Marcus Harris earned his BS in Pre-Med/Chemistry from Pfeiffer University, in Misenheimer, NC. For more than 20 years, he's served as a volunteer, mentor, philanthropist, and community advocate for a variety of different causes and organizations.
Marcus started The Lady Oya Foundation, his first nonprofit organization, in 2002. The LOF focused on empowering domestic violence survivors and their families, through such programs as scholarships, community engagement events, and the arts. He's also served on the board of directors for Read Seed, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides free books to children residing in low-income housing developments.
Christopher Hicks is a native North Carolinian, born and raised in Benson. After attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he double-majored in Political Science and Communications, Chris graduated from the Saint Louis University School of Law.
His early practice focused on family law, but it also involved criminal defense, civil litigation, competency proceedings, juvenile defense, veteran’s treatment courts, and cases against the Department of Social Services. He's also helped people going through all types of crises, whether divorce, death, addiction, or mental illness.
Chris particularly enjoys practicing family law because it allows him to pursue his passion of connecting with people who need help during difficult times. He works hard to be a champion for numerous individuals throughout the community in the midst of what can seem like daunting and overwhelming experiences.
Askia Dunnon is a physician with more than 8 years of research experience in industry, government, and academia. He earned his MD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is currently pursuing an MPH.
Askia's strong curiosity and ability to rapidly acquire knowledge across various different domains serves his clients well. He maintains strong verbal and written communication skills, with a proven track record of writing and publishing for peer-reviewed publications.
Askia is an impassioned community advocate and activist, and his commitment to obtaining equity and social justice for all has helped foster positive change in the lives of countless individuals for years.
Barbara Jessie-Black received her BBA from Augusta University, in Augusta, GA, before moving to North Carolina, where she's lived ever since. She earned her MBA from Meredith College, in Raleigh, NC, and became co-founder of a nonprofit organization whose mission it is to search for innovative ways to achieve socioeconomic equalities in communities through holistic and entrepreneurship-based education.
Currently, Barbara is the President/CEO of CommunityWorx (formerly the PTA Thrift Shop, Inc.), a 68-year-old organization dedicated to enriching lives by building collaborative partnerships and transforming charitable donations into educational and community investments. She's also active in the communities in which she lives and works, by serving on several boards and volunteering her time to causes close to her heart.
Barbara considers herself a "lifelong student" of all things holistic and spiritual, with emphasis on how those concepts influence one's activism.
Akeeya Umstead has been serving in the community since she was a little girl. Her late mother, Cassandra Wallace Umstead, instilled in her the importance of giving back, so Akeeya has always strived to find ways to foster a sense of philanthropy throughout the community.
She's proud to have found a way to merge her passion for helping in the community with her project management skills to create a range of different empowering experiences. This has allowed her to pursue her main goal, which is to help end hunger for those in our homeless and underprivileged communities. Akeeya does this primarily through the MGB Foundation, a charitable organization she recently founded that hosts "pop- up events" to promote community service, volunteerism, and philanthropy.
Sandy Chambers is in her fourth year as Principal of Hortons Creek Elementary, in Cary, NC. She's in her twenty-fifth year as an educator, which includes teaching and administrative experience in the Durham and Wake County Public Schools Systems in North Carolina. Sandy received bachelor's and doctorate of education degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill, as well as a masters of elementary education degree from North Carolina Central University. She's also a TED-Ed Innovative Educator Alumna.
Sandy is extremely passionate about erasing systematic educational structures while growing intrinsically motivated students and teachers. She lives by the Simon Sinek quote, "Working hard for something we don't care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion." Her passion also lies within creating opportunities for all students to integrate technology and experience collaboration, creativity, communication, and critical thinking skills through equitable practices daily. Sandy believes in and strives to become better every day.
Katharine Carpenter recently graduated from the University of Michigan with her B.A. in International Studies and Spanish. She's always been dedicated to serving her community, working as an English-as-a-Second-Language teacher and mentor for several years. During her time in college, Katharine became even more passionate about serving her community, seeking to empower marginalized groups through the use of grassroots initiatives and education.
Katharine first joined The MHF as a development intern, during which time she worked to expand some of the foundation’s existing programs, particularly Neighborfood Express. Currently, she's working and living in Denver, where she hopes to continue to serve her community in many different ways. She's excited to continually learn, grow, and make a positive impact in the world.
© 2021 The Marcus Harris Foundation. All Rights Reserved. EIN: 81-4262845