Speaker Bios

Conference Highlights
Speaker Bios
S.O.B. Awards


Jeff Hayden, State Representative

Jeff Hayden was elected as State Representative to House District 61B in 2008. He serves on several committees, including Health Care and Human Services Finance, Health Care and Human Services Policy and Oversight and Housing Finance and Policy and Public Health Finance and co-chair of the Minneapolis Delegation as well as Vice Chair on the committee Rules and Legislative Operations. In the Legislature, Hayden has advocated for the progressive political change that he has fought for in his community for decades, including issues on economic justice and enacting a single payer health care system to cover every Minnesotan with quality affordable health care.


Jeff has been active in his community, serving as Coordinator of the 38th Street Business Association, a Board Member of the Community Action Agency, and the Board Chair of MAD DADS. He has also served as Board Chair of the Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association and Board Member of the Bryant Neighborhood Association.  Jeff is on the board of Amateur Sports Commission, The Council of Black of Minnesotans and the Midwestern Legislative Conference Innovations Selection Committee.

“Why the focus on Black Male Healing?”

James Muhammad

Minister James Muhammad has personally and professionally served the African American community for 36 years. He organized Black men in Minnesota for the Million Man March, and later the Million Family March. Also a spiritual leader, Mr. Martin founded a prison ministry. He has served as an educational consultant on religious and cultural diversity and founded a non-profit organization of Black men named M.A.R.C.H. – Men Are Responsible to Cultivate Hope. A consultant, teacher, facilitator, mediator and spiritual leader, Mr. Martin now devotes himself to eliminating domestic violence and promoting family peace in the African American community.

Samuel Simmons, ADC

Mr. Simmons is licensed as an Alcohol and Drug Counselor who has over 21 year background in program development, group facilitation, and curriculum development specializing in the areas of Anger Management, Chemical Dependency, Pain Management and working with African American men & young people.  He has a personal commitment to improving the African American Community and vast experience in addressing individual, family and community experiences with intimate partner violence. He was awarded the 2009 Governor’s Council on Faith and Community Service Initiatives Best Practices Award for his work with MN Department of Veterans Outreach Services, prison reentry and in the African American community.


For the last 18 years he has been self-employed as a behavioral consultant in all of the fore mentioned Areas.  He has established a working relationship with African American Family Services, the Father Project, Q Health Services, Minnesota DOC and other organizations around the state of Minnesota and the country.  He has been an active with 100 Men Take A Stand for 3 years. He is currently the Training and Curriculum Development Specialist for the Healing Generations Curriculum for Family & Children’s Service.

“Emotional Health and Healing?”
Lunch Speaker:
William D. Allen, Ph.D., LMFT

Dr. William Allen is a licensed marriage and family therapist and principal in Healing Bonds, a private practice serving individuals, couples and families. In addition to his clinical work, he is a researcher and adjunct professor of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota and a consultant to agencies and government on families and culture, and the various roles males play in family life across the lifespan.

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First Break Sessions Panelists

A. Healing Relationships

Lissa Jones, Executive Director of African American Family Services

Ms. Jones’ passion and love for people is contagious. She engages her audiences with her energy and talent as a public speaker. Through her mastery of written and oral history, Ms. Jones shines light on issues of disparity, race, poverty, privilege and oppression.  She celebrates the diversity in our lives and believes that every culture matters.


Ms. Jones’ compels her audiences to meet one another in the questions presented by today’s social, economic and political climates. She challenges each listener to recognize their own opportunities to make change in the world, their communities and in themselves.  Recognizing that truth is the essence of healing is one of Ms. Jones core beliefs and she eagerly pushes those around her to do so.


Lissa Jones considers it a privilege to be the Executive Director of African American Family Services and has lead the organization for over six years.  Ms. Jones possesses a strong background in organizational development and has used these talents in a very successful private practice.  The recent focus of her varied talents is on cultural competency training in the public, private and non-profit sectors.


“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence”- Martin Luther King Jr.


Harry G. Ford

As President and Founder of Tezet Institute, Harry G. Ford oversees and is responsible for the overall leadership of the Institute.  He is charged with the development of Tezet’s clinical services, community trainings and workshops, and cultural consultation.  Mr. Ford is responsible for the development and implementation of program operations and oversees the organization’s annual budgets and contracts.  Harry Ford provides direct service to individuals and families as an Individual and Family Therapist.  Mr. Ford directly supervises all of the agencies staff and interns, and is accountable for ensuring that all programs are consistent with the mission of the agency. 


A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Harry Ford holds a baccalaureate degree in Religious Studies from Augsburg College and a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Wisconsin-Stout.  He is also a member of the Minnesota and National Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.  Harry serves as a lecturer at the University Wisconsin-Stout in the department of Human Development and Family Studies.  Mr. Ford has also lectured on many current issues related to cultural awareness, work place and family policies, and clinical/helping skills training and development.  In addition, Mr. Ford has served on the Board of Directors for Odyssey Charter School in Brooklyn Center.

Rashida Fisher, BA, ADC, Behavioral Health Specialist 

Rashida Fisher is the coordinator of adolescent services at African American Family Services where she provides culturally specific outpatient chemical health services.  Rashida has worked in various capacities serving diverse populations. Ms. Fisher believes that everyone has the capacity to self-right. Her mission is to empower others to build the capacity to thrive, through the development of resilience. She has also worked with the Minnesota Youth Work Institute to develop and facilitate trainings of working with African American youth.  Ms. Fisher received her bachelors of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota where she majored in Psychology with a focus in Youth studies and African American studies. She also holds a license in Drug and Alcohol Counseling. Ms. Fisher is currently working toward a Master's degree in Mental Health counseling.

Resmaa Menakem MSW,LICSW

Resmaa Menakem has 18 years experience working with families and individuals facing complex and difficult life circumstances, particularly with people of color.  He is responsible for the development and man­agement of curriculum that addresses core system and structural issues including violence, racism and oppression. Active in developing culturally relevant educational and training material for working with people of color dealing with domestic violence. 


Along with Dr. Oliver Williams from the Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community at the University of Minnesota he developed a culturally specific paradigm focused on domestic violence and African American men.  He has published an article with Dr. Abigail Gewirtz from Yale University on “working with young children and their families.”  This article was focused primarily on early childhood development, domestic violence and poverty. 


He spent nine years of co-hosting a radio talk show addressing critical African-American community issues with Congressman Keith Ellison and currently host the “Resmaa in the morning” show for Center for Community Development/KMOJ Radio station, geared towards engaging community in dialogue. Also appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2003 and the Dr. Phil Show in 2005 as an expert in the area of violence, family dynamics, and poverty.

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B. Youth Healing and Education

Larone Greer, Project Imani

LaRone Greer is a county social worker who has worked in the areas of Family Assessment & Children’s Mental Health, and also is the Director of Project Imani, a culturally specific school- and home-based mental health program developed to increase the positive functioning of African-American boys in their homes, schools, and community.  He has over 15 years of mental health case manager experience with African-American boys and their families.  He has served as an Advisory Commissioner for the African-American Men’s Project, served as an Advisory Council Committee member for the Urban Learner Framework for Hamline College, and also serves on many committees for STARS for Children’s Mental Health.  LaRone is a seasoned mental health practitioner in school-based mental health.  LaRone believes a “multi-systemic therapy” is the best approach to therapy that includes the patient, as well as caregivers.  LaRone has spoken locally in Minnesota, as well as nationally, on topics that range from Juvenile Justice to African American Children’s Mental Health to Children in the System of Care.

Tina M. Jackson

Tina M. Jackson is a Faculty member in the Education Department at Minneapolis Community & Technical College, Inver Hills Community College and Metropolitan State University in Minnesota. In November of 2008, Jackson was appointed by community leaders to serve in the position of NAACP Minnesota Chapter Vice Chair representing the greater Twin Cities area to work with communities of color on issues stemming from poverty. She has served for the past three years on the Minneapolis Community & Technical College’s MLK Celebration Planning Committee.


Surviving The Game was founded in 2000 by Tina M. Jackson, a former high school teacher who realized after doing a lot of research on poverty and academic development that teaching students about economic development issues would strengthen their ability to break out of poverty and achieve economic success. The Surviving the Game Conference focuses on educating, empowering and guiding students toward economic development.


Jackson is the Co-founder of Minnesota State University, Mankato Pan African Student Leadership Youth Day Conference, which focuses on educating high school & college students of African descent about national and international issues impacting Pan African people. She served in the role of the Conference Coordinator for eight years. In 2007 Jackson was one of 20 staff members selected to participate in the highly competitive Leadership Academy at Minneapolis Community & Technical College. In 2004 she was selected to participate in the University of Minnesota’s President’s Emerging Leaders Program an was also awarded the Iota Phi Lambda Outstanding Service Green Ribbon Award, a regional award, which recognizes women doing outstanding work in higher education and business related fields. Currently Jackson is pursuing a doctoral degree in education at The University of Saint Thomas in Minneapolis, MN. Her area of research is centered on historical trends of economic development in urban areas throughout the United States. Ms. Jackson holds a Bachelors Degree In Science, and a Masters Degree in Education.

Camille Thomas

When it comes to college, Minneapolis native Camille Thomas has two philosophies: it’s never too early to plan to attend and it’s never too soon to start helping a young person get there.


Caring members of a community establish scholarship funds on a routine basis. It is rare when a person in their mid-20s decides to start one.

Just a couple of years out of college herself, Thomas, a 2002 graduate of Washburn High School, has decided to create and coordinate a scholarship fund to raise awareness and educate others about the importance of higher education. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in holistic health in the College of St. Catherine’s Henrietta Schmoll School of Health.


Thomas also serves as the director of Q Health Connections' program, Preparing Healthy Youth to Transform Tomorrow (PHYTT) Center which assists clients in college preparation, personal and community health development and employment readiness. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.


The Camille A. Thomas Scholarship was created with the intent to provide financial assistance to committed and highly motivated African-American and Latino-American college students.

Tyler Hamblin

Tyler Hamblin has started an "Education Campaign" to encourage students to "maximize their educational experience", embrace positive lifestyle change, and remind our leaders of the importance of education. He also speak, teach, and providing workshops derived from my book “15 Way’s to Get A’s”, which he wrote when he was 14. His messages are positive, motivating, and directed at youth, from a youth.


He has feature news segments on the following television stations: WCCO Channel 4 news, CBS; WLBT channel 3 news, NBC; WAPT channel 16 news, ABC; FOX 40 news channel 40, FOX. And on the following radio stations: KMOJ, WJMI, and WOAD. He has been featured in many publications, including, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the prestigious Highland Villager, The Dayton’s Bluff District Forum, The Spokesman, and others. He is an accomplished public speaker, having spoken at St. Paul Public Schools, Minneapolis Public Schools, Hopkins Public Schools, Harvest Prep School, Mississippi Public Schools, and many churches and recreation centers throughout the nation.


He has his own non-profit called "The Point" which promotes positive events for youths during their free time. He also has a positive clothing line, which has recently released its first shirt called "FAITH". It is wearable collectible art, with a positive message. Most importantly, he is a Christian and is on the Presidents Academic List carrying a 4.2 grade point average. He is a great role model and community leader. 

Second Break Sessions Panelists

C. Fatherhood and Healing 

John Turnipseed, Director of the Urban Ventures Center for Fathering

John Turnipseed is currently the Director of the Urban Ventures Center for Fathering in Minneapolis. He is a product of violence on the streets and spent 10 years in prison, over three terms, before entering The Fathering Center at Urban Ventures as their first client. As director of The Fathering Center at Urban the program now reaches 600 men and 200 women a year.


He has been a prison volunteer speaker for the last 4 years, speaking to over 50+ times. He is a Board Member of Minneapolis MAD DADS, co-author of curriculum with Harriet Tubman Organization on parenting, a Life Coaches for kids and his work has attracted the Amicus organization to select him their first Everyday Hero featured in a TPT public television series. His goal now is to instill a conscience back into society and our culture.


His experiences include 15 years of group facilitation, consulting for numerous organizations on life changes, training in suicide prevention, mentoring, gang intervention and Speaker and Presenter at local and National Conferences.


The movie “Turnipseed” the first in a series of 3 short films about the life of John filmed entirely in Minneapolis and St. Paul, with many scenes taking place in our very neighborhood where John has spent much of his life. A powerful and authentic story about the redemption of a feared gang leader won the Memphis Film festival best short film 2009.


John’s work with Urban Ventures and the City of Minneapolis has made him a role model for the community. He shows us all in a powerful way that faith and hope are the keys to real and relevant transformation.

(Robert) Clarence Jones

(Robert) Clarence Jones is the Community Outreach Director for Q Health Connections'. He has earned both a Bachelor of Arts and Masters degree from Concordia University. Clarence has served as the President of the Minnesota Fathers and Families Network (MFFN). He was a co-author in the recently published book “Black Fathers, an Invisible Presence in America.”


For more than 25 years, Clarence has been involved in youth development and has worked with low income, non-custodial fathers and families, and young adolescence males on male responsibility and health issues. Clarence is the host of ‘Community Health Dialogues’ on KMOJ radio. The show addresses health disparities issues of: heart health, pre-diabetes, spinal health and various cancers.

Guy Bowling, FATHER Project Manager

Guy Bowling is consultant, trainer, group facilitator, motivational speaker and father of two children, David 25, and AveriDiana 8. He has been a community organizer in the field of family support for 15 years and specializes in young fatherhood and male responsibility. Guy has devoted his life to working with low-income fragile families from culturally specific communities in their quest to identify, develop and deliver their purpose. He has become a spokesperson for fathering issues and contributed to Minnesota being labeled as the “Epicenter” of the fatherhood movement.


His recent accomplishments include work around child support reform and revised policy initiatives aimed at increasing low-income-fathers employment and earning prospects. He has also contributed to the development of delivery systems that are inclusive of fathers and serve to move fragile couples and their children toward traditional family formation.


He currently serves on Goodwill Easter Seals staff as the Manager of the FATHER Project, a public/private partnership focusing on young fathers to assist them in supporting their children emotionally and economically. He is a member of the National Center of Fathers and Families, former advisor to the National Center for Strategic Non-profit Planning and Community Leadership, member of the Minnesota Fathers and Families Network, and also a member of the National Practitioners Network for Fathers and Families.


Guy is a recipient of the 2000 “Spirit of Fatherhood Award” at the National Center for Strategic Non-profit Planning and Community Leadership’s international fatherhood conference for demonstrating program excellence.


He has recently formed a collaborative initiative with Ymen Rap Inc., to develop a platform for African American fathers and young males to identify and navigate systems that provide services for their unmet needs. 

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D. Healing and the Church

Pastor Brian Herron
Pastor Alika Galloway
Rev. Devin Miller

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Final Panel: “Focusing on Black Men Healing as a solution”

Atum Azzahir, President and Executive Director, Powderhorn-Phillips Wellness & Cultural Health Practices Center

Azzahir helps citizens create a safer and healthier environment in her community through an "invisible college" that trains Citizen Health Action Teams (CHAT groups) to solve their problems. The Teams broaden the definition of health to include personal and economic development, adequate housing, safe homes and streets, education, employment and job satisfaction, and spiritual well-being. The program created a new multicultural Wellness Center that will offer classes in nutrition and exercise, as well as healthcare services.

For her many efforts and accomplishments, in 1996, Azzahir received the Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leadership Award.

Farris Bell, Community Reentry Coordinator, Minnesota Department of Corrections

Farris Bell has been working in concert with the Institution Reentry Coordinator, focusing on developing relationships with community resources involved with offender reentry. She has served as a member of the steering team for the Minnesota Comprehensive Offender Reentry Plan initiative. Bell has worked as community reentry director and as a caseworker at Lino Lakes.

Rosemarie Sayers, Goodwill/Easter Seals Minnesota


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For information about up come event call 612-721-0106 or

"Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced." - James Baldwin