Meet The Team
Chief Executive Officer
Julius Thomas is a native of St. Marys, Georgia, but calls Atlanta home. Julius is a 2018 graduate of the University of Georgia and currently enrolled at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. He serves in Atlanta as a community organizer and social justice advocate. Mr. Thomas was instrumental in creating and developing local social justice non-profit, The People’s Uprising (TPU). Through his leadership on the executive board and as CEO, TPU has registered hundreds to vote, pushed the 2020 social justice movement forward, and kept Atlantan millennials civically engaged. His community leadership work has received recognition from CNN, ABC News, New York Times, BET and Bloomberg News.
Currently Julius is also a young professional on the US Internal Communications Team for the world leader in risk management and insurance, Marsh. As the Marsh US Internal Communications Associate, Julius helps develop and deploy communication programs for colleagues in the US region, ensuring the right message, right audience, right channel and right time. Key accountabilities include supporting growth, business priorities, and people-focused strategic initiatives through clear, concise and effective communication strategies. In addition to his current role, he is also the creator and project lead for Marsh McLennan for Equity, a multi-year plan addressing risk management inequities for Black owned and led businesses internationally.
Chief Operating Officer
Miriam Archibong is a litigation associate with knowledge on a variety of issues under state and regulatory law . Before joining the ﬁrm, Miriam served as a law clerk to the Hon. Raymond A. Jackson of the Eastern District of Virginia and interned with the Hon. Anne Barnes of the Georgia Court of Appeals.
Miriam received her J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, where she served as the founding editor-in-chief of the Journal of Law & Public Aﬀairs and held multiple prestigious internships, including working with the White House Oﬃce of Public Engagement and the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
Miriam is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Spelman College, with honors in political science. Before law school, Miriam spent two years as a social studies teacher with Teach For America in Atlanta, and one year as a Fulbright research fellow in Singapore.
Miriam actively serves her community, working on a team appointed by the Hon. Kimberly Anderson in the State Court of DeKalb County to develop policy recommendations for eradicating human trafficking in Georgia. She also served on the Atlanta Board of Education’s Equity Task Force, which drafted the Atlanta Public Schools first equity policy.
Chief Financial Officer
Phil Thompson is an attorney, entrepreneur and humanitarian. Phil currently serves as a principal, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel of New American Therapeutics, Inc., a specialty pharmaceutical company. Phil is a graduate of Washington University in St Louis and holds a JD from the University of Michigan Law School and an MBA from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. Phil is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and has served on the Board of Directors of the United Way, Catholic Charities, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Phil is fluent in Spanish and proficient in French, Italian and Portuguese.
Chief Innovation Officer
The viral video was featured on shows like Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. She has subsequently signed an overall deal with Warner Brothers via her production company Push Films with her partner DeWayne “Duprano” Martin. Kim’s literary roots run deep. She served on the Selection Committee for Library of Congress’ 2016-2017 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, the 2015 Children’s Choice Illustrator Committee for The Children’s Book Council, and the advisory board that created the Creative and Innovative Education Master’s Degree program at Georgia State University. She has been featured in Ms. Magazine, Seventeen, Paste Magazine, Bustle, Hello Giggles, Book List, Publisher’s Weekly, School Library Journal, and was Book Brahmin in an issue of Shelf Awareness.
She received one of the inaugural James Patterson Holiday Bookseller Bonus grants while working at the famous children’s bookstore, Little Shop of Stories. Most recently, Kim’s bestselling novel, I’m Not Dying With You Tonight, co-authored with Gilly Segal, was nominated for an NAACP Image award, Georgia Author Of The Year award, and the Cybils Awards. I’m Not Dying With You Tonight was selected as the September 2019 book club pick for the Barnes & Noble YA book club and Overdrive’s Big Library Read.She resides in Atlanta and is the proud mother of a gifted boy.
Chief of Staff
Smith was elected as the Amazon representative to collaborate with Read Across America where he read to over 4 schools in the Atlanta area every year and recruited 10 other amazon hubs to volunteer with him. Rodney currently works as a Data Analyst for Americold and subcontract for Mercedes Benz on Design engineering projects. As a data analyst Smith developed 18 customized logistical solutions for Americold’s pharmaceutical and food customers resulting in 43.5 million in revenue planted in lower income areas in the North East. Smith also Supported 13 innovative designs of warehouses & distribution centers, resulting in over 600 new jobs constructed in rural and urban areas located in lower funded communities. As you can see Smith spends his time working on elevating opportunities for himself and his community. These habits and connections lead Smith to get an MBA so he can leverage his entrepreneur and corporate experiences to new heights. While attending Mercer’s Masters of Science and Business Analytics program he partnered with the Director of Admissions to create the first ever Ambassador organization for graduate programs around the Atlanta area.
The Dean of Graduate Admissions at Mercer University partnered with Smith’s team of current students, alumni, and successful executives worldwide to help recruit the next generation of diverse leaders in the medical, business, and legal fields. Smith’s team of student ambassadors brought unique perspectives to the table while presenting to over 300 diverse potential graduate school candidates. The team of ambassadors offered insights into what it’s like being in an MBA, MSBA, JD, or MD program–everything from what to expect in graduate classes, their experiences building a network, and pursuing career opportunities revolving around leading influential organizations.
Director of Young Atlanta Leaders
Takia “Kai” Tinsley was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and raised South of Atlanta in Clayton County Georgia. Graduating in May of 2021 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Takia spent the duration of his undergraduate career honing his skills as a civil servant, a leader, and a community organizer through various mentor roles such as Executive Vice President of the Student Government Association at Georgia State University. Being instrumental in uniting his peers on campus under one voice during the peak of protests during Summer of 2020, he quickly networked with and joined the charter group of Young Atlanta Leaders within TPU. Initially serving as the co-chair of the previous Civic Organizer committee, Kai has steadily grown into his purpose through TPU, as he now spearheads the YAL cohort. Mr. Tinsley had key logistic roles in numerous events through The People’s Uprising, such as The Good Trouble Ride, The Juneteenth Celebration, The Silent Protests, The Beauty in Colors Rally, and more.
Takia has interned with the Stacey Abrams for Governor Campaign, the Democratic Party of Georgia, House Rep. Beth Moore as a Legislative Aid, the Antonio Brown for Mayor campaign, and the Devin Barrington-Ward for city council campaign. Currently, Kai is a research fellow for the Black Futurists Group, a start-up innovation firm supported by 25 years of combined management experience in transformative political strategy, public policy, community organizing, and program development. He also served as a Fellow for the In Defense of Black Lives Coalition, and is a volunteer with Protect the Vote GA. He is also an active member in the Atlanta NAACP chapter, as well as Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. Kai sees the promise within the greater Atlanta community, and dedicates his time to pushing for progression and innovation on all fronts.
Director of Justice
A native Atlantan and current Robert Woodruff-MLK Scholar in his second year at Emory University, Royce has always had a passion for social justice. This interest has led to Royce serving in roles including Legislative Director of March for our Lives GA and Student Activist Coordinator for Amnesty International.
In 2016, Royce began to receive international acclaim for his spoken word poetry that addressed issues of racial and gender equity. As a result, Royce was invited to speak at numerous events nationwide, including at the inaugural Obama Foundation Summit and at the MLK Day Commemorative Service at the Historic Ebenezer Church where Royce had the honor of sharing the stage with Sen. Bernie Sanders, Dr. Bernice King, and others.
In recognition of his activism, Royce was honored as one of 12 Grand Marshals for the 2019 Atlanta Pride Parade and more recently was awarded an Excellence in Advocacy Award from the Alliance for Black Lives. Royce previously interned for the Atlanta Board of Education, served as a Legislative Aide for State Rep. David Dreyer, and has worked to elect numerous progressive candidates, including as Co-Founder of the group Students for Ossoff & Warnock which helped mobilize thousands of young voters leading up to the Senate runoffs in Georgia. Royce also led the successful effort to change the name of his alma mater from Henry W. Grady High School to Midtown High.
Director of Equity
Ernest Brown Jr.
Director of Access
Ernest Brown is a South Dekalb native and graduate of Emory University. He began getting civically active at school board meetings growing up and participated in the ARC Millennial Advisory Panel in 2015. During his time in the Bay Area, he organized his neighbors to knock over 10,000 doors in support of pro-housing champions and helped grow the housing advocacy movement from a regional organization to a national force. He currently serves on the boards of national housing advocacy group YIMBY Action, TechEquity Action, and the San Francisco Housing Accelerator Fund. He’s excited to be leading a local organization in the pro-housing fight back in his hometown, Neighbors for More Neighbors – Metro Atlanta.
Director of Culture
Markeena was inspired to start Breaking the Cycle mainly through her own experience in school. Since starting her organization, Markeena has expanded to Howard University, Hampton University, Delaware State University, and Agnes Scott. Breaking the Cycle has hosted mission trips, dress and suit drives, and free hair and makeup for students going to their high school. Breaking the Cycle continues to make an impact on the students who attend the public schools in the surrounding area. Markeena’s goal to encourage young people that they can and will be somebody serves as an inspiration for many. Her determination to push forward has contributed to her success in great ways. Markeena has big plans for the future in order to make a change in the Atlanta community.
Director of Development
Ashlie Pounds is originally from the Metro Atlanta area with strong ties to the community and has volunteered countless hours to serving her community. She’s a Senior Account Manager for a high profile Commercial Insurance Brokerage in Atlanta and specializes in
Risk Management Consulting.
Board of Directors
David is a partner at Dreyer Sterling, where he fights for justice through civil-rights litigation, wrongful death and serious injury litigation, 1st Amendment and other Constitutional litigation. He was also a for House District 59, which includes Atlanta, East Point, and Hapeville. Mr. Dreyer was also the chair for the Fulton House Delegation.
Winfield Ward Murray is an attorney that grew up in Atlanta in a family that has been educated at Morehouse and Spelman for four generations. His great-great grandparents sent all five of their children to schools in the Atlanta University Center. And each generation since has attended either Morehouse or Spelman for their undergraduate education. In fact, his father, Winfield Ward Murray M.D., was one of the contributing founders of Morehouse School of Medicine. Winfield graduated from Morehouse in 1998. He earned his J.D. degree from Howard University School of Law and then earned his LL.M. or Masters of Law degree from The George Washington University School of Law.
Later, Winfield became the Assistant Solicitor for the United States Department of Labor. In that capacity he worked on a special task force created by Congress and the White House to reduce a substantial backlog of cases stemming from the Mine Safety and Health Division (MSHA). Miners work in some of the most abysmal conditions in the United States and work-related injuries and death are a constant threat. However, Winfield was instrumental in improving the working conditions of miners throughout the southeastern region through rehabilitation of dangerous mines from West Virginia to Puerto Rico and he garnered millions in uncollected fines for the federal government. Winfield has served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Atlanta Mayor Keisha L. Bottoms. Here, he played a pivotal role in seeing that the Mayor’s legislative and operational agenda come to fruition.
Winfield collaborated with the Atlanta City Council, non-profit organizations, key stakeholders from the private business sector, and constituents on behalf of the Mayor to promote and foster an affordable, resilient, and equitable city. Currently Winfield is a federal attorney for the US Department of Labor. Lastly, Winfield serves on the board of several influential non-profit organizations including Gideon’s Promise, and the Judson Lyon’s Society. He is also a proud member of Leadership Atlanta class of 2017.
Representative Park Cannon
Park Cannon is an openly queer preschool teacher, political consultant and full spectrum doula based in Atlanta, GA. Upon becoming the youngest member of the Georgia House of Representatives in 2016, Park pledged to speak truth to power in English, Spanish and Portuguese! She believes in the power of reproductive justice and young people and is a proud founding member of TPU.
Rashad Richey, MBA, EdD, PhD, JD Candidate
Broadcaster, university professor, lecturer, entrepreneur, and advocate, Dr. Rashad Richey is host of the award-winning Rashad Richey Morning Show on News & Talk 1380 – WAOK and political commentator for The People’s Station V-103 FM, where he was voted Best Talk Radio Personality by readers of the Atlanta Journal Constitution (first African-American to receive this distinction) and Most Trusted Voice in Atlanta by the Atlanta Business Journal. Dr. Richey is an Emmy nominated political analyst for CBS News Atlanta and the daily anchor for the acclaimed national TV news show, ‘Indisputable with Dr. Rashad Richey’, which airs live on multiple networks including Comcast Xfinity, Xfinity Flex, Samsung TV, Pluto TV, Roku TV, Xumo TV, The Young Turks Network, various streaming services and others. ‘Indisputable’ averages over 3-million viewers a day and also available on Apple Podcast, Acast, and Spotify.
Dr. Richey is a frequent commentator on MSNBC, CNBC, BBC, BNC, and the Fox News Channel, where he provides insight and analysis on pressing political, social and policy related issues facing America and international regions.
When Dr. Richey is not on-air, he’s “on-print” as President of Rolling Out Magazine, the largest free-print, urban publication on America with a monthly readership of 2.8 million and combined social media following of over 500,000.
Dr. Richey is a well-known social justice warrior and national thought leader who is actively involved in policy reformation and addressing the social ills of racial disparity. This work led Dr. Richey to create The Rashad Richey Foundation, an agency that mentors and deprograms gang-affected and gang-affiliated youth. Dr. Richey has been recognized by various local and national agencies for his collective work and societal impact, including being honored with a Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award from former United States President Barack Obama and the White House Presidential Volunteer Services Award from President Joe Biden.
Dr. Richey was also named Top 40 Under Forty Most Influential people in GA by the Atlanta Business Chronicle and one of Atlanta’s Most Powerful leaders according to Atlanta Magazine. Other awards and recognitions include, Dr. Rashad Richey Appreciation Day – United States Congress, Dr. Rashad Richey Appreciation Day – Fulton County (GA), Dr. Rashad Richey Day – City of South Fulton (GA), GA Secretary of State Goodwill Ambassador, Global Media Icon Award – Fox Soul TV, Media Influencer of the Year – ICON Fashion and Beauty, Broadcaster of the Year – Tabitha’s House, Media Personality of the Year – GA Black Chamber of Commerce, Best in Media – RICE Awards, and International Man of the Year – iCreate International.
Believing service is a responsibility we all must share, Dr. Richey is a board member at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, Recovery Consultants of Atlanta, and Children’s Rights. He is a member of the Atlanta NAACP, National Association of Black Journalists, American Association of University Professors and the Atlanta Press Club.
Dr. Richey earned his Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies and MBA from Beulah Heights University, PhD from Scofield Graduate School (Research Focus: Global Affect of Western Religion on Politics, Policy and Government), Doctor of Education from Clark Atlanta University (Research Focus: Federal Policy and Political Analysis of Higher Education Reform) and completed studies in Executive Leadership from Cornell University. Dr. Richey is currently matriculating at Birmingham School of Law obtaining his Juris Doctor Degree (Law Degree).
Commissioner Natalie Hall
Natalie Hall is the Fulton County Commissioner of District 4, which encompasses the heart of Atlanta, Downtown, Midtown, Old 4th Ward, Collier Heights, and legacy neighborhoods west of the Mercedes Benz Stadium to Fulton Industrial Boulevard. The unique attribute about this district is that it’s completely inside of the City of Atlanta.
Commissioner Hall is passionate about making a positive impact in the lives of the citizens of Fulton County. She previously served Fulton County faithfully for six years as the Chief of Staff to the late Fulton County District 4 Commissioner Joan P. Garner and has over 25 years of management experience in the public and private sectors.
On the County Commission, Commissioner Hall serves as Executive Sponsor of Fulton’s Strategic Priority “All People are Healthy.” She believes in a holistic approach to health that includes, but is not limited to, having good physical and mental health, access to healthy food, access to quality healthcare, gainful employment, affordable housing and obtaining an overall quality of life that sustains the individual and their family.
Commissioner Hall continues to be a voice on the Board that champions equality, justice, and advocating for the needs of some of our most vulnerable populations. She maintains a strong conviction that the government should work for the people. Thus, she has committed her voice to ensuring that all people have fair and equal representation.
Greg Clay, MBA
This foundation in public service enabled Greg to work extensively with political and community leaders, diverse business communities, and other organizations on projects and programs benefitting various stakeholders. As the Development Director for a non-profit focused on eradicating homelessness, sex trafficking and protecting youth, he utilizes relationships, and his knowledge of operations, policy and resource management to foster solutions to some of our community’s biggest issues.
As a civic leader he serves on numerous boards focused on youth development, education, innovation, and workforce development. He is the founder and spokesperson for the Atlanta Speaks Initiative which has recruited over 1,200 professional speakers—impacting over 21,000 students across metropolitan Atlanta. Through his work, Greg has received numerous awards recognizing his service. He was honored as one of Atlanta’s 2020 Top 40 Under Forty by the Atlanta Business Chronicle, and acknowledged with the 30 for 30 Alumni Award by 21st Century Leaders, recognizing the organization’s top alumni in its 30 year history out of over 14,000 participants across Georgia. Among other awards, Greg is the recipient of the esteemed 2018 Whitney M. Young Jr. Service Award from the Boy Scouts of America-Atlanta Area Council, and the Presidential MLK Drum Major for Service Award (Obama).
As an Atlanta native and Atlanta Public Schools graduate, he is a proud alumnus of LEAD Atlanta, Outstanding Atlanta, and the New Leaders Council Atlanta Chapter. He serves as the President of the Benjamin E. Mays High School Alumni Association, and is also Chairman of the schools Governance Team. He also chairs the governance board of Skyview High School in South Fulton County, Ga., serving at-promise populations pursuing a high school diploma. As a supporter of youth development, he is the district chair for Southwest Atlanta’s Atlanta Area Council of Boy Scouts of America. As a proponent of workforce development he is also the immediate past chair of the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) District-wide CTAE Advisory Board, and former appointee to Atlanta Board of Education Equity Taskforce, where he worked with elected leaders to adopt their first Equity Policy.
He is a graduate of Florida A & M University, serving as an executive board member of the Friends of FAM Inc. supporting other students from Atlanta that attend the school. Greg received his Master of Public Administration from the University of Kansas, the #1 Ranked Program in the country for city management and urban policy. He is a requested speaker, panelist, and moderator on the topics of civic empowerment, millennial leadership and youth empowerment. He lives in the city of Atlanta, with his wife Shani, and is a member of 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Inc.
Erica Thomas is a trailblazer, was one of the youngest members of any state’s legislative body and one of the first orphans to hold political office. She is a versatile young leader serving in many capacities as author, speaker, mentor, philanthropist, political consultant, media personality, nationally renowned foster care advocate, Brand Ambassador and was a Georgia State Representative, representing Georgia’s 39th house district in Cobb County. Erica Thomas is a renowned and respected TV Producer.
As a media personality and political commentator, Rep. Thomas has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, FOX and other major television networks. Additionally, she can be heard as a political commentator on radio talks shows including The Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Ryan Cameron Show to name a few. She is the recipient of many awards and recognitions such as: 100 Black Men of America’s Image award, Who’s Who of Atlanta’s Most Influential, and TV One’s Triumph Award through the National Action Network founded by The Rev. Al Sharpton. Rep. Thomas has demonstrated leadership at many levels in the Georgia General Assembly: Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, member of the Millennial Caucus, and founder/Co-Chair of the newly formed Georgia Entertainment Caucus. She is the co-founder of the Young Professionals Club of Cobb County and the creator of “Foster Care Day in Georgia”.
Her growing list of achievements include: recipient of a Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award from President Barack H. Obama, Apex Society’s “Power 30 Under 30”, and Atlanta’s Who’s Who “Most Influential” Award.
Mrs. Thomas resides in Austell, GA with her husband OJ and their two daughters. She can be found on social media (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) under the name Its Erica Thomas.
Jamil is an experienced litigator and former accountant who has served a variety of clients across numerous industries.
A native of Atlanta, Georgia, he graduated from Howard University before earning his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. While in law school, he held many leadership positions, served as a Teaching Assistant at The Wharton School, and regularly advocated for the successful reintegration of returning prisoners into their family life and our communities. His advocacy led to the publication of an article titled, “Deconstructing Re-entry: Identifying Issues, Best Practices, and Solutions.” Jamil’s article received the Delores K. Sloviter Prize, which is given by Penn Law to the graduating student who prepared the best paper and research project in the field of judicial administration. Since graduating from law school, he has clerked for Judge C. Darnell Jones, II of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, practiced business litigation at an Am Law 100 firm, and advocated on behalf of Georgia voters at a national party.
Jamil regularly speaks on voting rights, volunteers with local organizations centered around voting empowerment, and seeks out related pro bono opportunities.
Involved in community service, Ranada is active in several organizations, including New Leaders Council. A 2017 alumna of the NLC Atlanta Institute, Ranada has served as the chapter’s Finance Chair and Alumni Co-Chair. She was also the 2018-2019 President of Outstanding Atlanta, the city’s premier honor for young professionals in recognition of their business and civic accomplishments, and currently serves on the organization’s Board of Trustees. She also serves on the Tufts University CIRCLE Advisory Board. In 2017, she was featured in the 18th edition of Who’s Who in Black Atlanta. She is the Immediate Past President of the award-winning Tau Epsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and its nonprofit arm, The Twenty Pearls Foundation, Inc. In 2016, she was inducted into the Tougaloo College Inaugural Class of 40 Under 40 for her career achievements as well as her alumni leadership, which includes president of the Atlanta Alumni Chapter, Southeastern Regional Representative for TCNAA, and currently Membership Chairman of TCNAA.
Erika M. Smith
Manager, TechSpark Metro (ATL, LA, Chicago) Microsoft Philanthropies – Digital Inclusion
Erika M. Smith is a social innovator focused on creating economic opportunities for communities of color. She leads Microsoft’s philanthropic strategy for the metro communities (ATL, LA, ChI) by developing the portfolio investment plan, advancing digital equity and inclusion, and expanding partnerships, influence, and policy to increase residents’ economic well-being.
She brings a racial equity lens to this work with a commitment to creating tangible impacts while addressing systems change.
Before joining Microsoft, Erika led the Economic Opportunity Portfolio for the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Atlanta Civic Site. In addition, she served as the Assistant Director of Southside Community and Economic Development with Invest Atlanta, where she developed a regional, place-based strategy focused on economic mobility and wealth building in Atlanta’s under-served communities. Over the last ten years, Erika has created a movement to amplify and catalyze investment to drive economic growth while preserving culture.
Erika’s career spans 20 years, including advancing fintech in Nigeria, working in strategic marketing functions at the top US banks, and co-creating Uhuru Concepts, a social innovation and marketing firm.