Driven by his desire to change the outcomes of marginalized and overburdened communities, Dr. Jamil Bey is the founder and CEO of UrbanKind Institute.
Dr. Bey believes that cities should be kind places for people. He is inspired by the many young people he works with, challenging himself to do better, work smarter, and find new ways to create space and opportunities for these future leaders to shine. He is on a mission to promote political, economic, housing, educational, environmental, and social justice through improving communities and driving change. His ultimate goal is to establish Southwestern Pennsylvania as a place where Black children and families can prosper and thrive and white supremacy is eradicated.
Dr. Bey stirs critical thinking by facilitating tough conversations around race, equity, and systemic change. In addition to Dr. Bey's role as UrbanKind's visionary, he serves on many boards and councils throughout Pittsburgh, to drive real systemic change in policy and programming that affects underserved populations. Additionally, Dr. Bey is the founder of the Black Environmental Collective.
He earned a PhD and a Master of Science at Penn State University in Geography. He also holds a bachelor's degree in Education, which allows him to connect with people and see the world around him through a unique lens.
In his free time Dr. Bey enjoys gourmet cooking, gardening, off-road driving, and hosting friends and family. Dr. Bey’s friends would describe him as witty, charismatic, and passionate.
Angella Jackson, our Executive Assistant excels at working with all types of people and personalities.
Angella likes to instill hope, encouragement, and confidence in the people she meets, and as a community member and advocate, herself, stands by UrbanKind’s commitment to elevate the voices of those in marginalized communities.
Angella provides support to the CEO and UrbanKind staff with scheduling, coordination, planning and executing activities to support the day-to-day operations of UKI.
Angella holds an associate degree as a Medical Assistant, is a licensed Cosmetology Educator, and holds a certificate as a Computer Networking Specialist. This diverse background in education and experience brings a unique and valuable lens to her work at UrbanKind Institute.
Angella volunteers in her community, working with those who are differently abled, sings at her church and enjoys salsa dancing, traveling, and spending time with family. Angella’s friends would describe her as encouraging, funny, and able to skillfully quote random movies.
Jason Beery, PhD, is the Director of Applied Research at UrbanKind Institute.
Trained as a geographer, Jason examines spatial differences 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; co-leads 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 co-leads the Scientific Support and Advocacy workgroup of the SWPA Cancer and Environment Network. Jason has developed or worked on a variety of other projects, including co-creating and running a cultural humility workshop series for environmental organizations, researching and writing critical essays, analyzing data, and facilitating community planning conversations with residents.
Previously, Jason was Geographer-in-Residence at Carnegie Mellon University CREATE Lab. 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 from Penn State University.
In his spare time, he enjoys cooking, gardening, and being among trees.
Janora Bey is driven by her background in Human Services as the Director of New Programs and Evaluation.
Janora’s work with those from various walks of life has been the number one contributor to her passion to create social change. Janora continues to learn and understand various perspectives while helping those in need and hopes to use this experience to make a difference in the world around her.
At UrbanKind Institute she specializes in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts, and is responsible for our Equity Based Facilitation and Program Evaluation work. Janora ensures that all collaborations, contracts, and programs have these principles as their foundation. Additionally, Janora is on the core team for the Equitable and Just Great Pittsburgh initiative, where she helps to develop inclusionary efforts for the advisory team and the larger network.
Janora is a General Psychology Doctoral Candidate and is currently collecting data on the experience of Black motherhood. She obtained a Master of Counseling Psychology degree from Capella University and holds a bachelor's degree in Social and Behavioral Science from Penn State University.
Janora is a foodie who loves trying new cuisine. Her friends would describe her as witty, fun, and compassionate. She enjoys outdoor activities and art, and is an amusement park enthusiast. Janora is a huge fan of Marvel, Star Wars, and all things Disney.
Dr. Neil Brown serves as the Director of Community Engagement and Education and is passionate about both learning from and sharing his experiences with residents.
He aspires to impact the world by creating more spaces where people can see themselves as agents of change in our rapidly developing society.
At UrbanKind Institute, Dr. Brown leads our community engagement efforts, networking with collaborating organizations, organizing community walks and events, and focusing on data collection - collecting stories, ideas, and perspectives from the community members he encounters.
Dr. Brown holds a PhD from Penn State University, and a Master of Science and Bachelor of Science degrees from Tuskegee University, all in Animal Science, which gives him a unique perspective on the different ways humans engage with their environment.
When not at work, Dr. Brown enjoys sports, connecting with friends and family, and traveling. Dr. Brown loves music, food, and anything related to his hometown in Jamaica.
Passionate about drive changing and re-writing narratives about the Black experience, Alyssa Lyon is the Director of the Black Environmental Collective
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.
The Black Environmental Collective includes 100+ cross-sectoral organizations, whose mission is to advance solutions that support Black communities’ ability to combat environmental threats to quality of life, food, environment/place, and climate change. Alyssa’s work ensures that through policy and issue advocacy, direct services, movement and coalition building, and region-wide education, this will be achieved.
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, Kelly Strayhorn Theater, and Vice Chair for InvestPGH at the 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).
In her spare time, Alyssa enjoys traveling with her wife, attending music festivals/concerts, and eating amazing food wherever she goes!
Nasyr Bey is a Program Associate at UrbanKind primarily focusing on Project Management and Support.
Nasyr believes that when trying to promote equity and justice, one of the first things one must be is informed and does his best to stay in the know. He believes in starting small within communities to help spread awareness, advocacy, and change.
His work at the organization leads him to attend various meetings across sectors to collect and share valuable information with his team and with the community. As a part of the UrbanKind team as well as Equitable and Just Greater Pittsburgh (EJGP), he often coordinates and communicates with external partners, helps to strategize, and execute specific projects, tracks network engagement and impact, and creates educational tools, such as info guides to be shared with the community and our partners.
Graduating from Appalachian State University with a bachelor's degree in Biology has allowed Nasyr to think critically about natural resources, green spaces, and the environment. While his primary interest is to address environmental issues, he recognizes all issues need be solved with a multifaceted approach and often brings a scientific lens to many of the issues the team works to mitigate.
When he's not busy at his desk, Nasyr enjoys spending time outside rain or shine. Some of his favorite outdoor activities include camping and kayaking, but he's also just as happy reading a new book or checking out new restaurants.
Quaadir Bey is the Program Associate responsible for research and data analysis, and part of the neighborhood team.
Quaadir’s approach focuses largely on understanding the trends and the meaning of the data he encounters and how it applies to the people's lives it represents. He is most interested in how the region functions as a living metropolitan. He is passionate about a better public transportation system in Pittsburgh and often fantasizes about the return of the many inclines that once scaled the hillsides and the idea of a ferry system running through the rivers.
In addition to collecting and interpreting data for various projects, as a part of the neighborhood team, Quaadir also walks the streets of local communities to better understand the social environment people live in, to better understand the routine inequities people face in their daily lives.
Quaadir graduated from Penn State with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology.
Quaadir lived in Pittsburgh his entire life before leaving for college. He loves his city; loves pierogies. In his spare time Quaadir likes to croon while playing his Omnichord.
Chavaysha Chaney is the Program and Policy Development Associate.
Chavaysha is interested in engaging residents and institutions about the robust framework of intersectionality and its impact on creating change in the community to achieve inclusion, diversity, and racial equity. She also appreciates learning with her peers and collaborating with external organizations to sustain the objective goal.
Chavaysha builds and maintains relationships with community partners by aiding them in developing, assessing, and updating policies. She also facilitates meetings and presentations on behalf of the agency, both internally and externally, and coordinates and manages intermediate-level projects for various departments.
Chavaysha attended the University of Louisville where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Public Policy. She discovered her interest and love for creating change in the community, first working with a nonprofit advocating for environmental justice then traveling internationally to work with NGOs to explore and develop policies in the government sector, which led her to hold a position at the state agency doing policy work on the state level.
In her spare time, Chavaysha loves to read and travel. When she is not doing either, she is enjoying her time with her friends.
Jaquaya Mills is our Community Engagement and Education Program Associate. Jaquaya connects well with community members as she can relate to many of their struggles. She shares stories of her lived experience and collects those of others as she engages with community members.
Jaquaya has a personal mission to inspire, educate and motivate those around her. She is a passionate community activist and social justice advocate. Jaquaya applies spoken word as a communication and engagement instrument, as a poet and author who is encouraged by her environment. She maintains her focus by staying connected to her roots; and believes it is important to know where you come from to know where you are going.
At UrbanKind Jaquaya is a member of the community engagement team, where she demonstrates compassion when interacting with community members, to understand their collective values. She helps to organize and plan neighborhood walks and events, where she collects data to aid in bridging the gap between community experience and resources. Jaquaya is a member of the core Equitable and Just Greater Pittsburgh team, and here and in other spaces she analyzes complicated data to translate to common language for community members.
Jaquaya holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Point Park University.
Jaquaya loves loud music and dancing; however, she values her quiet time, personal space, and parenting. She enjoys outdoor activities and watching her children run and play sports.
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.
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.
Janel Young (also known as artist alias JY Originals) is the Community Artist in Residence, a painter, muralist, and advocate for creative expression for people of all ages.
Janel's mission is to inspire through creativity and play. She is interested in exploring how art can be used beyond beautification, as an intentional communication tool.
At UrbanKind Institute, Janel infuses art into community engagements and communication efforts to support and further the work of the organization. Her artwork is utilized as a communication tool within the organization, as well as for resident and partner/client-facing initiatives. This includes hands-on art activities, digital art, graphic branding layouts, illustrations, and creative problem solving.
Janel is a graduate of Penn State University's Smeal College of Business with a B.S. in Marketing and International Studies. She previously used her innovative skills as a Senior Digital Strategist at a public relations agency in New York City and is currently recognized for her mural and public art portfolio in both Pittsburgh and New York through JY Originals.
In between volleyball matches with her rec league team, you will find Janel putting together an extensive itinerary for her next trip to a new city/country where she will be excited to find the beach, good food and collect hand-made jewelry from their local artisans.