Stepping Stone Consulting aims to advance racial justice by using research, contextual expertise, and collaboration to develop highly effective, anti-racist organizations. We understand that this work takes time and intention; we consistently work to earn the trust of individuals and communities most impacted by racial inequities.
We favor patience, support, and partnership. We aim to create brave spaces and encourage courageous conversations. We value the social contexts and relationships in the room, acknowledge colleagues as complex humans and creators of knowledge, and emphasize action, systemic change, and social transformation.
Aristea Saulsbury, Co-Director
Yurok/Indigenous & she/her/hers
Aristea (air-uh-stay-uh) believes that we are shaped by the experiences and choices of our families and communities generations before us. Although her background in early childhood education helped shape her interest in fairness and racial equity, it was not until she learned about the concept of historical trauma as a young adult that she really began to unpack the way she had been shaped.
Following 11 years at Humboldt Educare Preschool, Aristea worked at Greenway Partners in Arcata for three years, learning project management and community engagement skills. When presented the opportunity to build her skill set in her chosen home of McKinleyville in 2020, Aristea joined the McKinleyville Family Resource Center Team.
As eclectic as her work experience is, Aristea’s education is also varied. Initially beginning at College of the Redwoods at the age of 16 to learn about educating young children, Aristea ended up fascinated with history and providing context to important moments. A few years later, she graduated from Humboldt State University with a BA in History. Aristea returned to school in her early 30s to pursue her MA in Organizational Leadership and Change at Pacific Oaks College.
Today, Aristea wears many hats: Co-Director of Stepping Stone, Programming and Community Outreach Project Manager for the McKinleyville Family Resource Center, Board Trustee for Northern Humboldt Union High School District, Mother. In all roles, Aristea strives to use her skills to create spaces in which people can learn more about themselves, their communities, and each other with the ultimate goal of healing from past injustices.
Melissa Meiris, Founder/Co-Director
White & she/her/hers
Melissa believes that white people are responsible for learning about and dismantling the racist systems of oppression that we created and perpetuate. From an early age, Melissa had an interest in justice, but working as an environmental educator in Oakland, California transformed her thinking around racism and justice and inspired her to do more.
Melissa has worked as an educator and facilitator for nearly two decades, focusing on racial equity since 2005. She has supported organization-wide strategic planning processes; facilitated year-long evaluation models for non-profit organizations; galvanized a university task force around supporting undocumented students; taught public speaking with an equity lens to college freshmen; and led hundreds of workshops, trainings, and conversations racial equity, implicit bias, decolonization, and more.
Before serving for five years as the Associate Director in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Cal Poly Humboldt, Melissa came to this work via the nonprofit and environmental education fields. She was the Director of Education at NatureBridge Golden Gate (formerly Headlands Institute), and has also worked as an educator, program coordinator, program evaluator, curriculum developer, and grant writer with Save The Bay in Oakland, and with Crissy Field Center, Literacy for Environmental Justice, and the Sierra Club in San Francisco.
Melissa holds an M.A. in Education–Equity and Social Justice and a B.A. in English–Creative Writing, both from San Francisco State University. Outside of work, Melissa enjoys surfing, biking, traveling, gardening, cooking, backpacking, and hiking with her dog.