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Plenary Panel Speakers

Photo of Ashley BrandAshley Brand, MA, MPH, CPH

Ashley Brand is the Director of Community and Homeless Health for Dignity Health focusing on the new California homeless health initiative which focuses on transforming health and our communities by strengthening the continuum of care for those experiencing housing insecurities through innovation, partnership and lasting impact. Prior to this, Ashley served as the Director of Community and Outreach for Dignity Health's Greater Sacramento Service Area hospitals. As director, Ashley was responsible for developing, implementing, managing, reporting and evaluating community health and community benefit strategies that respond to priority health issues identified through assessments, support hospital business/clinical objectives, and involve collaboration with safety net partners for greater effectiveness and region-wide impact on health improvement.

Ashley has over 10 years of experience implementing and managing programs that target the underserved and uninsured populations in both Northern and Southern California and overseas in East Africa. Prior to Dignity Health, she was responsible for overseeing various programs, grant development and implementation, as well as community relations, with a focus on public and nonprofit safety net agencies. Ashley developed the California Endowment-funded Community Health Navigator Program under their state-wide Building Healthy Communities Initiative; she implemented and managed the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in Auburn, CA and in Long Beach, CA; and provided direct case management services for the Skid Row Families Demonstration Project which removed families from Skid Row in Los Angeles and placed them into housing under the Housing First model. Ashley currently serves on the Sacramento Covered and CARES Foundation Board of Directors.

Photo of Carlos CarterCarlos T. Carter

Carlos T. Carter, is a native Pittsburgher and Executive Director for Homeless Children's Education Fund (HCEF) and Motivational Speaker. His compelling life story and ability to overcome challenges to achieve success and fulfillment in both personal and professional spheres, puts him in a great position, to lead, motivate and inspire others. Prior to joining HCEF, he was a consultant for Holy Family institute/Holy Family Academy and held various Vice President roles in the banking Industry for more than 16 years. He has a passion to empower people and organizations to realize their potential.

A well-recognized leader, Mr. Carter's numerous accolades include the Pittsburgh Magazine 40 under 40 Award, National Diversity Multicultural Leadership Award, New Pittsburgh Courier Man of Excellence Award and prestigious 2019 Lead Now Pittsburgh Fellowship. He earned his MBA from Robert Morris University, a B.S. in Business Administration from University of Pittsburgh, an A.S. from Community College of Allegheny County, and completed Leadership Pittsburgh LDI XV. In his spare time, he enjoys singing, reading, and working out, line dancing, and watching his sons' sporting activities. He has three sons: Elijah, Daylon, and Isaiah and has been married to his beautiful wife Marcia for over 20 years. When he can find a break from all of the above, he can be found working on his first book or writing an article or post to inspire others.

Photo of Melissa Ferraro

Melissa Ferraro, MAOL

Melissa Ferraro grew up in the Carrick neighborhood of Pittsburgh, spent some time living in Mt. Oliver, and currently resides in Jefferson Hills with her husband, two children and two quirky rescue dogs. She was motivated by personal experiences to get involved in social justice efforts and has worked in this sector for almost 20 years. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Behavioral Science and her Master of Arts degree in Organizational Leadership at Point Park University. She is currently the Executive Director at Sisters Place, a supportive housing community committed to assisting families who are experiencing homelessness in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Sisters Place provides housing and wrap-around comprehensive services to help families bridge the gap form homelessness to independent living. Melissa has also worked with the Lupus Foundation of Pennsylvania and the Center for Victims. She is passionate about social justice, mental health awareness and animal welfare. Melissa is an active member of the Women's Interactive Network - Pittsburgh South. She is also a past founding Board Member of the Matt Arch Foundation and past Board Member of Clairton Cares, Inc. In her free time she enjoys reading, writing, bible study, gardening, thrift store shopping, and spending time with family and friends.

Photo of Pamela GoldenPamela Golden
For the past six years, Pamela Golden has served as Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Child Guidance Foundation (PCGF), a private, non-profit grantmaking organization that focuses on the needs of families with children in Allegheny County. Since 2014, the Area of Emphasis for the Foundation has been to mitigate the circumstances of families with children experiencing homelessness through direct grants; research to develop a greater understanding of this complex issue; and by partnering with other organizations to enhance PCGF's impact.

Concurrently, she works as a consultant for regional and national organizations on long-range planning, communications, marketing, media relations and board governance initiatives.

Pamela is an active member of the community. Currently, she serves on the Boards of The Children's Institute and Allegheny County Library Association and the Advisory Board of the Allegheny Regional Asset District (RAD) and works as a volunteer at a hospice care facility, and the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and is a member of The Aurora Reading Club of Pittsburgh.

Golden holds a Master's of Public Management degree from Carnegie Mellon University's H. John Heinz School of Public Policy and an undergraduate degree from the University of Pittsburgh.

Golden has won numerous regional and national awards for her work in the marketing and communications field and for her community service.