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Episode 13: Democratizing and diversifying school boards

Briana Mullen (2020 cohort) discusses her work to empower underrepresented communities to create change in their school district, being a marching band kid, and more.
KHS logo with "Imagine A World" as text on a blue and red background

In episode 13 of Imagine A World, Briana Mullen (2020 cohort) discusses what led her to pursue master’s degrees in policy, organization, and leadership studies and in public policy at Stanford. She shares her experience of being a lifetime Californian, reflects on the joys of being a marching band kid, discusses building an organization that empowers underrepresented communities to create change in their school districts, and so much more.

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Photo credit: Micaela Go

Briana Mullen (2020 cohort) from Concord, California, is pursuing master’s degrees in policy, organization, and leadership studies at Stanford Graduate School of Education and public policy at Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a bachelor’s degree in history. Briana aspires to remove barriers from students who seek to access quality public education through improvement science and peer-to-peer learning. She served as the policy advisor to the state superintendent of public instruction, leading statewide policy initiatives and efforts to implement continuous improvement systems at the California Department of Education. At Berkeley, she created the first UC Mental Health Coalition and led a $250 million student union redevelopment initiative.

She was named a 2013 Cal-in-Sacramento fellow, and serves on the advisory boards of the Torlakson Whole Child Institute and the Sacramento County Children’s Commission. She is the co-founder of Sac Change Coalition, a racial justice organization, and the founder of the Education Justice Academy, which seeks to support school governance leaders in transformative educational justice initiatives.


two men wearing imagine a world t-shirts seated on stairwell

Imagine A World is hosted by Willie Thompson, left, and Taylor Goss, right. Photo by Micaela Go.

Taylor Goss (2021 cohort), from Lacassine, Louisiana, is pursuing an MA in music, science, and technology and an MPP in public policy at Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences. He graduated with college honors from Louisiana State University with bachelor's degrees in music and entrepreneurship. Taylor aspires to connect musicians and policymakers, using the arts to communicate societal needs and provoke policy change.

Willie Thompson (2022 cohort), from Griffin, Georgia, is pursuing a master's degree in business administration at Stanford Graduate School of Business. He graduated summa cum laude from Morehouse College with a bachelor’s degree in economics and a minor in Chinese Studies. He intends to create and contribute to organizations using the arts as a conduit for community building and intercultural education.

Imagine A World's theme music was composed and recorded by Taylor Goss. The podcast was originally conceived and led by Briana Mullen (2020 cohort), Taylor Goss, and Willie Thompson, along with Daniel Gajardo (2020 cohort) and Jordan Conger (2020 cohort).

Special thanks to Sanaa AlamRachel DeschSydney Hunt, Chan LeemKara SchechtmanTakondwa Priscilla Semphere, and Rahul Thapa.

Knight-Hennessy scholars represent a vast array of cultures, perspectives, and experiences. While we as an organization are committed to elevating their voices, the views expressed are those of the scholars, and not necessarily those of KHS.

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