Elevate Speakers

Speakers


  • Rev. Gregory Han

    Presbyterian Minister

    Andy Hoffman

    COO (retired) - Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston

    Dr. Shakti Butler

    President & Founder - World Trust Educational Services, Inc.

  • Miriam McBride

    Talent + Growth Strategy Advisor

    Andrew Plumley

    Senior Program Manager - ProInspire/Equity in the Center

    Tamika Mason

    CEO - Building for Mission

  • Melissa Madzel

    Vice President, Executive Search - Koya Leadership Partners

    Chad Nico Hiu

    Director of Diversity & Inclusion - YMCA of the USA

    Evangeline Weiss

    Leadership Programs Director - National LGBTQ Task Force

  • Jen Fontan

    Coach and DEI/Talent Consultant - JCF Coaching

    Mary Morten

    President - Morten Group

    Lisa Gilmore

    Project Manager - Morten Group

  • Pernell Bush, MSW

    Social Worker

    Monique B. Jones, LCSW

    President & CEO - Evanston Community Foundation

    Amikaeyla Gaston

    President & Founder - The International Cultural Arts & Healing Sciences Institute

  • Brandi Blessett

    Assistant Professor - Department of Public Policy & Administration at Rutgers University-Camden

    Vanessa Lopez-Littleton

    Assistant Professor - Department of Health, Human Services and Public Policy at California State University Monterey Bay

    Kristen Lucas

    Director, Leadership Development Programs - ProInspire

  • Ponce Duran Jr., CFRE

    President - Ponce Duran, LLC (Former Chief Diversity Officer, Boy Scouts of America)

    Kelly Pallanti, SHRM-SCP

    HR Consultant - HR Nonprofit Consulting, LLC

    John Rorke

  • Paul Schmitz

Rev. Gregory Han
Presbyterian Minister

A pastor and an educator, the Rev. Gregory Han is a “half-Asian, Midwestern-raised, Jesuit-educated, Harvard-trained, Texas-residing, Presbyterian Minister.” Since moving to Houston in 1998, Greg worked for a year as a hospital chaplain before spending eight years pastoring Presbyterian congregations. For six years he was on the faculty at St. John’s School in Houston where he taught electives in the study of religion, English courses at the 9th and 12th level, and directed the chapel program. Since summer 2014 he has directed the interfaith and interreligious dialogue, education, and engagement efforts at Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston as Director of Interfaith Relations. He holds degrees from Georgetown University and Harvard Divinity School.

Andy Hoffman
COO (retired) - Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston

 Andy Hoffman was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. He attended Yeshiva from Kindergarten to 8th grade followed by John Dewy High School.He earned an Associates Degree in Recreation Leadership in 1976, a BA in Social Science from Pace University in 1978, a MA in Community Development from the University of Missouri in 1981, and an MS in Publishing from Pace University in 1988. He began his professional career working for the Boy Scouts of America in Kansas City and was promoted to positions in New York City and finally to Dallas where he served as the Associate Director of the Relationships Division and Director of Jewish Relationships. In 1990 he began working as SW Region Director for the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism where, at first, he also served as the Regional Youth Director for USY and Kadima. As the region grew to support a larger staff, he was able to hire additional staff to cover the USY and Kadima responsibilities. In 1998 he planned, and provided professional leadership to the merger of the Southwest and Central States and Provinces Region into the Mid-Continent Region. Leaving the United Synagogue, 2001-2002 found him spending about a year working as a special assistant to the synagogue executive director at Shearith Israel in Dallas. Along with his administrative tasks he provided professional support to a Capital Campaign Feasibility Study, and a $700,000 annual campaign for this 1500 family Conservative synagogue. In August of 2002 he accepted the responsibilities of Director of Operations for the Solomon Schechter Academy of Dallas and held that position until his employment as Executive Director of Congregation Beth El in La Jolla. Andy relocated to Houston, TX in 2012 where he served as the Chief Operating Officer for Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston until 2016. After retirement from IM, Andy has served as a consultant to nonprofit organizations in Texas and teaches in the Master’s in Nonprofit Administration program at the University of Houston-Downtown.

Dr. Shakti Butler
President & Founder - World Trust Educational Services, Inc.

Shakti Butler, Ph.D., visionary, filmmaker, transformative learning educator, wife, mother, grandmother and friend to many - is President and Founder of World Trust Educational Services, Inc., a non-profit transformative educational organization. Rooted in love and justice, World Trust produces films, curricula, workshops and programs that are catalysts for institutional, structural and cultural change. Shakti is an inspirational speaker, facilitator, trainer and lecturer who is sought after by schools, universities, public and private organizations, and faith-based institutions. Dr. Butler has produced five documentaries.  The first four form the core of World Trust’s teaching tools and have experienced increased exposure -- 23 million views of one clip alone -- generating national dialogue and critical thinking that is impacting institutions and communities across the country.  These are The Way Home; Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible; Light in the Shadows and Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity.  Shakti has just finished and premiered Healing Justice, intended to popularize a national conversation about justice, responsibility, and healing.   Dr. Butler also served as diversity consultant and advisor on the Oscar-winning Disney animated film, Zootopia, which focuses on challenging bias and systemic inequity. Shakti’s work incorporates whole body learning through stories, art, movement and dialogue.

Miriam McBride
Talent + Growth Strategy Advisor

Miriam McBride supports the talent and growth strategies of nonprofits, NGOs and other social justice leaders. Miriam began her nonprofit career in substance abuse treatment research in Philadelphia, then found her way to workforce development — initially as a computer skills instructor — at The Doe Fund, first in Philadelphia and later in Brooklyn. Her nonprofit management experience has since spanned recruiting and talent management with an equity lens, program design and assessment, data systems implementation, communications strategy, and organization development. Miriam has managed talent searches for national social change organizations while at On-Ramps; led research, partner development and talent strategy for Per Scholas national expansion; refreshed communications, data management and tech platforms at includeNYC; and helmed talent and HR strategy and operations at the Center for Employment Opportunities. Miriam holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s in nonprofit management from The New School, where she managed the Tenenbaum Leadership Initiative to support executive directors succeeding founders. Miriam is honored to work with teams advocating for criminal justice reform, economic and educational access for historically overlooked and discriminated against communities, and equity and inclusion for all. Miriam spends as much time as possible in the outdoors of Brooklyn and New Jersey’s Pinelands with her partner Brendan and toddler Charlie.

Andrew Plumley
Senior Program Manager - ProInspire/Equity in the Center

Andrew's professional experience is in sustainability, strategy, and diversity, equity, and inclusion consulting in both the social and private sectors.  He has also worked in education, where he’s advised on diversity and inclusion strategy at higher ed. institutions, as well as provided access and success programming for Pell eligible, students of color.  Andrew is a “We All Belong” program board member for the Community Economic Development Office, as well as served as a city council appointed Police Commissioner in the state of Vermont. Andrew has a BA from Middlebury College, and received an MBA with a focus in social and environmental sustainability from the University of Vermont’s Grossman School of Business.  In his role as Senior Program Manager, Andrew manages Equity in the Center, which is a field wide initiative to influence leaders to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to create a more diverse and equitable social sector, and to influence nonprofits and philanthropic organizations to center race equity as a core goal of their work.

Tamika Mason
CEO - Building for Mission

Tamika Mason is a strategic thought partner to leaders regarding Talent & Organizational Strategy needed to support business goals. She has worked in both nonprofit and for-profit sectors. She started her career as a Financial Center Manager for Wachovia Bank, and has worked over 11 years at Year Up, a fast-growing social enterprise that connects low-income young adults to careers. Most of her career has been in the Human Capital and Organization Development space with the focus of building the organization and people systems needed for growth. She’s led significant change and innovation in the areas of performance management, talent acquisition, diversity, employee & leadership development, training, and succession. She enjoys the transformation that happens when people learn, grow, and find purpose in their work and life. Tamika is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR & SCP). She also holds a number of other certifications in Facilitative Leadership, Mediation (MWI), Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence Prevention (MVP), and Emotional Intelligence in Diversity (eidi). Tamika holds a B.S. degree in Systems Engineering and Management Information Systems from the University of Virginia. She is married and has three beautiful daughters.

Melissa Madzel
Vice President, Executive Search - Koya Leadership Partners

Melissa serves as a Vice President, Executive Search for Koya Leadership Partners, a national executive search firm that is dedicated to serving mission-driven organizations. In her role, Melissa is responsible for all aspects of the executive search lifecycle, from candidate development to partnering with clients in the placement of top talent, with focus on social justice and advocacy missions. Having worked in the nonprofit sector through development, program, and operations positions, Melissa has first-hand understanding of the needs for a variety of nonprofit roles and organizational cultures. Through previous positions with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, Safe Horizon, City Year New York, and Cities of Service, Melissa has applied a social justice lens to developing marginalized communities and critical missions through a range of functions. Melissa serves on the Advisory Council of Equity in the Center, a national initiative dedicated to creating a more diverse and equitable social sector talent pipeline. Melissa holds a Master of Social Work from the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, with a specific focus on philanthropy and nonprofit leadership. She earned her B.A. in Human Services and Theatre Performance from Northeastern University. Melissa and her family are based in Brooklyn, NY.

Chad Nico Hiu
Director of Diversity & Inclusion - YMCA of the USA

Chad Nico Hiu has served with the YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) team since 2011, and is currently Director of Diversity & Inclusion. In this role, he leads the D&I Department’s efforts to build local Y capacity to engage diverse and underserved communities, co-leads implementation of YMCA of the USA’s (Y-USA) DIG (Diversity, Inclusion & Global) Innovation Network strategy with the Y-USA International Group, and leads integration of diversity, equity and inclusion strategies, principles and practices across the Y movement. Previously, Chad served as Director of Operations & Youth Exchanges for the International Branch of the YMCA of Greater New York, where he led an era of dynamic growth in youth exchanges, strategic collaboration & global education/inclusion programming. A strategic, effective and passionate Y professional of over thirteen years, Chad holds a Bachelors degree in Human Services Administration & Youth Development and a Master’s degree in Organizational Management and Leadership through Springfield College’s Executive Master’s Program. Chad has traveled to 35 countries on almost every continent of the world, participated in the globally recognized ‘Semester at Sea’ study abroad program, volunteered with the CASA YMCA youth shelter in Tijuana (Mexico), represented the Y-USA in global settings and the World YMCA movement at the United Nations, lived in Hong Kong for two years and served as Teen Director with the YMCA of Honolulu. 

Evangeline Weiss
Leadership Programs Director - National LGBTQ Task Force

A queer, white, anti-racist social change agent with a twinkle in her eye, Evangeline has over 18 years of community building and organizational development experience working with clients who want to create systems that are healthier and more just. As the Leadership Programs Director for the National LGBTQ Task Force, Evangeline manages several programs for the Creating Change conference and facilitates workshops and retreats to sustain leaders on a path towards intentionality, purpose, and impact. After earning a Masters’ degree in educational policy studies, Evangeline has facilitated transformation in public health settings, social justice coalitions, and non-profits, as well as schools and institutions of higher education. Evangeline turned her television off in 1984 and occupies her time cooking, walking, making art. She currently calls Greensboro, NC home with her beloved soulmate, 9-year-old son, and their adorable dog, Sherlock.

Jen Fontan
Coach and DEI/Talent Consultant - JCF Coaching

Jen Chau Fontán is a coach with twelve years of experience building talent functions from the ground up at various non profits. Jen has created systems for equitable practices in recruitment, hiring, performance management and staff development.  She has also built organizational culture and internal programs around equity and inclusion. Jen continues to focus on building capacity in individuals through her independent coaching practice at JCF Coaching while serving as a management coach to leaders in the progressive sector through her work at The Management CenterJen will serve as an expert in the first cohort of Catalyst:Ed’s DEI Expert Hub and continues to serve as a selection committee member for the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee’s Nonprofit Excellence Awards. Jen earned her bachelor's degree in Women’s Studies from Wellesley College, her master’s in Organizational Change Management from The New School and is also SHRM-SCP certified. She lives in Bronx, NY with her husband and 3 and a half year old daughter.

Mary Morten
President - Morten Group

Mary Morten is the President of Morten Group (MG), a national consulting firm specializing in organizational and resource development, including workshops on diversity and building communities of inclusion and access, racial equity integration and strategic planning, and board recruitment and retention. Morten Group works with nonprofits, foundations and for-profit entities. Mary has over 20 years of executive leadership at nonprofits, foundations and a past mayoral appointment in city government that provides clients with a unique skill set and access to decision makers.

Lisa Gilmore
Project Manager - Morten Group

Lisa joined Morten Group as the Project Manager for “Your Voice! Your Health!” a University of Chicago research study on shared decision-making and communication preferences between racial/ethnic minority LGBT individuals and their healthcare providers. She currently serves both in that capacity, as well as lending her expertise in facilitation to racial justice trainings and diversity, equity and inclusion workshops.

Pernell Bush, MSW
Social Worker

Pernell Bush, MSW has over a half decade of experience with nonprofit and government agencies in addressing community needs through civic involvement initiatives. He is a dedicated and seasoned community social worker with a superior record of successful community outreach and engagement. Adept at working with a wide variety of community demographics to formulate beneficial programs and issue resolutions. Pernell has been recognized for his ability to consistently maintain a positive and respectful attitude toward all citizens and local and state authorities. Mr. Bush, is also a practicing mental health therapist as a State of Florida Registered Clinical Social Worker Intern (RCSWI). He specializes in working with vulnerable populations and disenfranchised neighborhoods. Pernell prides himself in effectively utilizing his social work education from the University of Central Florida to lead empowering social and community outreach. Pernell places great emphasis on “listening” to the needs of community members and stakeholders so that we all can work together in a positive forward moving manner to uplift and meet the needs of our community. Mr. Bush proudly served in the U.S. Marine Corps as infantry rifleman, where the importance of teamwork, communication, and mission preparedness were reinforced. - President/Founder of No Limit Health and Education- 501 C 3 organization dedicated to providing Central Florida communities with principles and programs in mental health, physical health, education, and professional development. - Managing Partner at Knowledge Empowers You (K.E.Y) Counseling Solutions. - H.O.P.E Scholars Coordinator at Seminole State College. H.O.P. E Scholars provides personal, academic, social, professional, and leadership development to minority males, in an effort to positively impact academic success, increase retention, and develop successful graduate leader

Monique B. Jones, LCSW
President & CEO - Evanston Community Foundation

With over 20 years of experience her career and civic interests span the intersections where the lives of those most vulnerable fall victim to structural oppression and inequality. She is a thought leader for diversity, equity and inclusion in the philanthropic sector. Monique was appointed President & CEO of Evanston Community Foundation in 2015, making her first African-American in this position. ECF supports local organizations in pursuing their missions through grant making, civic engagement and nonprofit sector capacity building. The Foundation builds permanent endowments to serve the community in perpetuity. In addition to leading the Foundation she serves on the board of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce, See Chicago Dance, and the Alliance for Illinois Community Foundations.  She holds a B.A. in Social Work from The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and a M.S in Social Work from The University of Texas at Austin. Monique enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter and Yorkie in Chicago, playing golf, reading and jogging.

Amikaeyla Gaston
President & Founder - The International Cultural Arts & Healing Sciences Institute
Amikaeyla Gaston is a force for change. She has led corporations, universities, government and nonprofit organizations through cultural competency & racial equity training. She is a Cultural Arts Ambassador for the US State Department and travels the world extensively as a liaison between communities designing strategy platforms for different cultures and nationalities to gather together to address issues and concerns. Her expansive work in the health arena promoting health & wellness through arts & activism has been utilized by UNHCR as well as the US Consulate General’s Cultural Affairs office taking her around the world to places such as Israel, Beirut, Amman, Palestine, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Nigeria & Sierra Leone. As a musician and Founder/CEO of the International Cultural Arts & Healing Sciences Institute, she uses her voice as a catalyst for the voices of those that are not often heard. Her work with traditional healers and cultural artists, coupled with her interest in the biological and psychological healing effects of music led to her invitation to perform in India at the personal request of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for the commemoration of the Golden Buddha. She is a nuanced thought-leader and a sought-after public speaker and performer appearing internationally on numerous radio and television programs. She is the proud recipient of the Emerging Leaders Award, Global Woman Award, Pioneer Award, Social Justice and Advocacy Award,  National Innovation Arts Award, and the Hero for Peace and Forgiveness award. 
Brandi Blessett
Assistant Professor - Department of Public Policy & Administration at Rutgers University-Camden

Brandi Blessett is an assistant professor in the Department of Public Policy & Administration at Rutgers University-Camden. Her research interests focus on institutional racism, cultural competence, and administrative responsibility.

Vanessa Lopez-Littleton
Assistant Professor - Department of Health, Human Services and Public Policy at California State University Monterey Bay

Vanessa Lopez-Littleton is an assistant professor at California State University Monterey Bay in the Department of Health, Human Services and Public Policy. Her research interests include institutional racism, health disparities, and cultural competence.

Kristen Lucas
Director, Leadership Development Programs - ProInspire

With over 10 years of experience in the education and nonprofit sectors, Kristen leads ProInspire's leadership development programs, including custom programs for organizations and foundations. She most enjoys building curriculum and facilitating workshops to support individuals in the sector. Prior to joining ProInspire, Kristen worked for Teach For America, expanding organizational capacity for teams and growing the organization’s identity- and values-based leadership development programming. Kristen holds a B.A. in Psychology from Penn State University. She lives in DC with her husband and daughter where she also enjoys going to farmers markets, cycling, and practicing yoga.  

Ponce Duran Jr., CFRE
President - Ponce Duran, LLC (Former Chief Diversity Officer, Boy Scouts of America)
Ponce Duran Jr. has been a professional Scouter for most of his adult life. Since retiring from the Boy Scouts of America in 2016, he has focused on fundraising, nonprofit management, and diversity for nonprofits. He understands the dynamics between fundraising and investing in the community and the need for diverse communities; he has paid it forward by mentoring two nonprofit directors. He started his career with the BSA as a district executive for the Rio Grande Council. He then served as executive director of American Humanics at Pan American University. He returned to Scouting as director of field service in San Diego, then as Scout executive in Tucson, San Antonio, and Dallas. Ponce later shifted his leadership skills to the regional and national levels as Southern Region director and the BSA’s first chief diversity officer. With experience at the council, regional, and national levels, Ponce knows what it takes to operate a successful nonprofit and the effort and fundraising necessary not for survival, but for excellence. Most recently, he has been serving as a fundraising consultant in a successful capital campaign to benefit the Rio Grande Council in Harlingen, Texas. The council is in the midst of rebuilding its Camp Perry, which serves not only Scouts and Scouters, but also the greater south Texas community. Ponce has helped the council communicate to potential donors how their contributions translate to investment in young people today and in the future. In addition, he has served as a thought partner and coach for nonprofit directors at Girls Inc. and MADD, guiding both organizations in solving challenging management issues. Having earned a bachelor’s degree in political science (Pan American University) and a master’s in adult education (Texas A&I University), Ponce values education. This Distinguished Eagle Scout also has served as a Wood Badge course director and is a Spanish speaker. In the community, Ponce has ties to several nonprofits and has served on a variety of boards. He and his wife, Mary, have two grown children and one granddaughter.
Kelly Pallanti, SHRM-SCP
HR Consultant - HR Nonprofit Consulting, LLC

Kelly is a mission-driven Human Resource Consultant that has served in strategic leadership roles in multiple industries with a focus on nonprofits. She has a passion for connecting people with business objectives and has dedicated her career to advancing the role of HR in order to drive growth and innovation in today’s global economy. Kelly’s goal is to empower all leaders to become Champions for Diversity so that they can make the changes inside their own organizations necessary to meet the needs of a modern workforce.

John Rorke

John Rorke has worked in the nonprofit sector for nearly a decade. A U.S. Army combat veteran, John completed his undergraduate degree before beginning his civilian career, working in both substance abuse prevention and for the U.S. House of Representatives. While finishing his Master of Social Work degree, John completed internships in both local and federal government before transitioning to nonprofit management. Since 2012, he has served in a variety of leadership roles within nonprofits. Whether directing small project-specific teams, managing mid-size programs, or heading a department of 60 staff and several initiatives, John has served a wide-range of individuals in need. John has experience in grants, evaluation, budgetary strategy and building community partnerships. In 2016, John earned his Master of Arts degree in Strategic Leadership, and in 2017 he was named among the Oklahoma Gazette’s Forty Achievers Under 40. John has co-authored research that can be found in the Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics, the Journal of Social Work Education and the Journal of Infant, Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy.

Paul Schmitz