Engage to Change is a team which provides anti-racism training for people and organizations. They believe that addressing individual, organizational and systemic effects of racism must always be done in relationship and community. Accountability, intersectional understanding, and action are key core components of how we structure our work.
RAKEEM WASHINGTON (he/him/his) Co-Founder and Facilitator
Rakeem Washington is a Portland native and believes in the power and importance of connecting with community. Prior to the beginning of his professional career, he spent hours as a volunteer, mentor, and coach for families and various community based organizations. Rakeem continued his passion for working with children and families after graduating from Lewis and Clark Law School in 2008 when he began work as a staff attorney for the Juvenile Rights Project, a public defense law firm representing children and parents in child welfare, school discipline, and juvenile delinquency cases. After witnessing, first hand, the racial disparities that exist in the intersection of the foster care, educational, and criminal justice systems, Rakeem shifted focus to more targeted equity work. He has continued that work in various forms while working with Portland Public Schools, the Oregon Judicial Department, and the Portland Observer Newspaper. Rakeem also has taught in Portland State University’s University Studies Department teaching a class called Race, Class, Gender and Social Justice. His students work year-long to create action projects that work against poverty, houselessness, mass incarceration, economic immobility, educational deficiencies, diminishing mental health services and all of the comorbid permutations disparately facing BIPOC folks. Throughout his professional career, Rakeem has advocated for those with marginalized identities, and continues to do so through his work at Engage to Change. He learned early that true anti-racism/anti-oppression work requires building coalitions by creating authentic relationships. He teaches students, college faculty, fellow attorneys, business leaders and government employees in well-versed and established equity principles. He has led conversations and trainings at the Governor’s Summit on Minority Over-Representation in the Juvenile Justice System, the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education and the National Conference of Association of Community College Trustees.
KASIA RUTLEDGE (she/her/hers) Co-Founder and Facilitator
Kasia Rutledge is an anti-racism and anti-oppression trainer as well as a capital defense attorney. For over 18 years, she has developed workshops and trained organizations, individuals, academic institutions, currently and formerly incarcerated people, and not-for-profits in equity, anti-racism, and holistic justice-based programming. As an attorney, Kasia has been privileged to represent poor people accused of major felonies. Kasia is also an adjunct professor at Portland State teaching a course on race, oppression, and activism. There she works with Black, Brown, Indigenous, API, Immigrant, houseless, and justice-affected youth on dismantling concepts of banking education, and on understanding the intersectionality of oppressions, helping them gain agency and joy in pursuit of their educational and career goals. Understanding that anti-racism work must center self-care, Kasia loves to make complicated meals and camp. Kasia has spent her career working in all kinds of fields related to equity, access, and difficult conversations. Whether as an anti-racism trainer, a public defender who helps folks navigate complicated and impossible life-altering situations, as a counselor at Planned Parenthood, who sat with folks making difficult decisions about potentially ending a pregnancy or as Executive Director of a not-for-profit housing organization in rural Kansas which struggled to adapt to the racist dynamics in a farming community, Kasia has spent her life understanding intersectional needs and celebrating the resilience of folks on the margins. Specifically, as a trainer, Kasia works to de-center whiteness, find where racism lives in each of our bodies, and compassionately hold white folks accountable to the work while centering the voices of folks on the margins. As a white, Queer, cis-woman, Kasia uses humility and her own stories of causing harm to people of color to make the work of undoing racism accessible for other white folks.