Jon Berger grew up in Silver Spring and did his undergraduate degree at University of Maryland – College Park in government & politics. He has 4 years of staff organizing experience with the Real Food Challenge, a national student network campaigning for fair, local, and sustainable food sourcing and democratic decision-making in college dining halls. He currently works as a server at Momofuku in DC, and works at Three Part Harmony Farm.
Chrysalinn Archie is co-founder of Baltimore Gift Economy, helping communities and neighborhoods discover and cultivate the gifts and talents they already possess in an effort to strengthen themselves from within. A graduate of James Madison University’s School of Music, Chrysalinn has served as a general music teacher at a special needs school, and later as an elementary/middle school band director. During her years as a teacher, she embraced and participated in service outreach opportunities abroad including planting gardens and serving the poor in Lesotho, and helping with a summer camp for orphans in Ukraine. Chrysalinn serves on the Board for Roots and Branches School, and is a member of the Maryland Parent Leadership Team, a co-product of Parents Anonymous and The Family Tree. She lives in Baltimore with her husband and six sons.
Vanessa Bright is an experienced Educator with a diverse array of skills honed over time spent in the financial services, insurance, non-profit and government industries. She is dedicated to educating adults and youth on the basic principles of financial literacy and providing them with the skills to become financially free and fiscally responsible adults. That is why she wrote the book Dollars and Sense for Parents and Children available on Amazon. As a Family and Consumer Sciences Educator for University of Maryland Extension, she focuses on improving the quality of life of families and individuals through non-formal, participatory, educational programs. She is also currently enrolled as a Master’s of Social Work student at University of Maryland, Baltimore.
Brandy H. M. Brooks is an activist, educator, facilitator and designer who has spent more than 10 years working on social and environmental justice. Her particular areas of focus include community engagement and empowerment; community-based design and land use planning; and food justice and food sovereignty. She holds a Bachelor of Design Studies from the Boston Architectural Center and a Master of Public Administration from Suffolk University; she is also a Next City Vanguard alumna and an Environmental Leadership Program Senior Fellow. Brandy relocated from Boston to the DC metro area to spend more time with her family and pursue the project of her dreams: building an intentional community led by people of color that models sustainable self-production, radical economics, and radical democracy. When she’s not busy rabble-rousing for justice, you can usually find Brandy reading, singing, dancing, or some combination of the above.
Allie Busching received a Masters in Social Work from the University of Maryland Baltimore, where she focused her studies in community action and social policy. Over the past several years she has been actively involved in organizing with Baltimore and Washington DC nonprofit and grassroots organizations to advocate for affordable housing and equitable development. Allie gained experience as a union organizer with SEIU in Minnesota and currently serves as a field organizer with Civic Works growing the local green economy. She first became interested in community wealth building models while working with the Eastside Vacant Housing Survey, as part of the Housing Roundtable’s efforts to develop a community land trust in Baltimore.
Kareen Currey currently holds a Masters in Public Policy from American University. While there, Kareen gained a particular passion for social policy especially on welfare programs. She has worked on varying levels in public service for multiple non profits, county government, state government and now federal government. She has a passion for impacting and inspiring positive change.
Heather Doggett is a mission-focused director who has been fortunate to gain experience with three different accredited organizations over her 30 years in the zoo and aquarium industry. With her background in zoology and a passion for creating engaging experiences for guests, Heather is right at home in her role as Director of Guest Engagement at the National Aquarium, connecting guests to conservation action. She directs effective conservation messaging initiatives by providing training in interpretive techniques for non-educators, social marketing practices, conservation psychology theory, exceptional guest service, diversity and inclusion, and public speaking. For the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, she serves as the Chair of the Diversity Committee, served as an Advisor for the Conservation Education Committee and served on several National Branding Campaigns.
Melissa Ehrenreich is a lifelong resident of Maryland, a wife, mother to three boys, and a jack of all trades now living in Greenbelt, Maryland. Melissa’s core focus for this fellowship is co-developing new strategies to engage Greenbelt’s residents in municipal governance and budgeting. Currently, she is an independent environmental policy consultant who has skills in policy and program development, facilitation and network engagement, fundraising, and threading the needle in complex situations. She provides part-time leadership as Executive Director of the DC Social Innovation Project, a social innovation incubator dedicated to supporting community-rooted entrepreneurship to fight poverty in the District of Columbia. Melissa is also the Chair of the Greenbelt Community Foundation’s Advisory Board, the organizer of an annual community festival to celebrate Greenbelt’s local Forest Preserve, and an intermittent City Council meeting junkie.
Josh Hastings works for Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) as the organization’s Policy Manager. Josh monitors land use policies at the local, state, and federal government levels. A proud native of the Eastern Shore, Josh grew up on a poultry farm and Maryland’s first certified organic farm. Before joining ESLC, he served as the Legislative Assistant to the Chair of the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee, in the Maryland State Senate. He holds two Bachelor’s degrees from Salisbury University (Business Marketing, Political Science) and is finishing a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Josh Hastings is the current Chairman of the Partners For Open Space coalition, serves as the Vice Chairman of the Rural Maryland Council, is the Vice Chairman of the Lower Shore Land Trust, and is a LEAD Maryland (Class VIII) fellow.
Lauren Karaffa is a Worker-Owner at The Maryland Food Collective in College Park, MD. She moved to Maryland in January 2015 from Columbus, Oh., where she worked as a clinical social worker and as a volunteer organizer with Redbird Prison Abolition. She sees global capitalism as either the cause or a perpetuator of most social inequality and oppression and, therefore, aspires to strengthen connections between worker-owned cooperatives in Maryland and encourage a broader audience to join the New Economy Movement through her writing.
Bruce McKaig has been a visual artist for over thirty years, living in North and South America, Europe, Siberia, and India. Starting with photography, his art now also explores sculpture, audio/visual projections, and performance pieces. Also an art educator, Bruce has had the privilege of teaching university students as well as senior citizens, incarcerated psychiatric patients, and in juvenile detention centers. His undergraduate degree is in economics and his graduate degree is a Master of Science in Foreign Service, with Distinction, from Georgetown University. Since 2000, he has devoted time to community based public art projects and advocating for ethical funding policies in the arts and humanities. He currently teaches in the Art & Art History Department at Georgetown University, writes for the Baltimore blog WhatWeekly, and lives at Artists’ Housing Inc. in Southeast Baltimore.
Ava Richardson has over six years of experience in the public health sector, spanning community engagement, public health research, health care administration, and grassroots organizing. She has supported social justice initiatives through project coordination and project management that focuses on solution-oriented outcomes. In her past roles, Ava has served populations of need in the Mid-Atlantic region by helping to bridge the gap between community, science and policy. Currently, Ava serves as the Chief Community Health Engineer for SIStained, LLC, a sustainability and education collective which she co-founded. She holds a Bachelor’s in Biology from Frostburg State University in Frostburg, MD and a Masters of Public Health from Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD.
Joshua Serrano is an Americorps Public Ally at Fair Chance, where his work focuses on partner communications, network services, and new partner outreach. He is also part of Train The Movement: A Trainers of Color Collaborative, based in Washington, DC. Joshua received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Policy from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in May 2015. He is from Brooklyn, New York and spent time as an undergraduate studying in Vietnam and Washington DC. He recently interned at Action for the City, based in Hanoi, Vietnam, and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, based in Washington DC. Joshua was also a research intern in the Institute for Policy Studies’ 2015 Next Leader’s Program, where he worked on the Criminalization of Poverty Project.
Taylor Smith-Hams is a creative and critical thinker committed to advancing environmental and social justice. She grew up in California’s Bay Area and moved to Baltimore to study Painting, Humanistic Studies, Sustainability and Social Practice at the Maryland Institute College of Art. An artist and activist, Taylor has worked on campaigns for LGBT rights, chemical plant safety, and carbon pricing legislation. She has also studied climate change in Vietnam, Morocco, and Bolivia. Taylor values intersectional approaches to organizing that embrace a broad range of perspectives and expose structural inequities in order to build more inclusive movements.
Le-Marie V. J. Thompson is a technologist passionate about innovation and its trans-formative effects on local communities. As a pre-teen she immigrated to the United States, residing in Maryland, from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. In 2012, she founded, Nettadonna, a sustainability company committed to a global stewardship of technology practices that foster responsible management of the world’s resources. Additionally, Ms. Thompson serves an Adjunct Professors at the University of Maryland, Honor’s College, Entrepreneurship & Innovation Program; lecturing on creating enterprises with social impact. In 2014, Ms. Thompson was selected by Fast Company as one of the 100 Creative People in Business, as well as in Social Good. Ms. Thompson holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland and a Masters of Arts in Communication, Culture and Technology from Georgetown University.
Tiffany Ward has dedicated her 15 year career to social justice and equity work. Tiffany began her career working with youth serving organizations to help low-income students graduate high school and attend 4-year colleges. She went on to work with the AFL-CIO on voting rights issues included felon re-enfranchisement and the implementation of HAVA legislation. Shortly after her stint with the AFL-CIO Tiffany became involved in local elections in Montgomery County, MD . Currently Tiffany works for Councilmember Marc Elrich as a Senior Legislative Aide, her portfolio includes education policy, housing policy and health and human services policy. Tiffany graduated from Tufts University with a double major in Psychology and Child Development.
Jamye Wooten is the founder of KineticsCom.com and publishing editor of KineticsLive.com, an information ministry that integrates theological reflection and practice, and uses dialogue as a catalyst for social change. In the Fall of 2015, he launched the #BlackChurchSyllabus, providing resources that help cultivate a deeper theological framework to pursue justice. In April 2015, Jamye co-founded Baltimore United for Change, a coalition that organized in response to the death of #FreddieGray. Jamye has organized and documented social movements from across the United States, United Kingdom and Africa. He is the former program director of the Collective Banking Group, Inc. (CBG), a Christian ministry that draws together leaders from the faith, business, and public service sectors to develop and enhance economic empowerment strategies for the African American community. His Twitter handle is @KineticsLive.