The Staff

Leah Z. Owens, Ph.D. – Founder & Owner

Leah is a writer, teacher educator, teacher-scholar-activist, and founder/owner of Just Writing, LLC. She credits the many leadership and teaching positions she has held for the development of her anti-racist worldview as well as her commitment to equity and humanization. Her journey includes serving as a high school English teacher for Newark Public Schools; co-founding the Newark Education Workers Caucus (NEW Caucus), a social justice caucus within the Newark Teachers Union; organizing childcare center workers into a union; and serving as a member of the Newark Board of Education (2016-2019).

Leah holds a BA in English from Duke University. From Rutgers-Newark, she earned a Master of Public Administration degree as well as her PhD in Urban Systems. As an activist-scholar, her research interests include critical democratic education, teacher leadership, and ontological inquiry. Leah is an active citizen in several community and political organizations, including the Newark Branch of the NAACP where she serves as chair of the education committee. To learn more about Leah and her work, visit her site at and follow her on social media @blackwomanteacher.


The Associates of Just Writing, LLC have a range of expertise and experience in public policy issues, including education, criminal justice, health, and housing. A JWLLC team is tailored to the project at hand.

Marcella Simadiris

Servant and Follower of Christ. Mother to Altereque, Jacy and Nancymarie. My educational achievements include a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education and Health from Montclair State University in Montclair, New Jersey and a Master of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on Equity, Ethics and Social Justice from Concordia University in Portland, Oregon. My career as a Physical Education and Health teacher in Paterson Public Schools (PPS) began in September 2000 shortly after I gave birth to my second child. Throughout my career I have held leadership positions under both management and labor. I have served as a representative within my labor organization on all levels–local, county, state and national. I am currently still employed by Paterson Public Schools and committed to earning the many blessings working for PPS has provided me and my family. I am a consistent advocate for a free quality education for all children centered on a whole child approach that demonstrates the value in all of our differences and abilities. I believe that children are the catalyst to change and empowering them through education and opportunity safeguards our humanity.