Learn More About Our Speakers

Racial Truth and Reconciliation Week 2021 Speaker Bios

Allison Gilbreath, Voices for Virginia’s Children

Allison Gilbreath, Policy and Programs Director, Voices for Virginia’s Children

Allison Gilbreath is the Policy and Programs Director at Voices for Virginia’s Children. She leads the organization’s child welfare policy work as well as the implementation of advocacy programs, elevating policy conversations across all policy areas.

Allison created Voices’ foster care policy network, a group comprised of partners, direct service providers, families, and youth who create a foster care unified agenda each year. She also helped to create the first-ever bi-partisan foster care caucus with the Virginia General Assembly. Together, with the network and foster care caucus, she successfully led the charge in creating the kinship financial assistance program during the 2020 General Assembly session.

Allison came to Voices after several years of working on behalf of children and families, most recently at Prevent Child Abuse Virginia. She was included on Style Weekly’s 40 under 40 in 2019 and has presented at several national and state conferences.

She earned her Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University and completed the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership in 2016. She is the board president of Collective 365, an organization founded to support Black and Brown communities through philanthropic giving and capacity building.

Amanda Lynch, Greater Richmond SCAN

Amanda Lynch, Author, Founder of Rethinking Resiliency, & Trauma-Informed Specialist, Greater Richmond Scan

Amanda Lynch is an author, motivational speaker and entrepreneur. Lynch authored “Breathe, Baby, Breathe: An ABC Guide To Mindfulness.” She is a licensed educator and an expert in trauma-informed practices and mindfulness in the classroom. Lynch began working as a Special Education teacher in Richmond Public Schools in 2003. Amanda began practicing yoga in 2013 and instantly recognized the countless healing benefits yoga has to offer. She completed her RYT-200 in 2019. As a native of Glen Allen, she was very naïve to the poverty and trauma that plagued many of her students and their families. She sought out more information about substance use disorder, cultural responsiveness, and historical trauma as she navigated the systems and resources that could best support her students both in and outside of the classroom. For nearly twenty years, Lynch worked in a variety of capacities in public education and briefly in correctional education.  It wasn’t until 2006 when her best friend, Angel J. Jackson, and her father, Herbert Sharpe, Sr., were brutally murdered that she truly understood how deeply trauma could impact an individual and their family. This single event changed the trajectory of her career. Purchase 5 Minute Mindfulness Journal for Busy Moms and 5 Minute Mindfulness Journal for Kids here.

Anjali Ferguson, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU

Anjali Ferguson, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University

Dr. Ferguson is a Clinical Psychologist specializing in early childhood trauma-informed care. Her research interests include culturally competent models of care to promote community engagement of diverse populations and demystify stigma associated with mental health care.

Dr. Ferguson is currently the staff psychologist for the Child Development Clinic in the division of Developmental Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. She also serves as the psychology faculty for the Virginia Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (VA- LEND).

Amy Strite, Voices for Virginia’s Children

Amy Strite, Chief Executive Officer, Voices for Virginia’s Children

Amy Strite became the new CEO of Voices for Virginia’s Children in October 2020.  In this role, Amy leads work that focuses on systems-level change, with an emphasis on racial equity and trauma-informed care.

Amy has 25 years of progressively responsible non-profit leadership. She is mission- and values-driven in directing organizations in their long-term strategies and daily operations. Amy effectively builds and sustains trusting relationships with boards, staff, funders, community partners and other stakeholders. She has experience with change management, building employee engagement, and resource development. Amy has a strong commitment to and demonstrated effectiveness in leading an organization to embrace the importance of social justice, diversity, equity and inclusion.

Prior to her work with Voices, Amy served as President & CEO of Family Lifeline for the past 13 years. Amy held roles with Greater Richmond SCAN (Stop Child Abuse Now), Sacred Heart Center and Richmond AIDS Ministry.

Amy currently serves on the boards of the Richmond Memorial Health Foundation and Smart Beginnings RVA. A clinician at heart, Amy holds a Bachelor of Social Work from West Virginia University and a Master of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Ashley Kenneth, The Commonwealth Institute

Ashley Kenneth, CEO, The Commonwealth Institute

Ashley is President and CEO at The Commonwealth Institute (TCI), where she is able to turn her passion for social and racial equity into action. Ashley provides the vision, inspiration, and strategic management to achieve the organization’s goals, maximizing the impact of TCI’s policy analysis and legislative engagement, and strengthening collaboration with partner and community organizations. Ashley previously served as the Senior Vice President for Policy and Legislative Affairs at TCI. Before coming to TCI, Ashley was the Director of Advocacy and Policy for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society where she was responsible for policy development, analysis, and volunteer engagement in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. Ashley is passionate about activism for social change and service to the community. She has a master’s degree in social policy from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in Communication and Sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Catherine Beane, YWCA USA

Catherine Beane, Vice President of Public Policy & Advocacy, YWCA- USA

Catherine Beane is vice president of public policy and advocacy at YWCA USA, where she leads the YWCA advocacy department’s efforts to impact legislation and policy related to racial justice and civil rights, women’s empowerment and economic advancement, and women’s health and safety. Catherine has more than two decades of experience addressing equity issues in public policy and legal settings. Most recently, she addressed gender equity, school discipline, and student achievement issues for the National Education Association, and served as the policy director for the Children’s Defense Fund.

Catherine began her career providing direct service as a trial attorney representing indigent youth and adults in juvenile and criminal proceedings. She earned her B.A. from Emory University, and her J.D. from Catholic University of America. Outside of the office, Catherine enjoys spending time with her husband and four sons, voraciously follows national politics, and cooks a mean pot of gumbo.

Cecilia Barbosa, Virginia Latino Advisory Board

Cecilia Barbosa, PhD, MPH, MCP Member of the Virginia Latino Advisory Board and the Health Equity Workgroup

Cecilia E. Barbosa, PhD, MPH, MCP is principal and owner of cBe consulting. She received a PhD in social and behavioral health from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in December 2014. She has worked for over 20 years in maternal and child health in Virginia, including several years as an independent consultant, as Director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Health at the Virginia Department of Health, and as Executive Director of the Virginia Public Health Association. She received Master of Public Health and Master of City Planning degrees from the University of California at Berkeley and a BA degree in Biology from Smith College. In addition to chairing the Virginia Latino Advisory Board, she serves on the Boards of the Jenkins Foundation and Dancing Classrooms of Greater Richmond, the Virginia Department of Health Institutional Review Board, and the Mayor of Richmond’s Breastfeeding Taskforce. She helped organize a VCU – University of Sao Paulo scientific collaboration and an event to promote Brazilian culture and trade in Virginia, and served on the Board of the Virginia Center for Latin American Art and the planning committee of the Latino Health Summit (2006). A citizen of Brazil and USA, she is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish, and French.

Chelsea Eickert, RAISE Alexandria Trauma-Informed Community Network

Chelsea Eickert, Coordinator, RAISE Alexandria Trauma-Informed Community Network

Chelsea Eickert is the Children and Youth Master Plan Coordinator for the City of Alexandria’s Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS). In 2017, Chelsea moved to Alexandria from Seattle, Washington with over 10 years of experience in supporting the healthy development and well-being of children and youth. In her role, she collaborates with community stakeholders to create the conditions in Alexandria for all youth to thrive. She is also a member of the DCHS Racial Equity Core Team, and coordinates Alexandria’s trauma-informed community network, RAISE.

Chelsea has a Master’s in Community Development and Planning, a B.A. in Political Economic Geography, and was born and raised in Montana.

Chidimma Jenkins, Governor’s Office

Chidimma Jenkins, Advisor on Childhood Trauma & Resiliency, Virginia Secretary of Health & Human Resources – Office of Governor Ralph S. Northam

Chidimma Jenkins was appointed Advisor on Childhood Trauma and Resiliency, where she supports statewide, trauma-informed public and private networks and align efforts of the Children’s Cabinet Trauma Informed Care Working Group, Trauma Informed Leadership Team (TILT), and Virginia HEALS. Prior to this appointment, Chidi served as Special Assistant in the Office of the Secretary of Education. Before joining the Northam Administration, she was a second-grade teacher and worked on issues of social and emotional learning, diversity and inclusion, digital tools and technology, and environmental education. A native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Chidi earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in French Language and Literature and a Master of Teaching degree from the University of Virginia.

Chlo’e Edwards, Voices for Virginia’s Children

Chlo’e I. Edwards, MPP, Policy Analyst, Voices for Virginia’s Children & Racial Truth & Reconciliation Virginia Campaign Coordinator

Chlo’e Edwards is the Policy Analyst at Voices for Virginia’s Children. She leads policy and advocacy work in domains related to the social determinants of health (SDOH) with a focus on healthcare, family economic security, trauma-informed care, equity, and justice.

In 2020, Chlo’e launched Virginia’s first Racial Truth & Reconciliation Week, which was recognized by Governor Ralph Northam. Now, the initiative has evolved into a campaign that empowers the voices and experiences of marginalized communities in acknowledgement of truth to promote healing, reconciliation, and justice. In implementation, Chlo’e shapes the campaign’s policy priorities and provides support to the coalition. During the 2021 GA session, Chlo’e helped lead efforts to successfully recognize racism as a public health crisis in Virginia, making the state the first in the south.

Prior to Voices, Chlo’e served as director of Connecting Hearts to solve Virginia’s child welfare crisis. In 2021, Chlo’e was recognized by The Valentine as a Richmond History Maker for the social justice category and was recognized as a YWCA Outstanding Women for the Human Relations and Faith in Action category. In 2020, she was named on Style Weekly’s top 40 Under 40. She also received the Outstanding Service Award from Connecting Hearts in 2018 and she was named Radio One Richmond’s top 30 Under 30 in 2017.

Chlo’e holds a Master of Public Policy in Leadership from Liberty University and completed the Minority Research and Law Institute Program at Southern University  in 2013, the University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute for Political Emerging Leaders program in 2019, and the Virginia Progressive Leadership Project in 2021. She currently serves as University of Richmond Community Partner in Residence as a fellow to complete a multidisciplinary racial equity and social justice framework to the policy development process at Voices for Virginia’s Children. Chlo’e the founder of Chlo’e Edwards Consulting and president of CEO and President of Black Lives Matter 804.

Cynthia Coleman, Voices for Virginia’s Children

Cynthia Coleman, Chief Philanthropy Officer, Voices for Virginia’s Children

Cynthia Coleman is the Chief Philanthropy Officer at Voices for Virginia’s Children. She is responsible for setting and strategically executing the organization’s development plan, raising the profile of Voices, and building relationships with new and current donors, partners and funders.

Cynthia was most recently Director, Community Investments, at United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg where she managed the grant process and the group of dedicated volunteers who support that process as part of the Community Building Committee (CBC). She also served as Co-Chair of the newly formed committee addressing diversity, equity and inclusion both internally and with CBC volunteers. Cynthia began her work at United Way in Resource Development, leading fundraising efforts at its top-tier corporate workplace campaigns.

Cynthia holds a Bachelor of Arts in American Government from the University of Virginia and a law degree from the T.C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond.

Danita Rountree Green, Coming to the Table- RVA

Danita Rountree Green, Co-CEO, Coming to the Table- RVA

Danita Rountree Green (R Satiafa) is an author and trauma healing facilitator, conducting workshops addressing community trauma and race related issues. A trained therapeutic art and restorative language specialist, Danita uses storytelling to unravel self-defeating narratives, helping people move through personal, community and historical trauma. As co-convener of Coming To The Table – RVA, she facilitates the constructive yet clumsy conversation on race and the legacy of the American Slave Trade.

With five national tours, Danita has shared the stage with Iyanla Vanzant, Levar Burton and Dr. Bernice King. Her work has been featured in Style, Essence and Richmond Magazines as well as USA TODAY and The Wall Street Journal. In 2013, she served as a chairperson for the 8th Annual Arts in Society Conference held in Budapest, Hungary, where she presented her research on restorative language to delegates from 27 countries. At home, she is the art specialist for the City of Richmond, creating therapeutic word-based programs for children and adults.

Danita is best known for The Love Locked Down Series – a collection of works that address the effect of prison culture, and AND THEN There’s Hope , a multi-dimensional fine art program targeting Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE). Her other titles include Broom Jumping: A Celebration of Love (Entertaining Ideas) and Grandmother’s Gift of Memories: A keepsake Journal for African American Women (Broadway Books).

With degrees from both the University of Virginia and the Maryland University of Integrative Health, Danita believes language leads change. She is currently Vice Chair of the Richmond Public Library Board of Trustees and Executive Liaison for The Peace Culture Club, an artists consortium cultivating a generation of resilient non-violent youth.

Dr. Danny Avula, Director, Richmond City and Henrico County Health Departments

Dr. Danny Avula, Director, Richmond City and Henrico County Health Departments

Dr. Danny Avula is Director of the Richmond City and Henrico County Health Departments. He is a public health physician board certified in pediatrics and preventive medicine, and he continues to practice clinically as a pediatric hospitalist. After graduating from the University of Virginia, he attended the VCU School of Medicine, and completed residencies at VCU and Johns Hopkins University, where he also received a Master’s in Public Health. He is an Affiliate Faculty member at VCU, where he regularly serves as an advisor and preceptor to graduate and medical students.

Governor McAuliffe appointed Dr. Avula to the State Board of Social Services in 2013 and he served as Board Chair from 2017 to 2019. He is the Immediate Past Chair of the Richmond Memorial Health Foundation, and serves on several other community boards. He has been named one of Richmond’s “Top Docs” every year from 2013-2019. He is a recent recipient of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Community’s Humanitarian Award, and in 2019, he was a Richmond Times Dispatch ‘Person of the Year’ honoree.

At home, Danny devotes his time to life with his wife and five kids, and to learning how to be a good neighbor in the rapidly changing community of Church Hill, where he has lived for the past fifteen years. His work has been featured nationally by the CDC, The New York Times, NPR, PBS Newshour, Christianity Today, and MSNBC.

Dora Muhammad, Congregation Engagement Director, Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy

Dora Muhammad, Congregation Engagement Director, Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy

Dora is an author, documentary photographer, and founder of the AWARE Project advocating for women’s and human rights. Dora brings more than 20 years of communications, public policy, and advocacy experience and loves getting behind a camera lens to document life and human interest stories, using visual art as a catalyst for advocacy. Dora has a B.A. in Journalism and Documentary Photography, a Master in Public Administration, and she studied International Law and Human Rights. She received a Certificate in Theology and Ministry from the Princeton Theological Seminary. Named one of Leadership Prince Williams’ “40 Under 40” in 2014, Dora was a leading Neighborhood Team Leader and Regional Digital Director for President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign. She is a Harlem native and daughter of Indo-Caribbean immigrants from Trinidad.

Elijah Lee, Youth Advocate, The Incredible Elijah

Elijah Lee, Founder, The Incredible Elijah

Elijah Lee, a 13-year-old community activist and public speaker as well as an advocate for children and an ordained minister. In the first grade, Elijah learned one of his classmates was experiencing child abuse. He assisted her in getting help but this placed a burden on his heart.

After learning of the power in marching from historical leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Congressman John Lewis, Elijah organized his first annual child abuse awareness march at the age of ten (2018). Elijah’s 2020 march held in rural North Carolina had a record number of over 450 people in attendance.  The county of Halifax and city of Roanoke Rapids have all named the first Saturday in March, Child Abuse Awareness Day in honor of Elijah Lee’s work.

Since then, he extended his community involvement by raising money to develop two pediatric safe rooms at a local hospital, which will convert an uninviting, cold hospital room into a safe, welcoming space for children who have experienced trauma and abuse.

Elijah serves as a public speaker on the issues of child abuse awareness, racism, resilience and youth empowerment. He has served as a keynote speaker for Guardian ad Litem statewide conferences, foster care events, the North Carolina Association for Youth Children, KIPP School System and NAACP.

Elijah, an ordained minister, began studying the word of God at a young age and gave his first sermon at the age of five. Throughout the years, Min. Lee has continued to preach at Holy City Church in Emporia, Virginia, as well as other churches in North Carolina and Virginia. Elijah’s activism led him to be honored with the designation of Marvel Hero on the Marvel Hero Project still streaming on Disney+ (episode 2, Incredible Elijah).

Elijah has also made guest appearances on the Kelly Clarkson Show. He was featured in PEOPLE Magazine, THE WEEK Junior and in Black Panther Comic Issue 24.   In 2020, Elijah’s work was highlighted in the Kids Speak Out About Violence Book, published by Rourke Educational Media. Elijah was honored to receive an autograph copy of John Lewis’ March book, as well as an inspirational letter from the Congressman. Elijah is also the recipient of the Governor’s Student Excellence Award, Youth Impact Award from Halifax Community College, the Youth Civic Services Award from the Northampton County Branch of the NAACP, and Rising Star Award from the Chamber of Commerce. Most recently, Elijah was named as a kid role model by H&M and was featured on a limited-edition backpack.

Elijah, an eighth grader  in the Chesterfield Public School System, consistently earns Principal’s List and in his spare time enjoys traveling, studying justice initiatives and spending time with family.

Elissa Milanowski, Office of New Americans

Elissa Milanowski, Senior Program Consultant, Virginia Office of New Americans

Elissa Milanowski is a Senior Program Consultant for Refugee Youth Programs in Virginia’s Office of New Americans. She currently provides state oversight to federally-funded programs for refugee youth including the Virginia Refugee Student Achievement Project, Mentoring Youth in Virginia (MYVA) and the Unaccompanied Refugee Minor Foster Care Program.

Prior to joining ONA, Elissa served as the Regional Best Interest Determination Specialist for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in South Africa, where she designed and led regional child protection trainings, oversaw regional BID activities, conducted and reviewed BIDS and chaired UNHCR’s Best Interest Determination Panel in South Africa. Elissa has also worked as a UNHCR Resettlement Expert in South Africa and a Field Team Leader for the United States Refugee Admissions Program in Nairobi, Kenya.

Elissa served as an education volunteer with the Peace Corps in Namibia and holds a Master of Social Work degree from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Emily Griffey, Voices for Virginia’s Children

Emily Griffey, Chief Policy Officer, Voices for Virginia’s Children

Emily Griffey is the Chief Policy Officer at Voices for Virginia’s Children. She is the key contact for government relations and policy analysis for issues that impact the health and well-being of Virginia’s Children. Emily provides expertise in child care and early learning issues and brings additional experience and background on the many issues she has worked on during her eight years with Voices.

Emily has been an advocate for the expansion of preschool opportunities, equitable access to safe and affordable child care, and family economic supports. Notably, Emily has paved the way for engagement with candidates running for office through the organization’s electoral advocacy and gubernatorial forums as well as ensuring that children are a priority once officials take office, such as her involvement with the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet and many stakeholder committees. Additionally, Emily enjoys hearing the perspectives of parents and front-line professionals to help shape Voices’ policy agenda and highlight priority issues.

Emily comes to Voices with experience in working on early childhood issues at a local and regional level for Greater Richmond’s Smart Beginnings, Richmond City Social Services, and Baltimore’s Safe and Sound Campaign. Emily is a graduate of the Jepson School of Leadership Studies at the University of Richmond and earned her master’s degree in public policy at Johns Hopkins University.

Eric Dugan, Poet

Eric Dugan, Poet

Eric Dugan, a mental health professional, process improvement specialist, creative writer, spoken word artist, and social justice activist is passionate about spreading the message of love with the power from words and action in the local community. He believes we must all align to our inner selves to achieve the better world we all desperately want to see.

Eric writes and speaks on a range of topics that includes race/cultural sensitivity, religion/spirituality, addiction, and mental illness. He is well known for his authenticity and vulnerability and inspires others to do the same.

Eric performs at various venues in the city of Richmond and was a two-time qualifying finalist in the Richmond Grand Slam. He is an integral Staff Member of Tuesday Verses and the Writers Den as well as a respected volunteer at Community 5050.

Eric’s own knowledge and beliefs were shaped from his own experiences as well as his educational background that includes a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in Psychology with a minor in Religious studies and an additional focus on Social Justice.

In addition to his education, Eric has worked as a process engineer at Capital One and earned a Six Sigma Black Belt and ScrumMaster Certification. He continues to use these skills to help shape the life he wants.

Eric is available for live interviews, artist bookings, and as an activist or spokesman for organizations that align to love, hope, racial sensitivity, and/or overcoming addiction or mental illness.

Fallon Speaker, University of Richmond School of Law

Fallon Speaker, Director Jeanette Lipman Family Law Clinic & Assistant Professor of Law, Legal Practice, University of Richmond School of Law

Professor Fallon Speaker is a feminist, reproductive justice transformer, social justice leader and movement lawyer. Professor Speaker is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Law and the Director of The Jeanette Lipman Family Law Clinic.

Prior to joining the law school faculty, Professor Speaker served as a Staff Attorney and Team Leader in the Family Defense Practice at The Bronx Defenders where she represented parents in child protective proceedings who were accused of abuse or neglect. She also served as an Adjunct Professor at Cardozo School of Law and the Director of the Mainzer Family Defense Clinic, where she taught and supervised students in child protective hearings. During her time at The Bronx Defenders, Professor Speaker became very active in policy, lobbying, community organizing, and movement lawyering. She played in integral role in coalition building and creating legislation to reform the child welfare system and state central registry. Professor Speaker received her undergraduate and Juris Doctorate degrees from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. While at the University of North Carolina School of Law, she was a Senior Editor for the Southern Region Black Law Students Association Law Journal. As a third-year law student, she published “An Endless Battle: the Rise of Anti-Abortion Legislation and Decline of the Woman’s Fundamental Right to Reproductive Privacy,” Southern Region Black Law Students Association Law Journal (2013).

Professor Speaker is originally from Ayden, North Carolina. In her spare time, she owns and operates a boutique all natural skincare company and enjoys spending time doing outdoor activities with friends and family, such as hiking, running, and mountain climbing.

Professor Speaker is a member of the New York Bar.

Freddy Mejia, Health Policy Analyst, The Commonwealth Institute

Freddy Mejia, Health Policy Analyst, The Commonwealth Institute

Freddy is a policy analyst at The Commonwealth Institute (TCI) with a focus on health care. He brings a passion for working in partnership with low- and moderate-income communities in all policy areas. Prior to joining TCI, Freddy worked in the non-profit sector providing case management services for 6-12th grade students in Washington, DC. He became passionate about fighting health care inequalities during an internship with Mason & Partners Free Clinic in Northern Virginia. He earned his Bachelor of Social Work degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Master of Social Work degree with a Social Change focus from George Mason University.

Glencora Gudger, Office of Behavioral Health Welness at Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services

Glencora Gudger, Behavioral Health Equity Consultant, Office of Behavioral Health Welness at Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services

Glencora is a Behavioral Health Equity Consultant for the Office of Behavioral Health Wellness at Virginia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. In this role, she evaluates behavioral health disparities across Virginia and develops programs and policies to promote health equity. Previously, Glencora worked with the Richmond City Health District supporting food access & equity programs. Additionally, she supported several mixed-method research studies, examining topics such as youth gang violence, ethics in genetics and patient-provider relationships. Glencora received her Master’s in Medical Anthropology from George Washington University.

Henry & Joseph Rush, Co-Authors, My Dad has a Food Truck

Henry Rush, Co-Author, My Dad Owns A Food Truck

Henry Rush is the co-author of My Dad Owns A Food Truck. It is a fun book about a father and son working together in the family business, learning, growing and making fun memories. It is a book that is a great starter for children to learn about entrepreneurship, family and working together. Coloring pages are included to make it even more fun. “Joe the Cart Guy” is a family ran business, local to Richmond, Virginia, that has served hundreds of families and helped them start their own family food truck and mobile restaurant business. Owner, Joseph Rush, also Henry’s father, continues to help families grow by providing a one-of-a-kind service and giving them an opportunity to add value to their community. Henry is also a photographer and aspires to formalize his practice through an LLC. He currently specializes in smart phone photography specifically. Henry has a black belt in Taekwondo, is an honor’s student, and loves Pokemon.


Hilary Pokoj, Children’s Museum of Richmond

Hilary Pokoj, Education Coordinator, Children’s Museum of Richmond

Hilary Pokoj is the Education Coordinator, as well as educator, for the Children’s Museum of Richmond. She has had the opportunity to work for the museum for about 6 years. Hilary received a degree in Art Education from the VCU School of the Arts, where she grew her love of teaching the younger generation about the importance of creativity and self-expression. Working at the Children’s Museum has allowed her to continue to guide children’s creativity in more ways than one. When Hilary isn’t at the museum, she enjoys making textile art, painting, gardening, and lots of cooking!

Dr. Jadig Garcia, The Richmond Pediatric Center

Dr. Jadig Garcia, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Richmond Pediatric Center

Dr. Garcia was born in Puerto Rico and raised in North Carolina. She received her Bachelors degree from Georgetown University in Washington, DC and subsequently moved to Boston, MA to complete her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Suffolk University. In 2015, she moved to Richmond to complete an internship and post-doctoral fellowship at the Virginia Treatment Center for Children.

Dr. Garcia specializes in providing therapy and assessment services to children, adolescents, and young adults. Her areas of interest include anxiety disorders, depression, and trauma. Additionally, she has experience working with crisis management and providing culturally sensitive treatment to Spanish speaking families. Dr. Garcia’s treatment approach is evidence-based and typically incorporates cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and family system’s theory. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and going anywhere with a beach.

Dr. Janice Underwood

Dr. Janice Underwood, Chief Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Officer to Governor Ralph Northam, Office of the Governor of Virginia

Dr. Janice Underwood, who strongly believes in servant leadership and culturally relevant reform, was appointed by Governor Ralph Northam as the Commonwealth of Virginia’s first cabinet-level Chief Diversity Officer (CDO).  This position is also the first of its kind in the nation. As the Commonwealth’s CDO, she is committed to addressing racial, ethnic, disability, gender-based, and other cultural inequities in formal and informal policies in the Virginia state government.  Specifically, Dr. Underwood has worked collaboratively to build the ONE Virginia mission, the first-ever statewide strategic plan for inclusive excellence across over 100 state agencies and with other public and private sectors.  In this historical role, which provides a roadmap for building diversity-lead innovation in local, state, and federal government, Dr. Underwood was named one of “20 Agents of Change” in 2020 by the Virginia Museum of History and Culture for the measurable accomplishments, impact, and racial reconciliation she has already had on the Commonwealth.  As part of her role, she guides the state’s COVID-19 Equity Leadership Task Force, which directs the work of the Unified Command Health Equity Working Group, various equity audits for state agencies, and the implementation of equity principles in public messaging, crisis management, and community engagement.  Her goal is to make Virginia an exemplar for the nation, regarding diversity, equity, and inclusive excellence.

James Braxton, Heroes of Trauma Soul Strong

James Braxton, Author of Soul Strong Heroes of Trauma & Motivational Speaker

Born March 15, 1984, Newport News, Virginia native and father of 2, James E. H. Braxton II would hear the words “you will be sleeping on a park bench when you grow up, and I hope I’m around to see it” from his 10th grade algebra teacher. Although that may not be the best way to motivate a child, troubled by anger and self-doubt James displayed the type of behavior in early childhood that was consistent with such remarks. From that point, James’s life is that of a survivor against all odds, but more importantly a man that found his way through pain, resilience and faith. After James’s 2005 arrest leading to a 2-year trial, surviving a suicide attempt in 2003 to later be diagnosed with manic depression, feeling the pressure of becoming a new father and having no idea where to start, James over came these odds with the help of mentors, family, and most importantly God’s provision and mercy. He now serves his community as a mentor, speaker and advocate to youth at risk, and creator of the strengthening families’ initiative “The Co Parenting Empowerment Project”. It is James’s mission to be an inspiration to young men and women across the nation that share the same struggles he had and encourage them to overcome the darkest times to walk in greatness. Purchase Soul Strong Heroes of Trauma here.

Jasmine Barber, Fit 4 Kids

Jasmine Barber, Parent Advocate, Fit4Kids

Jasmine is a self-proclaimed dream maker and an advocate for small business owners. She has a Master’s in Business Administration in Business Intelligence from Capella University and a bachelor’s degree in economics with a civil engineering minor at the University of Pittsburgh. Most of Jasmine’s work has been in geographic information systems, construction management, and civil engineering. This modern-day renaissance woman is CEO of Alerio Management Group LLC (business management coaching), owner of Jasmine Annette Company (a luxury artisan craft company), and a beauty consultant for TruAura Beauty. Jasmine joins our team with a passion for community engagement and sharing wellness practices with others. She enjoys gardening, Ancient Egyptian Yoga, healing arts therapy, Afro-Caribbean dance, and Ayurvedic living. Jasmine is a single mom of three adventurous boys, one adorable toy poodle, and an awesome Bengal cat.

John Richardson-Lauve, ChildSavers

John Richarson-Lauve, Director of Mental Health & Lead Trauma & Resilience Educator, Child Savers & Racial Truth & Reconciliation Virginia Education Committee Co-Chair

John Richardson-Lauve is a licensed clinical social worker with over 25 years of experience working in the field of community mental health. He is committed to the support and strengthening of individuals and communities that struggle with adversity. His experience includes work with chronically mentally ill adults, substance abuse, residential youth care, foster care, and outpatient mental health. He has worked with homeless veterans in New York City, in a hospice home for those with HIV in the early stages of the AIDS crisis, and has spent s6 years living together with his wife in a home with 8 teenage girls in foster care. He is an experienced trainer, lecturer, and keynote presenter, presenting nationally and internationally. He is the Director of Mental Health and the Lead Trauma and Resilience Educator at ChildSavers, an outpatient mental health clinic which has served children and families in the Richmond, Virginia community for over 90 years. He and his wife have a 14-year-old son and have worked with over 50 children in foster care in their home.

Joy Rush, CEO, Yoga Joy RVA

Joy Rush, CEO, Yoga Joy

Joy Rush is the creator of YOGA JOY, a true Play Yoga experience for kids ages 2-12, author of YOGA FUN A-Z and owner of YOGA JOY Kids Studio to pop up in your area soon. Joy is an advocate for mental health for moms & kids and anti-mom shaming.

Henry & Joseph Rush, Co-Authors, My Dad has a Food Truck

Joseph Rush, Co-Author, My Dad Owns A Food Truck

Joseph Rush is the co-author of My Dad Owns A Food Truck with his son, Henry Rush. My Dad Has A Food Truck is a fun book about a father and son working together in the family business, learning, growing and making fun memories. “Joe the Cart Guy” is a family ran business, local to Richmond, Virginia, that has served hundreds of families helping them to start their own family food truck and mobile restaurant business. Owner, Joseph Rush, also Henry’s father, continues to help families grow by providing a one-of-a-kind service and giving them the opportunity to add value to their community.

Katina Williams, Family Lifeline

Katina Williams, CEO, Family Lifeline

A lifelong Petersburg resident, Katina Williams’ community roots grow deep and wide. After graduating from Bowie State University with a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in counseling psychology, Katina returned to central Virginia to begin a career in service and care. In 2003, Katina took a job as a counselor in St. Joseph’s Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services, unaware that she would spend the next decade growing with the organization and earning a spot on Style Weekly’s “Top 40 Under 40.” After 13 accomplished years at the Villa, Katina left her role as Director of Program Operations to become Director of Community Impact at United Way, managing grantees and bolstering organizations throughout Greater Richmond. In 2019, Katina joined the Family Lifeline team as Vice President of Long-Term Support Services, though her time in this role would be brief. Within two years, Katina was named president and CEO of Family Lifeline. Katina aims to build an organization that is dynamic and diverse and hopes to foster a culture of continuous learning and education, both within the office and out in the community. For Katina, it’s the people at Family Lifeline that make the job worthwhile; she is constantly inspired by her staff and their passion for the work that they do. In her free time, Katina enjoys photography, reading, and hiking Virginia’s beautiful state parks.

Kaytee Wisley, Voices for Virginia’s Children

Kaytee Wisley, Policy Intern, Voices for Virginia’s Children

Kaytee Wisley is an intern for the Policy Department at Voices for Virginia’s Children. She is currently working on her Master of Public Policy at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia. She recently graduated from Fort Hays State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Kaytee has previously interned with the Kansas Legislature and the American Civil Liberties Union. She has experience conducting policy research and doing advocacy work. Her goals for this internship are to learn more about Virginia state politics, to gain a better understanding of the various policy areas that contribute to childhood development, and to collaborate with the Voices team to create equitable policy solutions.

Kelsey McMahon, Voices for Virginia’s Children

Kelsey McMahon, Data and Research Program Intern, Voices for Virginia’s Children

Kelsey McMahon is an intern for the Data and Research Program at Voices for Virginia’s Children. She has recently completed her Masters in Sociology from Virginia Tech and also graduated from Virginia Tech with two undergraduate degrees in Sociology and Criminology. Her thesis was on whether a college education requirement and/or community policing training at police departments could reduce police use of force. Kelsey has an extensive background in quantitative research and data collection to inform different areas of public policy, including but not limited to: juvenile justice, drug-impaired driving, alcohol-related crimes, and racial and ethnic health disparities. Her goals for this internship are to get well-acquainted with the inner workings of nonprofits, to learn skills to amplify and empower historically marginalized communities, and to collaborate with a wide variety of people to gain an understanding of policy issues and the best ways to address them.

Kiran Bhagat, BareSoul Yoga

Kiran Bhagat, Ambassador, BareSoul Yoga

For more than 20+ years, Kiran Bhagat, has worked as a youth leader and advocate for non-violence. Bhagat performed and volunteered for 1995 Special Olympics World Summer Games in the opening ceremony, 1,000 voice choir and special concert event.

She also orchestrated the Million Mom March (2000-2001, Washington, DC) with Dr. Ram Bhagat, Drums No Guns Commission, Inc. leading drum processional for about 800,000 marchers on the national Mall (May 14, 2000), broadcast live on C-SPAN watched by millions, and the 2001 Hartford Million Mom March (May 14, 2001) MMM event aired (Dr.Ram Bhagat/DNG leading march) on CNN Headline news: President Bush on Gun Violence/Guns in America

Kiran Bhagat is an Ambassador at BareSoul yoga. BareSOUL bridges yoga, education and community to cultivate a diverse healing experience that nourishes the mind, body and soul. [BareSOUL yoga & wellness] offers group classes, private instruction, workshops, and community classes.

[Bare SOUL yoga & wellness] offers a fun, healing and safe place for people of all ages and all skill levels to practice, journey inward & connect to their most authentic self-their truth–their love.

Kristin Lennox, Voices for Virginia’s Children

Kristin Lennox, Advocacy & Engagement Manager, Voices for Virginia’s Children

Kristin Lennox is the Advocacy and Engagement Manager at Voices for Virginia’s Children. She is responsible for identifying advocacy opportunities, developing traditional, digital, and grassroots engagement and advocacy strategies, and mobilizing advocates to support policy priorities.

Kristin’s most recent experiences are as a direct practitioner with children, youth, and families while serving as a Program Supervisor at ChildSavers. Kristin has 5+ years of experience providing community-based mental health services, predominantly responding to crises or traumatic events. Kristin also managed efforts in community engagement and outreach through public speaking and interview opportunities. She has delivered global workshops and trainings on themes of trauma-informed care, healing centered engagement, and de-escalation. Kristin is passionate about increasing parity in community resources and mental health access for youth and families in Virginia. She believes in a responsible, person-centered approach to community engagement.

Kristin earned her Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is a practicing Licensed Clinical Social Worker and an Adjunct Instructor with VCU’s School of Social Work.

Laura Hill, Coming to the Table- The Historical Triangle Chapter

Laura Hill, Founder and Leader, Coming to the Table, Virginia’s Historic Triangle Chapter

Laura Hill, a writer, community leader and organizer, is the founder of Virginia’s Historic Triangle chapter of Coming to the Table, a national racial reconciliation organization.  As the group leader, she  brings diverse people together to have civil conversations about a difficult topic: race.  Laura co-chairs Coming to the Table’s National Reparations Working Group, serves on the City of Williamsburg’s committee on racial equity, and the racial trauma committee of the Greater Williamsburg Trauma Informed Community Network (GW-TICN).

A Maryland native, she holds a Bachelors degree in Journalism/Communications.  Her articles on racial issues have been published nationwide.  In 2019, she  organized and hosted the Coming to the Table Commemorative Gathering, a three day event to commemorate the 400th Anniversary of the First Africans in Virginia. In October, 2020 Laura and Coming to the Table served as lead organizer and co-sponsor of  “Heal Williamsburg, Heal the Nation: Reparations / Racial Equity Rally.”

LaShaunda Craddock, Greater Richmond Wolf Trap (GRWT) Affiliate

LaShaunda Craddock, Teaching Artist, Greater Richmond Wolf Trap (GRWT) Affiliate

LaShaunda Craddock is a local dancer, choreographer, and playwright. She is also a founder of Culture4myKids, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing a cultural, historical, academic and artistic outlet for youth of all ages. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English and her Masters in Interdisciplinary Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University. LaShaunda was trained to be a Greater Richmond Wolf Trap teaching artist in 2018 and just completed her third full academic year of working with Greater Richmond Wolf Trap and Richmond Performing Arts Alliance.

LaToya Hill, Racial Equity and Health Policy Program

Latoya Hill, Senior Policy Analyst, Kaiser Family Foundation’s Racial Equity & Health Policy Program

Latoya Hill is a Senior Policy Analyst with KFF’s Racial Equity and Health Policy Program. In this role, she conducts research and analysis on projects related to the intersection of racism and discrimination, social and economic inequities, and health. Prior to joining KFF, she served as the Director of Quantitative Research at the Virginia Commonwealth University Center on Society and Health. She holds a BA from Emory University in Sociology, and an MPH in Epidemiology and Maternal and Child Health from the University of South Florida.


Lauren Snellings, Voices for Virginia’s Children

Lauren Snellings, Research Director, Voices for Virginia’s Children

Lauren Snellings is the Research Director for Voices for Virginia’s Children. Lauren is responsible for providing data and research expertise that informs our policy work. She manages the Virginia KIDS COUNT data platform, supporting the Annie E. Casey Foundation KIDS COUNT efforts. She also leads our 2020 Census advocacy and education initiatives. She is an appointed Commissioner on the Virginia Complete Count Commission, serving as a trusted voice and resource to make sure everyone is counted in the 2020 Census, including our youngest children.

Lauren is an epidemiologist with a strong research background having most recently worked at the Center on Society and Health studying social determinants of health. Lauren earned her Masters in Public Health from Virginia Commonwealth University and graduated from James Madison University with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health Education. Lauren is a mom to Brooks. In her free time she likes to do yoga and spend time outdoors. She is excited to use her skills and talent to further the data-informed advocacy at Voices.

Malinda Langford, Northern VA Family Services

Malinda Langford, Senior Vice President of Child, Family, & Youth Services, Northern Virginia Family Services

Malinda Langford serves as the Senior Vice President of Child, Family and Youth Services for Northern Virginia Family Service. Malinda manages the child, family, and youth umbrella of services, which includes: Early Head Start, Head Start, Healthy Families, Intervention and Prevention Education, Violence Intervention and Prevention Education, Therapeutic Foster Care and Reunification Programming for youth who are uniting with families living in the United States. Malinda previously served as the director of the Head Start and Early Head Start Programs for two and a half years.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in human relations from Trinity University in Washington, D.C., and has worked in the field of early childhood education for the past 35 years. She has one daughter who is a stage actress and resides in Chicago.

Megan Mbagwu, Voices for Virginia’s Children

Megan Mbagwu, Operations Manager, Voices for Virginia’s Children

Megan Mbagwu is the Operations Manager at Voices for Virginia’s Children. She is responsible for assisting in all administrative functions and providing leadership in organizational culture development and implementation.

Megan spent 10 years working in South Africa as both a direct service provider and a nonprofit leader with an organization focused on providing care to children affected by the HIV pandemic. Most recently, she worked at Family Lifeline as an Administrative Coordinator where she established organizational processes and procedures to ensure smooth operations throughout the organization and focused on creating a more inclusive, equitable and trauma-informed culture internally.

Megan has an Associate’s Degree from John Tyler in Business Administration and is currently working on her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resource Management at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Melissa McGinn, Greater Richmond SCAN

Melissa McGinn, Virginia State Coordinator for Virginia’s Trauma-Informed Community Networks & Greater Richmond SCAN & Racial Truth & Reconciliation Virginia Coalition Vice Chair

Melissa McGinn is a licensed clinical social worker and is currently Greater Richmond SCAN’s Director of Community Programs and State Coordinator for Virginia’s Trauma Informed Community Networks. Melissa is responsible for the management and coordination of all SCAN’s prevention programs, training, and consultation on becoming a trauma informed organization. Melissa has been an adjunct professor and field liaison at Virginia Commonwealth University for 15 years. Melissa worked at the Virginia Department of Social Services, re-establishing the Child Welfare Stipend Program at four universities across the state. Melissa spent the first 14 years of her career as a child and family therapist specializing in the treatment of complex trauma, working primarily with children in the child welfare system, in community based and outpatient settings.

Michael Royster, Institute for Public Health Innovation

Dr. Michael Royster, Vice President, Institute for Public Health Innovation, MD, MPH, FACPM

Mike is the Vice President of the Institute for Public Health Innovation (IPHI). He established the Institute’s Richmond office and is expanding and developing initiatives to support public health priorities across Virginia.  He provides expertise and oversight for an extensive portfolio of health equity-focused programs including community health worker initiatives, Virginia’s statewide immunization coalition, training and technical assistance to promote healthy and equitable communities, health in all policies strategies, and community health improvement planning.

Prior to joining IPHI, Mike was the director of the Virginia Department of Health, Office of Minority Health and Health Equity (OMHHE). In this position, he oversaw Virginia’s state offices of minority health, rural health, and primary care. OMHHE advanced health equity by developing data tools, such as the Health Opportunity Index, to assess health inequities; improving access to quality health care and providers; developing and promoting community-based participatory initiatives; enhancing the capacity of VDH and its partners to promote health equity; and facilitating strategies to target the social determinants of health.

Prior to this position, Dr. Royster was the Director of the Crater Health District headquartered in Petersburg, Virginia. In this capacity, he oversaw public health programs and services for 5 rural counties and 3 small cities with a combined population of 150,000. Among other initiatives, he led the initial implementation of emergency preparedness and response planning within the district; implemented outcome-based program evaluations for all health department programs; and led the expansion of community-based participatory efforts to promote cardiovascular health, eliminate childhood lead poisoning, and reduce teen pregnancy.

Dr. Royster completed his undergraduate training at the University of Virginia, and his medical training at Duke University School of Medicine. He completed a residency in Public Health and General Preventive Medicine at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where he also obtained a master’s degree in public health. Following his residency, he worked briefly as an environmental epidemiologist with the US EPA, conducting studies on pesticide exposure among children in the Imperial Valley of California.  In addition, he completed the two year W.K. Kellogg Health Scholars Program at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, where he developed an initiative to address the health of African American men in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Mike is board certified in Public Health and General Preventive Medicine and he is a fellow of the American College of Preventive Medicine. He is a member of the American Public Health Association and previously served as president of the Virginia Public Health Association. In his spare time, Mike enjoys spending time with his wife Camille and three children.  He also enjoys meditation, yoga, soccer, and basketball.

Nicole Poulin, Family and Children’s Trust Fund

Nicole Poulin, Executive Director, Family and Children’s Trust Fund

For the first 13 years of Nicole Poulin’s career, she worked in the nonprofit sector for programs focused on domestic and sexual violence, child abuse and neglect prevention, housing and homeless services and teen pregnancy prevention.  She carried that experience and perspective to her work within state government over the last 15 years, in management positions, within the Department of Housing and Community Development, Department of Health, Department of Medical Assistance Services and now as Executive Director of the Family and Children’s Trust (FACT) of Virginia.    Nicole is a self-proclaimed “policy nerd” with a strong interest in research focused on intersectionality within social justice issues.  She believes that society is only as strong as its most vulnerable population, that “we belong to each other”.  Nicole holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Old Dominion University in sociology and criminology and has participated in multiple classes and trainings on various public policy and social issues over the last 28 years.  In her spare time, she volunteers with pit-bull rescue groups in Central Virginia.

Nikkia Johnson, Legal Aid Justice Center

Nikkia Johnson, Senior Development Officer, Legal Aid Justice Center

Nikkia joined Legal Aid Justice Center in October 2020. Prior to LAJC, she was the Development Manager at Voices for Virginia’s Children. In that role, she was responsible for managing and assisting with the implementation of all development activities, including leading fundraising events and database management, as well as operational management. Nikkia’s career has been centered on nonprofit management and development, relationship building, and empowering marginalized communities through equity-based initiatives. Nikkia is very involved in many community organizations and mentorship groups. She currently serves on the VAFRE Board and programs committee, ART 180’s programming committee and is in the 2021 cohort of AFP Central Virginia’s Inclusive Fundraising Fellowship. Nikkia graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a B.S. in sociology.

Prell Gross, LPC, York-Poquoson DSS

Prell Gross, LPC, Children Service’s Act (CSA) Program Coordinator, York-Poquoson DSS

Prell Gross, LPC is a graduate of Virginia Tech where he earned his B.S. in Psychology w/a Spanish minor. He earned his Master’s degree from Radford University in Human Development w/a concentration in Clinical MH Counseling, Assessment, and Diagnostics. Prell has been in the field of counseling for over a decade and licensed since 2017. Through his studies, he has taken an interest particularly in cultural competence, humility, and cultural acceptance after growing up in predominantly Caucasian environments during high school and college where he actively worked to be accepted as he is, not as others wanted him to be. He too has experienced an assortment of internal racism as well as working in a field that is short on others that look like him, which has provided fruitful opportunities for growth in better understanding himself and others. That said, Prell has facilitated powerful community conversations in SWVA and the Tidewater/Peninsula of Virginia around the topics of race and culture. Most recently, he co-facilitated a lively discussion on racial trauma during Virginia’s Resilience Week back in May.

Governor Ralph Northam

Governor Ralph Northam, Commonwealth of Virginia

Before he was inaugurated as the 73rd Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Ralph Northam served as an Army doctor, pediatric neurologist, business owner, state Senator and Lieutenant Governor.

A native of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Governor Northam was educated at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), where he graduated with distinction. After graduation, Governor Northam was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army. He served eight years of active duty and rose to the rank of major.

He attended Eastern Virginia Medical School and then traveled to San Antonio for a pediatric residency, where he met his wife Pamela, a pediatric occupational therapist at the same hospital.  Governor Northam did his residencies at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and served as chief neurological resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital. As an Army doctor, he served in Germany, treating soldiers wounded in Operation Desert Storm.

When Governor Northam and Pamela returned home, they chose to build their life in Hampton Roads. He began practicing pediatric neurology at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk. He established Children’s Specialty Group, his current medical practice, to provide expert pediatric care for patients. Governor Northam also served as assistant professor of neurology at Eastern Virginia Medical School, where he taught medicine and ethics.

Governor Northam volunteered as medical director for the Edmarc Hospice for Children in Portsmouth, where he spent 18 years caring for terminally ill children. Governor Northam approaches public service with the same passion he brought to his military and medical service.  He is committed to working with leaders from both parties to build a Virginia that works better for every family, no matter who they are or where they live.

Governor Northam is the first native of the Eastern Shore to serve as Governor since Governor Henry A. Wise took office 1856. He is also the first VMI Keydet to serve as Governor since Governor Westmoreland Davis took office in 1918. Governor Northam and First Lady Pamela Northam have two adult children.

Rebecca Vinroot, Greater Williamsburg TICN

Rebecca Vinroot, Coordinator, MSW, Greater Williamsburg Area Trauma-Informed Community Network

Rebecca Vinroot has been the Director of the Department of Social Services in James City County since February 2016. She was previously the Deputy Director for Social Services, as well as the Children’s Services Act Coordinator. Ms. Vinroot serves as the Chair of the James City County Community Policy and Management Team under the Children’s Services Act and the Chair of the Greater Williamsburg Trauma-Informed Community Network. She is a member of the board of Colonial Behavioral Health (the local Community Services Board) and is the Chair-elect of the Colonial Juvenile Services Commission. Ms. Vinroot currently serves as the Treasurer of the Virginia Association of Local Human Services Officials and is a member of the Virginia League of Social Services Executives.

Prior to moving to Williamsburg in 2008, Ms. Vinroot worked in the field of child welfare, domestic violence and social services research in Arizona, California, Oregon and North Carolina for over 20 years. Ms. Vinroot obtained her B.A in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1998 and a Masters in Social Welfare from the University of California at Berkeley in 2005. She is married to a professor of mathematics at The College of William & Mary and has two young sons.

Robin Jones, Community Member

Robin Jones, Community Member

Robin Jones is a Central Virginia native who currently works with Virginia’s Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy managing programs that encourage the adoption of clean transportation and initiatives that promote efficiency and renewable energy applications in rural Virginia.  In her leisure, Robin reads, travels, studies, and advocates for our collective understanding of ourselves and our world.

Roscoe Burnems, Richmond Poet Laureate

Roscoe Burnems, Poet Laureate

Richmond, Virginia native, Douglas Powell/Roscoe Burnems is a poet, published author, spoken-word artist, comedian, educator, father, and husband who has dedicated his craft to entertaining and educating. He is Richmond, Virginia’s first Laureate.

Performance poetry has afforded him the opportunity to enlighten and entertain crowds across the country. He’s been seen everywhere from coffee shops and schools, to universities, theaters, and arenas. In 2019, he added a TEDx Talk to his list of accomplishments, speaking at a TEDxYouth event in November of 2019. He is no stranger to community and youth engagement. He has been a staple in the Arts Education scene for years and highlights arts integration as a host for PBS/VPM’s The Art Scene.

As a “slam poet”, he has been a two-time regional finalist (2009, 2014), National Poetry Slam Champion (2014), NPS Group Piece Finalist (2018), and NUPIC/Underground Slam Champion (2019). He is the founder and member of The Writer’s Den Poetry Slam team and collective. With Roscoe as a coach, The Writer’s Den has been consistently ranked top 10 in the country. As a poetry slam coach, he also took the VCU poetry slam team to be ranked 3rd in the world (2018).  In addition to putting on poetry-based events and poetry slams, the collective, consisting of mostly poets, but also songwriters, bloggers, and visual artists, conducts writing and performance workshops for youth and adults.

Douglas hasn’t limited his passion to competitions. He is the author of three published works: Fighting Demons, Chrysalis Under Fire, and God, Love, Death and Other Synonyms. He has also been published in over a dozen literary magazines and journals, including: Freeze Ray Magazine, Flypaper Magazine, Scene & Heard, Into Quarterly, Beltway Quarterly, Drunk in a Midnight Choir, and Rise Up Review.

Roscoe recently tapped into stand-up comedy with his groundbreaking special, Traumedy, combining funny stories, jokes, wit, and sarcasm into prolific spoken word poems. The special has been featured in several magazines in Richmond, VA and is currently streaming. Comedy has been a quiet first love for him and he is now using it as another medium to shedding light on taboo topics.

Douglas Powell/Roscoe Burnems has become a layered performer using his many talents to discuss trauma, resilience, and the human experience.

Rupa Murthy, YWCA Richmond

Rupa Murthy, Chief Advancement and Advocacy Officer, YWCA – Richmond

Rupa Murthy leads a $4.5M agency with 75 employees in Richmond, Virginia. She is an executive team member who develops the advocacy and advancement strategy for YWCA Richmond to forward their mission to eliminate racism & empower women. Under her leadership, YWCA Richmond launched the Sprout School, a high quality, public-private preschool model that focuses on racial integration. She creates public awareness, fundraising and policy for gender and racial equity in the region.

Previously in her career, she led an effort to build the Virginia Treatment Center for Children for Virginia Commonwealth University. This grassroots movement focused on creating access to mental health. Her work led to a $60M investment from Virginia’s legislature, university leadership and private philanthropy. Rupa also served in Governor Mark Warner’s administration. She led strategy for minority outreach and engagement leading to a 17% increase in diversity and expertise on Virginia’s boards & commissions and the first state-led trade mission to India in the nation.

Rupa holds degrees in political science and strategic communications from James Madison University and Virginia Commonwealth University. She serves nonprofit boards and volunteers at her children’s schools. She enjoys gardening and traveling with her family.

Shante Stevens, President of the Urban League of Greater Richmond Young Professionals

Shante Stevens, President, Urban League of Greater Richmond Young Professionals

Shante M. Stevens comes to Richmond by way of Milwaukee, WI where she grew up experiencing the harsh realities of poverty on a daily basis. As a way to escape and look past all of the things she didn’t have, Shante formed the habit of positive thinking and cultivating an attitude that didn’t leave room for negativity. A natural leader and one who sought after challenges, Shante enlisted in the U.S Army National Guard after completing high school.

Within her 12 years of service in the Army, she has been deployed to multiple duty stations including Iraq. In her professional career, she currently works as a Program Analyst for the Virginia Army National Guard where she has managed over 5 million dollars of Government funds. Shante has also received a number of awards to include the Army Achievement Medal, The Joint Forces Achievement Medal, Good Conduct Medal, and Coin of Excellence from The Adjutant General as well as many others. She is also the first female of the Virginia Army National Guard to be awarded honorary Spurs from the 2-183rd Calvary Regiment.

Shante learned early on that a career in the Military can become very stressful emotionally and physically.  One way she found to cope with those daily stresses was to make time for self-care. Through her journey of learning what self-care really meant, Shante began to study holistic practices for overall well-being and expanded her expertise in Aromatherapy.  Understanding the mental and physical benefits of plants and essential oils moved her to launch her own company named Laxed Home Spa & Bath. At Laxed, Shante shares the importance of connecting with self and loved ones.

With a heart and passion in helping others and becoming a positive influence in the community, Shante first served as Community Service and Social & Cultural Development Co-Chair of the Urban League Greater Richmond Young Professionals and Membership Chair. Currently, she now serves as the President.

Sharron McDaniel, Fueled for Purpose

Sharron McDaniel, CEO, Fueled for Purpose Empowerment

Sharron McDaniel, also known as Sharron Tiffany, was born and raised in Virginia. Although she has moved around during her younger years, she claims Richmond, VA as her hometown and currently works and lives in the Richmond area as a Social Worker and Reentry Coordinator for Performing Statistics, where she supports youth navigating the justice system through a successful transition into adulthood. She is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. and the Richmond Chapter of the National Association of Black Social Workers.

Her journey as a professional began at Virginia Commonwealth University where she earned her Bachelors in Social Work and Bachelors in African American Studies. Her passions include mental health, the liberation of Black people, youth development and brand management. She founded Fueled for Purposes Empowerment Services, LLC in February of 2021 and has been supporting people, groups and businesses through vision development and purpose finding. She is a mother, sister, daughter, entrepreneur and community advocate.

Sophia Booker, RTR Engagement-Co-Chair

Sophia Booker, Youth Development Coordinator for Project Life, United Methodist Family Services & Racial Truth & Reconciliation Virginia Engagement Committee Co-Chair

Sophia Booker serves on the executive committee of the Racial truth and Reconciliation coalition as Co-chair of the Engagement Committee. She is a strong advocate in the foster care community. Currently, Sophia is the Youth Development Coordinator for Project LIFE at United Methodist Family Services and is a Master of Social Work Candidate at VCU. Sophia has advocated on behalf of several policy initiatives to improve the lives of children, including Fostering Futures.

Sophia currently serves on the State Executive Council for Children Services with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, among many others. Sophia is also the lead facilitator of the first and only Youth MOVE (Motivating Others through Voices of Experience) local chapter in the state of Virginia. This chapter was recently awarded a national award for their hard work and continued dedication to youth voice. Some of her other accomplishments include Sophia co-presenting with a social work Ph.D. candidate on a pilot study on transition-aged foster youth and their social networks (connections in the community) in Dallas, Texas at the Council for Social Work Education Conference, the largest social work conference in the country during her senior year in undergrad. Sophia is defying the odds with her success. Her goal is to give back and ensure that all youth in foster care or aging out of the foster care system are well supported and have the same access to normalized experiences and opportunities that others have as they transition to adulthood.

Sophie Fontaine, RTR Engagement Committee Co-Chair

Sophie Fontaine, MSW, Youth & Young Adult Program Coordinator, National Alliance on Mental Illness of Virginia & Racial Truth & Reconciliation Virginia Engagement Committee Co-Chair

Sophie Fontaine has lived in Virginia her entire life. After graduating high school in Fairfax, Sophie attended Virginia Commonwealth University and received her B.S. in Psychology and Sociology in 2018. She then returned to VCU to get her Masters in Social Work, Administration, Programs, and Policy Practice and graduated in May 2020. Sophie was the MSW intern at NAMI Virginia during the 2019-2020 school year and began her role as the youth and young adult programs coordinator in June of 2020. As a young adult with lived mental health experience, she looks forward to continuing to work with NAMI Virginia and to serve youth and young adults. Her other passions include advocacy and policy and hanging out with her corgi.

Surprize Parker, Greater Richmond SCAN

Surprize Parker, Trauma-Informed Education Specialist, Greater Richmond SCAN

Surprize Parker, MA is a native of Newport News, Virginia and holds a Master’s degree in Professional Counseling from Liberty University. She has over 10 years of experience providing engagement strategies, training and coaching in the areas of behavior management, parental engagement and education, and trauma informed practices. Surprize has held positions as family advocate, parent liaison and behavior specialist within Henrico County Schools and Richmond Public Schools, respectively. She has an immense passion for serving others and supporting the community. Her fondest times are spent with her husband, Jermaine and her two children: Cayden (10) and Cailee (2).

Sutisha Simluang, Community Advocate

Sutisha Simluang (she/her), Program Coordinator, Virginia Civil Engagement Table

Sutisha is a first-generation immigrant from Thailand, grew up outside of DC, and a first-generation college graduate. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2018 with a B.A. in International Studies, concentrating in International Social Justice. She currently serves as a Program Coordinator at the Virginia Civic Engagement Table (VCET), which connects non-profit organizations working to advance equality, justice and strive to engage underrepresented communities in the democratic process. Sutisha is responsible for all logistics for the Virginia Progressive Leadership Project (VAPLP) and VCET programs. Prior to joining VAPLP, she volunteered for the VCET Activist Welcome Center; taught English and studied abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico in 2017, worked as a conservation volunteer with International Student Volunteers in Australia in 2015, and volunteered as an assistant teacher at a rural school in Nong Khai, Thailand in 2013.

Tamika Daniel, Greater Richmond SCAN

Tamika Daniel, Behavioral Health Community Organizer, Greater Richmond SCAN

Tamika Daniel began as SCAN’s Behavioral Health Community Organizer in August 2019 through a partnership with Richmond Memorial Health Foundation. Utilizing her expertise and experience, she brings SCAN’s work in Adverse Childhood Experiences, trauma and resilience to the community through trainings and forums. She also assists in building resilience and facilitating healing through empowerment and connection through a trauma-informed and equity lens. Additionally, she brings her voice and advocacy to meetings and tables throughout the community.

Tina Stevens, Resilience Rising Winchester Area Trauma-Informed Community Network

Tina Stevens, Coordinator, Resilience Rising Winchester Area Trauma-Informed Community Network

Tina Stevens is the coordinator of the Winchester Area Trauma-Informed Community Network. Stevens is a certified family peer recovery specialist, a forensic peer support specialist, and is parent action leadership trained by NAMI. In 2019, Stevens became the first African-American woman elected to Stephens City Town Council. As a newly formed trauma-informed community network, network leader and Councilwoman Tina Culbreath-Stevens leads the charge in advocating for trauma-informed approaches for educators, policymakers,  healthcare workers, and more to ensure their community understands the impact of trauma on children and families. Their goal is to implement wraparound services to foster resilience across systems to support all members of the community, particularly those that are disproportionately disadvantaged.

Todd Elliott, Portsmouth Public Library

Todd Elliott, Director, Portsmouth Public Library

Todd Elliott has been enthusiastic about libraries since childhood. An air force veteran, he earned his MLIS at the University of South Carolina, while working as a paraprofessional at Richland County Public Library in Columbia.  His professional career began at Norfolk Public Library as  bookmobile librarian and branch manager, venturing into academic librarianship at Tidewater Community College. In 2007, Todd returned to his hometown as assistant director for Portsmouth Public Library. He has served as director there since 2009. Todd is a member of the American Library Association, Virginia Library Association (past-president), the Tidewater Area Library Directors’ Council (past-chair), and the Virginia Public Library Directors Association (past-president). He and his wife, Jackie, are the parents of two adult sons.

Traci J. DeShazor, MA, Deputy Secretary of the Commonwealth and Director of African American Outreach

Traci J. DeShazor, MA, Deputy Secretary of the Commonwealth and Director of African American Outreach

Traci J. DeShazor, a native of Danville, VA, is a government and community relations professional with a passion for promoting diversity and inclusion, millennial civic engagement, and leadership. Focusing her efforts on criminal justice reform, voting rights, and environmental justice, Traci has an abundance of experience in policy, grassroots and grasstops organizing, strategic communications, and public engagement.

A graduate of Virginia Tech where she received a B.A. in International Relations and Hollins University where she received a M.A. in Justice and Legal Studies. Traci is a dedicated public servant and master convener. A graduate of the Women’s Campaign School at Yale, Virginia Commonwealth University’s Minority Political Leadership and Virginia Executive Institutes, and the Sorensen Institute’s Political Leaders Program, Traci a lifelong learner and is committed to growing in public service.

Her unwavering commitment to serving her community has earned her recognition as an Envest Foundation Top 40 under 40, Omicron Kappa Kappa Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. 2013 Citizen of the Year, Northern Virginia Urban League 2013-2014 Lavern Chatman-Brown Leadership Award Recipient, 2015 Women’s Empowerment Award Recipient, and 2016 Leadership Arlington Top 40 Under 40 Award recipient.

In 2014, Traci was appointed by Virginia Governor Terence R. McAuliffe to serve as the Deputy Director of the Virginia Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. In this capacity, Traci served as a federal liaison between the Commonwealth, the Virginia Congressional Delegation, the White House, and other states and territories facilitating communication with the Governor and focusing on federal energy, environmental, labor, agriculture, forestry, and housing related policy.

In 2016, Traci was appointed by Governor McAuliffe to serve as Deputy Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia. In December 2017, Traci was re-appointed as Deputy Secretary of the Commonwealth by newly elected Virginia Governor Ralph S. Northam. In this role, Traci manages a team of nearly 30 personnel within eight divisions including restoration of rights, notary, pardons, authentications, board appointments, extraditions, service of process, and records management, which provides service to upwards of 1,200 Virginians weekly.

Under the McAuliffe administration, Traci Co-Chaired the Governor’s Millennial Civic Engagement Task Force and was instrumental in the formation of the Governor’s Commonwealth Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion which was formed in response to the tragic that took place last summer in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Traci is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and remains committed to bettering her community. She hopes that her efforts will inspire young women of color to one day pursue public service.

William “Bill” Martin, The Valentine

William “Bill” Martin, Director, The Valentine

William “Bill” Martin, director of the Valentine, leads over 50 museum staff members in telling the story of Richmond lifestyle and culture.  For more than 20 years, Martin has diversified the Valentine’s programming, expanded Richmond walking tours and group tours, and worked collaboratively in the community to promote city tourism initiatives. Martin holds a B.A. in Urban Studies and an M.A. in Public Administration from Virginia Tech. Following years of experience directing museums in Georgia, Florida, and Virginia, he joined the then-Valentine Museum in 1993 as Director of Marketing and Public Relations. Under his leadership, the institution has expanded civic involvement, developed more than 300 themed tours and raised millions for capital improvements, renovated historic structures and expanded programming.

Martin serves on the Board of Directors of the Richmond Business Council and Leadership Metro Richmond. He chairs the Richmond Region Museum Directors and is a member of the Richmond Mayor’s Tourism Commission. Martin has been actively involved in community conversations about societal issues and cultural enrichment and recently collaborated with many educators and scholars to create a downtown heritage walking trail, the Richmond Liberty Trail, which joins the Richmond Slave Trail.

Before joining the Valentine, Martin was Director, Tourism and Museums for the City of Petersburg, Virginia, Executive Director of the Jacksonville Museum of Arts & Science in Florida, and Executive Director of the Okeefenokee Heritage Center/Southeastern Forest World in Waycross, Georgia.

Martin shared his philosophy about Richmond’s future in an interview with Richmond-based company, Ledbury in 2014: “We can think about a future of Richmond that’s not totally embedded in what we think our past looks like. The past doesn’t define the future, it informs it. There’s this tension between how we think about our past and what our past was. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that tension, because that’s where our energy is. In the tension from our past is where we might find ourselves better.”

Victor McKenzie, Jr., SAARA Virginia

Victor McKenzie, Jr., Executive Director, SAARA Virginia

Victor McKenzie is the Executive Director of SAARA Virginia. Before joining SAARA, Victor had most recently served as the Interim Executive Director and Program Director of Neighborhood Resource Center of Greater Fulton (NRC Fulton). While serving at NRC Fulton, Victor led the strategic growth and management initiatives of this community-based organization across multiple programmatic and operational areas as well as external projects for the organization. In that role, he also established a culture of innovation and collaboration.

Victor has received several recognitions for his work, including being named one of the Community Foundation of Greater Richmond’s Emerging Leaders in Nonprofits (Cohort 13). He was also appointed by Richmond City Council to serve on the Capital Area Uplifting People. Inc. (CAPUP) Board of Directors. He also serves on the board of Innovate Fulton and has previously served on the Better Housing Coalition YP Board (2018-2020). He is also a participant with several local coalitions and commissions on poverty reduction, economic mobility, and affordable housing in the Greater Richmond area.

Yanet-Limon Amado, Care in Action

Yanet-Limon Amado, Program Manager, Care in Action

Yanet Limon-Amado co-founded UndocuRams alongside four undcoumented women who studied at the Virginia Commonwealth University, a student organization advocating for undocumented students in 2019.

When Googling Eric Cantor and Yanet Limon-Amado, articles in Politico and the Washington Post show an 18-year-old Limon-Amado speaking out against the then House of Representatives majority leader, who was known for referring to undocumented immigrants as illegal aliens. This would be one of the first of many times the recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals would stand up in front of a crowd and speak for immigration reform.

She’s since been at the front lines of nearly every immigration rally in Richmond, speaking to U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine about immigration, and urging House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox to reconsider in-state eligibility for undocumented students. One of her organizations preaches inclusivity.

Yanet previously served as an organizer for the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy to work on immigration issues and currently serves as a Program Manager for Care in Action, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group dedicated to fighting for dignity and fairness for the millions of domestic workers in the United States, most of whom are women of color and immigrant women.