GATHER Alumni Directory

Welcome to the Global Alumni Network!  We invite you to meet your peers from across the global community of practice.


Abdiweli Waberi ProfileAbdiweli Abdillahi Waberi from the autonomous State of Puntland, Somalia is Chairperson of the Somali branch of the African Youth and Child Network for Human Rights (REJADH), a coalition of young Africans committed to the defense of human rights. Abdiweli attended the founding meeting of REJADH in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on June 10, 2016, along with other representatives from six countries: Burundi, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Mali, South Sudan and Somalia, all members of the African Union. The coalition is committed to advocacy for different causes related to Human Rights and is currently running a "Maputo Myth" campaign for the fight against Gender Based Violence in partnership with Norvegian Church Aid/Actalliance, Arigatou International, Changemakers and Elman Peace. Abdiweli has earned degrees in Sharia and Law from Puntland State University and Range Management from East Africa University, and has worked at the Ministry of Justice in Puntland.


Alexander Gwanvalla ProfileAlexander Ngongmun Gwanvalla from Bamenda, Cameroon is the National Coordinator of the Citizens Climate Lobby, a position in which he presides over the general assembly and all executive meetings, and has responsibility for overseeing the good management of the association. Alexander is also president of Community Green Engagement. A former teacher of geography and computers and an experienced HIV counselor, Alexander obtained a certificate in Climate Change from the University of Melbourne in Australia in 2005 and a certificate in Minor Geography from the University of Bamenda in Cameroon in 2009. Previously, he obtained a Higher National Diploma in Computer Studies from the Tele Business Computer school and both an Advanced Level Certificate as well as an Ordinary Certificate in the General Certificate of Education Examination at Government High School in Mbengwi, Cameroon.


Ana Cuckovic ProfileAna Cuckovic from Zagreb, Croatia is a licensed mediator and an active member of National team for Crisis and Trauma Intervention. Ana has worked with several NGOs as a trainer, researcher, moderator, facilitator and volunteer. She has been involved in the Pestalozzi Programme for education professionals of the Council of Europe in a variety of different roles: as a trainer, coordinator of trainer teams and moderator of the online Community of Practice. Ana has more than 10 years of professional experience in school education and research, and regularly publishes articles in books and scientific journals. 


Cynthia Sullivan ProfileCynthia Sullivan from San Diego, United States is the Founder and CEO of Shyne, an organization created by women, for women, and in collaboration with those who’ve gotten out of, or are seeking to leave sexual exploitation. Cynthia oversees 10 volunteer advisors in creating a professional development and leadership training program for survivors of sexual exploitation, handles all contract management, negotiations, and business strategies, and creates systems to run all operations, utilizing statistical data and analysis to make Shyne a viable resource for survivors. Cynthia has extensive experience working at other not-for-profit organizations; she was Chief Synergy Strategist at Buddha Music Group and Director of Administrative Operations and Development at the Wave Academy, among other positions. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from San Diego State University in 1999 and a degree as a Massage Therapist from the Body Mind College in 2005.


Daniel Tillias ProfileDaniel Tillias from Port au Prince, Haiti is the chairman of SAKALA, an acronym for “Sant Kominote Altènatif Ak Lapè,” which translates from Haitian Creole into English as “The Community Center for Peaceful Alternatives.” As a word, Sakala translates roughly to “approved by the community.” There currently are over 250 children and youths currently benefiting from SAKALA’s programs in athletics, agronomy, and education, which are operated at a community center that includes athletic fields and appropriate buildings in Cite Soleil, an impoverished section of the city which lacks police or sanitation services. Daniel co-founded what would become SAKALA in 2002 with 9 other young people in an effort to promote peace, reconciliation, tolerance and truth. The son of a pastor, Daniel grew up in Cite Soleil and witnessed violence himself before studying law and deciding to start his own community organization.


Diana Alaroker ProfileDiana Opira Alaroker from Gulu, Uganda is the Accounts Manager and Social Worker at the Youth Leaders for Reconciliation, Education and Development (YOLRED), the first organization in Uganda designed, founded and run by former child soldiers, many of whom received training and support from the Goldin Institute and its partners in the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative and the Global Network of Religions for Children. Diana has been an essential member of the YOLRED team, ensuring payment of salaries and appropriate invoices, producing detailed financial reports, and monitoring expenditures to accord with grant agreements. She came to YOLRED with experience in accounting and administration for government offices and aid organizations, and earned a Diploma in Business Studies from the Uganda College of Commerce – Pakwach in 2014.


Dieudonne Allo ProfileDieudonne Anumbosi Allo from the Eastern Cape in South Africa is the Founder and CEO of the Global Leading Light Initiatives, a registered non-profit organization formed in 2014 on a strong conviction that collective prosperity can be achieved in Africa and globally through coordinated grassroots initiatives aimed at creating nurturing and enabling environments for children and youths. The GLLI’s initiatives directly involve children, adolescents and parents in the effort to disrupt the cycle of poverty and reduce inequalities both in South Africa and Bostwana. A former school teacher, Dieudonne graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Health Sciences and Social Services at the University of South Africa in 2014 and an Advanced Diploma in Health Care Management from the Yale School of Public Health/Foundation for Professional Development in 2011, among other academic credentials, professional certifications and training programs.


Emma Rutikanga ProfileEmmanuel Rutikanga from Kigali, Rwanda is the Executive Secretary of the Hope and Peace Foundation Rwanda, which is dedicated to: 1. Fostering unity and reconciliation among youth survivors and youths whose parents participated in the Genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi in 1994. 2. To take care of the ladies and girls who were raped during the Genocide. 3. To take care of elderly widows without children. Emmanuel is a board member in Afrocity, an organization which serves the community through vocational service-based activities, and he started the Hope and Peace Foundation to unite and reconcile youths whose families were on different sides of the Genocide. Emmanuel also volunteers at the Streets Ahead Children's Centre Association (SACCA), a local NGO registered in Rwanda which works to protect and rehabilitate children at risk of homelessness in the Eastern Province of Rwanda.


Eyob Yishak ProfileEyob Yishak from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia is the Country Representative for Arigatou International, a partner organization to the Goldin Institute, and a Peace Program Coordinator for the Ethiopian Evangelical Church’s Makane Yesus. An experienced writer and researcher in both English and Amharic, he has participated in multiple international conferences in Russia, Germany, South Korea, Uganda and Kenya on topics that include the role of religious communities in peace and reconciliation efforts. Eyob is one of 35 members of the National Religious Council, which brings together leaders from all of Ethiopia’s faith communities. He has Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and International Development as well as Geography and Environmental Science, and earned a Master of Arts degree in Peace and Security Studies from Addis Ababa University in 2015.


Geoffrey Omony ProfileGeoffrey Omony from Gulu, Uganda is a Goldin Institute Global Associate who serves as Executive Director of Youth Leaders for Restoration and Development (YOLRED), the first organization in Uganda designed and run by former child soldiers. Geoffrey was abducted from his home village in April 1995 and was held for more than one year before he escaped. He returned home to find his family and community destroyed while former child soldiers were often blocked from education, employment or social services because of suspicion and stigma. Nevertheless, with the help of the Goldin Institute, Arigatou International and many local organizations, Geoffrey was able to advance his education and conduct research into the experiences of former child combatants. Geoffrey and 3 other ex-combatants formed YOLRED in 2016, and since then have provided services, held multiple events including music therapy and community parliaments, participated in international conferences, and received global media attention.


Geoffrey Waringa Profile

Geoffrey Waringa from Mombasa, Kenya is the Manager of the Garden of Hope Centre, a children's home that provides food, shelter, schooling, and care to orphaned and underprivileged young people. The Garden of Hope Centre is located in an area where drug abuse, poverty, unemployment and illiteracy are commonplace, where many desperate youths join gangs who commit violent crimes. After a daylight robbery incident, Geoffrey convinced a few youths to start a community policing group and report to authorities and gang activities within the neighborhood. He also organized a community outreach program at the Garden of Hope Centre to educate young single mothers on how to engage in productive activities that will help them raise their children successfully. Previously, Geoffrey worked as an Executive Officer performing clerical, interpretation and related duties at the Judicial Service Commission of the Nakuru High Court.


Jamal Alkirnawi ProfileJamal Alkirnawi from Rahat, Israel is CEO of a New Dawn in the Desert, a Bedouin-Jewish organization that seeks to promote equality, coexistence, and peace among the many residents of the Negev Desert. Jamal founded New Dawn in 2009 in Rahat, a city that was established in the 1970s to house Bedouin, who had maintained a nomadic lifestyle and traversed national borders until the early 20th Century and today number approximately 140,000 in Israel. New Dawn provides a range of services and programs including employment and entrepreneurship, peacebuilding and leadership, education and international development. Jamal earned a Master of Business Administration in Social Leadership at Ben Gurion University in the Negev in 2008, a Master of Social Work from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, in 2003, and a BA in System Health Management from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, among other academic achievements, professional certificates and training programs.


Laura Molnar ProfileLaura Aurora Molnar from Bucharest, Romania is the President of the Education for Change Association, which operates a mentoring program for 100 teachers – 50 in Bucharest and 50 in other parts of the country – to guide them in the implementation of an ethics education program. Laura also organizes one-time activities as well as longer-term projects in schools for diminishing violence and discrimination, and facilitates workshops for parents on positive parenting. In a context where teachers have insufficient training, low salaries, under-resourced school systems and little motivation to participate in external activities, Laura successfully involved 130 teachers in an educational program that created a community of practice who continue to discuss issues and critiques relevant to their students and schools. She also works directly with students, encouraging them to take their own initiative toward eradicating child poverty; more than 1,000 youths were directly involved this school year.


Lissette Mateus Roa ProfileLissette Mateus Roa from Bogotá, Colombia is a Goldin Institute Global Associate who developed ESPERE, a forgiveness and reconciliation methodology for former combatants in her country. ESPERE uses schools as facilities that can engage the population in positive activities while effectively re-consecrating the physical institutions in communities that have often been deeply damaged by war. Lissette studied Spanish and Foreign Languages at the National Pedagogical University of Colombia and English for two years in England. In 2011, she conducted workshops with disadvantaged families on topics including domestic violence, sexual abuse and child abuse. Lissette believes strongly in education as the key of social change, and in forgiveness and reconciliation as the doors by which all victims and societies that suffer must go through in order to achieve new beginnings and possibilities after violence. She participated in numerous international conferences and has conducted the ESPERE program in Uganda and other locations.


Lo Ivan Castillon ProfileLo Ivan R. Castillon from Cotabato City, Philippines is a Peace Program Officer in the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, a position in which he provides technical support, assists in the government’s supervision of the Independent Decommissioning Body, and is involved with transitional justice, amnesty and establishment of the police force in the Bangsamoro region. Lo Ivan also monitors and evaluates partner organizations, assists with communications, distributes materials, and writes technical reports. Previously, he worked for private educational foundations as a Project Officer and as a Monitoring and Compliance Officer. Lo Ivan earned a Master of Arts in Peace and Development Studies from Mindanao State University in 2016 and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Secondary Education from Notre Dame of Tacurong College, among numerous other academic achievements.


Mariam Ali ProfileMariam Ali Famau from Nairobi, Kenya is the Founder of Peaceful Innovation Organization, an inter-religious dialogue initiative and a non-profitable community-based organization. A single parent herself, Mariam began the PIO in 2010 and organizes clean-up campaigns as well as medical clinics, all with an eye toward countering radicalization and extremism amongst the youth of her community, an impoverished area on the outskirts of Nairobi. In addition to a proven model of successful de-radicalization which has already benefited many young people, the PIO also offers its participants small amounts of capital and practical mentorship to launch their own businesses.


Michelle Kuiper ProfileMichelle LeAnn Kuiper from Lexington, United States is a Survivor Advocate at the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs. She volunteers her time educating audiences at schools, churches and other community-based institutions on how to change the language around sexual assault and rape. She has worked in a non-partisan basis with the state legislatures in Kentucky and Indiana to pass six major reform laws in three years, all while attending college full-time. In Indiana, the laws she helped pass require DNA to be collected at felony arrest as well as audits for rape kits. Currently, she is working on a bill that would track rape kits and change the definition of rape. In Kentucky, she audited and worked on clearing a backlog of rape kits, and also worked on rape kit reform, testing and tracking, and helped pass a law that changes the definition for rape.


Neabei Toah ProfileNeabei W. Toah from Paynesville, Liberia is Executive Director of World Kindness Liberia, recognized as a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization that is part of the World Kindness Movement based in Sydney, Australia. In a nation still recovering from a long civil war and the outbreak of Ebola, World Kindness Liberia has an ambitious agenda that seeks to embed kindness in a new generation and create a kinder Liberia through Charity, Education, Agriculture, and Community Empowerment. In addition to his role at World Kindness Liberia, Neabei also works as a Senior Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at the Civil Service Agency. Previously, Neabei earned a Certificate in Monitoring and Evaluation from USAID-MEASURE Evaluation Training in 2015 and a Bachelor of Economics degree with a minor in Management from the University of Liberia in 2011, among other academic achievements and professional training programs.


Raymond Richard ProfileRaymond Richard from Chicago, United States is a Founder of Brothers Standing Together, a non-profit organization launched in 2009 to decrease neighborhood violence and contribute to a safe environment for children and families. A mentor, activist and public speaker who draws on his past experiences to warn against the dangers of gangs and drugs, Raymond struggled with criminal activity, substance abuse and homelessness for decades. After being released from his sixth incarceration, he resolved to change his life and began attending community policing programs, working odd jobs, studying for his high school diploma, and mentoring other returning citizens as well as at-risk young people. He has participated in events across the American Midwest and attended conferences in Los Angeles, all while working to build BST’s capacity to receive contracts from government agencies and private companies to provide returning citizens with work experience and essential income.


Yusuph Masanja ProfileYusuph A. Masanja from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania is the Country Coordinator for the Global Network of Religions for Children, where he supervises implementation of the group’s strategic plan. Previously, Yusuph was a Consultant in the GNRC’s Leadership Mentoring Program, designing a 5-month program for 26 youths on the island of Zanzibar. Before that, he worked at other international philanthropies including the Jane Goodall Institute, where he assisted with the operation and management of the Roots & Shoots environment and humanitarian youth program, coordinated school-based clubs, and collaborated closely with international volunteers. He earned a Certificate in Digital Arts from the Media One School of Digital Arts in 2014 and a Graduate Diploma in Business Management (BBA equivalent) from the Association of Business Executives, ABE – UK, in 2012. He also obtained an International Computer Driving License from the University of Dar es Salaam Computing Center.



RobertBiekmanProfileCircleRobert Biekman (West Pullman) serves the people of Chicago as the Senior Pastor of Maple Park United Methodist Church and Urban Ministry Coordinator of the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church. He is the father of 3 adult children (Robert Thomas Xavier, Lauren Elise and Jordan John Ananias) and Jacoby Alexander (26 months). By creating and implementing socially conscious and spiritually enriching programs like ALITE© (Arts Learning Initiative and Training for Ex-offenders) and the Chicago Alternative to Incarcerations Collaborative’s Neighborhood Intern Project, Pastor Biekman has been a promoter of public policy reform in Chicago. He led the High H.O.P.E.S. campaign to implement restorative justice practices in Chicago Public Schools and implemented the FAIR COPS ordinance and Grass Roots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA) ordinance to promote police reforms. Pastor B. is a “public theologian.” 


VelviaBoswellProfileCircleVelvian Boswell (West Englewood) is a Recovery Specialist for the Chicago Women's AIDS Project. For almost a decade, Velvian Boswell has practiced peer counseling, preventative care and recovery coaching, consistently managing and recruiting an annual client base of over 80 participants. After years of her own struggles with substance abuse, Velvian turned her life around, earning her Recovery Coach Certification from Governor State University in 2014. Born in Hollandale, MS, Velvian arrived to Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood at the age of 3. She is passionate about serving her clients and being a voice for her community.



PamelaButtsProfileCirclePamela Butts (New City) holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management and a Master of Arts degree in Education, Counseling and Human Services / Human Resource Development from Roosevelt University. Pamela is the Director of Non- Public Programs for Chicago Public Schools. Her job is to monitor all the federal funds for program services under Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for the elementary and high schools in Chicago, Illinois which includes Catholic, Christian, Independent, Islamic, Jewish, Lutheran schools and Neglected residential sites. Pamela has also served on the Community Development Advisory Council for the city of Chicago since April 2017. Pamela is very active in community service and outreach. She has been a member of New Eclipse Church since age twelve. Pamela also has served as director of New Eclipse Community Alliance 501c3 community outreach agency since 2013. Pamela is a true professional, visionary, motivator and team player with exceptional leadership, relationship building, communication and interpersonal skills. She is the oldest of seven children. Pamela is a proud and dedicated wife and mother. Pamela is a true advocate and encourager for all youth, the elderly and veterans; especially for those who seem to have “no voice,” the underrepresented and underserved.


RobinClineProfileCircleRobin Cline (Humboldt Park) currently serves as Assistant Director of NeighborSpace, an urban land trust in Chicago. Robin’s leadership is multifaceted, involving neighborhood agency, creative stewardship, and program design. She supports community leaders throughout Chicago in developing, managing, and sustaining community land sites, with a special focus on community nature play and public program projects.  Robin is also the part-time executive director for the art group OperaMatic, a site-specific artist group that activates public spaces in Humboldt Park and Hermosa with playful, collaborative, and civic performances. In both her current roles, Robin advances community cohesion through creative effort and social play.


JeanetteColemanProfileCircleJeanette Coleman (South Shore) serves as the Director of I AM MY BROTHER’S KEEPER UNITY DAY, a not for profit community outreach program dedicated to making a difference in the lives of youth in the South Shore and surrounding communities of Chicago, IL. Mrs. Coleman has a history of over 20 years at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She joined the administrative staff of campus housing in 1990 and was instrumental in developing the family housing program, along with providing conflict resolution for students adjusting to living with people different from themselves. After counseling several residents encountering traumatic incidents including suicide, Mrs. Coleman was led to pursue a degree in Social Work where she could be more resourceful. Mrs. Coleman has a passion for working with youth and has utilized her administrative and crisis management skills with the youth in the South Shore community.


LisaDanielsProfileCircleLisa D. Daniels (Woodlawn) serves as Executive Director and Founder of the Darren B. Easterling Center for Restorative Practices. Lisa believes firmly that is our humanity that connects us— one to another. Since the tragic murder of her youngest son Darren in July 2012—as a result of an incident where he was both perpetrator and victim—Lisa has become a staunch advocate in the field of restorative practice and lives life guided by the principle that no one is the sum total of the worst thing they’ve ever done or experienced. "My greatest strength as a community leader is my capacity to see and connect with the humanity in those we serve".


DawnHodgesProfileCircleDawn Hodges (South Chicago) loves life and tries to enjoy every moment of it. She is graduates from DePaul University March 2019 with bachelor’s degree in Nonprofit Management. Dawn has been a church secretary for over 15 years, and recently became the Executive Director of Imani Community Development Corporation. There the team primarily focuses on mentoring, out-of-school time programming, and food distribution. The Imani Community Development Corporation has been a pillar in the community for over 40 years. They host block club meetings and well as other events needed by the community; they love serving and helping others.


 SokoniKaranjaProfileCircleSokoni Karanja (Washington Park) recently stepped down from his role as President and CEO of the Center for New Horizons to begin a new endeavor as President of 2016 MA’AT. He has founded this new organization with the belief that people who better know and understand each other are less likely to become violent towards each other. 2016 MA’AT then, will focus on the moderation and eventual elimination of violence by forging and strengthening unity in Chicago’s neighborhoods of color. Its mission, in a word, is “peace.” Dr. Karanja is married to Loyola University professor Ayana Karanja, Ph.D. and is the father of seven. A native of Topeka, Kansas, Dr. Karanja, in his formative years, was witness to the grassroots strategy meeting that led to Brown vs.the Board of Education, and began his first organizing experience by galvanizingsupport for desegregating his neighborhood movie theater. Dr. Karanja holds three master’s degrees (psychology, social work, and community development), and earned his Ph.D. in urban planning from Brandeis University.


 DianeLatikerProfileCircleDiane Latiker (Roseland) is a 30 year resident of the Roseland community on the far south side of Chicago. "Ms. Diane" founded the award winning and internationally recognized organization Kids Off The Block, Inc. (KOB) in her home in July of 2003. Ms. Diane was given this vision through her mother, Evangelist Ruth Jackson. Ms. Jackson, saw that the youth in the neighborhood liked and respected her daughter. Looking at the children that were always at her home, Ms. Diane saw health professionals, doctors, lawyers, professional musicians, professional sports figures, politicians, and actresses, and the list goes on. Ms. Diane believed that she could make a difference in the community, and in the many youth that she came in contact with daily. She became encouraged and opened up her home to get these young people off the streets and involved in programs that would benefit them for the rest of their lives. KOB started out with ten neighborhood kids, and now has impacted thousands of lives through love, compassion, nurturing and respect.


 FrankLatinProfileCircleFrank Latin (Austin) is the founder and Executive Director of Westside Media Project. He also formerly published Nitty Gritty News, a community newspaper highlighting marginalized communities across Chicago. Latin is a graduate of Roosevelt University where he obtained both his Bachelors and Masters degree in economics. "The biggest opportunity in our communities have right now is the ability to use technology and social media to create our own stories and share our own narratives."


 AdiLernerProfileCircleAdi Lerner (East Garfield Park) is a Human Rights Attorney from Israel, who has spent her career supporting and working with communities as an organizer, educator, and advocate. Currently, Adi is the Director of Programs at the Westside Justice Center, where she leads a team developing an innovative model for community based legal support and holistic approach to justice. During law school, Adi led a Crisis Intervention Center at the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, a non-partisan non-profit organization, dedicated to promoting the rights of undocumented migrants and refugees, and eliminate trafficking in persons in Israel. Working as an attorney in Israel, Adi represented clients in a variety of cases, including Immigration law, state accountability for torture, criminal justice and prisoners’ rights. Adi received her LL.B from Tel Aviv University, and a Master of Laws in International Human Rights from Northwestern University School of Law.


 AlexLevesqueProfileCircleAlex Levesque (Back of the Yards) is the CEO and founder of the Automotive Mentoring Group (AMG), a nonprofit that is designed to be proactive against gun violence andgang violence in Chicago. AMG works throughout the city in the number of neighborhoods and is designed to halt Chicago gang violence, send the participants back to school to get their high school diploma, and ultimately get them enrolled in colleges that have Automotive programs. AMG also works with more than 51 hiring partners to match participants with good automotive jobs. "We work hard provide a very safe and productive environment for young people to work and learn during the summer when gun violence is at its height in Chicago."


JacquelynMooreProfileCircleJacquelyn Moore (Auburn Gresham) left a 25+ year corporate career in systems software for the finance industry with the knowledge that technology can remove or provide obstacles, as people often fear that which they don’t know, and the persistent application of skills can benefit both areas. In 2002, determined to improve the trajectory of the youth in her community, she began offering free technology instruction that focused on how to apply it to improve the learner and the community. Jacquelyn founded Chicago’s first community high school robotics team (Chicago Knights), America’s first free, public facing makerspace for teens (LevelUP IRL), and the annual Chicago Southside Maker Faire. As a wife, mother of four, grandmother of seven, and person of faith, she values family, community, and service. Jacquelyn is proud to be called "Robotics Lady" and continue to serve Chicago’s youth.


 JohnnyPaytonProfileCircleJohnny Payton (West Town) is from Cabrini-Green and went to school in the Green’s Sojourner Truth as well as Frederick Von Schiller in Lincoln Park. He watched the place that he called home -- once considered “The Worst Neighborhood in the USA” -- become the best neighborhood in Chicago. Now, CHICAGO is considered “The Worst City in the world.” Johnny believes that together with a few other like minded citizens, they can change people perspective about Chicagoans and Chicago. Johnny Payton is a founding member of Brothers Standing Together (BST), a federally recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that was founded in 2009 to help decrease neighborhood violence in an effort to contribute to a safe environment for children and families beginning with serving our youth. BST mentors teens about the value of education and that violence is not the answer. As a result, a desire to help others avoid his mistake arose and BST was born. BST’s vision is to see a complete cessation in violence and all people living happy, healthy, and whole lives.


 PamelaPhoenixProfileCirclePamela Pheonix (Englewood) is a United States Army Reserve Veteran who served from 1985- 1993. She earned a Doctor of Natural Health Degree from Clayton College of Natural Health in Birmingham Alabama on June 23, 2006. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Human Services Administration from Spertus College of Jewish Studies and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from Kentucky State University. She has over 25 years of Natural Health experience as a Holistic Consultant with community - based agencies and Chicago Public & Charter Schools. Her work includes Reiki, Mental health therapy, chakra balancing, yoga, social emotional learning and stress reduction. She has specific interest in emotional health for the whole family.


 GloriaSmithProfileCircleGloria Smith (Bronzeville) is an educator, administrator and dedicated community organizer. She has worked for over three decades with a variety of grassroots community initiatives – with a special focus on youth and families, social justice, and preparing students of color for college and professional education. Ms. Smith is currently executive director of The Black Star Project in Chicago -- an organization founded in 1996 by Phillip Jackson to close the racial academic achievement gap and to advocate for those in disadvantaged communities. In her work with The Black Star Project, Ms. Smith has coordinated a range of events and activities including public policy forums on economic empowerment and participatory democracy. Ms. Smith has also worked with The DePaul University College of Law, the Chicago Kent College of Law, the Iliff School of Theology as well as other educational and community organizations. In her earlier career, Ms. Smith was Associate Director of Regulatory and Public Policy before retiring from SBC- Ameritech Corporation in 1999.


 JamilaTrimuelProfileCircleJamila Trimuel (Bronzeville) is the Founder of Ladies of Virtue, an award-winning mentoring and leadership program that has empowered over 1,000 girls, ages 9 to 18, to become confident and purpose-driven leaders. Jamila started her career in strategic planning at Northwestern Medicine and has over ten years of experience in strategic planning and community engagement. Jamila is a Steering Committee member for the Greater Bronzeville Neighborhood Workforce Development committee. Jamila is also a member of the Founding Steering Committee for the IL Council of Women and Girls which was just signed into law. Jamila is the co-author of “A Status Report on Teen Girls in Chicago” produced by the Coalition of Urban Girls. Jamila is also the Co-Chair for the Status of Women and Girls Working Group led by City Clerk Anna Valencia. Most recently, Jamila gave her TEDx Talk at Rush University entitled, “Make Today Your Saturday: Live A Fulfilled Life of Purpose.” Jamila has a Bachelor of Science in Community Health from the University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign and a Master of Science in Health Systems Management from Rush University. She also holds a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from The Broad Center for Management of School Systems.

MariaVelazquezProfileCircleMaria Velazquez (Little Village) is passionate about creating awareness and action on bringing humanity back to this country and is committed to social change. As a Mexican woman rooted to strong moral values she advocates for equal rights for every human being especially youth and women in society. As a woman she feels very strongly about being respected and acknowledge as a person with her own opinions, needs, views, and ways of doing things. Culture is very important to her and she tries to always go back to her roots and think about her ancestors who have inspired her to keep doing what is right and what she is passionate about. Telpochcalli Community Education Project has been the perfect space for the acknowledgment and respect people need for their humanity to flourish. Expressing our dreams, our needs, and our ideas and having that opportunity and support to take action makes community projects a reality. At TCEP we face and address many challenges collectively and creatively developing supports systems to be able to build peace and understanding. As people become aware and acknowledge the power they have inside of them, community organizing projects arise, and change takes place.

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