes time to appreciate the outdoors whether it be backpacking, playing sports, or reading under a tree.  Julian is excited to be at Eagle Rock and share his love for the outdoors with all the students here.


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Students inspire me when they discover new passions by stepping out of their comfort zone.

Jaina Cox

Jaina is a Public Allies Fellow who was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. She has had a passion for working with young people, ever since she can remember. She recently graduated from Ball State University, with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. There is a nice gap between Elementary and Secondary education, but Jaina is up for the change. Her life motto is if there is no challenge, then there is no growth, and Jaina doesn’t want to stop growing. There is always something new to learn. Jaina is enthusiastic about the opportunity to work at Eagle Rock .She is hopeful that through this experience, she’ll be even more prepared for her calling to be a change creator in education.


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Students inspire me when they are unapologetically and confidently themselves.

Angus Fake

Angus grew up in midcoast Maine, where he developed a love of nature and making. He found his passion for working with young people as a cabin and trip leader at Chewonki Camp for Boys. Angus spent four years living in Brooklyn, NY studying industrial design at Pratt Institute. He spent a summer teaching NYC teens literacy and math through the scaffold of design. After graduating, he spent the next year building a house, doing everything from wiring to operating an excavator. In his spare time, Angus enjoys hiking, skiing, sailing, and walks with his dog.


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Students inspire me when they discover a new passion.

Josh Morris

Josh Morris is our Science Instructional Specialist with a focus on S.T.E.A.M.. Josh is responsible for creating positive and memorable science experiences for all Eagle Rock students. Josh’s goal is to make sure all ERS students find their curiosity and excitement for how the world around them works. Josh lives in and supports Juniper House and is a member of the Pinon House team. For the past two decades Josh has been working in Youth Development and Science Evangelism. His experiences include: 15 years as a camp counselor, guide, and director in the mountains of Estes Park; 16 years as a public school science teacher; 3 years as a science curriculum developer and trainer; 5 years as a creator and mentor in a progressive, project-based high school program; and 25 years as a science demonstrator and performer for audiences of all ages. Josh earned his undergraduate degree in Secondary Education at Kansas State University (KS) and his Master’s Degree at Emporia State University (KS). When he’s not busy with students, you can find Josh creating and building in the wood shop, hiking and camping with his dog, Midnight, rowing his raft down a big river, or fly fishing the streams, lakes, and rivers all over the Rocky Mountains.


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My rock is being in and exploring nature.

Students inspire me when they find and demonstrate passion in all they chose to do.

Cory Brodnax

Cory Brodnax is the Professional Development Associate, which is involved in internal and external professional development, the Student Ambassador Program, and the Presentations of Learning. He has been an educator for over thirteen years and has worked with students from kindergarten through college and even into adulthood. Cory started his journey in education as a substitute teacher in Indiana and then eventually to a full time teaching position. His passion for social equality always at the forefront of his work, he moved to Oakland, California to help the communities there organize themselves around their goals for social and economic justice. Afterwards he moved to New York City to work for the Harlem Children’s Zone where he would be heavily involved in different types of programs. At different points he was the coordinator for one of the afterschool programs, a coordinator and eventual assistant director in the college office, and then finally the college coordinator for the Promise Academy High Schools. He also wrote a book in 2015 titled “The $10 Book of Priceless Wisdom.” Cory earned his undergraduate degree in history from the University of Florida and his master’s degree in Africana Studies from Indiana University.


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Students inspire me when they have a great work ethic.