Carolyne Abdullah

Carolyne Abdullah, Director of Community Assistance at Everyday Democracy, leads the organization’s strategy for working with neighborhoods, towns, school districts, and cities that are developing inclusive, equitable ways to address public problems. Her experience in working with leaders in many sectors, and of different backgrounds and viewpoints, enables them to work together in authentic, productive ways. She brings leadership on racial equity to the fields of civic engagement, democracy reform, and philanthropy. Her leadership within Everyday Democracy helps it become an inclusive, anti-racist organization that is strengthening the intersection of equity and democracy.

Dr. Edward L. Ayers

Dr. Edward L Ayers, President of the University of RichmondDr. Ayers is President of the University of Richmond. An historian of the American South, Ayers has written and edited ten books. The Promise of the New South: Life After Reconstruction was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. In the Presence of Mine Enemies: Civil War in the Heart of America won the Bancroft Prize for distinguished writing in American history and the Beveridge Prize for the best book in English on the history of the Americas since 1492.

Melissa W. Bartholomew

Melissa Bartholomew’s ministry passion is racial reconciliation and healing through forgiveness. Prior to becoming a Christian minister, Melissa practiced public interest law for ten years in Seattle, WA. She is a certified mediator, and mediated child welfare cases as the Dependency Mediator for King County Superior Court in Seattle. Melissa gives presentations and facilitates conversations on forgiveness and racial reconciliation, justice, and healing. She is in the final year of the Master of Divinity program at Harvard Divinity School.

Bonita Bennett

Bonita Bennett is Director of the District Six Museum in Cape Town, South Africa. She has a particular passion for research in narrative of trauma and memory. This stems from her background as a human rights activist, her training as an educator and her commitment to education, together with the fact that her family was also resident in the area before the Group Areas Act forced them to move under Apartheid.

Lt. William Blackwell

Lt. William Blackwell has been with the Richmond City Police Department for 17 years and has 21 years’ experience of law enforcement. He was recently appointed by Chief Alfred Durham as the Liaison for Richmond Redevelopment and Housing (RRHA). Previous assignments with the Richmond Police Department include Gang Investigations, Narcotics and the training academy. He is currently a Team Leader for the Richmond Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT).

Lawrence Bloom

Lawrence Bloom is Chairman of Be Energy, a bioenergy company committed to serving planet, people and profit. He was the first Chairman of the Global Agenda Council on Urban Management at the World Economic Forum at Davos. While on the Executive Committee of the Intercontinental Hotel Group he created a hotel environmental manual which revolutionized hotel environmental practice. He transitioned from being a successful commercial property developer in the City of London to a global environmental activist and now advocates for a shift in global business consciousness.

Lillie Branch-Kennedy

Lillie Branch-Kennedy is Founder/Executive Director of Resource Information Help for the Disadvantaged (RIHD) and Virginia Mobile Justice Tour (MJT). In 2002, Lillie founded RIHD, a  nonprofit, volunteer, statewide support organization, to provide self-help initiatives, legislative advocacy, on/off site restoration of civil/voting rights application assistance, and to facilitate transportation service for families with loved ones in faraway prisons. In 2013, she founded the Mobile Justice Tour (MJT) in Virginia, a coalition of civil rights groups, to tour Virginia to highlight roadblocks for people currently incarcerated and those who have paid their debts to society, and to illuminate ways to help reintegrate them back into their communities. To date MJT has visited over 50 cities.

Dr. Gail C. Christopher

Dr. Christopher is Vice President for Policy and Senior Advisor at the W. K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Michigan, Dr. Christopher is a nationally recognized leader in health policy. Her expertise is the social determinants of health and public policy that impact African Americans and other minority populations.

Ann Fisher

Ann Fisher is Executive Director of Virginia Cares, a statewide network of ex-offender reentry programs to provide transitional assistance, financial aid, job readiness training, temporary employment, job search & career development, human relations & self-awareness training, and ongoing support services to prisoners, ex-offenders, and their families. Anne Fisher participated in the Governor’s Prisoner and Juvenile Reentry Council and is a member of the Virginia reentry Coalition known as Virginia 4 Reentry. Earlier she worked with Total Action for Progress (formerly Total Action for Poverty) in Head Start and Community Development and Outreach.

John W. Franklin

John Franklin is Director of Partnerships and International Programs at the National Museum of African American History and Culture at the Smithsonian. He has worked on African American, African and African Diaspora programs for the past 24 years at the Smithsonian. He edited My Life and an Era: the Autobiography of Buck Colbert Franklin with his father, John Hope Franklin.


Matthew Freeman

Matthew Freeman specializes in designing and implementing diversity and inclusion strategies for business, government, and community organizations. He is a facilitator and trainer with over 10 years of experience working on race and diversity issues, civic engagement, and organizational development.  Most recently, he has been traveling across the United States facilitating post-Ferguson, race and community dialogues to help establish trust between law enforcement and residents.

Dushaw Hockett

Dushaw HocketDushaw Hockett is Executive Director of SPACEs -- Safe Places for the Advancement of Community and Equity, a leadership development and community building organization working with people and groups to bridge the gap between vision and impact. Dushaw has over 20 years of experience working at the intersect of issues related to race, immigration, affordable housing and alliance building. Previously, he was Director of Special Initiatives at Center for Community Change. He was also a housing organizer in New York City and served on the staff of Representative Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), the first Puerto Rican woman elected to the U.S. Congress.

Dr. David Anderson Hooker

Dr. Hooker is a mediator, peace builder, and scholar with over 30 years of experience on several continents. He has specialties in managing complex, multi-party, and public policy conflicts. As adjunct faculty for Pacifica Graduate Institute, in Santa Barbara, he teaches Conflict Transformation, Trauma Healing, and Reconciliation.  He is co-author of Transforming Historical Harms which explores how events like colonization, civil war, slavery, genocide, systemic discrimination cause traumatic reactions and impacts that can be embodied across several generations.

Jose Carlos Leon Vargas

José Carlos León VargasJose Carlos Leon Vargas is Executive Director of Solidaridad Internacional Kanda an independent, nonprofit organization in Oaxaca, Mexico. SiKanda designs and implements development strategies to improve living conditions of marginalized communities in southern Mexico with particular focus on people living in slums and landfills. Jose Carlos works to nurture relationships with other local, national and international organizations focused on marginalized communities, indigenous issues and poverty reduction strategies in Latin America, Asia and Europe.

Dr. Omnia Marzouk

Dr. Marzouk is president of Initiatives of Change International. She was born in Madrid but spent her formative early school years in Egypt. She moved to Australia as a teenager and studied medicine at Sydney University while her father served as Egyptian Ambassador. She is currently Associate Medical Director at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, England. For many years, she has been particularly involved in intercultural and interfaith dialogue within the UK as well as taking part in similar initiatives in countries in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Martha McCoy

Martha McCoy, Executive Director of Everyday Democracy, has made important contributions to the fields of deliberative democracy, community problem solving, and racial justice. Her early life experiences doing community work in the rural South and in urban centers fueled her conviction that our progress as a country depends on the creation of opportunities for voice, participation, relationship building and equity. Under her direction, Everyday Democracy has become a national leader in connecting public dialogue to collective action and democratic governance, and in keeping racial equity and inclusion at the forefront of practices to strengthen democracy.

Ian Monteague

Ian Monteague is Chair of the Board of Trustees of Family Action in Rogerfield and Easterhouse (FARE), a leading faith-based community organization based in Glasgow, Scotland. FARE brings young people together in efforts to eradicate territorialism and gang violence. The project is based on values of integrity, decency and honesty.

Mee Moua

Mee Moua is President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice where she leads efforts to advocate for policies and programs that enable Asian American and other vulnerable communities to reach their full potential and address unfair and discriminatory structures and institutions that systematically deny these communities their civil and human rights. She was the first Hmong American woman elected to a state legislature, where she served as a member of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.

Dr. Cassandra Newby-Alexander

Dr. Newby-Alexander, a Norfolk, Virginia native, a professor of history at Norfolk State University and the director of the Joseph Jenkins Roberts Center for African Diaspora Studies. Her most recent book, An African American History of the Civil War in Hampton Roads, examines the experiences of blacks during the Civil War in Virginia. She co-edited Voices from within the Veil: African Americans and the Experience of Democracy which expanded the intellectual discourse on the history of Africans in American. She has appeared on a number of national television programs.

Michael Nila

Michael Nila, from Chicago, is Managing Partner of Blue Courage, an organization committed to the design and delivery of world-class personal and organizational development solutions that unleash the untapped potential within. For twenty-nine years he served in the policing profession before retiring as a Police Commander with the Aurora, IL police department. He led the department’s re-engineering from a traditional police agency to a community-policing department He has 35 years’ experience in designing and delivering police training that goes beyond skill building to shaping hearts and minds. He has trained and certified employees, executives and trainers for the U.S. Department of Justice, Chicago Police Department, Los Angeles Police Department, and New York City Police Department.

Reverend Lusa Nsenga-Ngoy

Reverend Nsenga-Ngoy, serves as Vicar of St Aidan’s church, Gravesend in the UK and acts as Adviser to the Bishop of Rochester on Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns. He was born in the DR Congo and grew up in Belgium. He has a keen interest in interfaith dialogue, reconciliation and racial justice.


Marcello Palazzi

Marcello Palazzi, Netherlands, is an entrepreneur and philanthropreneur, pursuing a passion for entrepreneurship and ethical values as the sources of human progress. He launched the Progressio Foundation with Dr. Paul Kloppenborg in Rotterdam in 1989. It has completed over 300 entrepreneurial ventures, projects and initiatives in 33 countries. Palazzi is currently focused on the launch and leadership of B Corporations in Europe (B for Benefit). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in London, Member of the Club of Rome, and winner of The Economist Prize for his work on Strategic Philanthropy in 1987, probably the earliest work on the subject.

Ciraj Rassool

Prof. Rassool teaches History at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa, where he directs the African Programme in Museum and Heritage Studies, which has trained over 300 museum and heritage professionals on the African continent. He has published widely in fields of museum studies, heritage, public history and resistance historiography. Among his publications are co-authored and co-edited books on museums including Skeletons in the Cupboard: South African Museums and the Trade in Human Remains, 1907-1917, and most recently, The Politics of Heritage in Africa: Economies, Histories, Infrastructures.

Ellen F. Robertson

Ellen Robertson was first elected to Richmond City Council in November 2003 and appointed to the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission in February 2005.  On Council, Ms. Robertson chairs the Governmental Operations Committee and is a member the Land Use and Housing Committee as well as the Organizational Development Committee. Ellen chaired the Mayor’s Anti-Poverty Commission.

Niankoro Yeah Samaké

Niankoro Yeah Samaké is a native of Mali and a 2013 Presidential Candidate. His foundation, Empower Mali, connects resources with need in the areas of education, health, clean water, clean energy and leadership training in rural Mali. He has helped bring 19 schools to Mali, provided scholarships to Malian students to study abroad and organized multiple free medical and dental services Since 2009, Samaké has served as Mayor of Ouelessebougou, a municipal district of 44 villages (55000+ people). Under his leadership, he has helped Ouelessebougou become one of the top 10 ranking communities in Mali. In 2011, Yeah was elected Vice President of the League of Mayors.

Dr. Margaret E. Smith

Dr. Smith is affiliated with the International Peacemaking and Conflict Resolution faculty at American University’s School of International Service in Washington, D.C. She has specialized in the link between historical memory and peacebuilding and has written on these topics as they play out in education and public forgiveness. She is the author of Reckoning with the Past: Teaching History in Northern Ireland.

Preston Tisdale

Preston Tisdale is an attorney with Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, in Bridgeport Connecticut. The law firm has long experience in cases involving prisoner rights and police misconduct. Tisdale serves on the Connecticut Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparity in the Criminal Justice System. He has also served as Director of Special Public Defenders for the State of Connecticut, Office of Chief Public Defender. He is the President-Elect of the Brown University Alumni Association.

Albert Walker

Albert Walker serves as the Community-Academic Liaison for the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University. In this role, he works to establish strong working partnerships between Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), community residents and stakeholders in order to explore and address health priorities of residents in Richmond, VA. Albert has worked with community and academic researchers to bring a community perspective to projects that explore social determinants of Health.

Reverend Michael Ian Weeder

Reverend Weeder is Dean of the Anglican Cathedral of St George the Martyr, Cape Town, and has served on the staff of Bishop Tutu. Michael is a founder member of December 1st, a social movement formed to work around the memory and legacy of slavery. He is co-producer a movie, Lydia Williams, a fervent simplicity, an insight into slavery at the Cape.

Michael R. Wenger

Michael Wenger teaches about race, minority relations and institutional racism at George Washington University. He is a consultant on race relations and a founding member of the Within Our Lifetime Network, an alliance dedicated to ending racism.  He formerly was a Senior Fellow at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, DC, and served as Deputy Director for Outreach and Program Development for President Clinton’s Initiative on Race.  His memoir is entitled My Black Family, My White Privilege: A White Man's Journey Through the Nation's Racial Minefield. He was born in New York City and educated at Queens College of the City University of New York, where he was a leader in the civil rights struggles of the early 1960s.

Dr. Thad Williamson

Dr. Williamson is Director of the Mayor’s Office of Community Wealth Building in the City of Richmond, VA, where he coordinates and leads the city's comprehensive poverty reduction and wealth building initiative. He is Associate Professor of Leadership Studies and Philosophy, Politics, Economics & Law at the University of Richmond. His books include Sprawl, Justice and Citizenship: The Civic Costs of the American Way of Life.


Alex Wise

H. Alex WiseAlex Wise is Chairman of Initiatives of Change USA. In his day job he serves as Director of Advancement and Stewardship at the Church Health Center of Memphis.  Alex worked as a congressional staffer and then as a Reagan appointee in the U.S. Information Agency, where he worked on U.S.-German matters.  He practiced law at McGuire Woods in Richmond, then served as the director of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. He was the founder and president of the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar in Richmond, Virginia, the first museum in the country to tell “the whole story of the conflict that still shapes our nation.”

One Voice Chorus

One Voice Chorus is an inter-racial community chorus dedicated to "singing the beauty and power of diversity." They seek to reap the benefits of working together across racial boundaries of all types to create a better world for all.