Baltimore Homecoming Hero, Alphonso Mayo, leads Mentoring Mentors, an evidenced-based pipeline program of Black mentors paired mentees to develop positive relationships. Through this program, Baltimore City children will find effective ways to cope with their trauma, and African American males are provided with a sustainable opportunity to give back to young men of color.
Bobby is the founder of Son of a Dream LLC, an organization that uses youth development consulting and multimedia to empower youth and families. Through its multimedia arm, Son of a Dream LLC publishes pieces that examine social justice issues while promoting social, emotional learning and positive imagery.
Denzell Walker brings a wealth of knowledge about service to Baltimore City’s youth as the Program Manager for Project Pneuma. Missioned to breathe new life holistically into the young men by challenging them intellectually, strengthening them physically, nurturing them emotionally and uplifting them spiritually, Denzell and his team work to develop strong young men. He also works with the Middle Grades Partnership (MGP), aimed to reverse summer learning loss and prepare students to excel at strong high school institutions. He also served as a full time intern at BMe Community, the largest network of black male entrepreneurs.
The Founder/CEO of Ananizach, a mentoring consulting firm, Jeannette uses her 25+ years of mentoring expertise to provide technical assistance and training to emerging and established mentoring programs. She develops and facilitates trainings for the Maryland Mentoring Resource Center and is an approved Technical Assistance provider with the National Mentoring Resource Center. She is a consultant on research projects the support increasing the effectiveness of mentoring relationships with Michelle Kaufman, PhD Assistant Professor, JHSPH Department of Health, Behavior & Society.
Matt is the founder of Black Fathers, a 50,000+ member strong Facebook network that is missioned to create a network through which Black Fathers will work together to change the face of fatherhood. For 10 years this group has been a virtual resource for black fathers- as well as yet-to-be fathers- young and old. Matthews sees Black Fathers as becoming a major national entity that financially supports and provides other resources for fathers and families of color.
For over 25 years, Locy has been using his organization, Njia Ya Tayari (Swahili for “Way of the Ready”) to build black youth spiritually, mentally and physically. Progressive martial arts training and instruction through Afrikan consciousness are key methods utilized to culturally empower and support the forming of self- identities of its youth participants. Njia Ya Tayari is a program under the umbrella of W.O.M.A.N Inc.
A lifelong resident of the Sandtown-Winchester community, Paige is a graduate of Morgan State University and an accountant by trade. An avid supporter of returning citizens, she intends to create an organization that will assist young men, newly released from prison, with careers in accounting. Men of Valor, seeks to develop entrepreneurs focused on tax preparation and accounting.
Ras Tres Subria is the Founder/Director of Afrikan Youth Alchemy Inc. (AYA) where he leads the Griot’s Eye and I AM programs cultural education, media arts, and expeditionary learning programs that foster leadership as civic engagement. Most recently funded by the Baltimore Youth Fund, these programs will continue to introduce Baltimore’s city’s youth to media arts advocacy and develop cultural ambassadors.
Sabrina is the visionary leader for Brothers Who Can Cook, a healthy social justice event addressing health disparities through food and culture. A special project around a continuum of healthier culinary initiatives, Brothers Who Can Cook promotes a healthy dietary agenda and moves it forward through didactic community programs and chef-instructed cooking workshops. The program culminates with an annual culinary tasting event to address the health disparities of diabetes, addiction, obesity, and other systemic ills facing Boys and Men of Color.
A resident of the Penn-North Community, William Boston saw working out as a way to help him rebuild his life. Feeling that being fit and health conscious could better his community, he began to solicit equipment and offer healthy eating habits. From this, Will B Better Bodies was created. The organization is missioned to “provide safe and friendly physical fitness training for teens, young adults and the broader community, in neighborhoods where access to a fitness center is not readily available or affordable.”
You could say that Wendoly Abrego’s passion for working with communities was somehow in her blood. Wendoly can remember sitting with her father and hearing him tell stories of how he travelled his home country, El Salvador, teaching families in rural villages how to farm. She marveled at the kindness of the individuals her father met while on these missions and she felt so proud of him. In her current role as Programs Director for the non-profit organization Creciendo Unidos/Growing Together, Wendoly follows in her father’s footsteps working to help strengthen, unify and support healthy family relationships. In the last two years, she was involved in managing the implementation of the Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood Initiative programs and its supporting components; ESL, Computer Classes, Micro-Enterprise/Job Development, Finance etc. In her position, Wendoly works in conjunction with the ED to develop program strategies and plans for the growth and sustainability of the organization. She also aids in providing supervision, training and support for staff to effectively implement programs and ensure program objectives are met for completing required reporting.
Wendoly earned her Bachelor’s in Architecture from the University of Arizona in Tucson in 2007. She believes her educational background and prior work experience as Program Manager for Phoenix Revitalization Corporation were instrumental in informing the community work she is currently involved in. As an architecture major she learned to think outside the box, to be creative and to think critically and systematically about problems and situations in order to find the best possible solution. Her prior work experience in community development and the revitalization of an area taught her to navigate different political, socio-economic and cultural arenas and it is those same skills that she now utilizes when establishing and maintaining relationships with partners and collaborators that can support her organization’s mission. With seven years’ experience in community development and non-profit management Wendoly has acquired the ability to look at things from a wide lens but simultaneously focus on the details.
Avis is a program developer and entrepreneur with the ability to connect with people. Avis is passionate about adding value in the lives of couples, youth and singles and the community at large, but especially in the African American community in which she lives.
Avis received a B.A. in Human Services from The University of Toledo. She has worked in the social service arena for over 25 years in the areas of domestic violence, drug addiction, housing and homelessness, and in the area of Healthy Relationships for 10 years. She has facilitated healthy relationship curriculum with her husband Michael for over nine years. She is versed in data collection and program outcome and achievements.
Avis has traveled to a diverse array of venues speaking on subjects such as fathers and domestic violence, recruitment and retention of African-Americans, Co-Parenting and outcome results in programs. Avis’ interactive presentation skills engage the audience and encourage active participation by all.
Avis was Program Coordinator for an OFA grant funded healthy marriage program for 5 years (2006-2011) and Program Director for 3 years for OFA grant funded healthy marriage program (2011-2015). In October 2015, Avis joined Economic Opportunity Planning Association of Greater Toledo dba Pathway as Director of Family Supportive Services where she serves as Program Director of the OFA funded Brothers United Fatherhood Program.
Avis is a Program Director, Certified Survival Skills Facilitator and Grant Writer with skills in program development and implementation as well as grant compliance.
In January 2015, Avis and her husband Michael began Just Us Files, LLC. Avis is currently Chief Operating Officer of their relationship coaching business that serves couples (one on one mentorship and group), singles, youth and specializing in blended family life issues. Avis and her husband Michael are the couples’ ministry leader of Two of Us Couples Ministry at First Church of God under the direction of Bishop Robert Culp. Her motto is: Change A Father, Change A Family, Create A Future.
She is the wife of Michael Allen Files (13 years) and they have four children and one grandson.
Derek received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Forensic Psychology with Magna Cum Laude honors from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Upon graduation, Derek began his career path in becoming a Case Manager at a fatherhood initiative program in the Bronx (Friends 2 Fathers) in 2003, working with fragile families and underserved non-custodial fathers with a focus on responsible parenting and actively increasing their level of engagement/support in their children’s lives.
Through his dedication, drive and determination, he eventually became the Program Director of F2F, in addition to working with community based organizations and public agencies in the Bronx to improve the quality and delivery of services/assistance to noncustodial fathers, coupled with creating awareness on the insurgence of responsible fatherhood programs designed to assist low income families in NYC neighborhoods.
During his career, Derek was recruited to work with the Strong Fathers, Stronger Families Program at STRIVE in 2013 as the Program Coordinator in East Harlem. He has been working tirelessly for the last 12 years throughout NYC’s five boroughs focusing on responsible fatherhood, healthy relationships, and economic stability with an emphasis on breaking poverty cycles related to fatherless single parent households.
Since 2007, Derek has been an alumni of the Family Development Training and Credentialing Program (FDC), which is a major New York State initiative that provides front line workers/supervisors with the skills and competencies to effectively empower families to capitalize on their strengths and set attainable goals. His commitment towards personal development encouraged Derek to return to Lehman College in 2014 to pursue a second Bachelor’s degree in Nursing where he is tentatively scheduled to graduate in 2017. For the last 8 years, Derek has also been a certified facilitator in the Duluth Model in providing domestic abuse intervention classes for men who batter, in an effort to end violence for all women.
In 2015, Derek was selected to participate in the Human Resources Administration (HRA) Office of Child Support Enforcement’s (OCSE) 2016 Community Partners Work Group that is designed to give representatives from community based organizations, government agencies, and other organizations that provide services to NYC families an opportunity to provide input on service delivery strategies, and to network with peers in the process. In addition, Derek is actively involved in The Manhattan Fatherhood Coalition that promotes community partnerships by “Promoting Responsible Fatherhood Initiatives”. The Manhattan Fatherhood Community Collaboration are independent, community-based organizations, Schools, City, State and Federal Agencies that continue to provide resources for families in crisis, helping parents achieve health, economic, and educational goals they identify for their children and their family.
With 30 years of experience in Community and Agency Counseling, Eddrena Clark has additional knowledge in program and youth development; individual, group and couples counseling; support group facilitation; domestic violence and crisis intervention. She was awarded the opportunity to be a member of the annual High Potential Diverse Leaders (HPDL) class of 2014. This experience afforded her training, coaching, access, networking opportunities, support systems and interaction with nonprofit leaders that enhanced her leadership skills.
Eddrena is using the tools learned and best and practices taught to become a more effective Program Manager. She has had experience working with battered women and their children as well as working in the school system as a Guidance Counselor for grades pre-kindergarten through fifth.
During her eight year tenure at Future Foundation, a nonprofit organization that caters to youth and their parents in the South Futon counties of metro Atlanta, she has managed one of the largest core programs of the agency, RealTalk ATL. While supervising seven staffers, youth interns and volunteers, Eddrena is responsible for program development, staff supervision, budget management, partnership enhancement, data collection and evaluation.
RealTalk gives teens a safe place at school to discuss those difficult conversations that aren’t always easy to talk about: dating, relationships and sex. We have serviced more than 7,000 teens with our healthy relationship curriculum and serviced more than 800 parents with our parenting, relationship and job readiness curriculum. Eddrena has served in the capacity of chairperson for the agency’s Wellness Program and Stakeholder Appreciation; she has also coordinated special agency events such as the Back to School Rally, the Thanksgiving Dinner, the Red Event, Safe Prom, and Black Marriage Day. She’s especially proud of the RealTalk Ambassadors program, where she and her team train their students to be the agency’s mouth piece and teach their peers about healthy relationships. Eddrena’s goal is to support and positively shape teens into responsible adults.
Eddrena is a native of Chicago, Illinois…the Windy City and her family continues to reside in Chicago. She is the eldest of three. She attended Tougaloo College and Jackson State University in Mississippi where she earned a Bachelor of Art degree in Psychology/Mental Health and Master of Science degree in Guidance and Counseling. She married her college sweetheart of 28 years, Edward M. Clark and they have two amazing children, Quinten (23) and Lindsey (19) Clark. She co-labors with her husband in their church’s couple’s ministry and she is the Women’s Ministry leader. Recently, Eddrena and a colleague established a monthly support group for incarcerated loved ones in metro Atlanta.
Elijah Wheeler serves as the Social Justice Director at the Montgomery County (MD.) Collaboration Council. In his role, he is charged with ensuring the fair and equitable treatment of people of color who interact with various systems and agencies. He has worked on a number of issues including reducing disproportionate minority contact for youth of color who come into contact with the juvenile justice system and reducing the school to prison pipeline.
He is originally from Cleveland, Ohio where he spent years teaching youth in an alternative education school setting. He has years of experience working as a grassroots organizer and community advocate. Elijah also currently serves in the role as coordinator for Montgomery County’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative. He is a National Juvenile Justice Network YJLI Fellow Alumni and is honored to be a part of the PLI Academy.
Kelly R. Little is a Program Supervisor for Mecklenburg County Child Support Enforcement. Mr. Little leads an Intake Locate team and is responsible for co-leading the following department initiatives; Responsible Fatherhood and Moms as a Gateway. He is uniquely positioned to assist fathers and families in addressing challenges and barriers that prevent them from being a part of their children’s life, this is accomplished through multiple interventions that empower and educate fathers on Child Support law. His exceptional leadership and family focused approach to serving fathers and families have been transformational in shifting the paradigm of Child Support service delivery in North Carolina. The approach utilized by his agency has galvanized support and credibility within a previously skeptical community.
Mr. Little’s passion for this work is a direct result of an absent father in his life. The village approach drives him daily. This is why he serves on various committees that focus on fatherhood education, workforce development, strengthening families, inspiring youth, and advocating for catalyzing change/dismantling racism. He is a leader in a Charlotte’s movement to elevate fatherhood and educate the community around Child Support and fathers’ rights. He frequently presents at state and local conferences, on the importance of collaboration, fathers, and “Mom as Gateway, not Gatekeeper” a National Fatherhood Initiative curriculum.
Kelly is a 25 year veteran of the US Army/Army National Guard. He has served honorably in numerous wars and is a decorated service member who was medically retired in 2013, as a Senior Non-Commissioned Officer. He completed his career as a Senior Instructor at the NC Military Academy in Ft. Bragg, NC.
Since working for Mecklenburg County, some of his goals have been achieved; however, he is committed to developing others, changing the perception of child support and helping Mecklenburg County Child Support become recognized as one of the pre-eminent programs in the nation around collaboration and strengthening families through holistic service delivery.
Mr. Little’s diverse background includes consulting with at risk youth, empowering fathers, educating mothers, collaborating with practitioners, and laser-focused commitment to transformational service delivery for children and families!
Kelly has over 19 years of public administration experience in both state and local government. He completed his Master’s in Business Administration with a concentration in Government. Presently he is pursuing a dual masters degree in Leadership with a focus on Human Resources.
Michael J. Ruffin serves as Project Manager for the Network for Economic Opportunity (The Network); an initiative of the City of New Orleans. In this capacity, Michael works directly with Departmental Directors, the City’s Civil Service department, the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans (SWBNO) and local employers to assess their workforce needs and connect job seekers to available employment opportunities with the City of New Orleans. Additionally, Michael played a vital role establishing the newest STRIVE International affiliate, STRIVE New Orleans, an intensive job readiness training program that connects disadvantaged job seekers in New Orleans to career pathway opportunities. Also, he manages logistics for the Network’s events, represents the Network at workforce development meetings and provides additional support for special projects originating from the executive office.
In May 2012, he began working in local government as Program Coordinator, leading the City’s Saving Our Sons: SOS NOLA Initiative. The model for this program is to provide safe recreational opportunities in crime hot spots for young men through the game of basketball. Mentorship and educational support are key components of the initiative. Now known as NOLA FOR LIFE: Midnight Basketball this program has reached over 6,000 participants and 2,700 spectators.
In January 2013, Michael was promoted to serve as Special Assistant to the Mayor. He prepared briefings for the Mayor, provided staff support at internal and external engagements, managed event logistics and supported special projects originating from the executive office. Also, he was the City’s representative for the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday celebration. This annual event attracts over 1,000 participants through a variety of programs and service projects. He held this position until August 2014.
Born and raised in New Orleans, his personal mission is to “build and sustain economic wealth for the urban community; more importantly, to serve as a role-model for fatherless sons.” He holds a B.S. in Accounting from Xavier University of Louisiana and an MBA from the University of New Orleans (UNO). His hobbies include reading leadership books and playing basketball.
In serving as Director of Advocacy & Outreach at Connections to Success for the past eight years, Napoleon Williams III has successfully designed, implemented, facilitated, and managed job readiness and responsible parenting programs; secured and maintained partnerships with the faith community, businesses, social service providers, criminal justice institutions, and fellow nonprofit agencies, and served in numerous local and regional consortiums aimed at addressing social issues.
Napoleon earned a BS in Urban Studies from Harris-Stowe State University and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He plans to utilize his research to better inform the field of social services for the purpose of increasing economic independence for low-income families.
Mr. Williams III was certified as an Offender Workforce Development Specialist by the National Institute of Corrections in 2009. In 2011, he joined the National Career Development Association and currently serves as a representative for Missouri reentry service providers. Napoleon has served as Project Manager for several Missouri Department of Corrections Community Reentry grants and currently serves as a Community Partnerships Liaison to the St. Louis City Division of Corrections, and represents Connections to Success in the 6th District Community Police and Community Support Association, and the College Hill Collaborative.
As reentry and child support policy adviser to several state legislators and as a subcommittee member at the St. Louis Alliance for Reentry, Napoleon serves as an advocate for criminal justice and family support reforms that strengthen families and the economy without compromising public safety. Most recently, Napoleon presented on Responsible Fatherhood and Child Support reform at the International Fatherhood Conference in Philadelphia. Under Napoleon’s direction, Connections to Success’ advocacy efforts have garnered national attention and support.
Napoleon is a 2015 graduate of FOCUS® Leadership St. Louis. Between facilitating responsible parenting classes, engaging residents in the community, and building relationships with partners, Mr. Williams III enjoys visiting Jefferson City and Capitol Hill informing state and federal law makers of the most pressing challenges facing the families Connections serves in Missouri, Kansas, and Illinois.
Prison reentry is a topic that many people are not familiar with because it simply has not touched their lives. However, Nikki Zaahir has had a passion for this industry and worked faithfully to further the opportunities for ex-convicts for almost ten years. Formerly, a government employee, this Maryland native has spent a good portion of her occupational life in managerial positions.
Noted for her exceptional organizational and planning skills, Nakkia obtained some of those stripes as a Quality Management Officer for the National Security Agency (NSA) from 1996 to 1998. Her management experience extends to her work as a former Corporate Representative Department Manager at America Works from 2006 to 2015. In this position she began working with ex-offenders as well as welfare-to-work clientele to facilitate their transferable life skills and assist them in maintaining employment.
After interviewing with Vehicles for Change (VFC) for another position in July of 2014, Nakkia— a mother of three—so impressed VFC’s President Martin Schwartz, that he decided to hire her to head up the automotive garage slated to open the following year. True to his word, he hired Ms. Zaahir as the Director of Reentry Automotive Internship Opportunities at Vehicles for Change the following January, where she took on the challenge of building the organization’s new auto repair shop, Full Circle Service Center, from the ground up.
Even though the field of auto-mechanics was unfamiliar, Nakkia still dove in and seized the opportunity to make sure the shop was completely up to OSHA and MOSH safety requirements, all while fielding applications for the first group of Full Circle interns that would represent the six-month automotive prison reentry internship program. A motivational leader in her own right, Ms. Zaahir uses her high level of oral, written and interpersonal communications skills to advocate for matters concerning prison reentry.
Robert Taylor was born in Washington, D.C. and grew up in Prince Georges County, Maryland, a predominately African American suburb of Washington, D.C. This is where he gained valuable life experience that helped to develop his passion for serving his community as well as his personal understanding of urban issues.
Mr. Taylor is currently a Family Involvement Specialist in Nashville, TN with the Metro Nashville Public School (MNPS) system which serves over 85,000 students. Mr. Taylor was also the Program Manager for the New Life Program, a comprehensive Fatherhood program at the Metro Public Health Department (MPHD) of Nashville Davison County. The New Life Program was funded by a $4.5 million Federal grant charged with serving 500 fathers and their families per year from 2010 through 2013.
Mr. Taylor is a graduate of Fisk University in Nashville, TN (2000) with a degree in Biology. He later earned his Master of Public Administration degree from Bowie State University in Bowie, Maryland (2006). Mr. Taylor has worked in various areas of the public health field for over 15 years. He has coordinated the MPHD and MNPS car seat programs as a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician. He also worked as the Smoke Free Nashville Coalition Coordinator and as the Male Involvement Coordinator for the Music City Healthy Start program. He even worked as a food inspector for 3 years.
Robert is a devoted husband and father of seven who is passionate about providing fathers with the tools and support necessary to be the fathers that their children so desperately need. Robert volunteers his time every month to provide a new fathers workshop in partnership with Babies R Us.
Shomare Braxton is a devoted father and a lifelong resident of Baltimore, Maryland. His life’s mission is to help bring hope and opportunity to all of the communities and residents of Baltimore City. Shomare has worked toward achieving this goal through his 15-year tenure with the Department of Human Resources (DHR). During this time, he primarily worked with Baltimore City’s Department of Social Service Temporary Cash Assistance Work Program Unit helping some of the most vulnerable citizens of Baltimore City in obtaining self-sufficiency. While working at BCDSS his duties included assessing and assisting clients with the removal of barriers to employment, developing partnership with local business to provide work experience and employment opportunities and managing several different contracts with training providers.
Braxton’s life work not only demonstrates his unwavering commitment to breaking the cycle of poverty in Baltimore city, but also his investment to make an impact on a state and national level. The tenacity of his diligence and results driven performance can be seen in his role as the Workforce Development Coordinator/Youth Liaison within DHR’s Bureau of Workforce Development. Within the Bureau, he is responsible for workforce development programs oversight including supporting six Local Departments of Social Services (LDSS). Braxton supports the implementation and operation of Welfare to Work Programs (TANF, Non-Custodial Parent, and SNAP Employment & Training) which comprise an annual State budget over $22 million and serves thousands of participants each year. He has taken a hands on approach by providing technical assistance for the design, implementation, operation, and evaluation of local departments’ Welfare to Work Programs. Additionally, Braxton analyzes, evaluates, monitors and coordinates for local departments’ Family Investment Program monthly performance and annual plans to ensure compliance with Federal and State work participation requirements, appropriate allocations and expenditures, and specific program components and procedures that promote full engagement to move program participants to employment and economic self-sufficiency.
During his spare time, Shomare is an active member of the Striving to Empower People for Success Board. This is a statewide work experience initiative program for Temporary Cash Assistance customers whose mission is to inspire, nurture, and provide training in office development for future employment. He also participates in a multitude of educational and organized sports activities with his children.
Shomare graduated from Baltimore City Community College with an Associates of Arts degree in General Studies, and is currently in his final year as a Political Science Major at University of Maryland University College.
Barbara Linek began her career as an educator, teaching English to immigrant students from all over the world. Realizing the value of the relationships she built with the parents of her students, she left the classroom and moved into family literacy, where she could impact the future of the entire family. After completing a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership at Lewis University, she became the DuPage County Director for University of Illinois Extension, providing leadership for community education programs. When University of Illinois Extension became a partner in Family Bridges in 2006, Ms. Linek found her passion for its core mission: strengthening families. From personal experience, she knows that strong families are the foundation of society. She joined Family Bridges in 2010 and serves now as Event and Community Outreach Coordinator, sharing her passion for this work with others.
With the realization that it truly does take a whole village to raise a child, Chandra Pitts has dedicated her life to mobilizing “the village” and inspiring intergenerational leadership. Throughout her career she has been known for her passion, integrity and authentic voice of advocacy for marginalized youth and families in communities around the world.
Chandra began her life’s work educating youth in Jamaica whose families could not afford to send them to school. In 2008, she developed the largest school-based mentoring program in Delaware’s Christina School District serving 247 at risk youth in just eight months. In 2009, Chandra founded The Village Learning Center, a 2.1 million dollar federally funded academic based mentoring model. Designed to bring learning to life for underachieving students, this innovative program was adopted by the Department of Education in Delaware and New Jersey and has since been implemented into 42 schools throughout the region.
Chandra’s primary work takes a gender-specific approach to healthy youth development. One of the leading women in Delaware’s responsible fatherhood movement, Ms. Pitts’ leads the development of two nationally recognized initiatives focused on the healthy development of men and boys of color. Suitable Men engages young men and fathers in man-to-man mentoring, professional development and entrepreneurship training. Raising Kings supports the mental and physical health of African American boys. The goal is to change society’s prominent image and expectations of Black males by elevating the level of positive male engagement in the lives of boys. Chandra’s commitment also includes redefining womanhood and what it means to be a girl! “Girls Can Do Anything!” an explosive healthy girl’s initiative engaging more than 700 phenomenal females in a series of powerful forums cumulating in the annual “Girls Can Do Anything!” Conference. A large piece of Chandra’s work with girls is a father led series entitled, “Daddy’s Little Girl. The monthly get-togethers and school programs educate, empower, celebrate and uplift ALL girls through genuine connections to mentors, resources and opportunities that foster healthy development.
In 2012, Ms. Pitts was honored at the United Nations Global Women’s Empowerment Forum. She is the 2012 recipient of the NAACP Youth Impact Award. Chandra spoke about her work during an appearance on CNN Newsmakers and was recently featured among African American and Latino Leaders in Ebony Magazine. A University of Delaware Women’s Studies documentary depicting the personal narrative of Chandra Pitts won the Nanú Paloma Guerrero Award for Excellence and is now archived at the University’s Special Collections in the Morris Library. She currently serves as the Hispanic Chair for the Delaware Fathers and Families Coalition and was recently appointed by the Governor of Delaware to serve as the newest Commissioner on the Delaware Commission for Women.
A dedicated visionary and philanthropist, Chandra Pitts remains committed to propelling children and their families on a holistic journey toward excellence through education through the non-profit platform she created, One Village Alliance.
As a child, Charles Daniels, CEO and Founder of Fathers’ Uplift witnessed his mother’s struggles as a single parent. So, why is he focused on supporting low-income fathers? Because when Daniels thought about his father, he took an unexpected approach: “I thought about the things he was going through that prevented him from remaining active in my life,” he says. “Then I said to myself, ‘What if someone had been there to help him?’ It might have made a tremendous difference.” That’s exactly the sort of difference Fathers’ Uplift is designed to deliver. In his words, “If we can identify the problems that are preventing men from being in their children’s lives, we can find ways to help them work through those problems and remain engaged.” Charles’ mentor, Dr. Anthony Owens from Daytona Beach, Florida, dedicated his life to making sure he remained on the right track; “His commitment to making sure that the problems I had at home did not outweigh my success changed my life for the best. I remember his words: ‘Don’t let your negative determine your future—keep pushing.’” This is the same message Fathers’ Uplift was created to relay—and this same support and therapeutic relationship-building—to fathers in low income communities.
Charles holds a Bachelor’s degree from Bethune-Cookman University and a Master’s of Social Work (MSW) from the Simmons School of Social Work. Charles’s wife recently gave birth to a baby boy, Clayton Charles Daniels. Charles is a proud a father and husband with a mission that is deeply rooted in love.
Charles Dillon holds the position of Director of Workforce Readiness and Self Sufficiency with Anthem Strong Families Dallas. With the goal of improving opportunities for client self-sufficiency, he serves as a liaison among community-based organizations, governmental entities, educational and health care institutions, workforce development initiatives, mental health agencies, and private industry. He is responsible for the development and build-out of effective client services systems through leadership, administrative management, and the implementation of quality programming. Presently, he also oversees and ensures contract compliance involving case management and supportive services offered through partner agencies. In September 2012, he joined Anthem Strong Families in his present position after overseeing the service contract with Anthem Strong Families for two years with DOORS.
Previously, Mr. Dillon served as program director and COO for two other organizations servicing formerly incarcerated persons returning to society and their families through mentoring, workforce readiness training, housing assistance, educational/vocational referrals, support groups, and case management. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Public Policy and Administration, and a Master’s degree in Community and Agency Counseling. He is an offender workforce development specialist, a certified anger resolution therapist, LSCMI trainer, and a certified mentor trainer. His 30 years of career experiences includes probation and parole, corporate security, interview/interrogation training, client assessments, applicant screening, and program development for at-risk families.
Mr. Dillon has served in the role of speaker, facilitator, and trainer on many occasions for local organizations ranging from churches, community based organizations, and youth development programs to conferences hosted by Dallas County Community College District, U.S. Federal Probation, and Texas Workforce. In 2009, Mr. Dillon presented before the Texas State Legislative Committee on Strengthening Families in an attempt to secure policy changes involving divorce intervention. For five years and prior to defunding in 2011, he and his wife, Dianne, served as facilitators of a monthly pre-marital workshop funded through the State of Texas called Two-gether In Texas. He has been married to Dianne for 33 years and they are the parents of one son, Kevin, a graduate of Missouri University of Science and Technology. Mr. Dillon has been an active community volunteer serving at-risk youth for over 25 years in the role of mentor, coach, and advocate.
Gayle provides consulting for family engagement, responsible fatherhood and two-generation program approaches. She offers guidance to professionals and organizations to increase the significance of family education, community, school and parent engagement, school readiness, family literacy and early intervention and prevention. Her expertise includes cultivating collaborative programs and partnerships to maximize social capital and increase return on investment as well as creating promotion, recruitment and data management structures for successful outcomes and organizational growth. She’s called to speak at national family and relationship conferences, Head Start programs, universities, schools and community agencies. Her experience includes over twenty years of board and community involvement, family advocacy, program management, public speaking and training.
She currently has partnerships that includes one of the largest child development centers in Ohio and several family, parent, fatherhood, community and government agencies. Her PLI experience, training and the leadership network provides support with implementing workforce development and family financial literacy programming. As an initial PLI goal to expand and enhance her menu of services with families, Gayle’s involvement helps her provide greater economic stability and sufficiency to families and nurture their advancement.
Previously Gayle created, implemented and managed a successful multi-generation program federally grant funded program, Family Works that served over 700 families within four years. She trained and managed child instructors to deliver engaging social-emotional learning and self-regulation skills to children. Her and her husband co-facilitated a multiple format program that educated parents, fathers and couples on relationship and parenting skills to increase healthy and vital families and prevent the pathologies that impact the next generation of children.
She is a certified Nurturing Parenting Facilitator Trainer and Consultant, Nurturing Fatherhood Trainer and evidence based instructor for several relationship and abuse prevention programs. Additionally, she is a certified Mental Health First Aid Trainer.
Gayle holds a master’s degree and is an associate minister at her church. Her and her husband led the church couple ministry for over twelve years. Currently, they provide Christian centered classes, workshops, and training to churches and organizations, also.
Anthony Dickerson received his early education in Wicomico County, Maryland Public Schools. he furthered his education by attending Salisbury University and majored in Social Work. In 1990, Anthony Dickerson received his Bachelors of Arts (B.A.) degree in Theology from the International Bible Institute and Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Continuing his educational endeavors, Anthony Dickerson also graduated from the Maryland Institute of Employment and Training Professionals in Columbia, Maryland and received a national certification as a Global Career Developmental Facilitator from the Center for Credentialing and Education, Inc., in North Carolina and a state certification through the State of Maryland as a Business Service Consultant. He is a certified facilitator for the American Rising Star Leadership Curriculum. In October 2006, Anthony received his honorary doctorate degree in divinity from the St. Thomas Theological Seminary in Jacksonville, Florida.
Brian Clarke has coordinated STRONG Fathers – Maine’s premier father-focused parenting education program – for eight years, first at York County Community Action Corp in Sanford, Maine, and currently at The Opportunity Alliance in South Portland, Maine. Locally, Brian facilitates groups for fathers, works individually with fathers and their children, leads father engagement trainings for community service providers and agencies, and sits on the Practice Committee for Southern Maine’s Community Partnership for Protecting Children. At the statewide level he leaders the Fathers Engagement Project with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, and has collaborated with their training and policy team to integrate father-focused material int the new caseworker training curriculum. He is currently leading the organization of the Maine Fatherhood Leadership Council, a cross-agency, cross-discipline stakeholder working group that is exploring how current policy and practice invite or discourage fathers to engage in family strengthening behaviors.
After attending Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington as a Social Work major, Carrie Ann Baker spent 13 years traveling with a professional repertory theater company performing across the United States in theaters, schools, community centers, churches, and even prisons. Upon settling in Portland, Oregon, she began working with Northwest Family Services as a Family and relationship Educator, a perfect blend of her education and theater experience. Carrie Ann has helped develop many of the current workshop offerings in the Lasting relationships project of NWFS, and as one of the identified Best Practices programs by the U.S. Administration for Children and Families, has helped in reaching over 2,000 families annually. She has been a featured artist with a small gallery in the Sellwood neighborhood of Portland with her Batik work, a fabric art utilizing a process of waxing and dyeing cloth. Together with her husband, she can be found enjoying playing games with friends or singing the night away at Karaoke.
Founded Creciendo Unidos in 1995. Oversees the day to day life of the organization, develops and implements strategies to sustain and expand CU’s work and continues developing and improving prevention and intervention programs to support Latino families. Has a background in psychology and over 25 years of experience in the mental health field, working with families facing domestic violence, substance abuse and other needs that negatively impact the family nucleus. Her work with Hispanic families has gained national recognition as a best practice model.
My Hero is: I have many heroes, people that have transcended because of their devotion to a cause, that have fought and sacrificed their personal life so that the community as a whole could benefit for example Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez etc. Then there are people like my grandfather and my father that regardless of their needs they never stopped giving. My husband is also someone that is constantly seeking to help others and my mother always thinking of everyone else and all those individuals that are fighting to be better.
In my free time I love to: I like to read, to be with my family, playing racquetball… but particularly l love my quiet time, doing absolutely nothing.
Why I do what I do: It’s the only way I can live my life, I love life and I love to experience it.
One unique thing about me is: I have this weird internal chip where I’m always trying to solve things.
Jessica Jackson has worked at Alabama’s Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention since 2004. The Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention is the only state department whose sole mission is to prevent child abuse, and funds community-based programs across the state that provide classes and assistance to at-risk families. Jessica is the Program Manager for the Pathways to Responsible Fatherhood program, Community Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) program, and the Children’s First program. She is a single mother of a five-year old son, Darius. In the next five years, she hopes to open a group home for teenage boys. Jessica is extremely passionate about the topic of fatherhood, especially with teen fathers. She truly believes that with early intervention, we can prevent some the cycles of abuse, neglect, and absenteeism running throughout our communities.
Proud native of Fort Worth, Texas. Project Director of responsible fatherhood program, FACT: Fathers And Children Together. Graduate of Texas Christian University with Masters of Public Administration. Over 20 years experience in management level positions at Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County, American Airlines, City of Fort Worth, Tarrant County College, and ICMA Retirement Corporation. Currently serving as Project Director of FACT (Fathers And Children Together),HHS Pathways to Responsible Fatherhood grant with a 2.1 million dollar annual budget. Spearheaded the organization of the Tarrant County Workforce Board’s Fatherhood Initiative in 2000, now known as Fatherhood Coalition of Tarrant County with over 25 agencies as members. Fluent in Spanish and French with extensive international travel and work experience in France, Germany, Spain, England, Italy, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, the Caribbean and Hong Kong. Invited to White House “Champions of Change” event in 2012. Selected as 1 of 10 practitioners in the fields of Workforce Development, Responsible Fatherhood, and programs that impact boys and men of color for participation in 2014 Practitioners Leadership Institute Academy.
Quanna Fish is the Founder and CEO of Young Fathers Standing United; a 501 c3 organization that was formed in 2010. Mr. Fish is a Detroit native and father of two. He has been employed by Motor City Hotel & Casino for over nine years. Quanna is passionate about reducing the number of Metro Detroit children being raised without fathers. His organization’s mission is to educate, develop and support at-risk fathers under the age of 25.
Quanna discovered his passion working with at-risk black and brown males while employed as Youth Specialist at a local Detention center in 2004. Quanna was able to positively impact hundreds of young men passing through the system, ages 1-21. Quanna noticed a common pattern among all of the young males that confided in him, none of them had fathers or strong male figures in their lives! It was easy for Quanna to relate to many of the frustrations and disadvantages that many of the young males had faced. Quanna was also raised in a fatherless home and nearly fell victim to the negative outcomes that follow. he was a high school dropout, homeless, and sold drugs throughout the state of Michigan. He could have easily been in the same position those young males were in or worse; but by the grace of God he beat the odds!
Quanna was able to turn his life around, by obtaining his GED and attending Wayne County Community College for Criminal Justice. Quanna maintained a 3.7 GPA and obtained a certificate in Corrections, which eventually lead to him working in Juvenile Justice System.
Additionally, Quanna is a state certified HIV Prevention Specialist, QuickBooks Certified Specialist, and a certified 24/7 Dad Facilitator. Quanna is the winner of the 2013 Black Male Engagement (BMe) Leadership Award. He also received Detroit Spirit Award from Detroit City Council in 2013. He was able to inspire hundreds of at-risk males passing through the system with the testimony of his life, giving them hope and direction. In return, those same at-risk males helped Quanna find his purpose and passion in life!
As an emerging 21st century woman of purpose and passion, Shaunae Motley has been a champion for youth development and family strengthening for well over a decade. She is a senior-level executive with demonstrated success in transforming operational and cultural results. Having led multiple federal and state grant programs, she is also skilled in strengthening internal and external organizational capacities.
Before joining Quest, Shaunae was Chief Operating Officer of Future Foundation where she helped grow the once grassroots organization from a fledging entity to a multi-million dollar, nationally recognized nonprofit. She has also worked with Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Atlanta; the Boys & Girls Club of Bulloch County (Georgia); and the Bulloch County School System.
Outside of work, Shaunae volunteers her time with many community and faith-based service organizations. She serves on the Council on Accreditation’s National After-School Endorsement Team, Department of Juvenile Justice’s Atlanta YDC Advisory Council, and Lindsay Street Baptist Church Youth Ministry.
Ms. Motley studied Public Relations at Georgia Southern University and also holds a Graduate Certificate in Business Excellence from Columbia Business School. Shaunae strongly believes that it is the community’s responsibility to support effective change. She pursues her mission of public service through her many community revitalization and development projects. She enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her daughter, Sanaa Lauren.
With more than a decade of problem solving experience working with families and community, Shawn Gardner has developed a keen insight of how to analyze problems and develop practical solutions. As a community activist and fatherhood advocate, he has brought together various entities to improve communities and strengthen families.
As the founder of 2NOT1: Fatherhood & Families, he works to change how fathers interact with their children and their children’s mother. This effort is achieved through changing societal perceptions of fathers, paternal education and empowerment, and development of co-parenting strategies so children benefit from the love and support of both parents. Mr. Gardner’s belief is that through 2NOT1, he can “change the lives of children, one father at a time.”
In addition to working with fathers, he created a youth development program, implemented in various school districts, that teaches young black males to reconize and manage conflict in their lives and strengthen their decision-making ability.
Mr. Gardner earned his Ph.D. from Mississippi State University, and a Masters in Conflict Management from Sullivan University. He is a Leadership Louisville Bingham Fellow, a PLI Fellow and is author of his memoir, “Me vs. Me, Vol. 1: The Struggle Within.”
For over fifteen years Steven Pascal has been working in Massachusetts to improve the lives of young people. His experience has afforded him the opportunity to work in the areas of: higher and elementary education, specialized foster care, juvenile justice, workforce development, and currently child abuse and neglect prevention. These varied fields of experience have given him the chance to meet hundreds of young people at different stages in their lives, dealing with unique issues, as they transitioned into adulthood. This experience has also allowed him to learn from and work collaboratively with many local youths serving non-profits, state agencies, and on federally funded initiatives.
A transplant from Brooklyn, NY; Steven has been working directly with youth in Massachusetts since the mid 90’s while working on completing his Bachelors in Political Science from Salem State University. In 2008 he earned a Masters of Urban Affairs degree from Boston University during which time he began focusing on working with youth at a macro level. In 2007 he took on a position as a Healthy Families Massachusetts Program Specialist with the Children’s Trust. As a Program Specialist, Steven provides technical assistance and support to the twenty five Healthy Families young parent home visiting programs throughout the state. As a representative of the Children’s Trust, he continues to work collaboratively with local, state, and federal agencies to further the mission of preventing child abuse and neglect by strengthening families throughout Massachusetts.
Carl Chadband is COO at Kanawha Institute for Social Research & Action (KISRA) in Charleston, West Virginia. He has extensive experience developing partnerships between non-profits and federal and state agencies. Carl has managed employment programs targeting ex-offenders and non-custodial fathers, and has taught in Delaware and New Jersey public schools. He is a certified administrator and GED instructor, and has a M.Ed. from Wilmington University and a Bachelors degree from West Virginia State University.
Debora D. Taylor is Founder/President of the Taylor-Made International Institute in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where she has been an inspiring and integral leader in the human service field for over 25 years. With expertise in the areas of marriage and family enrichment, early childhood, responsible fatherhood, and Head Start, she is an inspirational trainer, who takes a proactive approach to everything she does. Debora has a B.S. in Human Services from Springfield. She is member of the International Professional Woman Network Speakers Bureau, a certified trainer and co-author of various published articles on these issues.
Guy Bowling is Program Manager of the FATHER Project at Goodwill/Easter Seals in St. Paul, Minnesota. He oversees as substantial grant funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families. Guy brings 19 years of experience working with low-income, unmarried, non-custodial fathers and fragile families. This year, he received the Ronald F. Johnson Award at the National Center for Strategic Planning and Community Leadership’s 14th Annual International Fatherhood Conference, and is to be inducted into the Spirit of Fatherhood Hall of Fame.
Kashaun Cooper is Founder/CEO of Fathers Rock Inc, a non-profit founded in Baltimore, Maryland that strives to rebuild families by helping children of incarcerated fathers. He also serves as Vice President of Teen Dads Fresh Start, another non-profit organization. Kashaun has led and initiated many male involvement programs, launched an annual back-to-school teen summit, and has written a popular book entitled “What If I Am – The Four Stages In Life” only a year after learning to read at a high school level.
Kathy Lambert is Co-Founder/CEO of the nonprofit Connections to Success in St. Louis, Missouri. She and her husband left the corporate world in the late 90’s to help economically disadvantaged families find hope and a pathway to achieving their dreams. Through their transformation model, thousands of families have broken the generational cycle of poverty, incarceration and addiction. Kathy has received numerous awards, including the 2012 Winning Women Award for Economic Development.
Katrina Johnson is President/CEO of Horizon Outreach, a non-profit in Houston, Texas that aims to increase self-sufficiency by providing supportive services and housing assistance to military veterans, non-veterans and their families through supportive services and collaborative efforts with public-private and federal partners. Prior to this, Katrina spent 17 years in the oil and gas industry as a finance project analyst managing multi-million oil and gas projects. She is a veteran of the United States Air Force and an Executive MBA graduate of Auburn University.
LaVar Young is President and CEO of Newark Now, a non-profit organization in Newark, New Jersey that provides residents with skills, tools, and support to transform their neighborhoods through grassroots community efforts geared at improving safety, economizing independence, and civic participation. Prior to this, LaVar served as Director of Fathers Now at the Newark Comprehensive Center for Fathers, where he was instrumental in bringing national attention to the organization’s exceptional outcomes with fathers in transition. In 2012, he received the Martin Luther King Visionary of the Future Award from the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and he has been featured on CNN’s Building up America, USA Today, and Man Up, a documentary on a Fatherless Nation.
Nathaniel Lett is the Building Strong Marriages and Relationships Program Manager for Beech Acres Parenting Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. He brings over 20 years of experience in social and community service, with expertise in responsible fatherhood and parenting. Nathaniel is recognized by the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center (NHMRC) as a leader in addressing common challenges in delivering services to African American and low income communities. He is a board member of the Ohio Practitioners’ Network for Fathers and Families and the African American Healthy Marriage Coalition of Southwest Ohio.
Ronald Nix is a Project Manager with the Maryland Department of Human Resources (DHR), Child Support Enforcement Administration. Previously he served as Program Analyst with the Office of Grants Management, where he monitored Responsible Fatherhood Demonstration Grants awarded by the State of Maryland through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Family Assistance. Prior to joining DHR, Ronald was employed with Prison Fellowship Ministries, and Neighbors Who Care Victims Ministry in Washington, DC, where he also served as Field Director for Maryland, District of Columbia, Delaware and West Virginia. Early on in his career, Ronald held positions as Case Manager for the D.C. Department of Corrections, Vocational Development Coordinator and Program Director of the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment Program in Northeast, Washington, DC. He is a graduate of the University of Baltimore and the Washington Bible College in Lanham, Maryland.
Vernon Wallace is Program Manager for the Baltimore Responsible Fatherhood Project at the Center for Urban Families (CFUF) in Baltimore, Maryland. He seeks to create and strengthen partnerships with other community based organizations, state agencies, area primary schools and local churches to strengthen awareness about responsible fatherhood challenges and needs. Prior to joining CFUF, Vernon was Program Coordinator of the Young Fathers’ Program in Anne Arundel County, MD, where he spearheaded effective public-private partnerships between multiple stakeholders, taking the program to new heights. Vernon holds a B.S degree in Telecommunications from Morgan State University.