KNOW YOUR HISTORY
Ameer (Lead Speaker)
Ameer is a graduate of UC Berkeley, with a bachelor’s degree in African American Studies. Ameer also holds a Masters in African American Studies from UC Berkeley and is currently working towards earning his doctorate in African Diaspora Studies. His research explores Reality Television as a social phenomena, and how its effects on the perception of Blackness outside of a televisual space. Ameer has conducted research for Harvard University’s Du Bois Institute for African and African American research (The Hip-Hop Archive) and currently works with Harvard University’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice on a series of summer forums. Ameer also received the University of California Berkeley 2011 Graduate Council Advisory Committee for GSI Affairs, Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award.
TECH & FINANCES
All [Tech and Finance] speakers are from The Hidden Genius Project
Founding Executive Director at THGP
An Oakland native, Founding Executive Director Brandon Nicholson has always felt a deep sense of commitment to promoting equity in the public realm, particularly in the education space. Previously, he was a Senior Associate at Social Policy Research Associates (SPR), where he conducted research, evaluation, and analysis across a range of key social policy areas. Brandon has conducted substantial research in the areas of education and youth development, with a particular focus on issues of equity and access in K-12 education for underserved populations. He has considerable experience investigating linkages among race, class, and youth development.
Programs Director at THGP
Akeem is the Programs Director at The Hidden Genius Project, board chair of The Lorenzo Alexander ACES foundation, and founder of Corporately. Akeem’s passion is embedded at the intersections of technology, business, law and policy, and empowering youth with confidence and a skill set to build technical solutions to solve problems specific to their own communities. As a result of his own personal experiences growing up and navigating through underrepresented communities, Akeem’s ministry is known to be unrelenting and unapologetic with respect to creating access and opportunities for historically underserved demographics.
Akeem’s previous professional experience is in law where he served as a Senior Corporate Paralegal overseeing new business venture’s intellectual property, contracts, and compliance matters- Akeem was educated at the University of California, Riverside where he studied in Public Policy and Religion.
Hodari A. Tourè received his doctorate from UC Berkeley in the School of Education in Social and Cultural Studies. His research in anthropology and education reflects a strong emphasis on inner city African Americans and has resulted in an interest in organic community discourse, which he calls block pedagogy. He states it is a discourse, which reflects the constant negotiation of identity power and privileged knowledge.
Prof. Tourè has taught courses at UC Berkeley and has vast experience in working with young Black males throughout the East Bay including Emery Middle School and King Estate Middle School.
Financial illiteracy is generational, the goal of Empower Your Cents is to help everyone discover that same sense of relief and freedom I have found by understanding money. Being a Certified Financial Education Instructor, CFEI, allows me to use curriculum that can be adapted to all age groups so no one is left out. You’re never too little and it’s never too late to learn. Since I was a little girl, being financially secure has always been my dream. Growing up, money was a subject that wasn’t discussed because we never had enough. We depended on family, friends and what was available through state programs to get by. While I was in college, I discovered that I have a unique talent for helping others especially when it came to their finances. I turned my talent into a career and became a Financial Advisor. It was then that I realized that there was a strong need for financial education. Starting this non-profit is the beginning of breaking a generational cycle that has been going on far too long.
Businesswoman & Founder of Ariel Investments
Mellody is responsible for firm-wide management and strategic planning, overseeing all operations outside of research and portfolio management. Additionally, she serves as chairman of the board of trustees for Ariel Investment Trust. Beyond her work at Ariel, Mellody has become a nationally recognized voice on financial literacy and investor education. She is a regular contributor and analyst on finance, the markets and economic trends for CBS News. She also contributes weekly money tips on the Tom Joyner Morning Show and pens a column for Black Enterprise magazine. As a passionate advocate for investor education, she is a spokesperson for the Ariel/Hewitt Study: 401(k) Plans in Living Color and the Ariel Black Investor Survey, both of which examine investing patterns among minorities. Mellody is a director of The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. and Starbucks Corporation. Her community outreach includes serving as chairman of After School Matters, a non-profit that provides Chicago teens with high-quality, out-of-school time programs. She is chair of The Economic Club of Chicago’s board of directors, a board member of The Chicago Public Education Fund, George Lucas Education Foundation, Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, and Sundance Institute, where she has been appointed emeritus trustee. She is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and serves on the executive committee of the Investment Company Institute’s board of governors. In 2015, Mellody was named to Time Magazine’s annual list of the one hundred most influential people in the world. Mellody earned her AB from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of International Relations and Public Policy. She has also received honorary doctorate degrees from Howard University, St. Mary’s College and the University of Southern California.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS 101
Jody E. Owens, II
Director and Managing Attorney
Jody E. Owens, II is the Director and Managing Attorney of the Mississippi office of the Southern Poverty Law Center (“SPLC”). He leads SPLC’s Mississippi efforts to reform the state’s juvenile justice, educational and mental health systems. He has successfully litigated class action lawsuits on behalf of children and adults throughout the Deep South in matters involving mass incarceration, private prisons, and the school to prison pipeline. His work has brought to light horrific and unconstitutional conditions of confinement forced upon children and youth in many for-profit and public juvenile detention facilities. He is a graduate of Jackson State University and received his law degree from Howard University School of Law. In addition, Jody is also a Lieutenant in the United States Navy Reserves. Most recently Jody was received the 2016 Presidential Award for Distinguished Contributions to Justice from the American Society of Criminology and being honored as a Mississippi’s Leader in Law by the Mississippi Business Journal. Jody is a national presenter and teacher on criminal justice reform and constitutional rights.
Attorney and Founder of JSW Law Offices
John S. Williams is the founding member of JSW Law Offices. Attorney Williams has fought for the rights of citizens throughout his career. Attorney Williams defended the rights of consumers against fraud as an Assistant Attorney General in the administration of former Attorney General Mike Beebe in the State of Arkansas. Attorney Williams educated and fought for clients that fell victim to scams and business fraud. Attorney Williams went on to become Legal Director of the Mississippi Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In this position, Attorney Williams educated citizens and litigated lawsuits to protect his client’s civil liberties all over the State of Mississippi. Attorney Williams then went on to defend the rights of young people as an attorney at the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana. Attorney Williams filed lawsuits on behalf of young people confined to youth jails as well as represented youth in delinquency proceedings in court. Attorney Williams has focused on systemic impact litigation and high profile civil rights matters and maintains a strong commitment to fight in court to protect the rights of his clients.
William Most is the Lead Attorney at the Law Office of William Most. The office is a full service law firm handling matters involving civil rights, environmental issues, discrimination, disability rights, etc. Mr. Most has worked with individuals, nonprofits, farmers, businesses, cities, and tribes in a variety of administrative, judicial, and transactional contexts. He has represented a high-profile death row exoneree, challenged widespread discrimination, and fought for the rights of small businesses, tenants, patients, and the disabled. Mr. Most holds a J.D. from the UC Berkeley School of Law, and an A.B. from Harvard University.
Director of College Counseling
Marie Bigham is Director of College Counseling at Isidore Newman School in New Orleans. She founded ACCEPT: Admissions Community Cultivating Equity and Peace Today in July 2016, a social justice action group for the admissions profession with 4000 members. She is frequently quoted in media about college admissions, college counseling, and social justice in education. She entered college admissions in 1997 when she joined the admission office at Washington University in St. Louis, and later served as Director of College Counseling at Riverdale Country School in New York, The Bishop’s School in La Jolla, CA, and Greenhill School in Dallas. Marie has served on the Board of Directors for the National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC); as Vice Chair of the Board for Association of College Counselors in Independent Schools (ACCIS); and on Board of Directors of Texas Association of College Admissions Counseling (TACAC). Marie graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 1995 with a BA in Political Science and Women’s Studies and a minor in Glassblowing.