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About Us

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Tiana Batiste-Waddell, Executive Director

Executive Director, Tiana Batiste-Waddell, has been a public school educator and administrator for over 20 years and has worked tirelessly to support underserved families and children navigate the public school system. During her career journey, she has witnessed the importance of families and students having an advocate that views them as the customer that is served. When one takes on that type of mindset, practices and policies become student-centered, and efforts are directed in a way to produce the best results for the child.  

JAX Aspire Foundation was inspired by raising three African-American sons of her own and teaching them how to navigate the public education system. In addition, serving underserved families and children that aspire to be great in an educational system that exudes systemic racism. Those that are marginalized due to race, ethnicity, and poverty are just as capable and will achieve high levels of educational attainment when the barriers are dismantled. 


Tiana is eager and excited to be a part of social change by guiding families and children on how to navigate the public school system. 

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Delba Smith, Board of Director, President


Delba Smith is an educator with nearly 40 years of experience. Under her administrative leadership, Harrison Primary Center's, within South Bend Community School Corporation, P.L. 221 status showed that they made Adequate Yearly Progress (25/25) for the first time in the school’s history.

When she is not focused on learning, not only does she spend her free time doing yard work, she climbs the ladder to clean debris left by squirrels having picnics on the roof.

She currently works as a Title I District Non-Public Data Coach within the South Bend Community School Corporation. You can reach her at

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Jorden Giger, Board of Director, Treasurer 


Jorden Giger is a South Bend native and co-founder of Black Lives Matter South Bend. He has worked in South Bend schools as a middle school math teacher and serves as the Director of Outreach for BLM Grassroots. 

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Emily Burson, Board of Director, Secretary


Emily Burson is an early childhood educator with more than 10 years of experience within the field.  During these years she was an active preschool teacher teaching our youngest learners emotional stability and conflict resolution skills.  She is passionate about early education and knew she could impact more by shifting her focus from within the classroom to assessing and coaching other educators within her field.  It is because of this Emily has helped to mentor and assess teachers within her community for the last several years.  She has taken the skills she has mastered and found ways to build relationships with others to help impact more children within her community.  Emily has a family of her own and has spent the last few years on her children’s public school PTO.  Being able to have experience within early education and first-hand experience within the public school system gives her a unique perspective on the needs of children within our community.

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