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curriculum vitae


Ph.D., Urban Systems: Urban Educational Policy, State University of New Jersey, Rutgers-Newark, Newark, NJ—October 2020

DISSERTATION TITLE: Becoming BlackWomanTeacher: An Autoethnographic Illumination of Teacher Leadership Development for Critical Democratic Public Education in Newark, NJ

M.P.A., Public Administration, State University of New Jersey, Rutgers-Newark, Newark, NJ—May 2009

B.A., English, Duke University, Durham, NC—May 2003


Principal, Certificate of Eligibility, State of New Jersey—July 2009

Teacher of English, Standard Certificate, State of New Jersey—September 2005


Drew University, Madison, NJ, July 2019—September 2020

Teacher Education Department.

Courses Taught:

  • Instructional Design
  • Clinical Practice

Essex County College, Newark, NJ, January 2009—April 2009; January 2017—April 2019

Adjunct Faculty, Humanities Department.

Courses Taught:

  • College Language Studies
  • English Foundations
  • Reading Foundations for College Students
  • English 101

New Jersey City University, Jersey City, NJ, September 2017—May 2019

Adjunct Faculty, Elementary and Secondary Education Department.

Courses Taught:

  • Challenges in Urban Education (Social Foundations)
  • Power, Politics, and Schooling: National and Global Contestations (Capstone Research Course)

State University of New Jersey, Rutgers-New Brunswick, New Brunswick, NJ, September 2016—December 2017

Part Time Lecturer, Graduate School of Education, Department of Learning and Teaching.

Course Taught:

  • Classroom Organization—Secondary

State University of New Jersey, Rutgers-Newark, Newark, NJ, January 2011—May 2012

Part Time Lecturer, Department of Urban Education & School of Public Affairs and Administration.

Courses Taught:

  • Social Foundations of Urban Education
  • 21st Century Urban Educator
  • Leadership in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment


Independent Researcher September 2020—Present
Just Writing, LLC, Newark, NJ

Coordinator of Candidate Assessment, Clinical Partnerships, and Inservice Teacher Education July 2019—September 2020

Drew University, Madison, NJ

Developed and maintained relationships with New Jersey public schools to secure placements for clinical internships; supervised and trained cooperating teachers and field supervisors; collaborated with local districts, the Drew Writing Project, and Digital Literacies Collaborative to offer professional development workshops and other inservice training for area teachers; managed the collection of data related to accreditation.

Community Organizer March 2014—September 2016

New Jersey Communities United, Newark, NJ

Planned, implemented, and managed the Better Beginnings campaign, a coalition of working parents and child care professionals advocating for expanded resources and increased funding for early childhood development programs in New Jersey.

High School English Teacher September 2004 – August 2008; April 2012 – October 2013

Newark Public Schools, Newark, NJ

Planned and implemented daily lesson plans in accordance with Newark Public Schools Language Arts Curriculum; communicated with parents and guardians about students’ progress; collaborated with colleagues to write mini-grants and curriculum; incorporated technology into the classroom.

Graduate Research Assistant September 2009 – June 2010

Newark Schools Research Collaborative, Newark, NJ

Supported the implementation of program evaluations; assisted with the development of survey instruments for various evaluation projects; worked on and contributed to collaborative research teams.

Assistant Institute Director May 2009 – August 2009

TeacherNex, Newark, NJ

Observed and gave constructive feedback to incoming teachers on their practice teaching during summer school; lead sessions on effective, efficient instructional practices; guided incoming teachers as they learned to set high academic goals, invested students in these goals, and worked strategically to meet them; ensured the overall readiness of incoming teachers to enter the classroom.

English Learning Team Leader August 2006 – June 2010

Teach for America, Newark, NJ 

Assisted first and second year corps members in making significant gains in their classrooms by providing content-specific guidance and resources; assisted first and second year corps members in goal-setting and benchmarking their students’ progress towards significant academic gains.


White, C. J., & Owens, L. Z. (2018). “Getting up” and claiming political power in Newark: Citizens taking action for radically democratic possibilities. In R. Ahlquist, P. C. Gorski, & T. Montaño (Eds.), Assault on kids and teachers: Countering privatization, deficit ideologies and standardization in U.S. schools-revised edition. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.


Owens, L. Z. Being a Politically Active BlackWomanTeacher: An Autoethnographic Illumination of Radical Leadership Development in Newark, NJ. Presented at the Fifteenth International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL, May 2019.

Owens, L. Z.: Teacher Unions, Race, and Racism: How Reformers Navigate Tensions and Create Social Justice Possibilities: Teachers Teaching Political and Social Economics in Urban Spaces. Presented at the Teacher’s Work/Teachers Unions SIG Business Meeting, American Educational Research Association 2018 Annual Conference, April 2018.

Owens, L. Z. Dangers for Public Education and Resistance to Them in the Age of Trump: All Politics are Local: Getting Out from under State Control. Presented at the American Educational Studies Association 2017 Annual Conference, Pittsburgh, November 2017.

White, C. J., Makris, M. V., & Owens, L. Z. Stumbling into the Posthuman Turn and Post Qualitative Inquiry: Indigenizing Community Research in a Newark Neighborhood. Presented at the American Educational Studies Association 2017 Annual Conference, Pittsburgh, November 2017.

Owens, L. Z. Getting Out from under State Control: Negotiating and Creating Spaces of Power. Presented at Education Reform, Communities, and Social Justice: Exploring the Intersections, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, May 2017.

Owens, L. Z.  Panel Discussion on Education. Presented at the New Jersey Working Families Alliance Take Back the State Summit at Essex County College, Newark, November 2016.

White, C. J. & Owens, L. Z. Traveler, There Is No Path, Only Trails Across The Sea…: Philosophical Interference to Generate Radically Democratic Spaces of Possibility. Presented at the American Educational Studies Association 2016 Annual Conference, Seattle, November 2016.

Owens, L. Z. Teachers as Social Activists. Presented at the New Jersey Future Educators Conference at Rutgers University, Newark, NJ, April 2016.

Madeloni, B., Dimino, B., Owens, L. Z., Moskop, M., & Clawson, D. Rank and File Teachers’ Movements: Challenges and Possibilities. Presented at Left Forum 2014, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York, NYC, June 2014.

Tarleton, J., Owens, L. Z., Rippey, B., Looser, A., & Weiner, L. Teachers Unions and Social Justice: Making the Connections Real. Presented at Left Forum 2012, Pace University, NYC, March 2012.

White, C. J., Owens, L. Z., Huang, T., Lizaire-Duff, S., Makris, M., & Knauer, D. J. Advocacy-based Qualitative Inquiry in Newark: Illuminating Political Participation, Architecture, Education and Neighborhood. Presented at the Seventh International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL, May 2011.


Teach for America-Prudential Fellow, 2007 – 2009


American Educational Studies Association, Member

Urban Education Justice Project, Towson University, Advisory Board Member


NAACP-Newark Branch, Education Committee Chair

New Jersey Association of Black Educators, Member

Newark Education Workers Caucus, Founding Member

Newark Board of Education, Former Member (Term: April 2016-April 2019)


NAACP-Newark Branch 106th Freedom Fund Educational Advocacy Award, October 2020