Our People

Jamil Bey, PhD

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President & CEO

Why did you establish UrbanKind?

I created UrbanKind to address issues of inequity, injustice, marginalization, and disempowerment. We miss our potential as a region when we allow policies and practices to limit the individual potential of so many of our residents. Every year and in all parts of the country, we see and hear about widening wealth gaps and expanding inequality. Stories of decreasing access to healthy foods, increases in episodes of injustice and brutality, and reduction in hope that things will get better permeate our news. None of this will get better if WE aren’t deliberate in efforts to do something about the problems.

So, I decided. That I can do something. I can listen, I can learn, I can write, I can speak, I can teach, I can convene, I can organize. I started UrbanKind.

What grinds your gears?

Inconsiderate people, dated technology, television and radio advertisements, the slow pace of government, and music with drum machines. 

What floats your boat?

People having a good time - I like to see people engaged, laughing, and learning.

Garlic - There are few dishes that won’t be improved with a little or a lot of garlic.

A live rhythm section - I love the real time interplay and feedback of musicians responding to each other.

What else?

I’m from a giant family and we are all pretty close. The relationship that I have with the few hundred of them has taught me a lot about what is important

Jason Beery, PhD

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Senior Researcher & Policy Analyst

Why did you join UrbanKind?

After teaching at Pitt and being in a university setting for a long time, I was increasingly frustrated by the gap between academic work and people’s everyday struggles. Jamil and I sat down a couple of years ago and talked about our interests and what we wanted to do. We were on the same page, and a few months later the opportunity came for him to bring me on. It was – and still is – the work that I want to do.

What did you do before UrbanKind?

Before joining UrbanKind, I taught for several years in the Environmental Studies Program and in the Department of Statistics at the University of Pittsburgh and then worked for a short period as a union organizer. I still occasionally teach as an adjunct professor at the Center for Environmental Research and Education at Duquesne University.

What grinds your gears?

People who don’t clean up after themselves. People who don’t pitch-in to help when they should be helping. People who lack self-awareness about privilege. People who don’t care about the environment.

What floats your boat?

Growing vegetables and using them to cook with and for people I care about and being among trees.

What else?

I worry about our connection to our environment. I worry that as more people move to cities across the world, fewer can see the stars.

Neashia Johnson

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Project Assistant

Why did you join UrbanKind?

Community advocacy and engagement is what I do, the only difference is, now, I get paid for it. Joining UrbanKind allows me to have a team that supports and guides those efforts through our holistic approach to community engagement, public policy, and academic research.  

What did you do before UrbanKind?

Previously, I worked in Pittsburgh Public Schools and various public and charter schools. My experience there showed the disconnect between practitioners and the individuals and communities we serve. 

What grinds your gears?

It grinds my gears to mull over a problem without focusing on a solution. 

What floats your boat?

My boat floats when I’m eating good food, cuddling with my puppy, or hiking through Pittsburgh trails. 

Want to learn more about our team?