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Chris Appleton, Executive Director, WonderRoot
Chris Appleton is co-founder and Executive Director of WonderRoot, Atlanta's leading community arts organization. Through his work at WonderRoot, Chris works to use the arts as a means of building community while affecting issues of health, social justice, environmental justice and youth development in Atlanta.
Chris is an Atlanta native and alumnus of Georgia State University where he studied Creative Writing. Chris currently serves on the Board of Directors for Atlanta Celebrates Photography as the Governance Chair. Additionally, he serves on the Atlanta BeltLine’s Public Art and Historic Preservation Advisory Board.
A leader and voice for progressive change in Atlanta, Chris is a member of the 2013 Class of LEAD Atlanta, a fellow with the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers program and in the 2013 Class of New Leaders Council. Previously, Chris served as the founding Board President of Burnaway, an Atlanta-based arts and culture publication. In 2011, Chris received the Emory Center for Creativity and the Arts Community Impact Award. Additionally, he was name Top 30 Under 30 by Metromix in 2009.
Beyond the Chris’ professional work, he is an avid supporter of animal rights, lover of the outdoors and amateur vegan chef.
Christopher Bruce, Legal Fellow, Speed, Seta & Waters
Chris is a proud graduate of the University of Georgia School of Law where he was elected by his peers to serve as a Senator in the Student Bar Association, Vice-President of the Black Law Student Association and Justice of the Honor Court.
He was also a member of the Mock Trial Team, Navy Jag Moot Court Team and a Dean’s Ambassador.
He had the pleasure becoming a Research Assistant under Professor Ronald Carlson, a evidence guru in the state of Georgia.
Patricia Burton, Development Recruiter, Georgia MENTOR Network/ SiVart Marketing, LLC
Patricia Burton has a BA in Mass Communications from Paine College in Augusta, GA and also a MBA in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing from American InterContinental University in Atlanta, GA. She is currently attending Walden University for a DBA in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing.
Patricia has over seven years of experience in Business Development, Marketing, Sales, Product Knowledge and she was the former Associate Publisher over a monthly magazine. She has been featured on local T.V. stations, radio shows and local magazines and has worked for The Metro Spirit, The Augusta Chronicle, NBC Augusta, and Channel 12 and has created her own specialty publication called U-magazine. Her expertise is niche marketing and market research.
Patricia attended the Young Essence leadership conference and was inspired to start working toward her dream. She learned from powerful women across the world as they shared the trials and tribulations of beginning their own businesses. It was after that conference that Patricia decided to continue her education and in doing so she then began constructing her very own vision, SiVart. In 2012, she received her LLC and her company is no longer a vision, but a successful reality.
Currently, Patricia works as the Development Recruiter for the Augusta, GA host home program at a specialty care Foster agency- Georgia MENTOR. Patricia’s other aspiration is that of a non-profit organization called Elitist Women. Elitist Women focuses primarily on giving back to the community and also helping young mothers to achieve their dreams. Her passion involves working with single mothers and building stronger resources to help single mother's reach their goals.
Her other passion lies in building a brand of excellence, as she values the works of Oprah, Michelle Obama, Mellissa Dawn Johnson of Velvet Suite Marketing and Beyoncé . She admires these women because they are all powerful business women of color.
Aside from Patricia’s busy life, she is the mother of two children Cayden and Travis.
She enjoys spending time with them and devotes all of her time to ensuring that their futures are set for success. In working with Patricia as she develops her brand, you can be assured that SiVart Marketing will live up to its slogan, Better Resolutions, Better Results.
Natalie Davis, Supervisory Attorney Advisor, Social Security Administration
Natalie grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. She attended Georgetown University double majoring in Psychology and Government. Going to school in Washington DC, Natalie took full advantage of being in the nation’s capitol, interning on Capitol Hill. After graduating from college in 2004, she attended Emory University School of Law. She graduated with her Juris Doctor degree in 2007. She then began clerking for the Carroll County Superior.
She participated in the Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar of Georgia 2009 Leadership Academy. In January 2009, Natalie began working for the Social Security Administration, Office of Disability Adjudication and Review as an Attorney Advisor. In addition to her legal career, Natalie, along with another local attorney, started a budding nonprofit organization (PREP) in 2012 that is geared at educating high school juniors and seniors on the college application process.
With school overcrowding increasing at an alarming rate, PREP’s goal is to give students the personal attention they deserve in deciding the next step in their future.
Since moving to Atlanta, Natalie has participated in several community service activities including, volunteer tutoring at elementary schools through Hands on Atlanta and facilitating a debate program at the Dekalb Regional Youth Detention Center.
Lynnette Espy-Williams, Associate, Cozen O’Connor Law Firm
Lynnette D. Espy-Williams is an Associate in the Global Insurance Group of Cozen O’Connor. She focuses her practice on litigating matters pertaining to the health, life, accident, and disability insurance industry. Ms. Espy-Williams has litigated numerous claims involving coverage issues, including bad faith, punitive damages, and deceptive trade practices claims. Ms. Espy-Williams also handles complex commercial litigation, including matters pertaining to products liability.
Beyond her work with Cozen O’Connor, Ms. Espy-Williams has used her legal background and leadership skills for the betterment of the Atlanta community. Ms. Espy-Williams is the current President of the Gate City Bar Association, the oldest African-American bar association in state of Georgia. Ms. Espy-Williams is also actively involved with the American Bar Association, Atlanta Bar Association, and the Atlanta Council of Younger Lawyers. She was also the treasurer for the Young Lawyers Division of the National Bar Association (2010 – 2012).
As if serving in leadership roles for bar associations weren’t enough, Ms. Espy-Williams spends a significant amount of time participating in various pro bono activities and volunteering in the Atlanta community. She has been recognized for her commitment by the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation and for her involvement with Perkerson Elementary School reading program, developed to alleviate the problems associated with illiteracy in the Atlanta Public Schools.
Ms. Espy-Williams has also been very active as both a committee member and Co-Chair (2011) for the Community Law Clinic, an outreach program which offers free legal consultations to citizens of Atlanta in the areas of criminal, bankruptcy, foreclosure, and family law.
Ms. Espy-Williams’ leadership was recognized when she was included in Georgia Trend Magazines’ Legal Elite, named as a Georgia Rising Star (2012 and 2013) amongst her peers, and was selected as Atlanta Business Chronicle’s “People in the News.” Ms. Espy-Williams is also a member of LEAD Atlanta (2013), Outstanding Atlanta (2012), and was selected as one of Atlanta’s Power 30 Under 30 (2010).
A native of Columbus, Ohio, Ms. Espy-Williams graduated from Spelman College, cum laude, with honors in economics. She earned her Juris Doctorate from the University of Maryland where she was a staff member for The Business Lawyer as well as an associate articles editor for the Journal of Business and Technology Law. Following law school, Ms. Espy-Williams served as a judicial intern to Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears of the Supreme Court of Georgia.
Tanika Gray, News Editor, CNN- Turner Broadcasting
Tanika serves as an Editor-Producer for CNN in Atlanta, Georgia. In this role she works closely with CNN’s 1000 television and print affiliates. She produces elements news elements for CNN show teams and works closely with correspondents and producers to pitch and execute promotional events to insure affiliate and network satisfaction.
In prior roles at CNN, Tanika was named Assignment Producer in 2005 and tasked with a variety of high-profile and impactful broadcast duties, including producing, writing, and marketing news segments; orchestrating CNN's social network campaign and training freelancers and interns. From 2008-2009 she doubled as a Medical Producer, writing and producing health related packages for CNN.com, CNN domestic and International. In 2010, Tanika was named the Rising Star Journalist Award from the national, Alliance for Women in Media.
Prior to her roles at CNN, Tanika was an educator for five years in the Florida school system and Atlanta Public Schools. In five years, Tanika raised student test scores through her signature curriculum, created learning programs students, led a newspaper staff of 25 to top honors, supervised a teaching staff of eight, and received the Charter School Teacher of the Year Award (2002-2003).
Combining her career with her love for philanthropy, Tanika serves as Board of Directors-Chair for the Ivy Prep Foundation where she leads community leaders who support the establishment and sustainability of high quality educational environments that produce confident, academically competitive, and socially conscious scholars. Through the work of the foundation, Tanika has spearheaded several projects with national implications. Named Writer- Producer for Beyond Comprehension: The Resistance and Roadblocks to Effective School Reform, a documentary capturing the success and resistance of the groundbreaking Atlanta Charter School Ivy Preparatory Academy. She has also authored two notable curriculums: Project Media, a six week journalism curriculum for elementary school students, and CNN Future, an initiative to aid high school students with a passion for journalism.
Tanika is an active member of Alliance for Women in Media, Atlanta Association of Black Journalists, and National Association of Minorities in Communications.
Tanika received a BS in Broadcast Studies (Florida International University and University of Maryland) and Certification in Radio and Television (Connecticut Schools of Broadcasting).
Sonya Hunte, Homeless Education Liaison, Atlanta Public Schools
Sonya Hunte serves as the Homeless Education Liaison for Atlanta Public Schools. In this role, she manages the funding, policies and initiatives of programs serving students in transition. Sonya exudes service and a genuine love for disenfranchised communities and people.
Most recently, Sonya was the Social Services Coordinator for the Fulton County, Office of the Child Attorney. Her primary responsibilities were to provide consultations and comprehensive assessments on families involved with the Fulton County Juvenile Court. Sonya has served as a Social Services Supervisor and direct practitioner for the Georgia Department of Human Services. Since 2005, she has been a Practicum Instructor for Bachelor and Master of Social Work students from the University of Georgia, Georgia State and Clark Atlanta Universities.
Sonya’s passion for women and children is evident in her community leadership. In 2011, she was elected to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), Georgia, Board of Directors and is Chair of the Political Action for Candidate Election (PACE) Committee. Sonya serves on the Board of Directors for Premier Academy Inc., Child Development Centers and the Junior League of Atlanta, Political Affairs Committee. Her past volunteer leadership includes the Kennesaw State University, Master of Social Work Program Advisory Board 2011; My Sister’s Keeper Foundation for Women, Board of Directors until 2010; and the Atlanta Women’s Foundation, Economic Empowerment for Women & Girls Allocations Committee2008 – granting over one million dollars to local nonprofits.
Recognized for her leadership, Sonya was selected as one of 10 outstanding Atlantans in 2012 by Outstanding Atlanta, the city’s premier honor for civic engagement. In the same year, she was honored as the NASW, Georgia Chapter’s Social Worker of the Year. Sonya’s recognitions include being named in the 14th Edition of Who’s Who in Black Atlanta. She holds several distinctions to include Atlanta Women’s Foundation, Destiny Fund (2008); United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta, Volunteer Involvement Program (2008); White House Project (2009); and Diversity Leadership Academy – Atlanta (2012).
Sonya expertise covers the topics of Child Welfare, Homeless Education, Juvenile Justice and Social Work Practice. She has been a guest lecturer, local and national conference speaker. Sonya has published articles on social work practice, social issues and related topics in The New Social Worker, Peachtree Papers Magazine and other periodicals.
She holds a Bachelor of Science in Sociology from the Pennsylvania State University and a Masters in Clinical Social Work from Boston College.
Sojourner Marable Grimmett, Assistant Director of Student Access Programs and Services, Southern Regional Education Board
Sojourner Marable Grimmett is Assistant Director of Student Access Programs and Services at the Southern Regional Education Board. In her role, she coordinates the Academic Common Market, a 16-state regional program that enables in-state students the opportunity to attend out-of-state institutions at lower tuition rates. Her experiences in higher education have involved enrollment management, student services, and community outreach.
She previously held positions at the Savannah College of Art and Design, Georgia Public Broadcasting, and served as an AmeriCorps member for The W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University.
Grimmett received her MA in Media Studies from The Pennsylvania State University. She obtained her BA in Communications and a minor in African and African American Studies from Clark Atlanta University (CAU). While at CAU, she became a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
Recently named one of Georgia’s top Mom Bloggers, Grimmett educates and empowers thousands of readers monthly through her blog, Married with Two Boys. As a social media consultant, she has worked with Fortune 500 companies, and local businesses and non-profits throughout the Greater Metro Atlanta Area. She has been featured on FOX 5’s ‘Good Day Atlanta’ with Dr. Oz, Atlanta & Company, and CNN.
A community organizer and global advocate, Grimmett is co-founder of Table for Two, a national campaign to establish lactation rooms in public places. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, and their two sons.
Julia Lankford, Program Manager, Families First, Inc.
Julia Menefield Lankford, Program Manager for Community Support Services with Families First , Inc., has more than 10 years of community/economic development experience. As an accomplished economic development professional with expertise in program/project management and nonprofit management, she plans and develops quality programs in the area of neighborhood revitalization, youth leadership/entrepreneurship, and workforce development. Julia is also a seasoned and knowledgeable Business Development Specialist with exceptional interpersonal and communication skills.
In her current role, she is responsible for the oversight of all administrative and program management responsibilities associated with the agency’s Community and Residential Support Services programs, and Review and monitor the program budget, collect evaluation and survey data, prepare monthly reports, and submit data for studies and publications. Julia’s professional deeds are continually exhibited with her commitment to the community and bring in business expertise and interlock the two groups to work as one unit. She also owns and operates J. Field’s Consultancy, where she develops and coordinates financial workshops for youth, leadership development, business development, and bookkeeping/accounting. She currently serves as the Chairperson of the Georgia Micro Enterprise Network (GMEN), an organization that creates opportunities and support for microenterprise development as an avenue for economic self-sufficiency.
Julia has been the recipient of numerous community service awards while in Athens GA,- such as Young Professional on the Rise, and Forty under Forty Professionals in Northeast GA. While at Georgia Southern University she was named ESSENCE Woman of the Year and Senator of the Year. She is very active in her community, where she is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc, Athens Alumnae Chapter, where she has held several leadership positions as Secretary, Economic Development Chair, and First Vice President.
Julia Menefield Lankford holds an Accounting Certification from Athens Technical College, a Bachelor of Science degree from Georgia Southern University and a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from Georgia Southern University.
Jamaar Logan, Program Manager, TCWFI & Atlanta Cares, Vice Chair
Jamaar Logan currently serves as the Director of Mentoring Programs for The Center for Working Families (TCWFI); a non-profit organization that works to ensure the economic success of Atlanta’s hardworking families and their children.
In this role, he has been responsible for the design and implementation of the federally funded Parks Pals Mentoring Program for the past six years. Jamaar has extensive youth development work experience including, but not limited to, working with the Department of Education- TRIO programs and various afterschool programs.
In 2009, Jamaar was selected to attend the Summer Institute on Youth Mentoring at Portland State University. Also, prior to his work with TCWFI, Jamaar was selected to participate in the Emerging Leaders Program with GEICO Insurance Companies; he was chosen to be a loaned executive and work with the local Chamber of Commerce.
Jamaar is the founder and president of Youth Empowerment and Stability (YES Inc.), a nonprofit organization that uses the two-generation approach to strengthen families by creating opportunities for and addressing the needs of vulnerable parents as well as their children.
Jamaar is an active volunteer with various community based organizations such as The National Cares Mentoring Movement, L.E.A.D and the Morehouse Alumni Association. He is currently serving as the co-chair for Atlanta Cares-an affiliate of the National Cares Mentoring Movement. Jamaar is an avid runner and a member of the South DeKalb Striders Running Club. He also serves as the mentoring coordinator for The Greater Travelers Rest Baptist Church. Additionally, Jamaar enjoys golfing, coaching youth athletics, traveling and volunteering.
A native of Macon, Georgia, Jamaar earned a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Morehouse College and he is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in the Youth Development Leadership Program at Clemson University.
Jatisha Marsh, Teacher, Atlanta Public Schools
Jatisha is a teacher at Inman Middle School. She is a member of the Local School Council and an Atlanta Public Schools Ethics Advocate. Jatisha entered the teaching profession in 2006 through Teach For America, a non-profit organization committed to closing the educational achievement gap in our nation’s most underserved communities. Prior to working in education, Jatisha worked in marketing at several Fortune 500 companies and worked in state government.
Jatisha is a native of Columbus, Georgia and has been part of the Atlanta community since 2006. Jatisha is active in the community. She serves as Chair of the 1887 and Georgia License Plate Committees for the Metro Atlanta Chapter of the Florida A&M University National Alumni Association, Research Subcommittee Chair for the Junior League of Atlanta Political Affairs Committee, and Graduate Advisor of the Pi Alpha Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Jatisha also previously served as 2nd International Vice President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and 2nd Vice President of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Educational Advancement Foundation.
Jatisha attended Florida A&M University on a full scholarship and graduated summa cum laude with bachelor's degrees in Business Management and History as well as a Master of Business Administration degree. She also holds a Master of Public Policy degree from Georgia State University.
Kenneth Mims, Science Department Chair, Gwinnett County Public Schools
Kenneth Mims has been a Gwinnett County Public Schools educator since January, 2006. Prior to his appointment, Mr. Mims has worked within multiple Charter Schools within Philadelphia Pennsylvania and Camden New Jersey. Concurrently, he holds the position of Director of Teaching and Learning with Kenneth Mims Educational Consultants, a science based instructional support and professional development firm.
His education career began at an Afro-Centric Charter School located in the Germantown community of Philadelphia PA where he served as a science educator and instructional support specialist. In his career he has traveled extensively promoting science education, and the right for all students to have equal access to high quality education. Mims has called education "the most important issue facing the Nation," adding that "preparing young people for success in life is not just a moral obligation of society" but also an "economic imperative."
In 2005, Mr. Mims served as a school board member of The Winslow Township Public Schools System, which he helped shape significant education policy and procedures for the southern New Jersey community in which he was raised. Mr. Mims earned his B.S. in Physics from Hampton University and M.Ed. from Georgia State University. He is a recent Marshall Memorial Fellow. His professional memberships include the National Association of Educators, National Science Teacher Association and Young Professionals for Education Equity. Mr. Mims resides in Snellville, Georgia.
Born and raised in Charlotte, NC, Minh Nguyen attended Davidson College and majored in anthropology, developing a passion for social justice and impact work. After graduating, he became a City Hall Fellow at Houston’s Department of Health and Human Services (HDHHS) to learn about the local government’s role in shaping and supporting an increasingly diverse community.
Following the fellowship, Minh joined the Mayor's Office at the City of Atlanta to create a culture of performance, accountability, and transparency through the ATLStat program and, now, Bloomberg's Innovation Delivery Team's initiative for customer service. He managed performance for a wide range of local government operations including Public Works, Planning and Community Development and Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs. In 2012, New American City magazine selected him to their 40-person Next American Vanguard, recognizing him as an emerging urban leader.
While in Atlanta, Minh continues to serve as a member of of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity (Alpha), a leadership and service organization, and the Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA), a pan-Asian social justice advocacy organization. He mentors high school students and has performed on the alumni step team for his fraternity and serves as the secretary for OCA-Georgia. He also has served on the host committee for the regional action summit that was sponsored by the White House Initiative for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. In his leisure time, Minh enjoys cooking, dancing, and reading.
Clifford Reginald Nau, Georgia State University Graduate Student
I am Clifford Reginald Nau from Haiti. I am an economist graduated from the Center for Planing Techniques and Applied Economics (Haiti) with a BA in quantitative economics. I worked in the ministry of Economy and Finance since 2007 and was selected as a member of the national economist group for the new macroeconomic framework for HAITI donors’ conference in New York in March 31, 2010. Over US $5 billion have pledged for Haiti’s recovery. with a Fulbright scholarship received in 2011, I am currently doing a master in Public Policy at Georgia State University.
on the other hand, I am the national coordinator for Haiti at the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development for the International Network on Financial Education. my main responsibility is to elaborate policies aimed at improving the financial literacy level of population and help government design financial literacy policies to schools.
I worked with operation HOPE for the Banking on our future program to teach kids in metro Atlanta and in the global financial dignity summit where I Monitored a group of four interns whose tasks were to promote the summit and invite all consulates, ambassadors and chambers of commerce in Atlanta to be a co-convening partner to operation HOPE.
I also piloted as an assistant moderator two working group sessions in the financial dignity summit: “youth economic energy and entrepreneurship” and “the mortgage crisis; the new ownership opportunity”.
I am passionate about developing business opportunities and public policies in the Caribbean. In the long run, I will create a center for advanced leadership in partnership with NLC to provide executive education on leadership and management to public officials, business and civil society leaders in Haiti and the Caribbean. I want to be a NLC fellow to foster my entrepreneurial and leadership skills and help young Caribbean leaders to change their societies.
Joshua Noblitt, Minister of Social Justice, Saint Mark United Methodist Church
Rev. Joshua M. Noblitt is the Minister of Social Justice at Saint Mark United Methodist Church in Atlanta, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and a Registered Neutral/Civil Mediator in the state of Georgia.
In addition to offering individual, couples, family and group therapy, his ministry involves leading program, advocacy and volunteer opportunities related to social justice issues in the community. Rev. Noblitt completed his Master of Divinity at Emory University in 2004 and was ordained at the Western North Carolina Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church in 2009.
Rev. Noblitt is a Clinical Fellow with the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, has served on the Board of Directors for the Reconciling Ministry Network since 2008, is a member of the Emory University Hope Clinic for HIV/AIDS Research Community Advisory Board, serves as Vice President of the South Atlanta Civic League, and is a 2011 LEAD Atlanta alumnus.
Sanjay Parekh, Entrepreneur
Sanjay is the founder organizer of Founder Fables and Startup Riot, both are day-long conference held in multiple cities.
Previously Sanjay was the founding CEO of Digital Envoy and the inventor of the company's NetAcuity IP location intelligence technology. He holds seven U.S. patents for this technology. Digital Envoy was acquired by Landmark Communications in June 2007.Prior to Digital Envoy, Sanjay was a founding employee of Arris Interactive, where he helped secure over $1 billion in client contracts in the U.S., Asia, and Europe.
Sanjay is a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and holds an electrical engineering degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology and an MBA from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School.
Tereance Puryear, Supply Chain Analyst, Americold Logistics, LLC.
Tereance Puryear, Supply Chain Analyst for Americold Logistics, is an experienced supply chain professional with a focus in network optimization and data analysis. Currently, he analyzes complex supply chains with an end goal of cost savings for customers and profit.
Over the last five years, Tereance has volunteered with the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity's Guide Right mentoring program, the Georgia State University Student Support Services Freshman Male Institute and with the Urban League of Greater Atlanta. He is an alumnus of the United Way Volunteer Improvement Program (VIP) with United Way of Greater Atlanta.
In the community, Tereance volunteers with the Urban League of Greater Atlanta Young Professionals, an auxiliary of the Greater Atlanta Urban League. Since joining in 2008, he has served on various committees including Community Service, Political Awareness, and Social-Cultural. Currently, Tereance has begun his 2nd term as Fundraising Committee Chair.
Tereance is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. In 2006, he earned a dual degree in Logistics and Marketing from the College of Business Administration at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia. He is a proud and active member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated.
Rachna Puthottu, Teacher, Teach For America- Atlanta Public Schools
Rachna grew up in the Washington Metropolitan area. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a double major in Political Science and American Studies. Her interest in the intersection of immigrant communities and social policy branches from her academic background in South Asian American Political Development and her personal experiences. While at the University of Virginia, Rachna helped develop the South Asian Leadership Society, an organization dedicated to addressing South Asian cultural, political and economic issues.
After graduating, worked as an AmeriCorps Fellow at South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national nonprofit organization committed to elevate the voices and perspectives of South Asian individuals and organizations to build a more just and inclusive society in the United States. During her fellowship, she developed and coordinated legal clinics aimed to reach over 4,000 immigrant residents in the DC/Maryland/Virginia area. While conducting outreach to promote naturalization and edify the general populace on immigration policy, she aided low-income immigrant communities in accessing legal and government assistance.
This past summer, Rachna worked in District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) as an Urban Education Leadership Fellow in the Chief Academic Office managing a district wide Literacy Common Core Curriculum Project and assisting with curriculum co-design. She is currently a Corps Member for Teach for America – Atlanta, where she works as an instructor for Atlanta Public Schools (APS).
Ashlyn Shockley, Project Manager, The Satcher Group
A native of Atlanta, Ashlyn Shockley is the Project Manager for The Satcher Group, a government affairs and public health consultation and communications firm.
Before joining The Satcher Group, Shockley worked as the Legislative and Operations Director for Representative Alisha Thomas Morgan (GA-HD 39), where she managed day-to-day operations, developed a legislative agenda, and advised Representative Morgan on a range of topics including education, health care, and voting rights issues.
As the National Attorney General for the National Black Law Students Association, Shockley managed the national Advocacy division and collaborated with the National Latino/a Law Student Association (NLLSA) and the Hispanic National Bar Association- Law Student Division (HNBA-LSD) to organize the largest NBLSA Lobby Day to-date. She also prepared a white paper on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and filed joint amicus briefs in Friendly House v. Whiting (U.S. D. Ariz.) and J.D.B. v. North Carolina (U.S. Supreme Court).
Shockley is a former Law Clerk and Reader Assistant to the first blind federal prosecutor in the Northern District of Illinois and worked as a Summer Associate in the Office of General Counsel, Office of the Illinois Governor. As a Special Assistant to senior staff with the Office of Head Start, she reviewed legislation and budget proposals, assisted with oversight of triennial reviews, addressed legal issues, and conducted research on education and health programs. She has also worked in the School Health division of the National School Boards Association.
Ms. Shockley is a graduate of The George Washington University, where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Loyola University Chicago School of Law, pursuing a J.D./M.A. She has served as an associate board member for Just the Beginning Foundation, a national pipeline project dedicated to diversifying the legal profession. In 2012, she completed legislative and campaign trainings with The Women’s Campaign School at Yale University and the American Federation for Children. She chaired Young and Powerful for Obama-Atlanta and organized fundraisers and grassroots efforts in Charlotte, North Carolina and Atlanta, Georgia. She is an Atlanta Finance Committee member for Gen44, a member of the Gate City Bar Association and Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys.
Megan Sparks, Program Director, Leadership Atlanta
As Director of Programs at Leadership Atlanta, Megan is responsible for the design, organization, logistics, production, and communication of the Leadership Atlanta and LEAD Atlanta programs and the LEAD Atlanta Alumni Association.
Together with Leadership Atlanta and lead Atlanta’s numerous alumni volunteers, she crafts the content of the program year. Megan is also very active in the metro Atlanta community. Currently she serves as: Regional Co-Lead, Gen44-Atlanta, and Victory Trustee, Obama for America, as a member of the United Way of Metro Atlanta’s Young Professional Leaders Board, Secretary and founding board member of Alliance for a Better Georgia, Secretary and Executive Committee member of Red Clay Democrats, and the Communications Chair of Georgia Appleseed’s Young Professionals’ Council. She also served as an inaugural member of Atlanta’s Chief Service Officer’s Ad Hoc Planning Committee.
In 2012 Megan was honored with the Apex Society’s Power 30 Under 30 award and selected as a member of Outstanding Atlanta.
Megan graduated in 2006 cum laude from Davidson College, where she focused on intellectual history and the humanities. While at Davidson, she completed extensive advocacy work in mental health and founded the school’s first mental health awareness and advocacy organization, Changing Minds. She earned her Master’s degree in Public Administration, specializing in civil society and nonprofit management, in 2008 from the University of Georgia.
Megan grew up in Athens, GA and is, of course, a life-long Bulldog fan.
Candace Stanciel, Marketing Events Manager, United Way of Greater Atlanta
Candace Stanciel serves as events marketing manager for United Way of Greater Atlanta, where she annually produces more than 70 events across 13 counties to raise funds and brand awareness for the international organization committed to advancing the common good. She's been twice nominated as a United Way Catalyst of Change and serves as the national liaison for the NBA, NFL and MLB partnerships.
Prior to that, Candace served the President’s Office at the University of Georgia as an event director, where her office annually coordinated more than 150 events to engage and inspire students, faculty and other stakeholders while enhancing the reputation of the institution.
For more than a decade, Candace has worked as a freelance event consultant for leading nonprofits and companies, including NIKE, Black Entertainment Television, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, The Trumpet Foundation, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Jack and Jill of America and the City of Los Angeles. A consummate professional, she seeks to create synergy for her clients with events that meet each organization’s needs and leave a positive societal impact.
Candace’s passion for children and education is exemplified through her role as the Director of Fundraising for Baby Peaches, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to “prioritizing newborns and strengthening parents!” She is also an active member of the Upsilon Alpha Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the Ebenezer Baptist Church Deaf Ministry.
Candace earned a B.A. in African-American studies from the University of Georgia in 2002 and a master’s degree in higher education from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2006.
Stephen Vault, Director of Strategic Planning, WellStar Health System
Stephen Vault is Director of Strategic Planning for WellStar Health System in Marietta, GA, where he facilitates the planning of new business development and manages market intelligence for the healthcare company. Stephen is also responsible for regulatory compliance issues, including the Certificate of Need (CON) program and associated licensure.
Prior to joining WellStar, Stephen served as Senior Health Systems Analyst of the Department of Community Health and Resident of Central Arkansas Veterans Health System, where he helped manage a turnaround in the company's patient satisfaction efforts.
Stephen serves as a board member for the American Homeless Veterans Foundation (AHVF), a non-profit dedicated to eradicating homelessness amongst those who have served our country. He is also an active member in the 100 Black Men of North Metro, Inc., the Georgia Association of Healthcare Executives, and the Alpharetta-Smyrna Alumni chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
Stephen earned his Bachelor's of Business Administration in Management and Masters in Health Administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock before completing the Ph.D. Program in Strategic Management at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Stephen is interested in affordable and accessible healthcare for all citizens, particularly the uninsured population and underserved minority communities.
Ana Victorino, Product Manager, Little Black Bag
Ana Sheila Victorino is currently the product manager at Little Black Bag, an emerging social e-commerce company. In this role, she is the principal user experience designer and works across teams to implement and launch features on the website. Prior to Little Black Bag, she worked as an account manager for Kayak.com and as a consultant for Globaltech Bridge, where she consulted Mexican and South American tech companies looking to enter the U.S market.
Ana Sheila is a former Hispanic Heritage Award winner and currently the L.A regional lead for the Hispanic Heritage Foundation initiative Latinos On Fast Track (LOFT). LOFT is a workforce program which systematically identiﬁes, prepares, places and retains emerging Latino students and young professionals on a management track. She serves on the board and as the communications committee chair for COLAGE, an organization dedicated to providing leadership development programming and support for children of LGBTQ parents. She also mentors high school students through the Riordan Saturday Business Academy where she mentors underrepresented high school students.
Ana Sheila received her Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations and a minor in Modern Languages from Stanford University in 2008. Originally from Mexico City, she grew up in Chicago and Southern California. When she has the time, she enjoys working on her short documentary, practicing her Portuguese, playing tennis, and cheering on her Clippers!
Matt Westmoreland, History Teacher, Atlanta Public Schools
Matt Westmoreland is a History teacher at Carver Early College High School in Southeast Atlanta. He came to the classroom as a Corps Member with Teach for America, a non-profit organization committed to closing the educational achievement gap in our nation’s most under-served communities.
Matt is a 2010 graduate of Princeton University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in History and served as editor-in-chief of The Daily Princetonian. An Atlanta native, Matt is a graduate of Grady High School and has worked for the Atlanta Regional Commission and in the D.C. Office of Congressman John Lewis.
In 2012, Matt was selected as an Urban Leaders Fellow by Senator Mike Johnston and also took part in a School Board Fellowship offered by Leadership for Educational Equity. He currently serves as chair of the Grady High School Foundation and treasurer of the Princeton Club of Georgia.
Donald Weigel, Political Director, Better Georgia
Don Weigel began organizing people around progressive issues in college, with a non-partisan voter registration drive and then founding the College Democrats at State University of New York College at Fredonia. After college, Don helped coordinate a first-ever, full-ticket campaign for Mayor and city council in upstate New York.Over the past six years, Don has conducted more than 25 trainings in 15 states for Howard Dean’s Democracy for America.
In 2006 Don served as deputy executive director and then in 2007 and 2008 as the executive director for the Colorado House Majority Project in Colorado helping expand their majority in the state house by four seats and organizing an incumbency protection program that re-elected every house Democrat. He most recently worked for the Georgia House Democratic Caucus in Atlanta.
Don has served as a press secretary, communications director, field director, fundraising director, general consultant and campaign manager in races for municipal, state and federal elections in New York, Colorado, Alabama and Georgia. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Red Clay Democrats and as Southeast Political Director for Truman National Security Project.
Nikema Williams, Vice President of Public Policy, Planned Parenthood Southeast
Nikema served as the National Committee Woman for the Young Democrats of Georgia. She was honored to serve as a Delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. In recognition of her work to engage more young people in Democratic Politics, she was named Georgia Young Democratic of the year in 2009 and received the 2009 Future is Now Young Leader award from the Young Democrats of Atlanta.
Nikema also serves on the Board of Governors for Red Clay Democrats. In 2007, she was elected Chair of the 13th Congressional District for The Democratic Party of Georgia (DPG). In this role, she serves as a liaison between Congressman David Scott and the six Democratic County parties within the congressional district. Upon election, she became the youngest Congressional District Chair ever elected in the state. She also served a two year term as 1st Vice Chair of the Fulton County Democratic Party.
In January of 2011, Nikema was elected as the 1st Vice Chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia, again, distinguishing herself as the youngest person in DPG history to ever hold this position. In this role, Nikema represents the state of Georgia at the Democratic National Committee, and served as a delegate for the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Nikema serves as a member of the Obama Victory Fund 2012. Through her fundraising efforts with Gen44, Nikema has been recognized as one of the top ten influential African American bundlers for President Obama by Huffington Post.
The Apex Society designated her as one of their Power 30 under 30 in the field of politics for 2008. She is an alumnus of Leadership Atlanta’s LEAD class of 2009 and a 2009 graduate of Yale University’s Women’s Campaign School. She was also recognized in the 2009 and 2010 publication of Who’s Who in Black Atlanta as a community leader. She was honored in 2010, by Outstanding Atlanta, the city’s premiere honor for community involvement. Most recently, Nikema was named one the Women of Influence for 2011 by the Atlanta Business League. She is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
In 2011, Nikema was appointed to the Advisory Board of SCLC W.O.M.E.N. Inc, by founder, Mrs. Evelyn G. Lowery. SCLC Women, INC is a civil rights group dedicated to offering intergenerational programs designed to empower women, girls, and families as they relate to human rights, social action, economic self-sufficiency, reduction of health disparities, and leadership to build strong families and communities.
Born in Columbus, Georgia, Nikema was raised nearby in Smiths, Alabama. She attended Talladega College, a private liberal arts HBCU in Talladega, Alabama. She is married to Mr. Leslie Small, and they reside in Historic Westside Village in Atlanta with their two rescue Yorkshire Terriers, Ginger and Belle. Nikema and Leslie are members of Central United Methodist Church in Atlanta.
New Leaders Council is a 501 (c) (3) public charity dedicated to educating a new generation of leaders and to providing those leaders with the tools they need to succeed. NLC does not engage in political or legislative activities of any kind, does not support or oppose any candidate for public office, and serves only as an educational leadership training ground.
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