A Dynamic Network of Leaders

Select a cohort and meet the Class Two fellows.

Disruptive Innovation Educator

David Ahlborn

Providence, Rhode Island

David is passionate about transforming education through disruptive innovation so that it better serves low-income and learning-disabled youth. His approach to education is founded in disability justice, community activism and social equity. At The Wheeler School, he leads an academic support program for high school students with learning disabilities. David also directs Chez Innovation, a week-long summer camp in social entrepreneurship. An educator for more than 20 years, David is a thought leader in his field, making a difference in hundreds of students’ lives. He is a graduate of Brown University and Boston University.

Native Nations Advocate

Carly Bad Heart Bull

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Carly is Bdewakantunwan Dakota and Muskogee Creek, and a proud citizen of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. A lawyer, Dakota preschool and kindergarten teacher, and child welfare advocate, Carly has been instrumental in promoting the well-being of Native communities in her region. As the Native Nations activities manager at the Bush Foundation, she is advancing Native self-determination. Carly is a graduate of Minneapolis Community and Technical College and the University of Minnesota, and was named an Unsung Hero of Minnesota for 2018 by local Twin Cities media outlet “City Pages.”

Business Launcher

Hal Bowling

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Bringing more than 25 years of business and start-up experience, Hal co-founded and is the executive director of LAUNCH Chattanooga, which offers training, support and affordable resources to budding entrepreneurs in historically underrepresented communities. His dedication to empowering entrepreneurs to realize their greatest aspirations and create successful, sustainable businesses is helping families and communities thrive. A graduate of Covenant College, Hal was a 2016 BALLE Local Economy Fellow and 2017 City Lab participant.

Social Justice Dreamer

Durryle Brooks

Baltimore, Maryland

Durryle is an educator, researcher, social justice trainer and dreamer. Through his Love & Justice Consulting, LLC practice, he is helping the next generation of leaders to effectively and authentically engage across difference. Durryle also serves as executive director of The Center for Black Equity-Baltimore and a research associate at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Plus, he teaches LGBTQ studies as an adjunct professor at Towson University. He has a doctor of philosophy from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, a master’s from San Francisco State University, and a bachelor’s from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

Youth Justice Transformer

Sarah Bryer

Washington, D.C.

For more than 25 years, Sarah has been working to dismantle structural racism, advance policy reform and advocate for restorative justice. Her passion for treating every person with dignity, humanity and equality has guided her life’s work. She currently serves as the executive director of the National Juvenile Justice Network, leading a movement of state advocacy organizations and individuals to reform our juvenile justice system. A graduate of Stanford University and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Sarah is also an accomplished writer of policy papers, blogs and op-eds.

Community Mobilizer

Yvanna Cancela

Las Vegas, Nevada

Yvanna is passionate about empowering people who are often left out of political discourse. She is the first Latina to serve in the Nevada State Senate, representing the 10th district. When not in session, Yvanna is the executive director of the Immigrant Workers Citizenship Project, leading the state’s only organization to offer free help with naturalization applications. She also is pursuing a law degree at the Boyd School of Law of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Throughout her career, Yvanna has been dedicated to community engagement and mobilization, working to advance labor and immigrant rights. A first generation college student, Yvanna graduated from Northwestern University, and is the proud daughter of Cuban immigrants.

Youth Empowerment Leader

Tinesia Conwright

San Diego, California

Tinesia is a nonprofit executive, career development specialist and certified life coach. Leveraging community resources, partnerships and employment opportunities for underserved youth and families is Tinesia’s expertise. She launched Depositing Empowerment Through Outreach and Urban Redevelopment (DETOUR), which offers an array of programs to nurture girls’ leadership. Currently, she serves as the youth workforce development program manager for the San Diego Housing Commission. A graduate of San Diego State University and University of San Diego, Tinesia is dedicated to empowering youth to believe in themselves and change the world.

Grassroots Political Organizer

Daniel Diaz

Rio Grande Valley, Texas

Dedicated to lifting up the community of the Rio Grande Valley, Daniel is a grassroots leader, political organizer and educator. His passion for advancing economic, racial and social justice has propelled him to mobilize low-income communities to achieve more equitable investments. He serves as the financial aid director for La Joya Independent School District, assisting low-income first generation students transition in college. Daniel also co-founded Cambio Texas, a multi-faceted political project aimed at increasing Latinx voter turnout and developing leaders who will fight for equitable opportunity. He is a graduate of the University of Arkansas.

Community Strengthener

Janet Hernandez

Washington, D.C.

Lifting up Latino communities’ leadership is Janet’s passion. She is a prominent Latino advocacy expert, training emerging leaders throughout the country to increase their organizational, advocacy and electoral capacity. Her innovative approach is backed by her more than 10 years of organizing experience. At UnidosUS, she serves as a senior civic engagement project manager to support stronger communities for a stronger America. A graduate of the American University, Janet also holds certificates from Georgetown University, Harvard Kennedy School of Government and George Washington University.

Truth and Reconciliation Seeker

Ainka Jackson

Selma, Alabama

Committed to bridging divides, Ainka is a lawyer and former public defender, teacher and social worker. She has co-founded and led numerous nonprofit organizations and legislative initiatives, as well as served on public commissions – all in an effort to create a beloved community based in justice, equity and inclusion. Presently, she serves as executive director of the Selma Center for Nonviolence, Trust and Reconciliation, which teaches conflict resolution and helps people heal from the pernicious effects of racism. She also is the creator and editor of the Selma Superheroes Series, which teaches young people the history of Selma, while encouraging them to be their own superhero in the Selma 2.0 Movement. A graduate of Spellman College and Vanderbilt University Law School, Ainka is a 2016 recipient of the In Peace & Freedom Award.

Smart Justice Campaigner

Hamida Labi

Washington, D.C.

From the grassroots to the grasstops, Hamida is an organizer, advocate and coalition builder dedicated to advancing civil rights. A lawyer and policy strategist, Hamida serves as ACLU’s national advocacy and policy counsel. She most recently led its Smart Justice Campaign to end mass incarceration and combat racial inequities in the Deep South. She is a proud graduate of Vanderbilt University and University of Kentucky College of Law, and currently sits on the executive leadership team for the Civil Rights Section of the National Bar Association.

Social Impact Storyteller

Luis Ortega

Seattle, Washington

A multidisciplinary storyteller and social justice entrepreneur, Luis’ innovative storytelling and training approach is fueling positive social change. Over the last 14 years, Luis has worked with youth, educators and organizations across the country to center historically unheard narratives and employ storytelling as a strategic approach to build empathetic, inclusive and equitable communities. Luis’ work has touched thousands of lives, and been featured at over 500 events and seminars across the country, including Harvard DACA Seminar, ArtPlace America National Summit, and HBO’s “Where Do You Exist?” podcast. He is a graduate of the University of Washington.

Community Innovator

Awale Osman

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Awale’s work is centered around a core principle: to create connections across continents. His collaborative approach and creative problem-solving forge new paths for change, while building lasting relationships with unlikely partners. At the Bush Foundation, he is part of the Community Innovation team, which funds problem-solving projects. Awale has received accolades from the Center for National Leaders, NAACP, TRIO and the National Newman Civic Fellowship – to name a few. A graduate of Augsburg University, Awale is committed to driving lasting community impact.

Power-building Philanthropist

Sameen Piracha

Washington, D.C.

Sameen builds relationships and inspires change through philanthropy. She is a relentless advocate for women’s rights and social justice, working with Muslim women in her community for more than 25 years. At the Proteus Fund, she serves as the officer for partnerships with the RISE Together Fund, a national donor group working to build community power, change the narrative and advocate for the rights of Muslim, Arab and South Asian communities. A graduate of the University of Florida and Nova Southeastern University, Sameen is an esteemed nonprofit leader and strategist.

Health Equity Leader

Alexandra Quinn

Boston, Massachusetts

Alexandra is the CEO of a national healthcare nonprofit that partners with communities and health systems to address systemic causes of inequity and disease. She is deeply passionate about removing barriers to health, such as food insecurity and access to housing – driving toward a vision of health, dignity and well-being for every person, in every community. A graduate of Smith College and Georgetown University, Alexandra is an expert in strategic planning, programmatic design and organizational growth. She brings two decades of experience across health, education and public policy to advocate for person-centered solutions to complex, deeply-rooted challenges.

Community Builder

Michelle Vilchez

San Mateo, California

Building a stronger, more vibrant community is Michelle’s focus. An innovative, non-traditional leader, Michelle is the executive director of the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center, where she brings community members, law enforcement, faith-based groups and local government together to address society’s most complex issues. Michelle serves on the board of Innovate Public Schools, which advocates for quality education for students of color. She was named 2016 Woman of the Year by the California State Assembly. Michelle studied psychology at the Bethany College of the Assemblies of God.

New Americans Advocate

Ze Min Xiao

Salt Lake City, Utah

Raised by her grandmother in Southern China to be an optimist, Ze’s life goal is to achieve equity for all. She is a firm believer in the power of cross-sector engagement and collaborative problem solving to advance social justice. Ze currently directs the Mayor’s Office for New Americans in Salt Lake County, where she leads implementation of the Welcoming Salt Lake plan to ensure new Americans’ economic, social, and civic potential is maximized – making Salt Lake more vibrant, welcoming and globally competitive. A graduate of Westminster College, Ze is also an appointed member of the Governor’s Multicultural Commission and serves on the Governor’s Refugee Advisory Board.

WKKF Community Leadership Network