Non-Profit Board Members

Kija Gray, Board Member
Kija Gray is the host of “Openly Gray with Kija Gray,” a podcast furthering the conversation around living your most vibrant life at any age and any stage. Kija is also the founding Director of Our Children Count, an organization dedicated to working with families in making the best educational choices for their children within school and in the wider community. Kija grew up in Toronto and in the Caribbean and holds a degree in Mass Media Studies from the University of Windsor. She and her husband, Bomani, are parents to one child at home, Zwena, a self-schooling high school senior and bassist currently studying at the Oxbow School in Napa, California. They also have three children who have managed to fly the coup: Kafele, a freshman at Niagara College studying Culinary Innovation and Food Technology, Demetrious, a software engineer at General Motors, and Zuri, a high school graduate who is currently marching to her own drum. Kija lives her mantra, “Our communities’ children; our collective responsibility.”
Soh Suzuki, Board Treasurer
Soh Suzuki was introduced to Detroit’s grassroots community organizing initiatives through the planning of the twentieth-year remembrance of Vincent Chin’s murder and then working with Detroit Summer to create a community-based mural in Chinatown.  He resided at the Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership in his earlier years in Detroit, where he interacted with various organizations and individuals making differences in the city and beyond.  He co-founded Detroit Asian Youth Project and has also been involved in APIA Vote-Michigan, Japanese American Citizens League, and Ladybug Studios.  Soh graduated from Michigan State University with BFA in Studio Art, BA in Interdisciplinary Humanities, and Specialization in Museum Studies.  He currently works at Avalon International Breads.
Stephen Ward, Board Member
Stephen Ward is a historian who teaches in the University of Michigan’s Residential College Social Theory and Practice program (STP) as well as the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies (DAAS). His teaching and writing focus on African American political thought and social movements, particularly the Black Power movement of the 1960s and 1970s, and the evolution of cities since World War II, with an emphasis on grassroots activism and community-based approaches to urban redevelopment. Much of his work focuses on the city of Detroit. He is completing a dual-biography of two long-time Detroit activists, James and Grace Lee Boggs, and he is a board member of the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership. Stephen also serves as the academic advisor and coordinator of the RC’s Urban and Community Studies minor (UCS); in this role, he helped to establish the Semester in Detroit program. He is committed to both UCS and Semester in Detroit because they offer students coordinated opportunities to integrate community work into their academic program and, if they wish, to make community service an integral part of their college experience.
Rebecca Wheeler, Board President
Rebecca Wheeler is an Infant Mental Health Specialist who was born and raised in Detroit's Cass Corridor and has three Boggs students in her family. She excelled in Detroit Public Schools grades K-12, began community organizing at age 16 through Detroit Summer, and went on to earn an MSW from Wayne State University. She now works at Wayne State coordinating a large, multi-county research study focused upon supporting reflective functioning in early childhood teachers. Rebecca brings to the Boggs Educational Center Project Team a diversity of work and volunteer/activism experiences including doula support, childbirth education, reflective supervision, provision of parent/infant assessment training, and other board positions with Detroit Summer and The Metropolitan Detroit Association for Infant Mental Health. Rebecca greatly values her formative and transformative experiences working with James and Grace Lee Boggs and is proud to continue their collaborative legacy of the continual and loving reinvention of revolution.
Deborah Williamson, Board Secretary
Deborah Williamson is a mother and grandmother who lives a mile and a half from the Boggs School. She has long been involved in education, from running a home daycare based on Montessori methods when her own children were young, to serving on the Ferndale Board of Education in the 80s, to teaching at Detroit’s Friends School in the 90s, to finally retiring from the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion after managing their youth leadership programs for many years.  Having worked at summer camps and organized numerous retreat programs for young people, Deb now brings her experience and love of living outdoors to the 8th grade camping trips.  Deb says, “Having watched the school grow from conversations about how to raise children in Detroit to ideas about education and schooling to the graduation of two classes of 8th graders, I am now honored to continue support of the school by serving on the BECPT Board!”