Dawn Demps is a Flint, MI native that has been involved with community advocacy and organizing since 12 years old. She utilizes her own lived experiences to connect with students and parents to promote tools for self-advocacy, structural reforms and strives to champion the concerns of these populations.
Dawn founded and directed a youth initiative called Eyes on the Prize (EOTP) that used the fine arts to reach out to resource denied young people in urban communities to help them reach their full potential academically, emotionally, and creatively. Over 10 years, EOTP served over 2500 at-promise youth. 8 years after dropping out of high school, Dawn entered a community college and went on to complete her undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan-Flint as a double major in Africana Studies and Social Sciences. While working towards her degree, Dawn noted the profound effect higher education was having on her life and knew others from her community also needed this access. She started a campus club called The Shariki Group, dedicated to serving as a bridge between academia and the citizens of Flint. Dawn served as the Executive Director of Leadership Development In Interethnic Relations (LDIR), an organization dedicated to nurturing citizen leaders equipped to navigate the complexities of -isms that separate individuals in an effort to build strong intergroup collaborations. She was the creator and director of the Office of Youth, Education and Community Projects for the Urban League of Flint which served nearly 400 youth and families every year through afterschool and summer programs, parent workshops and community advocacy trainings. She later became the Executive Director of the Urban Center for Post-Secondary Access and Success (UPASS) which helped students successfully navigate high school and tackle postsecondary challenges and opportunities. Through her long history of community work, Dawn has had the privilege of working with nationally renowned scholars and innovators such as: Educational sociologist, Dr. Pedro Noguera, environmental justice crusader, Majora Carter, Dr. Tyrone Howard, UCLA educator and author and non-violence advocate and Hip-Hop legend KRS-One.
She holds an MA in Social Justice Studies from Marygrove College in Detroit, MI and is currently a PhD candidate at Arizona State University in Education Policy and Evaluation. She has published articles examining the possibilities of youth inspired school leadership as exhibited through youth voice and participatory action research, unpacking the difficulties and potential of Black and Brown collaborative educational leadership and how art can be used to expose the experiences of Black youth whom have experienced school exclusion. She is currently conducting a critical ethnographic oral history study of a grassroots community advocacy group comprised of Black natural and othermothers whom are galvanizing to challenge and dismantle the educational policies and practices that exclude Black children from educational spaces
Dawn has been awarded the 2020/21 American Association of University Women Dissertation Fellowship and Arizona State University Dissertation Completion Fellowship. A sample of her other recognitions include the 2019 University Council for Education Administration (UCEA) Putting Research Into Action Award, 2019 Hilliard Sizemore Research Fellow, UCEA Barbara Jackson Scholar and Ford Foundation Pre-Doctoral Fellowship Honorable Mention. She additionally serves as a member of the Arizona Department of Education’s African American Advisory Council and is the proud mother of 3 children: Journi, Jayanti and Zora- ages 17, 15 and 8 respectively.