White House Highlights Local Leaders As “Champions of Change” For Following in the Footsteps of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Jan 11, 2012


WASHINGTON, DC – Thursday, January 12th, eight local leaders who are following in the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. will be honored at the White House as Champions of Change. These men and women, who include business and non-profit leaders and community volunteers, have each taken great strides to improve the lives of others through volunteerism and in providing economic opportunity to others in their community.

The Champions of Change program was created as a part of President Obama's Winning the Future initiative. Each week, a different issue is highlighted and groups of Champions, ranging from educators to entrepreneurs to community leaders, are recognized for the work they are doing to better their communities.

To watch this event live, visit www.whitehouse.gov/live at 1:30 pm ET January 12th. The White House's “Champions of Change” are:

James Bailey (Atlanta, GA)

James serves as Market Vice President for the Southeast Region of Operation HOPE, a global non-profit, public benefit organization; America's leading provider of economic tools, services, and financial dignity for the underserved. This fall in Atlanta, HOPE will open its flagship Financial Dignity Center at the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, offering free programs for the community to include Home Ownership workshops, Small Business and Entrepreneurship training, Mortgage Crisis Assistance, Credit and Money Management Counseling, and many other services designed to empower and uplift. Since 2005 under James' leadership in Atlanta, HOPE has helped over 40,000 children, individuals, and families, learn the language of money, start businesses, save their homes, and increase their financial dignity.

A native of Atlanta, graduate of the University of Georgia and member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, James has committed his life to serving others. Firmly believing to whom much is given, much is required, James devotes the majority of his time outside the office mentoring and volunteering with several organizations; most notably serving as Scoutmaster of the Mighty Troop 100, the largest inner city Boy Scout troop in the United States, sponsored by the 100 Black Men of Atlanta.

Todd Bernstein (Philadelphia, PA)

Todd Bernstein is the president of Global Citizen and the founder and director of the Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service, the largest King Day event in the nation. In 1996, Bernstein launched America's first King Day of Service in Philadelphia. For the last seventeen years, the Greater Philadelphia King Day of Service has drawn some 760,000 volunteers. This year, on January 16, more than 85,000 volunteers will serve in some 1,300 projects in the 17th annual Greater Philadelphia King Day of Service. What started in Philadelphia has become a national movement, with projects taking root in hundreds of cities, large and small, across the nation. Bernstein also founded MLK365, which transforms the King Day of Service into a year-round civic engagement initiative. This program promotes and supports sustainable civic engagement by providing ongoing volunteer opportunities, educational programs, and community partnerships across the Greater Philadelphia region.

David W. Brown (Turnersville, NJ)

As a minority business owner for 20 years, David W. Brown has employed dozens of individuals from under-represented communities, provided internships to students of color and made contracting opportunities available to other disadvantaged businesses.

When Brown served as the General Manager for 900 AM WURD – Pennsylvania's only black-owned talk radio station – we provided a communications outlet for minority- and neighborhood-based businesses while preparing African American high school and college students for careers in broadcasting. When he founded BrownPartners – an award-winning ad agency – he created a program called “The Big Pitch” which exposed inner city high school students to careers in advertising through a competition where the youth created campaigns addressing urban issues.

Now as a top executive for United Healthcare as one of the nation's largest health insurers, Brown leads Pennsylvania's Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program making millions of dollars available in contracting opportunities while enabling health coverage for more than 250,000 income-eligible individuals and families.

Finally, as a United Methodist pastor, Brown helped build faith-based social service and economic development programs throughout Philadelphia for the last 25 years.

Edwin Fizer (Park Forest, IL)

Mr. Fizer has been a Senior Companion with the Suburban Cook County Senior Companion program since August 2008. Since then he has demonstrated a remarkable ablility and insight concerning the needs of the frail elderly in Subburban Cook County, located a few miles outside of Chicago, Illinois. Mr. Fizer has resided in the Suburban Cook County area since 1968. He has served on the Senior Citizen Board in Park Forest Illinois and the Montford Point Marines Advisory Board.

Gevonee EuGene Ford (Brooklyn Center, Minnesota)

Mr. Gevonee EuGene Ford has worked in the field of early childhood care and education for the past twenty-eight years, specializing in program development, administration, and policy. He has been at the forefront of progressive education in Minnesota as a teacher, trainer, program director, and community organizer. Mr. Ford is the Founder and Executive Director of Network for the Development of Children of African Descent (NdCAD), a non-profit family education center located in Saint Paul, Minnesota that was established in 1997 and is focused on education and community revitalization in communities of African descent. Mr. Ford's mission through NdCAD is to strengthen important cultural connections within African communities that help prepare children for success in school and life. Mr. Ford has continued a tradition of Black leadership by working with hundreds of children and their families each year to increase reading proficiency and learning confidence amongst students and increased reading levels and academic performance in school as well as increased parental and community involvement in the education of children.

Stephen Powell (New York, NY)

Stephen Powell is the Executive Director at Mentoring USA based in New York, NY. A native of New Jersey, Stephen was born and raised in Newark and East Orange, respectively and now resides in New York City with his wife and family.

He remains driven to lead program expansion and technical assistance efforts for Mentoring USA across the nation in major cities such as Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Newark, NJ. Prior to joining Mentoring USA, Stephen worked in program development and management for local and national non-profits and toured the world with percussive-based dance troupe, Step Afrika, which was developed through his collegiate affiliation, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated (Beta Chapter- Howard University). His passion for mentoring and community are visible is his roles leading the Trinity faith-based mentoring initiative at Metropolitan Baptist Church in Newark, NJ, chairing the USTA Eastern Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and providing technical assistance to the National CARES Mentoring Movement. He is also an Advisory Board Member to the New York City Young Men's Initiative and leads an Open Society Institute sponsored male mentor recruitment initiative entitled MEN-TOUR.

Maureen Roche (Alexandria, VA)

Maureen Roche serves as the director of The Campus Kitchens Project, the national program of DC Central Kitchen. Since 2001, CKP has recovered more than 2 million pounds of food, engaged 45,000 student volunteers and has reinvested millions into the communities where they serve. Under Maureen's leadership, the Project has grown 200% since 2008 to 31 college and high school campuses in 20 states which serve 250,000 meals annually. The Campus Kitchens Project is using service as a tool to strengthen bodies, empower minds and build communities across the country.

Rachel Turner (Philadelphia, PA)

Rachel Turner is the Outreach & Programs Manager at Global Citizen, the Philadelphia-based nonprofit organization that coordinates the Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service, the country's largest King Day of Service event. She manages the outreach and registration process for the thousands of volunteers and hundreds of organizations that participate throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Beyond the Day of Service, she creates and manages sustainable, year-round volunteer and service learning programs for MLK365 and corporate volunteer groups. She serves as the President of the Philadelphia AmeriCorps Alums Chapter and is a member of Women's Way's Young Women's Initiative. She is an alumna of Temple University's College of the Liberal Arts and began her career in public service through the AmeriCorps program, serving one term as an AmeriCorps National member at YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School and another as an AmeriCorps VISTA member at the organization where she currently resides.



Media Contact

Samantha Jo Warfield
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