One-on-One with Dr. Maisha Beasely

During the height of the 80s Oakland crack epidemic, Dr. Maisha Beasely recalls her mother moving to Livermore for more safety and better public schooling – which, at the time, was a far cry from wine country.  The Livermore of 20-some-odd years ago was a staunchly conservative, mostly white suburb with a salient “sundown town” underbelly, making her keenly aware of racial and economic oppression.  “I was 1 of 4 Black girls in my graduating high school class,” she recounts, continuing, “I could not wait to leave and go to college.”

And leave she did.  Dr. Beasely completed her B.A. in Communication at San Diego State University.  Subsequently, she would go on to receive her M.A. in Higher Education with a concentration in Higher Education Administration from the University of the Pacific.  She would round out her advanced studies with an Ed.D. in International and Multicultural Education from the University of San Francisco.  Maisha’s student experiences in Livermore (and later higher education) fed her passion for researching and enriching the Black student experience in education, she explained.

An undeniable talent for architecting programs designed to resolve troubling statistics native to Black student experiences (especially students residing in the suburbs) would come from jobs she secured on the road to the doctorate.  These positions afforded her the opportunity to run college orientations, build and oversee college student programs, and create first-year student experiences.  During this period of her career, a post at UCLA would prove to be most constructive for her and her colleague Ashley Carter, as it allowed Dr. Beasely to lay the groundwork for Project Sankofa (formerly MEB Consulting Group).  It was there that she would jumpstart the “Sister to Sister: Redefining Self & Sisterhood” course through the university’s Education department with two of her Black female colleagues. Four-year graduation rates for Black women who took the course have stayed at a consistent 85 percent for the 10 years the course has been in existence as a result of their trailblazing efforts. In addition, 1 and 3 women went on to a graduate-level degree since the program launched in 2014.

Things dramatically revved up in 2016.  That year, she completed her doctoral work.  However, that same year her father was diagnosed with myeloma.  Her presence was needed back home in Livermore, as her mother had also retired from her well-respected administrative post within the Livermore school system in 2016.   Dr. Beasely was not thrilled at the prospect of returning to Livermore.  However, she recalls that her mother sweetened the request by explaining that there were significant Black student achievement gaps she felt her daughter might begin to help improve.  Dr. Beasely caved.  She recalls, “I went back for a two-hour mentorship experience that would morph into an African American Scholars Project for the high school in Livermore.”  The hallmark tenets of her program model – started at UCLA – were culturally relevant pedagogy, affinity space, and college readiness  She started in 2 schools within a single Livermore district and would ultimately end up in 8 schools in 4 districts within a 7-month period.

Today Dr. Beasely stands poised for significant infusions of capital to 10x her business to continue moving in lock step with student needs throughout Socal and NorCal markets.  AASP, the flagship program for MEB Consulting Group, started in 2016.  As the program developed into a program as opposed to a consulting service, the founders opted to set up a nonprofit to support the long-term goals of supporting African-American students in suburban communities – hence Project Sankofa was born.