Our People

Jamil Bey, PhD

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

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

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

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.

Tayler Clemm

Special Projects Assistant

Why did you join UrbanKind? 

I joined UrbanKind very unexpectedly. I left my job as a Credit Union Representative to do some soul searching. One month later, I met Dr. Jamil Bey at a community meeting. He asked me about my mission and it aligned perfectly with UrbanKind’s mission. A week later I was on the team. 

What grinds your gears?

When folks litter, especially cigarettes. Frequent meetings without actionable outcomes 

What floats your boat? 

Being around inspiring people who are experts in their field, especially young people. If I leave a conversation and immediately want to go to the library to get a book, my boat is floating. 

More about me:

Born and raised in Pittsburgh.  I completed two years at the Community College of Allegheny County, which I highly recommend going that route for any young person in Pittsburgh.  I enjoy doing any activity under the sun. 

When you see me, ask me about:

Healing communities through plants, Blackpacking, and tips on time management 

Christian Moore

Program Coordinator

Why did you join UrbanKind? 

I joined UrbanKind because I believe that to make this world a kinder place for all, the commitment has to extend beyond just doing good. We must also challenge, analyze, and improve the way good is being done. As a Program Coordinator, that conviction is at the core of my work. I provide decision makers with the social capital, tools, and resources necessary to gather, analyze, and implement resident-centered solutions. I'm currently spearheading Urbankind's 2019 Education Summit. This 2-day convening of youth, parents, and decision makers will center around improving youth outcomes in Allegheny County. 

What did you do before UrbanKind? 

I was the Manager of Marketing for Everyday Café, a Homewood-based social enterprise that aims to reinvest its earnings into neighborhood initiatives. Prior to this, I served as a Public Ally with Bible Center Church, where I spearheaded various initiatives to introduce black youth in Homewood to STEM. I received my Bachelor's in Business Management & Marketing from Point Park University.  

What grinds your gears? 

The school-to-prison pipeline, suppression of youth voices, media bias, Aarika's hoarding of all the good office snacks, fries on salads (seriously, it makes no sense!) 

What floats your boat? 

Walks in Frick Park, 90s hip hop karaoke, taking naps on the beach (but the Point is a good consolation prize), hosting game nights, helping kids discover the greatness within them, meeting new people.  

What else? 

I LOVE meeting new people, so if you'd like to learn more about my work, let's grab coffee.

Aarika "Dannie" Ransom

Program Coordinator

Why did you join UrbanKind? 

I joined UrbanKind because I believe this organization understands the many aspects of what healthy, community representation looks like. Though Pittsburgh undertakes a participatory method of planning, marginalized identities and other aspects are still overlooked in the process. Aspects of the planning process such as community engagement and applied research ensure overlooked aspects of neighborhoods are acknowledged and included. As a Project Coordinator, I am positioned to lead and assist in impactful research around quality of life needs for neighborhoods and ensuring that community members are the key-decision makers.

What did you do before UrbanKind? 

After graduating with my Bachelor’s in Political Science from Winston Salem State University, I worked as a Fellow for Young People For (YP4), as a Deputy Canvass Director for Planned Parenthood and The Community Voters Project. Through political and social empowerment, these organizations aimed to promote social mobility through local employment and building programs to engage the community to action.

What grinds your gears? 

How impactful women can be and the lack of acknowledgement for their work, the sound of chewing or smacking, neoliberal paternalism, white privilege, and snow on the car when running late.

What floats your boat? 

Unity within communities of color, respect for indigenous people, autonomy, and well-seasoned breakfast platters.

What else? 

I am a huge fan of Star Wars. Star Wars is amazing, but these new movies are coming out too fast and I’m just not used to it. Also, I’m ready for a black woman to be president.

Want to learn more about our team?