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Our Story
We launched Community Design Partners in 2019 so we could more deeply collaborate with communities to make sustainable change and interrupt racist systems. We carefully chose each word in our name to embody our journey and values:



We believe that the answers to complex problems are rooted in community




We use mindsets and tools from liberatory design + continuous improvement to interrupt and redesign systems





We see each other, people we work with, and people we collaborate with as partners and value what we learn from each new partnership

Our Bios

Kari Nelsestuen

Kari Nelsestuen is an improvement coach, researcher, and facilitator. Her favorite role is coaching and facilitating teams as they learn and practice the mindsets and tools of equity-centered continuous improvement and design thinking. Prior to founding CDP with Julie, Kari spent almost two decades researching and evaluating education initiatives aimed at improving outcomes such as K-3 literacy and college access. In the role of evaluator she learned how to ask great questions, synthesize information, and closely examine implementation. As a white, cis-gender woman, Kari has prioritized deep learning on her own path towards being an anti-racist in both her personal and professional life. Kari prides herself on being flexible, humble, and a good listener. 


Dr. Daniel Ramirez 

Daniel Luis Ramirez, PhD., is a first-generation Latinx educator who works to amplify community-centered, antiracist practices and policies. He believes that stories matter, we should embrace complexity through multiple ways of knowing and being and that all work is deeply relational. Daniel is committed to using strength-based collective processes to disrupt oppressive power structures and recenter those most impacted by systems. Daniel has worked at all levels of educational systems, including as executive director of a statewide improvement network focused on supporting and diversifying the educator workforce, leading a regional high school improvement network, and as an instructional coach and teacher for 14 years.

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Julie Smith

Julie Smith is a connector of educators, government leaders, and community members, with the goal of shifting mindsets around improvement that are grounded in empathy, racial equity &  focused on systemic change. Julie works with organizations to build capacity for change from the inside out and believes that organizations can realize their goals when they build them with those they aim to serve. Julie has worked as a facilitator, advisor, and coach to a diverse range of projects including helping organizations implement anti-racist frameworks, community-based school solutions, educator effectiveness systems, and designing state educator networks around continuous improvement.



Interns collaborate alongside us and our partners to create and lead professional learning, coach schools as they partner with students, and improve our understanding of student-powered improvement towards a more just and liberated world. 


Alejandra is a Senior in High School living in Warrenton, Oregon. 

Bryaden is a Sophmore in High School living in Dallas, Texas. 

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Bryaden is a Sophmore in High School living in Dallas, Texas. 

Bryaden is a Sophmore in High School living in Dallas, Texas. 


Elaine is a Junior in High School living in Astoria, Oregon. 



Amplifying our impact and serving our partners well often means we are learning from and collaborating with others. CDP is humbled to be able to leverage the perspective and collective expertise of our network on a number of projects. Through these relationships we can remain adaptive in our work as we grow both personally and professionally.

Erin Whitlock

Erin collaborates with CDP by providing improvement coaching and facilitation expertise.

Soobin Oh

Soobin sees education as the greatest tool for social justice and he uses social justice research to provide antiracist support for our team. He serves on our Regional Educator Network advisory board.

Be Gr8rr

 RaVonya Knight is an educator and coach who has dedicated her life to inspiring others to walk in their greatness. She is dedicated to empowering others to courageously challenge all notions of white supremacy within their practices.

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Kim Feicke
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Kim is a white cis-gender woman with 20 years of experience working with educators to understand the impact of White culture and Social Class on teaching, learning, and workplace culture in order to shift practices and build trusting working relationships across difference.

NLD Strategic
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NLD Strategic works with leaders nationally to develop and execute strategy for equity in education, communities, public health and economics.


SeeChange work in community to shift the way research, data, policy and communications are used to make change.

Ten02 Consulting

Ten02 supports community-driven social justice initiatives with strategic data and research activities.

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Bahia Overton

Bahia helps CDP and partners deepen our understanding of equity and how it is foundational to sound continuous improvement practices and mindsets. Bahia also serves on our Regional Educator Network advisory board

Equity Stance

Across all of our work, we strive to be anti-racist by disrupting the root causes of inequities.  We define equity as responsive, restorative practices that connect and amplify the strengths of our communities while also eliminating systemic barriers that disproportionately impact certain people based on their complex and unique identities. We believe change processes are effective when they help organizations recognize, ally, and build on the strengths of individuals self determination.

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