Diverse Learners Cooperative

Meet the DLC Team

We are a team of educators, advocates, curious listeners, and courageous doers. We all share a passion for equitable access to education for all learners, and we live out this mission every day.

Brooke Allen

Executive Director

Brooke is the founding director of Diverse Learners Cooperative. She leads the DLC team’s efforts to equip and empower school and district teams to serve all learners. As a former special education teacher, leader, school founder, and consultant, she deeply believes in the potential of all students and the school teams that serve them. She received her B.S. and M.Ed. in special education, elementary education, and English learner education from Vanderbilt University and has been a Nashville educator since.

Mary Matthews Coffey

Program Director

As Program Director, Mary works with school teams to design and facilitate meaningful programs that support students’ academic and behavioral needs. She is a former special education teacher, Teacher of the Year, and Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). With a perceptive ability to identify team dynamics and student needs, she has contributed critical support to move school teams closer toward meeting their diverse learner goals.

Katava Johnson

PROGRAM SPECIALIST, SPECIAL EDUCATION

Katava Johnson has worked as a special educator and leader in Nashville and Memphis, TN. She received her M.Ed. in Special Education with a focus on low incidence populations while conducting Autism research with the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. She believes that all students deserve access to equitable and transformational education, and is committed to working with schools and communities to implement creative and effective solutions that move closer to this vision.

Sage Pickren, Ph.D.

PROGRAM SPECIALIST, SPECIAL EDUCATION

As a program specialist, Sage works with DLC’s partners to support teachers and leaders with implementing best practices in special education. She graduated from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College earning her Ph.D. in special education, with a focus on reading disabilities and behavior. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D) and is certified to teach both general education and special education. Prior to returning to school, Sage worked for Metro Nashville Public schools and served as the grade-level team leader and multilingual learner reading teacher. Sage believes that behavior plays an integral role in students’ academic success and lifelong outcomes.

Justine Katzenbach

DIRECTOR, ORGANIZATIONAL STRATEGY

Justine began her teaching career as a Teach For America Corps Member in New Orleans, Louisiana. Since then, she has worked as a Special Education teacher and Behavior Analyst in Louisiana, Massachusetts, Tennessee and North Carolina. She is passionate about providing teachers with the tools and training they need to deliver high quality education for all of their students. As the Director of Organizational Strategy, Justine supports both external engagement and internal development.

Chloe Walters, Ed.D.

PROGRAM SPECIALIST, MULTILINGUAL LEARNERS

As a Program Specialist, Chloe works closely with teachers and leaders to improve educational opportunities for multilingual learners. She has served as an ML teacher, co-teacher, and curriculum lead, and greatly enjoys working with students and colleagues to maximize academic environments and opportunities for multilingual learners. Chloe combines her teaching experience, MSEd. in TESOL, and Ed. D. in Learning Organizations & Strategic Change to tailor and communicate specific tools, strategies, and best practices based on the unique goals of an educator or educational institution.

Our Founding Story

A note from DLC's Founder, Brooke Allen

In my work as a special educator, I was tasked with uncovering learning solutions for students who had unique needs. It was often not the first or second solution that succeeded, but the sixth, seventh, or tenth. Special education is the ultimate practice in resourcefulness and persistence, built on a foundation of relationships with students and their families.

I found this creative work rewarding, but also challenging. I was the only or one of a few special educators in my school. Opportunities for professional development often included sitting in the back of a core content session because there wasn’t an option specific to diverse learner needs. Coaching meetings felt disconnected from my daily practice, and evaluation rubrics were difficult to use. Time for collaboration with my peers was hard to come by, and school systems designed to build community were sometimes less than inclusive of my students.
Given the opportunity to conduct a needs assessment of diverse learner practices in our community, it became immediately apparent my experience was not unfamiliar. Teachers reported feeling isolated, under-supported, unsuccessful, and burnt out. Special and EL educators were leaving their positions at higher rates than their peers, a trend that aligns with national data. We know that teacher turnover is costly from both financial and student outcome perspectives.

Out of these findings came an idea for an organization that filled this gap – an organization that would connect special and EL educators with relevant resources, high quality professional learning opportunities, and networks of their peers. If teachers felt equipped and empowered, would they stay longer and inspire better outcomes for students with all abilities and language backgrounds? The Diverse Learners Cooperative launched in 2018 to find out.

Join the Team

We are not currently hiring, but we plan to continue to grow Team DLC in the near future to meet the rising demand for our support and services. If you find yourself aligned to the DLC’s mission with deep experience in diverse learner education or a related field, please complete the inquiry form. We will be in touch should an open opportunity align with your profile.

Board of Directors

Membership & Alliances

Our work is inspired and informed by meaningful partnerships with local and national organizations.

Our Supporters

Our work would not be possible without the generous support from our current and past supporters.

Partner with us to support teachers and help all students succeed.

When you give to the Diverse Learners Cooperative, your gift directly supports our work with teachers. We offer personalized coaching, valuable collaborative networks, and high quality resources so that teachers (and their learners) can succeed.