Innovation and Impact Forum for Black Male Achievement

October 3, 2012

What Winning Looks Like: Investing in What Works

Accelerate current momentum in the field of black male achievement by strengthening philanthropic partnerships, showcasing leaders and organizations making an impact, and building cross-sector collaborations.


  • Carmen Anderson Carmen Anderson is a senior ofcer with the Endowments’ Children, Youth & Families Program. Her focus is advancing the program’s primary emphases: targeting the critical needs of children in the first eight years of life, addressing the special needs of adolescent youth and strengthening families as a means to promoting healthy development among children. Carmen’s work includes identifying innovative programs to strengthen parents’ skills in child rearing and supporting their children’s health. She examines ways to provide financial education for parents and adolescents. Carmen also assists in the Endowments’ development of strategies to make inclusion and diversity a defining element of the region.

    Prior to joining the Endowments in 2000, Carmen was the executive director of Healthy Start, Inc., a federal public health initiative to reduce infant mortality in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. Her leadership and commitment to the mission helped Healthy Start meet its primary goal of reducing the infant mortality rate--one of the historically highest in the country--by 50 percent in the six areas served by the program.

    Carmen’s professional work has focused primarily on women and children’s issues, particularly family violence and child maltreatment. In addition to many years of administrative and management work in the community, she has lectured and conducted workshops on a variety of topics pertinent to women, children and families. She has been active in promoting healthy families through community organizing and public awareness, including co-hosting a 15-part television series on the issue.

    Carmen has a master’s degree in mental health, a bachelor’s degree in mass and inter-personal communications, and certificates in nonprofit management, business administration and victim services. She has received the U.S. Department of Human Services Commissioners Award for outstanding service in the field.
  • Leon T. Andrews Leon Andrews is the program director at the National League of Cities’ Institute for Youth, Education, and Families. Prior to joining the NLC he was a fellow at the Forum for Youth Investment, where he coordinated a multistate youth policy and engagement initiative. He also serves on the boards of the National Recreation and Parks Association, the Youth Planners Network, Healthy Kids Healthy Schools, and the Safe Routes to School National Review Group.

    He is currently a PhD candidate at the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and holds a master’s in public policy and management from Carnegie Mellon University.
  • Susan Taylor Batten Susan Taylor Batten joined ABFE as President and CEO in January 2009. Prior to joining ABFE Ms. Batten was Senior Associate with the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
  • Akie Bermiss Akie Bermiss is a Brooklyn native reared by former activists in a musical household full of jazz and politics. He began singing in church, moved it to school for a while, and then took it up as a career. He flirted with going professional in high school but gave it up in the hopes of becoming a better musician.

    It was at Bard College that he began to seriously study piano. Under the auspices of John Esposito, Erica Lindsay, and the composers George Tsontakis and Kyle Gann, Akie began experimenting with form and function in music. He currently performs with his band Aabaraki and plays with such artists as The Screaming Headless Torsos and the rapper Soul Khan. Akie lives and works in Brooklyn, NY as a singer, songwriter, accompanist, and writer.
  • Roger Blisset Roger Blissett is managing director of US Strategy at RBC Capital Markets.
  • Michael Bloomberg Michael R. Bloomberg is an entrepreneur and philanthropist who served three terms as Mayor of the City of New York.
  • Cecily Bumbray Cecily Bumbray is a talented young vocalist and songwriter, destined to make her mark on the music world and beyond. At the age of 22, she has participated in classical and gospel choirs, she has also sung in a host of school sponsored events and talent showcases.

    Cecily describes her style as “unique,” because of the rich appreciation that she has for “the instrument that is the voice.” She has been influenced throughout her life by powerful vocalists and by a broad range of music including Jazz, Blues, Funk, New Jack Swing, and Hip Hop. A decade of studying and performing has provided her with the training to form a secure foundation, enabling this seasoned soprano to perform with confidence and ease.

    Cecily recently graduated from historic Swarthmore College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and in Black Studies. She is now in the beginning stages of launching her career as a solo artist, preparing to release her first two singles – “Too Much” and “Crazy for You” – in September of 2012.

    Of course, winning a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and walking the coveted Red Carpet would be a dream come true, but Cecily’s ultimate goal is to be known as an artist who is consistent, conscientious, and caring of her art and especially of her growing numbers of fans.
  • Geoffrey Canada Geoffrey Canada is the president and C.E.O. of the nonprofit Harlem Children’s Zone, a community-based organization that offers a comprehensive, cradle-through-college network of programs to help eleven thousand local children break the cycle of poverty through education. He is author of "Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence in America" and "Reaching Up for Manhood: Transforming the Lives of Boys in America."
  • Raymond Colmenar Senior Program Manager, The California Endowment

    Ray Colmenar is a senior program manager for Health Happens in Neighborhoods under the California Endowment's 10-year strategic program Building Healthy Communities. Ray is responsible for shaping and implementing the Endowment's programmatic strategy to improve community and neighborhood environments so that they promote health. He is also responsible for coordinating the Endowment's statewide work on improving the health of boys and young men of color — a key cross-cutting program priority of the Building Healthy Communities strategy. Prior to joining the California Endowment, Ray was an associate director at PolicyLink. He has also served as a senior research associate with the Rockefeller Foundation, executive director for the South of Market Problem Solving Council, and policy analyst for the San Francisco Department of Human Services. Ray received his BA in Management Science from the University of California, San Diego, and his MA in Public Policy from the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley.
  • Stephen DeBerry Stephen DeBerry makes and manages investments that align strong financial returns with positive social impact. He is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer at Bronze Investments and a partner at Kapor Capital.

    Previously, Stephen was Investment Director at Omidyar Network, the mission-based investment firm started by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife, Pam. Before that Stephen was a senior manager of business development at Interval Research, the research lab established by Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen. Stephen is a Trustee and Member of the Investment Committee at The California Endowment. He is the Chairman of Friends of New Orleans and also serves the boards of The Association of Marshall Scholars and The Dalai Lama Foundation. Stephen earned a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology with highest honors from UCLA as well as a Master’s degree in Social Anthropology and a Master of Business Administration degree from Oxford University. He is a Marshall Scholar and a Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute. He lives in the San Francisco bay area with his wife and two daughters.
  • Cheryl Dorsey Cheryl Dorsey is president of Echoing Green, a pioneer in the social entrepreneurship movement. This global social venture fund has awarded over $33 million in start-up capital to nearly 600 next generation social entrepreneurs worldwide since 1987. Dorsey received an Echoing Green Fellowship in 1992 to help launch The Family Van, a community-based mobile health unit in Boston.
  • Shawn Dove Shawn Dove joined the Open Society Institute in May 2008 as manager of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement. He has more than two decades of leadership experience in youth development, education, and community building.
  • Tyree Dumas Tyree "TOPDOLLAR" Dumas is a 23-year old visionary and CEO/ Founder who created DOLLARBOYZ, a massive youth-led movement that attracts youth from all over the U.S., creating a positive force for change. The DOLLARBOYZ movement currently has over 15,000 members and its videos have received more than 7.4 million hits on YouTube. DollarBoyz, Inc. is a multi-ethnic, youth managed, performing and media Arts Company that exposes "hard to reach and vulnerable" youth to social development through entrepreneurship, the entertainment arts, and social gatherings.

    Tyree’s influence and ability to work with youth have gotten him acknowledged and awarded by the Knight Foundation via the Black Male Engagement Award, the Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service, featured in an article in the Philadelphia Weekly, Daily News, Tribune, Philadelphia Inquire, Metropolis, English House Gazette and interviewed on entertainment networks such as BET, Clear Channel’s Power 99fm and Radio One’s 100.3fm, 107.9fm, and 900am WURD.

    Tyree currently sits on the Mayor’s appointed; Commission on African American Males, School Districts; Blue Ribbon Commission on Safe School’s, currently a fellow of New Leaders Council Philadelphia, and Coordinator of the Hip Hop Caucus’s Respect My Vote Campaign of Philadelphia. Tyree has previously worked at the Philadelphia Center for Arts and Technology as Youth Council Liaison, Cookman United Methodist Church as the Director of the Teen Center, at Columbia North YMCA overseeing and creating programs for youth as the Y-Teens Program Coordinator, and at Nu Juice Foundation’s Keepin It Real Tour as Coordinator of their school tours program. Tyree is currently focused on his own business endeavors that follow along the same lines of working closely with youth.

    DollarBoyz’s goals are to inspire new business creation, academic achievement, economic development, service and paid work experiences using the participants’ various talents. We accomplish this through sharing ideas and resources in a diverse and civic manner through digital media and original music production, photography, dance, and marketing.
  • Khalil Fuller Khalil Fuller is a young social entrepreneur with a passion for driving positive change in education. Growing up through adversity in Los Angeles, he witnessed his best friends become disengaged from school, especially from math, and he vowed to do something about it. His organization, NBA Math Hoops, makes math fun for youth and keeps them engaged and on-track. Khalil is on leave from Brown University where he is a QuestBridge Scholar double majoring in Education and Social Innovation.
  • Angela Glover Blackwell Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, started PolicyLink in 1999 and continues to drive its mission of advancing economic and social equity. Under Blackwell’s leadership, PolicyLink has become a leading voice in the movement to use public policy to improve access and opportunity for all low-income people and communities of color, particularly in the areas of health, housing, transportation, education, and infrastructure.
  • Melanie Hartzog Melanie Hartzog was appointed Family Services Coordinator in the New York City Office of The Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services in August 2011. In this role she oversees several city agencies responsible for the delivery of social services and justice programs. Melanie is also the Project Director for the Young Men’s Initiative, a bold and innovative public/private partnership aimed at reducing disparities between the economic and social outcomes of young men of color and other demographic groups in New York City.

    Prior to joining the Mayor’s Office, Melanie served as the Deputy Commissioner for early childhood services at New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services. In this capacity, she designed and implemented initiatives to maximize utilization of child care resources and to increase efficiency and access to quality subsidized child care, culminating in the release of the City’s EarlyLearn NYC procurement in 2011. Previously, Melanie led a social services unit in the Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget, and she was Director of Policy and Advocacy for the Human Services Council of New York City, Inc. Melanie has a Master of Science degree from The New School’s Robert J. Milano School of Management and Urban Policy and a Bachelor of Arts from Eckerd College.
  • Sherrilyn Ifill An outspoken national commentator on civil rights issues, Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, professor at the University of Maryland School of Law and member of the OSI-Baltimore Board and the Open Society Foundations' U. S. Programs Board, will discuss the opportunity for equity and justice to become a reality.
  • John Jackson On July 2, 2007, Dr. John H. Jackson became the President and CEO of The Schott Foundation for Public Education. In this role, Dr. Jackson leads the Foundation’s efforts to ensure a high quality public education for all students regardless of race or gender. Dr. Jackson joined the Schott Foundation after seven productive years in leadership positions at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He served as the NAACP Chief Policy Officer and prior to that as the NAACP's National Director of Education.
  • Tim King Tim King is an American educator and non-profIt leader, and the founder and CEO of Urban Prep Academies, a network of all-male charter public high schools in Chicago. King and Urban Prep received nation-wide attention in 2010 and again in 2011 after announcements that 100% of the school's first two graduating classes had been accepted into a four-year college or university.
  • Paula Madison Paula Williams Madison is Chairman and CEO of Madison Media Management LLC, a division of Williams Group Holdings LLC, a Chicago-based investment company wholly owned by her family. Madison Media Management LLC is a Los Angeles limited liability company which invests primarily in emerging media, entertainment and communication businesses.

    Williams Group Holdings manages its significant investments in media (The Africa Channel), a sports franchise (WNBA’s Los Angeles team, The LA Sparks), banking (LA’s Broadway Federal Bank), and various real estate, consumer, financial and trading businesses.

    Chairman of The LA Sparks, she’s also a member of the WNBA Board of Governors. Madison recently retired from NBCUniversal, where she had been Executive Vice President of Diversity as well as a Vice President of the General Electric Company (GE).

    During her 22 years with NBCU, she held a number of successful leadership roles, including President and General Manager of NBC4 Los Angeles, Los Angeles Regional General Manager for NBCU’s Telemundo TV stations and Vice President and News Director of NBC4 New York. In 2007, she was appointed to lead diversity for NBCU. It was the first time a company ofcer assumed a full-time responsibility as the business-lead for diversity. That same year, Madison was named a Company Officer for GE, then the parent company of NBCU, now operated by the Comcast Corporation.

    After Vassar College, her early career was spent as a newspaper reporter in New York and Texas, then a TV news manager and executive in Dallas, Tulsa and Houston. Finally, she returned to her native New York City as NBC4’s Assistant News Director, becoming the station’s Vice President and News Director in March 1996.

    Her career as a journalist led to a 1996 Peabody Award for NBC4 New York’s investigation, "A License to Kill." Madison’s continued dedication to quality journalism helped NBC4 Los Angeles earn numerous Emmy, Golden Mike and Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards. Honored for corporate leadership and community outreach, Madison was named one of the "75 Most Powerful African Americans in Corporate America" by Black Enterprise Magazine in 2005 and included in the Hollywood Reporter’s "Power 100."

    A marathoner, Madison also received the "Citizen of the Year Award" from the City of Los Angeles Marathon in 2004 and the Anti-Defamation League’s "2003 Deborah Award." Ebony Magazine listed her in the "Power 150 in Media."

    In 2010, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa appointed her one of five Library Commissioners for the nation’s second largest public library system.

    Madison is a Board Member of the Friends of the California African American Museum, Greater Los Angeles United Way, the Los Angeles Library Foundation, Chairman of the California Science Center Foundation, Vice Chair of National Medical Fellowships, the Center for Public Integrity, the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, the Los Angeles Public Library Commission, Cardinal Spellman High School, Vassar College Board of Trustees and Chair of The Nell Williams Family Foundation.

    A native of Harlem, Madison and her husband reside in Los Angeles.
  • Kierna Mayo Kierna Mayo is the Editorial Director, Digital for She is the former Editorial Director of, where she developed a cutting-edge, online women’s magazine for Tyra Banks’ Bankable Enterprises. She is also former online editor at Kierna has written about culture and lifestyle for over 20 years. Her critically acclaimed writings have appeared in major national magazines including Essence, Marie Claire, Glamour, Seventeen, Vibe and Uptown among others. Most notably, Kierna is also the co-founder and founding Editor-in-Chief of Honey magazine. Recognized for its visionary editorial direction, Honey became the first of a new genre in American magazine publishing--a young, female demographic influenced by an emerging hip-hop culture.

    Post Honey, Kierna developed a 1.0 Black girls’ web venture,, and was later chosen to oversee the new direction of Essence Girl, a magazine supplement for millions of ‘tween and teen African American girls. From there she served as senior editor of Cosmogirl. During her tenure, she became a founding member of the Hearst Diversity Council, an executive body created to increase minority representation within the company. In the earliest part of Kierna’s career she was an editor at The Source magazine where she covered the politics of hip-hop culture, and at City Limits magazine where she served on the development committee of NYC progressive policy think tank, Center for an Urban Future. Kierna’s work has been featured in several books including And It Don’t Stop: The Best American Hip-Hop Journalism of the Last 25 Years, and cited in numerous academic texts including The Invention of Race: Black Culture and the Politics of Representation.
    Kierna is a graduate of Hampton University with a BA in Mass Media Arts. She resides in New York City with her husband and two young sons, all of whom wear hoodies.
  • Dr. Lawrence T. McGill Lawrence T. McGill, Ph.D., is the Foundation Center’s vice president for research. Under Dr. McGill, the Center’s research department has significantly expanded its research capacity while continuing to produce definitive analyses of philanthropic sector trends.

    Previously, Dr. McGill was director of research and planning for the Cultural Policy & the Arts National Data Archive (CPANDA) and deputy director of the Princeton University Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies (CACPS). His work with CPANDA involved identifying, evaluating, and analyzing key social science data sets for inclusion in the archive, on topics related to artists, arts audiences, arts organizations, and public support for the arts. By the end of 2006, the archive held more than 200 such data sets. He served as director of research for the Freedom Forum from 1994 to 2001 and manager of news audience research for the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) from 1989 to 1994.

    Dr. McGill has consulted on research projects with the Urban Institute; the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University; the National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia University; the Columbia University department of art and architectural history; the Institute of Fine Arts (NYU); the American Society of Newspaper Editors; and NBC News and CBS News, among other organizations. He has taught in the departments of sociology and journalism at Northwestern University, where he received his Ph.D. in sociology in 1987.
  • Alexis McGill Johnson Alexis McGill Johnson is a thought leader and a bridge builder whose work spans politics, academia, social activism, and cultural strategies. Throughout her work, Alexis has explored the shifting paradigms of identity and race-based politics in the post-civil rights era, increasing civic engagement among youth and people of color, and the implications for demographic and ideological changes of these constituencies on national politics. Her career and philanthropy have always, at their core, focused on improving the lives of young people, with an emphasis on youth of color. She is a frequent commentator on FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, and in press.

    Currently, Alexis is serving as the Executive Director of American Values Institute (AVI), a consortium of researchers, educators, and social justice advocates whose work analyzes the role of bias and racial anxiety in our society. AVI's goal is to develop and introduce a research-based, empirically supported set of interventions into today's racially polarized and fraught climate. Alexis is serves as Board member for Planned Parenthood Federation of America where she will assume the role of Chair this April.

    Upon earning her undergraduate degree in Politics from Princeton, Alexis began her career in academia by enrolling in a doctoral program at Tale University. For six years, Alexis developed and taught several courses on race and urban development, power, poverty, and social movement theory at both Yale and Wesleyan Universities. Never satisfied with the insular boundaries of the Ivory Tower, however, Alexis searched continually for other venues and audiences to discuss the real life concerns and experiences of her generation. In March 2002, she found such an outlet in Savoy Magazine where she wrote an article about mobilizing the Hip Hop generation entitled: 'Can the Hip Hop Generation become the Next NRA?' An interview for that article with Russell Simmons, the legendary 'Godfather of Hip Hop,' created a unique opportunity to serve as Political Director of the Hip Hop Summit Action Network, Simmons's voter mobilization organization.

    From July 2003 through the following year, she worked with Mr.Simmons and his national network of artists and cultural participants to devise the strategic plan for the HSAN. In July 2004, Alexis accepted an offer as Executive Director of Citizen Change, a nonprofit established by Sean Diddy Combs that educated young voters through grassroots and tailored social media efforts. During the 2004 election cycle, Alexis worked with Combs and his team at Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment on an unprecedented media and marketing campaign marked by the now ubiquitous slogan 'Vote or Die!' to educate, motivate, and empower young people about the process of voting. Mixing traditional grassroots mobilization with non-traditional consumer based marketing methodology created a new model for reaching young people and people of color that led to the most massive grassroots mobilization this generation had ever seen.

    Since 2004, Alexis has remained a committed political activist and strategist for a variety of artists, organizations, and political candidates. That opportunity has allowed her to keep researching and testing various models of cultural engagement.

    In addition to PPFA, Alexis also serves on the boards of Center for Social Inclusion, Air Traffic Control, and Citizen Engagement Lab, and is a Founder of The Culture Group. She previously served on the board of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

    She and her husband, Rob Johnson, live in New York with their two daughters, Sara Jean (3) and Dylan Katherine (11 months).
  • Diana Morris Diana Morris, a life-long social justice advocate, has led the Open Society Institute-Baltimore since the office opened in 1998. She was recently named as one of the Daily Record’s Most Admired CEOs.
  • Pedro Noguera Pedro Noguera one of America's most important voices on school reform, diversity and the achievement gap, is the Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at New York University. He will discuss cultivating intellectual talent in children no matter what their background or neighborhood is.
  • Michael Nutter Recently re-elected to his second term as Mayor of his hometown, Michael A. Nutter has set an aggressive agenda for America’s fifth largest city – devising the City’s innovative school reform strategy, vowing to strengthen community policing through Philly Rising, a unique partnership between vulnerable neighborhoods and the City, and continuing to implement the nationally recognized GreenWorks Philadelphia initiative that is helping to make the City of Philadelphia become the greenest city in America.
  • John W. Rogers Jr. John’s passion for investing started when he was 12 years old when his father bought him stocks, instead of toys, for every birthday and Christmas. His interest grew while majoring in economics at Princeton University. After graduation, he worked as a stockbroker for 2½ years at William Blair & Company, LLC—a regional investment banking firm. In 1983, John founded Ariel Investments to focus on undervalued small and medium-sized companies. Patience served as the cornerstone of a disciplined approach that still drives the firm today. Early in his career, John’s investment expertise brought him to the forefront of media attention, including being selected as Co-Mutual Fund Manager of the Year by Sylvia Porter’s Personal Finance magazine as well as an All-Star Mutual Fund Manager by USA TODAY. Today, he is regularly featured and quoted in a wide variety of broadcast and print publications and is a contributing columnist to Forbes. Beyond Ariel, John serves as a board member of Exelon Corporation and McDonald’s Corporation. He is a trustee of the University of Chicago, where he also chairs the board of the University of Chicago Laboratory School and a director of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. In 2008, he was awarded Princeton University’s highest honor, the Woodrow Wilson Award, presented each year to the alumnus whose career embodies a commitment to national service. Following the election of President Barack Obama, John served as co-chair for the Presidential Inaugural Committee 2009. John received an AB in economics from Princeton University where he was also captain of the varsity basketball team. 
  • Dr. Robert Ross Robert K. Ross, M.D., is president and chief executive ofcer for The California Endowment, a health foundation established in 1996 to address the health needs of Californians. Prior to his appointment in September 2000, Dr. Ross served as director of the Health and Human Services Agency for the County of San Diego from 1993 to 2000, and Commissioner of Public Health for the City of Philadelphia from 1990 to 1993. Dr. Ross has an extensive background as a clinician and public health administrator. His service includes: medical director for LINK School-Based Clinic Program, Camden, New Jersey; instructor of clinical medicine, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; and faculty member at San Diego State University’s School of Public Health. Dr. Ross has been actively involved in community and professional activities at both the local and national level. He served as a member of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee, and on the boards of the National Marrow Donor Program, San Diego United Way and Jackie Robinson YMCA. He is a Diplomate of the American Academy of Pediatrics, served on the President’s Summit for America’s Future and as chairman of the national Boost for Kids Initiative. Dr. Ross received his undergraduate, masters in Public Administration and medical degrees from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He has received numerous awards and honors including the Council on Foundations’ 2008 Distinguished Grantmaker of the Year Award, "Youth Advocacy Humanitarian of the Year" award; the "Outstanding Community Service Award" from the Volunteers of America; the "Leadership Award" from the Hospital Council of San Diego and Imperial Counties; and the National Association of Health Services Executives "Health Administrator of the Year Cita- tion." He was also a recipient of the national Public Ofcials of the Year Award presented by Governing Magazine in 1999. Other honors include awards from Planned Parenthood Southern Pennsylvania, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and West Philadelphia Economic Development Corporation. He also was a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar from 1988 to 1990, focusing on urban child health issues.

    During his tenure at The California Endowment, the foundation has focused on the health needs of underserved Californians by championing the cause of health coverage for all children, strengthening the capacity of community health centers, improving health services for farm worker and ex-offender populations, and strengthening the pipeline for bringing racial and ethnic diversity to the health professions. He was also named by Capitol Weekly as one of California’s most inffluential civic leaders in health policy in 2006.

    The California Endowment was established in 1996 to expand access to afordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians. The Endowment has regional ofces in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Fresno and San Diego with program staf working throughout the state. The Endowment makes grants to organizations and institutions that directly benefit the health and well-being of the people of California. For more information, visit our Web site at
  • Rashid Shabazz Rashid Shabazz joined the Open Society Foundations’ U.S. Programs staff in March 2009 as a Program Officer with the Campaign for Black Male Achievement. He provides strategic leadership on a range of priorities and initiatives including the Campaign’s media and communications’ efforts, the New York City Young Men’s Initiative, the Leadership and Sustainability Institute for Black Male Achievement and the Black Male Achievement Fellowship.

    Prior to joining Open Society, Shabazz served as Senior Account Executive with Fenton Communications working on One Nation, a national initiative to shape public perception of American Muslims. With over 17 years of experience as a grassroots media and communications organizer, he has also been a contributing writer to several publications, including The Source and Trace magazines, and the Huffington Post.

    Shabazz is a recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including, the West African Research Association (WARA) and the Open Society New York Community fellowship. He holds a B.A. in English from George Mason University, an M.A. in African studies from Yale University and an M.S. from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He continues to blog for the Open Society Foundations website and lives in Brooklyn, NY with his beautiful wife and daughter.
  • Trabian Shorters Trabian Shorters is founder and CEO of BMe. He began the initiative while serving as vice president of the Knight Foundation. With the full blessing of his board and CEO, and with a generous donation from the foundation, Trabian left Knight Foundation on July 1, 2013 to grow the BMe Community. Trabian has a long history in building innovative networks for the public good. First as one of the authors of AmeriCorps, then as a founder of an innovative nonprofit technology support network which was backed by both AOL and Microsoft in 1999. He went on to be the director of Ashoka-US, which funds and networks outstanding social entrepreneurs, before joining the Knight Foundation wherein he managed a $300M portfolio and led Knight’s groundbreaking Community Information Challenge. Based upon the research of Daniel Kahneman, Chip Heath, Jonah Sachs, Monique Sternin and Jonah Berger; Trabian devised a community engagement and transformation theory called "Asset-Framing" and through the Knight Foundation he worked with social impact design firm, Context Partners, and marketing giant, Ogilvy & Mather, to apply it regarding black males of Baltimore, Detroit, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
  • Maisha Simmons Maisha Simmons, MPA, joined the Foundation in 2008 as a program associate working in the area of childhood obesity. In this role, she focuses on advocacy with communities most afected by childhood obesity. As she describes it, she "keeps communities in the picture" by helping them to promote relevant and grassroots solutions to the problem of childhood obesity and assisting community leaders in monitoring and enforcing effective policies in their communities. Her work, which enables her "to see change on a wide scale and be part of the Foundation’s enormous and exciting mission," includes project research, assisting grantees and applicants on strategies and action plans, helping design new initiatives, evaluating proposals, and monitoring programs and grants. Previously, Simmons was a grant writer and manager with United Way of Essex and West Hudson in Newark, N.J. In addition to managing existing grants, she developed new grant prospects and secured funding for community impact initiatives. She was a National Urban Fellow with the Community Development Law Center (CDLC) and the Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center (INRC), Indianapolis, Ind. She also served in various positions at Cathedral Community Development Corporation, Perth Amboy, N.J., including director of Community Development, director of Human Services, and development coordinator. In addition, to what she calls her first experience in public health, she served as an inspector with the Union County Division of Public Works, Bureau of Mosquito Control, during an outbreak of West Nile virus.

    Simmons holds an MPA from CUNY/Baruch College, School of Public Afairs, and master certificate in public administration from Kean University, and a B.A. from Douglass College, Rutgers University. Born in Orange, N.J., she resides in Asbury Park with her husband. She enjoys movies, reading fiction, and participating in the activities of her church.
  • George Soros George Soros came of age in Hungary at a time when it was a battleground in the decades-long conflict between fascism and communism, the two great totalitarian ideologies of the 20th century. A personal experience of this conflict--including the violence, foreign occupation, anti-Semitism, and other forms of intolerance that went with it--as well as a personal fascination with philosophy shaped Soros’s thinking in later years and influenced his successful strategies in both finance and philanthropy.

    Born in Budapest in 1930, Soros survived the Nazi occupation of Hungary during World War II as well as the postwar imposition of Stalinism in his homeland. Soros fled Communist-dominated Hungary in 1947 and made his way to England. Before graduating from the London School of Economics in 1952, Soros studied Karl Popper’s work in the philosophy of science as well as his critique of totalitarianism, The Open Society and Its Enemies, which maintains that no philosophy or ideology has the final word on the truth and that societies can only flourish when they allow for democratic governance, freedom of expression, a diverse range of opinion, and respect for individual rights.

    Later, while working as a financial analyst and trader in New York, Soros adapted Popper’s thinking in developing his own application of the social theory of "reflexivity," a set of ideas that seeks to explain how a feedback mechanism can skew how participants in a market value assets on that market. After concluding that he had more talent for trading than for philosophy, Soros began to apply his ideas on reflexivity to investing, using it to predict, among other things, the emergence of financial bubbles. In 1967, he helped establish an offshore investment fund. In 1973, he set up a private investment firm that eventually evolved into the Quantum Fund, one of the first hedge funds. Soros’s memories of anti-Semitism in wartime Hungary prompted him, in 1979, to begin providing financial support for black students at the University of Cape Town in apartheid South Africa. In 1984, Soros created an education and culture foundation in Hungary. He later supported dissident movements in Eastern Europe’s other Communist countries, helping people to organize themselves at a time when popular organizations were banned, to voice their opinions when dissonant opinions were considered anti-state propaganda, and to promote tolerance, democratic governance, human rights, and the rule of law when a one-party dictatorship exercised a monopoly on power.

    As the East bloc crumbled during the late 1980s and the Soviet empire collapsed in the early 1990s, Soros expanded his funding in an effort to help create open societies in all of the region’s countries. He demonstrated his commitment to critical thinking and democratic political development by establishing Central European University in 1991. In 1993, he founded the Open Society Institute. Over the past three decades, Soros’s philanthropy has spawned a network of foundations dedicated to promoting development of open societies in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States. To date, Soros has given over $8 billion to support human rights, freedom of expression, and access to public health and education in more than 100 countries. Soros’s most recent book is Financial Turmoil in Europe and the United States: Essays (2012). His other books include The Soros Lectures: At the Central European University (2010); The Crash of 2008 and What it Means: The New Paradigm for Finance Markets (2009); The Age of Fallibility: Consequences of The War on Terror (2006); The Bubble of American Supremacy (2005); George Soros on Globalization (2002); Open Society: Reforming Global Capitalism (2000); The Crisis of Global Capitalism: Open Society Endangered (1998); Soros on Soros: Staying Ahead of the Curve (1995); Underwriting Democracy (1991); Opening the Soviet System (1990); and The Alchemy of Finance (1987). His essays on politics, society, and economics appear frequently in major periodicals around the world.
  • Christopher Stone An public intellectual and international expert on criminal justice reform and on nonprofit leadership, Chris Stone is president of the Open Society Foundations. He'll explore how Baltimore can share successful solutions and obstinate challenges with other cities in the U.S. and the world, to be part of a tidal wave of change for opportunity and justice.
  • Susan L. Taylor Susan Taylor is synonymous with Essence magazine, the brand she built as its chief editor for nearly three decades. A legend in the magazine publishing world, her focus and passion today is the National CARES Mentoring Movement, a call to action, which she founded in 2005 as Essence CARES. The CARES mentoring movement is a massive campaign to recruit able adults to help secure the many Black children who are in peril and losing ground. The goals of National CARES are to increase high school graduation rates among African American students, end the violence in Black communities and the over-incarceration of our young. Susan Taylor is a native of Harlem. She received a bachelor of science degree from Fordham University.
  • Robert Thornton Robert Thornton is a Program Officer at The Skillman Foundation and is responsible for oversight of the Foundation's Good Neighborhoods work in the Brightmoor and Cody Rouge communities. Thornton coordinates the Foundation's Fatherhood and faith-based work, and leads the Foundation's emerging work around Black and Brown Boys. Prior to joining the Foundation, Thornton spent 13 years at New Detroit, Inc., in various positions focusing on consensus building, race relations and diversity issues. He received his bachelor's from Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., and his master's in Educational Leadership from Wayne State University. Thornton is a life-long resident of Detroit, the father of two adult sons and serves as a Deacon at Hartford Memorial
  • Dr. Harold Dean Trulear Harold Dean Trulear is Director of the Healing Communities Prison Ministry and Prisoner Reentry Project of the Philadelphia Leadership Foundation. Designed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Healing Communities has been implemented in over 20 sites nationally, in partnership with such organizations as the Progressive National Baptist Convention, the Christian Association for Prisoner Aftercare and the National Women’s Prison Project. Dr. Trulear is an ordained American Baptist minister and serves as Associate Professor of Applied Theology and Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program at Howard University, where he is also president of the Gamma of DC chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. He is on the pastoral staff of Praise and Glory Tabernacle in Southwest Philadelphia. He also serves as a Fellow at the Center for Public Justice in Annapolis, MD. He has taught religion, public policy and community studies in several institutions, including Yale University, the University of Southern California, Hartford Seminary, Eastern University and Vanderbilt University. His research interests include religion and culture, the church and domestic violence, and religion and criminal justice. From 1998-2001 he served as vice president of faith based initiatives at Public/Private Ventures, in Philadelphia, having come to P/PV from New York Theological Seminary, where he served six years as dean for first professional studies.

    A graduate of Morehouse College (BA) and Drew University (PhD), Dr. Trulear has authored over seventy published monographs, articles, essays, sermons and reviews, including African American Churches and Welfare Reform (Center for Public Justice) and Faith Based Initiatives with High Risk Youth (P/PV. His edited volume, George Kelsey: Unsung Hero was published by the Andover Newton Theological Seminary in honor of their storied alumnus who was Martin Luther King’s mentor and academic advisor at Morehouse, and he has co-edited Ministry with Prisoners and Their Families: The Way Forward, with W. Wilson Goode and Charles E. Lewis. His writings on religion, culture and political afairs have appeared in PBS’ Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, the Center for Public Justice’ Capital Commentary and Prism: America’s Alternative Evangelical Voice.

    Dr. Trulear has served as a consultant to a number of organizations concerning faith based community development and outreach, including AEL Laboratories (Charleston W. VA), the Leadership Center of Morehouse College, Mahoning Valley (Ohio) Council of Churches, Churches Active In Northside (Cincinnati, OH), the University of Delaware, Tuskegee University, the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, the Pew Forum and Payne Theological Seminary in Wilberforce, Ohio. He is a member of the Society for the Study of Black Religion, the American Academy of Religion, the Christian Association for Prisoner Aftercare, the Correctional Chaplains and Ministries Association, and the Faith and Spiritual Afairs Advisory Board of the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disabilities Services.
  • John Wallace John M. Wallace Jr. earned his PhD and master's degree in sociology from the University of Michigan and his BA in sociology from the University of Chicago. He is the principal investigator on the University of Pittsburgh Center on Race and Social Problems' Comm-Univer-City of Pittsburgh Project, an integrated program of research, teaching, and service designed to investigate and ameliorate social problems that disproportionately impact economically disadvantaged children, families, and communities. Wallace also is a coinvestigator on the National Institute on Drug Abuse's ongoing national study of drug use among American young people, Monitoring the Future. His recent research examines comprehensive community revitalization initiatives, racial and ethnic disparities in social and economic well-being, the impact of crime on clergy and congregations, and adolescent problem behaviors including violence and substance abuse. His work has appeared in numerous professional journals, books and monographs. In addition to being a professor and a father, he pastors a church in Pittsburgh's Homewood-Brushton neighborhood.
  • Dr. John Silvanus Wilson Jr. John Silvanus Wilson, Jr. currently serves as the executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). To accomplish the initiative’s mission of strengthening the capacity of these institutions, he leads his team to work with the 105 HBCUs, the White House, 32 federal agencies, and the private corporate and philanthropic sectors. Their challenge is to ensure that HBCUs are a significant force in helping the nation to reach the goal set by President Barack Obama of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by the year 2020.

    Before working with the White House Initiative, Wilson was an associate professor of higher education in the Graduate School of Education at the George Washington University (GWU). He also served as the executive dean of GWU’s Virginia campus, and he helped to develop a strategic plan for the university. While at GWU, his primary research and teaching interests included transformative advancement and finance in higher education, the role of black colleges and universities, and identifying the most sensible paths aspiring institutions can take toward greater stability and prestige.

    Wilson spent the first 16 years of his career at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he ultimately served as director of foundation relations and assistant provost. He was a senior ofcer by the second of two capital campaigns, with goals of $700 million and $2 billion, respectively. As director, he more than doubled the productivity of the office he managed and reached a record annual revenue stream of over $50 million, well above the level required to reach the campaign sub-goal of $250 million.

    Wilson received a bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College, a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard University, and both a master’s and a doctoral degree in administration, planning and social policy, also from Harvard University. While working at MIT, he served as a teaching fellow in Harvard University’s Afro-American Studies Department as well as in Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.

    For 10 years, Wilson served as the president of the Greater Boston Morehouse College Alumni Association. In that role, he led an efort to raise over $.5 million toward scholarships and another $.5 million toward community out-reach for his alumni chapter. Based in no small part on those achievements, he was awarded the coveted Benjamin Elijah Mays Leadership Award by his alma mater in 1998.

    Wilson has recently served on the Board of Trustees of Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga.; as a consultant in the United Negro College Fund Institute for Capacity Building’s HBCU Institutional Advancement Program; and on the Kresge Foundation’s Black College Advisory Board. From 1996 through 2000, he served as chairman of the Alumni Council of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He has served on the boards of both the Samaritans and the Andover Newton Theological School.
  • Andrew Wolk Widely recognized as a leading social innovator and a pioneering teacher of social entrepreneurship, Andrew founded Root Cause in 2004 and continues to lead its overall strategic direction, having consulted to dozens of nonprofit organizations in their quest to achieve enduring social impact Andrew authored a chapter in the Small Business Administration’s annual report to the president of the United States, entitled "Social Entrepreneurship and Government: A New Breed of Entrepreneurs Developing Solutions to Social Problems," a white paper co-published with the Aspen Institute, entitled "Advancing Social Entrepreneurship: Recommendations for Policy Makers and Government Agencies," and the Root Cause How-to Guides Business Planning for Enduring Social Impact and Building a Performance Measurement System.

    Andrew designed and taught one of the first courses on social entrepreneurship in the country. He is a senior lecturer in social entrepreneurship at MIT and is a Gleitsman Visiting Practitioner at Harvard Kennedy School, where he is currently teaching a course on new public leadership and the role of government. He has served on the board of Social Enterprise Alliance and the advisory board of the Social Capitalist Awards, and helped establish the Boston chapter of Social Venture Partners. Andrew holds an M.B.A. in Entrepreneurship and Nonprofit Management from Boston University and a B.A. from Lehigh University.
  • Ken Zimmerman Ken Zimmerman is the director of US Programs for the Open Society Foundations. A lawyer with more than two decades of leadership in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, he has devoted his career to justice and equality, focusing on access to opportunity for people of color and low-income communities.

About this conference

To accelerate current momentum in the field of black male achievement by strengthening philanthropic partnerships, showcasing leaders and organizations making an impact, and building cross-sector collaborations. The forum will do this through:
  • High-profile keynotes and awards
  • Profiling young, emerging leaders
  • Showcasing major initiatives and innovations in the field
  • Providing practical research, data, and field-building tools
  • Providing networking opportunities for attendees to connect
  • Sessions on proven strategies that are working to improve the life outcomes of black men and boys

About Open Society Foundations

The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. To achieve this mission, the foundations seek to shape public policies that assure greater fairness in political, legal, and economic systems and safeguard fundamental rights. On a local level, the Open Society Foundations implement a range of initiatives to advance justice, education, public health, and independent media. At the same time, we build alliances across borders and continents on issues such as corruption and freedom of information. The foundations place a high priority on protecting and improving the lives of people in marginalized communities.

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