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.

Rick Bigelow

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Youth Development & Special Projects Associate

Why did you join UrbanKind? 

When I was asked to join UrbanKind, it was an exciting opportunity to reconnect to the non-profit community and expand an initiative I created. I saw it as a chance to build in some areas I hadn't touched in a while or not at all in some instances. It was also a new platform for me to use as a "safe zone" for the community as a whole. I also like the research element that UrbanKind does as it lends data and facts to aspects in the community that have gone overlooked or abused. 

What did you do before UrbanKind? 

I've spent more than 25 years serving the community mostly in the south Hilltop in the non-profit/social services sector, but also four years in Manchester in Pittsburgh's North Side. I've gained a lot of experience doing many things from top-to-bottom when it comes to non profits. This includes multiple organizations in the Hilltop in various roles and capacities both paid and as a volunteer.

What grinds my gears?

I don't have enough space to list all of them so I'll keep it short. I don't like when people abuse their power and/or privilege. Also I can't stand inconsiderate people. It's easy to forget the plight of others when you don't have that burden.

What floats my boat?

My kids, family, sports, and a long list of other things!

What else?

As a lifelong resident of Pittsburgh, I look forward to the day that my city can truly be the "most livable city" for all residents, as opposed to how it's currently set up for only a certain sector of society to thrive.

Colleen Cain, PhD

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Senior Research Associate

Why did you join UrbanKind?

I joined UrbanKind because it’s exactly where I want to be. I’ve worked in academia and the non-profit sector, and UrbanKind feels like somewhere in between. It provides a supportive and challenging environment for me to grow as an urban sociologist interested in hyperlocal research that should benefit communities and residents. Most importantly, the starting point for every undertaking at UrbanKind is a commitment to equity and justice.

What did you do before UrbanKind?

I’ve worked as a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Social and Urban Research and at the Washington, DC-based Northeast-Midwest Institute. I earned masters and doctoral degrees in sociology from the University of Florida; my bachelor’s degree, also in sociology, is from John Carroll University.

What grinds your gears?

Injustice, litter, people who take themselves too seriously, dogmatism, gated communities, consumerism

What floats your boat?

Reading (fiction/nonfiction/poetry), documentaries, being outside when it’s not raining or cold in Pittsburgh, front porches, spreadsheets, ice cream, seeing the world through my son’s eyes

What else?

I’m from Beechview and credit my experiences growing up in Pittsburgh with my interest in cities and neighborhoods today. My doctoral dissertation focused on Pittsburgh’s first community benefits agreement.

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