Atlanta 2018 Fellows

Meet the 2018 Atlanta Fellows
(back to NLC 2018 Fellows)

Mercedes Ball

Attorney, DeKalb County Child Advocacy Center

Atlanta_Mercedes_Ball_-_Mercedes_Ball.jpgMercedes G. Ball is an Attorney at the DeKalb County Child Advocacy Center where she holistically represents the interests of children that have been abused, abandoned, or neglected in civil court proceedings, mediations, panels, and administrative hearings. Prior to her time with DeKalb, Mercedes was a Lead Trial Attorney at a boutique metro-Atlanta law firm where she exclusively represented indigent individuals in criminal proceedings.

Mercedes is driven by a commitment to improve her community through service. She volunteers as the Executive Director of the Sister2Sister Mentoring Program, a DeKalb and Fulton County Juvenile Court diversion program that focuses on developing vulnerable teen girls into responsible young women. In this capacity, Mercedes is responsible for determining the program’s strategic goals and objectives, overseeing the execution of program services and outreach efforts, and preparing and managing program budgets. Mercedes is also an active member of the Junior League of DeKalb where she serves as the Chair of the Community Projects Committee. Additionally, Mercedes is a member of the Board of Directors for the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys Foundation, Incorporated, and a 2017 graduate of Emerging Leaders of DeKalb.

Mercedes earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science, cum laude, from Spelman College and a Juris Doctor from the University of Georgia School of Law. In her spare time, Mercedes enjoys baking, traveling, attending concerts, and spending time with loved ones.

 

Yterenickia Bell

Mental Health Professional, Correct Care Solutions

Atlanta_Yterenickia_Bell_Corrections_-_Yterenickia_Bell.jpgYterenickia (YT) Bell, a native of Washington County, Georgia, but has resided in the Atlanta Metropolitan area for ten years. She is currently employed at Rockdale County Jail and Gwinnett Comprehensive Work Camp/Prison as a Mental Health Professional. In this role, she conducts behavioral health evaluations, special need interventions, and discharge planning for vulnerable populations. She has over seven years of public policy, advocacy, and direct service experience working with an array of populations, including homeless youth, incarcerated individuals, and mentally ill individuals. She is a three-time graduate of Georgia State University, where she holds a Bachelors in Criminal Justice and Political Science, as well as a Masters in Social Work and Masters in Public Administration with a concentration in Economic Development and Planning. YT is an active member of the National Association of Social Workers, Georgia County and City Management Association, National Forum of Black Public Administrators, and a board member for Our Future Generation, Inc. YT has strong analytical research, advocacy, and policy knowledge with a true passion for people.

Gino Brogdon

Owner and Trial Attorney, The Brogdon Firm, LLC

Atlanta_-_Gino_Brogdon.jpgGino is a trial attorney who brings a variety of civil litigation cases to resolution through his firm, The Brogdon Firm, LLC. Gino represents both businesses in contract disputes and plaintiff’s in catastrophic injury cases. His passion for justice leads him to try cases all over the State of Georgia. Gino has received a number of awards since his initial success with The Brogdon Firm including induction into The National Black Lawyers’ Top 100 Lawyers, The National Trial Lawyers 40 Under 40 and he has been selected as a Super Lawyer Rising Star for 2017 and 2018. In addition to managing his practice, Gino is a mediator at Miles Mediation the #1 mediation firm in Georgia where he is a proud member of Greg Parent’s team.

Gino’s diverse professional experiences include service to the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Major Crimes division, Athens-Clarke County Public Defender's Office, Clerk for the Honorable Steve Jones and The Barnes Law Group. Most recently, Gino served as an associate at The Cochran Firm Atlanta.

Gino has served the legal community via multiple organizations including the executive board for Gate City Bar Association and the Board of Directors for the Atlanta Bar Association. He is also a member of the Atlanta Citizen’s Review Board, which reviews citizen complaints against Atlanta Police Department officers. This gives him a unique insight into mediating and litigating civil rights cases and other officer involved premises liability cases.

Gino is passionate about mentorship and serves with several outreach organizations including the Fulton County Youth leadership Academy for Boys as well as Big Brothers Big Sisters. Gino also is a member of 2016 LEAD Atlanta class and Georgia Trial Lawyers Association’s LEAD program Class of 2016. Gino is an Atlanta native who graduated from Morehouse College before completing his education at the University of Georgia, School of Law.

 

Melissa Brogdon

Director of Development and Communications, Emmaus House

ATLANTA_Melissa_Brogdon_Headshot_-_Melissa_Rebecca_Brogdon.jpgMelissa is passionate about connecting people and organizations with the resources they need and has used her ‘matchmaking’ skills for the last 10 years as a relationship manager, researcher, and fundraiser. Currently, Melissa serves as the Director of Development and Communications at Emmaus House, a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta that provides vital programs and services that directly address the staggering prevalence of poverty in the Peoplestown neighborhood of Atlanta.

Melissa most recently worked as the Assistant Director of Annual Giving at Spelman College where she designed a student-giving program that earned the 2016 Special Merit Award for Best Practices in Fundraising from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), District III. Melissa is passionate about digital fundraising strategies and has generated over half a million dollars in online giving for social impact organizations in Atlanta.
A gifted public speaker, Melissa also enjoys growing the potential of others through training, notably earning the Stellar Speaker distinction from CASE, District III in 2016 and 2017.

Melissa is most proud of her work as President and Co-Founder of The Twelve Days of Christmas, Inc., Atlanta Chapter. Under her leadership, the chapter has raised more than $20,000 to “Share the Joy of Christmas” with nearly 200 Atlanta children in partnership with organizations such as Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta, KIPP Ways Academy, and Raising Expectations. The organization has also donated over 400 books to KIPP WAYS Academy.

An avid volunteer, Melissa currently serves on the Board of Directors for ArtsATL and the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Greater Atlanta Chapter and is an active member of the Junior League of Atlanta. Melissa earned her Bachelor of Arts degree at Spelman College before graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education.

 

Orane Douglas

Healthcare Advisory Associate, Grant Thornton

Atlanta_Orane_Douglas4_-_Orane_Douglas.jpgOrane Douglas is a Healthcare Advisory Consultant with Grant Thornton. In this role, his focus is on helping healthcare organizations better achieve their strategic goals and on increasing the efficiency of their processes. Prior to his position at Grant Thornton, Orane spent three years working with Northside Hospital in the Oncology clinical research field, where he collaborated with healthcare leaders, pharmaceutical companies, compliance departments, and contract research organizations to improve patient access to Phase 1-4 clinical trials in the community hospital setting.

Additionally, Orane has spent the past two years working with the international healthcare non-profit, Caring Hub, to expand the reach of services of the group’s annual international mission. During its most recent mission trip, Caring Hub donated medical supplies valued at more than $100,000 and saw more than 250 patients. With these donations and other support from Caring Hub, one of the hospitals in Jamaica was able to open another surgical theater. He is a Board Member and Vice-chair of the Board of Tailor Made Leadership Academy, a non-profit committed to improving the outcome factors of young minority men.

Orane is a graduate of Duke University with a Bachelors of Arts in Cultural Anthropology and Global Health and Emory University, where he obtained his Masters in Public Health in Health Policy and Management. A native of Jamaica, Orane enjoys traveling internationally, running, and volunteering locally with groups such as Junior Achievement and Open Hands Atlanta.

 

Farah Gulaid

Clinical Instructor of Ophthalmology, Emory School of Medicine

ATLANTA_NLC_photo_-_Farah_Gulaid.pngDr. Farah Gulaid is a clinical optometrist at Emory Eye Center as part of the medical/surgical care team with an emphasis on glaucoma.

She earned her optometry degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and followed that education with a residency program at the Baltimore VA Medical Center. During her residency, she completed a five-month clinical rotation at Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University, in addition to working with several private practices in retina and glaucoma management.

Farah is passionate about her work with Lions Club’s Lion in Sight program, where she provides vision screenings for adult and pediatric patients locally and globally. Her work with LIS has included volunteering with a group of providers to care for thousands of patients in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Ghana.

In Atlanta, she helps medical students administer vision exams to patients at the Clarkston Community center and is currently looking into the psychosocial impact of visual impairment in homeless populations. She is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, and enjoys reading and spending time with friends and family.

Mamie Harper

School Social Worker, Atlanta Heights Charter School

Atlanta_Mamie_Harper_-_Mamie_Harper.jpgMamie is a self-proclaimed 'Champion of Children'. This year she celebrates her 10th year in child welfare and mental health. With experiences ranging from DFCS, therapeutic care, to the public and charter school setting Mamie holds the personal belief that ""No child should ever look like the trauma they have endured.""

While operating with this belief, in late 2015 Mamie stretched her entrepreneurial ambition to establish one of Atlanta's first mobile clothing closets for foster care youth called Carrie's Closet. Currently she works with partnering agencies to service Cobb, Fulton, DeKalb, and surrounding counties to provide gently used clothing for foster children in need.

Mamie is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and declared her membership by way of the Zeta Psi Chapter at the University of Georgia. She then received her masters degree from Florida State University shortly thereafter. While she supports her Noles dearly, her heart will forever be between the hedges chanting with pride, ""Go Dawgs!""

In her free time, Mamie loves visiting her hometown of Columbus, GA and watching her Dawgs play. She thoroughly enjoys leading her Junior Girl Scout Troop, serving as Drama Club Advisor to a wonderful group of pre-teens, and teaching Sunday school. However being an active Auntie to Addison and Desmond and Godmommy to Bryson offers her irreplaceable joy. The joy she sees on their faces inspires her work daily to see that same joy on faces of the Georgia's children.

 

DeLana Hill

Management Consultant, PwC

Atlanta_DeLana_Hill_-_DeLana_Hill.jpgDeLana Hill is a strategy and risk management professional currently working as a Management Consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Financial Services Advisory practice. She earned her MBA from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School where she enhanced her finance acumen and management skills initially developed through her career in financial services. While at Goizueta, DeLana concentrated in Strategy, Finance and Social Enterprise to further develop her expertise in identifying and mitigating operational issues in both the non‐ and for‐profit sectors. Her skills include risk management, project management, business analysis, process improvement, relationship management, consensus building, and cross‐functional team management.

DeLana worked with the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania as a Loaned Executive where she was responsible for developing strategies for implementing and growing workplace campaigns for 65+ non‐profit organizations, including The Philadelphia Zoo, Gift of Life and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She is passionate about and volunteers internationally and domestically for issues concerning fair housing and anti‐human trafficking. A recent transplant to Atlanta, DeLana volunteered with Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church in Philadelphia, where she identified and vetted organizations for domestic and international partnerships resulting in relationships with organizations such as Rebuilding Together Philadelphia and Habitat for Humanity International. She also volunteered at The Salvation Army New Day Drop‐In Center, “a safe, trauma informed, and non‐judgmental space for women suffering from sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia”.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, DeLana studied International Business, Finance and Economics at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA. She enjoys travelling, reading, and hand quilting. DeLana is also a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

 

Samaad Keys

Strategist, UNCF

Atlanta_Samaad_Keys_-_Samaad_Wes_Keys.jpgDr. Samaad Wes Keys serves as the Strategist for the UNCF Career Pathways Initiative (CPI). Samaad manages all facets of the CPI, a $50 million grant-funded initiative of the Lilly Endowment. Through strategic grant administration, Samaad works with Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) and Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs) to advance transformational change through the integration of student success-centered and career-building opportunities with the undergraduate liberal arts experience. The aim of the work is to support curricular enhancement that will lead to improved institutional and employment outcomes for all students.

Samaad previously worked at Achieving the Dream (ATD), where he served as the director of equity & network engagement. In this role, he Managed ATD’s programs and policy agenda and worked with community college presidents and administration to build institutional capacity in the following areas to increase student success: 1) Leadership & Vision, 2) Data & Technology; 3) Equity; 4) Teaching & Learning; 5) Engagement & Communication; 6) Strategy & Planning; and 7) Policies & Practice.

Prior to ATD he served as the program assistant at both the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) Office for Access and Success and the Southern Education Foundation. In both these roles, he had an opportunity to develop and implement research agendas and programmatic efforts that increased the capacity of our nation’s Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). He also served as a high school teacher and case manager at Chamblee High School in Dekalb County, Georgia which he credits with sparking his interest in higher education sector.

Samaad earned a Ph.D. in higher education from the University of Georgia; master of arts in education from Central Michigan University; and a bachelor of arts in psychology from Morehouse College.

 

Munmun Khan

Presidential Management Fellow, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Atlanta_Munmun_Khan_-_Munmun_Khan.jpgMunmun A. Khan, MPH, is a Presidential Management Fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At the Agency, she works with senior leadership in the Office of Appropriations, and National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease, on Congressional relations, budget formulation, and strategy. She is passionate about addressing gaps to health equity through policy and sustainable partnership across all sectors.

She is a graduate of the University of Michigan where she received her Master of Public Health and Global Health; and her Bachelor of Arts in International Studies, and Community Action and Social Change. She has studied and worked on human trafficking in Ethiopia and primary education for marginalized children in Bangladesh. Her work on the first urban health equity assessment of Detroit, which examined social determinants of health at the neighborhood level, received the first place award at the Detroit Mayor’s Health Equity Summit, and was published in an academic journal.

A native of Detroit and daughter of immigrants from Bangladesh, she is committed to ensuring we all have the resources to realize our greatest potential and build strong communities. Munmun is an alumna of the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholars Program; she currently serves on the executive board of the Gates Millennium Scholars Alumni Association. During her free time, she enjoys live music, kickboxing, and trying new food.

 

Jonathan Leon

Director Regional Impact - Georgia, Leadership for Educational Equity

Atlanta_Jonathan_Leon_-_Jonathan_Leon.jpgJonathan is a father, husband, and community advocate working everyday to change laws and policies so every child has access to opportunity. As a nonprofit leader, educator, and civic engagement specialist, he currently serves as the Director of Regional Impact with Leadership for Educational Equity in Georgia. A Rochester, NY, native, Jonathan credits his upbringing and commitment to civic engagement to the values instilled by his family and particularly his grandfather a local pastor in the community.

Jonathan moved to Atlanta in 2011 after graduating from Syracuse University with BA in Political Science, African American Studies, and Religion. As a Teach for America Corps Member, Jonathan served in Atlanta Public Schools as an elementary teacher. During his classroom and school leadership experience, Jonathan graduated from Georgia State University with a Master’s in Teaching, was a community organizer, sports coach, and mentor. Jonathan is expecting his Master’s in Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University in 2018.

As an active and engaged community member, Jonathan has organized teachers and families as a leader with O.N.E. Atlanta. He is also a board member of the BE Gr8 Foundation, based in New York City, and Senior Eats Atlanta, a local nonprofit dedicated to ensuring senior citizens have access to healthy and affordable food options. In addition, Jonathan serves on the board of Young Democrats of Atlanta and works with South Fulton Democrats.

An active brother of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., when he is not engaging communities or organizing he is traveling, working out, and enjoying time with his son Jayden and wife Breonna.

 

Tony Lucadamo

Policy Consultant, Obelisk Strategies

Atlanta_Tony_Lucadamo_-_Anthony_Lucadamo.pngTony has a passion for policy and politics, which dates back to his first campaign - knocking doors and licking stamps as a high school student. He recently returned to his native Atlanta, where he joined a public affairs consulting firm. He served as Policy Director for Peter Aman's campaign for mayor in 2017. He is an active member in YDATL as well as serving on the Board of Governors for the Red Clay Democrats. He began his career on Capitol Hill, working as a Foreign Affairs and National Defense Fellow before moving on to become a Field Organizer for President Obama's 2012 re-elect. Tony then spent three years in Virginia as the Lead Policy Analyst at the Miller Center, a university-based think tank. He ran Wes Bellamy's successful bid for Vice Mayor of Charlottesville in 2015. He served as Vice Chair for the city's Democratic Executive Committee as well as being appointed by City Council to its Economic Development Authority. In all, he has managed or consulted nine campaigns at the local, state, and federal level. Tony received his Bachelor's in Economics and International Affairs from the University of Georgia and a Master of Public Policy from the University of Virginia.

 

Brittany Marshall

Evaluation Fellow, Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE)

Atlanta_Brittany_Marshall_-_Brittany_Marshall.jpgDr. Brittany Marshall is an ORISE Evaluation Fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. Dr. Marshall provides evaluation technical assistance local and state health departments across the U.S. implementing HIV prevention programs targeting Black and Latino MSM and transgender persons. Previously, Dr. Marshall was a member of the second class of the CDC Public Health Associate Program (PHAP), one of CDC’s most highly competitive fellowship programs for early career professionals, and later conducted HIV surveillance at the Florida Department of Health and at the Ministry of Health in Belize.

Dr. Marshall has held leadership positions across public health, most notably the American Public Health Association (APHA). Her journey started in the APHA affiliate in Florida; championing health equity, supporting access to health and improving the public health infrastructure on a grassroots level. Soon after, Dr. Marshall became a leader in APHA’s Student Assembly and mobilized the largest public health student group in the world to advocate for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and grant funding for health departments across the nation. Dr. Marshall was elected the Chair of the Student Assembly, overseeing 13 committees and engaging 7,500 members. Dr. Marshall was the first African American to hold this position, and the first student in the 140 year history of APHA to have a voting position on the Executive Board.

Dr. Marshall has been involved in a variety of organizations in Atlanta including Young Government Leaders (2017 Vice President), the WABE 90.1 Amplify Young Professionals Advisory Board, and the Urban League of Greater Atlanta Young Professionals (2017-2018 Personal and Professional Development Chair). Dr. Marshall is an alumna of GeorgiaForward’s Young Gamechangers, the United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Volunteer Involvement Program, and Leadership DeKalb’s Emerging Leaders of DeKalb. Recently, she was selected as an Emerging Leader for the National Urban League, one of only 18 from across the country. Additionally, she is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and the Junior League of Atlanta.

Dr. Marshall received her Bachelor in Health Education from the University of Florida, Master of Public Health degree from the University of South Florida, and Doctor of Public Health degree from the University of North Texas Health Science Center. A West Palm Beach, Florida native, in her spare time, Dr. Marshall is an avid makeup collector and enjoys trying out new recipes while entertaining family and friends.

 

Azhar Mithaiwala

Senior Consultant, Piedmont Healthcare

Atlanta_Azhar_Mithaiwala_-_Azhar_Mithaiwala.pngAzhar is an Atlanta native with a B.S in Biomedical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology where he was granted highest leadership honors by being inducted into the ANAK Society. Since graduating over 8 years ago, Azhar has worked as an IT consultant for Accenture, a Lab Automation Sales Consultant for Beckman Coulter, a Sales Manager for a Silicon Valley based Health Analytics start up (Viewics), and most recently joining Piedmont Hospital System as a Process Improvement Consultant in the Quality Department. Professionally, Azhar is very passionate about innovating in the Hospital Market but specifically in Health IT.

Azhar is also an Alum of Dar-un-Noor Academy (the oldest private Muslim K-8 school in the SE, USA) where he is still involved as the Current Alumni Organization President (after establishing it a few years ago).

Nationally, Azhar has served at the Executive Level with Muslim Organizations such as MUPPIES ( Muslim Urban Professionals) where he was the Annual Conference Chair (after helping to establish this event the prior year) as well as AMHP (American Muslim Health Professionals) where he was the Development Chair. Azhar also helped establish Atlanta Chapters for both of these organizations. He is also a fellow at the Center for Religious and Civic Culture at the University of Southern California ( American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute -AMCLI) and an interfaith leadership initiative fellow through Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem ( Muslim Leadership Initiative-MLI)

In addition to being involved organizationally, Azhar is very involved in his local Muslim Community. Azhar serves on the Board for Al-Farooq Masjid (one of the oldest in the SE, USA) where he founded the annual Masjid Beautification Day Community Service Event that has been running for 4 consecutive years now with over 10 locations/300 participants and exponentially growing (locations include Schools, Cemeteries, Masjid, and Churches).

Azhar is a social entrepreneur at heart that likes giving back to his community as a way (among other things) to continue to sharpen his leadership skills. Azhar aspires to run for an elected office in the city of Atlanta and continue to advance personally, spiritually, politically, and professionally - lifting his Family, City, Community, and Religion along the way.

 

Ashani O'Mard

Senior Director, Capital Development, Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership

Atlanta_-_Ashani_O_Mard.jpgMs. Ashani Collins O’Mard currently serves as Senior Director of Capital Development for the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, Inc. (“ANDP”) where her responsibilities include developing and implementing ANDP’s master fundraising plan and overseeing the ANDP Loan Fund. Prior to moving to Atlanta, Ms. O’Mard gained extensive experience in affordable housing development while working with private developers in Cincinnati, OH (The Model Group) and Boston, MA (Trinity Financial). As a Project Manager, she worked on mixed use developments from inception to completion and partnered with community groups and public agencies through the public approvals process.

Ms. O’Mard currently serves on the Association of Fundraising Professionals Board as a Programming co-chair. She also serves on the boards of the Beltline67 – the Young Professional Advisory Board of the Atlanta Beltline Partnership, Inc. – and the Atlanta Public Schools’ Homeless Education Advisory Board. Ms. O’Mard is a member of the Grove Park Foundation’s Housing Development Committee and serves on an advisory committee of the Georgia Social Impact Collaborative. Ms. O’Mard holds a Bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies from Wellesley College and a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Urban Planning from Harvard University.

 

Malcolm Phelan

Campaign Manager, Miller for Georgia

Atlanta_Malcolm_Phelan_-_Malcolm_Phelan.jpgMalcolm Phelan is a campaign manager with experience in both local and statewide elections. His work is centered around a belief in the power of grassroots organizing supported by data-driven operations. He is currently managing Lindy Miller’s campaign for Georgia Public Service Commissioner in 2018.

Before entering politics, Malcolm worked with the Boston Consulting Group in New York, followed by Dropbox in San Francisco. He developed a background in strategy and operations, and later, product development. Then, due to his Irish roots and interest in workforce development, he founded Venture for Ireland, a non-profit focused on building talent pipelines between international tech and startup communities. The organization was granted funding by the Irish and U.S. governments.

In addition to his work in politics, Malcolm seeks opportunities to deepen his understanding of systemic inequalities and engage with communities around him. He helped develop housing policy as a Research Fellow for Mayor Pete Buttigieg in Indiana and later served on the Equity Advisory Committee of the Human Rights Commission in San Francisco.

Malcolm graduated with a degree in Political Science from the University of Notre Dame, where he received the Leadership Award from the Glynn Family Honors Program. He is an Eagle Scout and trained as a Wilderness EMT.

 

Pallavi Purkayastha

State Director, Kingmaker Strategies

AtlantaIMG_5390ret_-_Pallavi_Purkayastha.jpgBorn in India, Pallavi moved to Atlanta with her family in 2000. A few months after being naturalized, she ventured into her first political campaign as a volunteer for Michelle Nunn for Senate. After the 2014 midterm elections, she joined the Democratic Party of Georgia’s field program, where she honed her skills in fundraising and voter outreach. Last November, Pallavi served as the Field Director for Representative Sam Park, who defeated a three-term incumbent to become the first progressive Asian-American to serve in Georgia's General Assembly. She currently serves as Chief of Staff to Representative David Dreyer and Campaign Manager to Georgia House 89 candidate, Bee Nguyen. She also serves on the Board of Governors of Red Clay Democrats, a political action committee dedicated to electing progressives in the state and local level. She recently joined Kingmaker Strategies, a Memphis based political consulting firm, and helped expand them to Georgia. As Director of Strategy, she looks forward to actualizing its mission to empower community champions running for public office. She holds a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs.

 

Bithia Ratnasamy

Housing Policy Specialist, Georgia Department of Community Affairs

Atlanta_-_Bithia_Ratnasamy.JPGBithia Ratnasamy is committed to advancing equity through amplifying marginalized voices and advocating for more inclusive policies. Currently she is serving as a Housing Policy Specialist in the Office of Housing Deputy Commissioner Carmen Chubb at the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. In this role, Bithia is working to increase affordable and quality housing opportunities for Georgians across the state.

Bithia began her career as an intern with Charis Community Housing in historic South Atlanta. Upon graduating with a bachelor’s degree in urban planning and development from Ball State University, she served as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the City of Phoenix. As a VISTA, she developed the Department of Planning’s model for inclusive community outreach and ensured that historically disenfranchised communities’ voices were reflected in PlanPHX, the city’s twenty-year comprehensive plan. Bithia continued advocating for the needs of Phoenix residents as a staffer in the Office of Councilmember Daniel Valenzuela, who represents Phoenix’s most diverse district. In addition to managing community outreach efforts and constituent services, she advised Councilmember Valenzuela on housing, planning, community health, and transportation policy and programs. Bithia then received her master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Michigan. As a graduate student, she co-chaired the Multicultural Leadership Council, a coalition of graduate student organizations serving and advocating for students of color, and was the Political Action Co-Chair for Students of Color of Rackham, the University of Michigan’s graduate school. She also worked alongside several of her classmates to develop a pipeline between Michigan and several HBCUs, including Spelman and Morehouse, to address the underrepresentation of people of color in the field of planning. Additionally, she was a Graduate Fellow with Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. where she worked on the Community Planning and Engagement team. In her free time, Bithia enjoys sharing her love of cities through photography and social media.

 

Cara Snow

Chief Development Officer, Technology Association of Georgia

Atlanta_Cara_Snow_-_Cara_Snow.jpgA native of Atlanta, Cara Turano Snow, attended college at UGA and graduate school at UNC Chapel Hill. She started her career as an in-house recruiter for regional technology consulting firm, CTS. Over 8 years, she moved into channel management and business development before becoming the Atlanta Director in 2011 achieving multiple years of significant, sustainable revenue and profitability growth. In 2013, Cara took a sales management position with SHI overseeing a team growing a $60 million territory. In 2015, she joined a technology startup as VP of Sales and left in 2016 to join the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) as where she is currently Chief Development Officer.

Cara joined the Junior League of Birmingham in 2006 where she was recognized as a Woman to Watch. She transferred to the Junior League of Atlanta when she moved back in 2009. In both leagues, she gained invaluable experience in strategic leadership, membership sales and retention, sponsorship and advertisement sales, non-profit operational effectiveness, volunteer management, fundraising and board governance which she applies daily in her role at TAG. Recruiting new members, developing member engagement strategies, and working with executives to develop a vibrant technology community supported by strong state, county and city policy defines Cara’s life.

Outside of work and Junior League, Cara serves as the Vice-Chair of the Executive Committee for the UGA College of Education Board of Visitors and is an Atlanta YMCA Georgia Women’s Policy Institute fellow. Cara has been nominated for the Women in Technology Woman of the Year, a Girl’s Inc. BOLD award and a TAG Diversity in the Workplace award as well as named an Atlanta Business Chronicle Top 40 Under 40 in 2012 and a University of Georgia Alumni Association Top 40 Under 40. In October 2017, she was honored to deliver a TED Talk with TEDxPeachtree about measurable change. An avid runner and 17-time marathon finisher, Cara is married to Ricky Snow and adores living in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward, reading and managing her 5 pound Chihuahua, Toby.

 

Chris Thomas

Franchisee Sourcing Consultant, Chick-fil-A, Inc.

ATLANTA_NLC_-_Chris_Thomas_-_Chris_Thomas.jpgChris Thomas is currently serving as Franchisee Sourcing Consultant for Chick-fil-A, Inc. at their Corporate Headquarters. In this role, Chris is responsible for helping to source, select, and manage an applicant pool of candidates to become Chick-fil-A Operator/Franchisees of restaurant units across the U.S. Prior to joining Chick-fil-A, Chris had more than 14 years of sales, marketing, and talent acquisition experience. Most recently Chris served as Vice President of Brand Origination for GE Capital – Franchise Finance. In addition to various sales/marketing roles with GE, Chris was also Global Recruiting Director for GE’s Experienced Commercial Leadership Program, recruiting and selecting mid-career professionals for the global leadership program.

Prior to joining GE, Chris was a sales and marketing representative for NVR, Inc., a national residential homebuilder. In addition, Chris has worked with Hecht’s department stores in its buying office, with PNC in both real estate finance and capital market roles, and with MBNA/Bank of America in its credit card collections unit.

Chris currently serves as the Board Chair of Next Generation Men/Women, Inc., an Atlanta-based non-profit focused on bringing college and career readiness to life through exposure and support to college to high school students across Metro Atlanta.

Chris is now the Founding President of the Atlanta chapter of Penn State’s African American Alumni Organization (AAAO), an alumni interest group of the Penn State Alumni Association. Chris previously served as an elected member of the Penn State’ Alumni Council for a three-year term. Chris also served two terms on the board for the Smeal MBA Advisory Board, where he drove initiatives to enhance the program and mentor students.

In addition to serving as a mentor for the past 10+ years with Penn State’s Fast Start program, he is highly involved with mentoring the college brothers of his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. at Penn State, and serves via Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta.

In 2006, Chris was selected as one of Ebony magazine’s “30 Young Leaders Under 30.” In 2008, he received the Penn State Alumni Association’s Diversity Award, and in 2011, he was selected as one of The Network Journal’s “40 Under Forty.” In 2012, Chris was honored with the Penn State Alumni Association’s Alumni Achievement Awards.

Chris received his B.S in Management/International Business and his MBA from the Smeal College of Business at Pennsylvania State University. Chris, his wife Cherie, and their son reside in Mableton, GA.

 

Jenelle Wingfield

Academic Program Coordinator (Magnet & IB Coordinator), Fulton County Schools

Atlanta_Jenelle_Wingfield_-_Jenelle_Wingfield.jpgJenelle currently serves as the Coordinator of both the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) Magnet Program and the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program® (DP) at Westlake High School in the South Learning Community of Fulton County Public Schools. During her time at Westlake, Jenelle led the three-year application process to implement the IB DP. As the coordinator of two rigorous academic programs, Jenelle directly impacts the education experience for over 400 students each year, serving as a mentor and academic adviser. In addition to her work with the students, Jenelle coaches and delivers professional development to the teachers in her programs. She also consults with the parent booster organization and community professionals to provide a holistic educational experience for the magnet students.

Jenelle began her educational career in the Atlanta Public School System where she taught Engineering classes in the Center for Engineering and Applied Technology (CFEAT) Magnet Program at her alma mater, Frederick Douglass High School. Jenelle transferred to Gwinnett County Public Schools and began teaching a variety of technology courses that included Engineering, Architecture, and Cisco Networking. Jenelle’s architecture expertise earned her the privilege of serving as the software trainer for all high school technology teachers as well as an advisor during the feasibility study for the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology. During Jenelle’s final years in Gwinnett, she transitioned to mathematics education. After just one year of teaching, Jenelle was asked to serve as the Curriculum Leader due to her student’s exceptional test scores on the state exam.

Jenelle is a graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture. She also earned a Master’s of Education in Secondary Mathematics and the Education Specialist in Teaching Leadership degree, both from Piedmont College. Jenelle currently resides in Decatur with her two children, Jaela and Christopher.

 

Joey Wozniak

Co-founder, Managing Partner, Mile 22 Associates

Atlanta_-_Joseph_Wozniak.pngGrowing up in rural middle Georgia, Joey Wozniak rode the bus after school everyday to his mother’s classroom trailer - making it in time for the last 30 minutes of her Civics and Government course for well over a decade. Even though he spent the majority of his time in her class drinking Capri Suns and doodling on Paint, he was ingrained with a passion for active civic participation and improving our democratic experience. Joey graduated from Mercer University in 2015, where he served as Student Government President during his Junior year. Immediately after college, Joey launched the first Division 1 Conference Championship for Voter Participation, SoCon Votes, and joined forces with Sam Novey to launch their company, Mile 22 Associates, and quickly partnered with the Foundation for Civic Leadership to help replicate this concept. Since then, the Big Ten Voting Challenge has launched, with many more challenges on the way.

 

Brandi Wyche

Manager, PwC

Atlanta_Brandi_Wyche_-_Brandi_Wyche.JPGBrandi Wyche is a Strategy, Innovation, and Communications consultant for PwC's Public Sector practice. In this role, she advises federal government agencies in identifying strategic and innovative ways to solve and manage complex technological and operational efficiency issues. Connecting government agencies and private sector firms to work to identify cutting-edge, common-ground solutions to issues that affect the health and well-being of American citizens is what Brandi enjoys most about her career. Her areas of focus include marketing and customer strategy, emerging technology and innovation, and project and portfolio management.

In addition to her professional demands, Brandi has a passion for community advocacy and civic engagement. She currently serves her community by mentoring teens and girls through Girls Inc. and promoting youth education through Junior Achievement. Brandi is also a member of The Junior League of Atlanta and serves on the Young Professionals Advisory Board of United Way of Greater Atlanta.

Brandi earned her MBA from Emory University's Goizueta Business School, where she served as a Goizueta Leadership Fellow, and her Bachelor's from Georgia Institute of Technology. A Georgia girl, born and raised, Brandi loves to spend her free time travelling internationally, reading NYT bestsellers, and watching football on Sunday afternoons.