HUman and Civil Rights

The Utah Education Association’s Human and Civil Rights (HCR) Program developed out of its Minority Affairs Committee in 1995. The stated purpose of the UEA HCR Program is to:
      1.  Promote a more inclusive human and civil rights program for our members;
      2.  Assure that ethnic minorities are represented in all facets of the organization; and
      3.  Increase the awareness of the diversity in all its aspects in our schools and among our members.


Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee (EMAC)

The 2016 UEA House of Delegates meeting marked a milestone for the UEA. Delegates that year voted to elevate the Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee to the status of Standing Committee, one of only five such UEA committees. Some stated goals of the Committee are to increase ethnic minority representation in the Association, to educate school districts in the hiring of a diverse workforce, to promote inclusive civil rights programs for students and members, and to advocate ethnic minority viewpoints, concerns and issues to the UEA Board of Directors.

Committee Goals

  • Increase ethnic minority representation in all levels of the Association;
  • Assist ethnic minority members to be elected to positions of Association leadership so they can experience the NEA RA, help the Association meet the NEA Bylaw 3-1(g) goal, advocate for and train potential ethnic minority leaders and increase active involvement of ethnic minority members;
  • Educate school districts in the hiring of a diverse work force and increase the awareness of diversity in our schools;
  • Educate our members on inclusion education and other issues affecting students, e.g., school to prison pipeline, immigration reform, institutional racism and privilege using crucial conversation skills, etc.;
  • Promote more inclusive civil rights programs for students and members;
  • Collaborate with the UEA Board of Directors on programs including mentoring programs that recruit, support and retain ethnic minority educators;
  • Advise, recommend and advocate ethnic minority viewpoints, concerns and issues to the UEA Board of Directors; and
  • Maintain, edit and implement the UEA Minority Involvement Plan.

Committee Members

  • Denise Lake, Chair, Ethnic Minority Director on UEA Board of Directors
  • Renee Pinkney, UEA Vice President
  • Heather Amado, Alpine
  • Dawnrae Smith, Color Country
  • Christopher Carpenter, Davis
  • Marsha Curtis, Eastern
  • Kamron Reese, Granite
  • Gerlit Buffington, High Desert
  • Yolanda Rothfuss, Jordan
  • Mandy Gordon, Northern
  • Brandon Baca, Ogden-Weber
  • Jeremy Reynoso, Wasatch
  • TBD, Woodland Peaks
UEA’s Minority Involvement Plan (MIP)


UEA Board of Directors Statement on Racial Justice - June 2020

The Utah Education Association stands with Black, Indigenous and People of Color, including teachers, school staff and students around the globe

We have heard, and continue to listen to, our community members of color as they’ve recently expressed emotions from anger to frustration to exhaustion, not only concerning current events, but also in reference to the history of social injustice and systemic racism. We hear you. We also recognize the immense responsibility that we, as an organization, must do so much more. Because #BlackLivesMatter.

Regardless of our intentions and our past efforts, we acknowledge institutional racism is a reality and we must work to expose and eradicate it. We realize it is not enough to declare ourselves ‘not racist.’ We must all strive to become ‘anti-racist.’ When we see racism or implicit and explicit bias, we must call it out and shut it down in order to raise awareness and foster change.

We know we can and will do more. In 2016 the UEA Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee was established to increase minority representation in the association, educate school districts in hiring a diverse workforce, and promote inclusive civil rights programs for students and educators. In 2019 the UEA Equity, Justice and Inclusion Taskforce was established to assess the needs of the Association related to white supremacy culture, including institutional racism, to create a safe and inclusive climate, and to help empower educators to act against intolerance, bigotry and injustice.  The UEA is committed to continuing this critical work as we establish strategic policies, implement programmatic opportunities and engage our leaders, staff and members in ensuring racial justice in education.

We support access and opportunity for all educators and students but recognize we cannot succeed if lives are threatened, marginalized or oppressed. As educators, we have a unique responsibility and can be a strong influence to fight against injustice. The public education system can bring people together with a teaching force reflective of our student population. With knowledgeable educators, trained in recognizing and confronting unjust policies and practices, we can and will make a difference.

The UEA is committed to advancing social justice within our organization, our public schools and our communities. That commitment begins by re-envisioning our strategic goals, priorities and programs in order to live by our stated goal to “work to eradicate institutional discriminatory practices and support equitable outcomes for all.” Reversing generations of racial prejudice, hatred and fear will take perseverance, dedication and above all – education.

The UEA Board of Directors



  • Heidi Matthews, UEA President
  • Renee Pinkney, UEA Vice President
  • Michael Harman, NEA State Director
  • Mindy L. Layton, NEA State Director
  • Denise Lake, Ethnic Minority Representative
  • Brandon Engles, Alpine UniServ
  • Amy Barton, Color Country UniServ
  • Kallyn Gren, Davis UniServ
  • Kody Clyde, Eastern Utah UniServ
  • Michele Jones, Granite UniServ
  • Rodney Hurd, High Desert UniServ
  • Kathy Smith, Jordan UniServ
  • Jeanie Papiernik, Northern Utah UniServ
  • Marjean Wayment, Ogden-Weber UniServ
  • Lara Slade, Wasatch UniServ
  • Christy Giblon, Woodland Peaks UniServ



The UEA Board of Directors are full-time teachers elected by UEA members to manage the business of the Association. These directors include the UEA president, vice president, two NEA state directors for Utah, one director representing each of the 11 UniServ units, and one director representing ethnic minorities.

Land Acknowledgements
The 2021 UEA House of Delegates passed New Business Item #3 – Land Acknowledgements, as follows:

Utah Education Association will start each meeting with a land acknowledgment.  Land acknowledgments are an honest and historically accurate way to recognize the traditional First Nations territories of a place.  It helps redefine how people place themselves in relation to those groups indigenous to the land.  Not all Indigenous people agree on their efficacy or even on how they should be done.  Land acknowledgements are a good first step, but there is more work to be done.

Phrasing may include: “We acknowledge that we gather as __________ (name of organization) on federally recognized tribal lands of Utah.  Eight tribes have been living, working, and residing on this land from time immemorial. The tribes of Utah include (but are not limited to): Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Indians Navajo Nation, Northern Ute Tribe, Northwestern Band of Shoshone, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, San Juan Southern Paiute, Skull Valley Band of Goshute and White Mesa Band of the Ute Mountain Utes. We honor America’s First People and their ancestors, past, present and emerging.  We are called on to learn and share what we know about the tribal history, culture and contributions that have been suppressed in tell the story of “America.”


Acknowledgments raise awareness about histories that are often suppressed or forgotten.  It was their land first and we need to give them the proper respect they deserve.  For many, land means more than property.  It compasses culture, relationship, ecosystems, social systems, spirituality and law.  Land means that earth, the water, the air and all that live within the ecosystem.

Additional Resources:

Step-by-Step Guide

Restorative Practices: