KairosPDX was established on the belief that every child is uniquely capable, innately curious, and inherently creative. KairosPDX cultivates and illuminates the next generation of diverse leaders to build a better future for all.

Our approach of dismantling structural racism to create lasting change includes policy advocacy, non-discrimatory training, and professional development services. We provide hands-on learning through our flagship school and serve our community via partnerships and family engagement programs.

Through culturally-competent teaching, intentional interaction, and exposure to diverse role models, we help break down fear and build empathy. We teach our children through our actions and our voices to reject stereotypes and above all, to see the humanity in one another.

KairosPDX is transforming education by catalyzing change and proving that a positive, loving, and secure community can prepare students for optimal learning and compassionate leadership.

Who Are We?

bio 2222

Zalika Gardner

Chief Education and Culture Officer

Consultant, Zalika has worked with primary-aged children for the past 24 years. After beginning her teaching career in the Los Angeles Unified School District, Zalika spent the last 14 years teaching first and second grade at Catlin Gabel School. As an adjunct professor in the Lewis and Clark Graduate School of Education & Counseling for 6 years, Zalika taught Child Development, Literacy and Historical Perspectives in Education. As a founding partner, Zalika has co-designed the scope, trajectory and focus of the KairosPDX program and theory of change. She serves as instructional leader for KairosPDX Learning Academy, facilitating partnerships with educational institutions as well as recruiting, sustaining and training educators and volunteers (Ambassadors).

Born and raised in N.E. Portland, Zalika resides in N. Portland with her husband and 3 children (Her gifts). Zalika earned her B.A. in Psychology from Scripps College, and her M.A. in Educational Leadership and Multicultural Studies from Columbia University’s Teachers College.

Kali Thorne Ladd

Executive Director

Kali is a social entrepreneur who is a passionate advocate for equity and education transformation with a background that spans from teacher to program manager to policymaker over the last 19 years. After spending four years as Education Director for former Mayor Sam Adams, Kali pursued establishing and co-founding KairosPDX, a non-profit/community-based school dedicated to closing opportunity and achievement gaps for historically marginalized children.

In May 2012, Kali won the election to Portland Community College’s Board of Directors -- Oregon’s largest higher education institution -- and for seven years served as Chair. In 2016, Kali was appointed by Governor Kate Brown to the Early Learning Council of Oregon where she currently serves, and in 2017 she was appointed to the Oregon Community Foundations, Metro Leadership Council. Kali was also appointed to the James F. & Marion L. Miller Foundation Board in January 2019 working to enhance the quality of life of Oregonians through the support of classroom education and the performing, visual, and literary arts.

In addition to her national work, Kali has worked overseas in South Africa teaching and supporting the development of two community-based projects: A community library and women-owned bakery. In 2018, Kali was recognized by Portland Business Journal as a “Woman of Influence,” and in 2017 as “40 Under 40” to watch.

Kali earned her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Psychology from Boston College, and a master’s degree in Education Policy from Harvard University.

Kali and her husband, Billy, reside in Portland with their two young children. For fun, Kali enjoys running, reading, writing and cooking.


Marsha Williams

Chief Executive Officer

Former Project Manager, OHSU, School of Medicine. Marsha has over 16 years professional experience researching, writing, managing and coordinating over 15 research grants in academic medicine. She is first generation American and served for over 6 years with the Haitian Health Institute in Boston, exposing underserved youth to enrichment and college preparatory programs as well as helping high school students navigate the college application process.

Marsha comes to Oregon from New York State by way of Boston and resides in Portland with her husband and four young children. Marsha earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology with an emphasis in health, law & society, and women’s studies from Brandeis University.


What We Do?

The KairosPDX Learning Academy is a K-5 community school.

The Family Engagement Team works to bridge the gap of communication

KairosPDX Government Affairs

Kairospdx Training Academy

Early Learning

KairosPDX Early Learning Academy



The community we serve is reflected in our founders, our employees and our board. The building we are currently housed in intentionally serves as historical tie and space for the African-American community in North/Northeast Portland.

The KairosPDX Board of Directors generally meets on the second Wednesday every other month. The Learning Academy section of the meeting is public. To ensure access or request interpretation services, please contact us at


Follow us on:

© Copyright - 2021 | | All Rights Reserved | Developed by