President: Brian Hence
Brian Hence was born in Detroit, Michigan and has lived in the Washington, D.C. area for the past seven years. During his time in Virginia, he was the treasurer and active member of a local NAACP branch and a member the National Urban League.
Between trips with family, friends, and career opportunities he has traveled to over 15 different countries. His local volunteer efforts include Habitat for Humanity, Anacostia River beautification, and coaching youth sports. His international volunteer efforts include humanitarian aid to Haiti, delivering supplies to a school for abandoned girls in Dominican Republic, repainting a rundown school in Panama, and catering a birthday party for senior citizens in Costa Rica. He currently works in human resources as a corporate and government meetings planner in Maryland and D.C.
Vice President: Amy Lee Walton
Amy Lee Walton is a designer, cartographer, and explorer that operates in the intersection of design, interactivity, and geospatial awareness. Amy Lee currently serves as Designer Engagement and Experience Lead at Mapbox, a geospatial platform and software company. At Mapbox, Amy Lee simplifies complex workflows and narratives and institutes design systems and design thinking into a robust array of interactive and cartographic projects. Amy Lee’s work can range from designing beautiful thematic maps, to leveraging the Mapbox API platform, to writing SQL queries that pull insights from big datasets.
An active speaker and thought leader, Amy Lee has spoken at various events including the North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS), Design Week Portland, Design Week Tallahassee, and Baltimore Data Day, just to name a few. She’s discussed graphic design, creative code, cartography, and visual narrative. Listen to her Revision Path interview for her thoughts on grad school, treating programming like a paintbrush, and changing the way people navigate the planet OR read her Designer as Navigatorinterview with Communication Arts’ Insights to find out how she got started with cartography.
Amy Lee holds an MFA in graphic design from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), where she coalesced graphic design with physical computing, generative and creative code, and digital fabrication. She has featured her interactive, creative art abroad with shows in The Netherlands and project-based video and documentation work in Israel. Amy Lee also serves on the board of the the North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS) and served as Personal and Professional Development Chair in Thursday Network from 2016-2017.
Amy Lee initially joined Thursday Network after noticing a disconnect between the way people of color cultivate and recruit from our networks and the way other races do it. Working in Tech for her entire career, Amy Lee was tired of being a part of the talented 2% of blacks employed at tech companies, like Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, etc. She wanted to challenge the TN membership to build their networks and take more active roles in hiring people of color in their current places of employment. Currently serving as Vice President, Amy Lee is excited about building better processes and systems for running Thursday Network like a start-up. She’s established the two pillars of Technical Literacy and Gender Equality for the 2017-2018 TN term, so be looking for TN programming focused around those initiatives! Please come find Amy Lee at any event to connect with her, pick her brain, or just share your personal or professional stories.
Find out more about Amy Lee from her site, http://studioames.com/
Treasurer: Tequilla Wheeler
Ms. Tequilla Wheeler is a Senior Contract Specialist with the Department of Defense and has held many progressive positions in her 14 years with the federal government. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration/Finance and is DAWIA Certified in Level III Contracting and Level II Purchasing. Moving to the Washington, DC area in 2002, she started her Government career with the Library of Congress and has advanced in her profession through hard work and perseverance. Ms. Wheeler’s leadership skills shine not only in her work product, but in her service to others.
Her dedication to public service has been instilled in her from a young age. Ms. Wheeler has been actively involved in community service for the past 8 years, volunteering with organizations such as the Washington DC Jewish Community Center, the George Washington Hospital Women’s Board, and Capital Partners for Education. Her desire to serve the greater good lead to her joining Thursday Network in January 2016.
Ms. Wheeler recently completed the Washington Headquarters Services (WHS) Aspiring Leader Program, an intensive twelve-month Department of Defense (DoD) leadership program, where she learned core leadership skills and an array of management tactics that will prepare her for greater responsibility within the organization. Ms. Wheeler is motivated by a genuine desire to lead by example and has aspirations of innovating change at the executive level in the near future.
Parliamentarian: Wainie Youn
Wainie Youn is an avid community volunteer dedicated to leveraging her talents and gifts to impact social change. A long-time member of the National Urban League movement, Wainie’s National Urban League Young Professionals journey includes stints on the national Awards, Programs, and Advocacy Committees. Locally, she is a multi-term Executive Leadership team member having held the positions of Vice President, Personal and Professional Development Chairperson, and Public Relations Chairperson. One of Wainie’s most gratifying experiences includes carrying out the duties of a Thursday Network Elections Committee member for four different election cycles. She is grateful for the opportunity to lead those efforts for the 2018 – 2019 Election cycle. In addition to Thursday Network, Wainie also maintains an affiliation with the Greater Baltimore Leadership Association, Greater Baltimore Urban League’s young professional auxiliary. The decorated young professional is an inaugural NULYP Honors Honoree and a past recipient of the National Urban League Young Professionals Distinguished Chapter Leader recognition.
Professionally, Wainie is a Director of Advocacy and Strategic Partnerships for the Autism Society of America, the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots autism organization representing more than 3.5 million people living with an autism diagnosis throughout the United States. She also serves as the organization’s representative on the Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), a coalition of more than 100 disability organizations that advocate for national policies designed to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities.
The proud Rhode Island native earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in African American studies from Syracuse University and a Master’s in Sports Leadership from Northeastern University. Wainie is the Immediate-Past President of the National Pan-Hellenic Council of Howard County (Maryland) and a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.
Secretary: Melissa Gomes
Melissa Gomes was born and raised in Rhode Island and is a first generation Cape Verdean American. Her family originates from the Cape Verde Islands off the west coast of Africa. She has obtained degrees from the University of Rhode Island as well as Michigan State University. She currently works as a Student Support Staff Team Coordinator at a charter school in Southeast DC and is responsible for facilitating the intervention process for students who have academic, behavior and attendance concerns.
She has a passion for working with youth and community service but also expresses interest in animal welfare. In addition to volunteering with Thursday Network, she has spent the past 5 years as a Pet Therapy Volunteer with her poodle, Hershey. She also volunteers with different organizations feeding the homeless and assisting the elderly. She joined Thursday Network in September 2016 and was honored with the Member of the Month award within 6 weeks of joining the organization. In July 2017 she was honored with the Distinguished Young Professional award by the NULYP. Most recently in September 2017 she was recognized by Thursday Network as their Volunteer of the Year.
Melissa has a tremendous love of sports and competition. She currently plays football and volleyball recreationally but has also played kickball, basketball and field hockey. She has also coached middle school girls in basketball and volleyball. In her spare time, she also likes to dance and has learned kizomba, salsa, bachata, merengue, Detroit ballroom and Chicago Style Stepping. She also enjoys solo international trips.
Civic Engagement Chair: Ameshia Cross
Ameshia Cross recently joined the executive leadership team of the National Black Child Development Institute as Director of Policy and External Affairs in August 2017. Previously she was the Manager of Government Affairs for the Noble Network of Charter Schools, the largest charter school network in Illinois and Communications Director for Caldwell Strategic Consulting, a DC based consulting/lobbying firm. She has deep-rooted political ties to Chicago having worked as campaign consultant and chief communications lead for several elected offices at the city and state level. Having worked as a White House fellow, editorial staffer for former VP Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth and communications manager for Gore, she has a passion for progressive policy and devotes her time advancing those ideals. Ameshia holds a BA in Political Science and Journalism from Belmont University and a Master’s in Public Administration from Roosevelt University.
In Chicago, Ameshia helped elect mayor, Rahm Emanuel, numerous Cook County judges and city alderman. She also serves as a policy advisor to Cook County 1st District Commissioner Richard Boykin (former chief of staff to Congressman Danny Davis). In the fall of 2013, Ameshia’s outreach efforts in the black community resulted in her appointment as National Diversity and Outreach Chair for the Young Democrats of America. She also is a Chair of Chicago Young and Powerful’s Policy Team, committed to actualizing and advancing a policy agenda that matters to young, Black Chicagoans. In her spare time she volunteers with the Chicago Youth Centers and continues to serve in leadership roles for the Miss Black IL USA organization stemming from her title as Miss Black Chicago USA 2013. She holds leadership positions in boards across the city, most notably, University of Chicago Hospitals and Mt. Sinai Hospital. She also sits on the board and serves as a mentor for the Chicago Scholars organization designed to prepare low-income and first generation students for college. Her greatest honor came when she accepted the role of Illinois Field Lead for Enroll America’s “Get Covered” initiative, providing communications strategies to increase Obamacare enrollment among low-income minority Chicagoans.
She is also the Civic Engagement Chair and Political Action Chair for the Chicago Urban League, Metroboard, National Director of Diversity and Outreach for the Young Democrats of America, and Political Director for the national foreign policy organization, the Truman National Security Project.
Community Service Events Chair: Chalon Jones
Originally from Port Chester, NY, Chalon Jones has made her way along the east coast with a stop in Newark, Delaware before moving to D.C. and becoming the Community Service Events Chair. Chalon’s dedication to supporting her community started early when she volunteered at a childcare center for young children that were experiencing homelessness in middle school and high school. Currently, she works as a Program Analyst for the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education for the District of Columbia where she provides project management and strategic planning support for District-level education policy initiatives focused on school-based health, student safety, and transportation.
Previously, Chalon worked as a special education teacher in schools within the D.C. and remains passionate about improving education for all students regardless of their race or academic ability. Chalon is excited to bring her unique view to the Executive Leadership Council of Thursday Network and provide unique opportunities for members to support the greater Washington community.
Community Service Programs Chair: Kristin Shymoniak
A native of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, Kristin Shymoniak is the Community Service Programs Chair for the Thursday Network, the young professionals auxiliary of the Greater Washington Urban League. Kristin has dedicated her life to serving her community. Some of her community activism efforts include being the coordinator of Empowerment Academy, an after-school program for middle school students in the Greater Washington area that focuses on empowering students through lessons on health, education, activism, and social justice; developing a food pantry to feed local families; and coordinating a male mentoring program for at risk youth in Rockville, Maryland. Kristin also coordinates the Young Blacks Give Back which is a month-long community service and fundraising initiative for young Black professionals and high school students.
In addition to being a community leader, Kristin is an educator. She received her Masters degree in Special Education with a specialization in autism from the University of Pittsburgh. She is currently an elementary lead special education teacher in Virginia. Kristin is the 2017 AASA and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Women in School Leadership Award recipient. While on summer break, Kristin teaches in Montego Bay, Jamaica and conducts professional development training for school personnel on how to implement best practices when working with students with special needs.
Fund Development: Angeline Jefferson
A New Orleans Native, Angeline moved to Washington DC to attend Howard University. While at Howard, Angeline was very involved in the business school, serving on the student council executive board, and on the board for her business fraternity, the International Fraternity of Delta Sigma Pi. In 2014, she received a Bachelor’s Degree with a concentration in Marketing.
Angeline has found her passion in the non-profit sector. She currently works for local non-profit, Mary’s Center, as a key member of their Development department. Angeline is responsible for the logistics for key fundraising events, including Taste of Adams Morgan and their annual gala. She hopes to bring her experience in fundraising and event planning to Thursday Network.
She is very excited about her role as the Fund Development Chair and the opportunity to help The Movement in the growth and development of the African American community.
Membership Chair: Candace Griffin
Candace joined Thursday Network in January 2016 and currently serves on the Membership committee. Her passion for community service started at a young age when she first started volunteering in local hospitals. Her community service efforts expanded through her church as well as holding several leadership positions in college and becoming a Big Brother Big Sisters mentor. Her hobbies consist of competing in pageants (winning Miss Black Delaware in 2013 and Best Swimsuit in the Miss Delaware USA pageant), modeling, acting and she also likes to read and exercise. Professionally, she is a published researcher and manages cancer immunology and GI clinical trials.
Personal & Professional Development Chair: Genaro Stewart
Genaro Stewart is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. He currently serves as a Senior Foreign Policy Advisor, in this capacity he often provides advisory counsel to the White House, Pentagon and National Security Council concerning national security policy considerations and emerging international geopolitical issues. Genaro has also served as a visiting guest lecturer at the Naval War College and as a course advisor at Duke University. Prior to relocating to Washington, D.C. he spent a considerable amount of time working abroad in over 20 countries ranging from the mountainous country of Afghanistan to the stunning and scenic geography of East Africa.
When Genaro is not engaged in international affairs, he is very passionate about young male mentorship and personal and professional development. He is an active participant in the 100 Black Men of Greater Washington’s Leadership Academy, embracing their youth empowerment motto, “What They See Is What They’ll Be.” His selfless service isn’t limited to his community but he is also a U.S. Navy veteran. Genaro’s extensive experience is a welcomed addition to our executive board, and he is excited to serve and build relations as the Personal and Professional Development chair.
Public Relations Marketing Chair: Allie Saizan
Allie Saizan is a data analyst at the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA). She has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Tulane University and a Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Texas at Austin. At IDA, Allie’s primary focus is military personnel policy evaluation, but she wears many hats. Among other tasks, she performs qualitative interviews, analyzes news articles about service members, and generates databases using publicly available data. Prior to her life as an analyst, Allie was a student journalist.
Her PR experience includes interning with the Press Director of U.S. congressman Cedric Richmond and serving as the PR Chair of Tulane’s women’s senate. Allie’s main goal is using the TN digital magazine to showcase member accomplishments. She is excited to tell stories about members and events and use her analytic skillset to show trends in member participation, fundraising, and professional backgrounds.
Additionally, she will work on long-term organizational strategic messaging and branding. Allie has been a member of Civic Engagement for 1.5 years and Personal and Professional Development for 6 months. She is excited about this new opportunity, and looks forward to building new relationships with members.
Public Relations Digital Media Chair: Sylvester Ezeani
Sylvester Ezeani is a first generation Nigerian-American, born in Washington D.C., growing up in nearby Lanham, MD. A techie at heart, Sylvester holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and is obtaining his Master of Science in Interaction Design and Information Architecture. He works as a web application developer at IBM, currently contributing to a new web solution for the US Census Bureau.
Sylvester has been an official member of Thursday Network since September 2016 and spent prior years as an active member of the Houston Area Urban League Young Professionals, receiving member of the month awards from both chapters. In addition to civic and community outreach efforts with the Urban League, Sylvester has committed to and has been recognized for his contributions to various chapters of the National Society of Black Engineers, advocating for STEM education from primary school through college.
In his spare time, Sylvester likes to improve his UX skills and portfolio by participating in local design meetups. He also likes to travel, domestically and internationally, attend concerts and music festivals, and pick up his camera while doing such.
Social & Cultural Chair: Ashley McDonald
Ashley McDonald is a membership professional with nonprofit experience in higher education and the arts and culture sectors. Ashley currently works as the Assistant Director of Network Recruitment and Retention at Achieving the Dream (ATD), an organization that oversees a national network of over 220 community colleges and guides them through an organizational change process to help them bolster student success. In this role she is responsible for coordinating the processes for recruiting, supporting, and retaining Achieving the Dream colleges.
Before joining Achieving the Dream she worked as the Membership Data Coordinator at Americans for the Arts, an organization that advocates for arts and arts education, where she assisted with the annual recruitment and retention of the organization’s individual and institutional members with a focus on using data to inform strategies. She also managed Americans for the Arts conference scholarships, council elections, and annual awards programming.
Prior to her work at Americans for the Arts, Ashley worked as Marketing Coordinator for the Brentwood Arts Exchange (BAE), an arts facility of the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission’s Department of Parks and Recreation, Arts & Cultural Heritage Division for Prince George’s County, Maryland. Ashley has also served as an AmeriCorps VISTA member for Arts on the Block (AOB) now in Kensington, MD.
Ashley is very passionate about arts and culture and has become very knowledgeable and active in the DC arts community since moving to the area from Michigan in 2010. Ashley is a member of DC’s Emerging Arts Leaders Network and Arts Administrators of Color group. Ashley also serves as a volunteer for Howard University’s James A. Porter Colloquium on African American Art.