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
Andane’ Brown- is a proud native of Fayetteville, Ga. She has been a member of TPU since its founding in 2020, during 2021 Andane’ took a break from her role within TPU to focus on her newfound role and passion, motherhood.
Andane’ is a proud HBCU graduate of Lincoln University, PA, and has a Master’s in I/O Psychology. She is the founder of a new consulting firm, Peach Tea Consulting Group focusing on strategic and organizational development. She is committed to uplifting and empowering those around her to go above and beyond their dreams.
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 Entertainment & Culture
Destiny Britt is a proud native and resident of Atlanta, Georgia. She finds joy in serving her community as an organizer and social justice advocate. In the 2020 movement Destiny’s burning passion led her to join The People’s Uprising’s Young Atlanta Leaders and has since grown in her organization and personal career.
She now serves as Director of The Entertainment and Culture committee. Destiny has worked at eminent Record Labels as well as consistently dedicated her time to organizing events in the community.
Her leadership in the community has received recognition from CNN, Sky News (U.K), WSBTV, AJC and Voyage ATL. Destiny’s vision is for the youth to find solace and safety in programs implemented by TPU, giving the community access to resources they deserve, and bridging the gap between entertainment and politics. She is grateful to be serving her community and excited for what the future holds.
Board of Directors
Greg Clay, MBA
With a passion for empowering people, Greg Clay utilizes his life experiences, professional triumphs, and lessons in leadership to inspire others to seize opportunities while leading a life of service. As a civic thought-leader, Greg’s advocacy and perspective on public policy, civic engagement, and operations started from his experience as a government practitioner, working for six municipalities across three states.
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.
Marannie Brown, Vice President is a member of the Program Management organization for Data Platforms & Solutions, leading BlackRock’s ESG (Environmental, Societal, and Governance) data program. Data Platform and Solutions (DP&S) is responsible for enterprise data and analytics for BlackRock and its Aladdin clients. The team’s goal is a largely automated, cloud-native platform that radically transforms the firm’s data and analytics supply chain, making it faster, easier, and cheaper to discover, access, and leverage data and analytics for asset management. Program Management within DP&S is responsible for transformation and driving the execution of all business and platform development initiatives through project structuring and coordination.
Before BlackRock, she served as Associate Director, Program Management at T3 and Senior Digital Program Manager at You Are Here (YAH). Maranie has been recognized as a “Rising Star” for outstanding contributions to the digital community, one of the Marietta Daily Journal / Cobb Life Magazine’s “Top 20 Under 40”, a Woman to Watch in STEAM by Women in Technology, a “Who’s Who in Black Atlanta” honoree, one of the University of Georgia Alumni Association’s “40 Under 40,” and one of the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s “40 Under 40.” Maranie also serves on various nonprofit boards, including Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company, the Association of Junior Leagues International Women of Color Affinity Group, Cobb Collaborative, the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta’s Junior Board, the United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Cobb County Advisory Board, and the Technology Association of Georgia’s Product Management Society Board. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Maranie serves as President of the UGA Young Alumni Leadership Council, leading all efforts to strengthen engagement with young alumni and current students. She is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Rho Zeta Omega Chapter, where she serves as Leadership Development Chairman. Recognized as a thought leader in her industry, Maranie also serves on the Coles College of Business Department of Information Systems and Security Advisory Board at Kennesaw State University.
Maranie is a graduate of Leadership Buckhead, the Atlanta Women’s Foundation’s Inspire Atlanta Program, the YWCA of Greater Atlanta’s Georgia Women’s Policy Institute, the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Regional Leadership Institute, Leadership America, Leadership Cobb, LEAD Atlanta, and a member of the LEAD Atlanta Alumni Association, where she serves as Co-Chair of the LEAD Atlanta Class of 2023. In 2021, Maranie was inducted into Outstanding Atlanta and is currently serving as President. Recently, she joined the Hands On Atlanta Civic Leadership Program’s 2023 cohort. A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Maranie completed her undergraduate studies in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Georgia. Working on her Double Dawg status, she is currently pursuing a Master of Business and Technology in the UGA Terry College of Business.
David Dreyer represents individuals and businesses of all sizes in state and federal trial and appellate courts, as well as arbitration. David’s complex litigation experience includes RICO and racketeering claims, financial fraud, wrongful death, catastrophic injury, shareholder disputes, insurance coverage, international litigation, employer-employee restrictive covenants, internal investigations, embezzlement investigations, complex-damage determinations, nursing-home liability, tractor-trailer operator negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty. David also has significant experience working with federal, state, and local governments.
Before founding Dreyer & Sterling, LLC, David was a partner at Chamberlain Hrdlicka, a large multi-state law firm. David is admitted to every court in Georgia, the United States Supreme Court, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. He is also admitted to, and has successfully argued before, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. David has been recognized annually as a SuperLawyers, and he was recognized as one of 14 “On the Rise” attorneys under 40 in the Daily Report.
David graduated summa cum laude from Georgia State University in 2001 and received the President’s Award at graduation. David graduated from Emory Law with honors in 2004, where he served as Student Bar Association President and received the Dean’s Public Service Award and the Dean’s Award for the highest grade in Accounting for Lawyers.
Activities & Affiliations
- Georgia State Representative, House District 59
• Grant Park Conservancy, Past President
• Red Clay Democrats, Past Chairman
• Georgia Victory 2014, Voter Protection Litigation Chair
• Georgia State University Religious Student Department, Board of Advisors
• American Constitution Society, Georgia Lawyer Chapter, Past President
• Emory University Annual Fund Board, Past Member
• Emory Law Alumni Executive Committee, Past Member
Representative Park Cannon
My name is Park Cannon and I’m proud to be the Democratic State Representative for Georgia House District 58. I’m out and proud that my family and I are long-time Old Fourth Ward residents.
I’m a Georgia girl born to my father, a Vietnam veteran who retired Master Sergeant at the Albany Marine Corps Logistics Base, and my mother, a pharmaceutical rep from Camilla. I was born at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, near Albany State College, and from very early on, I studied the civil rights movement and frequented the spots visited by Martin Luther King, Jr. I’m a proud Georgia public school kid, just like my older brother. It was there I had one of my earliest political memories: watching local residents drive around with confederate flags and KKK materials.
I graduated high school and attended Chapman University in Los Angeles. It was a culture change for me, and like many 18 year olds who are out on their own for their first time I hit some bumps along the way. That situation strengthened my desire for social justice and broadened my view of the world. I entered the workforce and enrolled at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill to graduate with two majors – Hispanic Linguistics and Linguistics – and a minor in women’s and gender studies. While at Chapel Hill I spent my summers in Ecuador, Mexico, Portugal, and in the Old Fourth Ward. I graduated with a job offer from The Feminist Health Center, in the heart of Atlanta. Immediately after graduation, I began work in Black Women’s health promotion and lobbied as a health advocate.
At the clinic, I used my Spanish fluency daily, and met Rep. Simone Bell, a staunch pro-choice ally at the Capitol. When Rep. Bell announced she was accepting a new position at Lambda Legal, she personally called me to ask if I would run for her seat. Since we share a profound love for people and advocacy, we both knew this was an opportunity to realize my dream of helping people through policymaking.
As a State Representative, I continue to advocate for growth in our neighborhoods to be balanced, smart and neighborhood-approved. I will work every day to bring more good jobs to our families. I will continue to be a strong ally to our local schools. I will work to increase affordable healthcare for all, not just for some.
In 2021, I was unlawfully arrested at the Georgia State Capitol for knocking on the Governor’s door while a voter suppression bill, SB 202 was signed into law. Now that the charges have been dropped, I continue forward as a staunch supporter of all Georgia voters to ensure they they have access to the ballot, their votes counted, and to be able to pick their elected officials— not the other way around.
When I’m not working, I’m dancing. I love modern dance and use it as a healing practice. I have toured with NYC dance companies and created reproductive justice dance pieces. Today, I live in the Old Fourth Ward in the condo my grandparents bought many years ago. I am two blocks from Emory Hospital, the Civic Center, and most importantly: Krispy Kreme. Most days I will choose to have meetings at Krispy Kreme.
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.
Martha Revelo is the Northeast Outreach Director for United States Senator Raphael Warnock. Previously, she worked as Deputy Director of Latinx engagement in the Warnock for Georgia first runoff, which resulted in a 8% increase of Latino voter turnout from the general elections. As a Latina, Atlanta native born from Salvadoran immigrant parents, Martha has worked through years of championing opportunities for minority and underserved communities to engage, participate, and sustain a pipeline of opportunity of much-needed funds to hundreds of projects across the state of Georgia. Most recently, she was a proponent of a $4 million earmark to the City of Hartwell to revitalize the Rome and Richardson Historic neighborhood. This the largest earmark investment in Northeast Georgia.
Through relationship building with nonprofits, stakeholders, local, state, and federal government, Martha has developed strategies of diversity leadership, strategic and sustainable direction to help create diverse opportunities and initiatives for underserved communities. Martha championed the first federal congressional directed spending earmark to the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Ser Familia, which made a historical marker in the Hispanic community across the state of Georgia. She also led the creation of Salvadoran American Day in Georgia which is now recognized on September 17th.
Recently, Martha was named as one of the 50 most influential Latinos in Georgia. On September 15, 2021, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners proclaimed, “Martha Revelo Appreciation Day” honoring the years of commitment and service in the community she grew up in. During the 2022 legislative session, Martha was recognized by the Georgia State House of Representatives for her leadership in Gwinnett County, the most diverse county in the state of Georgia. Martha was selected among distinguished individuals to Outstanding Atlanta’s 2022 cohort, individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership in their prospective discipline across the City of Atlanta.
Martha holds an M.A. in Political Science for Professional and International Politics and a B.A. in Political Science for International Relations from Georgia State University. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and two dogs.
Thomas W. Dortch, III
Thomas W. Dortch, III is Vice President of T.W.D., Inc. where he coordinates all of its business interests with a focus on small business development. With over fifteen years of experience, he has been able to develop several companies and continues to create opportunities in this role. He continues to evolve and seek opportunities to empower others. Mr. Dortch is also co-owner of JLQ marketing and branding firm as well as owner of The Prime Theory Company, a company focused on creating wealth through healthy living. Thomas W. Dortch, III has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Florida A&M University. He began his professional career as an assistant event coordinator with The National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Foundation. In this position, Mr. Dortch was able to create several initiatives and raise money to assist in the growth of historically black colleges nationwide. He served in this position for nearly ten years. Coinciding with this position, Mr. Dortch served as human resources and public relations manager for Atlanta Transportation Systems, Inc. While at ATS, Mr. Dortch was able to maintain Fulton County transportation for the developmentally disabled and senior citizen residents. He also created many private transportation services and contracts. He served in this position for several years.
Mr. Dortch is certified as a personal trainer and nutrition specialist. He has been able to assist numerous clients in reaching their health goals. Mr. Dortch is passionate about helping those that are less fortunate or have battled with several mental, physical or health issues, especially addiction. Through The Prime Theory Company, he hopes to further his reach and empower these groups in need. With a partnership created by The Prime Theory Company, Mr. Dortch has been able to create the Cascade Heights Indie Market which allows over 100 small business owners to showcase their products and services to the community monthly. He introduced one of the first health and wellness centers in southwest Atlanta in July of 2022. Mr. Dortch formed JLQ marketing and branding firm with his wife, Jeniece Stewart, to help companies and organizations reach a larger audience and customer base. As a team, they hope to create innovative ways for companies to thrive in an ever-changing social atmosphere. As a duo they strive to be able to accommodate clients of all sizes and all levels of need.
Thomas W. Dortch, III is a lifetime member of the NAACP. Mr. Dortch is a board member of the Andrew & Walter Young YMCA, a board member of the 100 Black Men of Atlanta, a trustee of the Fulton-Dekalb Hospital Authority, and a member of the Omega Xi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity. Most importantly, he is a proud father of seven.
Laura M. Heery
Laura M. Heery is a co-founder of Brookwood Group. Based in Atlanta, Miami and New York, she is the owner of Brookwood Design Group LLC, a women-owned affiliate of Brookwood Group, Inc. She is an architect who provides “design thinking” for projects and initiatives with a multi-disciplinary, cross-sectoral approach. Integrating leading-edge expertise, Laura focuses on using design thinking for accelerating digitization in education, for planning new health considerations, and for preparedness for disruption and disaster recovery.
As Brookwood’s Design Principal, Laura chaired the master plan for the Turner Broadcasting Campus in Midtown Atlanta; designed the campus and buildings for the Georgia Institute of Technology in Savannah; and transformed two miles of Peachtree Road from a dystopian highway into an urban boulevard. Laura studied and worked abroad in Europe launching the design for The Coca-Cola Company’s European Union Headquarters in Brussels and in Asia on projects such as AFLAC’s regional corporate offices in Tokyo. She provided pre-development, strategic planning, and design guidelines for Charis Community Foundation, Mall of Georgia, Decatur, Morehouse College, Glenwood Park, and early stage concepts for Centennial Olympic Park and Centennial Hill master planning.
Laura has been a speaker and panel organizer for: Purpose Built Communities hosted by Warren Buffet, Tom Cousins, and their foundation in Omaha: the Real Estate Impact Conference at the University of Miami; Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU); the Urban Land Institute; LOCUS/Smart Growth America; National Town Builders Association; and Ecodistricts among others. As a board member for the Congress for the New Urbanism for six years, she was the board’s Initiatives Chair, co-leading CNU projects such as “Health Districts” and “HUD Finance Reform”. She founded The Live/Work/Walk Foundation to support initiative work with CNU, LOCUS, Smart Growth America, and non-profits related to livable neighborhoods, districts, and greenspaces.
Laura is a past member of Young Presidents Organization; Leadership Atlanta; the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Research Institute and LINK program; the Carter Center Board of Counselors; Emory University’s Board of Visitors; International Women’s Forum; the board of RouteMatch; and of non-profits such as Atlanta Botanical Garden and Research Atlanta. Laura currently serves on the National Trust for Historic Preservation; Earthshare of Georgia; Research Atlanta (now Atlanta Civic League); and Nexus Art Center. She also serves on the boards of the Georgia Cities Foundation; University of Miami School of Architecture; and The Grove Park Foundation, a member of Purpose Built Communities.
She earned a Masters in Architecture from Yale University, where she studied with Cesar Pelli; has worked as an architectural designer for Heery International, I.M. Pei & Partners, and John Burgee Architects with Philip Johnson on signature projects such as Rockefeller Center in New York City and Atlantic Center in Midtown Atlanta.
Jamil Favors 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.
Ranada Robinson is the Research Director at the New Georgia Project and the New Georgia Project Action Fund. Ranada is responsible for designing and moving forward NGP and NGPAF’s mission-driven research agenda and transforming research findings into strategic insights that inform the organizations’ strategic efforts. She also is an economic development consultant, who spent 12 years working as Research Manager and Senior Project Manager for Market Street Services, a holistic economic development consulting firm that has worked in 35 states and over 150 communities. Ranada has worked for clients ranging from Cheyenne, Wyoming to St. Petersburg, Florida, and even in her hometown of Jackson, Mississippi. Ranada’s overarching goal for everything she does is making historically disadvantaged communities better for future generations. Ranada holds a Master of Science in Urban Policy Studies with specializations in policy analysis and economic development and planning and a Master of Science in Risk Management and Insurance from Georgia State University. Ranada is also a graduate of Tougaloo College, where she earned bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and computer science.
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
Bem Joiner believes in Atlanta. Born and raised in the city, he has a pure passion for its people and its progress, and he majorly contributes to what makes culture in Atlanta, cool and captivating.
As a culture curator and co-founder of the creative consultancy/brand, Atlanta Influences Everything, Bem has managed and consulted a variety of lifestyle brands and designed meaningful programs for clients like Sprite, Mississippi Dept. of Education, truth.com, Jack Daniels, Nissan, the National Black Arts Festival and countless others. He has also booked “early-adopter” shows for Drake, Kendrick Lamar and the Goodie Mob reunion.
Bem is also one of the founders of CreativeCall.org which is a community service effort/collaboration between Atlanta and Stockholm creatives and was most recently the Community Engagement Coordinator for the Center for Civic Innovation in South Downtown Atlanta.
Music industry executive & restaurateur Zak Wallace is a culture curator whose work and impact span cities and communities across the U.S. Aimed at living a life deeply rooted in impact, in 2017 Zak founded Local Green Atlanta, a fast-casual eatery with a mission rooted in equity, access, and public health. Well-known for co-writing the successful hit “Goodies” by Grammy-nominated recording artist Ciara, Zak left the music industry after over 15 years with a goal to develop a business that combines the two things he values the most, family and community impact. A product of West Manor Elementary, Paul D. West Middle School, and Tri-Cities High School, Zak is no stranger to the inequities within the Atlanta community. Growing up in a food desert plagued with a profound lack of nutritional options, his mission is now aimed at decreasing food insecurities and illness within his community. A purveyor of economic prosperity and equitable living, Zak launched the Local Green Atlanta food truck with a mission to improve the health and overall wellbeing of the city.
By proving that plant-based cuisine could still be tasty and fulfilling, Zak was able to expand Local Green Atlanta into its first brick-and-mortar location in 2019 in the historic West End community. In March of 2022, Local Green celebrated its expansion into Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resorts, becoming the first Black-owned food truck to grace the amusement park. Local Green Orlando brings the magic of fresh greens seasoned with culture to tourists, park-goers, and Florida residents. The restaurant boasts a hip-hop-inspired menu of vegan, vegetarian, and pescatarian options, which has helped to combat the lack of fresh food in Atlanta’s predominantly Black westside neighborhood. Local Green’s mission is to redefine healthy, affordable food for all by creating an ecosystem based on trust and accountability. Zak has ensured that the brand stays present in the Atlanta community through volunteer work and partnerships.
As an advocate and change agent, Zak has provided thousands of meals to voters during the largest elections, donated over 7,000 masks to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and created philanthropic relationships with large organizations like BET and US Foods. In 2022, Zak also served on the transition team for Atlanta’s 61st Mayor, Andre Dickens.. He defines success as being a good son, husband, and father, with richness in faith, family, quality friendships, and servant leadership. Zak is married to Robyn Wallace, Local Green co-owner and data scientist. Together, they reside in a suburb outside of Atlanta, and are parents to four boys.
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.
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 pursuing is Masters in Business Administration. He serves in the 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.
Now he leads TPU in its vision to provide equity programming for underserved families across Atlanta. Currently Julius is also the Sales & Support Lead Coordinator of the U.S Public Entity Practice for the world leader in risk management and insurance, Marsh. In this he role he holds key responsibilities that include supporting growth, business priorities, and people-focused strategic initiatives through clear, concise and effective 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. Julius is married to the lovely Ashley Elizabeth Austin Thomas. Above everything else, Julius is most proud to be known as a servant of God.
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).