About the Speakers
As Vice President for Student Services & Community Engagement and Dean of Students at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, the Rev. Dr. John Welch oversees all community programming efforts as well as the placement and pastoral care needs of the Seminary's students. Following a successful career in the computer technology and information systems management field, he began his community ministry, earning a Master of Divinity degree from PTS as well as a Ph.D. in Healthcare Ethics from Duquesne. In addition to his role at PTS, Rev. Welch shares his time and expertise with numerous boards and advisory committees. He previously served as the head chaplain for the Pittsburgh police and president of the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network, a coalition of over 40 diverse faith-based institutions working to promote regional equity and social justice in the Greater Pittsburgh region. Currently, Rev. Welch serves on the Advisory Council of the Metro-Urban Institute of PTS, is Chair of the Board of Directors of the Gamaliel Network in Chicago, Illinois, serves on the boards of both the YMCA Homewood Branch and Open Hand Ministries, and is a member of the Ethics Committees of Allegheny Health Network's Forbes Hospital and UPMC Passavant.
Senior Rabbi Jamie A. Gibson has led the congregation at Pittsburgh's Temple Sinai for more than 30 years, providing spiritual guidance and support for scores of synagogue members. Additionally, he has served as a Rabbinic Cabinet Member for the Jewish Federation of North America, as co-chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh's Mission to Israel, and a chair of the Greater Pittsburgh Rabbinical Association. Ordained by the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion, Rabbi Gibson studied in Cincinnati and Jerusalem, and holds a Master's degree in Hebrew Letters and an honorary Doctorate of Divinity. He is presently a Rabbinic Fellow in New York's Institute for Jewish Spirituality. Recognized as a brilliant scholar and passionate social activist, he has worked tirelessly throughout the years with leaders from other faith traditions, including the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network, the Greater Pittsburgh Priest-Rabbi Dialogue, and the Muslim Community on Interfaith Dialogue, to promote the ideals of unity, peace, tolerance and spirituality.
Samuel W. Black, director of African American Programs at the Heinz History Center, is an award-winning curator, writer, editor, lecturer, and researcher. He has nearly three decades of experience in museum and historical society institutions, and has served as manuscript curator for some of the most important historical resources in African American history. His work has appeared in numerous peer review journals, encyclopedias, books, magazines, newspapers, and his has written or edited three books. Samuel earned an undergraduate degree in African American Studies from the University of Cincinnati and graduate degree in African Studies from the State University of New York at Albany. He is also 2018 graduate of the Jekyll Island Management Institute. Samuel is a longstanding member and Immediate Past President of the Association of African American Museums. He has also served on the executive council of Association for the Study of African American Life & History (ASALH) and as former vice president of the Dr. Edna B. McKenzie Branch of ASALH in Pittsburgh. He is a member of the Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society of Pittsburgh.
Dr. Mindy Fullilove is a social psychiatrist recognized for her research on the relationship between environmental factors and community wellness. She received her undergraduate degree from Bryn Mawr College and her medical degree from Columbia University. Dr. Fullilove began her career researching AIDS and other epidemics that affected people of color in the US. As it became clear that AIDS was related to place not race, she began groundbreaking research on the psychology of place and the sources and long-term consequences of inequality in American cities. Her work examines how environmental factors can transform cities, such as the effects of violence on neighborhood life, the connection between urban function and mental health, and the ways in which rebuilding energizes a neighborhood. She has authored numerous articles and books on the subject, including Urban Alchemy: Restoring Joy in America's Sorted-Out Cities, Root Shock: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America and What We Can Do About It, and "House of Joshua: Meditations on Family and Place. A distinguished physician and renowned speaker, Dr. Fullilove previously served on the faculty of UCSF and Columbia University. Currently, she is professor of Urban Policy and Health at The New School in New York City.
Majestic Lane was appointed as Deputy Chief of Staff for the City of Pittsburgh, Office of Mayor William Peduto in June of 2017. As Deputy Chief of Staff, Majestic leads the Peduto administration's focus on opportunity for all residents of the City of Pittsburgh in regard to Education, Workforce Development, Safe & Healthy Communities and Digital Inclusion. Additionally, he leads the administration's engagement with national organizations regarding equity and inclusion strategies. Prior to serving as Deputy Chief of Staff, Majestic was the Deputy Chief of Neighborhood Empowerment where he coordinated the administration's neighborhood equity efforts through community driven development and affordable housing initiatives.Before joining the Mayor's office, Majestic served as the Director of External Affairs & Membership Engagement at Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group (PCRG), a membership organization for Community Development Corporations, Community-Based Organizations, and related nonprofits throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania. Majestic also served as the Director of Community Engagement & Strategy at A+ Schools, an education advocacy organization dedicated to improving outcomes for Black & Brown children in Pittsburgh Public Schools, and a legislative aide to Pennsylvania State Senator Jim Ferlo focusing on community development, education & sustainability issues.
Tyian Battle is the founder and executive director of ACH Clear Pathways, a community non-profit established in memory of her son, Amon Cashmere Harris, to provide enriching art experiences to underserved children and families in the Pittsburgh's Hill District and other urban neighborhoods. With a mission to "Nurture the Hearts of the Arts," and numerous partnerships with community agencies and businesses, the organization offers visual and performing arts programming, after-school and through a summer camp, that nurtures creativity and unveils and develops talent. Tyian's commitment to children and families is longstanding. Prior to establishing ACH Clear Pathways, she worked with the YWCA Child Care Information Service as an eligibility coordinator and as an administrative assistant with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit 3. She earned an associate degree in business administration from Duff's Business Institute and a bachelor's degree in business science/organizational leadership from Point Park University.Tyian has received numerous awards for her community engagement efforts, including the "Simply Excellence Award" by Women of Excellence and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr "Dream Makers Award." In addition, she has been recognized as a "Women of Excellence" by New Pittsburgh Courier and as a community leader by Leadership Pittsburgh.
Grant Oliphant has been a positive force in the philanthropy and public service realms for nearly three decades. He has written and spoken extensively on issues of equity, race and social justice and he has worked tirelessly to advance philanthropy and grantmaking initiatives that benefit communities and families in the Pittsburgh region and beyond. Following a six-year tenure as President of The Pittsburgh Foundation, Grant joined The Heinz Endowments as President in 2014 where he has refocused the foundation's work on the core principle of a Just Pittsburgh, supporting commitments and initiatives that enhance the quality of life for all. Through strategic community partnerships, he has overseen many groundbreaking initiatives, including the launch of The Pittsburgh Promise scholarship program for students in the city's district and charter schools and the development of PittsburghGives, an online giving and research portal. Grant frequently leads community conversations around critical issues and he has taken a prominent role in building advocacy programs to support the work of local nonprofits and the families and individuals they serve. He serves extensively on the boards of local nonprofit and national sector organizations, including the Center for Effective Philanthropy, which he chairs. A former journalist, Grant received a Master of Science degree in organizational development from Pepperdine University and a Bachelor of Arts from Swarthmore College.
LaKeisha Wolf has developed her roots across the community working at the intersection of social justice, arts, culture and entrepreneurship. She is a founding member of the Hill District based non-profit Ujamaa Collective, serving as Executive Director since 2013. In this role, LaKeisha focuses on the business affairs and cooperative development of emerging Africana women-owned craft industries. She has over 15 years of experience in community, organizational and leadership development, working and volunteering with young people from elementary through college age and consulting with numerous organizations including Sankofa Community Empowerment, Inc., Community Human Services Corporation, The Legacy Arts Project, Inc., and the Alliance for Police Accountability. She is also a poet, dancer, artist, entrepreneur and a birth doula. She is an advocate of cooperative economics and businesses that are guided by triple bottom line principles. She is inspired by nature and the power of the community when we work together. LaKeisha holds a Bachelor's Degree in Communications from Penn State University (2001) where she served as Black Caucus President, helping to establish the State of Pennsylvania's first Africana Research Institute at PSU. In addition, she's also a graduate of NASCO Institute's Emerging Cooperative Leaders Program.