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Mobilizing for change: Martin Luther King Leadership Development Institute will graduate next class - pennlive.com

Mobilizing for change: Martin Luther King Leadership Development Institute will graduate next class - pennlive.com


Mobilizing for change: Martin Luther King Leadership Development Institute will graduate next class - pennlive.com

Posted: 09 Dec 2020 10:43 AM PST

Since 2009, a Harrisburg nonprofit has been training community leaders to "to mobilize to bring about changes in the community" using the tenets of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Participants in the Martin Luther King Leadership Development Institute, co-founded by the recently deceased Reginald Guy Jr., "receive personal leadership develop tools and dialogue with law enforcement officials, elected leaders, and area businesspersons. The final delivery is a presentation before an audience of community representatives that address specific problems in the region," said institute president Joe Robinson.

Robinson said the organization is open to anyone who has "a desire to make the Harrisburg region better and more inclusive."

On Sunday, Dec. 13, the institute's most recent class of 20 community leaders will graduate via a Zoom celebration at 3 p.m.

The next class begins in March 2021. Participants must be at least 19 years old. The only other requirement is the "desire to make a difference," Robinson said.

"The class immerses those with degrees as high as the Ph.D. with those who may have earned a G.E.D. There are no divisions of class, race, age, economic status. Participants need only have a commitment to Kingian principles and a desire to make a difference. Corporate sponsorship of the tuition by the participant's employer is recommended, but not required."

The new graduates are:

Olumide Adeoye is a Ph.D. candidate in the public administration program at Penn State Harrisburg. He received a full scholarship through the university's fellowship program. He received a bachelor of science degree in finance from the University of Ilorin, Nigeria. He worked as a development officer in Patigi Local Government Area under Nigeria's mandatory one-year National Youth Service Scheme. Adeoye earned a master's degree in public administration from Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi. He received a 2019 Martin Luther King Leadership Institute Award for his commitment to exercising creative leadership to improve conditions in the greater Harrisburg community. Upon graduation, he intends to gain practical teaching and research experience in the United States for a few years before returning to Nigeria to help contribute to the socioeconomic development of his homeland.

Airrion Bethea is a senior human relations representative for the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in the Philadelphia office. He has a bachelor's degree in political science from Temple University. His community service in west Philadelphia includes working to end hunger, cleaning and building projects and youth mentorship. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Martin Cunningham is a civil rights attorney in Harrisburg who works for the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. He has a bachelor's degree from Penn State University and earned his juris doctorate from the University of Akron School of Law. Cunningham has successfully litigated a range of discrimination matters, both prosecution and employment defense. His practice includes procurement contracting and has served as a legal education course planner and trainer on various discrimination topics. He has mentored and supervised newer attorneys in the Commission and previously served as the interim chief counsel from April through September of 2019.

Ian Fahnestock is a clerk typist III with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. He has an associate degree in photography from The Art Institute of Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh. After being hired to work in the Pa. temporary clerical pool he was assigned to the commission and said he felt he "had landed where he needed to be." There, he said, he discovered his "innate passion for helping others." He is an active member of AFSCME Union Local 1420 speaking to temporary clerical pool workers about their union rights, attending numerous trainings locally and across the commonwealth, co-chairing PHRC's LGBTQ Committee, serving on PHRC's Diversity Committee, planning and participating in agency events, assisting in mapping out PHRC's processes to build a new case management system, supervising temporary employees through the AARP Foundation and traveling across the commonwealth to photograph events such as public sessions of commission meetings, town halls and lectures.

Geralee R. Forrest has a master's degree in business administration and a bachelor of science degree in business with a hospitality management certificate from the University of Phoenix. She is the executive assistant/human resources for Sound Community Solutions and co-founded a nonprofit, A New Tomorrow, that specializes in women's transitional housing. She is vice president of the board of CRESC (Reentry Coalition) and chairs the group's mentoring committee.

Damon V. Green is a human relations representative with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in the Philadelphia office. Before joining the commission he was a probation and parole officer in Philadelphia. He primarily worked in the Youth Violence Reduction Partnership Unit supervising high-risk offenders between the ages of 18-25 who are likely to be victims or perpetrators of homicides. Green is an advocate for social justice, media literacy, and criminal justice reform. He promotes the power of education, the social sciences, and outreach activities to address and solve society's greatest challenges. He has a bachelor's degree in communications from Temple University and a bachelor's degree in business administration from Peirce College.

Francia Doñe Henry, Ph.D. is the CEO/Founder of MION Consulting, a diverse consulting firm specializing in leadership, law enforcement and organizational change. Henry specializes in delinquency prevention for youth, police leadership, organizational development, and administration and leadership. She served as a military police officer in the Army and retired as a Lieutenant from policing as the patrol commander and accreditation manager for the Susquehanna Township Police Department. She now serves as the Transformation Management Officer of Police, Security, and Surveillance for the MTA of New York. Henry has served on several boards in the Harrisburg area including LHACC, the Boys and Girls Club of Harrisburg and LHPA. She has a bachelor's degree from Saint John's University, a master's degree in criminal justice from Pennsylvania State University, and a doctorate in administration and leadership studies from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Jessica Hoffman, CISSP, has almost 15 years of information technology experience within the state, federal government sectors, as well as private industry. Eight of those years were served at the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in various information technology roles including the lead cyber security position for the initial three roll outs of the Affordable Healthcare Act. Currently, she is a shareholder and vice president at Provincia Government Solutions professional services firm providing security and compliance assessments. She has a bachelor's degree in computer information systems and master's degree degree in instructional technology from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. She is a published photographer, Harrisburg University instructor and MASD Wildcat Board member.

Guerline L. Laurore is the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission's Director of Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs and the Director of the Mediation Program. She has taught as an adjunct faculty at several colleges and universities in the areas of psychology and law. She serves on the Pennsylvania Department of Education Task Force for Equity and Inclusion and chairs the PHRC School to Prison Pipeline Committee while serving as the PHRC legislative liaison to the Pa. State Assembly and for constituents affairs. She is the past secretary to the Governor's Advisory Commission on African American Affairs, past president of NAACP Wilkes-Barre, served on the Big Brothers Big Sisters Advisory Board, is the past co-chair of Pennsylvania Bar Association's immigration law and law related education committees. She earned a bachelors' degree in psychology, and a master's degree in clinical psychology and psychopathology, both from France's University of Provence Center of Aix. She received a Juris Doctor degree from Widener University School of Law, in Wilmington Delaware. She attends the University of Pennsylvania Fels Institute of Government from where she will receive an executive masters' degree in public administration.

Taiwan Martinez was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela. In 1990 she emigrated to the U.S. She initially joined the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission as a human relations representative, where she was a compliance investigator before she was assigned to the intake department. She holds an associate of applied sciences degree in photographic imaging from Philadelphia Community College; a bachelor's degree in Spanish and history from Temple University; a master's degree in Spanish from Temple University; and a master's degree in educational leadership from St. Joseph's University.

Fred Miller has served for five years as a volunteer advocate with the YWCA, Harrisburg for the Violence Intervention and Prevention Team helping survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. He volunteers with the Red Cross as a caseworker in five counties for survivors of fire, flood or gas leaks. Miller recently was asked to serve as Canon Pastor at St. Stephen's Episcopal Cathedral Harrisburg where he enjoys speaking out on the topics that affect our lives. He has a master's degree from the Episcopal Divinity School and further studies at Seabury Theological Seminary. He has served as an adjunct professor in world religions.

Tony Pitts graduated from the Art Institute of Philadelphia. He has worked as a graphic designer/illustrator. He also has served as a pastor in a local Evangelical Free Church. For several years he was a tennis instructor at a local tennis club. He currently works for Sound Community Solutions, a nonprofit where he is involved with mentoring, and group facilitation for men reentering society from prison.

Lisa Kessler-Peters is an ordained minister, advocate, speaker and author of "Why I Tried to Die, a story of Trauma, Resilience, and Restoration." She has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and a master's degree in applied behavioral analysis. She also is a certified recovery specialist, trained as a mentor and in trauma informed practices. Her work includes re-entry, recovery, restorative justice and educating on and healing trauma. Her mission is to empower others to know that they can have the same freedom she has received. She believes that we can stop generational abuse and substance use if we start loving more and punishing less.

Latifah Riley is employed at the Office of Children Youth and Families. She has more than 15 years of experience in the field of mental health, drug, and alcohol addiction, and working with individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities. She has also worked as a crisis mediator and has experience with crisis management and de-escalation. She has a master's degree in social work from Widener University, and is currently a drug and alcohol counselor, experienced with conducting trainings for suicide prevention and mental health first aid.

Heather Roth is the regional director for the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. She oversees the investigative and supervisory staff who work in 34 counties and provides training and outreach for those areas. Prior to this role, she worked in human resources management for over 15 years, providing HR support to various organizations. She has a bachelor's degree in public relations from Penn State University and a Senior Professional in Human Resources certificate from the Human Resources Certification Institute. Roth was accepted as a member of the Mid Atlantic ADA Leadership Network in 2016 and assists with providing ADA training on behalf of the Mid Atlantic ADA center. Roth received two awards from the Commonwealth in 2016 including a "Transformation Award" from the Governor's Office of Innovation for her role in developing the commission's online questionnaire and the "Education and Outreach Award" from the commission for her work in educating the public.

Vianney M. Siennick is a native of México. She is passionate about the empowerment of women and building awareness regarding child abuse and is an advocate for domestic violence prevention, volunteering for The Abuse Network, Area Agency on Aging and The United Way. She is a member of The Latino Hispanic Professional Association. An active Rotarian, she was recipient of the 2017 Person of Action Award for organizing The World's Greatest Meal Polio Fundraiser, leading a relief effort for Haiti after Hurricane Matthew devastation, being a contributing Paul Harris Society Member, and the top fundraiser four years in a row for District 7360 ''Pedals Out Polio'' Bike Ride. She was also volunteer coordinator for Estamos Unidos de Pennsylvania Children's Christmas party. She lost her 33-year-old daughter to domestic violence in January 2020 and is now the guardian/caregiver for her six young children.

Atika Syed serves as the social justice coordinator at the YWCA Greater Harrisburg. She is a Muslim American woman, an immigrant, and a passionate activist. She focuses on social justice issues related to race, religion, gender, and is committed to creating a better society and world for everyone. She serves as a member on the advisory and planning committee of the Diversity Forum of Central PA, and has co-organized and participated in numerous unity marches, and has served as a speaker at various cultural, educational, interfaith and community events. She is an advocate for social and economic equity for all.

Anja Mijocevic relocated from her native Quebec City, Canada and began her commonwealth service with the Department of Revenue, the Department of Transportation, and the PA Human Relations Commission. She has worked as the special assistant to the PHRC executive director over the past 19 months and has been the lead on social justice projects. She earned a college diploma of Science, Arts and Languages from the Limoilou College of Quebec, specializing in Spanish and German. While employed for the Government of Quebec, she studied at the University Laval to earn a bachelors' degree in political science. She worked for the Secretariat du Conseil du Tresor a governmental department with its primary function to assist the treasury board and its chair in the function of governmental management of resources. Locally, she engages and supports the YWCA of Harrisburg, Bethesda Mission Men's Shelter and Toys for Tots.

Chris Young is a mediator for the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. He has a diverse employment history including such jobs as collection manager, civil rights investigator, bouncer, personal trainer, paralegal, and self-defense instructor. Young is a former multiple time amateur kickboxing and mixed martial arts champion with a career spanning over 35 years, and an avid obstacle course racer. In his role as a mediator Young combines his love of assisting individuals in conflict or faced with obstacles with his skills in guiding them through the process of finding their own unique ways around, over, or through them.

Keith Yundt is a supervisor with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. He received his bachelor's degree from Penn State University and graduate degrees from Kent State in Ohio. Prior to joining the PHRC, he taught international relations at state universities in New Mexico and Texas, and political economy and ESL in Switzerland, Hungary, and Lithuania. A U.S. Army veteran, he also is a member of the Harrisburg Foreign Policy Association.

The public is invited to attend the Zoom graduation on Dec. 13. Here is the link and password -

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85018794443?pwd=MjExU1ppaGtWb0l0MU9mWEVOSmVjQT09. The meeting ID number is 850 1879 4443 and the passcode is 711539.

For more information on the next class, contact Joseph Robinson Jr. at jrobin2009@aol.com or 717-919-4392.

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