Rob Thomas, Executive Director, Racial Justice Coalition: Rob is a 34-year-old African American male, Asheville native, and Community Activist. Rob is a formerly justice-involved individual with first-hand experiences related to the inequities that are congruent with the disparities that he now works passionately to unravel. Rob is the recipient of CoThinkk’s 2020 community leader award, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Association of Asheville & Buncombe County’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, 2021 Service Award, the Peacemaker of 2020 in Western North Carolina award, the Tzedek Social Justice Fund’s 2020 Impact Award, and Fayetteville P.A.C.T.’s Certificate of Appreciation. Rob is also a co-owner of the equity consulting firm, Thomas and Smith Consulting and Editing, LLC. Rob uses his lived experience in collaboration with his native connections to inform, educate and mobilize the community to produce systems change. Rob believes that true transitional justice requires redistribution of power and fights to place vulnerable and disenfranchised community members in a decision-making position over processes where they are the most impacted demographic.
Jessica Ann Mitchell Aiwuyor is a Pan African activist and cultural communications specialist based in the Washington, DC area. Aiwuyor is the founder of the National Black Cultural Information Trust. Additionally, Aiwuyor led communications for state lawsuits concerning race, color, familial status, and source of income housing discrimination. She was also a founding staff member of DC-based social justice PR firm, Megaphone Strategies. In addition to her work with national organizations and firms, J.A.M. Aiwuyor serves as the Communications Chair for the Global Pan African Movement, North America, is a member of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America, and is a member of the #Case4Reparations Advisory Committee. As an author and cultural storyteller, her writings about African American cultural heritage and ethnicity have been published and cited across a wide range of publications including Huffington Post, the Business Insider, MSNBC, LA Progressive, and TV One’s “News One Now.” She also publishes books celebrating Black life and culture with her publishing company, Our Legaci Press.
Ryan P. Haygood is a nationally respected civil rights lawyer. As President and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, he leads a majority people of color staff of racial justice advocates whose cutting-edge work – powered by grassroots organizing, research, writing, policy, and legislative advocacy, and litigation – seeks to build reparative systems that create wealth, justice and power for Black, Latina/Latino and other people of color in New Jersey. A passionate advocate, Ryan speaks and writes regularly on issues concerning race, law, social justice, democracy, and power. Ryan received his J.D. from the University of Colorado School of Law and B.A. in American History and Political Science cum laude from Colorado College, where he was nominated for the Rhodes scholarship and earned academic and athletic All-American and hall of fame honors as a football player.
Sheena Brown serves as the Director of Resource Mobilization, ensuring strong relationships and vibrant and fulfilling experiences for the Liberated Capital member community. Additionally, Sheena helps develop grantmaking strategies and strengthens our grantee partners’ ability to do their work and connect to other resources. Sheena is an advisor to the Native Organizers Alliance, a national organization dedicated to building the organizing capacity of Indigenous organizers, tribes, and community groups fighting for transformational policy change. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Resource Generation, a multi-racial membership community of young people (18-35) with wealth and/or class privilege committed to the equitable distribution of wealth, land, and power. She is the Chair of the Organizational Development Committee. Sheena is also a member of the Narragansett Tribe of Rhode Island.
Edgar Villanueva is a globally-recognized author, activist and expert on social justice philanthropy. Edgar is author of the best selling book, Decolonizing Wealth, and is founder and principal of Decolonizing Wealth Project and Liberated Capital. Edgar advises organizations ranging from Fortune 500 companies to global and national philanthropies and nonprofits on advancing racial equity inside of their institutions and through their community investment strategies. He holds two degrees from the Gillings Global School of Public Health at The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. and is an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina.
Will Cordery is a Senior Advisor for Liberated Capital. He has held several roles in the field of philanthropy – from working at large national private grantmaking institutions to managing fundraising efforts for large, international nonprofit organizations. Over his career, Will has developed and implemented multi-million dollar grantmaking and fundraising portfolios. Will received his B.S.B.A. in Business Finance from Xavier University and his M.P.A. from New York University. He formerly worked with Marguerite Casey Foundation, Surdna Foundation, and Wellspring Philanthropic Fund. His philanthropic board leadership includes the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, Hill-Snowdon Foundation. Greater New Orleans Funders Network, Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing, and Grantmakers for Southern Progress. Additionally, Will is an Advisor for the Global Engagement Lab at the EDGE Funders Alliance, and is an alum of the Association of Black Foundation Executives’ Connecting Leaders Fellowship.