Ayana Bass is a lifelong Rhode Island resident and a certified Elementary, Special Educator. As an adult learner, her academic journey took her on a non-traditional path through a traditional program at Rhode Island College where she completed her bachelor's degree at the age of 39. As a student researcher, Ayana conducted research with a focus on paraprofessionals and how access to an alternative pathway (in RI) can contribute to the conversation around teacher shortages, increased diversity, access, and equity within the teacher workforce. Her research work and understanding of pedagogy and educational practices allowed for a natural pairing to join The Equity Institute (EI). As an Education Partner at EI, she focuses on alternative educator pathway programs for school support professionals to address teacher shortages and diversity within the teacher workforce. Ayana is an active member of the CEEDAR RI State Leadership Team, as well as a member of RIDE's Educators of Color Committee. She sits on multiple subcommittees within each organization as a means to deepen her understanding and commitment to education and students of all ages.