RTRW 2022 Presenter Bios

Racial Truth and Reconciliation Week 2022

Presenter Bios


Mr. Ali Faruk (he/him/his) brings over a dozen years of experience in civic engagement, non-profit management, and public policy. His work experience includes Policy Director at Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia, an aide in the Va House of Delegates, and several years in health policy at the Va Department for Aging and Rehab services and the Va Department for Medical Assistance Services. Currently Ali is Policy Director at Families Forward Virginia, a statewide nonprofit that provides Home Visiting programs, family support and education, professional development, Child Sexual Abuse Prevention programs, advocacy, and public awareness. He has served on many non-profit boards including the Va Interfaith Center for Public Policy, Mental Health America of Virginia, where he served as Chair of the Policy Committee, the Virginia Autism Council, and the Community Building Committee of the United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg where he served as Chair of the Health Council. Ali is a member of the Board of Long Term Care Administrators. He holds a BA in Sociology and a MPA from VCU. He is a graduate of Leadership Metro Richmond and the Commonwealth’s Virginia Executive Institute. Ali lives in Richmond with his wife and two boys. Follow on Twitter @FamiliesFwdVA


Dr. Anjali Ferguson (she/her/hers) is a culturally responsive psychologist and global resource on treating racial trauma and its mental health effects on children and families. Her commitment to social equity is experienced through her online community Parenting Culture– a research-informed, inclusive space for open conversations around parenting and her landmark contributions to Blindian (Black + Indian) literature. To learn how providers, organizations, and communities can benefit from Dr. Ferguson’s racial socialization and equity training, visit www.draferguson.com or join the conversation at www.parentingculture.org.



The Rev. Sheryl Johnson (she/her/hers) serves at the Community Engagement Coordinator for the Richmond Pledge to End Racism, part of a larger initiative that offers faith communities and other groups a place to start to build a common understanding, language, and commitment for a just, more equitable society. She is also a founding board member of RVA Rapid Transit, a nonprofit dedicated to educating and advocating for frequent, far-reaching public transit in the Richmond region. 


Allison Gilbreath (she/her/hers) 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 Sorenson 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, MA, (she/her/hers) is an expert in mindfulness, classroom management and trauma-informed instruction. She is the author of numerous children’s books on the topic of using mindfulness as a self-regulatory skill for learners and their families.  She is passionate about connecting children of color to yoga and mindfulness and in building healthy communities by disrupting historical and racial trauma.  As a former RPS parent, teacher, and Behavior Specialist, she recognized early in her career, the healing power of mindfulness.   

Amanda resides in North Henrico with her four children, Amani (Justin), Ava, Violet-Hazel (Hazy), and Primrose (Primmy). Alongside her children, she founded Breathe, Baby, Breathe Press & Co., a publishing agency dedicated to diversifying children’s literature.  

Her children are the light of her life and she is extremely proud of all they have accomplished. Her son Justin is entering his third year as a Joffrey Ballet Trainee program in Dallas, Texas and her daughters attend St. Catherines School where Ava is a rising Junior; Hazy is a rising second grader; and Primrose is entering kindergarten.  

After going viral at the former site of the Robert E. Lee Monument, Ava co-founded Brown Ballerinas for Change (BBFC) with three close friends. BBFC received international acclaim for using ballet in their fight for justice. Amanda serves as the President of the Board of Directors for BBFC whose mission is to provide advocacy opportunities and tuition-free ballet classes. Amanda and Ava also published a book, My Ancestors’ Wildest Dreams, to encourage children all over the world to use their gifts to promote change. 

Amanda lives by the belief that one should leave their community better than they found it and she embodies this belief both personally and professionally.


Ann Zweckbronner (she/her/hers) lives in Hanover County, Virginia, with her husband and the two children who have not flown the nest, yet. All three of their children fall under the LGBTQ umbrella. Ann has always felt pulled by social justice issues but became much more vocal after her youngest’s transition in 2016 at the age of 9. Ann has lobbied in Washington, DC and Richmond, VA, for the rights of transgender children. She serves as the Treasurer on the Board of Side by Side. Ann is currently working at a summer camp and is hopefully looking forward to the next chapter, whatever it is. Her favorite quote “there is no such thing as someone else’s child” pushes her to try and get all kids the love and support they need to be the people they are created to be. 


Briana Green (she/her/hers) serves on the board of the Virginia Poverty Law Center. As an alumna of foster care she provides an important perspective and voice on the system. She currently serves as a case manager and mental health specialist for youth and adults.




Cassie Baudean (she/her/hers) is the Director of Policy & Strategic Operations at Children’s Home Society and has worked in the child welfare and advocacy field for about 5 years. Prior to her current role, Cassie was the owner of Baudean Law, PLLC and practiced in the field of family law and served as guardian ad litem for many children throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Cassie holds a B.A. from Virginia Commonwealth University in Political Science & International Relations and a Juris Doctor from University of Richmond, T.C. Williams School of Law and was recently recognized as one of Richmond’s Top 40 under 40.


Chlo’e Edwards, MPP, (she/her/hers) is the CEO of Chlo’e Edwards Brands (Transformative Change, which is home to Woke Literacy Institute, Stay Yoked, Blackity Black), which live under the hub of Transformative Change LLC. She leads through her personal experiences as a community advocate and activist with a passion for community resilience, community engagement, racial equity and social justice. Chlo’e approaches change holistically and brings a variety of perspectives. She is a trained racial equity facilitator, master trauma-informed care & resilience trainer, healing-centered engagement practitioner, forensic peer recovery specialist, creative writer, performance poet, public speaker, advocate, activist, and policy analyst. Chlo’e believes that radical self-care and community wellness in tandem with healing-centered engagement, which is political rather than clinical, will empower community members to serve as agents in the creation of transformative change. Chlo’e previously served as a Policy Analyst at Voices for Virginia’s Children, Community Partner in Residence for the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement at the University of Richmond, volunteered as the president of Black Lives Matter 804 and Boss Folx Vibes, and serves as a board member for I’M JUST ME Movement and The Hive Movement. In 2020, Chlo’e founded 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. 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. In 2021, she was recognized by The Valentine as a Richmond History Maker for the social justice category, received the Virginia Association for the Education of Young Children Media Award, and was honored by the YWCA Outstanding Women Leadership Award for Human Relations and Faith in Action. In 2020, she was named on Style Weekly’s top 40 Under 40 and RVA Mic Share’s top 34 Black women trailblazers. She also received the Outstanding Service Award from Connecting Hearts in 2018 and was named Radio One Richmond’s top 30 Under 30 in 2017. Chlo’e holds a Master’s of Public Policy in Leadership from Liberty University and a Bachelor’s from Hollins University. She also 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.


Christina Bowman-Peterson, MSW, (she/her/hers) is a Lead School Social Worker in Richmond Public Schools, serving our students and families for over 22 years.  A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work where she received both her BSW and MSW and specializing in School Social Work.  Christina is very involved in community engagement work as an active member in the Virginia Association of School Social Workers, Richmond Association of Black Social Workers and Richmond Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated.  Working with students, families and communities, Christina’s focus is on education, empowerment and advocacy.  Christina believes that social workers are true change agents and can work to empowering others.  By empowering others, we will systematically impact social change.


Cynthia Coleman (she/her/hers) 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.



Diehdre J. Gregory-Holberg, M.A., LPC (she/her/hers) is a Licensed Mental Health Professional with over two decades of successful program development, supervision, and expansion experience; as well as clinical practice specializing in trauma and crisis management. A strong believer in community collaboration, Diehdre regularly builds bridges between private and community-based service agencies/businesses to ensure that all opportunities to clients and communities are accessible. Diehdre often states that “collaboration multiplies impact”. In the past several years, Diehdre has also developed and led efforts, both personally and professionally, to bring issues of diversity, inclusion, and equity to the forefront. Diehdre’ s work ethic and commitment to service has landed coverage in print and broadcast outlets throughout Richmond, VA and its surrounding areas. She was most recently highlighted in a 2020 PBS documentary entitled, “Aged Out: Finding Home” which showcased the struggles of youth who age out of the Foster Care system in Virginia and what the programs Diehdre leads are doing to combat those issues. In her personal life, Diehdre continues to seek opportunities to serve in her community. She spends much of her free time assisting in organizations such as the NAACP, American Cancer Society, Virginia Counselors Association, and the Barnabas Counseling Ministry at The Saint Paul’s Baptist Church where she is also a member. Diehdre lives her life based on Luke 12:48 – – When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required. Diehdre holds a BS degree in behavioral science from Bluefield College, an MA degree in Professional Clinical Counseling from Liberty University, and she’s a Licensed Professional Counselor endorsed by Commonwealth of Virginia’s Board of Counseling.


Elijah Lee (he/him/his) is a 14-year-old student and community activist, is a national advocate for young people. For the past five years, Elijah has organized annual child abuse prevention events and served as a public speaker on the issue of child abuse. In an effort to support young survivors and reduce the impacts of trauma, Elijah organized and raised funds for pediatric safe rooms at Vidant North Hospital in Roanoke Rapids, NC. This effort transformed uninviting emergency rooms into child-friendly welcoming spaces. He recently raised $12,500 for a similar partnership with the Children’s Hospital of Richmond. Elijah is the founder of a nonprofit organization, Hear Our Voices, dedicated to the empowerment of young people with an emphasis on assisting youth in finding their voice and becoming agents of change. For this work, he was named the 2022 Youth Entrepreneur of the Year by the Metropolitan Business League. Elijah is an active lobbyist with the Virginia General Assembly, advocating and testifying for legislation impacting young people. He currently serves as co-chair of the Virginia chapter of Voters of Tomorrow, a national organization committed to voter registry for young people. Elijah also serves as the legislative liaison for the Virginia Teen Democrats. In addition, Elijah is an ordained minister and serves as a guest preacher in both Virginia and North Carolina. Elijah’s activism led him to be featured on the Marvel Hero Project streaming on Disney Plus (episode 2, Incredible Elijah). Elijah has also made two guest appearances on the Kelly Clarkson Show and was highlighted in PEOPLE Magazine and the Black Panther Comic. As a rising freshman at Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School, Elijah remains committed to his academics.


Florencia Fuensalida (she/her/hers) is originally from Chile, South America. She moved to the United States when she was 17 years old, where she finished High School and later attended the University of Maryland, College Park, to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree in Family Science. She is fluent in both English and Spanish. After graduating from college, Florencia returned to Chile and worked for marginalized families and women for three years implementing life skills programs. She returned to the US in 2010, and has been working with the Latinx Community, providing social services and performing outreach ever since. She also acquired a degree in Personal Coaching, which she has used as a way to equip others to move in the direction they desire in their lives. At VACV, Flo served as the Community Engagement Specialist for the Partnership for Housing Affordability for 2.5 years before transitioning into the role of Director, Equity Improvement where she manages all coaching and training using the Community Voice Blueprint model of engagement. Contact Flo at florencia@vacommunityvoice.org.


Jamara Harvey (she/her/hers) is the Organizer and CEO of TheMentalHealthDiaries. TheMentalHealthDiaries is a nonprofit organization created for our Black and Brown communities to advocate for mental health. With the help of the YEER program, she has branched out and created opportunities for herself as a leader and for students who participate in her program, TheMaraDiaries. TheMaraDiaries is a platform that translates to a safe space that encourages individualism and self expression, from music to mental health.


Jennifer Murphy-James (she/her/hers) wears many hats.  She is a daughter, sister, niece, cousin, friend, neighbor, mother of three and a community advocate.  Jennifer aims to uphold peace, love and kindness in her daily life.  She is an adroit outreach and engagement professional focused on equity, wellness, maternal, child, family and community health.




Jessica Lee (she/her/hers): Although her career in Corrections has spanned over 20 years and she is an accomplished expert and trainer in the field of reentry services, her greatest accomplishment is being a mother.  From her union to the late Marvin Lee, Sr., she has four incredible children.  Marvin Jr is 23 years, works for a marketing company in Austin, Tx; Malik, a rising junior at the University of Southern California; Elijah is a rising freshman at Maggie Walker Governor’s School; Trinity Lee is a rising 8th grader at Swift Creek Middle School. Jessica remains committed to supporting all of her children in their individual interests including equestrian competitions, Alpha Phi Alpha activities, athletic events, and activism.  Much of her time is spent supporting Elijah, a community activist and public speaker.  She serves as the President of Elijah’s nonprofit organization, Hear Our Voices, and she helps coordinate his calendar and travel for speaking events. Jessica is committed to her family and career, leading by example that a single parent does not have to choose one over the other. She credits her faith foundation and courageous women before her for strengthening her on a daily basis. 


Kristin Lennox (she/her/we) is the Advocacy and Engagement Manager at Voices for Virginia’s Children and the Chair of the Racial Truth & Reconciliation VA Coalition.  Kristin has 5+ years’ experience providing community-based mental health services, predominantly responding to crises or traumatic events with children, youth, and families. She has delivered global workshops 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 is a practicing Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Trauma & Resilience Practitioner, and an Adjunct Instructor with VCU’s School of Social Work.


Leanne Lytle (she/her/hers) is a profoundly imperfect and genuine seeker of truth who’s passionately served children and youth in educational and non-profit environments for the last 15 years.  Whether lending her skills to schools, youth programs, non-profits or faith communities across the U.S., or encountering friends and colleagues in the midst of striving for change, Leanne embraces the deep potential for both beauty and imperfection that lie at the core of every person, community, movement or organization.  She approaches all people and situations with honesty, curiosity, kindness and intention in order to build connection, call out beauty and make space to heal the parts of us that are broken. She acknowledges that sometimes this is clumsy, but she’s willing to admit failure when it comes her way.  Leanne holds a Bachelors of Family Life from Lincoln Christian University and a Master of Education from Vanderbilt University.  She is a mom, wife, dog-mom and lover of all things involving water, beach, sun and sand.


Laurie Tasharski (she/her/hers) is the Director of Institutional Abuse Prevention for Stop Child Abuse Now of Northern Virginia (SCANVA). She facilitates Allies in Prevention, multi-disciplinary child protection teams, and the Loudoun Country Trauma Informed Community Network (TICN). Laurie works with international child protection professionals, develops comprehensive safety programs for organizations, and has delivered professional development in more than 40 countries. She graduated from Bucknell University and received her M.Ed. from Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. Most weekends you’ll find her getting lost in new places.


Levi James (he/him/his) is a Junior at Thomas Dale High School’s Specialty Center for the Arts.  He is a flautist, and an avid book lover(especially science fiction). He is a Life Scout currently working towards Eagle rank, a NSHSS Scholar, a member of Thomas Dale’s African American Culture Club (AACC) and he plays Varsity Tennis for his school. Levi has maintained a 4.5 GPA for the 2021-22 school year and is currently taking up leadership positions in his community as Junior Assistant Scout Master (JASM) of his Boy Scout troop and he is the Current WoodWind Captain for the Thomas Dale Marching Knights. Levi is a lover of the outdoors, good food, and most importantly a lover of people.


Nadine Marsh-Carter (she/her/hers) is President & CEO of Children’s Home Society of Virginia (CHS), an agency which has served Virginia’s vulnerable children and youth since 1900. Nadine’s connections to CHS run deep – she has provided legal counsel to its adoptive families, served on its board of directors and ultimately adopted two children from the agency. Prior to CHS, Nadine practiced law for several years at Hill, Tucker & Marsh Law Firm. She also served as the Executive Director of Volunteer Families for Children. Nadine is a trustee on the Longwood University Board of Visitors and a member of the Jenkins Foundation Board of Directors. She is also member of the Virginia State Bar Association. She was 2018 Nominee for the Richmond Times Dispatch Person of the Year. She has also been honored to have been selected as Pat Asch Fellow for Social Justice and is also a Southeastern Council of Foundations Hull Fellow in Philanthropy.


Peace Bowles (she/her/we) is the RVA Thrives Director and in this role, Peace oversees the community engagement and organizing work of Virginia Community Voice, which includes two youth programs – YEER (Youth Empowerment through Eviction Research) and ARCA (Art, Racial Reconciliation and Civic Advocacy) for Black and Latine youth on Richmond’s Southside. Peace does direct engagement with young leaders and works with VACV’s team to create spaces where young people’s voices, experiences and mental health are prioritized.



Ram Bhagat, EdD (he/him/we) is a longtime educator, arts innovator, peacemaker, and community healer. He was an award-winning science teacher for Richmond Public Schools and specialized in arts integration during his tenure for DC Public Schools. Recently, Dr. Bhagat retired from RPS, as the Manager of School Culture and Climate Strategy. For the past four years, his work for the school division was centered around restorative practices in education, urban trauma, culturally responsive mindfulness practices, healing centered engagement, and Reimagining In-School Suspension. Currently, he serves as a school culture and climate coach for Martin Luther King, Jr middle school in Richmond, VA. Dr Ram offers Mindfulness Based Restorative Practices and Trauma Responsive Engagement through yoga and communal rhythm to those seeking healing in an arts-integrated environment, guided by a visionary leader with a grounded voice, helping them feel rejuvenated and impelled to act.


Ruth Frierson (she/her/ella): I am a story teller, a cultural provocateur and an elevator of people.  I am a servant, a curious learner, strategic thinker and researcher.  I am a bridge builder, that digs deep to establish strong foundations of belonging.  I am an admirer of sunrises, sunsets, and ocean breezes.  I am a status-quo system disruptor and a social and racial justice advocate.  My titles include Agent of Change, CEO & Founder of The Company You Keep, Author, Speaker/Training, Producer & Co-facilitator of the Love, Truth & Power podcast and Dolores Huerta protege.  My meaningful roles include Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Sister, Daughter and Friend.


Shakirah Jones (she/her/hers) is the Youth Programs Coordinator for Virginia Community Voice. She builds relationships with young leaders on Richmond’s Southside, where she also lives and works. Shakirah facilitates the YEER and ARCA programs, and draws on her own experience as a participant in youth programs to create spaces where youth voice is centered in decision-making. She supports young leaders on Richmond’s Southside to develop their voice and advocate for their vision for their community.


Susan Keightley (she/her/hers) is the Director of Programs at the Child and Family Network Centers. With over twenty-five years of experience in early childhood settings, she prioritizes a learning community that includes families in decision-making and maximizes the experiences for the children in the classroom communities. CFNC is a state and locally funded non-profit with free preschool education, family support, and health referrals for income-qualified families residing in the City of Alexandria. Susan advocates for equitable early childhood experiences from state and local policy makers. CFNC has a racial equity plan that encourages inquiry and questioning policies at all levels to create an equitable workplace and educational community.


Tory Everson-Roots (she/her/hers) has worked for almost two decades to support the needs of youth and families in our local community. Tory is the CPO of Child and Family Services of Children’s Home Society of VA. Tory holds a BA in Sociology from Christopher Newport University and a M.Ed. in Community Counseling from VA State University. Tory is extremely passionate about empowering individuals to use their voice to create change for others. Tory’s personal mission is to champion cultural empathy in the workplace and beyond.


Trey Hartt (he/him/his) is the Managing Director of The Hive Movement, a youth-centered community in Richmond, Virginia that holistically supports young people as they transition into adulthood. He believes that white people must do the difficult work of undoing white supremacy culture theirselves. In-between full-time jobs, he leads strategic planning, acts and directs. Additionally, he facilitate anti-racism workshops (primarily for white audiences).


Valerie L’Herrou (she/her/hers) is a staff attorney in the Center for Family Advocacy of the Virginia Poverty Law center. She focuses on family law and child welfare issues, with a lens of equity, empowerment, and justice.



Veronica QuinonezVeronica Quinonez (she/her/hers) has nearly 15 years of equity and violence prevention experience in the field. She currently consults on DEI initiatives under her small business Veronica Quinonez Trainings LLC and serves as adjunct faculty at Georgetown University. She previously managed the statewide violence CDC ‘DELTA’ Impact grant where she oversaw violence prevention initiatives for the entire state of Tennessee including economic empowerment programs where banks, organizations, and community members were trained on trauma informed and inclusive workforce models. In addition, she previously provided victim services and violence prevention at Vanderbilt and Georgetown Universities. Veronica has also provided crisis counseling to the DOD community and served as a Safe Helpline Manager for the Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN) in Washington, D.C. She holds a Masters of Arts degree in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University and a Bachelors in Psychology and International Relations from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her areas of expertise are de-colonizing and anti-oppression approaches to power based violence and diversity, equity, and inclusion to improve workplaces for marginalized staff.