Berisha Black is an alumnus of the foster care system where she spent 15 years in care and then aged out. Berisha is a prime example of resiliency; by overcoming many obstacles, she has been a public speaker, trainer, and role model for others. She graduated from CAL State University, Los Angeles with her Bachelors degree in Social Work. She is currently a Child Welfare Consultant and Trainer and offers a variety of trainings on becoming foster/adoptive parents, the life of a foster child, strategic sharing, and trauma. She has trained over 1,000 new Foster/Adoptive Parents in AZ. She also was a foster parent for several years. She has received the 2017 Congressional Angels in Adoption award. Berish has used her expertise to impact public police and help create several key programs for youth in the system.
A. Margot Blair is an author, educator and strategic advisor as well as a Doctor of Ministry (Leadership) Candidate.
Sonja is an activist, advocate, facilitator and collaborator, working to advance community movements that drive social justice reform. Sonja’s work to change unjust systems started with her lived experience growing up in an oppressive system of institutionalized racial segregation in South Africa. She is passionate about giving back, making a difference through active community engagement, contributing to the collective and effecting positive change. Sonja embraces life as a journey that presents ongoing opportunities to learn, grow and create meaningful experiences and memories along the way.
Brooke Evans (she/her) is a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin–Madison where she established herself as a nationally-known activist on issues such as basic needs instability and affordable and accessible higher education. Brooke is a disabled person with lived experience of homelessness who has been involved with organizing, policy, governance, research, writing, consulting, and public speaking for more than 10 years. She is a champion of bridging constituency and policy to ensure impacted people are in the rooms and at the tables where all decisions are made as experts and leaders. She put these values into action by coordinating input from peers who have experienced homelessness and eviction across the country to help former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro build his 2020 Democratic presidential platform on housing and homelessness.
Malikah Garner is a mother, advocate, entrepreneur and the Mommy Ambassador At-Large at Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association (BMBFA) in Detroit, MI. She is the co-founder and leader of the Mommy Ambassador program. Malikah’s passion for breastfeeding and maternal child health advocacy is centered on community support, impacting institutional policy, and inclusion in the breastfeeding community.
She has a background in marketing and project management with a degree from Saginaw Valley State University and a Master of Business Administration from Northwood University. In 2019, she founded Detroit Youth Code, a computer programming bootcamp focused on training and inspiring Detroits youth as the next generation of STEM leaders.
Malikah is a proud advocate for the community. In 2021, she joined Hope Starts Here, Detroit’s Early Childhood Partnership to help make Detroit a city that puts children first. As a Mommy Ambassador with BMBFA, she has published articles about her breastfeeding journey and advocacy, and her perspective on normalizing Black breastfeeding has been featured on national platforms such as Good Morning America. She joined the FFI team in 2022, eager to learn from and collaborate with other leaders across the country on community centered solutions and to build a community bill of rights.
Malikah is the proud mother of two amazing boys, Nolan and Aaron. She enjoys fitness, archery, reading and spending time with family & friends. Malikah is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Detroit Alumnae Chapter.
My name is Shaphon. I am a mother of 5 and an advocate for families dealing with the child welfare system. As a community member with lived experience, my passion is driven by the clear inequality that runs throughout systems to unbalance the family foundation. So often policies and laws are created by those who do not share the same values, culture, or traditions which creates barriers for those who are directly impacted. I am honored to have the resilience to put forth change from first hand experience and to share the work that has been in the making to give a true voice from the community.
San Diego, CA
Essie Mae Horne is a native of San Diego, CA (Southeast). She is a Widow, Sister of a twin brother and lil sister, a devoted single mother to her 2 children, Domonique 23 (Health Care Provider) and Andre Jr 17 (Student/Athlete).
Essie Mae is a 3-time survivor after losing her husband and 10 years later her twin brother to senseless gun violence. Essie Mae is also a survivor of a home invasion and being shot at. God has blessed her beyond measure and God gives her strength to share her life journey and testimony with others. Her perspective on life has changed significantly over the years.
In March of 2016, Essie Mae founded a foundation called T.W.E.E.N.S.W.A.G. (Together We Elevate Each Other in our Neighborhood, Simply With A lot of Grace). Essie Mae dedicates her time and testimony in hopes of helping others who struggle with devastating trauma, mental illness and loss of a loved one.
Essie Mae is a devoted mentor, community activist, care advocate and motivational speaker. She is currently on various boards and committees at work and in her community and beyond. She continues to inspire, uplift, coach, and work with others to make a positive change in our society.
Essie Mae has worked for the City of San Diego Public Utilities Department in Construction/Meter section for 17 years. She is currently a Water System Technician III. She holds a certification as a Meter Tester Trainer and carries a certification from the State of California as a Water Distribution Operator II.
In her spare time, Essie Mae loves to cook for her family, friends and community. She is the Founder/Owner of Essie Mae’s Catering & Crafting. She also loves fellowshipping with family and friends.
Wykeisha Howe is a unique parent and community activist. Wykeisha managed to use her lived experience to support parents in her community through a grassroots organization called Official Paren Avengers, focusing on everyday families becoming more engaged in their community and becoming self-sufficient.
A super volunteer serving over 12 years in volunteer services within the public library and the last 9 years in the local schools. Adding to that, Wykeisha is engaged in her Neighborhood Planning Unit (NPU) serving as Sergeant of Arms and on the Education Committee as chair and vice chair.
Wykeisha’s mission is to increase community engagement in the City of Atlanta communities.
This experience leads her to create the Respect Cascade initiative, which brings awareness to street safety near and around schools. Wykeisha created Atlanta Parent Alliance to focus on accountability around health, housing, transportation, education, public safety, and clean energy.
Los Angeles, CA
Philip is a community activist, survivor, and formerly incarcerated person. He grew up in South Central Los Angeles, where at the age of 14, he was a victim of gun violence, and thereafter was incarcerated.
Phillip became inspired by his experience and the plight of his community to embrace the idea of change and became the example thereof.
In 2016, Phillip became involved with policy reform, working with organizations such as ARC and LA Voice and Youth Justice Coalition. He has been active in multiple civic engagement campaigns, helping advocate for resources with LA county; notably, Measure J, as well as criminal justice reforms policies in California such as Prop. 57 and Prop. 17.
Phillip has an educational background in mathematics, social science, and art. HE was honored and awarded in the Fall of 2021 with a Certificate of Appreciation by Arizona State UNiversity educators for his role in developing its “Future ID” program, an on-campus course that demonstrates the impact of system impacted people having a future vision for success.
Phillip is currently working at The Reverence Project in Watts, doing advocacy work, community engagement, and community-based public safety training with youth who are a part of the Community Sentinels program. He is also a member of the Watts Neighborhood Council and is the Souther Chapter Coordinator for Time Done.
Patrick McNeal is the Director of the North Flint Neighborhood Action Council (NFNAC). The NFNAC brings together residents, school leaders and community stakeholders in some of the most economically disenfranchised areas of Flint, MI to plan, implement, and sustain comprehensive revitalization efforts that improve the lives of residents and provide them with the loudest voice in that change and helping them to remember ‘nothing about us without us.” He is also the Lead Facilitator/Certified Life Coach of Community Roots, a coaching and consulting firm based in Flint, MI that seeks to help individuals, community groups, churches and nonprofits identify and engage with issues of poverty, access, racial reconciliation and others in the mission field near their physical location. He is also a certified Digital Storyteller/Trainer through the Story Center. He utilizes his gift of storytelling to assist individuals and groups to share their story utilizing their own voice.
A believer in lifelong learning, Patrick has earned both a Masters in Educational Leadership from Eastern Michigan University and a Masters of Divinity from Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA. Patrick also serves his community through the Conflict Resolution Center as a certified mediator. His service to the poor, combined with his passion for telling and showing all that will see and hear that there is life in the Word of God, are so vividly illustrated in the verses that continue to guide his life: “Trust in the LORD will all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3: 5,6)
Los Angeles, CA
A student of Science, Landscaping and Sound Design. Primary dedications; Redefining the term “wealth” as connected to mutual respect and family creation ✔️
Jennifer Olsen, President and CEO of LocalFirst Group, LLC, is an award-winning community consultant and activist, caregiver, bodyworker, baker, and farmer who helps groups and individuals challenge systems toward a healthier, more equitable, joyous, and inclusive community.
Shemekka Ebony Stewart-Isaacs, the Founder of Black Girl Magic Market and co-founder of I Am Brilliant was recently featured in New York Times Magazine 2021 Money Edition. Her experience in community engagement and leadership coaching support the development of much needed mindset shifts towards sustainable business growth and leadership development. Shemekka Ebony’s current work is serving as a leadership coach for Johns Hopkins University HPRS PhD Scholars and an active mentor with Nasdaq mentor makers initiative.
Victoria Washington is a native Detroiter and homeschooling mother of one. She earned her B.S. Chemistry degree from the University of Michigan and is currently serving as a Special Projects Program Director for a local non-profit. Victoria is passionate about intentional parenting and community advocacy. She aims to influence the development and implementation of programs and services that directly impact parents and families. She uses her voice to shape the direction of support and resources that will equitably honor parent input. Victoria currently serves as the Treasurer and co-founder of the Mommy Ambassador program at Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association. Having breastfed her daughter for over 4 years, Victoria is an avid breastfeeding advocate and is a certified community based doula.
Los Angeles, CA
Patricia Willis is a graduate of California State Dominguez Hills University where she majored in Hospitality and Marketing. She is the founder of Direct My Path Life Coaching and Recycling is My Resource. Patricia stands side by side with our nation’s most influential community leaders, such as President Of NAN Organization Pastor Al Sharpton Najee Ali, the Judge Mathis. While organizing she facilitates and coaches to enhance relationships from the individual level to the communal level. She works with community groups, the justice system, families and those impacted by housing insecurity, violence, trafficking, environmental and health inequities, as she pioneers the work of supporting people to regain self and develop a healthier lifestyle to become more successful and productive in their Community. Patricia is also a spokesperson for a wine beverage called Vondor, a brand developed to empower women and men to Believe in themselves and to know that all things are Positive and Possible if they trust the process and believe.
Tiffany Wilson is a Seattle based Singer, Songwriter and Teaching Artist. Through her music she is an advocate for social justice and in her everyday life she is an advocate for the youth and their artistic expression.
Tiffany Wilson has endeared herself to audiences across the World with magnetic live performances and unflinching honesty. Drawing from a well of inspiration that reflects inner and outer change, politics, and the vision of a brighter future.