Anne H. Carter joined Linn County Public Health in 2022 to serve in the newly created role of Health Equity Program Manager and launched the Office of Health Equity. Through a combination of internal administration and external initiatives, the Office of Health Equity works with people who face a greater risk of health issues and with partner organizations to remove barriers, create solutions, and help make Linn County a place of belonging.
Anne is a graduate of Yale and has more than twenty-five years of experience in corporate leadership in the retail, banking, and energy sectors. She is dedicated to community service and is exceedingly grateful for her three adult children and two granddaughters.
Dana James is the publisher and founder of Black Iowa News, the new quarterly statewide Black Iowa Newspaper. Black Iowa News' mission: highlight Black perspectives, showcase the Black community and amplify the voices of Black Iowans. James is a former Des Moines Register reporter. She is secretary of the Iowa Association of Black Journalists. A lifelong Iowan, James is the co-host of the podcast Being Heard: 2 Black Women, Coffee & Conversations with Lya Williams.
Wilsee Kollie was recently a part of the Our Future fellowship program. This program assists leaders with the tools they need to be valued and empowered advocates for justice, sustainability, and equity. Wilsee founded the “Cleanse Your Mind: Youth Mental Health Initiative.” This project provides mental health resources and coping skills to youth of color. Recently, in October 2023, she organized and moderated a forum with mental health professionals to educate parents and community members on how to best support their kids’ mental health. Wilsee is a current student at Kirkwood Community College and has experience in public speaking, advocacy work, and customer service. She is dedicated to empowering both kids and their families and loves portraying creativity and art through all her work.
Anthony is a Certified Diversity Executive (CDE)®, Certified Diversity and Belonging Facilitator (CDF), and Certified Culture Facilitator (CCA). A native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he received his BA in Communication Studies from The University of Iowa.
He has over 25 years of leadership, training, and consulting experience across multiple industries, including a decade of combined recruiting and DEI&B consulting experience. Throughout his career he has been an advocate for diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. Anthony has worked with organizations to motivate a change in culture through crucial facilitated dialogue and the desire to listen to understand. He skillfully uses facilitation, consulting, coaching, assessments, and storytelling to help organizations transform their thinking, understand the value of DEI&B, and embrace their role as intentional drivers of this mindset throughout the fabric of their organization. Anthony volunteers his time serving on multiple boards and committees in his community, especially those dedicated to advancing the opportunities and voice of underserved populations. As a founding member of Advocates for Social Justice in Cedar Rapids, Anthony was instrumental negotiating the establishment of the city’s first ever and only the second Citizen’s Review Board in Iowa in 2021, which is dedicated to law enforcement oversight and equity in policing and criminal justice. He is a sought-after presenter, and host of the podcast “Diversity Straight Up”. The Manpower branch under his leadership was the recipient of the 2016 Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber Diversity and Inclusion Award, and he was named to the 2020 and 2022 Corridor Business Journal’s Most Influential Leaders list.
Now in his fourth term, Quentin Hart is the first African-American to serve as the Mayor of Waterloo, Iowa. Under his direction, he has raised the profile of the eastern Iowa community on a national stage. In just over six years in office, Hart has orchestrated what’s been described as a transformative time for
the eighth-largest city in Iowa of some 67,000 residents. He took office in January 2016, after serving two city council terms in Ward 4 and acting as Mayor Pro-Tem for six of his eight years on council—the first African-American in that position.
“Collectively, we’ve been actively working on the innovation and frankly reclamation of our neighborhoods, infrastructure, services and amenities,” Hart explains. “The goal is to be a Community of
Opportunity for all". Mr. Hart was the Associate Director of Multicultural Affairs for Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, Iowa, providing leadership for multicultural initiatives and promoting awareness and appreciation for diversity on campus and the community. In the eight years preceding his mayoral election, Mayor Hart represented the citizens of Waterloo as Ward 4 Councilman and was the first African American-appointed Mayor Pro-Tem for the City of Waterloo. Hart holds a Master of Arts in Education in Postsecondary Education: Student Affairs from the University of Northern Iowa, and a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from Minnesota State University. Hart and his wife Cassandra, a public school administrator, are raising three children.
Amara Andrews is a mother, businesswoman, and community leader. She has lived and worked in Cedar Rapids with her family for nearly 10 years. Amara is currently the head of business development and communications for the transportation division of TrueNorth Companies in Cedar Rapids. Her husband Kahlil is a surgeon who operates a small private practice in the Corridor. They have four kids: Amanda, Tyler, Aidan, and Hope. Amara has served on the board of the Boys & Girls Club of Cedar Rapids and currently serves as president of the board for The Academy for Scholastic and Personal Success and vice president of the board for the Advocates for Social Justice.
Tiffany is the Chief Executive Officer at Women Lead Change. Since joining the organization in 2015, she has led the expansion of the organization’s scope and reach, most recently reflecting that growth through a brand change. The organization, formerly called Iowa Women Lead Change is now Women Lead Change. Under Tiffany's leadership, the Iowa-based team is now in five locations with offices in the Quad Cities, Cedar Rapids, Cedar Falls/Waterloo, Des Moines, and Sioux Falls, SD. For 25 years, Tiffany O’Donnell was a former news anchor for KWWL News 7, CBS2, Fox 28, and an Emmy-award-winning journalist.
Coach Bartley started his career in NFL Europe while stationed in Germany, where he also served in the United States Air Force. His pro coaching career started in the NIFL, where he was the VP of Football Operations and Head Coach for the Los Angeles Lynx in 2007. In 2011 He became head coach for the Reno Barons. The following year, he became the head coach/ general manager for the Nevada Lynx in 2012 & then the Vice President of Football Operations for the Rochester Raiders in 2014, both members in the AIF. After a brief hiatus, he was in Reno, NV, where he built the Reno Express from the ground up in 2019. Coach Bartley is a 3-Time Minor League Football Hall Of Fame Coach and has a total of 11 championships, 3 playing, and 8 coaching.
Matthew Gilbert, Esq. is a Drake Law School Alum and Iowa native who descends from generations of servant leadership within the state of Iowa. His family - the Furgerson/Harris/Nash Family - has impacted civil rights, economic progress, and social advancement for African-Americans throughout Iowa since the early 1900s. ' Mr. Gilbert is a trusted advocate with the ability to mobilize resources and engage communities in sophisticated business, tax, and economic impact opportunities. Mr. Gilbert demonstrates his commitment to economic justice and empowering strong communities through his leadership in grassroots organizing, organizing charitable organizations, and developing public-private partnerships that advance the social, political, and economic needs of communities of color. Mr. Gilbert is passionate about group economics, philanthropy, and leveraging tax subsidies to grow and sustain healthy communities.
Belinda Creighton-Smith has never let adversity stand in her way. To become a pastor, community leader and inspiration to many on campus. She obtains a doctorate in education and is taking her determination to a new role in her fight for diversity on campus at the University of Northern Iowa, as a member of UNI President Mark A. Nook’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee. The current UNI instructor in the department of Social Work, former Alumni, will bring her considerable community leadership experience, as well as her dissertation research on the experiences of students of color in predominantly white higher education institutions, to the committee as part of its mission to improve issues of diversity and inclusion at the university. It’s an endeavor Creighton-Smith is eager to undertake, no matter how difficult the conservations become.
Kameron was born in 1988 in Atlanta, GA but grew up in Des Moines, IA. He is a 2007 graduate of Roosevelt High School where he was a standout athlete on the football and track teams. He joined the NAACP during his junior year as treasurer of the youth council. In May of 2018, he took over as the Minority Business Coordinator for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. In this role, Kameron delivers educational programs with the goal of building capacity with minority-led organizations and small businesses in Iowa’s major metropolitan areas. He is also responsible for collaborating with minority-led organizations and small businesses to assess needs and build strong networks among these organizations and businesses to build community capacity.
Akwi Nji is an interdisciplinary artist creating in words, voice, and visual art. Her work and words have appeared on stage from California's Wine Country to New York's Fashion Week and her collaborative partners include Emmy-award-winning composers and nationally recognized videographers, musicians, dancers and choreographers, and photographers. Her most recent performances of poetry and spoken word include Correspondence, a short film of choreopoetry funded in part by the Iowa Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts; Enuf, an album of studio-recorded spoken word and music released in 2023; an interdisciplinary collaboration with Ballet Des Moines. Akwi is the producer and curator of Threshold Gallery’s In Living Color, an alternative arts experience which recently showcased 14 Iowa-based Black artists and led to nearly $10,000 invested in those artists through the event. She is also the creator of The Remoir Project, a nationwide audio and visual storytelling arts initiative and serves as an arts advocate on the boards of Brucemore and the Iowa Arts Council. She was a 2016 Iowa Arts Council Artist Fellow for her work as a spoken word artist and performance poet and has been awarded two project grants for word- and performance-based projects in 2022 and 2023 by the Iowa Arts Council and with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Nafissa Egbuonye works as a Associate VP, Growth & Community Engagement at Molina Healthcare, which is an Insurance company with an estimated 15 K employees; and founded in 1980. They are part of the Customer Experience team within the Marketing Department and their management level is VP-Level. Nafissa graduated from Texas A&M University and San Diego State University.
Agent with New York Life empowering minority families & business owners with tools to make strategic financial decisions to build, protect, and grow multi-generational wealth. Nick runs a national insurance and financial services practice with New York Life, specializing in working with high quality individuals and businesses to enhance their financial position, achieve a secure retirement, and preserve their legacy; all while growing their net worth. Recently elected as the Board President for The Fountain of Youth Program in Dubuque, he heads the mission to change the mindsets that contribute to generational poverty. This mission is deeply aligned with his ersonal commitment to Reach, Inspire, Secure, and Empower (R.I.S.E), as he fervently champions the cause of community prosperity. When he's not serving his clients with unwavering dedication, Nick wears many hats. He's a sought-after model, a dedicated bodybuilder, a passionate mentor, a professional dancer, and a captivating keynote speaker.
Antonio “Tone” Chalmers may have been born in Chicago, but his alter ego, rising rap star Tone Da Boss was definitely created in Iowa. CEO of T1 Entertainment and founder of both Iowa Summer Jam and the Iowa Music Awards, Tone Da Boss has become a pioneer in the Iowa music scene. Tone Da Boss is not only a Hip Hop Artist, but Dj, manager, graphic designer, promoter, podcaster, author, film writer, and more. Tone made his return to music in 2020 and has not looked back since. His biggest single Give Me My Ring was adopted by both NBA and WNBA Championship winners in 2022 as their celebration song, it went on to receive over 2 million views online with the song garnishing praise from celebrities and Entertainers.. world wide. The world challenged Tone to go bigger so he created the follow up single Victory Lap and through hard work, networking, and manifestation his song was used by Superbowl Champions the Kansas City Chiefs. Currently Tone Da Boss has Dj'd over 500 events in the last 7 years, performed at over 200 shows, hosted over 100 of his own events, and managed over a dozen different artists throughout Iowa. His latest single Hats Off went viral on Tik Tok after the Montgomery Brawl that took place August 2023 with over 80,000 views in 24 hours, and his current single he's pushing is called Fun Dip featuring multiplatinum superstar Trippie Redd. Tone Da Boss was just provided a grant by the state of Iowa to publish is book and release his upcoming album "Black Ricardo" which will drop on Black Friday November 24, 2024.
Lindsay Cannaday, VP/Business Development Director at GreenState Credit Union has over 10 years of
experience in the financial services industry. Driven by passion, she takes pride in developing and deploying the best products and services to marginalized communities. As the business development director, her goals include building relationships with a wide cross-section of industry and community
leaders, to ultimately close the racial wealth equity gap, across her credit union’s field of membership. Lindsay is a 2023 recipient of the Des Moines Business Record Publication 40 Under 40 Recognition. She serves on Ladylike DSM’s strategic planning committee, where she helps to activate the Black women-owned business micro-grants. Lindsay invests countless hours into developing female athletes through coaching track and formerly cheerleading at Des Moines Roosevelt High School. She founded the United LEAGUE during her time at United Way of Central Iowa. United LEAGUE is a network of motivated donors who identify as Black or as allies, those who are eager to address disparities in economic opportunity through volunteerism and advocacy. Lindsay also, enjoys supporting her son, Ryan -13, through his various activities.
Dr. Ruth White spent 23 years as a Language Arts teacher at Washington High School, beginning as a 10th grade English teacher, and ending as an instructor of Advanced Placement Literature. Dr. White also served as Academic Advisor to Minority Students, a position through which she learned much about the many minority and international students at Washington, and through which she developed and implemented the Diversity
Workshop and Ethnic Week–including the Ethnic Food Fair and the Ethnic Fashion Show. She currently heads The Academy for Scholastic and Personal Success; this program also emanated from her work as Academic Advisor to Minority students. Dr.
White may be remembered by her former students as well as by current Academy students, for her many “Mantras”, which include: “Attitude is Everything” - “There Is Always More to Know”
“Tempus Fugit” - “Nothing Worth Doing Is Easy; Everything Worth Doing Is Worth Doing Well”. She is married to George Pope and is the parent of Travell Wright, a student at the University of Iowa.
With more than two decades of solid commitment to the financial sector, Kalola Roby has cultivated a wealth of experience and leadership in promoting financial well-being and empowering marginalized communities. Her diverse roles within the financial industry have not only enhanced her expertise but also steered her dedication and passion towards advancing financial wellness and empowerment, with a particular focus on underserved Black communities. Kalola has expanded her skill set and founded Lola's Financial Boutique, which seeks to transform the way individuals approach their financial well-being. Through personalized coaching, workshops, webinars and innovative group educational programs, Kalola empowers all to take control of their financial futures in unique and innovative ways. She is an active participant in a range of boards and committees dedicated to promoting financial wellness and economic empowerment.
Selinya Carew is an accomplished and highly experienced individual with a diverse background in entrepreneurship, community service, leadership, and finance. Here's a summary of her key attributes and achievements: Entrepreneurship: Selinya has over 14 years of experience in entrepreneurship, Owner of Sierra Convenience/Gas Station, U-Haul Franchise, Self-Serve Star Buck Franchise, Western Union Franchise, and Sierra Shuttle Services in Eastern Iowa. Accounting Expertise: Selinya has 9+ years of accounting experience, including 3+ years of international accounting with Rockwell Collins in Toulouse, France, and the United Kingdom. Workforce Career Consultant & Leadership in the Criminal Justice System: With over 6 years of progressive leadership positions at the Sixth Judicial District Department of Corrections, Selinya has contributed to the criminal justice system, She has also worked as a workforce career consultant at Kirkwood Community College, which shows her commitment to helping individuals develop their careers and reach their potential. Community Engagement: She is actively involved in her community as an elected council member for Iowa State Extension and an appointed Affordable Housing Council Member. These roles show her dedication to serving her community and advocating for important issues. Multilingual: She is fluent in English, Krio, Mende, and Temne languages. cation: Selinya's educational background includes a Master's in Management and Communication Management from the University of Dubuque, which she earned in the spring of 2023. This indicates her commitment to continuous learning and personal development.
Born in Sandusky, Ohio to Thomas E. and Thelma Darden, Thom played ten years with the Cleveland Browns earning All-Pro status in 1978 and 1979. He still holds the single season interception record of ten, the career interception mark of forty-five, and the most career interception return yardage record. Mr. Darden was an All-State high school football and basketball player at Sandusky High School. Having received a football scholarship to the University of Michigan, Thom earned All-Big Ten ranking in his junior and senior years and consensus All-American in his senior year. In 1972 he was the eighteenth player selected in the draft by the Browns. Currently Mr. Darden is the Principal of The Darden Group, Inc. a financial services company. Prior to The Darden Group, he was employed by Cowen and Company, where he was Executive Vice President of The Cowen Sports Management Group. He resides in Cedar Rapids with wife, Melissa.
A.Alanda Gregory is a dynamic and multifaceted individual, a wellspring of inspiration for those she encounters. As a certified Life Coach and Life Mentor, she empowers individuals to unlock their true potential and reach for their highest aspirations. Alanda is also a Creative Professional, a Community Advocate, and a captivating Speaker. In her role as the Co-Owner of Tri-Phoenix Group, LLC, Alanda has helped shape the creative landscape and provide invaluable guidance for emerging talents. She is the visionary behind the Tri-State Black Business Expo and Black Excellence Awards, which has become a beacon of support for entrepreneurs and professionals within the Black community. Furthermore, she is the Co-Founder of the Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) Leader & Professional Collective, where she champions the voices and contributions of underrepresented individuals. Beyond her professional endeavors, Alanda is a devoted wife and the proud mother of two HBCU college graduates, 3 entrepreneurs, each of whom has established their own successful brands in catering, styling, and brand merchandise. Her family's accomplishments stand as a testament to her nurturing and supportive influence.
Alanda's journey into life coaching and advocacy was sparked by her keen awareness of the lack of representation in various spaces. Her creative vision is driven by a desire to help individuals thrive in underrepresented spheres. She firmly believes that we should all aspire to become better versions of ourselves. With a foundation built on emotional intelligence and life coaching education, she is dedicated to enhancing her clients' experiences and helping them unlock their true potential. Drawing from her extensive corporate background, Alanda tailors her services to cater to the needs of those in the art, culture, entertainment, and small business industries. Her primary focus is on BIPOC-owned businesses and professionals, recognizing the institutional disparities they face in the United States. Alanda's commitment to this community is unwavering. Her commitment to the arts extends to her volunteer work and board service within the arts community. Alanda's exceptional contributions have not gone unnoticed. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious National Leaders of Color Fellowship, the 2022 Master Force Life Coaching Academy Coach of the Year, the 2023 Governor's Emerging Leaders Art Award, and Her Magazine's 2023 Woman of Innovation Award. These accolades celebrate her unwavering dedication to empowering and uplifting those around her. Alanda Gregory's story is one of resilience, empowerment, and unwavering dedication to making a positive impact in the lives of others. She is a beacon of inspiration, a true catalyst for change, and a guiding light for those seeking to rise above the challenges they face.
Sam Black is a Manager with Prairie Creek Consulting, LLC. He retired from the Sixth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services in Iowa after a 35+ year career. Sam is a proven
strategist and leader effective at empowering staff and developing individual potential, especially among marginalized communities. He develops strategies and creates tools to help others build resiliency and discover agency. As a career community service provider-turned-agency administrator, he has a track record of implementing effective, replicable, sustainable solutions to service delivery challenges and expanding staff capacity through fostering a culture of care,
collaboration, and engagement. Sam lives in Fairfax, Iowa with his wife.
Tasha Lard, a native of Chicago, Illinois, is a dynamic and accomplished individual who has made significant contributions in various fields throughout her career. Her passion for entrepreneurship, community development, and promoting diversity have been driving forces in her life. As the owner of JD Beauty Supply, Tasha has established herself as a successful entrepreneur in Iowa City. Her dedication to providing top-quality beauty products, combined with exceptional customer service, has propelled JD Beauty Supply to become a trusted destination for beauty enthusiasts in the community. Tasha is also the co-owner of Early Bird cafe, a popular coffee shop that has become a beloved gathering place in Iowa City. Her attention to detail, commitment to sourcing high-quality coffee beans, and creating a welcoming atmosphere have made Early Bird cafe a go-to spot for residents and visitors alike. Beyond her entrepreneurial ventures, Tasha serves as the President of the Board of Directors for the newly created Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District (SSMID) in the South of 6 Iowa Cities. Furthermore, Tasha serves as the Executive Director of Black Professionals of Iowa, where she leads initiatives to empower and uplift black professionals across the state. Through targeted programs, networking events, and mentorship opportunities, Tasha strives to create a supportive environment for personal and professional growth among black professionals. In addition to her entrepreneurial and community-building roles, Tasha serves as a Parking and Transit Operations Supervisor for the city of Iowa City. In this capacity, she ensures efficient and effective parking and transit services, contributing to the city's transportation infrastructure and enhancing convenience for residents and visitors. Tasha Lard's journey is a testament to her leadership, entrepreneurial spirit, and dedication to making a positive impact in the Iowa City community. Her achievements in business, community leadership, and diversity advocacy
As a real estate professional in the fast-paced world of real estate, She understands the stress and fear that
often come with buying or selling a property. It is for that reason that she takes great pride in listening toher clients, guiding them through the process and providing the facts they need to make
informed decisions. She considers her clients to be more than just someone I’m working with, the mentality is that they are family, driving me to always ensure their best interest is always my top priority. She continues to educate herself on new laws, updated practices, market changes and trends and use all tools and resources needed to provide the service needed for each unique situation.
Jaianna Green is an R&B/Soul Singer from Cedar Rapids Iowa who also works at the University of Iowa Hospital. She has been a performer since the age of 13 where she got her start in Cedar Rapid's Harding Middle School Show Choir. She has won a total of 11 best female soloist awards throughout Middle school up until her senior year at Kennedy High school. She has sung national anthems for the Cedar Rapids Rough Riders, The Kernels, Mason City MMA Fights, The Five Seasons Ski Team and more. Jaianna wants to use her passion for music to inspire and comfort others. She believes that music is healing and brings people together. Jaianna’s voice is renowned for its soft but powerful and captivating tone. Growing up, her singing style was influenced by singers like Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. Jaianna has said that when she gets as big as them one day, that she will do a lot of humanitarian work for the community--specifically for low-income minorities to support their creative endeavors. Jaianna has written and performed her very first song called "Ready to Love" in October of 2023, which will be available on all streaming services soon. She has also performed with Blues Singer Kevin Burt in December for a Christmas Special. When Jaianna is not singing, she likes to draw and paint and spend time with her baby boy at home.
Staisha is a native of Cedar Rapids, IA. Staisha’s soulful and energetic style has been on display for many years in CR, both as a backup singer for a variety of local and national recording artists and in her musical theater performances at TCR, RHCR Theatre Company and the Brucemore concert series. Her strong gospel roots can be heard throughout her music; and her powerful roles in Hair, Hairspray, Little Shop of Horrors, and, most notably Dreamgirls, have allowed her to showcase her range across many genres. Staisha loves her community, and is
thrilled to share her talents in the upcoming MLK Now 2024 Celebration!
Sonny Butler also known as DJ Sonny Money. Sonny was born in 1968, and raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa where he later graduated from Washington High School. He furthered his education at the Arts Institute of Atlanta Georgia. It has always been his goal to provide high caliber entertainment in Cedar Rapids, and the Midwestern region. That same goal remains just as strong today in 2023. Sonny is also a music producer, and he enjoys working with, and helping develop the younger talent in the area. The entertainment business is not always the easiest business to be in, but by the grace of God this young guy from Iowa has had the
opportunity to do some exciting things in the industry from working as a DJ on local radio station KOJC, writing, producing music, and performing with local rap group Soldiers N Command. At the height of his career with Soldiers N Command, Sonny signed his first record deal with Millionaire Records and Filmworks of New York. He later formed Blac Mobstaz with a couple of childhood friends. With the success of the group, it lead them to partner up with Lab Productions Entertainment. They soon went on to sign a distribution deal with Private I. Universal. Sonny was the vice president of Lab Productions Entertainment.
Music is a major part of Sonny Money’s everyday life, but he takes pride in being a father and spending his free time with family. Music is life, and the memories made are priceless.
Joshua Milam was born in Jackson, Mississippi. Shortly after turning 6 years old, his mother and father relocated the family to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He was saved at 11 years old and called to
preach at 13. He started Preaching at the age of 21 at the Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist church. Joshua’s Ministry has grown and excelled tremendously within a short time. He has served his
church and community in several different leadership Capacities. Ranging from Youth Minister to the Chaplain of Fresh Start Chaplaincy Ministry of Linn County of the Linn County Juvenile
Detention Center. After a year of Serving as The Pastor’s Personal Assistant, Joshua was promoted to Assistant Pastor of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, and on November 12th, 2017, Joshua S. Milam was called to his first assignment to serve as the Senior Pastor of New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, in Manly, Iowa.
On February 20th, 2022, After purposeful prayer and consistent consecration, Joshua was called to serve as the Senior Pastor of Faith Missionary Baptist Church, in Des Moines, IA. Joshua also serves in several leadership positions state wide and nationally, serving as The Presidential Liaison of the Iowa Missionary and Educational Baptist State Convention, the Director of the state-wideAssociate's Minister’s Division of the Iowa Missionary and Educational Baptist State Convention, and the General Secretary of The Iowa Missionary and Educational Baptist State
Convention. He also served as the Assistant Treasurer in the Moderators Division of the National Baptist Convention U.S.A. Inc.
Joshua currently attends Andersonville Theological Seminary where he’s majoring in Biblical Studies. He plans to finish there and attend Mount Mercy University where he can begin to work on his Master’s in Theology.
Joy is an Air Force intelligence Veteran and consummate DEIB professional with more than 15 years of experience. She is a Certified Diversity Executive (CDE)®, and as a managing partner she is dedicated to enhancing diverse talent and equity strategies that impact culture to attract and retain
underrepresented talent and foster business engagement.
Additionally, Joy serves as the Executive Director for ONE Cedar Valley, a nonprofit with a mission of reducing barriers to meaningful employment with comprehensive strategies and approaches. In this capacity, she is the lead facilitator for Advancing Racial Equity, an interdisciplinary, public-private
partnership focused on reducing barriers to top opportunities for improvement in the Cedar Valley. During her tenure as a nonprofit leader, she spearheaded the launch of the only Black-centered Venture School in the state of Iowa, a University of Northern Iowa, and the University of Iowa John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center collaboration. This team also launched the first Black Business & Entrepreneurship Accelerator for the state. Before joining Top RANK, Joy was the Talent Acquisition and Outreach Specialist for Waterloo Schools where her role was to increase the number of staff of color and develop Grow Your Talent programming while supporting the Waterloo Career Center to increase work-based learning opportunities. She launched the district’s first apprenticeship and internship program while securing funding for additional “grow your own” teachers programming. A Courier 20 Under 40 award winner,
Joy also served as the first Diversity Program Recruiter in Public K-12 Education in the state of Iowa. Her philosophy is that the conversation on diversity, inclusion, and retention cannot be addressed without a commitment to resources and access.
Carla has dedicated her life to championing the rights and well-being of underserved communities. As the Chair of the Human Rights Committee and the President of the Habitat for Humanity board in Dubuque, Iowa, Carla's impact on the community has been nothing short of profound. Carla's commitment to social justice extends beyond these roles. She is also the
co-founder of the BIPOC Collective and co-editor of the BIPOC News of the Tri-State, platforms that aim to amplify the voices and experiences of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in the region. Her tireless efforts in these endeavors have been instrumental in raising awareness about the unique challenges and triumphs faced by these communities. In her professional capacity, Carla serves as a Project Manager and Strategic Planner for Tri-Phoenix Group, LLC. This role allows her to bring her strategic acumen to the business world, leveraging her skills to make a significant impact in her field. In recognition of her unwavering commitment to community service and advocacy, Carla was honored as the 2023 recipient of the 365ink IMPACT award. This prestigious award underscores the depth of her dedication and the tangible positive outcomes she has achieved.
One of Carla's core missions is the fight for fair and affordable housing. She firmly believes that housing is a fundamental human right and has worked tirelessly to ensure that everyone has access to safe and dignified shelter. Her advocacy extends to the broader concept of equity, where she consistently strives to make sure that equitable practices are genuinely accessible and beneficial to all, particularly those who have been historically marginalized. Carla's passion, dedication, and advocacy have not only made a significant impact on her local community but also served as an inspiration to others who share her vision of a more just and inclusive society. Her work is a testament to the transformative power of activism and community engagement.
Monica Slaughter has wanted to serve her community in a law enforcement role from a young age. She is a graduate of Drake University with degrees in political science and pre-law and Drake University Law School, where she earned her Juris Doctorate. Monica started her career in the Washington County Attorney’s Office but has been working as an Assistant Linn County Attorney since 2014, prosecuting felony level
offenses for the community. With increasing distrust in law enforcement among members of the Black community,
Monica is actively part of needed change. She is a certified instructor for the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy and teaches classes on OWIs, domestic abuse, testifying in court, and search and seizure to local law enforcement. She is dedicated to crime
prevention and community engagement at a grassroots level. She also serves on the boards for Thrive Together (formerly Deaf Iowan’s Against Abuse) and Go the Distance. Monica was born and raised in Des Moines and now lives in Cedar Rapids with her
husband and son.
Eric McKinley Thompson is a Vic Firth endorsed artist/performer and a member of the Vici Firth Education Team. He also serves as the assistant director for The Academy for Scholastic and
Personal Success in Cedar Rapids, IA. whose mission is to instill pride in and understanding of African American culture as a tool to encourage academic achievement and positive behaviors,
toward post-secondary matriculation and productive citizenship in all Black, Brown, and Biracial students. Holding a Master Educator Teaching License: 5-12, Thompson also possesses an Undergraduate Diploma with Distinction in Jazz Studies from the New England Conservatory of Music, a Bachelor of Science in African-American History with a minor in Political Science from
Northeastern University, and a Master of Arts in Arts & Humanities with a Specialization in the teaching of Social Studies from Teachers College, Columbia University. He is also a Marching Percussion Specialist with Vic Firth/Zildjian Sticks & Cymbals as a member of their Education Team. Presently, Thompson is a Ph.D. student & professor at The University of Iowa in Educational Policy and Leadership Studies with a concentration in Schools, Culture, and Society and a William Duffy Fellow. As a socio-historian, Thompson’s writings and research concentrate on colorism, passing, and the academic stigmas experienced by Biracial students in American public education.
As a real estate professional, I understand that buying and/or selling a home is more than just a transaction: it's a life-changing experience. That's why I am dedicated to providing exceptional, personalized service for all of my clients. I take great pride in the relationships I build and always work relentlessly my clients behalf to help them achieve their real estate goals. My philosophy is simple: Clients come first. I pledge to be in constant communication with my clients, keeping them fully informed throughout the entire buying or selling process. I believe that if you';re not left with an amazing experience, I have not done my job. I don't measure success through achievements or awards but through the satisfaction of my clients.
Andre Creighton is a co-founder and the CFO of TurnSignl. Creighton holds a B.A. in Public Accounting from Gustavus Adolphus College and an MBA in Finance from Augsburg University. He possesses ten years of accounting, finance, and operational expertise. During the early part of his career, he spent four years in Public Accounting, working in taxation for CPA firm Lurie LLP and a national conglomerate Baker Tilly LLP. After that, he worked for Cargill Inc in their corporate tax strategy department for 2 1/2 years as Senior Tax Analyst. His final stint before joining TurnSignl was with SPIRE Credit Union as the lead Senior Financial
Analyst, where he was helping build their Finance department. Beyond his professional career, he is a community advocate. He is the Head Football coach at Harding Senior High. He sits on
the advisory board of the Page Education Foundation, the Minnesota Vikings High School advisory board, and the Board of Directors for the Saint Paul Area Chamber.
Alphonce O’Bannon is the Founder and Executive Director of Leaders Believers Achievers. O’Bannon is also a Managing Partner of Alleeoop. With extensive experience as a certified counselor and years of hands-on experience teaching in a classroom Al brings both a passion for inspiring learning in young
people as well as a direct knowledge of the challenges that teachers and administrators face daily. He is the Head Coach at Transitions Lab University Prep School (TLUPS) and Student Enrichment Programs (SEP), which are designed to support students of all backgrounds in their preparation for colleges and
universities both in the US and abroad. He has achieved the designation of Leadership Counseling Specialist with the American School Counseling Association (ASCA), is a member of Study Iowa, and is associated with counseling organizations NACAC, OCACA, and ACA. O’Bannon has also completed Culture Shift’s “Intercultural Development Inventory.”
He has established working relationships with college and university Admissions officers across the US and abroad and brings over 20 years of experience in working with students at all educational levels. As Founder and Executive Director of the LBA Foundation (Leaders, Believers and Achievers) Al, was co-designer and co-writer of the “CR Dreams” curriculum; Alleeoop Community Platform, and through the same has established partnerships with the City of Cedar Rapids, Linn County, Cedar Rapids Community School District and Iowa BIG.
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