Leon T. Andrews, Jr. was appointed as the inaugural director for Race, Equity And Leadership (REAL) at the National League of Cities and currently serves as chair of the board for the National Recreation and Parks Association. Prior, Leon served as the senior fellow and program director at the National League of Cities’ Institute for Youth, Education, and Families, where he led all of the Institute’s youth development work with mayors and other municipal leaders around the country including in areas related to childhood obesity, disconnected youth, youth engagement and leadership, and youth master planning since 2006. Before joining the National League of Cities, Leon completed a research fellowship at The Forum for Youth Investment. Leon has an extensive background working in government, the community, the private sector, and academia for the last 25 years including the United States Department of Justice, United States Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, the United States Public Interest Research Group, the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, YouthBuild Pittsburgh, the Development Corporation of Columbia Heights, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and as an adjunct professor in the Department of Political Science at Eastern Michigan University. He is a published author, a presenter at several conferences and other forums throughout the country and world, and serves on a number of national and local boards including ChangeLab Solutions (chair), National Council on Crime and Delinquency and the National Network for Youth. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Howard University, a Master of Science in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University, and is a PhD candidate in the Urban and Regional Planning program at The University of Michigan. Leon is married to an amazing woman, Dr. Kristine M. Andrews, for the last 15 years and they have three beautiful daughters – Jessica Austin, Julia Iris, and Joanna Jonas.
Rev. Tom Berlin serves as the Lead Pastor of Floris United Methodist Church, a large and vital congregation in Fairfax County that has a desire to bless the local community and world. Floris members pursue intentional generosity and servanthood and partner with non-profit organizations that provide hope to the economically poor and vulnerable.
An exciting part of Floris’ ministry and international outreach has been the establishment of the Child Rescue Centre (CRC) for children affected by child labor and trafficking and Mercy Hospital in Sierra Leone, through the non-profit Helping Children Worldwide, Inc. The CRC provides real support to nearly 600 vulnerable children and youth in Sierra Leone, by providing for their education, health care and spiritual mentoring, helping to break the cycle of poverty in one of the poorest countries in the world.
Tom is a published author and speaker at conferences and seminars on topics that include leadership, church vitality and generosity. He serves as Chair of the Board of Governors for Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., and is a member of the United Methodist Church’s Commission on a Way Forward.
Tom is a native of Winchester, Virginia, and has an undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech and a Master of Divinity from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. He and his wife Karen have four daughters.
Andrew J. Brennan is the founder and executive director of the Global War on Terror Memorial Foundation, the Congressionally designated nonprofit tasked with building the National Global War on Terrorism Memorial in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of West Point, holds an MBA from the Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh, as well as an Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Georgetown University. A former Army Aviation Officer deployed to Afghanistan in 2010, he led a UH-60 Blackhawk platoon, in addition to staff work for his aviation battalion after pinning on the rank of Captain. Upon leaving active duty service, he worked in private sector logistics before pursuing his MBA.
Outside of commitments with the foundation, Andrew is active with local Veteran organizations in Pittsburgh and serves as a Veteran advisor to the Pittsburgh VA Healthcare System’s Innovation Board, whose focus is improving how the VA delivers healthcare to Pittsburgh’s Veteran population. A reformed marathon distance runner, Andrew enjoys playing pickup hockey, watching the Pittsburgh Penguins win Cups and is an avid long distance hiker & outdoorsman with more than 1,700 miles of our Nation’s long trails behind him. He was recently awarded Pittsburgh Magazine’s 40 Under 40, and was also selected for the 2016 Take Point Initiative Fellowship with the Atlantic Council.
Related to Veterans issues and GWOTMF, Andrew has testified before Congress, been published in Armed Forces and Society, The NY Post and Military Times. He has been interviewed on, or contributed to, pieces for The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, NPR, Fox News, The Associated Press, Stars and Stripes, We Are The Mighty, Task and Purpose, The San Diego UnionTribune, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and various other news outlets.
A national clean energy leader with a background in both the private and public sectors, Sam has played a central role in some of the country’s most exciting clean energy projects. Along the way, he’s developed a reputation for innovative, thought-provoking ideas to address the climate crisis.
Sam is Managing Director of ClearRock, a firm that helps energy users reduce utility costs and hedge risks with clean energy. As an owner's representative for businesses and institutions, ClearRock provides services that include project identification and due diligence, financial analysis, contract negotiation, and operations review.
Before ClearRock, Sam served as Director of Energy for municipal buildings in Washington, DC. In that capacity, he architected several historic renewable energy purchases and led team that executed a data-driven efficiency initiative to save $100M in utility costs. Prior to the DC Government, Sam was an entrepreneur that helped start one of the Mid Atlantic's leading energy efficiency contracting companies. Sam’s also still recovering from years of work in political campaign management.
Sam won the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Individual Climate Leadership Award in 2014, and the Association of Climate Change Officers (ACCO) called him a "climate powerhouse." In addition to media features that include NPR, National Geographic, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, Sam made headlines in 2017 with his op-ed, “Inconvenient Truths About City Climate Efforts.”
Grace Wolf Cunningham is serving her fourth term on the Herndon Town Council. She is the first Korean American woman elected to office in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
In prior terms, Cunningham chaired the town’s Economic Development Task Force and was the Town’s representative to the Committee for Dulles and the Fairfax County Economic Advisory Commission. She is a Certified Local Government Official, as designated by VML’s Virginia Elected Officials Leadership Academy.
She served the community as president of the Council for the Arts of Herndon and received its Platinum Achievement Award in 2014; as a member of the Herndon Festival Committee; and as a member of the Asian Business Committee of the Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce.
In 2006, she received the Town of Herndon’s prestigious Distinguished Service Award, recognizing her commitment to volunteerism. She was a member of the Leadership Fairfax Class of 2007. She has received the Volunteer Fairfax Benchmark Service Award annually from 2007 - 2014, and in 2012 she received the Public Service Award from the Asian American Chamber of Commerce. In 2013, Cunningham was recognized as one of “The Influential Women of Virginia” by Virginia Lawyers Media, an award that recognizes the outstanding efforts of women in all fields, including law, business, health care and education.
In 2014, Cunningham was appointed by Governor Terry McAuliffe as a commissioner to the Virginia Commission for the Arts. She previously served on the Board of Directors for the Arts Council of Fairfax and the Fairfax County Park Authority.
Cunningham currently works in philanthropy with the National Wildlife Federation. She has owned several local small businesses and held positions at IBM Consulting, Deloitte and Touche Management Consulting, Dun & Bradstreet and Bankers Trust. She holds a BA in Economics and an MBA in Finance, both from Cornell University.
Margaret Jamborsky will be the first to tell you that she’s just the mom of a piccolo player in the Herndon High School band. In fact, she’s been an advocate for music education since her own school days playing clarinet. She turned this avocation into a vocation working for the National Association for Music Education for over a decade, planning conventions for music educators from across the country.
An international event planner who speaks French, Margaret couldn’t help but volunteer to help when she learned of the Herndon band’s invitation to represent the United States at the 75th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy. She has so far spent over 800 hours researching the USS Herndon and tracking down the families of the crew, and has found a new passion honoring the Greatest Generation.
Margaret is Associate Vice President of Meetings for Drohan Management Group, the fourth largest association management company in the world. She is the proud mom of Hank and Laura, and has been married to her Herndon alum husband Mike for 17 years.
Neeyanth Kopparapu is a high school sophomore at Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria, VA. He is interested in developing computer science (specifically artificial intelligence) models to help improve the conditions for everyone. He has made models to diagnose Diabetic Retinopathy for low income adults and more recently a Major Depressive Disorder prognosis system based on fMRI scans and Twitter feeds. He also enjoys coding with algorithms, partaking in the USACO competition as a platinum competitor. Other than computer science, he enjoys representing his high school and traveling to Mathematics competitions, notably the ones at Harvard and Princeton. He is a part of the debate team, where he takes his public speaking skills not only to debate at tournaments, but to advocate for his products and ideals in pitch competitions, innovation summits, and conferences.
Dawnn Lewis, a multitalented and multifaceted individual: President & CEO of Morning Jewel Inc. – a multi-platform production company in the areas of film, television, animation, music / music publishing & experiential events. She is also the Founder & President of the A New Day Foundation – a non profit 501(c)(3) organization, that provides financial & programmatic support to underprivileged youth and grassroots community based non profit organizations.
Dawnn mesmerized audiences with her powerful voice and stirring performance in the ETC 2017 production of Gershwin’s PORGY & BESS as “Serena” and can now be seen recurring on three hit series: NBC’s THIS IS US!, TNT’s MAJOR CRIMES & the CW’s IZOMBIE, as well as the AMAZON presentation: THE LEGEND OF MASTER LEGEND, starring alongside John Hawkes (Winters Bone, American Gangster) and Shea Whigham (Kong: Skull Island & Boardwalk Empire). Dawnn can also be “heard” giving voice to several characters such as “Patty” in APPLE & ONION, “Chief” in the new WHERE IN THE WORLD IS CARMEN SAN DIEGO, “LaBarbara” in FUTURAMA, “Mrs. Hanshaw” & “Mrs. Buttercup” in SOPHIA THE FIRST, “Granny McStuffins” in DOC MCSTUFFINS, “Bobe” in HOME, as well as a variety of characters in the animated series THE SIMPSONS, CURIOUS GEORGE, TURBO & Disney/Pixar’s Academy Award winning animated feature hits INSIDE OUT! and MONSTERS UNIVERSITY. Dawnn’s upcoming feature film: REVIVAL, written & produced by acclaimed actor Harry Lennix, starring GRAMMY sensation Mali Music. She’s served the last 8.5 years on the National Advisory Board of the NATIONAL CENTER FOR CIVIL & HUMAN RIGHTS in Atlanta, Ga., & completed her fourth term on the SAG National Board of Directors, participating in it’s successful merger with sister union AFTRA, while serving all 4 yrs as the National & Los Angeles Co-Chair of the SAG now SAG-AFTRA Singers Committee. She currently serves as a Trustee for the SAG Pension Plan, on the SAG-AFTRA Hollywood Board and as a SAG/AFTRA National Union Delegate. Perhaps best known for her roles on the hit TV shows A DIFFERENT WORLD (composer of shows theme song), HANGIN’ WITH MR. COOPER & ANY DAY NOW, she also had recurring roles on the ABC Family’s THE SECRET LIFE OF THE AMERICAN TEENAGER and the CW Network series ONE TREE HILL.
Dawnn also starred in the NYC City Center “Encore’s” Broadway presentation of THE WIZ as Addapearle and is often called upon to create and establish leading characters in successful shows such as: “Smitty” in HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING, co-starring with Matthew Broderick & Megan Mullaly & received rave reviews and the BEST ACTRESS: FRED AWARD (Los Angeles) and nominated for the 2007 BEST ACTRESS: SUZI AWARD (Atlanta, ALLIANCE THEATRE), for her “knock your socks off!!” performance in the World Premiere of the Broadway hit “SISTER ACT: THE MUSICAL” as the “outrageous, Nun-On-The-Run”, Deloris Van Cartier. Dawnn’s record label, Morning Jewel Music, released her successful solo CD Worth Waiting For; the title song is featured in the Disney movie THE POOF POINT soundtrack, in which she starred. She’s recorded with or composed for Everett Harp, Patrice Rushen, Vanessa Williams, Nancy Wilson, Take 6, Wayman Tisdale, Grover Washington Jr., Quincy Jones & Tom Scott to name a few.
Herndon's Crys Matthews is nothing if not ambitious. In August 2017, she simultaneously released both a new full-length album, The Imagineers and an EP, Battle Hymn For An Army Of Lovers. These collections showcase two sides of Matthews’ dynamic songwriting; The Imagineers is a selection of thoughtful songs about love and life while Battle Hymn For An Army Of Lovers tackles social justice themes. Songs from both projects have already won her recognition and awards. She was one of ten finalists (from a pool of 5,000) in this year's NewSong Music Competition and, after performing at Lincoln Center on November 30th she was named grand-prize winner. Matthews also won the People Music Network's Social Just Songs contest at the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance.
Matthews blends Americana, folk, jazz, blues, bluegrass and funk into a bold, complex performance steeped in traditional melodies and punctuated by honest, original lyrics. Having been compared to everyone from Toshi Reagon to Tracy Chapman to Ruthie Foster, Matthews’ eclectic infusion of genres has won her honorable mentions at the 2017, 2013 and 2014 Mid-Atlantic Song Contest and extensive radio play from Woman of Substance radio to WTJU-Charlottesville and WMRA-Harrisonburg to KBOO-Portland. Matthews has shared stages with Melissa Ferrick, Chris Pureka and Liz Longley, as well as several regional artists such as Owen Danoff, Eliot Bronson, and Heather Mae.
Equally at home in an acoustic listening room as she is on stage at large music festivals, Matthews has quickly gathered a loyal following on the east coast playing such prestigious venues as the Sundance Film Festival, The Birchmere, The Hamilton, and Jammin' Java. Matthews’ festival and showcase roster has included BMI's Island Hopper Songwriter Festival, the 40th Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, Folk Alliance International, 30A Songwriters Festival, Northeast Regional Folk Alliance and many more.
A prolific lyricist and composer, Matthews has found inspiration in her surroundings; from driving through the Blue Ridge Mountains to the compelling and heart-breaking love story of Richard and Mildred Loving. Thoughtful, realistic and emotional, Matthews’ songs speak to the voice of our generation and remind us why music indeed soothes the soul.
Drawing inspiration from his father, a World War II Navy Fighter pilot who was killed deploying to the Korean War, Mike McCabe dreamed of flying fighters. Eighteen months after graduating college, Mike was flying combat missions under the mentorship of one of the original Topgun instructors. They shot down MIGS together, Mike became the Executive Officer of Topgun himself, and the two combined again to contribute to the movie TOP GUN.
Mike commanded at every operational level of the Navy. His five Navy commands at sea ranged in size from a 300 personnel and 14 fighters squadron to a U.S. Fleet of 43,000 personnel, with 1400 aircraft, and 88 ships. In these commands, Mike was able to achieve excellence while suffering no operational loss of life while in command. His combat decorations include the Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Cross. Mike also served as Director of Air Warfare for the Navy, in which capacity he was in the Pentagon when the 9/11 terrorist attack struck the building directly below his office. During that tour, Mike was largely responsible for the next generation of naval aviation technology, aircraft and aircraft carriers acquired during his tenure.
Following Navy retirement, Mike became CEO/President of a large Commercial Charter Airline which flew for the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Justice, as well as sports teams and vacation companies. When he arrived the airline was on probation with the Department of Defense (DOD). He grew the airline to a $300 million a year business which routinely received performance bonuses from DOD. Mike left the airline and retired a second time to battle cancer.
Having survived air combat, the 9/11 attacks, and miraculously, cancer, Mike embodies the spirit of “Glad To Be Here” and lives in a “pay it forward mode” bringing his storied experience and passion to helping teams and leaders.
Meg Medina is an award-winning author who writes picture books, middle grade, and young adult fiction. She is the 2012 winner of the Ezra Jack Keats Award for her debut picture book, Tía Isa Wants a Car, and a two-time Pura Belpré award winner, receiving the 2014 medal for her widely-acclaimed young adult novel, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass and the 2016 honor distinction for her picture book, Mango, Abuela and Me.
Her most recent novel, Burn Baby Burn, was named the NAIBA Young Adult Novel of the Year and was longlisted for the 2016 National Book Award, as well as being named a finalist for both the Kirkus Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.
In March 2014, she was recognized as one of the CNN 10 Visionary Women in America. In November 2014, she was named one of Latino Stories Top Ten Latino Authors to Watch. In 2017, she was listed among Southern Living Magazine’s “Southerners of the Year” for her work to support reading and girls in Richmond, VA.
Meg is a founding member of We Need Diverse Books and serves on its advisory board. She is also the co-founder of Girls of Summer, a curated summer reading list and blog.
When she is not writing, Meg works on community and national projects that support girls, Latino youth and/or diversity in children’s literature.
She lives with her family in Richmond, Virginia.
Tom Mitchell is the founder and director of Stillbrave Childhood Cancer Foundation. Affectionately known as “Tattoo Tom” by the children and families whom he serves. He is also a nationally recognized activist and advocate for children with cancer and their families.
Following the death of his daughter Shayla in 2009 from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Tom dedicated his entire life to providing non-medical support to children with cancer and their families. He’s also committed to raising awareness of the need for more research funding and safer, less toxic treatments for children with cancer.
Dubbing himself and those who work for Stillbrave as “Renegades” Tattoo Tom is always anxious to share what he’s learned, grown to understand, but refused to accept. He is very outspoken. His obvious passion, continued activism, and his innate need to be a voice for those who do not have one has led him to being at the forefront of a grassroots movement.
In September of 2015 Tom competed in and finished the Tahoe 200 mile ultramarathon. He is an extreme runner and has been featured in an award-winning documentary and news stories of his exploits have won several Emmy awards. To date he has raised over $650,000 for Stillbrave just through his ultrarunning endeavors
On any given day you are likely to find Tom on a personal visit either at the chemotherapy clinic or bedside within the confines of a hospital room where his ability to console the inconsolable is an invaluable asset. Humor, compassion and first-hand knowledge of this kind are almost impossible to quantify and cannot be delivered in a gift card, or a care package.
The following day you may find Tattoo Tom at the White House, speaking at a rally or on the streets of Washington D.C. carrying a picket sign, loudly and unapologetically vocal about what matters most, the eradication of childhood cancer.
Photo courtesy: Goodhart Photography
Dominique Poirier is the Director of Legal Services at Just Neighbors, a local 501(c)(3) which provides humanitarian-based immigration legal services to low-income immigrants in northern Virginia. She is a 1987 graduate of the University of Virginia College of Arts and Sciences and a 1991 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law. Dominique worked for several years as a public defender in Fairfax County, Virginia, trying countless felony and misdemeanor cases before both judge and jury. After 5.5 years of appearing in court daily, Dominique switched to the practice of immigration law. She has worked at Just Neighbors for over 10 years first as a staff attorney and now, supervisor of the legal department.
Dominique is also one of four national consulting attorneys for Just Neighbors’ parent organization, Justice For Our Neighbors, and travels around the nation, consulting with other non-profit immigration legal service providers to ensure ethical and quality programmatic delivery. Dominique is fluent in Italian and also speaks French and Spanish. She lives with her family in Vienna, Virginia.
In 1999, at the urging of an African American colleague, Jennifer Yanco developed the anti-racism workshop series, White People Challenging Racism: Moving from Talk to Action (WPCR). Since then, more than 2,000 participants, ranging in age from 13 to 81, have explored how white supremacy operates in their communities and have found ways to stand up against it. Open to people of all racial identities, WPCR is co-led by a growing network of facilitators. It focuses on white people’s role in dismantling racism and culminates in action plans that participants develop and commit to implementing. WPCR has been offered at community education programs and college campuses in the greater Boston area and beyond, and has been adapted for teachers, social service providers, and other groups. Jennifer has also developed anti-racism school curricula, offered workshops on friendships and work partnerships that cross lines of race and ethnicity, and worked with colleagues of color on diversity/anti-racism training for a range of organizations.
Jennifer is author of Misremembering Dr. King: Revisiting the Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Indiana University Press 2014), which critiques the popular memory of Dr. King as a model of non-violent civil disobedience, but conveniently forgets his outspoken critique of white complacency, his fight for economic justice and for an end to militarism. The book deals with the prison industrial complex, Trayvon Martin, the Occupy movement, and fair pay struggles, and points out past “solutions” to racism that kept power and money in white people’s hands.
After earning her Master’s degree from the Harvard School of Public Health, Jennifer worked for the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, authors of Our Bodies, Ourselves. She has a Ph.D. in Linguistics and African Studies, was a Fulbright lecturer at the Université de Niamey in Niger, and taught for many years in the African language program at Boston University. From 2003 to 2017 she was the US director of the West African Research Association.
She is currently a Visiting Researcher at Boston University, where she works with the African language program, focusing on curriculum and materials development. Jennifer lives in Medford, Massachusetts with her daughter, son-in-law, and grandchild, and a hive of honey bees.
Raye Zaragoza is an award-winning singer, songwriter, and performer whose multinational heritage (Native American (O'odham), Mexican, Taiwanese and Japanese) deeply informs her music. This perspective can be heard in her independently released song “In the River,” a response to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota. The quiet yet powerful track resonated strongly with listeners and went viral in late 2016, garnering half a million views on the video, national media coverage, and a Global Music Award and Honesty Oscar.
Raye’s debut album, Fight For You (independent, 2017), displays her compassion, dedication to justice and equality for all, and keen eye for the seemingly small daily moments that become our most meaningful memories. About the record, Raye says, “This album is about finding yourself and finding your voice. It’s about maturing and realizing that you can make a difference if you so choose.”
Raye performs her music all over the United States as well as across Europe, where she spent five weeks touring in summer 2017. She’ll be returning to tour Germany in January 2018. Her music has been featured on Democracy Now! and on numerous lists of the best modern-day protest songs, including those by Paste Magazine, What Culture, and Overblown. She has also performed live sessions for Paste and Daytrotter.
Raye will be an official speaker at SXSW 2018 on the panel entitled "Serving the Sacred Bond" hosted by PledgeMusic. Raye will be speaking about her loyal fanbase & how she has been able to maintain an independent music career.