Cultivating Exceptional Leaders Ready to Serve in All Communities
The James H. Gilliam, Sr. Fellowship is a program where diverse leadership converge to work collaboratively in communities, while building their capacity as policy makers, advocates, and community organizers.
During this 10-month immersive fellowship our Fellows gain a knowledge and experience in policy research, coalition building, and learn to navigate Delaware’s political and economic arenas from a host of legislators, community advocates, and business leaders across the state.
Application deadline for the 2020 program year is October 25, 2019.
The incoming class of fellows will be between the ages of 22-34, and will be recruited from all areas of the state. The Fellowship meets twice a month on the 2nd Tuesday and 4th Saturday from January through October.
Fellows In Action
About Erika Gutiérrez
Erika Gutiérrez is from México. Studied at the UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México). In 2005 she got her ESL (English as a Second Language) diploma from DCCC Wilmington Campus where also took English, psychology and sociology classes. In 2016 she earned her diploma as a Life Coach form the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts located in Arizona. In May of 2018 Erika finished the LOA (Leadership, Organizing and Action: Leading Change) online program from the Harvard Kennedy School and as presently she is a fellow of the MWUL (Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League) James H. Gilliam Sr. Fellows Program.
She is the co-coordinator of the DE Safe Communities Coalition who’s mission is to advocate in favor of the immigrant community and get pass a Safe Communities resolution through the state of Delaware. She works for Network Delaware; a nonprofit grassroots organization who’s focus is advocacy and the empowerment of the community to take action through grassroots community organizing. She also works for DelawareCAN (Campaign for Achievement Now) a nonprofit education advocacy organization to empower, mobilize and collaborate with everyday Delawareans for a high quality education system. Erika has been a community advocated since she came to the U.S. starting with her involvement with the Voices Without Borders non profit organization in 2004 dedicated to advocate in favor of the Spanish community. Erika has been translating for her community as a volunteer for many years and she has also been an active part in the life of her children at school since pre-K. In ASPIRA Academy; a bilingual immersion charter school where her kids attend; she volunteers and has facilitated; Speakers from the Heart; a program for children that she designed with the focus of empowering kids to learn and listen to their own inner voice and self power so they grow with a stronger and kind spirit that facilitates them to thrive from within and out. She has been invited as speakers to different events because of her work and the message she brings. Her main goal as a community organizer and advocate is to “serve as a bridge and messenger thats connects hearts to causes that affect us all and work together to create healthy communities, states, countries…To be a collective new spirit that respects humanity, dignity, education, arts that spreads good values and push for a positive Vision for each one of us and our present which is key factor of our future”.
Born and raised in DC, I recently graduated from University of Delaware as a Public Policy & Psychology Double Major. Currently, I work for U.S. Senator Tom Carper as a Personal Aide & Driver. My career aspiration is to become an urban planner and then venture off into the political field. I have a strong passion for sustainable planning in our communities and will use this to leverage better decisions for the future of our state. I look forward to connecting with more young professionals and making DE an attractive place for young talent.
Educating, mentoring, and advocating for the underprivileged citizens of Wilmington, Shardae White impacts her community through outreach. A native New Yorker, she now resides in Wilmington, where she is the Executive Assistant and Community Outreach Coordinator at Kingswood Community Center. Shardae is a Public Allies graduate and community activist.
Shardae served as a Senior Social worker for Delaware’s Division of Health and Human Services. She is pursuing a degree in Behavioral Science from Wilmington University.
Shardae White plans to spend her life committed to leveling the playing field for disadvantaged youth.
Brooklynn K. Hitchens is a doctoral candidate in sociology at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Her research explores the lived experiences of low-income, urban Black Americans, particularly at the intersections of race, class, and gender in shaping attitudes, identity, and behavior. Her multi-method dissertation, “Coping in MurderTown USA: How Urban Black Women Adapt to Structural Strain in a Violent, Small City” uses street participatory action research (PAR) to explore the variations in how urban Black women and girls use violence and/or crime to cope with the structural strain that permeates low-income communities of color. Data for her dissertation emerge from a collaborative community-based project entitled the Wilmington Street Participatory Action Research (PAR) Project, which examines how low-income, street-identified Blacks experience and understand community violence in Wilmington, DE—a city recently labeled “MurderTown USA” for its elevated rates of violent crime per capita. She holds two fellowships for 2018-2019—the distinguished Louis Bevier Dissertation Fellowship and the American Sociological Association (ASA) Minority Fellowship. She also teaches courses on race relations, family, and introduction to sociology. Her work has previously been published in Sociological Forum, Race & Justice, Feminist Criminology, and the Journal of Black Psychology.
Melissa Benbow is an artist, entrepreneur, and scholar whose work is centered by a love of black culture and and passion for social justice. She relocated to Wilmington, Delaware in 2013 after graduating from Princeton University with a BA in English and concentration in African American Studies. While she advocates for social justice in all forms, her focus is education and prison reform. She will be starting an MA-Ph.D program in English at the University of Delaware in the fall of 2018. Her goal is to use literature to examine how we think about and writing about social reform.
Britney Gulledge is a storyteller deeply committed to social justice and facilitating communities to tell their own powerful stories. Professionally, she’s worked across several industries as a communications strategist. She earned a bachelor’s in Journalism from Hampton University and a master’s in Management from Wilmington University. In the fall, she’ll begin studying in the Communications, Culture and Media doctoral program at Howard University with research interests in communications and public policy. She’s honored to be a member of the James H. Gilliam Fellowship inaugural class and extending the rich legacy of a civil rights icon, philanthropist and true public servant.
Bryant Garcia is currently the Immigration Program Coordinator and Department of Justice Accredited Immigration Specialist at La Esperanza, Inc. in Georgetown, DE where he advises and supports Delaware and Delmarva immigrants through the immigration process. Born in New Jersey, he grew up in Jersey City and is of Salvadoran and Ecuadorian heritage. He moved to Delaware during high school and currently lives in Greenwood, DE. He received his BA from the University of Delaware in Latin American Studies with a minor in Anthropology in 2013. Bryant enjoys exploring the outdoors, travelling to new places and playing bass guitar.
Paige Chapman is a lifelong resident of the city of Wilmington in the great state of Delaware. After graduating from Brandywine High School in 2009, Paige matriculated to the University of Delaware. While studying political science, Paige was inducted into the lovely Lambda Gamma Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., where she served as the Vice President from 2012-2013. Upon receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in 2013, Paige was admitted into Widener University Delaware Law School. While in law school, Paige served as a law clerk for the Office of Defense Services for two years and worked under Delaware Supreme Court Rule 55 in the Delaware Civil Clinic, representing victims of domestic violence and obtaining Protection From Abuse orders. She also found time to mentor and coach the ladies’ basketball team at her alma mater Brandywine High School. Paige was recognized as a Dean’s List student, and graduated from the Delaware Law School in 2016. Subsequent to graduation, Paige was admitted into the Pennsylvania Bar in April of 2017 and then the Delaware Bar in December of 2017. Paige is currently a staff attorney at Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. in the Poverty Law Program. On March 1, 2018, she will be embarking on a new legal journey as a contract attorney for the Office of Defense Services.
Dubard McGriff is a native of Wilmington, DE’s northeast neighborhood. In January 2018 he joined the ACLU-DE’s staff to organize the Campaign for Smart Justice. Recently earning his Bachelor’s of Science in Human Services from Springfield College. Dubard is currently a fellow in the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League’s James H. Gilliam Sr. fellowship program. Dubard is passionate when it comes to criminal justice reform and empowering low-income black and brown communities to advocate for themselves. Since 2009 Dubard has been a participant in an ongoing action research project with the University of Delaware. The People’s Report focus on structural inequalities and how it relates to violence in Wilmington. He has also worked in prison re-entry at the Wilmington Hope Commission as a Peer Support Specialist and was the lead Youth advisor at the Youth Empowerment Program. Dubard a steering member ion on the Northeast Blueprint Communities.
Lit’tle McBride is an Administrative Specialist at Delaware Health & Social Services, Division of Social Services, where she serves in the Directors Office. She graduated in 2007 from Wilmington University, with a Master’s of Science degree in Human Resource Management. Before working in the Director’s Office, she began her career as a Social Worker/Case Manager with the Divisions Community Partner Support Unit. While establishing partnerships with various businesses within Kent County, she knew she had to make her voice heard raising concerns about Economics, Mental Illness, and Fair Housing within the Black community. Lit’tle will begin the EdD in Educational Leadership and Management at Drexel University Fall, 2018.
Dominique Oppenheimer is a Public Ally AmeriCorps member placed with the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children. After her AmeriCorps term ends in June 2018, she will join the Foundation full-time.
Dominique is a 2017 graduate of the University of Delaware with degrees in international relations and English and a dance minor. She has worked as a UD summer scholar, an intern for Planned Parenthood of Delaware, and a victim advocate for UD Sexual Offense Support. Dominique is excited to join the James H. Gilliam, Sr. Fellows Program to learn how to better serve the Delaware community.
Laurie Jacobs is a proven achiever with a positive attitude and passion for education and community engagement. Jacobs is currently a communications associate at the Rodel Foundation of Delaware where she is responsible for providing event and digital communication support to the Rodel team and their external partners. She is a Delaware native and graduated with honors from George Mason University. Jacobs is pursuing a Master of Science degree in Management at Wilmington University. She is a proud member of the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League Young Professionals, Kennett Square Rotaract Club, and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc.
Stacey Johnson is a youth worker who endeavors to create lasting and meaningful relationships with young people in the state of Delaware. A University of Delaware MFA graduate, Ms. Johnson has over 15 years of experience applying creative solutions to support and empower disadvantaged youth. She is an idea-generator and liaison, bringing together community stakeholders and organizations to provide necessary and socially relevant youth experiences, setting the foundation for healthy interactions between young people and caring adults. Currently the Senior Youth Adviser for YWCA Delaware, she promotes academic and social success in college/career preparation, identity, inclusivity, advocacy, and other crucial life skills.
Originally from the Bronx, New York- Tonisha has been living and working in the state of Delaware for 5 years. She is a current student at the University of Delaware pursuing a master’s in public administration in addition to, working at the Institute for Public Administration as a student researcher. As a McNair scholar she is passionate about getting underrepresented students into masters and doctoral programs. As a Gilliam fellow, Tonisha strives to positively impact Delaware. She aspires to be a city manager and improve livelihood for citizens.
Kyle Sheppard is a M.Ed. Candidate studying Educational Leadership in K-12 Administration at Delaware State University. He has worked in the Division of Institutional Advancement as a Student Advancement Graduate Coordinator allocating time between fostering relationships for the university’s profile grants like the Aspire Scholar Program, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Postsecondary Success Initiative, and Student Philanthropy Council as well as interning with the Early College High School (ECHS@DSU).
Kyle holds a B.S. in Psychology, having focused areas in Drug and Alcohol Counseling and Co-Occurring disorders; Minor in Women’s and Gender Studies, with focus in Violence Prevention. His extracurricular involvement extends through roles of the Men of Color Alliance (MOCA) Alumni Advisor and Sexual Assault Response Advocates (SARA) Men’s Coordinator for student organizations at DSU. He is also an active member and current Director of Education for the Zeta Rho Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
At current, he is the Youth and Community Engagement Coordinator for the Wilmington Community Advisory Council, formerly known as the CDC Community Advisory Council, where he provides support in engaging the community, youth and their families in implementing the recommendations from the Council’s report to prevent youth violence and promote positive development in the City of Wilmington through the mobilization of resources, coordination of grassroot organizations, and capacity building of local institutional stakeholders.
A native of New Castle, Delaware, he believes in bridging possibilities between K-12 Youth & Families and Higher Education institutions for traditionally underserved and underrepresented populations across the region.
Keran Chaudhry, a Pakistani-American Muslim and native Californian, is a Social Scientist with a B.A. in Social Science from California State University, San Bernardino, a M.A. in Social Science from San Francisco State University, and a M.S. in Justice Policy from University of Texas, San Antonio. Her inter-disciplinary education from the schools of the Social Sciences and Criminal Justice allows her to understand the importance of micro and macro level relationships while keeping the big picture in sight. She is eager to utilize her unique and diverse background in business, marketing, education, research, advocacy, and analytics to progress Delaware’s education, political, and economic agenda in a positive direction for all communities. Her exposure to multiple cultures in the global, academic, and business sense brings valuable insight to this rapidly globalizing economy. Her state of the art research and publications cover current social and political realities that areunder-represented in academic, political, scientific and social discourse; such as addiction in Muslim-American communities, failure of transnational feminisms in consolidating Arab and/or Muslim women’s representations and issues, and thepoliticization of sexual identities in immigration policy reforms. As a mother of two, she is personally invested in strengthening Delaware’s communities by contributing to positive changes in Delaware’s education, political, and economic systems.
M.S. Justice Policy | M.A. Social Science | B.A. Social Science | A.A. Liberal Arts | A.A. Business Administration
Kailyn is currently the Office Coordinator and Communications Assistant at the Delaware Center for Justice (DCJ) in Wilmington, DE. She also coordinates Read In Read Out, a program that allows incarcerated parents to read age-appropriate books on CDs to their children. Kailyn studied Sociology at the University of Delaware where she became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. While at UD, Kailyn spent a semester as a Youth Street Outreach Worker in Wilmington’s Eastside Community. Inspired by community members, Kailyn continued to fulfill one of her many purposes in life: to alleviate inequality through policy, education, and compassion. Kailyn enjoys reading, yoga, and all things rooted in peace.
Moving from Virginia to Delaware at the young age of 8, Jasmine is a proud Delawarean. She is a product of Colonial School District and graduated from Delaware State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s in chemistry. She currently works as an analytical chemist for Amplified Geochemical Imaging where she analyzes samples for remediation as well as discovery in the environmental and oil and gas sectors. With a knack for all things scientific, a deep love for the state of Delaware, and a passion for developing her community, she hopes to join and bring diversity to the conversation in Delaware politics and policy. As a result, she became a proud member of the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League and is excited and honored to move forward as a James H. Gilliam, Sr. fellow.
Jasmine is the proud mother of a young son, Ian Robinson, Jr. She hopes that her work with the Urban League and the fellowship program will provide him with a better future – one with better economic, educational, and social prospects.
I am a 28 year old mother of a boy named Tyler that means everything to me. I am currently a student at Delaware Technical College, getting my degree in Early Childhood Eduction. I grew up all over the city of Wilmington! Initially we lived on the south side of Wilmington, then the east side, next west, but my family is originally from the north side. I’ve been in the education field since I was 15 years old, starting off as a camp counselor, to working and educating my way up to the paraprofessional I am now. Currently I work as a substitute para filing in at various Autism classrooms and I love what I do. I love being apart of such huge successes with each child. It’s amazing to see the growth and watch them overcome what was supposed to hinder them and thats sort of who I want to be in all aspects of life, not just eduction. I want to be apart of more overcoming, more growth. Probably around the time of the Trayvon Martin case, I’d experienced a shift in passion. That case really effected me and inspired me to educate myself more on law and politics which led me to the Fellows Program today. Over the summer, I was excited to be asked to help run a campaign, that focused on getting inner city residents registered to vote called “ Carry My Own Vote.” The campaign was very successful! We ended up exceeding our goals by showing up to community events with registration forms and by also educating through social network platforms, the importance of voting locally. My goal or where I see myself in 5 years would be to be apart of Delaware’s political difference somehow. Whether that’s through city counsel or a representative is something we would all have to wait on!
Everett Anderson is a nonprofit digital strategy consultant currently based in New Castle, DE. He grew up in Baltimore City where he discovered his passion for helping the disenfranchised tell their stories after joining the Mentoring Video Project in 2007. Feeling a need to further serve his country, he enlisted in the United States Air Force where he spent a significant portion of his time training, mentoring, and leading his fellow Airmen in service projects. He has spent the last five years totally immersed in learning sales and marketing strategies through a mix of traditional academic coursework and a variety of real world work experiences. Motivated by the volatile political climate; he put everything on hold to work for the Delaware Democratic Party in order to help get out the vote and participate in changing the faces of democracy. After seeing the lack of diversity and new ideas in local politics he started work on Delaware Way; a project to merge advocacy with technology in order to engage traditionally underrepresented groups in civics and government.
Eliana was born in Havana, Cuba and raised in Coral Gables, FL, a suburb of Miami. She graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor’s in Health Sciences with a concentration in Biology and two certificates in Urban Studies and General Business. She has worked as a Student Intern at the Morsani Center for Advanced Healthcare Diabetes Center, taught English to minor league baseball players in the Dominican Republic, and served as site leader for two spring break service trips to the Rio Grande Valley area in Texas.
She currently works at JPMorgan Chase as a General Management Analyst.
Eliana is an active member of the Delaware Community Foundation and currently sits on the board of the NextGen Young Professionals Group. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, going to the gym and photography.
David C. Okeke is a 24-year-old first generation Nigerian- American. David was born and raised in the city of Dover, Delaware. First, he graduated from Delaware State University in 2016 with his B.S in Psychology. Then in 2018, he graduated from Wilmington University with his M.S in Administration of Justice with a concentration in Criminal Behavior. David began his passions for advocating for social justice and political equity for the disenfranchised, in his sophomore year of undergrad. While at Delaware State University, he started volunteering with a non-profit organization called Youth-Building-Youth, in which they spoke and educated students within the alternative school system on future necessities such as, college readiness, resume building, emotional intelligence and coping mechanisms. From there, he began working within the penal system as a substance abuse counselor. Correspondingly, working within the penal system, gave him a better understanding of the social condition that many people of color are facing on an everyday basis. Furthermore, wanting to do more with the knowledge he has obtained, he began to work at Brandywine Counseling and Community Services as the Prevention Specialist under two of their grants. Under the first grant, David educates adolescents and young adults on the negative effects of substance abuse within communities in the state of Delaware, and under the second grant he educates the people in the state of Delaware on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) which in all effects more people of color (African Americans and Hispanics) more than of any other race. As well, he has always had a passion for creating change and pushing the agenda for those that are not capable of speaking for themselves or their community. Consequently, being able to build a networking system and developing a sustainable and strategic plan for his surrounding society is the next step for creating social equity and political equity for our future generations.
Daakiah is a Crisis Case Manager for a mobile crisis response team.She is committed to empowering underserviced populations achieve their goals.Daakiah obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in sociology from Claflin University.While there, she co-founded the History and Sociology club.Her many accomplishments include developing and presenting at the 2013 National Case Management Conference a training for entry level case managers entitled “Starting From The Bottom”.Her 15 years of experience in the human service field include working with diverse populations including children, adolescents and families, incarcerated men and women, individuals facing drug/alcohol addiction and co-occurring disorders and those with severe and persistent mental illness.With a history of collaborating with community leaders, educators, social service providers, psychologists and therapists, Daakiah would like to build a network of resources to empower youth and their families to advocate for themselves within the education system.She believes that by doing this they can increase their success rate and decrease the incarceration rate that plagues communities with few resources.In addition, she is passionate about decreasing the recidivism rate in Delaware by working collaboratively with community leaders to identify needs, educate and rehabilitate past offenders so that they can give back to their communities.
Shane Cannon was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware and has dedicated his life to serving the community. Shane is the child of two social workers, and he has followed in their footsteps by becoming a Social Worker in the Department of Health and Social Services and a Supervisor in the Division of Social Services. This career path started after Shane went to Delaware State University for a degree in Business, but it was the volunteering work at the time that became most rewarding. Shane has assisted people of all ages through volunteer work and work through the state. This work has crossed different spectrums from teaching senior citizens computer skills, registering people to vote in 19801, and training individuals the principles of strategic nonviolence. Shane is focused on empowering individuals to their potential, the sharing of information and breaking down silos.
Danielle K. Craig, MBA, is a devoted educator with an extensive background in secondary and postsecondary admissions/administration, psychology and working with families and youth. She is a Dover, Delaware native with a heart for volunteering and serving her community. Danielle is an entrepreneur and the founder of Look Up Enterprise LLC. and What’s in Your Future, an organization that is dedicated to empowering future generations. Danielle is the President of the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League’s Young Professionals, and formerly served as the chair of the MWULYP Dover Committee. She is also a member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women – Delaware Chapter. Danielle continues to stay connected with students through classroom instruction while teaching several programs that include, Robotics, Job Skills, Separating Parents and Divorce and currently works as an Employer Engagement Coordinator with Delaware Technical Community College. She is an active member of Crossroad Christian Church where she is holds leadership roles in multiple ministries including music, and singles. Using her experience and expertise, Danielle hopes to do her part to help young men and women find their own passion, navigate the complexities of adulthood, and walk confidently into their future.
Akilah S. Alleyne is a doctoral student in the department of Sociology & Criminology at the University of Delaware. Her research explores the effects of housing quality and instability on youth’s community and school engagement, particularly, in disadvantaged and underserved Black and immigrant populations. In addition, Akilah also has experience with family planning as a research assistant through dual placement with the University of Delaware and Christiana Care Health Systems. Currently, she is actively working as a graduate research assistant with the Wilmington Street PAR (Participatory Action Research) Project, which involves a coalition of community partners conducting an ethnographic community needs assessment of Wilmington’s oldest and most violent neighborhoods. In the fall, Akilah plans to defend her dissertation proposal at the University of Delaware. In her work, she endeavors to continue critically examining the social and educational costs faced by highly mobile, low-income individuals and families, particularly when such communities encounter major hazards and disasters.
Tierra L. Spencer is a Second Year Public Ally of Delaware (PADE)/Americorp Member who recently decided to leave Corporate America to pursue her dream of working in the Non-Profit Sector focusing on Youth Development and Community Organizing. She will complete her B.S. degree in Business Management from Wilmington University in 2020; she then plans to pursue a M.S. degree in Urban Planning. She has had the opportunity to work on some very awesome project at her placement organization through PADE; Cornerstone West CDC/West Side Grows Together. Tierra leads the Youth & Arts portion of the “West Side Grows Together Revitalization Plan”, and has gained experience writing grants, and the renovation of three city parks on the west side of Wilmington Delaware. She is also in her second year leading the well known city-wide annual event the” Martin Luther King Peace March & Community Celebration”. Tierra is very civically involved in her community being a part of initiatives with the City of Wilmington like “Play Streets”; a successful youth at play program launched this past summer at various locations throughout the city. Tierra is a part of several committees and councils; the West Side Grows Together Steering Committee, The Wilmington Community Advisory Council, and the Delaware Chapter of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. Tierra is so very excited to be a fellow; and feels the connections already made on this journey have reassured her she is definitely headed in the right direction… Finally! This program is the next step in her journey for sure.