The inaugural cohort of INP’s Black Leadership Institute is joining us from around the country for both in-person and virtual sessions from January 2023 through June 2024 as we work to build a powerful network and community for change. Learn more about the Black Leadership Institute here and make sure you are subscribed to our newsletter to learn about more opportunities like this.

Meet the BLI Fellows

Alexis Coleman
Executive Director, Urban Scholar Academy
Los Angeles Cohort

Alexis Coleman is the Co-Founder & Executive Director, Urban Scholar Academy. She is a passionate and transformative educator that works tirelessly inspiring urban youth to strive for excellence. During her time as a classroom educator, Alexis developed & supervised social fellowship, awareness campaign activities, and corporate sponsorship programs that secured donations to fund annual events and programs for over 4,000 students, parents, and local community members. The honors and awards Alexis has received during her 18-year educational career exemplify her commitment to the community and education. Among these honors include being a recipient of the 2021 Super Bowl LVI Legacy Champion Award Program, 2021 & 2020 Los Angeles Clippers “Community Hero?” Award, 2020 Global Giving/Red Backpack Female Entrepreneur Award & 2020 Faithful Central Bible Church’s “Most Innovative Teacher” Award; she is also a 2019 Heah Girlfriend Network Business Entrepreneur honoree, a 2010 John Legend’s Show Me Campaign grant recipient, 2011 Seventy-Fourth Street Elementary School’s Making a Difference Award recipient and the 2007 AEMP Spirit Teacher of the Year award recipient.

Antong Lucky
President, Urban Specialists
Dallas Cohort

Antong Lucky, the founder and former leader of the Dallas 415 Bloods Gang, is the current President of Urban Specialists. At an early age, Antong, a talented & gifted straight A student, was forced to make a choice between having good grades versus his safety and wellbeing in his neighborhood. Unfortunately, he succumbed to a life of crime, gang violence and drug dealing that ultimately landed him in prison. However, in prison Antong denounced his gang affiliation, started to educate himself and began working to unite the rival gangs. Antong quickly rose to become one of the most respected and sought after mentors in prison. His teachings of conflict resolution and redemption taught fellow inmates how not to use violence as their primary language but instead practice peace and love. Antong has spent the last twenty years working to end violence & build equity in communities by training traditional and non-traditional changemakers across the country to effectively show up in communities and also mentor youth away from a life of gangs, crime and violence. Most recently Antong trains police officers on effective community engagement strategies. Antong believes in Redemptive Activism, a term he coined in his book, A Redemptive Path Forward, the belief that the object of our activism must be entitled to change we are seeking to make.

April Allen
President & COO, Southern Gateway Public Green Foundation
Dallas Cohort

April Allen is the President and COO of the Southern Gateway Public Green Foundation. She is leading the development of the Southern Gateway Park, a “park with a purpose” currently under construction over Interstate 35E adjacent to the Dallas Zoo. It is an historic infrastructure investment that will knit West and East Oak Cliff back together and catalyze transformation in Southern Dallas. Her deep Oak Cliff community roots, business acumen, and nonprofit leadership successes make her the ideal leader for the organization at this critical time. April has provided organization, strategy and management consulting to emerging businesses across the for-profit and non-profit sectors. In a prior role, April served as the founding executive director of KIPP DFW, a college-preparatory charter school management organization serving students in southern Dallas. Other professional experiences include strategic planning for Virgin Unite, the non-profit foundation of the Virgin Group, founded by Richard Branson, retail planning and buying at Neiman Marcus Group, marketing and advertising sales support at Fortune Magazine and management consulting at A.T. Kearney. April received a B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Waterloo and an M.B.A from Harvard Business School. She is an alumnae of Leadership Dallas and The OpEd Project through the Texas Women’s University Public Voices Thought Leadership Institute, where she published editorials with local and international media. April was named one of Dallas’ 30 Most Interesting People by the Dallas Observer in 2012. She is a native of Toronto, Canada and has happily made her home in Oak Cliff for over 15 years. She and her husband Sean are active members of the Concord Church of Dallas, TX and proud parents of their sons, August and Ellis.

Carlon Howard
Chief Impact Officer, The Equity Institute
Rhode Island Cohort

Carlon is the Chief Impact Officer and Co-Founder of Equity Institute. In his role, he leads organization-wide strategic and operational planning, ensuring EI’s vision is realized through clear prioritization and high-impact operational execution. In addition to helping launch the Equity Institute, he also co-founded re*generation (formerly EduLeaders of Color R.I.). Now an initiative of the Equity Institute, re*generation hosts monthly meetups designed to support education leaders from underrepresented backgrounds. Before entering his current role with Equity Institute, Carlon was executive director of Breakthrough Providence, served as a City Year AmeriCorps member and Impact Manager, was a classroom teacher, and was a policy fellow for a former Colorado Senator. He graduated from the University of Georgia with undergraduate degrees in criminal justice and political science and completed his graduate degree in education from Rhode Island College. He also earned a graduate certificate in nonprofit management and leadership from the Institute of Nonprofit Practice, in affiliation with Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life. Additionally, he completed formal training as a leadership and performance coach. Outside of his full-time work, Carlon is an adjunct instructor at College Unbound.

Charles Carter, Jr.
CEO & Head of School, Beacon Academy
Boston Cohort

Dr. Carter has committed his career to improving social and economic justice for Black and Brown communities and has more than 20 years of experience working with children and families with few resources and limited access to power and privilege. He approaches this work with equal parts curiosity, humility, passion and humor, aiming to positively impact the systems and organizations that work on behalf of vulnerable populations. He is currently CEO & Head of School at Beacon Academy, an organization committed to the equitable education of Boston’s bright and determined students of color. Before joining Beacon, Dr. Carter was a Founding member of the leadership team for Project Evident, a national organization focused on helping not-for-profit organizations and philanthropic foundations harness the power of evidence to achieve greater impact. He also co-created and led a virtual learning program for practitioners and leaders called a Talent Accelerator. Similarly, Dr. Carter designed and piloted the Data & Evidence Equity Guide, a tool to integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion principles into evidence building. Prior, he served as Deputy Director and Chief Strategy Officer at the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, where he created a learning strategy and built the capacity of individuals, organizations, and systems to drive and scale innovation. Dr. Carter is currently a Trustee for the Foundation for MetroWest and has been an Adjunct Faculty member at Boston College Graduate School of Social Work and guest lecturer at Harvard Graduate School of Education and Simmons College Graduate Schools of Management and Social Work. He earned his master’s degree in Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his Ph.D. in Social Work from Boston College. He lives in the MetroWest area with his wife Robyn and their two children.

Charmane Higgins
Executive Director, Trinity Boston Connects
Boston Cohort

Charmane Higgins serves as the Executive Director of Trinity Boston Connects. Charmane attended Boston Public Schools and graduated from Boston Latin School. She earned a BA in Classical Civilization from Wellesley College, a Master of Arts in Latin from the University of Texas and an MBA from Simmons School of Management. She began her career as Coordinator of Diversity Education at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas before returning to Boston where she joined the Boston Private Industry Council and became Assistant Director, Operations. Charmane went on to STRIVE, a social justice nonprofit focused on young adults in Boston, as Deputy Executive Director in 2005 and served as Executive Director from 2008-2017. She has most recently been a consultant to nonprofit organizations and since 2010 has been a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Nonprofit Practice where she mentors a cohort of emerging nonprofit leaders of color. Charmane is a Past Chair and member of the Board of Trustees of Boston Latin School Alumni Association and a former board member of the Mass Nonprofit Network. She also serves as a tutor at School on Wheels, a nonprofit that provides educational support to Massachusetts students experiencing homelessness.

David Noguera
Director, Housing & Neighborhood Revitalization, City of Dallas, TX
Dallas Cohort

David Noguera is a housing and community development professional with 21 years of experience developing housing policy, administering programs, assessing and troubleshooting program implementation issues and advising government officials and representatives on housing. As Director of Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization for the City of Dallas, David developed a pipeline of more than 12,000 units of mixed income housing, deployed a racial equity lens for neighborhood revitalization and generated new revenue streams to support the City’s housing production goals. Prior to Dallas, David oversaw the development of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and managed it at the U.S.Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington DC for six years. He later developed an audit resolution division for HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development, where he negotiated settlements on Office of Inspector General audits of states, local governments and nonprofits. Along his career, David analyzed housing policy for Freddie Mac, evaluated federally funded programs for the U.S. Government Accountability Office and nonprofit investments for the New York Empowerment Zone. David is married to Lisa Noguera and together they have two children, Kaiya and Reece.

Ibn Hashim Bakari
Founder & President, Lights & Sirens International
Rhode Island Cohort

Ibn-Hashim Bakari has spent several years in law enforcement as a juvenile correctional officer, Police Action Control Concepts (PACC) Training Instructor, Anger Management & Domestic Violence Instructor, and RIDOT Inspector. A Proud member of the Rhode Island Minority Police Association (RIMPA) & Associate member of the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers Inc. (NABLEO) over the last 20 years, Ibn founded Lights & Sirens International (LSI) in 2009, hosting an International basketball tournament for law enforcement and public safety personnel with the mission of addressing the mental health of public safety personnel and helping those less fortunate in the Dominican Republic with essential needs. In 2020 LSI started to remedy the long-standing damaged relationship between law enforcement and the minority community with a Bocce Ball Community Outreach Program. The overall project design of interaction is community-based, increases accountability for all, acknowledges the impacts of attitudes and egos towards individuals, and generates greater confidence in everyone’s de-escalation skills. This format has improved communication, relationships, and leadership for individuals in crisis and ensures population safety. Ibn-Hashim also serves on the University of Rhode Island Athletic Advisory Board as a policy review board for all athletic programs. Advises and reviews fiscal, educational, and social policies affecting all athletic programs. Makes recommendations regarding the level of competition and nature of intercollegiate schedules. Serves as liaison to the President on issues regarding championships and tournaments during the final examination period.

Jonathan Sandville
President & CEO, African American Board Leadership Institute
Los Angeles Cohort

Jonathan Sandville is a dynamic and results-oriented leader with two decades of experience and a strong track record in developing corporate partnerships, leveraging venture philanthropy, and structuring opportunities that blend public, philanthropic, and private support. As President and CEO of the African American Board Leadership Institute (AABLI), he is responsible for leading and scaling AABLI’s geographic footprint nationally, while providing solutions and training opportunities for corporations, grant makers, nonprofit organizations, and government entities. In previous roles, he managed a $15 million grant-making portfolio at the Ford Foundation and served as Executive Director of the Educational and Scholarship Fund at the City University of New York (CUNY). His background also includes senior leadership at the National Urban League, where he was responsible for managing strategic alliances between the League’s national partners, and at Liberty Science Center, where he also served as Vice President of Development. Sandville’s work on equity-related issues led to an appointment as Chief Development Officer for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF). At LDF, he raised millions to help expand democracy and achieve racial justice. As Chief Development Officer for GLAAD, Sandville worked to promote and ensure fair, accurate, and inclusive representation (across all forms of media) to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. He led a team whose fundraising efforts leveraged more than $10 million annually and generated $4.8M in new business development through marketing and branding partnerships with Walt Disney, Wells Fargo, NBCUniversal, American Airlines, AT&T, Neiman Marcus, Lexus, and UBS. Sandville earned an Ed.M. in international educational development from Columbia University, an M.A. in international economics from the University of Ghana, and a B.A. in political science from Clark Atlanta University.

Kerry Bowie
Executive Director, Browning the Green Space
Boston Cohort

Browning the Green Space Co-Founder, President, and Executive Director Kerry Bowie has 25 years of experience in private, public, and nonprofit management. Kerry previously served as Director of Environmental Justice at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) in both the Patrick and Baker Administrations, and worked as a manager in Facilities Environmental, Safety, and Health at Texas Instruments Research & Development Fab in Texas (Dallas). He grew up in a fenceline community in Alabama (Anniston). In addition to leading BGS, Kerry serves as Managing Partner at Msaada Partners, a Boston-based consultancy providing technical assistance to promote entrepreneurship in communities of color. Kerry also co-founded the Majira Project to address the lack of diversity in the traditional entrepreneurial ecosystem and the disparity in resources available that Kerry observed while working in various entrepreneurship programs across Boston. Kerry holds an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management as well as an MS in environmental engineering from University of Michigan and a BS in environmental engineering from MIT.

Lisa Fortenberry
Executive Vice President, Camp Harbor View
Boston Cohort

Lisa Fortenberry is one of Boston’s most established, innovative, and inspiring leaders in the youth development field, bringing nearly 25 years of experience to her role as Executive Vice President of Camp Harbor View. Before joining Camp Harbor View, Lisa held various leadership positions at City Year Inc. and Scholar Athletes. In these roles, Lisa developed and scaled a variety of student support programs that supported thousands of young people on their path to graduation and post secondary success. At Camp Harbor View, Lisa has led the effort to transform the organization from a summer camp to an organization that provides a vast range of wraparound support for young people and their families. The organization has developed year-round leadership development, college and career access and family support programs for nearly 250 young people and the adults in their lives. Furthermore, the organization has developed and launched several programs to address economic stability and mobility for families, including one of the most extensive privately-funded guaranteed income programs in the United States. The depth and breadth of her investment in the success of Boston’s young people is also evident in her community ties. She is a Founding Trustee Member of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Charter School, an ACA New England Board Member, and has participated in several community initiatives over the last decade. Lisa also served as a Senior Fellow for the Institute for Nonprofit Practice. Lisa is an alumnus of Bridgewater State University and a graduate of UMass Boston’s Emerging Leaders Program and the American Express Non-Profit Leadership Program. Lisa is a resident of Quincy with her husband Stephen and their two sons, Myles and Malik.

Lisa Ranglin
President & CEO, Rhode Island Black Business Association
Rhode Island Cohort

Voted one of Rhode Island’s most powerful and influential women by Rhode Island Monthly Magazine and Rosa Parks Award recipient from NAACP Providence, Lisa Ranglin is the Founder/President & CEO of the Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA), and a sought-after professional who brings over 20 years of corporate experience in risk management, change and project/program management. A graduate of Johnson and Wales University with a master’s degree in Human Resource Management, and a bachelor’s Science in Computer Programming Technology from New England Technology College, Ranglin is a Certified Executive Coach, Certified Project Management Professional with a Six Sigma Green Belt. Lisa has spent much of her career helping business leaders and small businesses improve performance and increase profitability. Having knowledge of the leadership gap, she works tirelessly to ensure RIBBA becomes a model for what intentional work, paired with impactful and persistent leadership, can accomplish as we work toward more significant social equity and economic advancement. Lisa has led large complex, multi-year, multi-million-dollar projects with emphasis on technology, regulatory compliance, process improvement, and organizational change management initiatives. Among her many qualities is her ability to identify growth opportunities and to influence teams, partners, and the community to work creatively to implement solutions that lead to economic growth and sustainable development. Lisa dedicates all her work to her beloved parents, Mavis and Eric Ranglin, who instilled in her the values of hard work, honesty, integrity, and love for others.

Michele Broadnax
President & CEO, Los Angeles Education Partnership
Los Angeles Cohort

Michele Broadnax joined LAEP as chief executive officer in January 2019, bringing with her over 30 years of experience in successfully designing and implementing fundraising, public relations, and program development initiatives for nonprofit, for-profit, and public institutions. Prior to joining LAEP, Michele worked as a consultant for the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE), San Bernardino City Unified School District, and the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools, as well as several local nonprofit organizations. Throughout her tenure with other organizations –most notably Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles, Child 360 (formerly LAUP), and Fontana Unified School District– Michele has built and refined a robust fundraising and advancement skill set that includes business development, public relations, program development, and strategic planning practices. Michele earned her B.S. degree in management from Azusa Pacific University and her MBA from Claremont Graduate University, with emphases in management, strategy, and leadership.

Nakia Douglas
Executive Director: TRIO and Pre-Collegiate Programs, University of North Texas at Dallas
Dallas Cohort

Nakia Douglas is the Founding Executive Director of TRIO and Pre-Collegiate Programs at UNT – Dallas. In this role, he works collaboratively with members of the University, School Districts, Business and Local Community to create engaging, nontraditional educational experiences for students throughout the DFW area. Prior to his current work, he served as the Executive Director of the South Oak Cliff Feeder Pattern in Dallas ISD. Additionally, Nakia was the Founding Principal of The Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy. A twenty-five year (K-16) Educator, he has served students and communities from North Carolina, Georgetown, Pflugerville and Dallas, Texas as a Teacher and/or Administrator. Within his spare time, he serves the community on various boards and committees. Nakia has received several recognitions for his work in education including the KERA – American Graduate Champion, SMU Luminary Award, Trailblazer Awards, Dallas ISD Magnet Principal of the Year and D CEO Dallas 500 (2021 & 2022). Nakia graduated from Lincoln High School in Dallas ISD, received his Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Livingstone College and Masters in Instructional Technology from Houston Baptist University. He and his wife, Gloria, are both career educators and have two children.

Nadine Dechausay
Director of Learning & Insights, Communities Foundation of Texas
Dallas Cohort

Nadine Dechausay is CFT’s Director of Learning and Insights. Drawing on her career as an evaluator, she is responsible for building out a learning function that tracks the results of foundation investments, mobilizes knowledge in service of strategy, and builds evaluation capacity within the social sector. She is committed to storytelling to advance collective understanding of implementation experiences and helping leaders use data and evidence for continuous program improvement. Nadine previously oversaw grantmaking for the W.W. Caruth Jr. Fund at CFT, introducing new practices focused on equity, transparency and using design to support social innovation. Nadine continues to serve as a contact for organizations working in restorative justice, diversion and re-entry, education, racial equity, and initiatives related to social connectedness and belonging.

Prior to joining CFT in 2018, Nadine was a senior research associate at MDRC, a national social policy research firm, where she directed the Center for Applied Behavioral Science and managed several national and local evaluations. She has published implementation research findings and spoken widely on topics related to behavioral economics, incentives and evidence-based policymaking. She is an expert in design thinking who has helped nonprofit leaders innovate by applying behavioral insights and leveraging new technologies.

Nadine is A.B.D. in sociology at New York University. She holds a J.D. with honors and master’s degrees in criminology and applied psychology from the University of Toronto. She holds bachelor’s degrees in education and human biology from Brown University.

Natanja Oquendo
Executive Director, Boston Women’s Fund
Boston Cohort

Natanja Craig Oquendo (she, her, hers) has a deep passion for grassroots organizations and over 20 years of Non-profit experience with the majority of her professional career being spent in the philanthropic sector. Natanja is the Executive Director of the Boston Women’s Fund (BWF). Founded in 1984, BWF is a leader in supporting community-based grassroots organizations and initiatives led by women, girls and gender expansive individuals with the least access to resources working to achieve racial, economic, and gender justice in Greater Boston and beyond. Prior to BWF, Natanja used her grit, passion and personal life experience to help define and shape the Boston Foundation’s Grassroots Strategy, a unique strategy she built from the ground up. Natanja is also responsible for reimaging the Boston Neighborhood Fellows initiative, a leadership program for grassroot leaders of color, and conceived the Women of Color Leadership Circle, a unique program focused on providing a culturally competent experience that centers the needs of women and gender expansive individuals of color. Natanja believes in a philanthropy which seeks out leaders making positive changes in their communities and centers their knowledge, expertise and solutions. At the core of Natanja’s work and beliefs is the concept “do nothing about me without me.” Natanja is committed to working in partnership with the full diversity of our communities particularly *women+ and girls of color (*those who identify as women, nonbinary and/or genderfluid) and the LGBTQIA+ community to build a better future for everyone. She believes in giving back by sharing her knowledge and expertise to create positive change within the communities of color. She is a Board Member of Harvard’s Phillips Brooks House, Philanthropy Mass, and is on the Leadership Council of the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School as well as an advisor to Everyday Boston.

Ronnie Thomas
Director of Addiction Medicine Services, County of Los Angeles Dept. of Health Services
Los Angeles Cohort

Mr. Ronnie E. Thomas II, MPA is the Director of Addiction Medicine Services for Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, Correctional Health Services (DHS-CHS). DHS-CHS is the nation’s largest county-run correctional health system with a focus on social justice medicine, compassionate whole-person care, community partnerships, and professional growth. Mr. Thomas provides administrative and programmatic oversight of the in-custody substance use disorder treatment services which include cognitive behavioral therapies and medication assisted treatment for DHS-CHS patients who are housed in the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department (LASD) jail system. These programs at LASD facilities provide medically necessary, evidence based, and culturally competent support for in-custody individuals to enable successful reintegration into the community as well as linkages to community-based treatment upon release. As the Director of Addiction Medicine Services, Mr. Thomas, assists the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) in the development, administration, and coordination of the in-custody Addiction Medicine Services (AMS) programs. This includes supervision, planning, and evaluating the work of multi-disciplinary teams and managing an annual operational budget of thirty million ($30,000,00.00) dollars. Mr. Thomas has been an employee of Los Angeles County for 16 years in multiple capacities within human services. Mr. Thomas recently served as the Co-Lead for the Department of Health Services Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Anti- Racism initiative. Mr. Thomas was born and raised in the South Los Angeles community. He is the eldest of three. Understanding the value of education, Mr. Thomas graduated with a dual bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and Psychology from the University of Houston as well as a Master of Public Administration from California State University-Northridge. Also, Mr. Thomas is a proud brother of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated.

Shawndell Burney-Speaks
Executive Director of AAAG/Sr. Advisor to Mayor Jorge O. Elorza
Rhode Island Cohort

Shawndell Burney-Speaks, is a Native of Providence, RI. She is a wife & mother of 2 biological children, Devin Burney, who passed away at 22 due to gun violence on July 1, 2017, & Daveena Burney, 20. Shawndell currently serves as the Sr. Advisor to Mayor Jorge O. Elorza in the City of Providence. She is the Executive Director of the African American Ambassador group, which brings about social justice reform and change. Shawndell is a Certified Life Coach and creator of S.Burney-Speaks Life where she specializes in providing coaching services for individuals and groups. Shawndell understands the daily struggles of those in her community, through her own life experiences. Shawndell is passionate about Coaching & Public Speaking and has been invited to speak on platforms both large and intimate. She was a featured speaker at TEDX Prov 2017. As a Coach, she specializes in relationships of all kinds, Love, Family, & Spiritual. She facilitates workshops throughout the New England area, and New York. She has collaborated with other women in the community, co-hosting workshops and events because as women of Color “We Do Stick Together.” She has sincere passion and desires to see people grow individually while helping them realize that dreams can very well be a reality. Shawndell is committed to taking back her community and will not stop even with the biggest possible adversity and loss in her and her family’s lives. Six months after her son’s death, she became the Founder of Corporate Prayer New England, (CPNE) has prayed over the city of Providence for a little over 5 years on the 1st Monday of every month with members as well as the Faith community. Their efforts have changed murder rates in Providence drastically.

Starr Thompson
Chief People & Administrative Officer, Nonprofits Insurance Alliance
Los Angeles Cohort

Starr Thompson, a Six Sigma Black Belt in Human Resources, currently serves as Chief People and Administrative Officer (CPAO) for Nonprofits Insurance Alliance (NIA), a nonprofit company based out of Santa Cruz, California, whose purpose is to serve and insure the 501(c)(3) community. In her current role, Ms. Thompson is responsible for leading NIA’s overall human resources strategy, talent acquisition, leadership development, JEDI strategy, organizational design, and cultural development. As CPAO, she has changed the function, culture, and impact of HR across the Company to support its business goals and strategies as well as the needs and aspirations of its employees across the United States. Previously, Ms. Thompson served as Vice President of Human Resources for Fitness Club Manager, Director of Human Resources at The Medical Group Executive Services, and Human Resources Manager at Lemonade Restaurant Group, in which she had responsibility for all human resources related services for each organization, including employee/labor relations, diversity equity and inclusion, compliance, recruitment, talent planning, learning and development, organizational development, compensation, benefits, and workforce planning. She has led teams focused on developing and implementing strategies that drove business results, and created positive work environments and experiences for Executive Board Members, employees, and customers. Ms. Thompson currently sits on the Board of Directors for Maternal Mental Health Now, based out of Los Angeles, California. She enjoys spending time with her family, reading, listening to music, mentoring up-and-coming HR professionals with whom she shares her knowledge and passion for Human Resources, and advocating on behalf of Black women and girls by empowering, strategizing and positioning them to understand their why and how to win.

Weayonnoh Nelson-Davies
Executive Director, Economic Progress Institute
Rhode Island Cohort

Weayonnoh Nelson-Davies is the Executive Director of the Economic Progress Institute, a nonpartisan research and policy organization dedicated to improving the economic well-being of low- and modest-income Rhode Islanders. She was previously the managing attorney of Community Legal Aid’s (CLA) Worcester County offices, where she supervised several special projects including the Asian Outreach Project, the Medical-Legal Partnership pro bono project, the CORI/Reentry Project, and the Veterans Legal Assistance Project. She also co-chaired CLA’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. She started her legal aid career over 14 years ago as a Bart Gordon Fellow at South Coastal Counties Legal Services focusing on the cumulative effects of structural racism on communities of color. She specializes in general poverty law, medical-legal partnerships, public benefits, and housing law. She has served as a small group faculty and capstone project mentor of the Patient Care in Complex Systems Gateway Program at Brown University Medical School and taught a civic engagement law-based course as an adjunct professor at the Community College of Rhode Island. She is a proud alumna of the Rhode Island Foundation’s inaugural Equity Leadership Initiative, Leadership Worcester, the Shriver Center’s Racial Justice Institute, and City Year Rhode Island. She received her Juris Doctorate from Roger Williams University School of Law and undergraduate degree from Rhode Island College.

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