Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project
"Raising the young social & political voice in urban Atlanta."

Our Team


2018-2019 Executive Board

 
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Executive director/instructor

Brandon P. Fleming

Assistant Coach of Debate
Harvard University
fleming@HarvardDCDP.org

An award-winning educator and social entrepreneur, Brandon P. Fleming is Assistant Debate Coach at Harvard University and Founder of the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project – an Atlanta-based pipeline program that recruits, trains, and feeds Atlanta minority youth into a prestigious summer residential program at Harvard College.  Fleming leads an executive board that has raised over $100,000 to enroll 25 students of color into Harvard’s summer program on full scholarship.  Fleming was recruited to join the Harvard Debate Council faculty after his accomplishments at the Ron Clark Academy, where he coached the middle school debate team to an unprecedented undefeated record at a high school tournament.  As one of Ron Clark’s “Master Educators”, Fleming also trained over 30,000 educators worldwide on best practices in education.   

Fleming has received numerous awards for his work in education and social entrepreneurship.  The Georgia Center for Nonprofits selected Fleming as a 2016 recipient of the Georgia '30 Under 30' award for emerging nonprofit leaders.  In 2017, Fleming was inducted into Outstanding Atlanta – an annual award for 10 of Atlanta’s most accomplished leaders.  In 2018, Fleming was inducted into LEAD Atlanta - Atlanta's premier network of emerging leaders.  In 2018, Fleming was also honored by Power 30 Under 30 and selected by the Atlanta Regional Commission as one of 50 community leaders to join the Regional Leadership Institute.

Fleming went from being a high-risk youth to a college dropout to an influential educator who has used his story to inspire many throughout the world.  As freshman undergraduate student at Liberty University, Fleming founded the S.Y. Scholars Program, Inc., a competitive non-profit college preparatory and leadership development institute.  Through rigorous training in academics and leadership, the student body, consisting entirely of at-risk teens, increased from a 1.2 to a 3.0 cumulative GPA only 9 weeks after the program’s inception - 90% of them having achieved honor roll for the first time.  He instituted a leadership development curriculum that cultivated the students into community organizers, hosting events that galvanized the community in support of education reform in Central Virginia and beyond.  Fleming had soon become a community trail blazer, initiating projects that assembled members of the community to raise education awareness.  In 2012, Fleming hosted the first annual Harlem Renaissance Festival, which drew over 300 members of the Lynchburg community.  This same year, he hosted the Symposium, an education gathering that united political leaders, educators, students, parents, and the community for a forum discussing, "The State of Education in America."  The successful event had soon evolved into The Symposium Tour, in which Fleming and his students traveled to prestigious colleges & universities in an effort to motivate members of the community to undergird the local education system.  Institutions involved in this tour included Liberty University, University of Virginia, Duke University, Howard University, Wake Forest University, and many more.

In 2013, the News & Advance recognized him as one of Lynchburg's most significant people.  In 2015, Fleming was recruited by famous educator Ron Clark, subject of the TNT film The Ron Clark Story, to teach at his world-renowned academy in Atlanta, GA.

Website                              Social Media
www.bpfleming.com            @bpfleming


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board President

Dani Ayers

Director of Organizational Development (Southeast Region of U.S.)
Boys & Girls Club of America

Danielle (Dani) Ayers attended Temple University in Philadelphia, receiving a B.A. in Public Relations and an M.A. in African American Studies. Dani has been involved in nonprofit leadership work for twelve years across various industries – education, the arts, human service, and community development. Her leadership roles have revolved around communications, fundraising and finance, change management, executive staff development, and strategic planning. Currently, Dani is a Director of Organizational Development for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. She operates as an internal consultant, working with Clubs in the Southwest US. Her role is to support and provide guidance to the board of directors and staff of Clubs in this region.

Dani serves as Operations Chair on the board of directors for Lekotek of Georgia, an organization that supports children with developmental disabilities, and also co- chaired LEAD Atlanta’s Class of 2017, Atlanta’s premier young professionals program, advancing effective community leadership. 

Social media
@daniayers


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Senior counsel

Ann W. Cramer

Coxe Curry & Associates
Senior Consultant

Ann Wilson Cramer is a Senior Consultant with Coxe Curry & Associates. In this role, she provides strategic consultation to nonprofit clients to strengthen their capacity in the critical areas of board development, volunteer engagement, corporate relations and fundraising. She will also be available to the business community to provide guidance on the issues of corporate citizenship and social responsibility.

Prior to joining Coxe Curry, Ann served as Director for IBM Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs for the Americas. In that position, she was a member of the senior management staff overseeing the company’s approach to corporate citizenship, strategic philanthropy and overall social responsibility.

Ann serves on numerous local nonprofit boards, including the Alliance Theatre Company, Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, Governor’s Office of Workforce Development, Woodruff Arts Center, Council on Foundations, and currently chairs Public Broadcasting Atlanta, Georgia Foundation for Public Education and the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Educated Workforce Committee, and served as chair of the Search Committee for the Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent. Nationally, Ann has chaired the Council on Foundations Public Policy and Corporate Committees, the Conference Board’s Business Education Council, the Executive Committee of both the U.S. Chamber’s Business Civic Leadership Center and the Institute for a Competitive Workforce and the United Way of America’s National Corporate Leaders Council. In 2012, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce presented her with its first Business Civic Leadership Achievement Award.

The Women’s College Coalition honored Ann and Marian Wright Edelman with the first WCC Women Creating Change Award and Ann was one of 5 Georgia women to receive the first STEM Gems recognition. Recently, Ann was recognized with Ann Curry and Ann Stallard as the YWCA Women of Achievement, and with the first Lifetime Achievement Award by the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Women Who Mean Business and listed among Georgia Trend’s 30 Years of Influence, received an Honorary Doctorate in Public Service at Clayton State University and was honored with the inaugural ARC Harry West Visionary Leadership Award, the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s Leadership Award and Voices for Georgia’s Children Big Voice. She has received the prestigious Dan Sweat Award from Central Atlanta Progress, Public Broadcasting Atlanta’s Sullivan Award and was honored with The United Way of Greater Atlanta Women’s Leadership Award. She has participated in Leadership Atlanta, Leadership Georgia, Regional Leadership Institute, is a member of Outstanding Atlanta and is past president of the Junior League of Atlanta.

Ann is a graduate of Salem College with a degree in mathematics. In 1991, she received Salem College’s Alumnae Leadership Award in recognition of her commitment and service to community service. Ann and her husband, Jeff, are long-time residents of Inman Park and are active members of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. They are the proud parents of two adult children. 

 

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board Vice-President

Labriah Lee Holt

Attorney/Director of Outreach & Engagement
American Israel Public Affairs Committee

A passionate advocate and relationship manager, Labriah Lee Holt calls on these strengths daily in her current role as AIPAC’s Multi-Region Director of Outreach and Engagement.  Here, she is charged with demystifying and ultimately strengthening the US-Israel relationship through ongoing education and coalition building with political, business, religious and community leaders across the country. As a strategic advisor, Labriah’s track record of cultivating relationships with key government officials at federal, state and local levels has proven instrumental in navigating a complex political landscape and the advancement of bipartisan legislation.  Before returning to Atlanta in 2016, Labriah served as AIPAC’s Northeast Outreach Director in New York, NY.  While in this role, Labriah was recognized by New York State Assemblyman Keith Wright and City Councilmember Inez Dickens during Women’s History Month and received a Congressional Proclamation from Congressman Charles Rangel for her outreach work and service within the community.

Prior to AIPAC, Labriah was a Senior Associate at Alston & Bird LLP in their Atlanta offices.  Her practice focused on patent, trademark, and copyright law.  At A&B, Labriah counseled the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC), the largest athletic conference that governs thirteen historically black colleges and universities. A true servant leader, while at A&B, Labriah served on the hiring and diversity committees and remained passionately committed to providing pro bono work to clients who could not afford quality legal representation. Additionally, Labriah was an active member of the Anti-Defamation League’s Charles F. Wittenstein Research Program and Advisory
Committee, City of Atlanta’s Citizen Review Board, and Atlanta’s Gen44 Finance Committee for the DNC. Labriah’s professional and community efforts also saw her recognized as Power 30 Under 30 and New Vision in Business (“NV”) Magazine Movers & Shakers.

A Georgia native, Labriah received her B.S. in Human and Organizational Development with emphasis in leadership and organizational effectiveness from Vanderbilt University and J.D. from Howard University School of Law, where she was a Merit Scholar, Student Ambassador, and Senior Notes and Comments Editor of the Howard Law Journal. Labriah was also a student attorney for the Fair Housing Clinic, where she provided legal aid to underserved communities in Washington, DC and also served as a housing tester for the Equal Rights Center to investigate illegal discrimination during the housing application process.

In her free time, Labriah enjoys exploring traveling, running 5k’s and practicing yoga. Additionally, Labriah recognizes that true health is holistic, and is committed to health awareness, especially mental health awareness with Atlanta’s youth.


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board Member at-large

Marquetta Bryan

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP.
Of Counsel

Marquetta Bryan is of counsel in Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP's Atlanta office. She focuses her litigation practice in the areas of education, employment, and general litigation, including defending public and private entities in general, business, and employment litigation brought under federal and state laws. Ms. Bryan also advises and litigates on behalf of educational institutions in a variety of legal matters, including proceedings under the Georgia Fair Dismissal Act and charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Ms. Bryan also defends business entities in matters involving premises liability and commercial transactions. Ms. Bryan has represented clients before the District Courts of Georgia, the Eleventh Circuit, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the state courts of Georgia, and other administrative hearing bodies. She monitors legal trends that may impact clients' businesses and assists them in implementing proactive measures in anticipation of those trends.


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board treasurer

Sarah Prewitt

Bank of America - Merrill Lynch
Vice-President

Sarah Prewitt is a Structured Lending Credit Specialist covering a portion of the Southeast market for Merrill Lynch.  Sarah works with ultra-high net worth clients of Merrill Lynch to provide customized liquidity solutions. 

Sarah started her career with Merrill Lynch in 2005 and has worked for the firm in New Jersey, New York and currently in Atlanta.  In addition to her work in finance, Sarah spent two years as an AmeriCorps member teaching underserved youth in Washington, DC. 

A New Jersey native, Sarah holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where she majored in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing.  Sarah is Series 7 and 63 licensed.  In her free time Sarah enjoys traveling, coaching youth basketball and spending time with family and friends. 


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Board secretary

Nikki Forman

Atlanta Mayor's Office
Press Secretary


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Corporate rep.

Tanika Cabral

Vice-President of Global Marketing
The Coca-Cola Company

Delivering results through the development of high performing teams, collaborative business building, strategy development, and change management have been the catalysts behind Tanika’s career at The Coca-Cola Company.  Her twenty-year tenure in the Coca-Cola system spans across customer operations, commercialization, strategy and marketing. Today, Tanika leads the development of marketing strategies that maximize profitable, recurring growth and increase long-term value of TCCC brands and the total beverage portfolio for the largest foodservice brand in the world, SUBWAY. Most recently, Tanika was Director of Customer Marketing where she led the development of beverage strategies and inspired a team of world-class marketers to execute ground-breaking initiatives and deliver disproportionate value to help customers thrive.

Prior to these roles, Tanika led strategy and marketing across many channels where she developed the long-term vision and annual business plan, working with franchise bottling partners, sales and commercial teams to deploy and execute. As a leader in the Company’s Customer Collaboration Center, Tanika partnered with customers from across the globe to ideate, create and implement break-through strategies and solutions to win in the market-place. She began her career in customer operations, which included leadership roles aligned with one of the industry’s leading global foodservice customers.

As a passionate advocate for women in business, Tanika served as the Global President of women’s LINC, the Company’s 6,000-member business resource group focused on the professional development of women, and was the recipient of the YWCA Corporate Women of Achievement award for work done to uplift women and girls.  She is a member of the esteemed Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. 

A graduate of Johnson & Wales University’s business school with additional studies at the University of the West Indies, Tanika holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Advertising Communications & Public Relations.

Originally from Brooklyn, NY, Tanika resides in Atlanta and is the proud mom of Benjamin, Saige and Jade.


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Media rep.

Tracie Howard

Senior Vice President
Real Times Media, Atlanta Tribune, The Atlanta Daily World

In her current role as Sr. V.P. and Group Publisher for the Atlanta Tribune, The Atlanta Daily World and Who’s Who In Black Atlanta, Tracie Howard combines a background rich in culture, editorial acclaim and marketing acumen. As a journalist and best-selling author, Ms. Howard’s work has been lauded for her insightful portrayals of upwardly mobile, lifestyle-driven, urban characters.  Her Penguin Putnam and Random House-published novels cleanly and deftly challenged the negative African American stereotypes that tend to permeate film, TV and publishing.

Outside of the pages of fiction, Ms. Howard’s passion for travel and lifestyle found a strong voice as the Travel & Lifestyle Editor for Savoy Magazine, and in her monthly column, Tongue ‘N Chic, which provided readers an engaging, and satirical glimpse at popular culture. Similar groundbreaking opportunities followed Ms. Howard to Senegal, where she served as a professor-in-residence at the prestigious Institut Supérieur de Management in Dakar, Senegal. Her semester-long tenure at West Africa’s premier business university culminated with extended guest lectures Mali and Burkina Faso. Ms. Howard’s specially designed curriculum allowed more than 1,000 of the continent’s brightest minds to embrace first-hand knowledge regarding America’s complex business, political and social landscape.

As a backdrop to these endeavors, Ms. Howard’s corporate and community-focused endeavors include key roles with many of the world’s most prestigious organizations, including Xerox, Johnson and Johnson, American Express and The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, and in 2006, Ms. Howard was chosen to serve on President Barack Obama’s Finance Committee. When not meeting corporate, civic or creative challenges, Tracie’s love of fashion has been lauded by Ebony Magazine as one of “America’s Ten Most Stylish Professional Women, ” by Atlanta's Jezebel Magazine as one of their "50 Most Beautiful Atlantans," by Uptown Magazine as one of “America’s 50 Best-Dressed Tastemakers”, and Inclusion on Vanity Fair’s acclaimed International Best-Dressed list. Ms. Howard is a proud native and resident of Atlanta.



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nonprofit rep.

Kirk Brown

Senior Director of Development
Ron Clark Academy

Kirk Brown is Senior Director of Development for the Ron Clark Academy where he leads the fundraising and advancement programs for the middle school. He joined the Academy in August 2013 after five years with United Way of Greater Atlanta. In his last role, he had tremendous success managing and raising more than $8 million annually from top corporate partners, including Accenture, Equifax, Delta Air Lines, Newell Rubbermaid and SunTrust. With Kirk’s professional fundraising expertise, the organization was able to improve the lives of hundreds of individuals and families throughout the metro Atlanta region. Kirk’s career at United Way also included many leadership roles as the Loaned Executive Program Chair, Internal Campaign Co-Chair, cross-functional team member—tasked to create the United Way Young Professional Leaders group, and he served on the marketing Digital Strategy Team. Kirk is an active ten-year member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. where he serves on the board for the Atlanta alumni chapter, founder of the Emerging 100 of Atlanta-- the young professional auxiliary of the 100 Black Men of Atlanta, and a proud graduate of LEAD Atlanta Class of 2015.


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Corporate Rep.

Antonio Brown

CEO & Creative Director
LVL XIII Luxury Brands, Inc.

Antonio Brown was introduced to the world of entertainment through his unreleased memoir titled Muted Dreams, which was slated the male version of Push by Ebony Magazine gaining Brown a massive following through his social media platforms.

However, it wasn’t until Brown left his job at Alexander Doll Co. that he started to embark on a fashion and philanthropic dream that would allow him to soar to new heights. The dream started with the birth of LVL XIII (Level 13) -  a premium leading men's fashion company that launched a range of high-end men sneakers. 

The line became an instant hit with Brown making over $250,000 in sales within the first two months. To date, LVL XIII has garnered interest from Jason Derulo, Chris Brown, JR Smith, Tyson Beckford, Kroy Biermann, Nas, Tracey Morgan, Jim Jones, Jason Sudeikis, Chris Tucker, Tristan Wilds, and many more. 

The initial success and notoriety of the brand sparked the interest of International Music superstar, Jason Derulo, who now serves as Brand Ambassador and Key Investor of LVL XIII. To expand his luxury portfolio, Brown has added LVL XIII APPAREL to his collection which also caters to the affluent male millennial.

Most recently, LVL XIII signed a $1.5 million deal with Zhu Jiang, owner of Décor Apparel, manufacturer of apparel and accessories. The deal includes a $1 million liquid cash investment and manufacturing terms. This deal was highlighted by FORBES Magazine.

As an active humanitarian, Brown spends his time educating and supporting abused young men and giving back to the community through philanthropic activations and donations. Some of these include: coordinating a celebrity fashion show focusing on the fight against HIV/AIDS, which has been hosted by the likes of Angela Simmons, Nene Leakes, K. Michelle, Ro James and more.

Through these activations, Brown has made notable donations to both amfAR (a leading organization dedicated to the support of HIV/AIDS research) in the amount of $10,000 and Hero for Children (a non-profit dedicated to improving the quality of life for children infected with and impacted by HIV/AIDS) for $5,000 – with the latter creating The Antonio Brown Scholarship, a scholarship which will contribute to the organization’s Summer Camp.  Brown has also been honored by State House Representative, Erica Thomas for his notable contributions in the community receiving a Notable Citizen of Georgia Proclamation.


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legal rep.

Emerson W. Girardeau, III

Associate
Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP

Emerson is an Associate in the Energy and Infrastructure Group at Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP where his practice focuses on mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, commercial transactions, and project development in the energy industry.  His mergers and acquisitions experience focuses on acquisitions of power generating assets (both gas-fired and renewable assets, including solar and wind facilities) and retail electric providers.  Emerson also has an extensive pro bono practice in which he advises on landlord tenant issues through the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation’s Standing with Our Neighbors initiative.  In addition, he recently evaluated candidates for President Obama’s non-violent drug offender clemency program.  Before joining Eversheds Sutherland, Emerson was a Business Development Associate at BNY Mellon Wealth Management where he analyzed investment portfolios for prospective high-net-worth clients in the Atlanta market. 

A native of Greensboro, North Carolina, Emerson moved to Atlanta, Georgia in 2004 to complete his undergraduate studies.  Emerson was a 2008 graduate of Morehouse College, receiving a BA in Philosophy. After graduating cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School, Emerson returned to Atlanta, Georgia to pursue his legal career. 

While in Atlanta, Emerson has served as a member of the LEAD Atlanta Class of 2018, the New Leaders Council of Atlanta Class of 2017, the City of Atlanta Elected Officials Compensation Commission, the Emerging 100 of Atlanta Executive Board, and on the board of the Metro Atlanta Chapter of the Morehouse College Alumni Association.  Emerson enjoys grilling, traveling, and is a devoted Michigan Wolverine Football fan.


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education rep.

Fred Smith, Jr.

Associate Professor of Law
Emory University

Fred Smith, Jr. is an associate professor at Emory University School of Law. He is a scholar of the federal judiciary and constitutional law.

Smith clerked for Judge Myron Thompson of the middle district of Alabama; Judge Barrington D. Parker, Jr. of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; and Justice Sonia Sotomayor of the United States Supreme Court.  Prior to teaching, he also worked as a fellow for a litigation boutique, Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore LLP in Atlanta.

Smith's research focuses on state sovereignty and representative government. His work has appeared, or will appear, in Harvard Law ReviewStanford Law ReviewColumbia Law Review, New York University Law Review, Vanderbilt Law Review, and  Fordham Law Review. Notable articles include: “Abstention in the Time of Ferguson,” 131 Harv. L. Rev.  ___ (2018) (forthcoming); "Undemocratic Restraint," 69 Vand. L. Rev.___ (2017) (forthcoming); "Local Sovereign Immunity," 116 Colum. L. Rev. 409 (2016),"Due Process, Republicanism, and Direct Democracy," 89 New York University Law Review 582 (2014) and "Awakening the People's Giant: Sovereign Immunity and the Constitution's Republican Commitment," 80 Fordham Law Review 1941 (2012).

Smith earned his JD from Stanford Law School in 2007. At Stanford, he was a member of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic; was a finalist in the annual Kirkwood Moot Court Competition; was a finalist in the American Constitution Society's national Moot Court Competition; served as president of the Black Law Students Association; and served as articles editor for the Stanford Law and Policy Review. In 2004, he received his BA with Honors from Harvard College; his thesis was awarded magna cum laude.


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technology rep.

Jewel Burks

Visual Search Lead
Amazon

Jewel Burks is an advocate for representation and access in the tech industry. As co-founder and CEO of Partpic, an Atlanta based startup designed to streamline the purchase of maintenance and repair parts using computer vision technology, Jewel and her team built groundbreaking technology poised to change the way people everywhere locate products. Partpic raised over $2 million in seed funding to integrate its proprietary technology into mobile apps and websites of parts distributors and retailers. 

Currently Jewel serves as Team Lead for Visual Search at A9.com, an Amazon Company. In addition to this role, Jewel is a proud board member at Amplify 4 Good, and spends much of her free time working with startups. 

Jewel has been featured in notable publications such as Forbes Magazine, Wired, TechCrunch, Essence, Glamour, and Business Insider. Prior to founding Partpic, Jewel served in management, enterprise sales, and strategic diversity roles at McMaster-Carr Industrial Supply and Google, Inc. Jewel is a native of Nashville TN, and graduate of Howard University.


 

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sales rep.

Andre Dubose

Nuvasive Spine
Sales Director

Andre Dubose is a market-savvy Sales Leader with a stellar career, marked with strong sales performance, results, and multiple awards/recognition based on excellent execution. He is known for expertise across the sales & marketing spectrum including tactical planning, territory development, brand promotion and account management. He is passionate about driving the success of companies and building teams to exceed standards for client relations, sales and efficiency. 
Andre has consistently received awards throughout his career that include but are not limited to: President’s Club Award, Top Rep Award, Pyramid of Excellence Award and Olympus Club Winner.
His consistent and stellar performance is accomplished through clear goal setting, initiating cross team collaboration and leveraging a creative approach to develop sales strategies. Andre is adept at working on various platforms in national, regional and local settings. He thrives in diverse and rapidly changing environments while effectively managing challenging situations. 
At Medtronic, Andre was responsible for managing sales within his District with a revenue responsibility of over $14 million. He was also the Chairperson Emeritus of EXCEL, an Employee Resource Group that was established for the professional development and engagement of African American field based employees. 
Currently as a Sales Director with NuVasive, Andre's geography covers the Atlanta Metropolitan and surrounding areas. He manages 6 Sales Specialists and 2 Sales Associates with primary responsibilities of driving growth and adoption of NuVasive’s innovative technologies and spinal solutions.


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Nonprofit rep.

Jomal Vailes

Communities In Schools of Georgia
Chief Philanthropy Officer

Jomal Vailes is committed to closing the access gap for families and children of color. He serves as Chief Philanthropy Officer for Communities In Schools of Georgia, working closely with the President and Board of Directors to lead the agency’s resource development strategies focused on expanding philanthropic investments and agency visibility.  Vailes, a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE), is no stranger to advocating for vulnerable populations. Vailes previously served as Chief External Affairs Officer for The Center for Working Families, overseeing fund development, communications and strategic partnerships as part of its Family Economic Success and Two-Generation portfolios. An accomplished leader focused on achieving outcomes, impacting families and children, and strengthening communities - his service to Atlanta's nonprofit community spans more than 15 years including roles as Manager of Corporate and Foundation Relations for Georgia Aquarium, where he also launched the Next Wace Society, a young professional philanthropic arm; and Manager of Community Engagement and Diversity Programs for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

Vailes holds a BS in Organizational Leadership from Valdosta State University. He is a 2012 Atlanta Leaders for Results Fellow (ALR) of The Annie E. Casey Foundation, and an inaugural Diversity Fellow of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). He has served on the Young Executive Board of True Colors Theater Company and is currently active with the African-American Development Officers (AADO) Network, Southeastern Network of African-Americans in Philanthropy (SNAAP), Association of Fundraising Professionals and American Grant Writers' Association. Vailes is active in his local community, elected to the Development Authority Board of Union City, Georgia, where he lives with his wife and three daughters.

 


Media rep.

Kelli Bennett

We Thrive Media
Vice-President

Kelli Bennett is the part-owner and Vice President of We Thrive Media, LLC, an Atlanta-based boutique media agency providing public relations, brand marketing, and social media management services. Here she works with her team to empower clients to not just establish their brand, but to expand them, and THRIVE. The agency’s clients range from prestigious universities, area school districts, educational technology professionals, and lifestyle influencers. 

Kelli also serves the state of Georgia's municipal association as a communications associate. Her role allows her to assist the more than 520 cities of Georgia through marketing, public relations and social media consulting. Here, she’s been called on by media outlets, including Black Enterprise, to provide insights on local government and advocacy. 

Kelli carries her personal mission of being a “Voice for the Voiceless” in her editorial work and determination to only align herself and business with brands and companies she believes in.

When not constructing intriguing story angles or devising brand marketing strategies, Kelli finds escape in time with her family and sister friends, singing at open mics around Atlanta, and serving her beloved Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She Thrives in the belief that with God all things are possible! 


 

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Government rep.

Matt Westmoreland

Atlanta City Council
Post 2 At-Large Councilman

Matt Westmoreland is the Post 2 At-Large member of the Atlanta City Council.

Prior to his election, Matt was the Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education’s District 3 representative, serving as chair of its Budget Commission and legislative liaison to the Georgia General Assembly. 

During his tenure, the board recruited and partnered with a new superintendent to rewrite the school system’s mission and vision, revise its strategic plan, define equity, adopt a new operating model that pushed decision-making down to schools, develop a turnaround strategy for chronically struggling schools, and build a $545 million capital-projects plan. 

As chair of the Budget Commission, Matt led efforts to cut waste from the central office, increase teacher pay, allocate funding based on student need, and direct more dollars to classrooms. During his tenure, Atlanta Public Schools’ graduation rate increased 19 points from 58 percent to 77 percent, and the district saw improved SAT, ACT, and Advanced Placement test scores system-wide.

An Atlanta native, Matt attended Morningside Elementary School, Inman Middle School, and Henry W. Grady High School. He received his bachelor’s degree in history from Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, where he served as editor-in-chief of The Daily Princetonian. After graduation, Matt returned to Atlanta as a Teach for America Corps Member and taught history at Carver Early College High School in southeast Atlanta.

Matt previously served as programs director for Horizons Atlanta, an educational non-profit serving low-income students across Metro Atlanta through summer enrichment programs. He also worked for the Atlanta Regional Commission, the Washington, D.C. Public Schools System, in the D.C. office of Congressman JohnLewis, and was an Urban Leaders Fellow with Colorado Senator Mike Johnston.

A lifelong and active member of Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, Matt lives in Midtown.


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education/Government rep.

Courtney English

Atlanta Board of Education
Former Chairman

Courtney English believes in leaving things better than he found them. An Atlanta native who was first elected to the Board of Education at 24, he’s been making a difference in the lives of citizens from an early age. A graduate of Morehouse College, English earned his Master’s Degree from Columbia University after serving as a founding teacher at BEST Academy, the first all-male school in the city of Atlanta in 60 years.

When English was first elected to the Board of Education, the district’s graduation rate hovered at 50%. He rolled up his sleeves and went to work, championing policies to shrink the size of the central office and increase classroom spending. Today, after years of partnership and perseverance, both in the classroom and in the boardroom, the graduation rate stands at 71% and climbing.

Chosen unanimously by his fellow board members as the youngest chairman in the history of the school system, English led the negotiations to resolve a dispute between APS and the City of Atlanta over the Beltline. The deal he brokered ensures $100 million in new revenue for Atlanta’s students while keeping the Beltline financially on track.
Most recently, Chairman English led the district’s capital campaign—an effort that will generate $546 million over the next 5 years for APS and have an economic impact of over $2 billion for the region.

Under his leadership, the district has expanded parental choice, reduced central office spending and put more resources into the classroom. As an Atlanta City Councilmember, English will bring his results-driven, innovative brand of leadership to tackle issues of affordable housing, transportation, and jobs.

Courtney English is a proud graduate of Frederick Douglass High School, a member of the LEAD Atlanta class of 2011 and serves on the boards of nonprofits like the National Center for Global Engagement, Child First USA, and the Morehouse College Center for Teacher Preparation Advisory board. He works as Chief Education Officer of an education technology company and is frequently a guest lecturer at Emory University, Spelman College, Morehouse College and Harvard University.


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finance rep.

Maya Pierce

Wealth of Knowledge Enterprises (WOKE)
Founder & CEO

Known for her thorough understanding and accurate prediction of global financial market trends and processes, Maya Pierce has successfully worked in top management within General Electric (GE) as the International Financial Systems Manager during her ten year tenure.  Managing international teams, and strategizing financial success for several  GE sub-businesses has afforded Maya the opportunity to travel and work in some of the world’s most beautiful countries; Japan, Australia, Budapest, London, France, Italy, and Switzerland. 

Maya has since taken the business knowledge, experience, and expertise gained throughout her time at GE, and leveraged it for her own entrepreneurial pursuits. She started Wealth of Knowledge Enterprises LLC (WOKE),  to provide education and consulting services in the areas of tax, finance, and real estate for individuals and small businesses.

Maya is a firm believer in the statement “to whom much is given, much is required”.  She exhibits a passion for service both on and off the job, volunteering for several outreach initiatives through her church, and individually via organizations such as Hosea Feed the Hungry, and the Atlanta Community Food Bank. She is also an active member in numerous social and community outreach programs such as the Greater Atlanta Chapter of the Society Inc and the Urban League Young Professionals.  She currently serves as CFO of Ramp Global Missions, a Christian Humanitarian organization that helps the hurting, the homeless, and those exploited by human trafficking in the United States, India, Nepal, and Guatemala.

In her spare time, Maya enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and watching football and basketball.  Maya holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Spelman College.