Hatcher Change Agents

By Tiffany E. Browne, Director

Our team leads extraordinary lives outside of their work for Hatcher. As a women-led firm, we’re especially proud of our colleagues who champion causes that seek to improve social outcomes, dismantle barriers, and address inequalities. In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re introducing you to three dynamic women who serve as change agents at Hatcher and in their communities.

Senior Associate Ashley Flowers is the founder of Warrior Footprints, a community organization focused on educating and empowering those living with or affected by epilepsy; Associate Director Devin Simpson serves on the board of DC Abortion Fund (DCAF), an organization that provides grants to those in and outside of the Washington, DC, area who can’t afford the full cost of an abortion; and Associate Director Jenna Tomasello is the cofounder of Learn Together, Live Together (LTLT), a diverse, grassroots coalition working to build a movement for school integration in Washington, DC.

Here’s a glimpse of how all three are making an impact outside of Hatcher.

What piqued your interest or motivated you to focus on this work or organization?

Devin: As a Black woman, reproductive freedom is an extremely critical issue to me. As conservatives chip away at reproductive rights across the country, often Black and Brown communities are the first to lose access to essential reproductive health care. I discovered DC Abortion Fund (DCAF) in late 2020 during renewed attacks on abortion access at the state level, as well as during the time of Justice Amy Comey Barrett’s confirmation hearings to the Supreme Court. This motivated me to take on a more active role in this work, particularly at a local level. DCAF was the perfect organization to engage deeper as we work to help eliminate barriers to access and make choice a reality for all people, particularly Black people, Brown people, and people with low incomes.

Ashley: I was diagnosed with Epilepsy when I was in high school. Although I have a strong support system, I didn’t know anyone living with epilepsy. It wasn’t until the pandemic that I realized I needed a support system of fellow epileptics. I started an Instagram page and followed users with “epilepsy” in their bio. Interacting with my followers is very therapeutic and I do my best to make sure my followers find that same peace of mind.

Jenna: As a first-generation college graduate, raised in a working-class, single-parent household, I know the profound impact education has on one’s life trajectory. That’s why I’m so passionate about education and why I pursued a master’s degree in education policy. In graduate school, I learned about redlining, and institutionalized racism within our education. I became convinced that segregation and resource inequality were the root causes of educational inequity in America; and I wanted to do something about it.

What are some highlights of the work you do?

Jenna: Our most impactful work has been our community meetings and events. Our last big event was a Bolling v. Sharpe 65th Anniversary event held at Sousa Middle School in DC. Bolling was a companion case to four other court cases consolidated into Brown v. Board of Education, and Sousa was the school at the center of that case. Some other highlights include our launch event with John King, Teach Us All movie screening, and book talk with Richard Rothstein on The Color of Law. We’ve also spoken on panels for organizations like The Century Foundation and National Coalition on School Diversity, testified in front of the DC Council, and received media coverage.

Devin: One of my first projects as Communications Director was a Fund-a-Thon, our largest annual fundraiser. I worked with our events and development directors to craft messages, create an email marketing campaign, and write and post social media to promote the fundraiser. Thanks to our efforts, DCAF raised a record-breaking $166,000 last year. I‘m proud to be a part of a significant and historic moment for DCAF, as we transitioned from an all-volunteer model to paid staff for the first time in 26 years, and transitioned in an entirely BIPOC-led Board of Directors. These changes help us build our capacity as an organization and better serve our callers and communities.

Ashley: Warrior Footprints has connected more than 700 people via social media who either live with or are affected by Epilepsy. I’ve conducted and shared 40-plus interviews with fellow epileptics, caregivers, specialists, and physicians and collaborate with social media-based organizations to spread epilepsy awareness.

When did you receive your first lesson in volunteering/community service?

Ashley: As a kid at church.

Devin: I believe my grandparents were my first lesson in service. My faith taught me that “To whom much is given, much will be required.” And I saw that in action through them daily. I’ve never known two people more dedicated to selflessly serving their community. Though my grandfather is no longer with us, he and my grandmother are pillars of their small rural community in upstate South Carolina to this day — because they did all they could with what they were given. They remain guiding stars in my life and are the genesis of my passion and dedication to service.

Jenna: From a very young age, I was always involved in school and extracurricular activities. I served as class president all four years of high school — so many bake sales — and I‘ve always loved volunteering and helping others.

How does the work you do outside of Hatcher translate or influence your work when engaging clients?

Devin:  I think working with a small nonprofit gives me deeper insight into our clients, the challenges they face, and the opportunities they have as they try to achieve their mission. Also, DCAF reminds me why I wanted to work at Hatcher in the first place: to serve communities that look like me. The communications services we provide help amplify and advance our clients’ mission so they can serve marginalized communities and create change.

Ashley: I’ve mastered the art of connecting with strangers, a skill that translates well at Hatcher when engaging with clients. As we continue to grow, I engage with more and more people.

Jenna: It keeps me more grounded in the realities happening in education at the local level, which is a valuable perspective to bring to our clients that work at the national level. Additionally, even though none of our clients explicitly focus on school segregation and resource inequity, my work with LTLT helps me look at education issues from an antiracist and equity lens, another important perspective to bring to our clients. And LTLT has helped me build relationships with a wide range of educators, education leaders, researchers, policymakers, and experts, which I’ve been able to leverage for our clients.