BMC Board of Directors
Monifa Akinwole-Bandele is a blogger, human rights activist, community engagement consultant, and a co-founder and coordinator for 10 years of the Black August Hip Hop Project, an international activist/artist alliance, with ties in Cuba, South Africa, Tanzania, Venezuela and Brazil. Black August is one of the many programs of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM). As an activist with MXGM, Monifa works on issues of police brutality and political prisoners. Monifa currently serves as the food and economic security campaign director for MomsRising.org, an organization of more than one million members, and the senior training advisor for the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP). Prior to joining NCBCP she led a national campaign to expand voting rights to people with felony convictions in 15 states as the national field director for the Brennan Center for Justice Right to Vote Campaign (RTV) expanding voting rights to more than 250,000 people. A little known fact about Monifa is that her first husband was the artist formerly know as Prince! 😉
Sheena Brown serves as the Development ColorofChange.org and leads the organization’s efforts to strengthen its relationships with supporters and donors to secure the financial sustainability of the organization.
Sheena has over 12 years of experience as a Management & Capacity Building Consultant to community-based organizations and philanthropic institutions. Prior to joining CoC, Sheena held senior development roles at progressive social change organizations such as New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy and Third Wave Foundation.
Sheena volunteers her talents and time to a number of organizations in New York City and Jamaica, West Indies. She has dedicated her career, which spans over 20 years, to strengthening the progressive non-profit infrastructure through her partnerships with Page PAGE 1 of 3 organizations that are primarily led by and serve communities of color, young people and women.
Sheena was raised in New England and received her B.A. in Political Science & Elementary Education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She claims Brooklyn as her home and headquarters.
zakia is a writer, organizer, and Bed-Stuy native. She currently works as Associate Editor and outreach coordinator for The New Jim Crow at the New Press. She has worked as a community organizer at Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE) and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement; as a resource coordinator at Break the Chains: Communities of Color and the War on Drugs; and as a research associate at the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College. She has received fellowships and scholarships from the Fine Arts Work Center, Social Justice Leadership, and the Cave Canem Foundation. In 2013, zakia earned an MFA in Poetry and Literary Translation from Queens College, though she remains a Brooklyn loyalist.
Braeden was first politicized by racial justice organizers as a public school student in his home city of Syracuse, NY. He has a history of urban, rural, student and youth activism and worked in grantmaking for national social, economic and environmental justice movement building. Braeden currently manages fundraising for three small organizing, advocacy and service projects at the Urban Justice Center. In addition to serving on the board of the Brooklyn Movement Center, he serves on the board of Resource Generation and as the treasurer of New Yorkers for Social Justice PAC. Braeden also teaches yoga and believes that healthy, thriving and connected people will incite transformative change in them selves and the world.
Fernando Lorence is the Director of Community and Family Engagement at Families for Excellent Schools, a non-profit organization that seeks to bring together families at the local level to influence education policy. He is also the Co-Founder and Vice President of 500 Men Making a Difference a non-profit grassroots organization in Central Brooklyn dedicated to improving access to resources for young minority males. Over the years Fernando has been an organizer at Democracy Builders and the Harlem Children’s Zone, and was the Chairman of the Community Engagement Committee of the Harlem African Burial Ground Task Force. Fernando founded the Amistad Advocacy Group and was a founding member of the Harlem Clergy and Community Leaders Coalition. Raised in the East New York section, Fernando served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve and is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Maurice is currently supporting the burgeoning movement for Black Lives that grew from the courageous actions of leaders in Ferguson following the death of Michael Brown Jr. He is supporting emerging and preexisting organizations and grassroots leaders dedicated to the issues of state violence, anti-black racism, domestic militarism, and the extra-judicial killing of Black people by police and vigilantes.
Most recently, Maurice held a position as the coordinator of the New York State Civic Engagement Table, a hub for progressive, grassroots organizations to collaborate and use technology to win social justice. Maurice previously served as the downstate organizing director for Citizen Action of New York. Maurice also spent seven years at the Long Island Progressive Coalition organizing a number of electoral and issue-based campaigns.
While studying at Howard University he led organizing efforts against police brutality, and divestment from private prisons and founded the local Amnesty International Chapter. Maurice has also been a member of Malcolm X Grassroots Movement’s people’s self-defense campaign and Critical Resistance‘s New York Chapter.
Although he grew up in Boston, Michael Paone is now a shamelessly proud resident of Crown Heights. He currently works as a Brooklyn Field Organizer for Nextdoor, a social media platform to bring neighbors together. Prior to this, he was the lead community organizer with the New York City Coalition Against Hunger where he coordinated grassroots policy campaigns for food and economic justice. In past lives, Michael served a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA developing and organizing social service agencies and faith-based programs in Central Brooklyn, in addition to working with college and high school students to foster personal growth and learn contemplative practices. In his fun time, Michael can be found meditating on his rooftop late at night or showing you ways to improve your posture.
Janel Quarless is currently the New York Legislative Campaigns Manager for Working Families. She has over ten years in both grassroots and grasstops organizing experience ranging from global and domestic reproductive justice to managing campaigns and overseeing grants around public sector pension defense work. Additionally, Janel served as a member of the Diverse City Fund’s grant making team in Washington, DC for three consecutive cycles before moving back to her hometown neighborhood of Flatbush. She’s beyond pleased to have immediate access to incredible Caribbean food again. As an intersectional Black feminist, Janel is most proud of having the opportunity to edit the book “Black Girls are from the Future: Essays on Race, Digital Creativity and Pop Culture” that was published last fall.
Before becoming a BMC board member James served as its Political Engagement Fellow, organizing and moderating debates between candidates running to represent district 36 in the city council. He has served as a policy advisor to Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Member Gale Brewer, HPD, and WE ACT for Environmental Justice; He has registered youth of color to vote for the New York CIty Campaign Finance Board, managed projects for the NY Civic Engagement Table, and managed canvassers as a squad leader for a Manhattan Borough President race. He currently contributes to DecideNYC, is pursuing a M.S. in Policy and Management at Milano, and lives in Bed Stuy.
Britney D. Whaley
Britney D. Whaley has varied experience working in government relations, nonprofit management and electoral politics. She served on President Obama’s reelection campaign in the battleground state of Virginia and continued to work on and manage local races in Virginia and New York.
Britney is currently the New York City Political Director for the Working Families Party (WFP), New York’s progressive political party. In her capacity at WFP, she is responsible for managing the NYC political program, recruiting candidates for the WFP Progressive Candidate Pipeline Project, and overseeing candidate vetting and endorsements. Most recently, she played an instrumental role in helping WFP and allied organizations make history by electing Diana Richardson to the New York State Assembly on the WFP line only.
Britney served on the Board of Directors of the National Black Graduate Student Association, is a founding member of Capital Cause, and a graduate of the New Leaders Council Fellowship and the Women’s Campaign School at Yale.
Britney earned her B.A. from Howard University, where she authored an award winning journal article on the ideological foundation of black politics. She then earned her MPP from George Mason University.
Britney is a proud Nevadan who loves good southern food and thoughtful greeting cards.