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.
KairosPDX was founded in 2012 by 5 women, 4 Black, dedicated to transforming the narrative in education for historically marginalized communities. This stemmed from bearing witness to a prolific achievement gap for Black children that is/was unacceptable and inconsistent with Portland’s vision for an equitable community. KairosPDX also observed a lack of innovation in the educational enterprise moving the needle on outcomes and truths. From here, KairosPDX was born.
Left to right: Kaaren, Marsha, Zalika, Kali & Jasmine
Who Are We?
Tiffany Dempsey is a passionate leader who focuses on people. She co-founded and lead the 1st Intel Oregon “Historically Black Colleges and Universities” Alumni special interest group that annually supports several community events geared towards the education and the promotion of attendance at HBCUs.
Missi is a passionate advocate for schools that serve young people that the traditional system has failed. In 1997, she helped write and pass the sweeping expansion of Texas’ charter school law. In 1998, she founded New Frontiers Charter School in South San Antonio, serving 500 K-5 students. In 2000, she founded charter schools in Dallas (South Oak Cliff), Midland, and Houston.
She later served as the Senior Vice President of Regional Opertations for Charter Schools USA, a Florida-based education management organizations, with eight campuses in her oversight portfolio. In 2009, she served as Chief Operating Officer of American Youthworks in Austin, Texas, a 30+ year old nonprofit that delivered a charter high school program, two Americorps programs, and a Youthbuild program, later serving as interim CEO.
As a consultant, Missi has served numerous educational and arts organizations in developing funding and operations strategies. Missi is a lover of roots music, and an experienced musician. She regularly plays throughout Oregon in her band Mojo Holler.
Jasmine Love has worked in education for over 25 years, working as a teacher and administrator. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Jasmine came to Portland, Oregon in the summer of 2015 from Los Angeles, California where she had made the transition from writing for television [where she enjoyed working on The Jamie Foxx Show and Moesha among other shows] to working in education. She received her MSEd from the University of Pennsylvania in Counseling Psychology and her BA from Oberlin College in Psychobiology, with minors in African American Studies and Comparative Religions.
Jasmine loves teaching and creating educational atmospheres that are inclusive and filled with multicultural respect. Jasmine started her work in education as a 4th grade teacher at Westland School in Brentwood. She quickly moved into educational administration at Westridge School in Pasadena, California as their Director of Equity and Inclusivity. She then moved to Palos Verdes and joined the Chadwick School leadership team as their Director of Inclusion. At Chadwick, Jasmine also taught 8th and 9th grade World History. In 2015 Jasmine was invited to join the administration at Catlin Gabel School in Portland, Oregon as their Director of Inclusion and Outreach. In that capacity she worked with KairosPDX in partnership with Catlin Gabel.
Jasmine has joined KairosPDX as their Director of Education, and looks forward to helping to align Kairos’s Mission and Vision across the Early Learning Academy, Learning Academy and the Training Academy. As an educator and counselor, Jasmine is committed to helping children and adults overcome childhood traumas and identity-based traumas. Jasmine is committed to seeing that Black children are seen for the brilliant, creative, resourceful beings that they are, and dedicated to cementing an excellent education for all students who attend KairosPDX.
Tara has been an educator, researcher, program administrator and school leader for over 20 years. Her work is grounded in social constructivism, and guided by a set of beliefs about children: they have rights and gifts that the world needs; they play a central role in their own learning; they are curious and creative pattern seekers who continuously make meaning through interactions with people, materials, ideas and the natural world; they are hard-wired for connection; they are capable problem solvers; and they use their natural learning strategy of play to develop and revise theories about themselves and others.
Tara was born and raised in Honolulu, and now lives in Portland with her family. She has influenced the educational landscape through her teacher-research and leadership at Opal School, and by collaborating on a digital library for inclusive practices with Teaching Preschool Partners. Tara has facilitated professional development workshops for educators and administrators around the world. Since serving as a founding board member of KairosPDX, when the organization was establishing its charter with Portland Public Schools, she has held a deep commitment to its mission. Currently, in addition to being a director at KairosPDX, she is a professor at the Portland State University College of Education.
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
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.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.