Andre Perry is a David M. Rubenstein Fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution. His research focuses on race and structural inequality, education, and economic inclusion. Of particular note, Perry’s recent scholarship at Brookings has analyzed majority-black places and institutions in America, focusing on highlighting valuable assets worthy of increased investment. Prior to his work at Brookings, Perry has been a founding dean, professor, award-winning journalist, and activist in the field of education. In 2015, Perry served on Louisiana Governor-elect John Bel Edward’s K-12 education transition committee, as well as New Orleans Mayor-elect Mitch Landrieu’s transition team as its co-chair for education in 2010. In 2013, Perry founded the College of Urban Education at Davenport University in Grand Rapids, MI. Preceding his stint in Michigan, he was an associate professor of educational leadership at the University of New Orleans and served as CEO of the Capital One-University of New Orleans Charter Network. A native of Wilkinsburg, Pa., Perry earned his Ph.D. in education policy and leadership from the University of Maryland College Park.
Jasiri X’s work is synonymous with the artistic dialogue needed in today’s political climate. He is the first independent hip-hop artist to be awarded an Honorary Doctorate and is deeply involved with the national Movement for Black Lives, though remains rooted in Pittsburgh through organizations he has co-founded under the banner of 1Hood. Jasiri’s focus on social change has also touched the global arena, commissioned by The Open Society Foundation to travel to Columbia to create a film (War on Us with Grammy Award-winning hip-hop artist Rhymefest) that highlights the international effects of US drug policy. One of the most important political voices of his generation, in 2018, he was named a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Resident, in 2017, a Nathan Cummings fellow and in 2015, a USA Cummings Fellow, a BMe Fellow and a Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Artist as Activist Fellow.
Mike Skirpan is an ethicist, writer, artist, educator, and concerned citizen based out of Pittsburgh, PA. Currently he serves as the executive director at Community Forge and as a special faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University. He received his PhD from CU-Boulder's Department of Computer Science in Fall 2017. His research spans topics such as design fiction, technology ethics, classroom design, engineering ethics pedagogy, futures, and risk. He is now the executive director at Community Forge, a mission-driven organization dedicated to rehabbing the Johnston Elementary School in Wilkinsburg, PA into a community centered focused on education, arts, civics, and local business development. His technical work is now done through a social enterprise, Probable Models, that focuses on supporting and exploring ethical technologies.
Charles Cook is a Personal Trainer, Entrepreneur, Life coach and Motivational speaker on health and fitness. For over 20 years, Cook has trained individuals from Governors, Journalist, Models and many other professional workers. Cook’s clients consist of those just starting out on their journey to health and others who are looking to enhance their existing exercise program. As a nationally certified Personal Trainer, Master Fitness Trainer, and Weight Loss Specialist, Cook specializes in meeting the needs of obese individuals, the elderly and athletes. Cook is more than a fitness trainer he is a motivator with a purpose and passion to serve.
Dr. DeMarquise Clarke
Dr. DeMarquis Clarke is a licensed marriage and family therapist and program director of the Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) Program at Seton Hill University. In addition, he is the founder of the Center for Relational Change, a group practice of licensed clinicians that work with individuals, couples and families in the East End and North Hills areas. Dr. Clarke received his undergraduate degree at Tougaloo College; his master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Southern Mississippi and his doctorate degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Syracuse University.
Dr. Clarke is a clinician, professor, entrepreneur, executive coach, clinical consultant and humanitarian. He has over twenty (20) years of clinical experience working with individuals, couples, families and groups, and over fifteen (15) years of experience teaching and supervising. He has done endless hours of community outreach with organizations connected to issues ranging from fighting against sex trafficking, racial discrimination, poverty, working for marriage equality and gay rights, as well as fighting for effective treatment for multiple sclerosis.
Susan Coe is a US Army Veteran and entrepreneur. Susan, who received her bachelor’s in accounting from Nova Southeastern University, is the sole owner of Peace, Love & Zen Holistic Wellness Center and Howlers bar both located in Pittsburgh. She is also the proud mother of her daughter Melina.
Prior to Susan’s journey into holistic wellness and the healing arts, she spent 12 years as a flight attendant. Through her personal experiences and endless research, Susan founded Peace, Love & Zen in 2013. With the motto “it’s easier to stay well than get well,” Peace, Love & Zen’s mission is to empower individuals to initiate, expand, and maintain their physical and spiritual wellness through the education and guidance of experienced and caring staff. Susan believes stress reduction and health maintenance are key elements to personal success. As such, she routinely offers complimentary services to at-risk populations from area non-profit agencies and discounts for active military, veterans, senior citizens, and minors.
Susan is active in the community, serving as the Vice President on the East Liberty Quarter Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors for the past four years. Susan was drawn to the East Liberty neighborhood as she saw it as a developing area with a great need for her services. Susan loves to spend time outdoors, especially in Florida.
Michele Montag, Executive Director and Lead Coach, began studying Shaolin Kung Fu approximately ten years ago, and she has been teaching martial arts and self-defense for the last five years. She is a 3rd degree blackbelt, and she also holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Binghamton University (SUNY).
Both Lisa and Michele are certified SHARP (Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention) and Escape and Evasion Instructors, and both are certified Sexual Assault Counselors in the state of Pennsylvania.
Lisa Nakamura, Founding Director and Lead Coach has been studying and teaching the martial arts for over 37 years. She is a 6th degree blackbelt, Senior Master, in Shaolin Kung Fu. In 2015, she received a Jefferson Award for her volunteer work teaching self-defense and empowerment to women at POWER, among other groups.
Rev. Paul Abernathy
Father Paul Abernathy is an Orthodox Christian priest and the Director of FOCUS Pittsburgh, an Orthodox Christian non-profit focused on Trauma Informed Community Development located in the Hill District, Pittsburgh Pa. He has B.A. in International Studies from Wheeling Jesuit University, and holds a Master’s in public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh as well as a Master of Divinity from St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. Since its inception in 2011, FOCUS Pittsburgh has distributed millions of dollars in food, clothing, furniture, transportation assistance, Identification, and emergency relief to the Greater Pittsburgh Community which includes a Back Pack Feeding Program that distributes food to 2,700 children every weekend during the school year. Father Paul is also the CEO of the FOCUS Pittsburgh Free Health Center which offers free primary, behavioral health, and dental care to Pittsburgh’s uninsured and underinsured. Father Paul is a combat veteran of the Iraq War and has received community awards to include the rank of Eagle Scout, the New Pittsburgh Courier’s Fab 40 award, Larry Richert’s Hometown Hero Award, Pittsburgh Magazine’s 40 under 40, and Wheeling Jesuit University’s Fr. Pedro Arrupe Distinguished Alumni Award. Fr. Paul is the pastor of St. Moses Orthodox Christian Mission also located in the Hill District.
Emmai Alaquiva, an Emmy Award-winning film director, photographer, and composer, skillfully showcases the soulful account of humanity across multidisciplinary art platforms. Once homeless, Alaquiva shifted the trajectory of his life and path to become one of the most distinct trailblazers in the arena of creative arts. Multi-award decorated, Alaquiva is the CEO of Ya Momz House, Inc, a digital media agency, co-founder of the Hip-Hop On L.O.C.K. youth program and curator of OpticVoices, an interactive photography exhibit.
Alaquiva holds a 2017 Emmy nomination his international directorial debut of the film “Ghetto Steps” and was selected by the City of Pittsburgh to spearhead the Amazon Pitch Video for their second Headquarters. Moreover, Alaquiva is a national BMe Community Leader recognized by President Barack Obama, Pittsburgh Business Times, “Top CEO of the Year”, appointed by Governor Tom Wolf to serve on the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, nationally honored as Black Enterprise Magazine’s “BE 100 Modern Man of Distinction.” Most recently, Alaquiva has been recognize as SMART 50 Pittsburgh’s Top CEO.
Rosa Davis, MSW, ACSW
Rosa Davis is the Chief Executive Officer of POWER – an organization whose mission is to help women reclaim their lives from the disease of addiction and reduce the incidence of addiction in future generations. Under her leadership POWER has grown from a single-program agency founded in 1990 to an organization that today offers a range of comprehensive gender-responsive, trauma-informed addictions treatment and recovery support services for women with substance use and co-occurring disorders. POWER serves more than 1,500 women each year. Rosa earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh and she has more than 30 years of diverse experience in health and human services.
Wendy Pardee, PhD, assumed the role of President and CEO of The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh in August of 2017. Established in 1902, The Children’s Institute is an independent, nonprofit, licensed organization, dedicated to improving the quality of life for children, young people and their families by providing a specialized continuum of services that enables them to reach their potential.
Wendy has more than two decades of management experience in the healthcare, human services, and financial services sectors. Previously, she served as President and CEO of Skills of Central Pennsylvania, an organization with sites in 18 counties serving those with intellectual disabilities. She also served as CFO of the Community Guidance Center and began her career at First Commonwealth Financial Corporation. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Accounting and Management of Information Systems, a Master’s in Business Administration and a Doctorate in Administration and Leadership Studies. She has served on community health councils, local YMCA boards, community daycare boards, the Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association board, the Center Area Transportation Authority Board and the American Association of University Women.
Jada Shirriel is Chief Executive Officer of Healthy Start, Inc. a public health organization that focuses on improving maternal and child health and addressing the disparities that lead to infant mortality. Ms. Shirriel is also owner of J. Shirriel Consulting. With 17 years of nonprofit, development, public involvement and project management experience, Ms. Shirriel’s niche areas are fundraising and focusing on collaborative processes that result in greater efficiencies, synergistic relationships and defined outcomes that lead to community-level change. Ms. Shirriel is trained in Strategic Doing™ and is a Certified Lactation Counselor. She is a graduate of the
H. John Heinz II College at Carnegie Mellon University and the Earl Graves School of Business and Management at Morgan State University. She is a graduate of the CoroCenter for Civic Leadership Leaders in Learning program and is a previous honoree of the New Pittsburgh Couriers Fab 40. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with her husband and two sons.
Assistant Clinical Professor Tiffany Sizemore joined the faculty of Duquesne Law School in August 2015. She developed and directs the Juvenile Defender Clinic and the Education Law Clinic. Prior to joining the law school, Sizemore was the Deputy Director for the Juvenile Division at the Office of the Public Defender (OPD) in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, where she served for over two years. As Deputy Director for the Juvenile Division at OPD, Sizemore managed eleven full-time juvenile defense practitioners, who appeared before approximately one dozen family court judges. As Deputy, Sizemore wrote and implemented new practice standards across the juvenile division at OPD. She is currently the Board Vice President for the Juvenile Defender Association of Pennsylvania and the co-director for National Juvenile Defender Center’s Northeast Regional Center and is a member of the NJDC National Advisory Board. She is a native Pittsburgher and is an avid Steelers fan.
Tim is the Executive Director of Center of Life and pastor of the Keystone Church of Hazelwood. He has been working with children and youth for over 25 years. Tim was born and raised in Pittsburgh and educated in the Pittsburgh Public Schools. He is a graduate of Westinghouse High School and holds degrees from Triangle Tech, The University of Pittsburgh, the Leadership Training Institute, the American Institute of Banking as well as a diploma from the Reformed Theological Seminary. Tim has dedicated his life to empowering families and youth everywhere.
Nathaniel Broadus is one of the co-creators of Blackpacking. Since 2017, Blackpacking has been meeting on a monthly basis to hike the cities trails. When he is not Blackpacking, he is working with men and women returning home from prison to help obtain work opportunities. Mr. Broadus is a writer, who has penned a comic book series called "The POLICE STATE Saga" to address police violence in his community, as well as "The Last Gunfighter" to address issues that he experienced in his time as a United States Marine.
One of Pittsburgh Public School Districts Finest Scholar/Educator/Coach, Mrs. Phyllis-Davis Jones, has served the school, community, girls’ basketball team, and all students, with distinction. Phyllis was recognized by the Women and Girls Foundation, Women in Sports: Leveling the Playing Field Award. She continues to participate in professional development workshops, she has serves as a Deaconess in Rodman Street Baptist Church for over 29 years and she teaches Vacation Bible School each summer. Phyllis is a board member of Youth Enrichment Services, Inc., a community-based non-profit located in the East End section of Pittsburgh. Phyllis over the past 30 years of teaching and coaching has continued to build her classroom and athletic philosophy on sound research stemming from her Masters training. It has served her well. Coach Jones is the wife of Dr. D. Floyd Jones, and mother of three wonderful daughters, Carmin, Denise, and Melinda, and grandmother of Kassidy Jones.
Michelle McMurray is the Director of Grantmaking, Children, Youth and Families at The Pittsburgh Foundation. At the Foundation, her work focuses on reducing barriers to physical and mental health care, meeting basic needs, and improving economic self-sufficiency for children, youth and families. Michelle provides leadership for several of the Foundation’s special initiatives designed to facilitate social change and increase access to philanthropic support for groups historically underrepresented in the Foundation’s grantmaking, including small, community-based nonprofits, black-led organizations, and social justice workers. Michelle has more than 15 years of service in diverse roles across Pittsburgh’s nonprofit sector including as an academic researcher, clinician, policy advocate, and organizational leader. She is the co-author of several peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters examining the relationship between race, age, socio-economic status and access to mental health treatment. Throughout her career, Michelle has been committed to community engagement to increase awareness and understanding of mental health in black communities and promote dignity and support for individuals and families affected by mental illness. Michelle received her Bachelor of Arts degree and Master of Social Work degree from the University of Pittsburgh.
Alissa Whyte, MEd
Alissa is the Program Coordinator for Youth Advocate Programs’ Truancy Prevention Service. Alissa moved to the Pittsburgh area 10 years ago and has been working with YAP for the last 9 years. She received two master’s Degrees in Education from Edinboro University with a focus on Reading and Educational Psychology. Alissa has been committed to the nonprofit sector for nearly 16 years but discovered her strongest sense of devotion and purpose within her work at YAP. Alissa, once an at-risk youth herself, has seen firsthand the value of an education and the difference it can make in person’s life. She is committed to helping children and families within Allegheny County have the same opportunity to grow and learn. Alissa believes we all have the power to overcome obstacles and be an advocate for the change we want to see in the world.