Dr. Marlon E. Brewer
Dr. Marlon Brewer is a Liberian born immigrant and a product of the New York Public School System. He received his undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, was accepted into the European American Medical Exchange Program, and attended Medical School at the Universidad de Extremadura in Spain.
He trained as a resident in Primary Care- Internal Medicine at The Mount Sinai School of Medicine Elmhurst Hospital, where he currently serves as the Chief Physician of the Medical Primary Care Clinic and Associate Director of the Department of Ambulatory Care at Elmhurst Hospital. Additionally, Dr. Brewer holds the faculty title of Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, where he was a pioneer contributor of the Art and Science of Medicine Program.
With over 25 years of experience in his field, Dr. Brewer has been a team leader and physician champion in chronic disease collaboratives involving both the Institute for Health Care Improvement (IHI) and the Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC). He is a trainer for other health care professionals in smoking cessation and has led performance improvement initiatives in the care of patients with asthma, diabetes and hypertension.
In 2006, Dr. Brewer was appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg as a member of the Board of Health of the City of New York where he served for nine years. During his tenure, the board passed health care legislation on the prohibition of trans fats in prepared foods, the inclusion of calorie counts on menu boards, and the letter grading for food service establishments based on sanitary conditions. He has received recognition for the exceptional delivery of quality health care in the Queens Health Network, and is a past-president of the Elmhurst Hospital Faculty Practice Group. In 2013 he received The Physician Recognition Award from the cancer support organization “Shareing & Careing.” Dr. Brewer is listed in the Castle Connolly Guide as a Best Doctor in the New York Metropolitan Area and is cited in the U.S. News and World Report as a top internist in the City of New York.
Mrs. Marlene Cooper Vasilic
Marlene Cooper Vasilic is the Vice President for Outreach and Special Events at American Progress, where she oversees public policy events and conferences that tackle issues including economic advancement, national security, global progress, education, healthcare, energy, criminal justice, among others.
Prior to American Progress, she was the assistant director for distance learning initiatives and audience enrichment at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, responsible for managing the Center’s adult education program and leading in the development, design, and production of more than 80 ballet, symphonic music, modern dance, jazz, theater, and festival multicultural arts programs for the general public every year. She coordinated special projects at the Kennedy Center including the annual Children’s Multicultural Book Festival, the National College Dance Festival, and the international Exploring Ballet with Suzanne Farrell Summer Program.
Additionally, Ms. Vasilic worked as the director of education and associate curator of Off Center for CenterStage, the state theater of Maryland, where she developed and managed educational programs, performances, and multiple educational publications. She also established the Community Action Board of civic leaders of Baltimore, Baltimore County, and surrounding areas.
Ms. Vasilic has served as a cultural specialist in Argentina and program evaluator in Cyprus for the U.S. Department of State’s Cultural Ambassadors program, and as an arts educator and writer for Arena Stage, the Washington Performing Arts Society, the Dance Institute of Washington, and DanceUSA Journal. She has also served as a panelist and grant evaluator for the Maryland State Arts Council; as a theater instructor for Johns Hopkins University’s Odyssey program and Baltimore’s ARTSCAPE Festival; and as a project director for the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company’s play-reading series.
She is a former member of the D.C. Playback Theater Company, the Baltimore Mayor’s Advisory Council of Arts and Culture, the First Night Annapolis Advisory Board, and the Fine Arts Advisory Committee for Baltimore City Public Schools.
Originally from Monrovia, Liberia, Cooper Vasilic is a graduate of Purdue University, a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc and a board member of Blamadon Theater Company. She is dedicated to finding ways to increase artistic opportunities for young people in Liberia.
Dr. Dougbeh-Chris Nyan
Dr. Dougbeh-Chris Nyan holds a Doctor of Medicine from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin Medizinische Fakultät – Charité in Germany. He completed his postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Trained in infections disease research, Dr. Nyan has over a decade of experience working in the public health systems in pathogen diagnostics and the development of affordable diagnostic tests for underprivileged communities.
He has invented a rapid multiplex quantitative test that can simultaneously detect and identify up to seven different viruses, including HIV, Zika, Ebola, Malaria, and West Nile Virus in human blood products. Additionally, Dr. Nyan has a track record of quality scientific publications in high impact factor journals such as “Nature (Scientific Reports),” the “International Journal of Infectious Diseases,” and “Clinical Infectious Diseases.”
Dr. Nyan served on the Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) of the WHO-USA-West African Ebola vaccine clinical trials, coordinated by NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). He was an Oakridge Institute for Science and Education research fellow with the US Food and Drugs Administration’s Laboratory of Emerging Pathogen-Division of Emerging and Transfusion-Transmitted Disease. He also worked as a scientist for the Viral and Rickettsial Disease Department of the Naval Medical Research Center.
He is the Director of the Secretariat of the Diaspora Task Force on the Ebola Crisis, where he volunteers his expertise for the benefit of Liberians and other West African nations. In this role, he has testified before the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health on the Ebola Crisis in West Africa, advocated for a sustained and coordinated international support for Ebola-affected countries in West Africa, conducted infection-control awareness campaign in Ebola-affected region, coordinated Diaspora medical relief supplies and distribution to Ebola-affected countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, and recruited and deployed Diaspora medical personnel in Ebola-affected West African Sub-region to deliver medical services.
Dr. Nyan is a recipient of the German Academic Exchange Service Scholar Award (1993), and the Fogarty International Exchange Scientist Award (1999) and the Intramural Research Training Fellowship Award (2001) from the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Athos K. Brewer
Dr. Athos K. Brewer is Vice President for Student Affairs at the Bronx Community College of the City University of New York and an Adjunct Faculty member at Morgan State University’s online community college leadership doctoral program. A former Dean of Students at Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale, Virginia, he has extensive experience in higher education administration and has contributed to the research and literature on retention and success of ESL learners in a community college setting. He also served at Montgomery College as Director of Student Support Services, Special Assistant to the Vice President/Provost, Acting Director of the Assessment Center and Acting Director of Academic and Student Services and on the Advisory Board for Maryland’s juvenile justice system. Dr. Brewer holds a doctorate in Education Technology from American University, a master’s degree in Counseling from the University of Dayton and a bachelor’s degree in International Studies from Capital University.
Mme Kona-Facia Freeman-Nepay
Mme Kona-Facia Freeman-Nepay is the Founder and Executive Director of Baltimore International Academy, an authorized International Baccalaureate World School and Baltimore City’s only Language Immersion School and the only School in the nation to offer total immersion in Chinese, French, Spanish and Russian in one facility. An award-winning educator with two decades of experience, Mme Nepay is the former principal of Robert Goddard French Immersion School (RGFIS). Under her leadership RGFIS became one of Maryland’s highest performing schools. She worked at RGFIS as a teacher, program coordinator, assistant principal and principal, nurturing students to be eager learners and confident bi-linguists. Mme Nepay received the City of Bowie Excellence in Education Award and the PGCPS (Prince Georges County Public Schools) Outstanding Educator Award. She holds a B.A. in French and Public Administration from the University of Liberia, a B.Sc. in Language Sciences, and an M.Ed in French Education from the University of French Comte, Besancon, France.
Ms. Jackie Sayegh
Ms. Jackie Sayegh is the Program Manager of the Institute for African Development at Cornell University. In that role, she is responsible for course and program development, project management, fellowship admissions and internships. Ms. Sayegh leads the development of new programs and facilitates connections between African universities and Cornell. She also serves as the Acting Manager of Latin American Studies at Cornell, providing administrative oversight over the program. Prior to working at Cornell, she served as an Adjunct Professor at the State University of New York and an Instructor at Montgomery College in Maryland. A Fulbright Scholar, Ms. Sayegh is a former President of the Liberian Studies Association. She has served as a mentor to African Students Association and is active in writing about issues that affect Africa. She earned an M.S. in Literature from Cornell University and a B.A. in English and History from the University of Liberia.
Mr. Shadrach B. Smith
Mr. Shadrach B. Smith, Sr. is President of ARDA Trade and Export Management, a company promoting trade relations between North America and West Africa. He has over 20 years of experience in banking, real estate and several other industries. He previously served as Financial Consultant for the Consumer Banking Group and Chairman of the Corporate Diversity Council at First Tennessee Bank (FTB). Before joining FTB, he worked as Senior Analyst with Regions Finance Corporation and also served the finance division of Federal Express Corporation. He holds a Master of Science in Finance, from the University of Memphis; a Bachelors of Law Degree, from the University of Liberia; and a Bachelor’s of Science in Accounting, from Cuttington University. The former Executive Director for the Brewerville Civic Association, USA was a mentor for the Memphis Institute of Leadership Education and also the Peer-Manager Mentoring Program at First Horizon National Corporation.
Dr. Vera B. Tolbert
Dr. Vera B. Tolbert is Senior Project Leader at Independence Blue Cross. She holds a Ph.D from Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich, Germany, an M.S. from Wagner College, New York, and a B.S. from Friedrich Alexander University, Erlangen, Germany. An internationally published Scientist with record success in clinical and research laboratory, she received the Spitzbart Medical Research Prize (World Congress for Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology) in Munich, Germany, in 2000 and 2003. Dr. Tolbert has served as the President of AFRICOM (Coalition of African and Caribbean Communities), a member of the City of Philadelphia-Mayor’s Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant affairs, and the Past Vice President of the College of West Africa Alumni Association. She has received the “AFRICOM” Most Valuable Committee Chair Award, the “Women in Leadership United Against Poverty” Award from Philadelphia City Council Woman Jannie Blackwell, and numerous other awards. Dr. Tolbert speaks German and English fluently.
Ciyata D. Coleman
Dr. Ciyata Dinah Coleman, a Senior Analyst at the Internal Revenue Service / U. S. Department of Treasury, holds a Doctoral Degree in Development and International Economics from Southern Illinois University, a Master’s Degree in Business/Cooperative Economics from Phillips University in Germany, and an undergraduate degree in Math from the University of Liberia. Prior to her current role, Dr. Coleman worked as an Economist at the IRS. She also served as a Diplomacy Fellow with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)/USAID, where she worked on issues related to the poverty reduction strategy, evaluated education and development projects in sub-Saharan African countries while interacting with Ministries of Education and Finance. Additionally, Dr. Coleman conducted graduate seminars and research in international trade and development economics, supervised graduate and post-graduate students, and presented at major professional conferences as an Associate Professor and Coordinator of International/Developmental Economics at Clark Atlanta University.
T. Edwin Freeman
Dr. T. Edwin Freeman, a Senior Scientist at The Coca-Cola Company, holds a Doctoral Degree in Polymer Science from the University of Akron, a Master’s of Science in Chemistry from Rochester Institute of Technology, and a Bachelors of Science in Chemistry from the University of Liberia. As Senior Scientist, with 26 patents to his credit, Dr. Freeman influences internal stakeholders by sharing knowledge of critical factors impacting business decisions, manages the package development cycle from idea to rollout, generates new ideas and concepts, and identifies opportunities to leverage Coca- Cola’s competitiveness in the marketplace. He formerly served as a Technical Specialist and Project Manager for the Xerox Corporation and a Senior Research Chemist for PPG Industries. He is the recipient of numerous awards including Innovation Award for Advantaged IP from the Coca-Cola Company, Special Recognition Award for Innovation from Xerox Corporation, and Appreciation Award for Technical Leadership from PPG Industries.
Dr. Corann Okorodudu holds an Ed.D in Human Development and an M.A. from Harvard University. She also received her B.A. in Political Science and History from Cuttington University College. This seasoned educator is Professor Emeritus at Rowan University where she’s worked in the realms of Developmental/Life Span Psychology, Educational Psychology, and Sociocultural Psychology. Her Administrative experience includes service as the Interim Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Coordinator of African American Studies at Rowan. Dr.Okorodudu has a wealth of experience in UN Public Policy, Advocacy and Leadership, where she has represented and co-chaired multiple committees on diverse issues of children’s and women’s rights, as well as the elimination of slavery, racism, and poverty. She is a Co-Recipient of the Award for Distinguished Contribution to Psychology Policy Initiatives in Support of Peace, Human Rights, and Social Justice and also the first recipient of the Corann Okorodudu International Women’s Advocacy Award.
Robtel N. Pailey
Robtel Neajai Pailey is a Mo Ibrahim Foundation Ph.D. Scholar pursuing her doctorate in Development Studies at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. Ms. Pailey has worked in, collaborated with, and consulted for agencies including the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAid); the Ford Foundation; the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights; Amnesty International-USA; Action-Aid International; and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Ms. Pailey also served the Office of the President, Republic of Liberia, as special assistant for communications, where she was engaged in speechwriting; managing the Office of the President’s website; devising communications strategies for government ministries; editing the President’s quarterly magazine, Executive Horn; and liaising with news media. Additionally, she was a special assistant to the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs where she helped develop a Diaspora Engagement Strategy. Ms. Pailey is the author of Gbagba, a children’s story about corruption in Liberia.
I. Ezax Smith
Mr. I. Ezax Smith, an Adjunct Faculty at the Community College of Baltimore County, passionately serves as the current President of the Liberian Association of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland, a position he has held since 2009. He formerly was an Adjunct Faculty at the Baltimore City Community College and an educator in the Baltimore City Public Schools System. Mr. Smith holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and Accounting from the University of Liberia and a Master’s degree in Non Profit Management from Eastern University. He is the recipient of the following awards: the “2009 Outstanding Teacher Award,” presented by Baltimore City Public School System’s CEO, Dr. Andre Alonso; the “Baltimore City Council Citation for Outstanding Service to Church and Community,” presented by the Baltimore City Council President, Sheila Dixon; and the “Educational Service Award,” as Teacher of the Year, by the Baltimore City Department of Correction and Juvenile Services.
Maisie Dunbar Spa Lounge
Maisie Dunbar is the owner of the award-winning Maisie Dunbar Spa Lounge in the Washington, DC area. A native Liberian, Ms. Dunbar’s commitment to excellence in the beauty industry has resulted in her becoming an international leader in her field. Today she is one of the world’s most famous celebrity nail and body professionals, with a stunning A-List clientele that includes such people as Sharon Osbourne, Tyson Beckford, members of Guns and Roses, The late Congressman Donald Payne, Star Jones Reynolds, Clay Aiken, Kelly Price, Mary Mary, Kirk Franklin, Marcus Johnson, Malaak Rock, Anthony Hamilton, Debbie Morgan, Dionne Warwick, Dr.Bobby Jones, Roberta Flack, Eric Benet, Chaka Khan, Angie Stone, and many others. Ms. Dunbar has worked with elite publications and brands including O Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, Essence, Parents, Glamour, Italian Vogue, Washingtonian and Seventeen, Samsung Electronics, Chap Stick, Colgate, Revlon, and Payless Shoes. Ms. Dunbar has also hosted segments for Black Entertainment Television (BET), Danya International and The Learning Channel.
Maisie Dunbar has achieved enormous success by any measure, and is passionate about inspiring others to reach their goals as well. She serves as a business consultant and mentor to other beginning beauty professionals through her national education seminars on techniques and business strategies. Ms. Dunbar is also known for giving back to her community. She recently opened the doors of her spa to breast cancer survivors and those fighting to defeat the disease. Ms. Dunbar offered manicures, massages and other beauty treatments to these women, and brought in experts to talk about breast cancer treatment options and to address health insurance concerns. Donations for the event were earmarked for a renowned comprehensive cancer center.
Dr. Hena, a medical missionary, has spent decades encouraging the oppressed in Russia and its neighboring countries. She was once detained for violating Russia’s policy of atheism. After the KGB’s influence diminished, Dr. Hena became the first United Methodist missionary to serve the church in Russia in over seventy years. This practicing Moscow physician has helped congregations establish health programs to serve communities. She has promoted community health in rural and economically depressed areas as the Director of Medicine in the United Methodist Church in Russia. Dr. Hena now seeks to reform the Liberian healthcare system through an initiative called “Healthy Women, Healthy Liberia.” She holds a medical degree from Kuban Medical College in Krasnodar, Russia and a Masters in Public Health from Emory University.
James Yarncie Hunder, Sr.
Mr. Hunder is the co-founder and President of the Liberian Organization of the Piedmont, an organization promoting unity, education, and advancement of human relations and international understanding. Holding a Master in Arts from Wake Forest University, Mr. Hunder has decades of experience in the Security field. This internationally trained Security expert has received certifications on advanced marksmanship, counter espionage and anti-terrorism from Tel A’viv, Israel. The former Special Security Service Captain with the Executive Mansion of Liberia, has received multiple commendations for his community involvement from North Carolina’s Governor James B Hunt, Jr. and Winston-Salem’s Mayors Wood and Cavanaugh. North Carolina’s House of Representative also acknowledged his many contributions to the Liberian community. Most recently, he received the Community Service Award from the Winston-Salem Chronicle.
Amadu Jacky Kaba
Mr. Kaba is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Seton Hall University. With nearly 60 scholarly publications in leading journals, magazines and edited books, he is among the most productive social scientists in the United States. Mr. Kaba’s prolific publication has led state, national, international, and private entities to seek him for scholarly presentations and other academic activities. Prior to returning to Seton Hall University, he worked with the renowned Political Scientist, Professor Ali A. Mazrui as a Post-Doctoral Fellow, teaching and conducting research in the Social Sciences at Binghamton University, State University of New York, and Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Mr. Kaba holds a B.A. in Political Science, a Masters in Public Administration, and Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership, Management and Policy.
Ms. Minikon is an immigration attorney with over nineteen years of successful representation of individuals and businesses. She is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Immigration Law at the University of Maryland University College. She has a Bachelors degree in the Administration of Justice from Howard University as well as a Juris Doctor and Masters in International Affairs from American University in Washington, D.C. She formerly held a senior editorial position at Thomson-West, a leading legal publisher, where she authored articles that analyzed immigration law, legislation, and regulations. Ms. Minikon was the Co-Chair of the Education Committee of the Urban Coalition of Minnesota’s Immigrant and Refugee Policy Coalition and a Coordinator for the Washington, D.C. area Diaspora Project of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia.
G. Arthur Padmore
Nominated by former Governor Minner and confirmed by the Delaware State Senate, Mr. Padmore most recently served as a Public Advocate. In this role, he served the state of Delaware by representing the interests of consumers in proceedings and appearings on behalf of utility consumers in state and/or federal courts, administrative and regulatory agencies, and commissions in matters involving rates, service, and practices of public utilities. Prior to this, he served as an Administrative Law Judge and even had a decision upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. A member of the National Association of Administrative Law Judges and the American Bar Association, Judge Padmore holds a BA in Political Science from Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island and a law degree from the University of Liberia.
Ms. Woods is the Co-Director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies. She has a Bachelors of Science in International Relations from Columbia University and a Masters of Arts from Harvard University. A U.S. foreign policy expert, she has written on a range of issues from debt, trade and development to U.S. military policy. Ms. Woods has published pieces in BBC’s Focus on Africa magazine, NAACP’s Crisis magazine as well as the Miami Herald, the Christian Science Monitor, New York Newsday, the Nation, the Baltimore Sun, and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, among many others. She is a regular commentator on CNN’s Your World Today, BBC’s The World Today (Weekend), and regularly appears on National Public Radio, and Voice of America.
Dr. I. F. Akinsanya-Beysolow
Dr. Iyabode F. Akinsanya-Beysolow, a Board Certified Pediatrician, works for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as a Medical Officer in the Education, Information and Partnership Branch. In this role, she is responsible for the development and implementation of education and training materials for vaccine providers as well as the presentation of courses and lectures on vaccine-preventable diseases. Prior to joining CDC, Dr. Beysolow opened and operated a private practice in the Atlanta area and served as a physician at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Emory School of Medicine, and Decatur Pediatric Group. Her research includes Maternal and Child Health in Liberia and Hypertension in Immigrant Liberian males. She has organized and participated in three medical mission trips to Liberia in the last three years.
Dr. Anthony Barclay
Dr. Anthony Barclay, Senior Advisor at World Bank, has contributed to the promotion of strategic engagements of African countries with the World Bank Africa Group in the areas of economic growth and poverty reduction. Having decades of experience with reputable international agencies, Dr. Barclay has served the continent of Africa through his work on several development-oriented issues. Formerly a United Nations Development Program (UNDP/Liberia) Consultant and Staff (Economic Specialist), a Program Officer at the African Capacity Building Foundation headquartered in Zimbabwe and a Poverty Alleviation Advisor at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, Dr. Barclay’s past work has extended beyond West Africa into Ethiopia, Namibia, Lesotho, and Kenya. He holds a doctorate in Urban and Regional Planning from University of Wisconsin.
Dr. C. Patrick Burrowes
Dr. C. Patrick Burrowes is an Associate Professor at Pennsylvania State University teaching and advising students in the communications program. With three decades of experience in journalism and education, Dr. Burrowes has developed the minds of students at majority and minority institutions of higher education throughout the United States and Liberia. The former Department Chairperson led 25 faculty members and managed over 500 students while at Morgan State University. He has also served on twenty thesis and dissertation committees and received multiple commendations including Dean’s Award for Mentoring, Dean’s Merit Awards, several Top Three Paper awards, and Distinguished Professor recognition. Dr. Burrowes is also the founder and director of liberiapedia.com and liberianrepatriates.com. He holds a doctorate degree in Communications from Temple University in Pennsylvania.
Judge Melvin Johnson
Judge Melvin “Action” Johnson is the Chief Judge of the City of Lithonia, Georgia. The youngest to serve in this role, he is also the first black and African-born individual to hold this position in the history of the City of Lithonia. Prior to becoming a Judge, Mr. Johnson founded a successful law practice, worked at respectable private firms and esteemed institutions including the Internal Revenue Service and KPMG Tax Consultants, and advocated for Liberians at home and in the Diaspora. Passionate about the development of youths, Judge Johnson runs the Liberians Integrated For Excellence (LIFE) mentorship program where he exposes youths to various areas of legal system while inspiring them to higher heights. He holds a Doctorate in Jurisprudence from Georgia State University.
Mr. Vamba Sherif
Mr. Vamba Sherif is a bestselling novelist who has penned multiple books and stories in Dutch. The linguistically gifted Mr. Sherif speaks English, Arabic, French, Dutch, and four Liberian tribal dialects. Through his writing, he shares the depth of Liberian experiences with the world, displaying our rich heritage. His first book, The Land of the Fathers, was a bestseller. Bound to Secrecy later followed and met striking success as raving reviews led to international acclaim and sales in Germany, France, England, and Poland. Mr. Sherif has written for every major newspaper and magazine in the Netherlands and has lectured across the globe about his books and life in the Diaspora. He holds a degree in international law from Catholic University of Tilburg in Netherlands.
Mr. Kimmie Weeks
Mr. Kimmie L. Weeks, Founder and Executive Director of Youth Action International, has been committed to alleviation of poverty and human suffering globally since his early teens. Exposed to war at an early age, Mr. Weeks’ work has benefited nearly 150,000 people in six post war African countries and has yielded the education of thousands in West Africa and the disarmament of over 20,000 child soldiers. In 2007, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf bestowed upon Mr. Weeks Liberia’s highest honor of the Knight Grand Commander in the Humane Order of African Redemption. This Golden Brick Award recipient serves on the Board of Directors of DoSomething and is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council. He holds a Masters’ degree from University of Pennsylvania.
Mr. Samuel Kofi Woods
Mr. Samuel Kofi Woods II, Minister of Public Works in Liberia, is an experienced leader in development, human rights, and labor relations. Before joining the Government of Liberia, Min. Woods founded the Foundation for International Dignity (FIND) to provide legal assistance, capacity building, and leadership development for indigents and victims of human rights abuse in multiple African countries. This avid human rights advocate has also worked with refugees and immigrants in the U.S. An honorary member of the American National Bar Association, Min. Woods has received the Reebok’s Human Rights Award, Columbia University’s Newman Recognition, and the Benemerenti Medal awarded by Pope John Paul II. Globally educated in three continents, Min. Woods holds a Master of Laws degree from University of Leiden in Netherlands.
A mixture of tenacity, determination and perseverance helped two childhood friends, Richelieu Dennis and Nyema Tubman, turn adversity into a highly successful and unique business.
Richelieu and Nyema were born in Liberia, but fled civil war after most of their families’ possessions were destroyed. They both immigrated to the United States, but the situation was not much brighter, as they suddenly found themselves without resources or employment.
Remembering his roots and deep family tradition, Richelieu realized his vision was to offer culturally authentic, high-quality skin care products for underserved communities. He decided to use his experience helping his grandmother create shea butter soaps, and began to incorporate four generations of recipes into his handmade natural bath and body products. In 1992, Richelieu and Nyema began to sell their wares along the sidewalks of Harlem. Their routine was to make the soaps and shea butters in the wee hours of each morning, load them up into a rickety van, set up the products on tables on the street at sunrise, and sell until the sun went down.
By the second year, their hard work came to fruition when they formed Sundial Creations and the Nubian Heritage and SheaMoisture brands, with Richelieu, as Founder and CEO, and Nyema, as
President and COO. They began manufacturing in a 3,000 square foot plant, with the products sold through a network of street vendors, convenience stores, health food shops and beauty supply retailers.
Emmet Dennis came onboard as a Partner and Chief Branding Officer, to help grow the Nubian Heritage brand. Prior to working with Sundial Creations, Emmet worked with entertainment tycoon, Sean Diddy Combs, building Combs’ brand and merchandising.
Nubian Heritage and SheaMoisture products soon became synonymous with high quality, organic skin treatments with beautiful, one-of-a-kind all-natural fragrances. Richelieu has remained true to his vision of a brand that serves people of all ethnicities by addressing specific skin care issues, which have traditionally been ignored by mass market skin care companies, such as hyper-pigmentation and dark spots. He remains a pioneer in his research, testing and utilization of rare, natural ingredients from all over globe into his skin care formulations.
Nubian Heritage’s products are carried all over the United States, in retail outlets such as Whole Foods, Vitamin Shoppe and Wegmans. SheaMoisture products are carried in Target, Duane Reed and WalMart, as well as will be carried in Walgreens in April 2011.
In 2008, Sundial Creations received the Black Enterprise “Emerging Business of the Year Award”, which recognizes businesses that have poised themselves for growth by carving out a special niche and adopting creative marketing techniques. Both brands have garnered much attention from the media, having been featured in O, The Oprah Magazine, Allure, GQ, Vibe, Essence, The New York Times, Newsday, TimeOut New York , BET, and iVillage.
Sundial Creations strives to make a positive impact in local communities as well as throughout the world.
Reverend John K. Jallah
Lifetime Humanitarian Award Traded in the career of a Voodoo High Priest to carry the cross of Christ. Reverend Jallah has humbly served Liberians both at home and in the Diaspora. The Director and founder of Agape African Senior Citizens Center in Philadelphia, he improves the lives of refugee elders by providing literacy opportunities required to enhance their cultural transition to the U.S. Agape elders were featured in a collaborative project with the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Folklore and Ethnography. Through his ministry to the African elders in the Diaspora and his collaboration with prestigious organizations, Reverend Jallah has magnanimously created international awareness around the rich traditional heritage of Liberia. The former founder of the Bible Believing Church and the Liberia Vernacular and Cultural Research Institute, Reverend Jallah previously worked for the Liberian government in multiple roles including Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs.
Father Emmanuel W. Johnson
Lifetime Educator Award Returned home to become founding Principal of B.W.Harris Episcopal High School Monrovia. He was later chosen by President William V.S. Tubman as first Superintendant of the Monrovia Consolidated School System (MCSS). The ordained Bishop became first rector of St.Stephen’s Episcopal Church. In 1973, Fr. Johnson was appointed President of Cuttington College and Divinity School where he established Rural Development Institute, improved and upgraded the curriculum of the College, and renamed the institution Cuttington University College. This former Dean of Academic Support Services and Chaplain of Voorhees College in Denmark, South Carolina is currently Priest Associate at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Ashburn, Virginia. He has represented Liberia in various capacities in eight countries and is a recipient of two honorary degrees: Doctor of Law from Saint Augustine’s College, Raleigh, North Carolina and Doctor of Divinity from Cuttington University College.
D. Elwood Dunn
D. Elwood Dunn, PhD is a University Professor. He’s journeyed from a Clerk to Chairman of Cabinet for the Liberian Government, representing Liberia as a delegate in over 17 countries. He’s authored, contributed, or reviewed over 40 books, taught over 14 courses, and presented in over 12 states. He has also appeared on TV and radio programs on PBS, NPR, MSNBC, Monitor Radio and the BBC. Dr. Dunn gave testimonies on Liberia at US Congressional Hearings and presentations at the US State Department during the civil war years.
Patricia Jabbeh Wesley
Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, PhD is a Poet and Professor, a Mother and Mentor, a Writer and Wife. She has to her credit more than 17 publications including 3 books, multiple awards and grants, and the privilege of serving as Modern Language Association (MLA) Chairperson for Division on African Literature. Dr. Wesley has bravely embarked on a voyage of activism that uses the influence of poetry to tell the stories of Liberian women. She is highly sought after for poetry readings and presentations and has appeared on National Public Radio.
Major Nathaniel Jolo Roberts
Major Nathaniel Jolo Roberts, Pharm.D is a Clinical Pharmacist Consultant for the US Army assigned to the US Army Medical and Materiel Agency (USAMMA) in Fort Detrick, MD. In his former role of Chief, Budget and Pharmaceuticals Procurement, he created and managed a $51M budget for the Department of Pharmacy at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C while chairing the Product Selection Committee. Dr. Roberts also served in Baghdad, Iraq as an Army Captain and pharmacy officer. He is also a licensed Pharmacist in three states.
Dr. Dawn Cooper Barnes
Dr. Dawn Cooper Barnes is a dynamic founder and chief administrator of non-profit foundations, an experienced advocate for arts, culture, women, and children’s welfare, a tenured professor of arts, humanities, and mass media, and a television and film producer. She has produced and co-produced four documentaries addressing Liberia ‘s unique heritage and pressing pains. A former professional dancer, choreographer, and performing arts director, Dr. Barnes has lectured on African culture, dance, and film. In 1997, she was also named “Outstanding Artist of the Year,” for her vigorous engagement in community service.
Kai Sieh Eckhardt-Karpeh
Kai Sieh Eckhardt-Karpeh, son of the late physician Dr. Martin Sieh Karpeh, is a world renowned bassist with a successful career spanning over three decades. His discography exceeds 120 recordings and he performs in over 100 cities annually. An intellect who values education and talent, this clinician and composer, teaches workshops worldwide. He has been featured and interviewed in over eleven articles, in five countries, on three continents. With a passion for social justice and environmental issues, Kai has established benefits for homeless and poetry projects featuring socially conscious messages.
Joseph Mator, an Engineer with nearly thirty years of experience, is a Fulbright Scholar with M.S. in Chemical Engineering from Oregon State University. A Cuttington University College alumnus, he’s worked with the Liberian Petroleum Refining Company and the Firestone Plantations Company. In his current role as a Research and Development Specialist at Glatfelter Paper Company, Mr. Mator has developed and brought to market numerous multimillion dollar specialty paper products. His affiliation with “TEAM” Leadership has inspired him to leave a legacy by making a difference in the lives of others.
Stephanie Horton is the Founder and Managing Editor of Sea Breeze Journal of Contemporary Liberian Writings, a literary arts electronic publication that publishes inclusive, representative and progressive quality work by Liberian artists, scholars, poets and cultural workers. Prior to her current position as the Director of Proposals at a private firm, she was Professor of Literature and Advanced Writing. She is a 2007 recipient of the Victor E. Ward Educational Fund’s Crystal Award for outstanding achievement in the Arts/Literary Works under the theme: “Liberian Women of Influence.”
Sengbe Kona Khasu
Sengbe Kona Khasu is an accomplished filmmaker/musician whose scripts have been recognized by the Writer’s Guild of America/SCENARIO Magazine Competition and Sundance Writer’s Lab. He is currently completing a documentary, We Want Election! No More Selection!!, on the 2005 Liberian election, with a grant from Open Society Institute and in pre-production on, “Kaka Koro,” to be shot in Liberia. Additionally, he is bassist for 2010 Grammy winner, jazz great, Kenny Garrett, saxophonist, Joe Omicil and the hot new instrumental trio, Safari. He holds a Masters in Filmmaking from Boston University.
Vickie Ward, an Ivy League educated social scientist, consults in the areas of organizational development and fundraising services through her company, Kendall and Associates. As a professional fundraiser she has raised millions of dollars for major non-profit organizations internationally. Ms Ward is founder of both the Victor E. Ward Memorial Educational Fund—a non-profit organization named in honor of her late father, Liberia’s first Chemist— and the Ward Academy of Science and Technology for Girls. She is a champion of science education and an advocate for empowerment through education.