Brotherhood Initiative

Project Team

Joe Lott, PhD, is the Principal Investigator of the Brotherhood Initiative and an associate professor in the College of Education at the University of Washington. He studies racial identity development and civic engagement among Black students in college, the impact of college experiences on civic and political dispositions, and how to change the college-going culture through parent-school-community partnerships. His emerging research interests revolve around how to leverage university-community partnerships to foster wellness and educational achievement for males of color along the P-20 continuum.  He teaches classes on applied statistics, civic engagement in higher education, school-community partnerships, sociology of education, and student development.

Theresa Ling Yeh, PhD, is the Director of Research and Programs overseeing the research-to-practice work of the Brotherhood Initiative involving curriculum design as well as assessment and evaluation, ensuring that these continually inform each other. Her research focuses on the impact of race, gender and socioeconomic status on postsecondary access and engagement, and her areas of expertise include mixed-methods research and program evaluation. She has over 15 years of professional experience working in higher education and non-profit sectors, focusing on college access and retention, service-learning, multicultural affairs, and federal TRIO programs. Ling has a PhD in Education Leadership & Policy from the University of Washington, an MA in College Student Personnel from the University of Maryland, and a BA in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania.

Paul Metellus is the Student Success Coordinator for the Brotherhood Initiative. His primary role includes direct support and advising to the Brotherhood Initiative student scholars. His professional experience spans student conduct, multicultural and diversity affairs and residential life. Paul has a Bachelor of Arts in Religion with a minor in English from the University of Florida and a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration of College Student Affairs from the University of South Florida.

Heena Lakhani, PhD, is a Research Scientist with the Brotherhood Initiative. Her research focuses on the design of equitable and rigorous science learning environments for K-16 learners. She is also interested in investigating ways to design learning pathways that coordinate students’ interests, identities, and expertise in the higher education space. She has over 10 years of experience working in STEM education and research in K-12 and higher education settings. Heena holds a PhD in Learning Sciences & Human Development. She also has advanced degrees in Chemistry, Mathematics for Teaching, and Psychological and Brain Sciences.

Tory Brundage is a PhD student in Higher Education Leadership at the University of Washington.  His professional experience spans college admissions, academic advising, public health, study abroad and diversity programming with particular emphasis on the experience of students in the college and selective major choice processes.  His research seeks to examine science education, identity development and academics success for males of color in pre-health pathways within higher education with particular emphasis on the barriers faces by Black males pursuing medicine at predominantly White institutions.

Christian K. Love is a PhD student in Higher Education at the University of Washington. His research is focused on the academic, social and professional experiences of students of color at predominantly white institutions through student engagement and retention-based initiatives. Specifically, he is interested in examining how service learning and role-model mentorship models impact the educational attainment of students of color in postsecondary education with respect to equity and access, recruitment, retention and achievement.

Sara London is an Aleut Scholar and PhD student in Higher Education at the University of Washington. Her research focuses on Native students living with disabilities and their recruitment, access and retention issues in higher education. She received her Masters in Education and has years of experience working with the Lummi community. Including working for a non-profit focusing on creating healthy spaces for youth and being a painter in the House of Tears carving and painting group where she was able to paint on healing totem poles that stand throughout the nation. Her main passion is mentorship. She mentors youth in hopes to set an example and provide support for their personal and educational journeys.

Kandi Bauman is a PhD student in Higher Education at the University of Washington. She holds a dual Bachelor of Science & Arts and Masters of Public Administration degree from The Evergreen State College. Raised in Southwest Washington, Kandi is a former Gates Millennium Scholar and first-generation college student. With over ten years of experience as a student affairs practitioner, her research interests centers on strengthening post-secondary access and success by developing effective institutional leaders and equity-focused policies.

Jaylen Willingham is a recent multiracial first-generation college graduate from the University of Washington Seattle with an Honors B.A. in Communication and a minor in Informatics. Jaylen is a two-time Mary Gates Scholar and assists with BI’s digital marketing and communication design. He is currently enrolled in the UW Software Product Management Certificate Program.


Siamak Vossoughi is a Teaching Associate with the Brotherhood Initiative. He is an Iranian-American writer and teacher who graduated from the UW after studying English/Education Emphasis. He has worked in K-8 schools for twenty-five years and he has published two short story collections, Better Than War and A Sense of the Whole. His writing has also been published in journals such as Kenyon Review, Missouri Review, Columbia Journal, and Bennington Review. Along with working with the BI, he has also served as artist-in-residence at the UW College of Education.

Ella Harris

Ella Harris is a Graduate Programming Intern with the Brotherhood Initiative. She is a recent first-generation college graduate from Western Washington University with an Honors B.A. in Sociology, and a Minor in Education & Social Justice. Currently she is pursuing a Masters in Education at UW, specifically in Leadership in Higher Education. Her work primarily focuses on the peer mentorship program, as well as student support and advising. Focused on issues of race and ethnicity, Ella’s interests are to continue to explore ways to create pathway programs for students of color. Furthermore, she wants to push boundaries around classical educational practices, and find new ways to innovate and create social-justice oriented methods regarding student support.