Originally from Beltzhoover, Dr. Jamil Bey is the President & CEO of UrbanKind.
On a mission to create social justice, he is focused on improving communities and creating change. He endeavors to establish Southwestern Pennsylvania as a place where Black children and families can prosper and thrive.
In addition to Dr. Bey's role as UrbanKind's visionary and his myriad of charitable efforts, Dr. Bey serves on many boards and councils throughout Pittsburgh. Dr. Bey serves on the boards of The Pittsburgh Housing Opportunity Fund, The Forbes Fund Advisory Council, the Joseph Ibberson Community Forestry Chair. He is a founding board member at Landforce and is on the Steering committee of the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council and the Advisory Council Advisor for the Penn State Center Pittsburgh.
Additionally, Dr. Bey is the founder of the Black Environmental Collective and co-founder and current president of the Beltzhoover Consensus Group. As a former high school teacher in Clairton and McKeesport, Dr. Bey is inspired by the many young people he works with. Through this alliance, he finds he is challenged to do better, work smarter, and find new ways to create space and opportunities for future leaders to shine.
Angella Jackson is the heart and soul behind UrbanKind. In her role as Executive Assistant, she brings much to the organization through the experiences she’s garnered as a Medical Assistant, Tax Professional, Cosmetology Educator and Direct Care worker, to name a few.
Angella believes in the philosophy, "You can't change other people; you can only change you." Honoring that, she accomplishes her multifaceted duties by morphing into a chameleon of sorts, who excels at working with all types of people and personalities.
Additionally, Angella gives back to her community by volunteering at her church in many capacities. She hopes that by planting "seeds of hope, encouragement, and confidence into people, they will water those seeds and produce fruits of greatness." She also fulfills this hope through her dedication and hard work at UrbanKind.
Jason Beery, PhD, is the Director of Applied Research at UrbanKind Institute. Trained as a geographer, Jason examines spatial difference from a holistic, intersectional perspective. In his work, this perspective means that political, economic, environmental, legal, and health issues cannot be separated from each other or from race, gender, class, ability, and other identities.
Currently, he manages the Equitable and Just Greater Pittsburgh initiative; is a co-lead of the Policy & Place Committee of The Pittsburgh Study, a long-term child health equity research project of Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh; and is a co-lead of the Scientific Support and Advocacy workgroup of the SWPA Cancer and Environment Network. Jason researches and writes critical essays, separately and as part of the “Environment, Politics, and Power in Pittsburgh, not Paris” series. Additionally, he has developed or worked on a variety of other projects, ranging from data analysis to facilitating community planning conversations with residents. He also participates in several local activist tables.
Previously, Jason was Geographer-in-Residence at Carnegie Mellon University CREATE Lab, where he created map-based stories and map layers using the lab's EarthTime platform. He also taught as an instructor / adjunct professor at the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University. Jason received his PhD in Geography from the University of Manchester (UK) and his MS (also in Geography) from Penn State University.
As UrbanKind's, Director of Community Education and Engagement, Dr. Neil Brown has led an impressive career. Born in Jamaica, He holds a B.S. and M.S. degree from Tuskegee University and a PhD from Penn State University.
He previously served as an Assistant Professor of Geography at Penn State University for over 10 years. During that time, he designed immersive educational experiences for college students while traveling three months across South Africa. This allowed him the opportunity to engage with different stakeholders, community members in South Africa, government agencies, and non-profit organizations.
As a detail-oriented systems thinker, Dr. Brown has developed a unique perspective about persistence, and believes, knowing when to give up is just as important as being persistent. Influenced by his parents and his Master's advisor significantly, he aspires to impact the world by creating more spaces for the next generation to be able to see themselves clearly as change agents in our rapidly changing society.
Hailing from the Beltzhoover area of Pittsburgh, PA, Janora Bey graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Social and Behavioral Science from Penn State. Janora then obtained her Masters in Counseling Psychology from Capella University and is a current Doctoral Candidate in General Psychology.
Guided by her work in human services, she considers the people she has provided services to as having been paramount in her professional development. She draws from her experiences with people from various walks of life, sharing unique views, opinions, lifestyles, and needs. Through this, she continues to learn and understand diverse perspectives while helping those in need. As UrbanKind's Director of New Programs & Evaluation, Janora considers this to be the most influential contributor to her desire to continue making a difference and create social change.
Janora is an avid film lover and loves spending time with her family. Additionally, Janora loves nature and all things 'outdoors', including hiking, ziplining, and rafting.
Alyssa Lyon is the Director, Black Environmental Collective at UrbanKind, and originally from The Bronx, New York.
Passionate about ensuring people - especially Black people - know that they have the power to drive change and re-write the narrative, Alyssa believes that everything you do makes a difference, and is guided by this belief in her work.
Her experience as Sustainable Communities Director at Green Building Alliance helped her recognize the importance and necessity of amplifying marginalized voices in the sustainability sector, and that environmental justice is a civil rights issue.
Alyssa has an Undergrad from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Master of Public Management from CMU Heinz College. She is a board member of Rebuild Together Pittsburgh, Vice Chair for Invest PGH, and Urban Redevelopment Authority.
She has received many honors including Get Involved! Western PA Rising Star Award (2019), Pittsburgh Courier Fab 40 honoree (2019), The Incline: Who’s Next in Pittsburgh Community Leaders & Activists (2019) PUMP & Pittsburgh Magazine 40 Under 40 honoree (2018) and Whirl Magazine 20 in their 20’s honoree (2018).
Janel Young is a graduate of Penn State University with a B.S Degree in Marketing and International Studies. Janel has worked in New York City with the New York Mural Arts Project, working with artists, creating 4,000 square feet murals throughout Brooklyn, Harlem, and Staten Island. Most recently, Janel worked as a Senior Digital Strategist at a public relations firm and led the Innovation Team to create social media and digital content for various industries.
Through Janel's substantial career, she has consciously impacted Black communities and Black youth around the world. Her desired impact consists of normalizing and celebrating Black artists "taking up space" to tell visual stories. She is motivated to specifically empower Black women by focusing on representation in large mural work.
Believing that "There should be no more starving artists," Janel challenges the art industry to view artists as to-be-paid creative talent. Through her residency with UrbanKind, Janel strives to explore unconventional partnership opportunities to grow and strengthen the organization as a whole.
Naomi Ritter is an Artist, Analyst, and Business Operations Strategist, with over two decades of experience. Ritter has been passionate about the arts and entrepreneurship in communities of color since her early days.
Naomi graduated from the Creative and Performing Arts High School (CAPA) as a Creative Writing major in 2010 and quickly realized her skillset was both unique and obligatory. She then ventured onto Duquesne University where she earned a BA in Political Science and an MA in Social & Public Policy. A natural leader and teammate, Ritter served as undergraduate chapter president to her sorority, vice president to Ebony Women: Women for Social Change, participated in NAACP, BSU, the City of Pittsburgh Civic Leadership Academy, and most recently, the Penn State Master Gardener certification program. Her work compels her to seek diverse professional experiences orbiting in the realm of research and data analysis, digital marketing, and soft skill development in communities of color.
Naomi holds a BA in Rhetoric & Political Science with a concentration in Integrated Marketing Communications and an MA in Social and Public Policy, focused focus in Policy Analysis and Administration, both from Duquesne University. A proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., a gardener, yogi, foodie, and healer, whose ultimate goal is to heal minority and underserved communities through writing, food, and holistic health.
Jaquaya Mills is a Community Activist, Spoken Word Artist, and an Author, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from Point Park University. She is goal-oriented and holds fast to her principles taught early on by her Westinghouse High School English teacher. Jaquaya maintains her focus by staying connected to her roots. Her enrollment in leadership courses and the Black Student Union, while attending Penn State University, in McKeesport, PA, has equipped her with the skills, confidence, and knowledge to proactively produce.
Jaquaya has experience working with organizations including East End Cooperative Ministries, Community Empowerment Association, Homewood Community Sports, as well as A+ Schools. Her passion for serving others has moved her to take opportunities as they come, and permitted her to explore various industries, such as housing/real estate, mental health, and education. She is motivated by her environment and works to encourage positive production. She has a strong interest in the community redevelopment process and hopes to impact housing opportunities while working with UrbanKind Institute.
Jaquaya is innovative with an entrepreneurial essence. During her leisure, she indulges in art and nature. She enjoys comedy and outdoor events. Jaquaya is persistent to connect with individuals and organizations who are dedicated to community support and self-sufficiency.
Chavaysha Chaney, from the Hill District, holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science and Public Policy. Chavaysha uncovered her commitment to social change as she worked with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth where she promoted positive changes for fair housing, voting rights, climate change, and environmental justice.
Chavaysha's position as a Legislative Assistant for State Representative Jake Wheatley ensured she understood the importance of all factors needed, including the government, to create real change in the community.
As such, Chavaysha brings her motivation, compassion, and dedication to fight for change and awareness to many causes and in her role as UrbanKind's Program Associate.
Nasyr Bey graduated from Appalachian State University with a Bachelor's in Biology. A fan of nature documentaries, he cites the English broadcaster and natural historian, Sir David Attenborough, as a major influence in his life. Through watching the programs, he was encouraged to invest in natural sciences.
As a current member of the Community Vaccine Collaborative, a community-based group focused on COVID-19 vaccine research, he focuses on health in marginalized communities that have experienced injustices in the scientific and medical fields.
His analytical and observant nature inspires him to help people develop a better relationship between themselves and the natural world. He hopes that the work he is able to do in the future, personally or professionally, can help educate and inspire, enabling them to become more conscious and appreciative of the natural world and what the Earth has to offer. Through this end, he believes in starting small within communities to help spread awareness, advocacy, and change.
Quaadir Bey is UrbanKind's Program Associate. He has a bachelor's degree in sociology from Penn State. Quaadir strives to help others to reach their full potential and brings his analytical and inquisitive nature in his position to assist others to envision their lives in ways they haven't been able to and bring about change. Quaadir brings a fresh and energetic vibe to the organization and is always up for a challenge.
The seed for BW3 was planted almost two decades ago when Dr. Hall-Russell, an Indianapolis native, began to merge her cultural influences with corporate leadership. Excited that she had been uniquely prepared by life, work experiences, and her education to take on leadership positions, she also noticed patterns of bias that impacted her work and that of other Black women in majority organizations. So intrigued by the challenges, she chose to study this phenomenon for her doctoral research at Point Park University in Pittsburgh.
Dr. Hall-Russell received her primary education in the Indianapolis Public Schools, an experience for which she is grateful. She went on to get her BA in Sociology from Indiana University (I.U.), a MA in Philanthropic Studies, and an MPA in Nonprofit Management also from I.U. She received her Ed.D in Leadership and Administration from Point Park University. She plans to publish her findings in a book specifically aimed at emerging leaders of color and those who’ll be working with them. She is also working on a BW3 Podcast "ColorFULL Leadership" (c).
As a researcher at Indiana University, Hall-Russell published seminal work on African-American philanthropy, the impact of the black megachurch, and youth, religion, and philanthropy. Known for her direct writing style, she has been a frequent guest op/ed columnist for both the Indianapolis Star and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Prior to establishing BW3, she sat at the helm of several large nonprofits and also worked in international marketing in the corporate sector.
Dr. Hall-Russell sits on the board of the Planned Parenthood of Western PA and recently completed a 5-year term as treasurer of the Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority - the city's primary development arm that focused on developing and supporting underserved communities.
She is a mom of an adult son and an energetic high school-age daughter, three grandchildren including a new granddaughter who she hopes will enter a world that appreciates all she has to offer without racial-gendered filters!
As the principal of MonWin Consulting, I create more equitable communities by helping people (residents, community organizations, public- and private-sector organizations, and design professionals) understand each other better and work from a shared set of priorities; and I help move collaborations forward by bridging between public engagement, planning, design, and implementation.
Born in New Haven, CT, Qiyam Ansari is the Black Futures General Support person at UrbanKind.
Qiyam is passionate about removing barriers, and hopes to lay the foundation for a digital nation for Black people to work together to care for basic needs - including healthcare, banking, and technology.
He is the Chief Solutionist and founder at Liberate X, a strategy agency focused on building using a collective impact model. Here, his mandate is to reimagine social change by identifying ways to maximize the impact of existing resources and inspiring change agents around the world to achieve greater impact.
Qiyam has a Bachelor in Business Administration & Environmental Science. He sits on the Board of the Hill District Consensus Group, and spends much of his free time consulting on issues that affect the Black community through pro bono work.