Our Team | The AIR Equity Initiative

Image of Rashawn RayRashawn Ray  
Executive Director, AIR Equity Initiative  
AIR Vice President

Rashawn Ray is an AIR vice president and the executive director of the AIR Equity Initiative. Dr. Ray is a professor of sociology and executive director of the Lab for Applied Social Science Research at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and serves on the National Advisory Committee for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Health Policy Research Scholars Program.

Dr. Ray's research addresses the mechanisms that manufacture and maintain racial and social inequality, with a particular focus on police-civilian relations and men’s treatment of women. He has published several books and articles and has been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, and other high-profile publications. Learn more about Dr. Ray.  

Image of Terris Ross

Terris Ross  
Managing Director, AIR Equity Initiative

Terris Ross is managing director of the AIR Equity Initiative. In this role, Dr. Ross works to refine the long-term, substantive agenda of the Equity Initiative with a focus on the intersections of education, work, justice, and health. She provides intellectual and technical leadership to improve educational and economic opportunity, with deep appreciation for the challenges faced by communities segregated by race or place. This includes providing oversight of the Educational Equity portfolio and building partnerships to connect AIR’s work with policy, practice, and other researchers and funders.

Dr. Ross has more than 15 years of experience leveraging research, evidence, and data for school improvement and policy reform. Prior to joining AIR, she was the vice president of policy and advocacy at Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE), a national nonprofit dedicated to developing equity-minded civic leaders in policy, advocacy, elected, and community organizing roles. Learn more about Dr. Ross.  

Image of Karina JenkinsKarina J. Jenkins  
Executive Assistant

Karina J. Jenkins is the executive assistant to the AIR Equity Initiative. In this capacity, she provides general administrative support to Executive Director Rashawn Ray. In addition to managing Dr. Ray’s daily schedule, she supports him with Board of Director meeting preparation, coordinates the preparation of meeting materials, and executing Equity Initiative event planning. Additionally, Jenkins works collaboratively with the Equity Initiative team to develop and implement processes and procedures that will allow her to provide effective administrative support to all members on the team and their various projects.

Prior to joining AIR, Jenkins worked in the higher education field. During her tenure at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County at the Universities at Shady Grove, she served as the assistant director for graduate enrollment, pathways, and partnerships. Jenkins received her Master of Arts degree in Higher Education Administration from the University of Maryland-College Park.


Image of Ellie KleinEllie Klein  
Program Director, AIR Equity Initiative

Ellie Klein is a program director with the AIR Equity Initiative. In this role, Ellie leads our Evidence and Demonstration Hub and related Educational Equity grant competitions in order to expand the creation and use of evidence on school integration.

Klein has spent the last decade working to advance racial and gender equity through conducting research and advising senior leaders at a variety of organizations including state education agencies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Brookings Institution. She began her career as an AmeriCorps member in the Federal Way Public Schools in Washington State. Learn more about Klein.  

Image of Jessica HarrisJessica Harris
Director of Communications, AIR Equity Initiative

Jessica Harris is the director of communications for the AIR Equity Initiative, where she spearheads strategic efforts to elevate EI’s mission of advancing equity through research and technical assistance. She oversees the team’s public affairs, digital media, federal outreach, internal communications, marketing, and partnership efforts.

With a wealth of experience in strategic communications, Harris has a proven track record in research, public policy, and community engagement. Before joining AIR, she was the director of strategic communications at the Brookings Institution. Past notable projects under her leadership include NewsMatch.org, Electionline.org, and VoterStudyGroup.org, demonstrating her ability to drive successful communications efforts that foster impactful change. Learn more about Harris.  

Image of Arayle FreelsArayle Freels  
Senior Program Manager, AIR Equity Initiative

Arayle Freels is a senior program manager with the AIR Equity Initiative. She leads the Equity Initiative’s engagement and communications efforts to extend the reach of its programs and encourage dialogue, mutual learning, and action across stakeholder groups. Additionally, she provides strategic partner engagement and support for the AIR Pipeline Partnership Program. In her roles, Freels helps to implement and define the Equity Initiative’s programmatic agenda for strategic communications across Equity Initiative program areas.

Previously, Freels was responsible for grant monitoring and development activities for the AIR Fund, an AIR Board of Directors initiative that supported innovative projects focused on reducing inequality of opportunities for families and children in education and health, both in the United States and abroad. Learn more about Freels.  

Image of Jillian ReynoldsJillian Reynolds  
Senior Program Manager, AIR Equity Initiative

Jillian Reynolds is a senior program manager at AIR. In this role, Reynolds works with AIR leadership on the AIR Equity Initiative to implement strategic efforts that connect research, policy, and practice to advance AIR’s mission. She leads the Pipeline Partnership Program (P3-US) which seeks to build a pipeline of researchers and technical assistance providers with diverse backgrounds coming into the behavioral and social science research fields. The P3-US currently engages with graduate-level students and faculty at Georgia State University in Atlanta; Howard University in Washington, D.C.; and The University of Texas at San Antonio.

Reynolds has served on several U.S. Department of Education–funded centers, where she has developed content and delivered technical assistance to school, district, and state leaders on issues related to the integration and implementation of educational and assistive technology and supporting students with disabilities. Learn more about Reynolds.  

Image of Jillian ReynoldsKwelin Waller 
Senior Program Manager, AIR Equity Initiative

Kwelin Waller is senior program manager with the AIR Equity Initiative. Waller works to combine research and technical assistance with real-world applications, leading the Equity Initiative's work in the interconnected areas of workforce development, community health and well-being. Additionally, she leads the AIR Scholars and Leaders Award grant competition, an initiative that expands the diversity of staff who lead research, technical assistance and systems change at AIR.

Waller’s expertise spans federal grant implementation, grants compliance, neighborhood economic development programs, and design thinking principals. She also freelances as a coach, providing coaching for neurodivergent individuals. Learn more about Waller.  

Image of Jaspal Bhatia Jaspal Bhatia  
Program Officer, AIR Equity Initiative

Jaspal Bhatia is a program officer with the AIR Equity Initiative. In this role, he defines and implements the programmatic goals for the Justice in Public Safety and Policing grant program and sets strategic initiatives that generate and use research to advance equity in the U.S. criminal-legal system. In addition, Bhatia supports the programmatic work within the Educational Equity portfolio working to promote integration and build inclusive learning environments.

Prior to joining AIR, Bhatia served as the senior manager for justice reform at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund, where he executed the team’s programmatic and policy agenda on behalf of a broad coalition of civil and human rights organizations. Learn more about Bhatia.  

Image of Kellē JonesKellē Jones  
Grants Administrator, AIR Equity Initiative

Kellē Jones joins AIR as the grants administrator of the AIR Equity Initiative. In this role, she is responsible for designing and implementing a grantmaking infrastructure to support the Equity Initiative. Jones incorporates best practices from the field and identifies new system efficiencies for the Equity Initiative’s staff and grantees. In addition, she provides direct grants management support in all areas. 

Prior to joining AIR, Jones worked at the nonprofit, Atlanta Children’s Foundation, where she was responsible for developing and managing grant proposals to tackle youth homelessness through an economic development lens. She was responsible for helping secure over $2 million in revenue by writing 20 grant proposals and reports, annually.

During her undergraduate career, Jones participated in successful community organizing, advocacy and research efforts in Savannah, GA. She also served as the president of the sociology club, where she fundraised and organized on behalf of homelessness, mass incarceration, and job and housing discrimination in her community. Jones holds a B.S. from Savannah State University in behavior analysis with a minor in political science.