Shari Benites, M.Ed.
Shari Benites has been an educator for 28 years. She is currently the Coordinator of Equity and Excellence, Coordinator of Restorative Practices, and the Director of the Center for Leadership and Public Service at a high school in Northern Virginia. In these roles, she has helped develop and implement many programs for students, including the SOAR Cohort, Minority Student Achievement Network, Latinas Leading Tomorrow, Sister Circle, and College Bound. As a trained Results Based facilitator and SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) facilitator, Ms. Benites has worked with staff, students, and families across the county to engage in conversations about race and equity. In conjunction with Challenging Racism, she has facilitated Challenging Racism: Learning How workshops and provided training for facilitators. She has presented at local and national conferences.
Ms. Benites volunteers with Restorative Arlington and serves on the school working group. She served on the Board of Directors for the Dream Project for many years, working to empower students whose immigration status creates barriers to post-secondary education. Ms. Benites has also served on the Board of Directors for Volunteer Emergency Families for Children. For her dedication to empowering young people, Ms. Benites has been honored with the White House Champions of Change Award and Arlington’s Connect with Kids Award. She earned her undergraduate degree at Michigan State University, her graduate degree at George Mason University, and was trained in Restorative Practices at the International Institute of Restorative Practices.
Tim Cotman, Jr., M.Ed.
Timothy Cotman Jr. is a native of Charles City County, Virginia. He discovered a passion for working in the field of education while tutoring high school students in the George Mason University Early Identification Program throughout his undergraduate career. He earned his B.A. in English/Writing, M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction and graduate certificate in Conflict Resolution/Advanced Skills from George Mason University (Fairfax, VA).
Mr. Cotman has been employed with the Arlington Public Schools’ Office of Equity and Excellence since 1996. During this time, he has worked with students, their families, APS staff and community partners on initiatives designed to close the achievement gap between students of different races. He has presented at local, state and national conferences and taught graduate level courses to educators on topics related to equity in education. He has served as a lead facilitator with the APS Cultural Competence Initiative, a member of the APS Council for Cultural Competence, and a member of the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee on the Elimination of the Achievement Gap. He is a certified trainer in Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity (SEED), Results Based Facilitation (RBF) and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). He is also a co-author of the book, Gaining on the Gap: Changing Hearts, Minds and Practices, which chronicles Arlington Public School’s efforts to close the achievement gap and eliminate racial predictability in student achievement.
Mr. Cotman’s work with students has included, but is not limited to, facilitating discussions about race and equity, co sponsoring affinity groups around different aspects of identity, implementing college prep activities and planning and coordinating leadership conferences for middle school students. He has extensive experience with initiatives, programs and services designed to create equitable educational experiences for students.
Monica Lozano, M.A.
Ms. Lozano Caldera has considerable experience working with immigrant families, particularly at-risk youth and domestic violence cases. Ms. Lozano Caldera started as a clinical psychologist at the Pontificia Bolivariana University and at her own practice, Creatividad y Desarrollo, in her hometown of Bucaramanga, Colombia, where she was involved with a wide area of mental health services and primarily focused on family and children.
After establishing residency in the U.S., she worked as a Mental Health Therapist for the YMCA Linkages to Learning program at Montgomery County (Maryland) Public Schools and subsequently with the Crossroads Youth Opportunity Center in Takoma Park, Maryland. While there she primarily worked with immigrant students where she provided counseling, prevention and early intervention services to at-risk children and their families. In 2007 she worked in Arlington County (Virginia) as a Mental Health Therapist with the Violence Intervention (VIP) Program and as a High Intensity Language Training (HILT) Resource Counselor at Arlington Public Schools. Currently Ms. Lozano Caldera is a Coordinator of Equity and Excellence in Arlington County Public Schools. She provides students with the resources necessary to develop behaviors that support academic success while building staff capacity in culturally responsive teaching. She was recognized for her commitment and dedication to her students by being named Teacher of the Year at Swanson Middle School in 2012. She is a certified trainer in Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity (SEED), Results Based Facilitation (RBF) and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). She facilitates affinity groups of students around varying aspects of their identity including race, ethnicity, gender and sexual identity.
Ms. Lozano has more than a decade of international training and presentation experience, from psychological assessment and training programs for major corporate and non-governmental organizations, to mental health counseling, promotion, intervention and acculturation/reunification workshops.