Dr. Rufus Sylvester Lynch, ACSW Founder, and Commission Chair
Dr. Lynch, is a forensic macro practice social worker and former Dean of the Whitney M. Young, Jr. School of Social Work at Clark Atlanta University. He has lectured at over a dozen colleges and universities; authored or co-authored over 30 published manuscripts in professional books and/or scholarly journals; and has actively participated in over 200 professional conferences, workshops, and training institutes.
Lynch has served in senior staff positions in the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of Pennsylvania’s State Government, serving Lt. Governor Ernest P. Kline, House Speaker K. Leroy Irvis, and Chief Justice Robert N. C. Nix, Jr., and has experience in private industry, higher education, and non-profit management. In 2010 Dean Lynch was recognized as a NASW Social Work Pioneer for his contributions to the evolution and enrichment of the social work profession. 2015, he was elected as a National Board Member of the National Association of Social Workers. In July 2016 he was acknowledged as a Steller Innovator for his pioneering project “The Integration of Responsible Fatherhood within Foster Care Service Delivery and Other Children and Youth Servicing Systems” by Ashoka Changemakers and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Children’s Wellbeing Initiative.
Within the last several years (September 2017, October 2018, & September 2019) in the capacity of Chair of The Strong Families Commission, Incorporated (THE COMMISSION), Lynch convened in partnership with others, three back to back state-wide historic bipartisan and bicameral events on Child Well-Being in Pennsylvania and the Urgent Need for Father Involvement. Two of the events were held in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania and hosted by the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center, to consider the value of Fathers and their contributions to the well-being of Pennsylvania’s children and families. Just recently 9/18-19/2019, the third statewide conference was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at The School District of Philadelphia, Main Administration Building. Further this year (2019), Dr. Lynch spearheaded the drafting of legislation that would create a Pennsylvania Commission on Greater Father Family Involvement to promote the well-being of children and families, with the Commonwealth.
In January of last year THE COMMISSION, under the leadership of Dr. Lynch accredited 12 children, youth and family-focused corporate entities as Father Friendly Flagship Agencies (3FAs) in recognition of their Commitment to the principals of Father Friendliness & Continued Agency Self-Assessment; Willingness to engage in pro bono work designed to consider alternative strategies to removing children from their home and extended family Members; Readiness to stand firm in their belief and value of the importance of fathers being included in their respective service delivery models to children and families; and, Achievement of qualifying as the first inaugural group of accredited Father Friendly Flagship Agencies (3FAs) in America.
Throughout his career Lynch has been defined as a highly talented professional with a national reputation as a successful and visionary leader with an impressive history of positive and proactive contributions to human and institutional development; champion of forward thinking, with a social conscience for implementing actions that have a positive impact on people, society, government and the systems that serve them; and, creator of programs, policies, initiatives, and entities that impact society by means that improve the status quo and creates a better future for all.
Lynch holds a B.A. degree in Sociology from Morgan State College, a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh, with a concentration in Community Organizing and Planning, an advance Certificate in Social Administration from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work, and a Doctoral Degree in Social Policy and Administration from the University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Work, now known as the School of Social Policy and Practice. . He graduated from Dunbar High School in Baltimore Maryland.
George D. Mosee, Jr., Esquire Inaugural Vice Chair of the Commission
After 28 years as a prosecutor, George D. Mosee, Jr., Esquire retired from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office on December 9, 2016. Among other positions he held included Deputy DA for Narcotics for seven years and Deputy DA for Juveniles for 13 years. He last served as Philadelphia’s First Assistant District Attorney. On January 2, 2017 he was appointed Executive Director of the Philadelphia Anti-Drug/Anti-Violence Network (PAAN).
Attorney Mosee experience in both arenas has led him to conclude that the best way to effectuate public safety is through prevention.
Moreover, the institution best positioned to prevent violence and other forms of criminal conduct in Philadelphia, according to Mr. Mosee, is the family. However, as articulated by him, “families need to be healthy and whole in order to produce healthy and whole Philadelphians.” Fully engaged mothers and fathers increase the likelihood that families will be healthy and whole. Mosee’s work in the DA’s Office and with PAAN evidences the need to emphasize providing fathers the opportunity to be fully engaged. To that end he is grateful for the work of the SOC Convening to encourage the Juvenile and Criminal Justice systems to develop approaches that facilitate rather than impede the engagement of fathers with their families and children.
Mosee is a 1973 Central High School graduate. He received a B.A. Degree in 1977 and a Master’s Degree in 1981 from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and a J.D. in 1986 from Temple University School of Law.
Diana Justine Johnson, M.Ed. Board Treasurer Diana, foremost is an educator, business manager, caretaker of her sister, and a servant of God. She resides in Wynnefield Heights section of Philadelphia, and has personally experienced through the separation of her parents, the impact that a father can have on the emotional, physical and spiritual development of a child. She affirms THE COMMISSION’s belief that fathers are extremely valuable in the lives and well-being of their children.
Ms. Johnson’s experience in education and workforce development training has been varied. For example, her overall background and experience is that of an educator and trainer in the areas of business/business education, in nonprofit and public & private education, instructing students from the elementary to college level adults; job readiness training for men re-entering into the workplace prior to release from prison; and upgrading of skills-for adult females and males for re-entrance into the work force. More specific, she has worked for the School District of Philadelphia, Central Office, as a New teacher Coach; Edison High School as a Small Learning Community (SLC) Coordinator; and again at the Philadelphia Department of Education, as a Career Development Specialist. She also served as Dean of Education for a private business school for day and evening students.
Ms. Johnson graduated from Cheyney State University with a Master Degree in Education, with an area of Certification in Secondary Principal. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Temple University, with an area of Certification in Accounting and Type Writing. THE COMMISSION believes that Ms. Johnson’s background and experience will be an asset in achieving its goals and objectives for family unification and agency transformation.
Dr. Rahsaan Roland Turpin, Ph.D. Board Secretary
Dr. Turpin is a child and family advocate and former coaching educator. Presently he serves as a Compliance Coordinator for Aspira Incorporated of Pennsylvania. He is a former primary and secondary educator and therapeutic specialist. Turpin’s work as a researcher officially began with his scholarly research at Walden University. In August 2019, his qualitative study on “The Lived Experiences of Fathers who participated in Fatherhood Programs” was nominated for dissertation of the year.
Although the subject of fatherhood involvement was the focal point at the start of Dr. Turpin’s professional writing, he has since expanded his focus to the welfare of children through parental engagement. Rahsaan recognizes the importance of parents maintaining a commitment to their children’s lives and well-being. In his current role at Aspira, he advocates for partnerships between parents and educators to promote academic success for students.
Dr. Turpin, formally a cohort of the Inaugural Group of Commission Fellows that made up the National Council of Fellows, associated with The Strong Families Commission, Incorporated, will assume the role of Secretary of the Board of Commissioners, beginning on July 1st 2021 and ending June 30th, 2022.
Other Members of the Board
Dr. Amy C. Sagen, LSW, ACSW, MSG Board Content Expert for Conferences, Training and Workshops
Dr. Sagen serves as Chief Operating Officer for the National Association of Social Workers, Pennsylvania Chapter. Her educational credentials include a Bachelor’s of Science in Counselor Education, with a Minor in Gerontology, from The Pennsylvania State University; a Master’s of Science in Gerontology, as well as, a Masters of Social Work, from the University of Southern California; and a Doctorate in Social Work Leadership and Education, from Kutztown University & Millersville University. She also is a graduate of the Non-Profit Executive Leadership Institute at Bryn Mawr School of Social Work and Social Research.
Amy cites THE COMMISSION’s goals and values which are aligned with her personal beliefs towards fathers. “I believe fathers or father figures are of great import and impact on the development of children. Children benefit from the interaction, attention, and care provided not only by mothers, but by fathers, as well.” As a Commissioner, I look forward to continuing my personal and professional advocacy towards the inclusion of fathers’ and their contributions to the well-being of children and families.
Michael A. Golembiewski, B.A., Board Content Expert for Technology and Content Design & Delivery
Michael Golembiewski is the Owner and Founder of Module LLC, a company with a focus on E-Learning Training and Content Development and Consultation, in addition to working as a licensed Mortgage Loan Originator. Previously Mike worked as a Product Training Manager at CPI Card Group in Nashville, Tennessee. In his role, Mike oversaw the vision, creation and implementation of a thorough training program for a leading card manufacturer and personalization company. He has also been employed as an Operations Coordinator for a home health care company specializing in providing care for the intellectually and physically disabled. Michael volunteers with Habitat for Humanity, Helping Hands, and Hands Over Nashville on a regular basis.
Michael earned an Associates Degree in Business Management from Nashville State and a Bachelors Degree in Music Performance with a focus in Business from Tennessee Technological University upon serving on an anti-terrorist security team in the United States Marine Corps. He enjoys the Performing Arts and has performed such in venues such as St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City and St Marks Cathedral in Venice, Italy as a member of Tennessee Technological University’s premier vocal ensemble. Most recently, Michael performed in a several short films, as well as the Feature Film "More To Life", filmed in Nashville, TN.
Michael is a devoted single father to a wonderful 11-year old son. He has first-hand involvement with overcoming the barriers confronted in the current family legal system. He is excited about the opportunity to contribute to the Strong Families Commission as an advocate for equal parental participation in children’s lives.
Officer Ari Summers, B.A. Co-Chair, Board Governance Committee As THE COMMISSION’s Founder and Chair, it gave me great pleasure to nominate Officer Summers, West Philadelphia born, raised and educated, to become a member of The Strong Families Commission, Board of Directors/Commissioners. Ari is a person that I have known since he was a toddler. His deceased grandfather (James Purnell) was a loyal Committeeman of mine, when I served as the Democratic Ward Leader of the 51st Ward, in Southwest Philadelphia, where Officer Summers now serves and has served the community there for the last six years. I have watched Ari grow from a young man looking to build a career for himself to serving on the City of Philadelphia’s Police Force, without the help or guidance of a father or grand-father when he most needed them both. He graduated from Mathematics, Civics, and Science Charter School, Strayer University with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, and is currently engaged in a Master of Public Administration Program at Strayer University. Ari understands clearer than ever that it is important to have civic connections outside of work to help keep him grounded to who he is and where he has come from.
Mother Nadine Blackwell, RN, MS-LVT Chair, Board Governance Committee Mother Blackwell, retired educator, nurse, and low-vision specialist, has been a resident of North Philadelphia for over sixty years. She graduated from William Penn High School where her community activism was often frowned upon. Notwithstanding, she continues to this day serving her community by giving of her time to many liberation causes, including those that support the rights of Fathers to be engaged in the lives of their children and families.
Dr. John G. Taylor, PhD Board Content Expert on Best Clinical Practices for Serving Men John G. Taylor, PhD, M.Ed., MACC, LPC, is an Author, Assistant Professor, Sexuality Educator, Christian Therapist, Licensed Professional Counselor, and Media Personality in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His book: Pocket Guide for Young Men without Fathers: Important life lessons, was published January 2018. He is also the host of the Spotify podcast: My Mortality Matters: The Voices and Lives of Black Men and co-host of the Podcast: The Common Guy and The Doctor. He counsels individuals, couples, and families that are dealing with depression, anxiety, suicidal ideations, relationship issues, domestic violence, sexual violence, and sexual identity.
John is passionate about educational and public health initiatives that address issues involving Black men and their families. John works as a liaison for organizations, churches, parents, adults, and adolescents so that constructive conversations about sex and sexuality can occur. John’s research focuses on the impact of structural violence on the mental health and sexual behavior of Black men. Throughout his career, John has held positions such as: Correctional Officer, Probation/ Parole Officer, Domestic Violence Group Facilitator, HIV/AIDS case manager and addictions counselor. These positions have allowed him to help individuals working through various stages of development in their lives.
Jamir J. Coker Board Coordinator for Young Male Initiatives Jamir Coker is a young Philadelphia Native with a wide skill set in marketing and media. His company Black Men in Fashions is a multimedia platform centered on the betterment of African American Males and the expression of their culture. Jamir is creative and results-driven, and a social media influencer with experience in online marketplace building and event coordination. His skills include: Professional and Creative Writing, Video & Music Production, Graphic Designing, and Internet marketing.
Business experience includes, but not limited to, Black Men in Fashion, since 2016. He has been successful in building an organic following of fans and customers (over 250,000 currently), coordinating events such as award shows and small-scale festivals, and Building online retail marketplace spaces.
Jamir attended Full Sail University, and focused on Music Business, with emphases on: Personal Branding, Entertainment Law, and Internet Marketing.
Michael J. Flott Board Director of Communications Michael retired at the end of December of 2010 after 29 years as a sales professional in the printing and graphic arts communication industry in the Philadelphia area. Prior to that he worked as an accountant for eight years in Washington, DC area in both private industry and the Federal Government. After retiring from his sales position, he developed in 2011 the “I CAN DADS Coaching” program to encourage men and their children to build healthy relationships and repair broken ones.
Michael completed the Phoenixville Community That Cares (CTC) Father’s Workshop on the “Foundations of Fatherhood” in March of 2006. He then became a volunteer for the class for two years before becoming a certified facilitator in September of 2008. Since then he has been an advocate for fathers, children and families. In fact, in 2012, Michael joined the staff at Carson Valley Children’s Aid, where he facilitated an interactive group process for men, for nearly ten years, focused on helping men address issues that impact their children lives, as well as their own.
Michael has been a community partner of THE COMMISSION since it began its first statewide symposium in 2017. In that regard, we are pleased that he is willing to join our ranks.
Michael has been married for over 45 years, is the father of 5 children and four grandchildren. He is the eighth of 13 children from the same parents that all lived together in the suburbs of Washington, DC. He’s a graduate of St Francis University, with a BS in Accounting.
Corporate, Administrative, Program, Research, Field Operations, and Event Volunteers
Reizdan B. Moore, Esquire, Legal Counsel
Mr. Moore is the first African American to serve as Parliamentarian of the House of Representatives in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. During his four years of service in that position, he assisted both Democratic and Republican speakers as an advisor on the proper conduct of meetings from the floor of the House of Representatives. In addition, Moore has served for more than 29 years as a senior counsel or chief counsel to seven speakers and leaders of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
Moore is a member of the National Association of Parliamentarians and the American Institute of Parliamentarians. In 2012, Moore served as Parliamentarian for the African Methodist Episcopal Church at their 8-day 49th Quadrennial Session of the General Conference in Nashville.
In the 1980s, Moore was elected to serve two consecutive four-year terms on the Harrisburg City Council, and was elected by council members to serve for six years as its president. During his tenure as president, Moore shepherded more than $750 Million in economic development and infrastructure improvement projects through city council.
Moore is a graduate of Haverford College with a B.A. in Economics and J.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania.More recently, Attorney Moore has commenced the private practice of law with a concentration of practice on matters involving legislative affairs, employment, contracts, election law, and representation of client interests before Pennsylvania agencies, authorities, and commissions.
Dr. Virginia J. Smith, A. C. S. W., Director of Research
Dr. Virginia J. Smith is a Professor in the Masters of Human Services Program at The Lincoln University, where she teaches social science research, planning, and program evaluation. She is also Co-Director of a degree completion program in human services for adult learners. Her area of concentration during her doctoral studies was social analysis and planning. She is an independent consultant in the area of research and evaluation and has evaluated several fatherhood programs. She serves as Director of Research for the Institute for the Advancement of Working Families. Dr. Smith has a Ph. D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of Pennsylvania. She earned her Master of Social Work Degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Bachelor’s degree from Temple University. She is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers and a Licensed Social Worker in the State of Pennsylvania.
Vernon D. Brown, B.A., Field Logistics Coordinator Mr. Brown is a native of North Carolina, the oldest of four children and a graduate of Atkinson High School. After graduation, Vernon joined the Army's Elite 82nd Airborne Division, where he served for three years completing tours of duty in several countries (Germany, Italy, and South America). He was honorably discharged in 1974 when he relocated to Philadelphia. After working for several years with the U.S. Postal Service, he enrolled at Eastern College (now Eastern University), where he obtained a Bachelor degree in Sociology and Youth Ministry.
As a member of Sharon Baptist Church, (1982) he began and headed their first Youth Ministry Program for four years. He graduated and eventually moved on to serve as Youth Minister for several other Philadelphia Churches, while consulting with others as they created youth programs of their own.
Mr. Brown was a Philadelphia City Department of Human Services social worker for several years, counseling delinquent teens and ended his social work career in the Foster Care Unit with the Juvenile Justice Center. While working in that unit, he and his wife became foster parents themselves and opened their home to a number of foster children. For the next ten years, he went on to teach sixth grade in the public and charter school system, where he distinguished himself as an excellent educator and mentor to students. His decision to teach came after being approached and recruited by Concerned Black Men of Philadelphia.
Currently, Mr. Brown is semi-retired and devotes much of his time to organizing community folk to become activists for social change. He is the father of three children, two boys and a girl, ages 23, 25 & 28; all of who live on their own and are doing well.
VeRita Amelia Barnette Lynch, Chair of Volunteers Chair, Event Volunteers Mother of 3 daughters and one Son, and wife of the Commission Chair. VeRita is a Registered Nurse and a retiree from the City of Philadelphia, Department of Public Health, after 37 years of service. Within a year of retirement she was sought after by a number of medical institutions within the Philadelphia Metropolitan area, including many outside of Metropolitan Philadelphia.
However, as a Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania Graduate, it was no surprise that she was actively recruited by the University of Pennsylvania, Department of Student Health Services, where she agreed to join their Immunizations Division, part-time. She spent another 9 years attending to the needs of students and other University personnel who required annual flu vaccines, vaccines needed for travel like yellow fever, and all types of vaccines needed to be compliant with University requirements.
VeRita served as a Captain in the Pennsylvania National Guard and Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force Reserves, as a Flight Nurse Officer.
Elyse Diane Spearman Event Volunteer
Elyse Dianne Spearman has been the consummate volunteer with The Strong Families Commission for the past 5 years. She has never failed to respond to its call for assistance, and has always taken her assigned responsibilities and tasks seriously.
Elyse is a retired nurse from the City of Philadelphia. She worked at Philadelphia General Hospital (PGH) for a number of years until its closing. She was transferred to the Philadelphia Prison System and then to the Philadelphia Public Health Department. She also held positions in various mental health, drug and alcohol facilities, and finally the State Prison System.
Elyse is a resident of Philadelphia. She was educated in the Philadelphia school system, and majored in Science at Penn State University. She attends St. Barbara's Roman Catholic Church in the Wynnefield section of Philadelphia. Her hobbies include arts and crafts, traveling, attending both Broadway and local plays and concerts.
Commission's 2021 Fellow of the Year
Duchess Arrita Robinson, MS Founder, Duchess Robinson, LLC Accepts Invitation to Join THE COMMISSION as a National Fellow
Ms. Robinson will assist THE COMMISSION in the development of a Digital Marketing Strategy to promote Pennsylvania's Fatherhood Initiative PAGFFIC, also known as the Pennsylvania Greater Father Family Involvement Campaign.
Ms. Robinson's personal commitment and interest in internet marketing and graphic design has caused her to become a go to local resource for mentoring and influence of organizations interested in developing a digital marketing presence, using her professional expertise gained over time.
Most Celebrated Agency of the Year for it's TRANSFORMATION
Karen Andrade-Mims, Executive Director, The Father Center of New Jersey Karen Andrade-Mims, currently Executive Director at The Father Center of New Jersey (TFCNJ), is at the helm of New Jersey’s oldest nonprofit dedicated to child welfare. Her vision of strengthening families by strengthening fathers is realized through programs that support and empower men. Under her leadership, TFCNJ, formerly UIH Family Partners and Union Industrial Home for Destitute Children of Trenton, has been the recipient of numerous community awards, proclamations, and commendations.
Karen has a comprehensive background that includes administration, supervision, training, technical assistance, program implementation, and compliance monitoring. Ms. Andrade-Mims, a member of Pi Alpha Alpha National Honor Society, is a 2007 Leadership New Jersey Fellow who earned a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Rutgers University.
The Strong Families Commission, Incorporated (THE COMMISSION) selected TFCNJ as its Agency Recipient to receive the 2021 Inaugural “3FA Transformation Award,” for four primary reasons: 1) they joined the Stoneleigh Foundation Fatherhood Integration Project later than any other participating agencies; 2) they traveled farther than any other organization to participate in Philadelphia’s Father Friendly Flagship Agency Community of Learners; 3) through their Executive Director and two of their top staff, they were most active in the work required of the Community of Learners, especially the Executive Director, who worked tirelessly in the development of the 2020 3FA Accreditation Process Manual & Summary Guide with Appendices https://www.thestrongfamiliescommission.com/3fa.html; and, 4) the Executive Director and its Board actually moved forward to transform their agency by explanation, from a local presence in Trenton, New Jersey (TFCNJ), to communities in both North and South Jersey, thus, redefining themselves as The Father Center of New Jersey.
The good news is THE COMMISSION’s “3FA Agency of the Year Award”, carries with it a commitment from the Board of Commissioners to partner in some initiative of The Father Center of New Jersey that will assist with its further transformation to influence child and family policies and programs that are inclusive of men, within families. Stay tuned, THE COMMISSION will keep you posted on The Father Center of New Jersey.
2020 Inaugural Members of the National Council of Fellows
Inaugural Chair of The National Council of Fellows Patricia L. Charlemagne, J.D., M.P.S.
Patricia L. Charlemagne, J.D., M.P.S. is the Executive Director of Community Schools & Youth Development and General Counsel for the Educational Alliance. Educational Alliance brings together diverse communities in Lower Manhattan (New York), offering individuals and families high quality, multi-generational programs, and services that enhance their well-being and socioeconomic opportunities. As the Executive Director, Patricia is responsible for a portfolio of seven public schools serving nearly 2,000 elementary and middle school students with program staff of 200.
Ms. Charlemagne leads the development and implementation of programs designed to support all members of the local school communities during the traditional school day and out of school time, including evenings and summers. For students, that includes providing meaningful spaces for social, emotional, cognitive and academic development. For adults, that includes a wide range of cultural events, lectures, innovative programs and access to needed social services and wellness care.
With nearly 15 years of experience developing culturally resonant and responsive after school programs for traditional public schools and charter schools, combined with the practice of small business and non-profit law, Ms. Charlemagne continues to serve as an advocate for those with limited financial means and a wealth of cultural resources. Ms. Charlemagne holds a B.A. in African-American Studies and Government from Wesleyan University, an M.P.S. in Africana Studies from The Graduate School of Cornell, and a J.D. from the James E. Beasley School of Law at Temple University, with a license to practice law in the State of New York. She is currently a doctoral candidate in the Mid-Career Educational Leadership Program at the University Of Pennsylvania Graduate School Of Education. Her content areas of expertise include after school programs; community and family engagement; positive youth leadership development, college readiness, and career exposure; the administration of justice and public safety from an educational and legal perspective; workforce development; and diversity, equity, and inclusion for non-profit corporations, district public schools, and charter schools.
Ms. Charlemagne is a long-standing member of the Board of Trustees for Urban Dove Team Charter School Management Organization with high schools in New York. She is the recipient of the MRM Term Scholarship Fund (2019-2020 and 2020-2021) to test promising ideas and generate best practices in culturally resonant community-school partnerships.
Ms. Charlemagne serves as the Inaugural Chair of The Strong Families Commission, Incorporated (THE COMMISSION) National Council of Fellows, a national nonprofit that advocates for the full inclusion of fathers in promoting the well-being of children and families. Her Fellowship will address the development of a collegial education model that will serve the next generation of father, child and family Practitioners & Scholars interested in making informed contributions to society's understanding of the importance of a Father’s Involvement in the Lives of Children and Families.
Ms. Charlemagne is the mother of two Alix (7) and TK (3) and wife of an Army Veteran and Special Education educator and school leader, Frank. She is committed to ensuring that all children can have access to the resources and support that will enable them to become promising, global citizens.
Visiting Faculty Fellow/Inaugural Chair of Task force on The Right of Children to have access to both Biological Parents Debra Pontisso, MPA Chair of the National Responsible Fatherhood Roundtable Ms. Pontisso began her 33-year career with the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in 1979 and, at the time of her retirement in November, 2012, she had been working in the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) managing the [Child] Access and Visitation Grant – a $10 million per year program authorized by Congress based on the goal of increasing noncustodial parents’ access to and visitation with their children. During her long tenure with HHS, she held various positions in the Administration on Aging, Office of Community Services (anti-poverty and community development programs), and Office of Refugee Resettlement. She also served as Associate Director of the U.S. Commission on Child and Family Well-being (1994-1996) which involved holding public hearings throughout the country and preparing a Report to Congress and the President which contained recommendations for removing the obstacles to and increasing the involvement of fathers in the lives of their children Ms. Pontisso also worked briefly with the U.S. Senate Committee on Aging as part of a rotational assignment related to her selection as a federal government Presidential Management Fellow. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California (1979) along with graduate studies in gerontology and a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Sociology from the University of Northern Colorado (1975). Ms. Pontisso remains committed to further advocating the needs and best interests of fathers and families and has acquired a particular expertise in national policies affecting unwed parents and their children.
*Visiting Faculty Fellow - Status is approved and granted at the discretion of THE COMMISSION’s Board of Commissioners. Visiting Faculty Fellows are invited for short or long term appointments, they are very distinct from Commission Annual Fellows, in that they are autonomous intheir service to THE COMMISSION. For example, Visiting Faculty Fellows can determine whether their contribution is in partnership with THE COMMISSION, under the jurisdiction of THE COMMISSION, or independent of THE COMMISSION, but clearly contributes to THE COMMISSION’s Mission, Vision, or Call for Advocacy. Those Visiting Fellows who propose Independent Projects must acknowledge their association with THE COMMISSION and how THE COMMISSION has helped to inform their work.
Inaugural Chair of Administration of Justice/Public Safety Workgroup G. Lawrence DeMarco, LLM
G. Lawrence DeMarco, LLM, (Larry) graduated from Dickinson College Cum Laude in 1990 and Villanova School of Law in 1993, and the Temple Law School Trial Advocacy Master’s Program in 2003. His firm, DeMarco & DeMarco, P.C., is a general law practice with a focus on litigation and workers’ compensation. He serves as a Judge pro-tem for the Court of Common Pleas Court system, a board member for the Justinian Law Society, a custody mediator, and the founder of www.familylawcoaching.com (legal information and resources for low-income family law litigants).
Larry believes that the mainstream media perpetuates the legal and social problems plaguing families and fathers because it’s motivated strictly by business interests, financial gain, and its own agenda that runs contrary to that of the Commission. He focuses on digital marketing, online networks, and social media to fill the void created by the mainstream media’s failure to educate about the common problems plaguing the modern family.
Through his Fellowship, he will now turn his attention, knowledge and skills to the administration of justice/public safety and the use of social media to educate the public, including philanthropic, public & private non-profits, as well as business, corporate, government, and community leaders of the need for more effective supportive services to sustain families, inclusive of fathers.
His past experience includes volunteering for the Support Center for Child Advocates, serving as a board member and board secretary for Comhar, Inc. (a non-profit serving special needs clients), and teaching Mock Trial with the Pennsylvania Bar Association.
Inaugural Chair of Behavioral Health Workgroup Dr. Eugene Herrington, Ph.D., M.S.W., M.Div., L.C.S.W.
Research Interest: African American Adolescent Males, Spirituality and HIV, and large family birth order characteristics with serious psychological distress (SPD) birth order issues. Honors and awards to name a few include: Distinguished Service Award, National HBCU Substance Abuse Consortium; Certificate of Appreciation, Morehouse School of Medicine Training Program, Certificate of Appreciation, Historically Black Colleges and Universities Webinar Program, and Distinguished Faculty in Master’s Degree Addiction Studies Program, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
Inaugural Chair of Child Support Custody, Services & Enforcement Workgroup Sulaiman A. Wood, MSS, MLSP
Sulaiman A. Wood, is the current manager for the Benefits Access Unit (BAU) and team member of the BenePhilly campaign where he is a senior staff member for the City of Philadelphia, Office of Community Empowerment & Opportunity (OCEO). The BAU provides direct services and access to public benefits to Philadelphians to help alleviate poverty as part of the mission of CEO and Shared Prosperity, the City’s antipoverty plan. He has also provided leadership on the ID Philly, Family Savings Account, Limited English Proficiency and Philadelphia Roadmap for Safer Communities initiatives. Sulaiman has spent over 19 years working with low-income families and communities throughout Philadelphia. Before arriving at the OCEO, Sulaiman spent over 13 years at Public Health Management Corporation where he worked in direct service, managerial and administrative roles for various programs focused on low-income parents and youths such as the Department of Human Services Parenting Collaborative, Resources for Children’s Health’s Focus on Fathers parenting program and The Bridge Intensive Prevention Services (BIPS) program. In addition to providing direct support to families in need, Sulaiman has worked on a number of local, state and national policy issues that impact communities and families, specifically fathers and non-custodial caregivers, through his roles on various committees and coalitions such as the Executive Committee of the Philadelphia Fatherhood Practitioners Network; Chair of the Philadelphia Council for Fathers and Families; member of the Pennsylvania (PA) Joint State Commission of the Children’s Rights of Incarcerated Parents; and Chair of the Institute for the Advancement of Working Families. Sulaiman is a former member of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), PA Chapter of NASW Northeast Division Steering Committee. Sulaiman is a native of North Philadelphia. He obtained his Bachelors of Science with honors in Psychology with a minor of Sociology from the University of Pittsburgh; and earned his Masters of Social Services and Masters of Law and Social Policy from Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research. Sulaiman is also a Leading for Change Fellow at Drexel University, Lebow College of Business.
Inaugural Chair of Dependent, Delinquent & Crossover Children and Youth Workgroup Dr. Julia M. Kobulsky, PhD
Julia M. Kobulsky, PhD, joined the faculty of Temple University’s School of Social Work in July 2018. Prior to this she was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Maryland, School of Social Work (2016-2018) and a doctoral training fellow of the Administration of Children, Youth and Families (2014-2016). She received her doctorate from Case Western Reserve University’s Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences in 2016. She worked for six years at Beech Brook, a Cleveland-area nonprofit organization where she conducted research and evaluation on a continuum of prevention and intervention programs for emotionally disturbed youth. The goal of Julia’s research and teaching is to support the mental and behavioral health of youth involved in the child welfare system. She conducts research on adolescent substance use and other behavioral health problems in child welfare populations and on the measurement of child maltreatment. She also has an interest in program evaluation and implementation science, and is passionate about collaborating with child welfare and behavioral health agencies to support innovations to improve outcomes for youth and families. As a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Maryland, she served as an evaluator on the National Adoption Competency Mental Health Training Initiative (NTI), an eight state pilot of an online training program for the mental health and child welfare workforces.
Inaugural Chair of Early Childhood Development Workgroup Dr. Jeffrey K. Shears, Ph.D.
Jeffrey Shears is a joint appointed Professor in the Social Work Departments at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University & UNC-Greensboro, where he is also the Director of the Joint Master of Social Work Program (JMSW). Dr. Shears earned his BSW and Masters in Education Administration from North Carolina A&T State University and his PhD in Social Work from the University of Denver. His research interest include father’s influence on children’s development, fathering in racial minority families, and working with fathers in child welfare. Dr. Shears has an extensive list of academic publications on fathering featured in national and internationally refereed journals. He is co-author of the acclaimed “What all Dads ShouldKnow” (Create space Publishers, 2011).
Inaugural Chair of Education Allan Shedlin
Allan is the father of three, the grandfather of five, and the "bonus father and grandfather" of many. He is a former teacher/professor, school principal, founding Executive Director of the National Elementary School Center, Founder and President Emeritus of REEL FATHERS, parenting coach, and researcher. He is widely published in the popular and professional press and has consulted, written, and spoken extensively on the topic of fatherhood and daddying (a term he coined in 1994). He is also noted for his consulting with the Obama and Reagan White Houses as well as on radio and television. Mothering Magazine named him a "living treasure", the first male to earn that designation.
He currently serves as the Founding DADvocate of the DADvocacy Consulting Group as well as the Creator of the Daddy Wishes Fund and also the Daddy Appleseed Fund. He earned his elementary and high school diplomas from the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, his BA from Colgate University, his MA in elementary and special education from Columbia University's Teachers College, an ABD in educational administration from Fordham University, and he continues to earn his DAD. He believes strongly that fathers are important to children, children are important to dads, and families and communities are better off when fathers and children are positively involved in each other’s lives.
Inaugural Chair of Housing, Supervised Independent Living, and Homelessness Workgroup Angela McIver, MSS, LSP
Ms. McIver is a champion of fair housing rights for all American. She joined the Fair Housing Rights Center in Southeastern Pennsylvania as Executive Director in November 2007. By 2013, she was promoted to Chief Executive Officer and elected Board Secretary. She has over 26 years of human service experience and specializes in developing institutional and organizational networking, community partnerships, and coalitions affecting adults and youths. In 2016, Angela was appointed to the Pennsylvania Advisory Committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights until 2020, and she had been elected to the board of the National Fair Housing Alliance.
Angela is co-founder of Women Cultivating Women, an association that serves to strengthen intergenerational relationships among women and empower women and girls from various socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds on social and gender specific issues. She volunteers with several community and grassroots organizations and will advocate or operate as a broker of human services for anyone who expresses the need.
In her acceptance letter of appointment to THE COMMISSION, Angela writes “At the heart of being a woman of African descent is my understanding of family…Families can forgo many luxuries; however, housing, of some sort, is not one. It is a basic need. It also has civil and human rights aspects that must be fought for and demanded by all, if we are to live in a society in which we have strong families on purpose.”
Inaugural Chair of Parent Education/Supportive Services Workgroup Anita Kellerman Kulick
Anita Kellerman Kulick is President / CEO of Educating Communities for Parenting and Board Chair of the Pennsylvania Parenting Coalition. Ms. Kulick has worked in the field of education and parenting for over 40 years, first as a Philadelphia public school teacher and for the last 15 years developing and implementing specialized programs and services for highly at-risk children and parents including those who are: trauma impacted, adjudicated delinquent, in foster care, or living with their children in homeless and substance recovery residences. Ms. Kulick is a member of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philly.com Health Advisory Panel and is a contributing writer for the Healthy Families blog. Ms. Kulick serves on a wide variety of boards and commissions throughout the Region including: the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance, the Parent-Child Home Program, The Pennsylvania Prison Society’s Working Group for Children of Incarcerated Parents, and Norristown Educational Theatre. Ms. Kulick is a passionate advocate for children, youth, and families.
Ms. Kulick has a B.S. in Education from Pennsylvania State University, an M.A. in Education from Arcadia University, is an IFP Certified Parenting Facilitator, a Certified Trauma-Competent Family Professional, and holds a Certificate from the Drexel University Goodwin College of Professional Studies in Positive Psychology.
Inaugural Chair of Public Health Workgroup Dr. Kirk Edward Harris, MPA, JD, PHD, Esq.
Dr. Harris is CEO and Co-Designer of Fathers, Families and Healthy Communities (FFHC), a citywide initiative in Chicago that seeks to strengthen the engagement of low-income non-custodial African-American fathers with their children, families and communities. Dr. Harris has sought to aggressively advance policies that more effectively support vulnerable families and communities. He is considered a national expert in the areas of public policy related to responsible fatherhood, family support practice, community building and economic development, parent-engagement and leadership and anti-poverty strategies. In his capacity as a national expert, Dr. Harris has testified before Congress on issues related to fatherhood, family strengthening and community building. In addition, Harris served as the national facilitator for the National Fatherhood Leaders Group, a consortium of the country’s leading fatherhood organizations.
Recognition of Past Commissioners
Kevin A. Golembiewski, Esquire A Commission Co-Founder
Kevin is a Deputy Solicitor General in the Florida Office of the Attorney General. Before joining the Attorney General's Office, he was a senior associate at Berney & Sang, a boutique civil rights firm in Philadelphia. There, Kevin represented families in special-education lawsuits, helping them secure accommodations for their children. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and the College of the Holy Cross.
Tomas Sanchez, JD A Commission Co-Founder
Tomas Sanchez, JD, a lifelong Philadelphian, grew up in the shadow of Temple University and attended Central High School, Harvard University majoring in Government, and the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Lynn Fields Harris, MPA Inaugural Treasurer of the Commission
Ms. Fields Harris served as THE COMMISSION’s first Treasurer, she is a native Philadelphian, and holds a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts; and, a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Elementary Education from Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Past Board Members
Malkia Singleton Ofori-Agyekum, MS ParentChild+ Pennsylvania State Director Ms. Ofori-Aguekum holds a Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation Services from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Master of Science in Early Childhood Education from the University of Pennsylvania. She also holds a certificates in Early Childhood Mental Health from Widener University, and Non-Profit Executive Leadership Institute (NELI) from Bryn Mawr College.
Carl W. Bailey, BA
Mr. Bailey served as THE COMMISSION’s Special Envoy to the business, corporate and philanthropic community. He is the retired President and CEO of CWB Consulting Services, where he worked to set up small businesses, giving workshops in business planning, marketing, finance, and problem solving. Mr. Bailey has a Bachelor of Business Administration from Almeda College and University and completed the Wharton Executive Education Program at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He is a veteran of the Korean War, a Captain in the Third Regiment Infantry, N.G.P. Veteran Guard, and is a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Zeta Omicron Lambda Chapter.
Troy Brindle, LCSW, QCSW, DCH
Mr. Brindle, served briefly as a member of THE COMMISSION’s Board of Directors. During which time he was a co-owner and director of Springfield Psychological, the largest private behavioral health practice in Pennsylvania. He received his BSW in 1993 from Cairn University and his MSW in 1995 from Rutgers University, where he graduated with academic honors.
Larry T. Woody, BS
Larry served briefly as a member of THE COMMISSION’s Board of Directors. He is an author, actor and songwriter. He currently manages the Focus on Fathers Program for the Health Promotion Council, an affiliate of the Public Health Management Corporation, City of Philadelphia.
Past Event Volunteers
Catherine L. Blackwell Event Volunteer
Retired from a career in Corporate America and is actively serving her church (Mt. Camel Baptist Church) in accomplishing their mission of service to God and his people; and supporting Dr Lynch and his Team toward the realization of their vision individually and collectively, with The Strong Families Commission, Incorporated. As told by Ms. Blackwell, her “…work with the Commission has been an awesome and inspiring experience and she thanks Dr Lynch for the opportunity.”