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New Leaders Council

2013 NLC Fellows: San Francisco


Joshua Abeyta, District Representative, Office of California State Senator Mark Leno

Joshua Abeyta is a fourth generation Bay Area native who grew up in the small East Bay towns of Rodeo and Benicia, California. After graduating from Benicia High School with distinction, Abeyta attended UC Berkeley and was among the first in his family to attend college. While at CAL, Abeyta majored in Political Science with an emphasis in communications, voter behavior and marketing. There he also became highly active in student and local politics and held leadership positions in both the Cal Berkeley Democrats and at the Queer Alliance and Resource Center. Abeyta would later become one of four national finalists for the Spirit of Joey Hanzich Memorial Award given by the College Democrats of America for his service and mentorship to his local chapter. After graduating from UC Berkeley, Abeyta worked as an organizer on a campaign for San Francisco District 8 Supervisor, the seat once held by Harvey Milk, whom Abeyta shares a birthday. From there, Abeyta worked as a social media organizer for The California Endowment's informational campaign "Get Covered California," where he developed fun and new approaches to using social media to educate young people on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. Abeyta would later go on to manage one of the many 2011 San Francisco Mayoral campaigns as well as serve as the Press and Communications Director for San Francisco Assessor-Recorder, (now Assemblymember), Phil Ting. While Press Director, the office released a stunning audit of San Francisco foreclosures that uncovered widespread irregularity in the mortgage industry. The audit was the first done in the state of California and received national press coverage, including a spot on the front page of the New York Times. Abeyta currently works for California State Senator Mark Leno as a District Representative where he performs constituent work, handles district communications and manages social media. Abeyta is a proud uncle of five and lives in lower Nob Hill with his cat, Elphaba.

Revery Barnes, Research Associate, UCSF/SFGH Department of Family & Community Medicine

Dr. Revery Barnes is a long-standing community organizer and activist, born and raised in San Francisco, CA. Throughout high school, Revery worked with many youth programs, such as the San Francisco Mayor’s Youth Forum (a cutting-edge, afterschool youth program promoting critical analysis skills), the American Indian Youth Movement (AIM Youth), and Critical Resistance Youth Force Coalition. In 1996, several youth activists from the Mayor’s Youth Forum, created the youth-run, self-empowerment community organization, Rising Youth for Social Equity (RYSE), based in the Mission District of San Francisco. RYSE focused on community buliding, advocacy, and microenterprise, creating a Self-Empowerment Drop-In Center, a youth-run retail consignment store, Ujima (Swahili for “collective work & responsibility”), and an Advocacy Program focusing on juvenile justice reform. Revery became the Executive Director of RYSE in 1998, and working with the City & County of San Francisco and Delancey Street Foundation, led the Juvenile Justice Youth Evaluation Team, on the development of a comprehensive action plan to reform San Francisco’s juvenile justice system. Revery discovered her passion for medicine at the age of 17 while working for the Center for Young Women’s Development, conducting direct street outreach in the Mission, Tenderloin, and Bayview/Hunter’s Point neighborhoods of San Francisco. As a Community Health Outreach Worker, she provided support to high-risk young women, and gained experience with a “harm-reduction” model for serving marginalized populations living or working on the street. Revery was awarded a full scholarship to study medicine at the Latin American School of Medicine (LASM) in Havana, Cuba in 2003. In 2010, following the massive earthquake in Haiti, new graduate, Dr. Barnes (or “Dr. Rev” as she prefers) provided several months of medical service with the Cuban Henry Reeves International Medical Brigade. Revery is currently conducting community health and HIV-related research at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF)/San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH), while applying to Family Medicine residency programs. She plans to enter into a residency training program in Family and Community Medicine in July of 2013. Revery views medicine as a mechanism for social change, where true health is a reflection of the entire society, community and family as well as the individual. She believes that fighting oppression is central to the process of healing. It is important not only to identify the factors that cause disparities, but also to create tools that empower people to make change in their own communities.

Stevon Cook, Senior Coordinator of Post Secondary Success Program, San Francisco Education Fund

Stevon Cook is a 3rd generation San Franciscan and alumni of Thurgood Marshall High School. He attended Williams College where he became active in film and the Griffins Society before graduating with a degree in American Studies. He served in the first graduating class of the Mayor’s San Francisco City Hall Fellows program before pursuing his career as an educator and community activist. In addition to working for the San Francisco Education Fund, he owns a small business called Native Grounds which aims to increase access to healthy food in low income communities. He has served as Co-Chair of the Prop H: Public Education and Enrichment Fund, Board of Directors for San Francisco Achievers and Mentor for Student’s Raising Above. Stevon enjoys reading, volunteering, traveling, and staying active. He aspires to learn Spanish and compete in triathlons.

Errol Dauis, Attorney at Law, Bledsoe, Cathcart, Diestel, Pedersen & Treppa, LLP

Errol Cabinian Dauis was born and raised in Norwalk, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. Errol earned his Associates Degree in Philosophy from Cerritos College and his Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy from California State University, Long Beach while working multiple jobs to finance his education. After taking a year off to enjoy life and live in San Francisco, Errol attended the University of California, Davis, School of Law (King Hall). During law school, Errol served as the Editor in Chief of the UC Davis Law Review. Errol also engaged in government service, first as a judicial extern for the Honorable John A. Mendez of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, and later as a law clerk for the California Law Revision Commission. In addition, Errol worked with community-based organizations as a law clerk for the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and the Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco. Errol also spent a summer mentoring aspiring law students in the King Hall Outreach Program. He was also a founding board member of the King Hall Coalition for Diversity and sang with King Hall’s a cappella group, Law Cappella. Errol earned his Juris Doctor degree in May 2011. Errol was admitted to the State Bar of California in December 2011. He began his legal career as an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow at OneJustice, a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco. His fellowship aimed at maximizing impact by facilitating pro bono opportunities and expanding legal resources to assist low-income communities throughout California. After his fellowship, Errol entered private practice. He is currently an associate at Bledsoe, Cathcart, Diestel, Pedersen & Treppa, LLP, a law firm in San Francisco. Errol also serves on the Board of Directors for La Raza Centro Legal, a nonprofit organization located in the Mission District of San Francisco which serves low-income families and seniors in the Bay Area.

Diana Epstein, Researcher, American Institutes for Research

Diana Epstein is a researcher at the American Institutes for Research (AIR), where she focuses on K-12 education policy, program evaluation, and school finance systems. Through her work she hopes to improve our country’s public education system so that all children receive a high-quality education regardless of their background or socioeconomic standing. Previously she was a senior education policy analyst at the Center for American Progress, where she did research and analysis on issues related to fiscal equity and school finance. She also worked on education and national service projects at the RAND Corporation and at Abt Associates. After college she served for two years in the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) program as a Corps Member and then a Team Leader at the Charleston, South Carolina campus. She has been involved with AmeriCorps Alums since 2005, now serving as a member of the National Advisory Council and previously as a board member in Boston, a chapter leader in Los Angeles, and as part of the group who represented AmeriCorps alumni in the 2009 Inauguration Parade in DC. She is active in the Eli J. Segal Citizen Leadership program and currently serves on the program’s Fellows Advisory Council. She was involved in the Service Nation campaign as a Young Leader and a consultant, and she recently served as an Associate Board member at City Year DC. Diana has a BS in applied math-biology from Brown University, a Master’s in public policy from the Goldman School at UC Berkeley, and a PhD in policy analysis from the Pardee RAND Graduate School. Her doctoral dissertation was an evaluation of the long-term impacts of AmeriCorps service on participants, utilizing both longitudinal survey data and in-depth interviews with AmeriCorps alumni. In her free time she loves to hike, ski, and snowboard in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California.

Ryan Escober, Engineering Project Manager, Lockheed Martin

Ryan Escober is currently an Engineering Project Manager at the nation’s leading defense and aerospace firm, Lockheed Martin. For the last seven years Ryan has been apart of the Space Systems division at Lockheed Martin where he has worked on space vehicle and exploration projects. He has held a variety of roles within the organization from hardware designer, software developer, and now as a technical leader. Ryan continues to showcase his assertive and dynamic personality to implement, influence, and lead sustainable, revitalized, and environmentally conscious initiatives. While at Lockheed Martin, Ryan has been apart of the community development effort to educate the community on the importance of math and science in the education system. He has volunteered his time to take part in directly influencing the youth of america by demonstrating the real world applications of math and science. Ryan has bridged the mystery and excitement of space with the foundations of math and science to create a welcoming and influential environment to foster education and for creative innovation. Ryan currently resides in San Francisco, California. A Hawaii-native, Ryan moved to California to attend Santa Clara University where he received an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering and a graduate degree in Engineering Management. While at Santa Clara University Ryan served as a Senator representing the student body of the class of 2005. As a Student Government Senator, Ryan served on the Safety & Environmental Committee where we worked to increase the number of security module systems and personnel around campus and also developed legislation that promotes a more sustainable living through recycling drives and stationary repositories spread throughout high traffic areas. Ryan has always been passionate about community development and equal opportunity and over the years has participated in a variety of organizations. Most recently he has taken on a Volunteer Leadership role for President Obama’s Re-election campaign where he organized volunteers and advocated the President’s message of moving the country forward on the platform of equality. Ryan is also apart of the Human Rights Campaign and has contributed to the organizations messaging to congressional representatives to support equality measures and initiatives. Ryan is excited to be apart of the New Leaders Council organization where he hopes to become a more effective leader in the community and ultimately transition into a government leadership position in the years to come.

Elliot Haspel, Director, Field Engagement, Leadership for Educational Equity

Elliot Haspel is a lifelong advocate for educational equity. A former 4th grade teacher in Phoenix, Az. through the Teach For America program, Elliot has extensive knowledge of both the practical side of education as well as the research and policy landscape. After his time in the classroom, Elliot attended Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, where he received a M.Ed. in Education Policy & Management. Elliot is currently a Director of Field Engagement for Leadership for Educational Equity, a leadership development organization for TFA corps members and alumni in the areas of politics, policy and advocacy. He has previously served as a Manager of Teacher Leadership Development for Teach For America’s San Francisco Bay Area region, where he supported cohorts of first- and second-year teachers. Elliot also co-founded a non-profit organization, the Education Success Network, which produces Best Practices Weekly, a free weekly summary of practical classroom education research that has a subscriber base of over 3,000 educators. Additionally, he has development experience as a grant writer for several non-profits. Elliot is from the Washington, D.C. area and holds a B.A. in History from the University of Virginia. He currently lives in San Francisco with his wife.

Joshua Kagan, Operation Lead, Carbon War Room

Joshua Kagan is the Carbon War Room's Operation Lead for energy efficiency in the built environment. Joshua manages a team focused on developing and implementing large-scale energy efficiency transactions in a network of partner cities such as NYC, San Francisco, Washington DC, London, Vancouver, Vilnius, Melbourne and Copenhagen. His team’s goal is to standardize and scale energy efficiency transactions across the built environment that result in $1.5B in deployed capital. Prior to the War Room, Joshua was a Senior Analyst with the clean tech investment firm Atlas Capital Investments and a Fellow with the Prometheus Institute for Sustainable Development. Joshua also co-founded The NOW Project – a social enterprise that created organic apparel and accessory products and utilized the proceeds to fund yoga classes for at-risk teens in public schools in southern California. Joshua has consulted for Gerson Lehrman Group and Greentech Media and has lectured on alternative energy economics at UC Berkeley. He was lead author on the 300+ page biofuels report “Biofuels 2010: Spotting the Next Wave” and is the sole author of “Third and Fourth-Generation Biofuels: Technologies, Markets, and Economics Through 2015.” Joshua holds a Master's degree from the London School of Economics and Bachelor's degree from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. Joshua enjoys traveling, surfing, yoga, making music, and watching his cat Mojo laugh at him when he is taking himself too seriously.

Dannette Lambert

Dannette Lambert is a community organizer, educator, and social justice activist inOakland California. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology from and an M.A. from UC Berkeley in Energy and Resources. She began her career in Hiroshima, Japan where she taught ESL in public schools and led the grassroots peace and anti-nuclear organization, The Global Peacemakers Association (GPA). While working with GPA, she helped organize the InPa Project, an annual cultural exchange program that brought student activists from India and Pakistan to Hiroshima to learn about the affects of nuclear weapons. Through this work Dannette was introduced to the anti-uranium mining movement in Jadugoda, India and began raising thousands of dollars for the mining victims through charity English classes and the International Love Café, a pop up vegan restaurant. In 2006, Dannette returned to the United States to pursue a Masters Degree from UC Berkeley in Energy and Resources. She focused on environmental justice and social movement theory, writing her thesis on the organizing efforts of the Jarkhand Organization Against Radiation (JOAR). Her studies impressed upon her the power of local organizing and inspired her to shift her career towards community organizing. Since completing her master’s degree, Dannette has organized and worked on campaigns for ACORN, Oakland Rising and Oakland District 1 City Council Candidate Richard Raya. While working as a community organizer for the Tenderloin Housing Clinic she launched their women’s group, Sister Rize Organize, for women who had experienced homelessness, and led a city-wide effort to change the regulations on bed bug abatement in the city of San Francisco. After working to successfully change the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s bed bugs regulations and passing citywide bed bug legislation, Dannette left the Tenderloin Housing Clinic to coordinate InvaderSF2012, San Francisco’s first bed bug conference with Sleep Tight Academy. Dannette is also an active member of the Ella Baker Center’s Soul of the City program, a mentor to a rambunctious 10-year-old girl in the Be A Mentor program, and a Board Member for the Western States Legal Foundation. She is currently planning WSLF’s 30th Anniversary event featuring former Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Daniel Ellsberg, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, and Rose Aguilar.

Adam Maldonado, Deputy District Attorney, Office of the District Attorney (Alameda County)

A Bay Area native, Adam was born and raised in his hometown of San Francisco, CA. Adam graduated from Whitman College in 2006 where he received a B.S. in political science. Adam’s progressive roots took hold during college, where he served as President of his local Young Democrats chapter, and was selected as a Campus Progress national fellow. During the Fall of 2004, Adam participated in the Washington Semester Program, where he worked inside the Democratic Leader’s Office for then minority leader Nancy Pelosi in Washington, D.C., while attending classes at the American University. Adam flew to Florida in 2004 to work with the Kerry/Edwards presidential campaign. Adam’s work in Washington D.C. inspired him to apply to law school following college. Adam received his J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of Law, in 2009 where he served as Student Body President. Currently, Adam serves as a Deputy District Attorney at the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, a position he has held since 2010. As a prosecutor, Adam routinely works with law enforcement officials to serve the community by assisting victims of crime while holding accountable those who violate the law. Passionate about working with at-risk youth – those most succeptible to entering the criminal justice system – Adam spends much of his time volunteering with non-profit organizations throughout San Francisco. Adam presently serves as a board member at the Shih Yu-Lang Central YMCA, a director at the Bar Association of San Francisco, and a Mock Trial coach at the Academy of Arts & Sciences High School. Adam has also served as an advisor for the nation-wide Youth & Government Program’s San Francisco delegation.

Sophath Mey, Operations Manager, Partners in Oakland Education dba Vincent Academy

Sophath Mey was born in a refugee camp in Thailand, after her parents fled Cambodia during the horrific Khmer Rouge genocide. Growing up the eldest of seven siblings in East Oakland,Sophath attended local schools, graduated at the top of her high school class and went on to attend UC Berkeley where she earned a B.A in Social Welfare with a minor in Education. Sophath was recently the Director of American Indian Model (AIM) Schools. Under her leadership one of the AIM middle schools received the highest performance index scores in the state of California. Recently, Sophath and a number of other Cambodian-American women formed a philanthropic group, Devata Giving Circle. Devata is dedicated to the empowerment and enfranchisement of Cambodian women and girls through fundraising and events to raise awareness about this marginalized group. Sophath currently works as the Operations Manager at Vincent Academy, an innovative charter school in West Oakland. Sophath lives in San Pablo, CA with her 6 year old son and enjoys reading, bike riding and spending time with her family.

Ashley Meyers, Development and Engagement Manager, Code for America

Ashley is a graduate of Northwestern University with degree in history and political science. She joined Code for America this past summer as the Development and Engagement Manager after working in politics and government, most recently as the Finance Director on a Congressional campaign. She caught the campaign bug in Chicago on a U.S. Senate race, did a stint on the Hill, and has since worked in a variety of roles developing expertise in fundraising, partnership and coalition building, and community engagement. Ashley fell in love with San Francisco after moving here in 2010, when she was awarded a Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs and spent a year studying cross-sector public policy issues in Northern California, working with a number of government agencies and non-profits in the Bay Area. When she's not geeking out over civic technology, you'll find her hiking, cooking dinners for friends, and perusing SF's great used bookstores.

Paul Monge-Rodriguez, Education Justice Policy Associate, Coleman Advocates

Paul Monge-Rodriguez is a first-generation college graduate and the son of immigrant parents from El Salvador. Growing up in San Salvador, El Salvador and resettling in the San Francisco Bay Area, Paul went on to pursue his BA in Global Studies and Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. As an undergraduate senior, he was elected president of the university’s student body. In that capacity he worked to protect funding for student retention services, lobbied state legislators to the support the California Dream Act and led a successful campaign to establish an on campus Food-Bank distribution center for students with limited financial resources. Paul graduated summa cum laude with election to Phi Beta Kappa in 2011 and was the recipient of the Thomas More Storke Award for Excellence, the university’s highest student honor. After spending a year in New York City working as a policy analyst for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, he returned to San Francisco to work as a political organizer for the region’s largest public sector labor union, SEIU Local 1021. Currently, Paul works as an Education Justice Policy Associate for Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth, a non-profit organization with a thirty year legacy of advocating of low-income and communities of color in San Francisco. Additionally, he serves as a commissioner for the San Francisco Youth Commission where he was appointed by Mayor Ed Lee to represent the needs of San Francisco’s children, youth and families.

Sabrina Mutukisna, Project Manager, California Teacher Pathway

Sabrina Mutukisna is a Program Manager with the California Teacher Pathway and consultant for the Institute for Sustainable Economic, Educational, and Environmental Design (I-SEEED). She is the non-profit coordinator for the San Francisco DIY craft fair, Bazaar Bizarre, and volunteers as an executive cabinet member for the San Francisco Youth Employment Coalition (YEC). She also has owned and operated her own cupcake business – Cynically Delicious – since 2008. Sabrina is committed to initiatives around social entrepreneurship and social justice, specifically those in youth development, education, and food justice. As Program Manager for the California Teacher Pathway, Sabrina is excited by the prospect of creating and shaping home-grown teachers in low-income communities. She provides technical leadership to all programs statewide and manages operations for the STEM Institute – an initiative that brings hands-on science and math workshops to middle school students in afterschool programs. She began her work with the California Teacher Pathway in 2010 in the role of Student Support Specialist for San Francisco. Her work was recognized by the Huffington Post in July 2011. Prior to working with the California Teacher Pathway, Sabrina created and facilitated job-readiness curriculum as Job Counselor for Enterprise for High School Students and coordinated the Mayor's Youth Employment & Education Program (MYEEP) in San Francisco’s Mission District. Her work with MYEEP evoked a passion for working with communities of color and a better understanding of the educational obstacles facing inner-city and immigrant youth. Sabrina’s current work with Oakland-based I-SEEED centers on the creation of culturally empowering pedagogy for youth of color and supporting STEM teachers in urban classrooms. Sabrina graduated with honors from University of California, Berkeley and studied abroad at Oxford University’s Oriel College. At Berkeley, she honed her skills in film production, rhetoric, and, perhaps most important, eating cupcakes. She started Cynically Delicious in response to the inundation of cute, pink cupcake shops, deciding instead to infuse cakes with local ingredients, unique flavors, and a dash of humor. Sabrina is currently working to combine her passions in youth development, education, and food to create a sustainable enterprise and community space that will achieve lasting change for low-income youth.

Leah Price, Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Christina Y. Chen

Leah Price is a native San Franciscan with passion and experience in the nonprofit legal sector. Leah holds degrees in Chinese Studies, and Chinese History and Politics, and has spent three years working and studying abroad in China, Mauritius, and Italy. More recently, she obtained a JD degree from UC Hastings College of the Law in 2010 with a concentration in Refugee Law and Social Justice Lawyering. Since 2010, Leah has been practicing immigration law with a focus on removal defense. She regularly represents immigrants with a range of forms of immigration relief, including asylum, U visas for victims of crime, VAWA, cancellation of removal, and family-based immigration applications. Leah is currently working on local and statewide immigration reform with the San Francisco Immigrant Rights Defense Committee, and serve as the Co-Chair of the National Lawyers Guild Bay Area Chapter Immigration Committee. In her spare time, you can find Leah surfing the breaks in Pacifica, in a yoga class, or chasing down social justice documentary films to watch.

Julia Rhee, Managing Director, Retrofit Republic

Julia H. Rhee is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Retrofit Republic. Before co-founding the styling firm with a social impact, the Washington native organized with environmental and social justice organizations advocating for low-income populations and communities of color with over a decades' worth of youth work and teaching experience in New York City, Oakland, CA, and Tacoma, WA. Currently, Julia co-chairs NAPAWF Bay Area, the local chapter of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum; the nation’s only multi-issue women’s organization advancing the rights and issues of Asian Pacific American women and girls. She proudly served as the Executive Producer for the Asian Pacific American Vagina Monologues held at the Castro Theatre which raised over $23,000 for ending violence against women and girls and front page coverage in the San Francisco Chronicle. When she’s not hunting down exquisite vintage finds around the Bay Area, she enjoys teaching yoga for LGBTQ & youth of color in the Tenderloin of San Francisco.

Fereshteh Samsami, Project Leader, BTS

Fereshteh Samsami is a Project Leader at BTS, the global management and learning consultancy. She leads the design and development of highly customized online learning solutions that accelerate strategy execution, helping Fortune 500 companies to build engagement, commitment and action around key strategic priorities. Prior to BTS, Fereshteh was a management consultant at Accenture for 4 years, where she advised leading companies in multiple sectors including energy, government, technology, healthcare and retail. Before Accenture, she managed the volunteer and in-kind donations program at the International Rescue Committee, the world’s leading non-profit organization providing relief, protection and resettlement services for refugees. Fereshteh is passionate about increasing access to education – her work experience includes designing and teaching an English language and Mathematics curriculum for diverse international students in schools in the UK and Germany. In addition, she authored the entire content of the UK Institute of Physics’ new “Diversity in Physics” website to encourage minorities at all levels to study and develop a career in physics. Fereshteh received Bachelors and Masters degrees in Mathematics and Physics with Honors from the University of Warwick in the UK, where she was awarded the prize for the best Masters research thesis for her computational Particle Physics project. She also had the amazing opportunity to intern at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Switzerland where she collaborated with scientists from 15 different countries on the world’s first antihydrogen experiment. Fereshteh currently serves on the Advisory Board of Young Women Social Entrepreneurs, a non-profit organization that supports and promotes women enabling social change into leadership positions. She is passionate about sustainability and has served on the environmental committees at Accenture and BTS, creating and implementing green initiatives that decrease the organizations’ carbon footprint. She is also the Founder and President of the Northern California Alumni Chapter for the University of Warwick. Living in San Francisco, Fereshteh enjoys independent world travel, hiking and yoga. Fereshteh is very excited and honored to be selected as a 2013 fellow for the San Francisco chapter of the NLC, and is very much looking forward to being a part of the next generation of progressive leaders and social entrepreneurs.

Vernon Williams III, Founder/Chief Executive Officer,The Williams Group & Associates, LLC.

Make no mistake about it; Vernon has been there. Whether it was playing the street game, running the drug scene or navigating prison yards. But through life changing events he has come out the other side a winner. Through his powerful story, combined with practical experience, hard won life lessons, and the possession of a sound education he has overcome and assembled a formidable message for reaching today's youth. As a keynote speaker, Vernon is in demand for audiences of all ages and cultures, but his message has a special resonance with the male youth in our urban communities. Vernon was drafted by the New York Yankees in June of 1994 but opted to continue his collegiate education instead. While attending college and because he was then a "follower", he followed the "wrong crowd" down the "wrong paths" of life. Due to poor decision-making and lack of self-identity, the consequence of his choices ultimately landed him in prison with consecutive terms in the California Correctional System beginning at age 19. He walked the concrete of San Quentin, Old Folsom and New Folsom State Prison before his epiphany, faith renewal and new direction. Since that time Vernon has become an accomplished public speaker and has possessed a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Colorado Technical University, a Master’s Certificate in Leadership for Sustainable Change from John F. Kennedy University, and is currently pursuing a Master’s of Science with a concentration in Organizational Leadership for Change at Colorado Technical University. Today, Vernon is a stand for equity, empowerment, restoration and social justice in this planet. From that stand, he is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Williams Group & Associates, LLC. where his purpose is to bring manifest the full potential in every human being he encounters while building a society that creates just and equitable systems that unlocks opportunities for all.
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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.