Trabian Shorters envisions a world where we all have better lives because of our willingness to help each other. In this era of hyper-connectivity, he believes that our need for real-world community affords us a special opportunity to share, inspire, and empower each other.
This is more than an idealistic wish for Trabian. For more than 20 years he has helped to create and run innovative networks for the public good. This includes networks for national community service (AmeriCorps); technology delivery (501cTech); social entrepreneurship (Ashoka-US); and philanthropy (the Knight Community Information Challenge).
Each of these was a field-leading organization. Since 2007, Trabian has served as vice president of communities for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation where he oversaw a $300M portfolio of active grants and endowments in 26 cities.
In July 2013, he left Knight to launch BMe “The community for inspired black men and their friends.” BMe combines all that Trabian has learned about cultural change from the technological, philanthropic and social entrepreneurial networks he has led.
The BMe Community is backed by Knight Foundation, Open Society Foundations, the Heinz Endowment, 70 black men who serve as BMe Leaders, over 3,000 members in Baltimore, Detroit, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh; dozens of local businesses and nonprofits; and national marketing, media, financial, educational and health-related companies.
Trabian is a board member of DonorsChoose.org; a coach for New York University’s Program for Social Entrepreneurship; and the proud first grandson of Kennis and Irma Lee Hutchons.
Rodney D. Foxworth, Jr. is founder and principal strategist of Benevolent Ventures, a common good consultancy that helps nonprofit and socially responsible for-profit businesses achieve their double-triple bottom line objectives. Previously, he worked in workforce and economic policy development for a think-and-do tank. Additionally, he has worked in higher education marketing, corporate communication and journalism. His writing has appeared in The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore City Paper, Urbanite magazine, Baltimore Brew, Baltimore Fishbowl, and Metro US newspapers, among other publications. He sits on the board of directors of Social Enterprise Alliance (Mid-Atlantic chapter) and Fusion Partnerships, and also serves on the national advisory board of Digital Harbor Foundation.
Shaka Senghor is a writer, mentor and motivational speaker whose story of redemption has inspired youth and young adults at high schools and universities across the nation. He is the CEO of Drop a Gem Publishing, founder of the Live In Peace Digital and Literary Arts Project, and a recipient of the 2012 Black Male Engagement (BME) Leadership Award. He has written six books, including a memoir about his life, which is expected to be released in September 2012. He is the author of the highly addictive detective series Crack: Volume 1 and Crack: Volume 2, and most recently published a book of his writings entitled Live in Peace: A Youth Guide to Turning Hurt into Hope, a companion piece to his mentoring program.
Alex Peay was born in Silver Spring MD and grew up in Brooklyn, New York where he became interested in becoming a corporate attorney. He attended Ursinus College with a major in Politics and two minors in Media/ Communication and American Studies. During his sophomore year, Alex founded an organization called Rising Sons to help build a support system for the minority male students. Due to the success and progress of the organization he lost interest in going to law school and decided to bring his organization to Philadelphia and dedicate his life to help urban youth achieve their goals, dreams and ambitions.
Melissa C. DeShields has over 15 years of progressive experience in the non-profit sector, including, direct service experience and working in various community settings with children, youth and families. Prior to becoming an independent consultant, Ms. DeShields was a Senior Associate with Community Development Associates, a national consulting firm providing organizational development and community building support to community-based organizations and philanthropic institutions. As a Program Officer at The Philadelphia Foundation, she managed the Foundation’s Fund for Children, Youth Advisory Board, and discretionary grant-making process. Her portfolio included strategic investments for older youth, youth development, education and civic engagement. Born in Camden, NJ, Ms. DeShields obtained a Bachelors of Arts degree in Sociology from Rutgers University and currently resides in Philadelphia, PA.