Meet the 2017-2018 Speakers Bureau
Derris Ross, at age 27, is the founder of The Ross Foundation and a community organizer with IndyCAN. Derris is an Indianapolis native born and raised on the cities Far Eastside. Growing up as a kid, Derris was able to see how the community lacked youth programs, healthy options, and community involvement. Due to this, the rise in crime, drug usage, police harassment, and poverty has taken a toll on the community. Now being older and a respectful leader of the community, he has decided to start his own foundation in order to give back to and repair his childhood community. He wants to let the youth and city know that you do not have to settle for being a product of your environment, instead you can be a service to your environment. Together we can achieve more.
Chelsea Byers is the Chair of the national campaign to End the Statute of Limitations on Rape and Sexual Assault. She coordinates and facilitates creative direct action trainings and resource development to support movement organizers around the globe with Beautiful Trouble and has mobilized thousands of change-makers through grassroots advocacy training and campaign development. Chelsea has organized dozens of public demonstrations for social justice, held vigil for political prisoners and whistleblowers, and earned media at the 2016 Republican National Convention for gun violence prevention advocacy. After she disrupted and ended his hateful speech during a campaign stop in Las Vegas on January 20th, 2016, Donald Trump said of Chelsea, “That’s a young woman that doesn’t know... She’s Lost... To hell with her.” In 2014, Chelsea was named 'Proud Community Ally' by the Northern Arizona Pride Association for her work organizing Flagstaff’s largest rally in history against discrimination legislation SB 1062. Chelsea is a contributor to the feminist blog The Engaged Gaze and a member of the National Women’s Political Caucus. In July 2017, Chelsea launched the Mural Map LA - a free resource to build community through greater accessibility to street art in Los Angeles.
Amy Chen is from North Philadelphia and at the age of 9, she experienced violence in her community and lost several friends to gun violence. She believes addressing the root causes to violence, like lack of community resources, is crucial in stopping the gun violence epidemic in America. She finally decided to take action to stop gun violence when she attended the first #Fight4AFuture summit in 2014. It was a wake-up call that her voice does matter. Amy was appointed to serve on Philadelphia’s Youth Commission by Councilwoman Tasco in 2013 and organized events in her community to reduce violence. She served as an East Coast regional organizer for Generation Progress through the GVP network. Served on the 2016-2017 #Fight4AFuture National Leadership Council.
Brittany White is a visionary with a heart for protecting the well being of black women. She utilizes her platform as a community organizer with Faith in Texas to highlight the experience of women around mass incarceration and our criminal justice system. She moves marginalized communities of faith from apathy to being civically engaged with their public officials.. Ms. White offers a first encounter perspective after serving five years in Alabama state prisons. In her personal time she dreams of ways to promote healing and connection with black women. She hails originally from Dayton,Ohio and currently resides in Dallas, Texas.
Shae Harris is the Policy Advisor for the Deputy Mayor of Public Safety and Justice in Washington, D.C, where she informs policies for people touched by the criminal justice system. In her role, she conducts in-depth research, analyzes programmatic initiatives related to returning citizens, and serves as the liaison between community-based organizations and local/national stakeholders within the reentry community. Shae strongly believes that systemic change happens at the policy-level, which prompted her to obtain her Master of Public Administration from American University. She also holds Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from North Carolina A&T State University, and received a Nonprofit Executive Management Certificate from Georgetown University. Shae previously served as the Deputy Director at the Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizen Affairs in D.C., and in various capacities in the nonprofit sector where her efforts were dedicated to transforming the lives of the District’s most vulnerable residents. She has a wealth of experience from working to improve the lives of marginalized and underserved populations in the District, and sincerely believes that we are the change-agents that we are seeking.
Chad S.A. Wilson was born on Milwaukee’s North side. He spent 10-years in the criminal justice system for non-violent charges and revocations. Because of this, he has an in depth knowledge of the prison system culture and remains attached to the system by supporting friends and family still serving time. As a former drug dealer, his story displays the difficulties involved in transitioning living styles, with life long barriers in place due to attaining his first felony at the age of 18.
Today, Chad is a certified facilitator of the Nurturing Father’s Program, an advocate for men in prison attaining college education/up-to-date training while incarcerated, and an advocate of criminal justice reform on all levels. Chad is also on a Parent Advisory Team at the United Way of Milwaukee and Waukesha which is a parent-led group that is aimed at building and strengthening existing partnerships between parents and the community to improve developmental outcomes for young children. He also works with the City of Milwaukee's Office for Violence prevention in efforts to subdue the violence that plagues inner city areas which includes Milwaukee.
Chad loves playing basketball with his children, working with people of all backgrounds, and doing any and all things to make Milwaukee a better place. Chad runs his own website iammorethanafelon.com where you can find more info on mass incarceration, current social issues, and his socially conscious t-shirt collection coming soon this summer. The collection is meant to provoke thought and action, which he hopes ultimately provides societal improvement.
Chaundra is a doctoral candidate in the Adult Education and Human Resource Development program at Florida International University. Her dissertation research explores the impact of Alternatives to Violence Project workshops has on incarcerated facilitators and participants. She also serves as the Vice President for Alternatives to Violence Project USA. AVP USA is an association of community, school and prison-based groups offering experiential workshops in personal growth, community development and creative conflict management. Chaundra has been a facilitator for AVP in Miami for over 7 years and serves as the Coordinator for 10-12 workshops per year at two South Florida correctional facilities. Chaundra is currently a Research Assistant with The Education Effect at Florida International University responsible for data collection and research on a university- community partnership in urban schools. She has a MS in Adult Education and Graduate Certificates in Conflict Resolution & Consensus Building as well Women & Gender Studies from Florida International University and a BA from Florida A & M University. She is a native Floridian and resides in Miami-Dade County.
Dorothy Johnson-Speight is a licensed family therapist and long-time supporter of the rights of children and families. Following the tragic 2001 murder of her 24-year-old son Khaaliq Jabbar Johnson over a parking space dispute, Ms. Johnson-Speight, along with other grieving mothers, founded the nonprofit group Mothers In Charge, Inc. (MIC). She serves as the executive director of MIC, whose mission focuses on violence prevention through education and intervention for children, young adults, families, and community organizations. The organization’s mission is achieved through collaborative partnerships with school districts, youth and faith-based community organizations, and family centers. Ms. Johnson-Speight and other members of MIC, along with Kathleen O'Hara of Creative Strategies for Living, presented a workshop titled The Victimization of a Survivor: When Your Child has been Murdered at the National Organization for Victim Assistance’s National Conference in Philadelphia. She received many awards for her work in the community, including Philadelphia magazine’s Best Philadelphian Award, the Philadelphia Inquirer Citizen of the Year Award, the National Action Network Community Leader Award, and Sorors Justice Fellowship Award. Under her leadership, MIC received numerous awards, including the FBI’s Director of Community Service Award. Ms. Johnson-Speight earned her master’s degree in Human Services from Lincoln University, she completed Immaculata University’s School Psychologist Certification Program, and she is currently a doctoral candidate at Fielding University.
Born and raised in Chicago, Jessica Disu, also known as FM Supreme, is a writer, poet, artist, activist, educator, community organizer and advocate for social justice, peace & nonviolence. FM Supreme uses language as a tool for positive change. She is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago and has studied public policy and global affairs in Singapore at Nanyang Technological University. FM Supreme is founder of Chicago International Youth Peace Movement, a peer to peer networking and advocacy group, co founder of The Peace Exchange youth leadership development program of Holy Family Ministries and is a part of the inaugural class of co- founding members of Black Youth Project 100 (BYP 100). Jessica Disu (FM Supreme) has traveled to over 16 countries sharing her art, music and vision for youth and young adult led peace movements in Europe, Southeast Asia and South Africa. FM Supreme has taught spoken word poetry and peace education workshops across the United States and in Leeds, England. In addition to her passion for the arts, community building and youth advocacy, Disu is a fervent public speaker and has been blessed with the privilege and opportunity to speak during opening plenaries at various international conferences including Facing Race (Race Forward), Black Male Re-Imagined I, II and III (Campaign for Black Male Achievement), and has served as a keynote speaker and performing artist for Music University, North Central College, St. Johns University, University of London – Birkbeck, Princeton University, University of West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago, University of Chicago and a host of other higher educational institutions across the U.S. FM Supreme has spoken and performed on panels with Andrew Young, Chuck D (Public Enemy), Russell Simmons, Nick Cannon and a host of others.
FM Supreme has featured in Chicago Tribune as a Remarkable Woman of Chicago. In 2016, Jessica’s interview segment with Megyn Kelly (FOX News) went viral after a national televised town-hall discussion about policing in the United States. FM Supreme has spoken and performed on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris – Perry show and on ABC 7 Chicago’s Windy City Live. Fusion featured Disu as a part of their 30 under 30 segment of women who they believed who would help influence the U.S Presidential election of 2016. For more details @FMSupreme
Joey Williams is currently the Chapter Director of Faith In Kern, part of Faith In The Valley, a PICO affiliate. People Improving Community through Organizing (PICO) is the largest faith based community organizing network in United States. Faith In Kern and PICO CA was instrumental in passage of Prop 47 in 2014, which reclassifies low level, nonsexual, and nonviolent felonies to misdemeanors. Williamsalso led efforts in Kern and the Central Valley to pass Props 55, 56 and 57, and was recently hired by PICO CA as it's Integrated Voter Engagement Coordinator.
Joey Williams is a graduate of Santa Barbara City College and former ASB President. Williams returned to Bakersfield in 2007 and earned B.A. (History) and M.A. (Sociology) from CSU Bakersfield, and served as a youth pastor for five years working with at risk youth. Williams was himself was a student in Kern High School District, and expelled under "Zero Tolerance", and is a recipient of a reclassification under Prop 47.
Malcom J. Reed was born in Mullins, South Carolina and relocated to Whitesboro, New Jersey outside of Atlantic City, where he was raised. He holds degrees in Business Administration, Business Management and Finance.
Reed has 18 years of experience working with youth who find themselves disconnected including him. Basketball carried Reed from the Jersey shore to West Virginia Tech to the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Harlem Globetrotters as well as abroad. In 2006, Reed founded D3 Community Outreach, Incorporated, a nonprofit 501(C)3 based in Durham, North Carolina dedicated to improving the lives of disconnected youth. With his passion for basketball and his desire to give back not only to the community he grew up in but also, the one in which he lives, the inaugural program of D3 “The Hayti Basketball Summer League” began. “My ultimate goal is for our youth to visualize the end product while falling in love with the process,” says Reed. Through the years, Reed continues to develop D3 Community Outreach and has expanded D3 to include additional programming focused on service, entrepreneurship and literacy with a vision to connect with youth in every state.”
Mary received the Power Woman Award from Al Sharpton’s NAN Convention Won the Drum Major of Justice award from SCLC Women. She received the Essence 365Black award from McDonalds; Mary-Pat was selected as Ebony Magazine's Power 100. Atlanta’s AJC named her as one of Georgia's Home Town Heroes, also winner of 21st Century 20 under 20 Leader 2013, Mary-Pat was named Activist of the Year from the 100 Black Men of America 2013, Awarded Philanthropist of the year from, Hearts to Hearts, Winner of the Peace Prize Awarded Philanthropist of the year from, Hearts to Hearts where her national Campaign Think Twice won 50 thousand dollars, 2013, Black Girls Rock M.A.D (Making A Difference) Girl winner 2013, National winner for Kohl’s Kids Who Care. 2014 Porsche Driving Force of the year award. 2014 Delta Sigma Theta, Youth Leader of the Year. 2014 AKA Sorority, 83rd North Atlantic Emerging Leader Award, 2014 Usher New Look, Global Youth Award 2015 Empower Magazine, Youth of the Year Award, 2015 Youth Advocate of the year Women’s Council of the Empire Board of Realtist, 2016 Young Women of Impact Award from Off the Field Players’ Wives Association 2016 Atlanta Magazine Women Making A Difference Award 2016. Named of one of Atlanta’s most Influential women 2016 by Atlanta Business League, 2016 Women Inspiring Women Award
Nicholas Buckingham is a community organizer with FORCE. After spending seven years incarcerated and catching the backlash of the the felony stigma, Nicholas decided to focus his attention on higher education and raising his voice for criminal justice reform. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. He graduated from Oakland Community College with an associate degree in mental health/social work and is currently completing his Bachelors in social work with a concentration on criminal justice at Oakland University. Nicholas is a board member with the Detroit chapter of the Nation Outside, a cohort with Justleadership USA, and the leading voice for the fair chance ordinance for the city of Detroit.
Nicholas became deeply compassionate with reforming the criminal justice system while incarcerated. In 2010, after spending seven years in the Michigan department of corrections, Nicholas organized within the prison system to bring a change to the overbearing cost of phone calls. Building relationships with the religious and prison organizations, Nicholas was able to bring the people imprisoned and family members outside of the prison together to take action against the phone system by not using the phones for a allocated amount of time. While enduring the harsh environment of the prison system, the department of corrections were able to settle their differences with the prison population by reducing the cost of the phone calls. After being paroled out of the Michigan department of corrections in 2012, Nicholas would find the difficulty in finding a job and affordable housing due to his criminal background. With little resources that would help returning citizens, Nicholas begin to concentrate his time and energy in advocating for rehabilitating and re-entry programs that would propel productivity among returning citizens. In 2016, Nicholas led the Fair Chances 4 All Campaign (FC4A), a coalition effort comprised of faith, labor, legal, and community organizations aimed at helping people with criminal records find quality employment. The Detroit City Council passed a ‘Ban the Box’ ordinance in 2010. FC4A would extend that rule to include private employers who receive tax breaks from the city.
Onleilove (pronounced Onlylove) Alston was born and raised in East New York, Brooklyn. Currently, she is the executive director at PICO-Faith in New York, where she leads a multiracial and multifaith faith based organizing federation of 70 congregations representing 80,000 New Yorkers who are working to Build the Beloved City. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Human Development and African-American studies from Penn State University, she completed a year of service with AmeriCorps Public Allies New York. In 2011, she received her Master of Divinity and Master of Social Work degrees from Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University School of Social Work, respectively.
Having experienced poverty and homelessness, she has developed a compassion for people fueled by her passion for justice, and knows that the gospel is truly “good news to the poor.” Onleilove serves on Mayor Bill de Blasio's Clergy Advisory Council, the board of directors for Sojourners, ALIGN and on the advisory board for the Micah Institute at NY Theological Seminary. A womanist Onleilove writes and lectures on the implicit bias of colorism and its impact on African-American women and leads A Women’s Theology of Liberation and Live Free W.O.M.B. (Women Organizing out of Mass Incarceration and Brutality) for the PICO Network. In 2014 she founded Prophetic Whirlwind: Uncovering the Black Biblical Destiny to uncover the Black presence in the Abrahamic religions and is currently completing a book on this subject, that will be published in 2017. Onleilove lives in Harlem and has five siblings and a large extended family in both New York and North Carolina. She worships at Beth-El House of Yahweh a historically Black Hebraic congregation dedicated to justice in the South Bronx.
Sarah is a senior at Georgetown University studying Government and Justice & Peace Studies with a concentration in transitional justice. On campus, Sarah is Co-Chair of the OWN IT Summit and Co-President of the Jewish Student Association. She spends a large amount of her time doing political activism, mainly on the issues of gun violence and criminal justice reform. In the aftermath of a mass shooting in her town at Sandy Hook School, which her mother survived, Sarah began work to address gun violence through legislative action, cultural change, and coalition building, working with various campus, local, state, and national organizations over the past four years.
Shante Leathers was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. Becoming an advocate against gun violence came from seeing many of her friends be killed by guns. Shante recently received her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Wheelock College. During her undergraduate career she was the Field Director to Operation LIPSTICK (Ladies Involved in Putting a Stop to Inner City Killing) She worked to spread the LIPSTICK message through community outreach, presentations, and leadership training's. Shante understands that gun violence is a public health issue that is claiming the lives of many people, and tearing apart families. As an active member of society Shante’s priority is to create a safer community for everyone. Her heart for the city of Boston led her to The Peace Institute where she became a Peace Fellow. The Louis D. Brown Peace Institute is the center for healing, teaching, and learning for families who have lost a loved one. There mission is to transform societies response to homicide. The work at the Peace Institute sparked a deeper purpose for Shante. Shante is now a graduate student at Wheelock College studying to obtain her Master’s in social work. Her goal is to gain knowledge in trauma informed care and better serve her community. Each life that is lost due to gun affects the entire community.
Ciera Walker was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago. She is committed to the fight for social and economic justice by strengthening communities through radical theology. Ciera is the Executive Director of Live Free Chicago, which is a faith based organization with a mission to rebuild black communities through the power of the black church. In this position, Ciera is working with black churches to create, safe, economically viable, and sustainable black communities. Prior to Live Free Chicago, she served as the Associate Director of Organizing at a faith based organization whose campaign focus was police accountability, mass incarceration, and violence.
Ciera received her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Lamar University, and her Masters in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is currently studying at McCormick Theological seminary for a Masters in Theological Studies. In 2013, Ciera was ordained a minister through the Church of Jesus Christ House of Prayer Inc., where she served as the Youth coordinator from 2010-2013.
In addition to her commitment to racial justice, Ciera is the proud mother of three daughters, Christyana, Chrystal, and Christen Walker.
Erica Ford remembers what it was like growing up in Jamaica, Queens back in the 1980s, where crack use and gun violence was an everyday occurrence. A resident in the high crime neighborhood since the age of five, Erica grew up attending countless funerals for friends and seeing mothers left alone to raise their children after losing their husbands to death or prison. With a burning desire to help effect positive changes in her community, Erica attended a rally for the December 12th Movement, an international human rights’ group. Joining the December 12th Movement empowered Erica, then 18, and solidified her life’s ambition to become a change maker. Shortly after, she founded the Black Consciousness Youth Move-ment that not only helped create and develop student governments in New York City high schools, but also organized action against police brutality, while calling for self- accountability.
In 2002, the tragic murders of two children in her community inspired Erica, along with Jef- fery “Ja Rule” Atkins and others, to create the monumental LIFE Camp (Love Ignites Free- dom Through Education). LIFE Camp provides at-risk inner-city youth, ages 13-24 years, the valuable tools they need to stay in school and out of the criminal justice system. The pro- gram also offers these individuals educational, employment and social opportunities they might not otherwise have. LIFE Camp has even spawned an I Love My LIFE tour which high- lights young entrepreneurs and visits schools and prisons with the LIFE Camp message of anti-violence and self-love. Another offshoot of LIFE Camp is Erica’s Peace is a Lifestyle pro- gram, featuring holistic guru Deepak Chopra. Chopra, an outspoken supporter of Erica’s work, makes monthly visits to LIFE Camp where he talks to and meditates with the group participants.
After practically 30 years of dedicating herself to championing for today’s youth, Erica Ford shows no signs of stopping. Her current ‘Bury Da Beef’ campaign has put together a citywide coalition/campaign to reduce gun violence. Another recent brainchild, her NY Peace Week, occurs each January and honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of non- violence. Organized by LIFE Camp, Inc., the collective goal is to create a culture of peace throughout NYC for seven days by hosting an event, performing an activity or simply taking one personal action toward creating inner peace and setting a positive example for young people.
Jasmeet Kaur Sidhu is a Researcher with Amnesty International USA (AIUSA). She is currently leading AIUSA’s research into the United States’ obligations to prevent gun violence and its impact on human rights for AIUSA’s upcoming End Gun Violence report. Jasmeet is a lifelong human rights activist, attorney, and advocate. As a practicing Sikh—whose family and community members have been targeted by hate crimes—her current focus on gun violence was motivated by the August 2012 domestic terror attack on a Sikh gurdwara (temple) in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, where six people were shot and killed and several others injured.
Jasmeet has worked with numerous social justice movements, including Amnesty International, Alliance for Justice, GLSEN (Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network), Human Rights First, and South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT). Jasmeet’s work has focused on immigrant rights; LGBTQ rights; racial, religious and ethnic profiling; and post-9/11 hate crimes. Jasmeet has also worked with numerous grassroots organizations across the country developing advocacy strategies; providing legislative guidance on election-related activity and lobbying campaigns; and researching and analyzing domestic and international human rights issues.
Bio coming soon!
Bio coming soon!