Visiting Practitioners

UEP's Visiting Practitioners program brings accomplished leaders in the urban, social, and environmental fields to work with UEP faculty and students.

Current Visiting Practitioners
May Louie has more than 30 years of experience in progressive and community organizing and comprehensive community building. She spent 20 years (1994-2014) as a senior staffer of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI), a community planning and organizing group that led the revitalization of their Boston neighborhood. At DSNI, she managed the Resident Development Institute, oversaw civic engagement, coordinated the Boston Promise Initiative, and was most recently Director of Leadership and Capacity Building. Louie has authored a number of articles on DSNI's change strategies. As a long-time social justice organizer, Ms. Louie has her roots in the Asian American movement and is a founder of the Chinese Progressive Association. She also has experience building multi-racial electoral coalitions, having served as chair of the Boston Rainbow Coalition and Chief of Staff of the National Rainbow Coalition. She has also taught at the Asian American Studies Program at UMass Boston.

May received her Master of Public Policy from Tufts UEP in 2008. She has been a guest lecturer in many courses at UEP. As a UEP Visiting Practitioner in 2015-2016, she will be lead curriculum designer for the project Teaching Democracy: A Curriculum for Popular and Community-Based Education. This project is led by UEP faculty Penn Loh and funded by Tufts Innovates.
Bob Terrell has more than 40 years of experience in community organizing, policy advocacy, municipal government, and community development. He is currently Executive Director of the Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston, where he has been on staff since 2011. Prior to that he spent more than a decade advocating for transportation justice as Executive Director of the Washington Street Corridor Coalition and Coordinator of On the Move (the Greater Boston Transportation Justice Coalition). He began his career as a youth and tenant organizer in Boston. He continues to chair the Roxbury Neighborhood Council and hosted a live community television program City Journal from 1999-2009.

Mr. Terrell received a Master of Public Policy from Tufts UEP in 2013. He has been a guest lecturer in many courses at UEP and area universities. As a Visiting Practitioner in 2015-16, he will be working with UEP faculty Penn Loh on economic democracy projects and research.
Past Visiting Practitioners
Juan Leyton was invited to be Visiting Practitioner at UEP in the Fall of 2013 and worked with the Practical Visionaries Workshop for two years, drawing from over two decades of experience in social justice, community organizing and community development. Juan focuses on economic democracy practices, with a particular interest in workers and food cooperatives. Currently Juan is the Executive Director of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative. Before that, he worked with the Local Enterprise Assistance Fund (LEAF), an organization dedicated to financing workers owned enterprises, housing, and food cooperatives.

Juan was the Executive Director of Neighbor to Neighbor Massachusetts, a statewide organization promoting grassroots policies, leadership development, coalition and electoral work. He also worked as a program officer for the Solidago Foundation, a national foundation invested in developing a progressive movement through funding strategies. Juan has worked with organizations around the country on worker and immigrant rights, community and labor coalitions, tax reform, corporate accountability and affordable housing.

In 2011 he was selected as a Barr Fellow by the Barr foundation, and as a Mel King Community Fellow by MIT CoLab. He holds a Masters in Public Policy from Tufts UEP and is certified in worker cooperatives from the University of Mondragon, Spain.
Judge Sonja Spears was elected to the civil bench in New Orleans in a landslide victory over a seventeen- year incumbent at age 34 making her the youngest judge in Louisiana. She was re-elected without opposition and served twelve years until her retirement.

As a practitioner Spears handled both civil and criminal cases in New Orleans. She has taught at Tulane Law School, Harvard Law School and was a former Boston Public School teacher. She currently teaches in the Ex-College at Tufts. Spears has served as trustee for various community organizations including service as chair of the New Orleans Public Library Board. She is a graduate of Tufts University and Tulane Law School.
Aaron Tanaka is a Boston based community organizer, currently leading the Center for Economic Democracy and Boston Impact Initiative as an impact investor and foundation director. As the founding executive director of the Boston Workers Alliance in 2005, he helped organize no/low-income workers of color into one of Boston's leading grassroots economic justice organizations. During his tenure, BWA helped pass nationally heralded statewide "Ban the Box" and criminal record reforms, launched the city's first green worker-owned cooperative, and opened the state's first social purpose temp agency for disadvantaged workers.

After leaving the BWA, Aaron became the startup manager for the Boston Impact Initiative, a pilot $5 million impact investment fund making value driven loans and equity investments to grow an inclusive local economy. Since 2012, Aaron has also led the formation of the Center for Economic Democracy, an emerging movement intermediary, building grassroots capacity to lead transformative policy campaigns and new economy initiatives. To advance this work, Aaron was a technical assistance provider to the City of Boston to run the first citywide, youth-led Participatory Budgeting effort in the country.

Aaron serves on the board of the Asian American Resource Workshop and the New Economy Coalition. He is a former Green For All Fellow, a current BALLE Fellow and a Visiting Practitioner with Tufts UEP. He is also a co-founder and worker-owner of Olio Culinary Group, a new catering and restaurant cooperative in Boston. He holds a B.A. from Harvard University and an M.S. in Community Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University.