is by invitation from an existing BRJA member. If you are interested in meeting with one or more members to become acquainted, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
BRJA Advisory Board:
A. Adar Ayira, Dottye Burt-Markowitz, Dianne Lyday, Cristina Meneses, Maggie Potapchuk, Cindy Plavier-Truitt, Avis Ransom, Betty Robinson, Harriet Moon Smith, Erica Taylor .
Olivia Fite, Marisela Gomez, Stan Markowitz, Betsy Merbitz, Jamal Mubdi-Bey, Lucy “Silver” Oppenheim, Cynthia A. Taylor, Brenda Zook-Friesan, Sine Hwang Jensen
People of Color Affinity Group (Baltimore Activists of Color Organized for Equity):
A. Adar Ayira, Tracy Durant, Michael Franklin, Rajani Gudlavalleti, Dayvon Love, Sohpia Mak, Yvette McEachern , Cristina Meneses, Anthony Newman, Avis Ransom, Erica Taylor, Lisa Williams .
White Affinity Group (White Anti-Racism Network):
Mohammad Arefnia . Dottye Burt-Markowitz . Elizabeth DuVerlie . Alisa Engsberg . Deb Gardner . Micaela Gramelis . Laura Hesselton . Nora Howell . Eva Bonomo Jannotta . Diane Kuthy . Julie Little . Dianne Lyday . Cynthia J. Newcomer . Massimo Petrozzi . Maggie Potapchuk . Bob Rand . Betty Robinson . Olivia Robinson . Rachael Shannon . Harriet Smith . Sarah Tooley . Cindy Plavier Truitt .
A. Adar Ayira is a poet, artist, social observer, consultant and anti-racism / anti-oppression facilitator and trainer with more than 20 years of experience and a commitment to continued internal growth and external learning on these issues. An “anti-oppression philosophy” provides the foundation for all of her work. She studies the historical development, manifestations, and trends around the “ism” issues in American society that have been used to systematically and institutionally oppress groups of people since the inception of the United States of America, with a particular focus on racism/white supremacy and internalized oppression. For 19 years, Adar has been Principal Consultant at Core Concepts, a nonprofit-specialist consulting firm which provides skills development, technical assistance, organizational and program development, and fundraising services that are essential to an organization’s viability and growth. Core Concepts, founded by Ms. Ayira, reflects her activist philosophy, support of grassroots-level programs, and commitment to social change. During the past 5 years, Adar has been Project Manager of the More in the Middle Initiative, an economically-driven strategic intervention of Associated Black Charities and its partners targeted toward creating an economically healthier and more prosperous Maryland and region for all its residents. Adar was trained by Dr. Margo Okezawa-Rey and participated in her first training class specifically for People of Color. Follow Adar on her blog Blogging Amerikkka and on Twitter: @AdarAyiraViews
Dottye Burt-Markowitz is a co-founder of Baltimore Racial Justice Action (BRJA) and owner of Paso Training and Consulting, which has been doing anti-racism/anti-oppression work with nonprofits and faith communities for over 25 years. She earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in psychology from Southern Illinois University, and has a long history of volunteer work on issues of education, the environment, international peace and justice, community organizing, and the criminal (in)justice system. She is chair of Alternative Directions, Inc. working with prisoners, women leaving prison and their families.
Elizabeth DuVerlie founded and chairs the Working Group on Racism among Quaker Monthly Meetings in the Baltimore area and is immediate past chair the Working Group on Racism of Baltimore Yearly Meeting (of the Religious Society of Friends). She received her initial anti-racism training with BRJA and has had additional trainings through Pendle Hill Conference Center, notably “Beyond Diversity 101.” She is an experienced facilitator with the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) in Maryland prisons, and is a trained mediator and restorative justice facilitator.
Michael Franklin, a Baltimore born and bred creative, intuitive, and social justice activist, has worked at many intersections within the LGBTQ and racial justice movements, including housing and homelessness, public health, and education. Currently, Michael Franklin is the Sexual Minority Youth Program Coordinator at the STAR TRACK Adolescent Health Program at the University of Maryland Baltimore. In this role, he provides case management for LGBTQ+ youth, facilitates workshops on the impact of racism, homophobia, and internalized oppression, and coordinates the program’s community outreach and advocacy efforts. He is also the Co-Chair and Partnerships and Operations Manager of GLSEN Baltimore, a chapter organization working to establish safer schools for all in the Baltimore Metro area. Through that work, he organizes conferences for students of color, provides trainings to school staff around anti-harassment, and manages fundraising and relationships with community and governmental partners. He currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Free State Legal Project, and is a member of the Leadership Boards of the Baltimore Homeless Youth Initiative and the Youth Equality Alliance. In 2014 he received a BMe Community Award and was recognized as one of the 100 Black LGBTQ/SGL Emerging Leaders to Watch by the National Black Justice Coalition. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Delaware.
Marisela Gomez, an activist, health practitioner, author. Her work and writings address the social determinants of health, community organizing, social policy and practices for racial and class equity in marginalized communities, prison and community health, and rebuilding equitable and sustainable communities. She received her undergraduate degree and masters of science from University of New Mexico and a master’s in public health, PHD, and MD from the Johns Hopkins Schools of Medicine and Public Health. She is lead consultant for Social Health Concepts and Practice, Inc.
Eva Bonomo Jannotta is a white woman raised in Maryland. She earned bachelor degrees in Gender and Women’s Studies and English at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where she was first introduced to critical race theory and activism through feminist studies and women of color feminisms. She now works for MOM’s Organic Market. She joined WARN and BRJA in 2011.
Sine Hwang Jensen is a member of Baltimore Racial Justice Action’s Advisory Board. She is currently working on a master’s degree in history and library science at University of Maryland, College Park with a goal to work in preserving and sustaining the cultural heritage of historically oppressed communities.
Diane Kuthy is an artist and educator who has taught art in a variety of contexts in Baltimore including K-12 public schools, universities, museums, and community settings. In 2000 she was awarded an Open Society Institute Community Fellowship at the Stadium School in the Waverly Community in Baltimore City to forge community connections through art. Currently she is a lecturer of art education and studio art at Towson University as well as a doctoral student in the Language, Literacy and Culture program at UMBC.
Julie Little is from a predominantly white suburban community outside of D.C. She has worked as an Early Childhood Educator and a Summer Camp Director for more than ten years. White and genderqeer, Julie is currently working to end the appropriation of education by white culture assumptions, norms, and practices in public education; as well as, advocating for community control in the public school system using a racial equity lens. Baltimore Racial Justice Action has provided opportunity, learning, and elder mentoring for the past four years that furthers Julie’s commitment to working with self and others to understand our roles, risks, and abilities in interrupting the power of white supremacy culture.
Dianne Lyday was raised in a small, homogeneous, farming community in Ohio, and has spent the decades since then in various metropolitan cities across the U.S. settling finally in Baltimore. She began her Bachelor’s degree at the University of California at Los Angeles, and finished at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, and completed a Masters in Theology at Baltimore’s St. Mary’s Seminary & University’s Ecumenical Institute. She is retired from the Social Security Administration (SSA) after 34 years of service determining eligibility for benefits in the Kansas City Payment Center (now Mid-America Program Service Center), followed by two decades in the Office of Systems as a computer programmer, and IT supervisor. She now works as a facilitator/co-facilitator with Baltimore Racial Justice Action conducting racial equity workshops and training courses and performing project management.
Stan Markowitz grew up in working-class de-facto segregated neighborhoods in Northern, NJ. He served in the Army in Atlanta, Georgia from 1957 to 1959. That background led him to question racism at an early age. Stan received an Master of Arts degree in U.S. History at the University of Maryland where he helped create an organization which worked for equal housing and equal employment.
Jamal Mubdi-Bey, Director, Office of Community Outreach at Sojourner-Douglass College, a long-time social justice activist, and a current member of the Stakeholder Group of Change4Real, a dynamic and interactive blend of theoretical visioning, resource development and practical implementation to help determine, in real time, the parameters of change in community development.
Cynthia J. Newcomer has done anti-racism work for over 20 years, first with DCLARE (DC White Lesbians and Bi Women Against Racism Everywhere). She has designed and conducted anti-racism training with white lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and organized as an employee in a number of state and national social justice organizations. Cynthia is grateful for the anti-racism/anti-oppression education training she received from Dr. Margo Okazawa-Rey, which is a great foundation for organizing in her current hometown of Greenbelt MD.
Cindy Plavier Truitt is the Chief Development Officer of Humanim, a not for profit which provides workforce development and human services to over 4,500 individuals a year throughout Maryland. Prior to this position Cindy served as Vice President of Clinical Services at Humanim. In her current role, she oversees Baltimore Region operations as well as a $3.2 million dollar document management/IT social enterprise employing individuals in poverty and with barriers to employment.
Maggie Potapchuk, founder of MP Associates , a national consulting firm dedicated to building the capacity of organizations, and communities to effectively address structural racism and white privilege issues for building a just society. Her work includes: building capacity of organizations to achieve racial equity, working with whites on white privilege through developing modules and caucus facilitation, and advising communities’ racial equity initiatives. Her research includes: Community Change Processes and Progress in Addressing Racial Inequities and Flipping the Script: White Privilege and Community Building.
Avis Ransom – Avis Lynette Hurt was born to Myrtle and Edgar Hurt in Chicago, Illinois but grew up in Burkeville Virginia and attended all black schools through high school. She graduated second in her class and moved to Baltimore, Maryland to attend Morgan State University. She graduated four years later with a B.S. degree in chemistry and began her career as an engineer working for department of defense contractors. After receiving an MBA from Loyola University she operated her own business for 15 years providing consulting services to small businesses and government agencies. Currently she is employed at Morgan State University School of Engineering as a writer, editor and technical analyst. Avis began to provide antiracism training and workshops about 20 years ago. She is on the board of Baltimore Algebra Project, the Job Opportunities Task Force and the Baltimore Workforce Investment Board. She provides services to nonprofit organizations in the area of grassroots organizing, and as a member of Baltimore Racial justice Action she provides consulting services to organizations seeking to purge themselves of the remnants of racists policies, practices, and ways of operating and facilitates trainings and workshops on anti-racism and internalized oppression. She is an inspirational speaker and author of a soon to be released book entitled The Inner Ground Railroad.
Betty Garman Robinson worked as a staff member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) from 1964-1966 and is co-editor of Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts of Women in SNCC. She was the Lead Organizer for Citizens Planning and Housing Association (CPHA) from 1997-2003, supervising organizers in inner city neighborhoods. In 2003 she was awarded an Open Society Institute Community Fellowship to connect Baltimore organizers and to popularize the history of organizing in Baltimore. As part of this work she developed a curriculum on social justice organizing history which included analysis of different organizing models.
Harriet Smith, raised in Baltimore, uses a racial equity lens to approach her interests in health, healthcare, and gender and sexuality. Most present is her work with midwives in Maryland. She is also keen to examine the role of racism in healthcare, in particular reproductive and mental health. She has recently worked as Program Manager at the Youth Empowered Society (YES), a center for youth experiencing homelessness. Through her work with YES she became more deeply convinced of the present and urgent need for white women to examine their role in the Non-Profit Industrial Complex especially as it relates to services for Black youth. As an Advisory Board member of BRJA, Harriet takes on event coordination and facilitating trainings on racial equity. She is currently co-facilitating BRJA’s class for the White Anti-Racism Network.
Cynthia Taylor is an organization development consultant, facilitator, trainer and coach. In 2005 she retired after working over 30 years as a technical writer, manager, leadership coach and internal consultant for a federal agency. In addition, over the years she has designed and facilitated training, meetings and retreats for federal agencies (HHS and CDC), colleges, religious organizations and area nonprofits.
Erica K. Taylor, Ph.D. , MPH, MA is currently a data analyst at CMS’ Innovations Center where she serves as an expert on program evaluation and as the minority health lead for Million Hearts®, a national initiative to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes in five years. Dr. Taylor has extensive experience working in areas of Medicare, nursing home surveillance, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, Alzheimer’s Disease research and violence prevention among adolescents. Currently Dr. Taylor serves on the executive board of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists (NCOBPS) and on the advisory council of the Baltimore Racial Justice Action (BRJA). She is also a member of several other professional organizations including the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM), the American Evaluation Association (AEA) and the Brown Club of Greater Baltimore. Dr. Taylor is an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) where she teaches a course entitled, The American Health Care System and the Black Community. She is also performs with the Baltimore Flute Choir.
Sarah Tooley grew up as a white liberal yankee in Massachusetts. In growing awareness of people’s movements through anti-globalization and anti-war organizing in early 2000s, she developed a white anti-racist analysis by attending workshops offered by Challenging White Supremacy, Catalyst Project, and Project South. Her education continued by participation in white anti-racism peer education/action groups in DC and Baltimore.