Vice President, Bryson Gillette
Los Angeles Cohort
Alex Johnson has nearly 20 years of successful cross-sector experience working with policymakers, nonprofits, government agencies, and philanthropy to solve complex problems and advance change. Currently, he is a Vice President at Bryson Gillette, a minority-owned public affairs firm. Most recently, he served as Chief of Staff at the California Wellness Foundation. While at Cal Wellness, he also served as interim vice-president of programs and as a program director where he managed a broad portfolio focused on environmental justice, community safety, gun violence prevention, and youth justice. Previously, Alex served as Managing Director of Californians for Safety and Justice and as Executive Director of Children’s Defense Fund-California (CDF-CA). At CDF-CA, he led statewide policy advocacy, program, and organizing efforts focused on promoting educational equity, youth justice, and ending child poverty. Alex served as President of the Los Angeles County Board of Education and previously led education, youth development, and public safety efforts for a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. He began his career in New York City advocating for domestic violence victims as an Assistant District Attorney in Bronx County and previously clerked at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. Alex serves on the boards of Southern California Grantmakers, Trust for Public Land-California Advisory Board, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs Advisory Board, Urban Peace Institute, and the Wiley Center for Speech and Language Therapy. A graduate of Morehouse College and American University, Washington College of Law, Alex’s writings have appeared in Huffington Post, The Guardian, San Jose Mercury News, Sacramento Bee and other outlets. Alex and his wife Dr. Ashley Wiley Johnson, an author and speech pathologist focused on children and youth who have autism, live in Los Angeles with their two precocious children and their even more precocious cockapoo.
Executive Director, OneGoal Massachusetts
Amanda Seider is currently the Executive Director at OneGoal Massachusetts, where she works in partnership with schools, districts, and community leaders to ensure that all students have access to rigorous, culturally-relevant postsecondary planning and support. Amanda began her career at Teach For America (TFA) as a fourth grade teacher in southwest Atlanta, and then joined the staff as a leader of TFA’s early alumni organizing efforts. She went on to be a founding leader on the TFA Massachusetts team, which has become one of the largest pipelines for diverse teachers in the state. In her career of over 20 years in the education nonprofit sector, she has developed expertise in strategic planning, management, fundraising, talent, and communications. A Boston native, Amanda is from Dorchester, and a proud graduate of Boston Latin Academy. She is a first-generation college student, and holds an AB from Harvard College, and a master’s degree from Emory University. The focus of both degrees was in the field of Medical Anthropology, where she explored the racial and socioeconomic determinants of health, specifically maternal and infant health among Black women in the United States. Her graduate work focused on race and health in Brazil. Amanda also earned a certificate in Nonprofit Management & Leadership through the Institute for Nonprofit Management and Leadership at Boston University, now the Institute for Nonprofit Practice. In her civic life, Amanda has volunteered on several boards, most recently as board president of NextGen Talent, an organization that leverages labor market data to help historically marginalized communities make informed postsecondary decisions. She also sits on the advisory board of Teach For America Massachusetts, and has previously served as member and chair of the Board of Trustees of KIPP Massachusetts.
Senior Director, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, United Way for Southeastern Michigan
Andre Ebron is a nonprofit senior leader, entrepreneur, passionate educator, prolific speaker, organizer, and effector of change focused on advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion through his work in the southeastern Michigan community. Andre currently serves as an Elder at Kainos International Church, the Senior Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for United Way for Southeastern Michigan, as well as the owner and founder of Ebron & Associates and The Drawing Board Nation. His career includes various roles serving in the education, faith-based, and nonprofit sectors. Andre holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Criminal Justice from Tri-State University, a Master’s of Science in Organizational Leadership and Administration from Concordia University, and he is a Certified Diversity Executive. His heartbeat for community development and excellence in action not only led to his nomination for Administrator of the Year from the Detroit Public School Community District, but it also yielded him the Legend Award from Cornerstone Christian College Preparatory School as well as the Educational Leadership Spirit Award from the Rho Sigma Foundation. In addition to awards, his work and accolades led him to be featured in multiple forms of media, including the Journal Gazette Newspaper, the Herald Republican Newspaper, Crains Detroit Business, and the Michigan Chronicle. Andre was named to the Michigan Chronicle’s list of 2022 40 Under 40 honorees, recognizing his vast accomplishments and contributions to the community as a professional. He was recently acknowledged as a Community Champion by The Soul of Philanthropy, and his picture, among other awardees, was featured in the Detroit Historical Museum. Andre and his wife of nearly 20 years, Shalessa, are parents to two amazing children: daughter Christian Ebron and son Andre Ebron II. He is also proud to call himself a duly initiated brother of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Dr. Angela Griffin
Chief Executive Officer, Byrd Barr Place
Dr. Angela Griffin is the CEO of Byrd Barr Place, dedicated to building an equitable Washington through innovative programs and advocacy. She brings 30+ years of experience working with communities to advance racial and social justice. She has a reputation for building strong relationships and partnerships, inspiring teams to action, and crafting effective strategies to ensure children, youth, and communities equitably access all the available opportunities leading to successful life outcomes. She has been recognized for leading programs for young people, ages birth through young adulthood, for several nonprofit organizations, which includes leading the transformational work of increasing the graduation rate for youth experiencing foster care in Washington and scaling vital services to this population statewide. She has served as an elected official on a local school board and currently serves the Washington State Board of Education, setting policy for K-12 graduation expectations and academic learning standards. She also supports a variety of organizations as a board or committee member, including the King County Children & Youth Advisory Board, Child Care Aware of WA, Pathwaves WA, and the Woodland Park Zoo. Angela holds degrees in child development, human services, and educational leadership. She also has a doctorate in education and organizational leadership from Seattle University. She recently finalized becoming a Certified Life and Leadership Coach, through which she specializes in providing executive coaching predominantly to Black women working in or desiring to be in top leadership roles.
Antoine D. Jackson
Executive Director, MACC Development
Antoine D. Jackson, better known as AJ, stands as the dynamic Executive Director of MACC Development, a Christian community development organization with a resolute mission: the holistic revitalization of Detroit’s 48214 zip code, block by block and neighbor by neighbor. AJ’s enduring love for his community drives his lifelong dedication to its betterment. For over fifteen years, AJ has worked with unwavering commitment, steering transformative change for youth, families, and communities. Over the last three years, under his visionary guidance, MACC Development has championed initiatives addressing blight, youth development, housing, and economic empowerment within the 48214 zip code, striving tirelessly to create a more vibrant and prosperous community. In addition to his role as Executive Director, AJ is a six-time published author, sharing his profound insights and wisdom through his written works. His eloquent writing has touched the lives of many, both within and beyond Detroit. Beyond his literary pursuits, AJ also serves as a youth pastor, delivering programs and messages of hope and faith to his diverse congregation. AJ is known for his charismatic speaking prowess, captivating audiences with his ability to communicate and connect. His compelling talks on community development, faith, and personal growth have left an indelible impact on all who have had the privilege of hearing him. His influence extends beyond the pulpit, as he is also an active philanthropist, working tirelessly to create positive change in Detroit and other communities. AJ is more than an executive director; he is a visionary leader, a gifted author, a devoted minister, a captivating speaker, and a dedicated philanthropist. His multifaceted contributions to Detroit exemplify his unwavering dedication to unlocking the city’s full potential, while his literary and spiritual pursuits inspire and guide individuals near and far.
Chief Executive Officer, Tubman Center for Health & Freedom
AyeNay Abye was born and raised in Los Angeles. Their first basketball team was the Echo Park Bullets in 1990, which sparked a lifelong love for basketball. They attended college at UC Santa Cruz, where they studied with Dr. Angela Y. Davis, Dr. Tricia Rose, and Dr. George Lipsitz, graduating with a degree in American Studies. In their last year of college, they studied at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa, where they also played for the provincial basketball team. When returning to California, they spent five years leading educational justice youth organizing campaigns across the state. In 2009, they joined the Praxis Project in Washington DC, leading a national health justice organizing strategy called “Communities Creating Healthy Environments.” This initiative passed 57 local policies at the grassroots level to improve conditions for youth and families. They met their spouse through this work and moved to Seattle, WA. For the last 10 years in Seattle, AyeNay has been raising kids, supporting community-based solutions, obtaining their Masters in Public Administration, and launching the Tubman Center for Health and Freedom (Tubman Health). AyeNay is the CEO and co-directs Tubman Health with their spouse and founder, Danisha Jefferson-Abye, Chief Operating Officer. Tubman Health is an independent community-owned and operated premier health institution serving the Puget Sound region for generations to come.
Senior Director of Community Justice, West Coast Initiatives, Center for Justice Innovation
Los Angeles Cohort
Chidinma Ume is the Senior Director of Community Justice at the Center for Justice Innovation, a national nonprofit advancing a fairer criminal legal system. Ms. Ume oversees the Center’s technical assistance efforts that promote justice and meaningful collaboration between courts and the communities they serve. Based in Los Angeles, California, Ms. Ume also leads the Center’s operations on the West Coast. Since joining the Center in 2018, Ms. Ume has previously served as the Senior Advisor and subsequently as the Director of West Coast Initiatives as well as the Director of Policy. In these roles, she has overseen a range of consulting projects in the areas of jail reduction, alternatives to incarceration, criminal justice debt reform, community engagement, and racial equity, including through the Center’s work in the MacArthur Safety and Justice Challenge. Before joining the Center, Ms. Ume was a prosecutor at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and then became the Executive Director for Justice Operations at the New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ). At MOCJ, she led Mayoral initiatives to reduce the Rikers Island jail population and worked collaboratively with criminal justice system actors to make New York City’s system safer and fairer. Ms. Ume’s work contributed to 30% fewer people detained in New York City’s jail system. Ms. Ume received her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley and her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, where she defended clients in D.C. Superior Court and before the U.S. Parole Commission. Ms. Ume teaches restorative justice at Pepperdine Law School and serves on multiple committees that improve how the criminal legal system serves the people it encounters. In her free time, she is a professional event host (Master of Ceremonies) and enjoys quality time with loved ones and being outdoors.
Executive Director, Social Justice Learning Institute
Los Angeles Cohort
Derek Steele, a proud graduate of Morgan State University, is an experienced problem-solver who began his professional career as an electrical engineer at Northrop Grumman. He started his journey with the Social Justice Learning Institute (SJLI) in 2010 figuring out how to re-create local food access systems to solve health disparities and food insecurity in the Inglewood community and beyond. Under his leadership as the Health Equity Programs Director, he stewarded a team who has taught over 10,000 families in nutrition, physical activity, and urban agriculture, built 120 gardens in the community, began the Inglewood Certified Farmers Market, Inglewood Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA), and the Food for Thought Produce Pick-Ups. Since COVID, his team provided over 3M lbs of produce to the community. He and his team also significantly influenced the passing of three major state bills impacting food insecurity in the great state of California. During this time, SJLI was also experiencing growth and becoming a thought and movement leader in health, educational, racial, and social equity. In 2018, he was appointed Associate Director of Operations and Finance of the Social Justice Learning Institute to support the expansion of SJLI’s work and further develop organizational structures, protocols, and procedures. Now, as Executive Director, he is using his unique skill sets garnered over his 13 year career to lead SJLI through its second decade of impact and beyond as they solve the inequities that plague communities of color, particularly the Black community.
Dr. Jamall Pollock
Associate Dean of the College for Co-Curricular & Post-Graduate Opportunities, Brown University
Rhode Island Cohort
Dr. Jamall Pollock currently works at Brown University as an Associate Dean of the College for Co-Curricular & Post-Graduate Opportunities. In this role, Jamall collaborates closely with colleagues both within and outside of the College to develop and execute cohort-based learning opportunities for students from historically marginalized identities, with a focus on men of color. He also works to advance equity and access in specific programmatic areas within his portfolio, in close partnership with other advising deans and professional staff. Like all academic deans, Jamall also provides academic advising and support for undergraduates. Jamall is a licensed social worker in New York and Rhode Island who worked at Brown Counseling and Psychological Services for approximately eight years and also has a private psychotherapy practice. He has held adjunct instructor positions at Rhode Island College, Yeshiva University, Hunter College, and Columbia University. Jamall obtained his Ph.D. and master’s degree in Social Work from Yeshiva University, and he completed his undergraduate degree at Williams College. Before his work at Brown, Jamall designed educational programming for an out-of-school program focused on preparing New York City high school students of color for admission into selective colleges. He has also worked as a high school teacher, academic advisor, and athletics coach in NYC area schools.
James Armstrong III
President & Chief Executive Officer, Builders of Hope Community Development Corporation
James Armstrong III (J.A.) is a change agent focused on improving the economic conditions of historically marginalized communities. He currently serves as the President & CEO of Builders of Hope Community Development Corporation (BOHCDC) – a multi-faceted community development firm that focuses on creating pathways to economic mobility primarily through real estate and building thriving neighborhoods. Through his leadership, BOHCDC has emerged as a nationally recognized leader in affordable housing and community building, addressing the increasing demand for affordable housing while building over $30M in wealth for low to moderate income families. J.A.’s previous experience includes an extensive background in banking and finance at some of the top Fortune 500 firms like J.P. Morgan Chase and New York Life securities. His mix of corporate and community experience has led to serving on multiple boards and commissions, including the Housing Finance Corporation, Chair of the Sports Arena Tax Increment Financing District overseeing the distribution of a multi-million-dollar fund, and board member of the statewide agency Texas Association of Community Development Corporations. He also serves as a board member of BcWorkshop and the Trinity Park Conservancy CDC. J.A. also serves as a senior advisor to the Congressional Office of District 30. James is a proud graduate of Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business with a bachelor’s degree in finance. In 2017, James was awarded the Dallas Business Journal 40 Under 40 award for his accomplishments in business. James’ greatest role is serving as Lead Pastor of The Community Fellowship Church in West Dallas.
Executive Director, Dallas Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation
Jerry Hawkins is the Executive Director of Dallas Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (DTRHT), part of a national 14-place initiative by The W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Dallas TRHT’s mission is to create a radically inclusive city by addressing race and racism through narrative change, relationship building, and equitable policies and practices. Jerry is also a co-founder of The Imagining Freedom Institute (The IF Institute), a national research group that helps organizations and institutions understand the historical context to contemporary issues of place, race, and space. Jerry was formerly the Project Director of Bachman Lake Together for The Dallas Foundation and Zero To Five Funders Collaborative, an early childhood collective impact initiative in Dallas. Jerry is currently an Adjunct Professor at Texas Christian University, a City of Dallas’ City Plan Commission (CPC) Comprehensive Land Use Committee Appointee, and a National Collaborative for Health Equity Culture of Health Leadership Institute for Racial Healing Advisory Committee member. Jerry was a 2022-23 Independent Sector Bridging Fellow, a 2020-21 Presidential Leadership Scholar, a 2019 Leadership Arts Institute Fellow with Business Council for the Arts, a Dallas County Historical Commission Member, served on Dallas ISD’s Trustee-appointed Racial Equity Advisory Council and The Education Trust/ERS Resource Equity Working Group. Jerry also serves on the boards of Leadership ISD, Deep Vellum Books, AccessH2O, and Young Leaders, Strong City. Jerry has been awarded PBS/KERA’s American Graduate Champion in 2017, was a 2022 and 2023 nominee for “Best Community Leader” by The Dallas Weekly, and was selected as one of the “Dallas 500 Most Powerful Business Leaders in North Texas” in 2021 and 2022 by D CEO/D Magazine. Jerry’s first editorial offering, A People’s History of Dallas, will be published in late 2024 by Deep Vellum Books. While living in Chicago, Jerry worked for Chicago Urban League and Chicago Public Schools.
Vice President of Policy & Programs, Catalyst California
Los Angeles Cohort
John Dobard is the Vice President of Policy and Programs at Catalyst California. In this role, he helps drive the development and execution of the organization’s policy agenda and manages the strategic direction of programs. John previously led the organization’s Political Voice program, which he co-created to advance democracy reforms that empower low-income people of color to participate in policy decision-making. Through a collaborative approach, he built the program’s infrastructure and set it up for successes that include helping secure an unprecedented public investment of $187 million for census outreach in 2020, encouraging the City of Los Angeles to establish an Office of Racial Equity, and releasing the most up-to-date and comprehensive research on California’s racial disparities in political participation. Originally from the San Bernardino area, John attended Riverside City College and received a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles. He also earned a master’s degree and doctorate in political science from the University of Chicago. John currently serves on the executive committee of the Black Equity Collective and was recently appointed to California’s Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board.
Executive Director, Project Still I Rise, Inc.
Kevin Mondy is a dedicated and passionate nonprofit executive specializing in youth and community development. With over 20 years of experience working with LMI communities and families from diverse backgrounds, Kevin has become a champion for empowering and supporting the next generation. Throughout his career, Kevin has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to fostering positive change in the lives of youth and young college professionals. As the Executive Director of Project Still I Rise, he has successfully led multiple initiatives that provide educational, career, and personal development opportunities for students and parents. Under his guidance, the organization has expanded its reach, impacting the lives of thousands of young people through innovative programs and partnerships. Kevins’s expertise lies in strategy development and building strong relationships with stakeholders, including government agencies, community organizations, and corporations. His exceptional interpersonal skills and strategic thinking have allowed him to effectively advocate for the needs of LMI communities at various levels, ensuring the organization remains at the forefront of youth empowerment efforts. Respected as a credible voice in decision-making, finding strategic financing partners, and establishing governance boundaries, Kevin earns a seat at the table wherever he serves. Mr. Mondy serves on Comerica Bank’s Community Development Advisory Council for the Texas Market. On a personal level, Kevin is a proud husband and father. His advocacy for youth and community development is genuinely making a positive impact. Kevin’s mantra is a quote by Shirley Chisholm and Marian Wright Edelman: “Service is the rent we pay for living on this earth. It is the very purpose of life and not something you do in your spare time.”
President, The Providence Shelter for Colored Children
Rhode Island Cohort
Kilah Walters-Clinton is a dedicated mother of three and a wife of nine years. By day, she serves as the Director of Race, Equity, and Community Engagement for the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. She is deeply engaged in various other roles, including as the President of one of Rhode Island’s oldest independent charities, The Providence Shelter for Colored Children (PSCC). Kilah is recognized as an award-winning community advocate, an accomplished public speaker, and the founder of a consulting practice called Innovative Advising. She actively participates on multiple boards, such as the Rhode Island Red Cross, The Lincoln School for Girls, The Rhode Island Society of Human Resource Professionals (RISHRM), The President’s Council at Providence College, and the Rhode Island Foundation Equity Leadership Initiative Alumni Network. Her passion for advocacy and community engagement extends beyond her professional life. Beyond her roles, she is an enthusiastic foodie, an innovative thinker, and a skilled connector who enjoys gardening and music. Kilah’s diverse interests and experiences have shaped her commitment to making a meaningful impact on our community.
Kimberly R. Lyle
Chief Executive Officer, Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation
Kimberly R. Lyle is the Chief Executive Officer at Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation, a community development corporation (CDC) and community development financial institution (CDFI) in Boston. Prior to her work in community development, Kimberly worked in financial services, tech, and higher education. Kimberly holds a Master of Public Policy from Tufts University and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Rutgers University. She serves on the board of the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations (MACDC) and as President of the Board for the Cooperative Fund of the Northeast (CFNE). Kimberly is a proud native of the Roxbury neighborhood in Boston, where she currently resides. She is an amateur gardener, a mentor to college-bound teens and young professionals, and she is active in her community.
Dr. LaChelle Cunningham
Director, College Access, Southern Methodist University
Dr. LaChelle Cunningham is a dedicated advocate for the education and empowerment of those from underserved communities. She has been involved in the field of education, serving as an administrator in both secondary and higher education. She has a passion for serving students and collaborating within the community to increase postsecondary options for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Currently, she serves as the Director of College Access within the Simmons School of Education & Human Development at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. She is the Principal Investigator of eight Department of Education TRIO grants (Upward Bound Classic I, II, III, Upward Bound Math Science Stem & Soar, Educational Talent Search Lift & Launch, and the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program). Her other professional experiences include being one of the pioneers of the Project Dental Awareness program at Texas A&M University College of Dentistry, which continues to thrive from her leadership to provide students of color a pathway to dentistry and college. She has also served in leadership roles at The University of Texas at Austin as Director of UT Youth Engagement, as well as being the Dean of College Prep at Uplift Education where she spent 12 incredible years diving into and understanding college access at the K-12 level. As a culmination of her accomplished work experiences, she pursued and received her doctorate in Educational Leadership from Dallas Baptist University where she conducted a subgroup analysis of effective school practices and academic performance of Texas Charter Schools. She is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and she continues to support programs that focus on education, mental health, and awareness in the Black community, as well as the mentoring of young females for girl power! One of her favorite quotes from Maya Angelou that keeps her inspired is “When you learn, teach, when you get, give!”
Director, Detroit, Knight Foundation
LaTrice McClendon, a dynamic and influential leader in both the corporate and community spheres, joined the Knight Foundation in August 2023 to serve as Director of the Detroit Program. In this role, she spearheads Knight’s work aimed at supporting and nurturing a portfolio of projects that celebrate Detroit’s diverse culture and empower residents, and she is actively engaged in seeking innovative approaches to drive impact. With her wealth of experience spanning decades in both the public and private sectors, complemented by her lifetime residency in Detroit, McClendon has what it takes to uplift neighborhoods across the city. Previously, McClendon served as the market executive and community president of Detroit for Huntington Bank, overseeing a billion-dollar strategic community plan. Her focus on equitable outcomes in affordable housing, small business, financial literacy, and community lending has made a lasting impact on the city. Prior to that, she was appointed by the Mayor of Detroit to help promote community development and enhance the quality of life in various neighborhoods. In 2022, she was elected to the Detroit Public School Board, where she champions access to quality education for every child in Detroit. McClendon actively serves on several boards, including the Coalition for Temporary Housing (COTS), the Coleman A. Young Foundation, the Michigan Association of School Boards, and Black Leaders Detroit. She was also appointed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer to the Black Leadership Advisory Commission.
Executive Director, Turning The Corner Residential Treatment Programs, Jammat Housing & Community Development Corporation
Rhode Island Cohort
Lauri Smalls is the Executive Director of Turning The Corner Residential Program, overseeing six group homes for juveniles. She is also the Vice President of M.B. Management Co. Inc., a second-generation family-owned business located in Providence, RI, where she is blessed to work daily with her loving and supportive sisters. Lauri is a graduate of the University of Virginia at Lynchburg, graduating with a degree in Organizational Management and is currently studying at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary for her Master’s in Pastoral Counseling. Rev. Lauri Smalls was licensed to preach by Rev. Dr. Vincent L. Thompson, Jr. Pastor/Teacher of Community Baptist Church in July 1993. She was ordained as the Pastoral Assistance under Pastor Thompson’s leadership October 19, 2008. Rev. Lauri was installed as Transitional Pastor for Community Baptist Church in January of 2019, following the retirement of Pastor Thompson. She served in that capacity until September of 2021. She is a founding member of PTR Ministries, which launched in October 2021. She was recently voted as the pastor-elect of Union Baptist Church, New Bedford, MA, becoming the first female pastor in the church’s 126 years of service. Lauri enjoys singing and has sung with the local affiliate of the Harlem Gospel Choir, the Exult Choir, RPM Voices, the Jewels Choir, The Voices of Unity, and True Worship. She is treasurer of the Rhode Island Ministers Alliance and secretary of the Rhode Island Coalition for Children and Families. She has recently started acting with a local theater group at the Mixed Magic Theater in Pawtucket, RI. Lauri is the proud mother of two adult children, Lauren and Robert.
President & Chief Executive Officer, Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle
In February 2018, Michelle became the thirteenth President of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle. Her passion is combining her extensive sales, fund development, event planning, and marketing backgrounds to better the communities in which she serves. As a Los Angeles native, her dedication to the Los Angeles community and for being a voice for the voiceless led her to volunteer for the Los Angeles Urban League. Her role grew from volunteer to the first woman President of the Los Angeles Urban League Young Professionals and an active member of their board of directors, and a part of the National Urban League Movement. Prior to changing her career to follow her passion for advocating for African Americans and underserved communities, she had a successful career in sales and marketing with major organizations such as Starbucks, Heinz, and Coca-Cola. Ms. Merriweather is taking an active role in impacting her community. She serves on the board of directors for the Alliance for Education, KUOW, United Way of King County, MultiCare Behavioral Health Foundation, the Downtown Seattle Association, and is an inaugural appointee of the first Washington State Women’s Commission dedicated to shaping policy that directly impacts the women that call Washington home. Michelle is a proud active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and serves as the advisor for the collegiate chapter at the University of Washington. She is a proud graduate of the Xavier University of Louisiana, the nation’s only historically Black-Catholic University, with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing. In 2020, she was awarded two awards from the Puget Sound Business Journal: A Woman of Influence and a Puget Sound Power 100. In 2022, she received the Edwin T. Pratt Community Service Award from the MLKCC.
Executive Director, Senior Vice President, City Year Greater Boston
Born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, Monica is a proud graduate of Boston Public Schools (BPS), where she worked in an executive role with the last three superintendents and served a total of seven superintendents over a fifteen-year period. As a first-generation college graduate, seasoned district leader, and as of last year the adoptive mom of her 11-year-old nephew with a learning difference, she is proud to bring her professional and personal experiences to bear on behalf of Boston’s students. With over twenty years in public education, Ms. Roberts’s career includes executive-level positions with smaller suburban-urban school districts, and Peace First, a national nonprofit where she supported the organization’s growth strategy in Boston, New York City, and Los Angeles. Today, Monica serves as Senior Vice President and Executive Director at City Year Greater Boston, a role that allows her to have an impact that can be measured in child benefit. Monica’s spirit of service is evident in her professional and personal commitments. She serves on the board of the Boston Higher Education Resource Center, the Boston Education Fund, and Excellence for All STEAM School. She was appointed to the MA Board of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Racial Imbalance Advisory Council this year and is serving the first of a three-year term. She also is an advisor and consultant to several Boston-based BIPOC and woman-owned businesses. Monica holds two master’s degrees from Boston College, one in political science and the other in business management, and a Bachelor of Arts from Brandeis University. In her free time, Monica enjoys international travel and service trips, reading, taking classes, and spending time with friends and family.
Chief Executive Education Officer, University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business
Nicholas Hamilton-Archer serves as the Chief Executive Education Officer for the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. He came to Michigan Ross from Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, where he was Executive Director of Executive Education. Prior to this, Hamilton-Archer held leadership roles in the field of executive education at the University of Colorado, the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Graduate School of Business, and George Mason University’s School of Management in Fairfax, VA. Hamilton-Archer’s international record includes extensive experience in the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, and South Africa, where he managed strategic initiatives and partnerships and worked collaboratively with multiple government agencies, nonprofits, and private businesses. Hamilton-Archer earned both a Bachelor’s degree in Government and International Politics and a Master’s of Public Administration from George Mason University and additionally holds a Master’s in International Business from the University of Colorado Denver.
Nirva R. LaFortune
Executive Director, Senior Vice President, City Year Providence
Rhode Island Cohort
Nirva R. LaFortune is an accomplished leader with nearly twenty years of experience in education, government relations, public policy, community engagement, and service. Currently, she is the Executive Director of City Year Providence. Prior to this, she was the first Haitian American elected to public office in Rhode Island and served as a member of the Providence City Council. In 2022, she made history as the first Black woman and formerly undocumented person to run for Mayor in the City of Providence. During her time as a City Council member, Ms. LaFortune introduced the legislation that established the City of Providence COVID-19 Recovery and Resiliency Task Force, led the effort to design a framework and implement Providence’s first Mental and Behavioral Health Crisis Response Program, and advocated for social and emotional support in Providence Public Schools. Ms. LaFortune has an extensive background in education and has held various positions in higher education, such as academic advisor, administrator, and adjunct faculty. Throughout her career, she has developed initiatives to support and create pathways for students of marginalized identities. Equity is at the forefront of her advocacy efforts, and she has been instrumental in tackling issues like affordable housing and education disparities. Her leadership has been recognized widely, including as a Providence Business News 40 Under 40 honoree. Ms. LaFortune holds a B.A. in Communications from Temple University and a Master’s in Urban Education Policy from Brown University. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Outside of work, Ms. LaFortune enjoys running, hiking, and is an art, music, and food enthusiast who loves exploring the world.
Executive Director, Rhode Island KIDS COUNT
Rhode Island Cohort
Paige Clausius-Parks is the Executive Director of Rhode Island KIDS COUNT. Rhode Island KIDS COUNT is a statewide children’s policy and advocacy organization that works to improve the health, safety, education, economic well-being, and development of Rhode Island’s children, with commitment to equity and the elimination of unacceptable disparities by race, ethnicity, disability, zip code, immigration status, neighborhood, and income. From 2019-2022, Paige served as Rhode Island KIDS COUNT’s Senior Policy Analyst responsible for policy analysis, advocacy, and project management in areas related to education and economic well-being. Prior to joining Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, Paige served as Director of Advancement and Assistant Director for Books Are Wings and Teacher/Advisor at The Met Center. Paige advocates for the needs of Rhode Island children and families by testifying on budgetary investments and legislation to ensure children in low-income families, children of color, multilingual learners, immigrants, and children with disabilities receive the resources they need to succeed.
President & Chief Executive Officer, Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts
Rahsaan Hall is the President and CEO of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts. There, he leads the Urban League’s efforts to enable communities to overcome racial and social barriers that cause economic inequities, and are exacerbated by sexual and domestic violence, by creating employment and economic development opportunities. Previously, Rahsaan served as the Director of the Racial Justice Program for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, and prior to that, Rahsaan was the Deputy Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice. He also served as an Assistant District Attorney for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. Rahsaan also serves on the boards of the Who We Are Project and the Hyams Foundation and is an ordained reverend in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Rahsaan is a highly sought-after public speaker and has received multiple awards and recognitions for his work, including Boston Magazine’s Top Lawyers 2021, the Equal Justice Coalition’s 2019 Beacon of Justice Award, Get Connected’s 2018 GK100 Boston’s Most Influential People of Color, and Massachusetts Communities Action Network 2018 Carry if On Leadership Award.
Executive Director, Haley House
Reginald (Reggie) Jean is a Boston native and the son of Haitian immigrants. He has worked for the YMCA for the last 15 years. He has also held several volunteer leadership positions at the national YMCA. He served as the co-chair for the African American Resource Network, which helped cultivate leaders of color into leadership roles within the YMCA, and supported local YMCAs with strategic planning in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Reggie also helped lead the national YMCA in starting the work to become a multicultural anti-racist organization. Prior to Haley House, he was the Executive Director at the Pawtucket YMCA, and prior to that, he ran the operations at the Dorchester YMCA, where he started a cooking class for local teens among other nationally-recognized teen programs. Currently, Reggie is the Executive Director at Haley House, an organization that uses food with purpose and the power of community to break down barriers between people, empower individuals, and strengthen neighborhoods. They run a soup kitchen, provide affordable housing and nutritional cooking classes for youth, and support returning citizens from incarceration. Reggie was attracted to Haley House because his and the organization’s values aligned. He believes Haley House continues to be a pillar in the community when addressing social injustice, being a steward of faith and services to its most vulnerable communities, and using food as a vehicle. A foodie through and through, Reggie loves to dine out and cook in his spare time. He is family-oriented and cares deeply about his community.
Vice President, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas
Rodrigua is the wife of Dr. Iman Ross, and a mother of Asha, Azeem, and Ameer. In her free time, she is a shoe enthusiast and the Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas. She’s driven to be an advocate for people in under-resourced, marginalized, and access deficient communities. She is a strategist that aids organizations in embedding equity strategies into their operations. To that end, she has collaborated with government entities, public and private nonprofit agencies, and corporate partners nationwide to address issues such as institutionalized racism, increasing access in resource deficient communities, poverty, reducing social stigmas associated with certain populations, and the dismantling of inequitable systems. She holds a BA in Political Science from the illustrious Hampton University and an MBA with a focus on Strategic Leadership. She also holds certifications and is a national trainer and public speaker in courses with topics ranging from mitigating bias, finance and budgeting, diversity and inclusion, understanding cultural competency and bridging, program development, executive presence, business culture, executive coaching, and fundraising and philanthropic strategy. She is President and CEO of her own consulting firm called Dreaming Out Loud Inc. and has also partnered to establish a nonprofit based out of her hometown of Brooklyn, NY to support academic achievement among student athletes of color. But most importantly, she is just a Black girl from Brooklyn trying to make her mom, dad, and ancestors proud.
Director of Communication, Washington State Office of Financial Management
Stasha Espinosa is an award-winning public affairs executive in finance and a dedicated career public servant. She currently serves as the Director of Communication at the Washington State Office of Financial Management, where she supports the Governor’s Office with budget development and other vital state enterprise initiatives. Her achievements span from passing several health and employment laws in Washington to creating communication strategies for hard-to-reach populations. Distinguished as one of the few women of color to serve in both U.S. Congressional Chambers, she also held the title of Director of Legislative & External Affairs at the City of Seattle. Above all, the title she cherishes most is being a devoted mama to two girls under the age of four.
Founder, Greenwood Seneca Foundation
Los Angeles Cohort
Tamyra Gordon is a dedicated mom, wife, and accomplished nonprofit executive with 18 years of experience. Rooted in a deep connection to her family and ancestors, she views her work as a reflection of her legacy and those who came before her. With a background and formal training in marketing and education, she’s leveraged her skills to launch and lead national programs supporting job, business, and career access for people of color. Tamyra has held executive roles at prominent organizations, including Blavity, Year Up, and Rutgers, where she has made a significant impact. Tamyra is also a Public Historian, using her work to bridge the gap in how Black communities experience their history. She has been recognized and featured in prestigious platforms such as AFROTECH, Motivation for Black People podcast, Boss Ladies podcast, and Voyage LA Magazine. In 2020, she co-founded the Greenwood Seneca Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing joy and honor to the experience of Black history. Tamyra and her husband have launched “Your Legacy Tours,” which offers unique historical site experiences that celebrate the richness of Black heritage, starting with the pilot program at Travellers Rest Historic House Museum in Nashville, TN. As a Black woman with heritage spanning the US, the Caribbean, the Atlantic Ocean, and Africa, Tamyra Gordon’s work reflects her profound commitment to building bridges, celebrating heritage, and fostering empowerment in Black communities.
President, Math Corps
Passionate about empowering minds and transforming lives, Tiphany Pugh is a visionary leader with over two decades of experience shaping education organizations. Since June 2023, Tiphany has served as the President of Math Corps, a national network of college-based summer math camps whose primary mission is to build confidence in kids by loving and believing in them. Tiphany’s background in academic operations and her deep passion to bridge inequities through education will help to further Math Corp’s mission to use math to help underserved youth build good lives for themselves and a more just society for all. Before moving into her role with Math Corps, Tiphany spent over 20 years working with various educational organizations in operations and marketing roles. Most recently, Pugh served as the Senior Managing Director for Dorsey College, where she achieved many firsts for the organization, including tripling the campus size and, most importantly, tripling the number of students who reached their goal of attaining a new career each year. Prior to that role, Tiphany was the Chief Operations Officer for New Urban Learning, a charter management organization serving Northwest Detroit neighborhoods, and the Executive Director for Kaplan College in the New Center neighborhood of Detroit, MI. In preparation for this work, Tiphany earned her bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and completed her Master of Business Administration from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. That was also her original introduction to Detroit, MI, although it would be nine more years before she officially called it home. Outside the workplace, Tiphany enjoys spending time with her family, including two daughters, Aessie and Ailey, and husband Jonathan, as well as serving in her community as an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and her church.
Chief Executive Officer, Voices of Tomorrow
A native of Somalia and Kenya who moved to Seattle at the age of 13, Zamzam Mohamed has always been a dedicated activist for social justice and racial equity, especially for immigrant and refugee communities. She co-founded Voices of Tomorrow (VOT), an organization that partners with communities to address racial inequities in the early learning system. These inequities profoundly impact the growth, development, and academic success of immigrant and refugee children. Zamzam’s vision involves designing early learning programs that not only uphold a child’s cultural and linguistic heritage but also promote African indigenous parenting methods and community-centric narratives. In 2017, under her guidance, VOT inaugurated its pioneering Somali/English dual-language preschool program in Washington State, ensuring the preservation of the Somali language. Zamzam’s professional journey is a testament to her deep-seated love for amplifying community voices. She is unwavering in her commitment to delivering exceptional services to all children and fostering collaborations between immigrant and refugee communities. Her goal? To forge a unified voice that challenges and eradicates racial disparities in early learning. On numerous occasions, both locally and on a national stage, Zamzam has advocated for policy and regulatory changes to lessen the existing imbalances affecting immigrant and refugee children, their families, and their broader communities.