Commission on African American Affairs

About the Pennsylvania Commission on African American Affairs
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About the Pennsylvania Commission on African American Affairs

Established by Executive Order 2015-07, the Governor’s Commission on African American Affairs (GACAAA) serves as the commonwealth’s advocate agency for the African American community in Pennsylvania. Our mission is to ensure that state government is accessible and accountable by advising the governor on policies, procedures, legislation, and regulations. GACAAA also works to expand and enhance the civic, social, educational, cultural, and economic status of the African American Community.

The commission is composed of twenty volunteer members appointed by the governor for a term of two years.

News


Governor’s Advisory Commission on African American Affairs Calls for Task Force on Improving Police-Community Relations

Commissioners


Idris Abdul-Zahir
Hasshan Batts
Rev. Dr. Malcolm Byrd D. Min
Lauren Enlow
Chioma Azi Esquire
Nasaiah Izon Hoskins
Cynthia L. James
Glynis M. Johns
Chantay Love
Andita N. Parker Lloyd
Anette Nance, MSW
Shamelle Price-Wheeler
Oni Richards
Wanda Richards
Haniyyah B. Sharpe-Brown
Rev. Walter S. Thomas, Jr.
Kyasha C. Tyson
Dwan Walker
Ivan Watson

 

Idris Abdul-Zahir

Biography to come.

 

Hasshan BattsHasshan Batts headshot

Hasshan is a prison survivor, healer, son, father, grandfather, brother, husband, and friend. He is a community epidemiologist, a community-based participatory researcher, a dynamic motivational speaker, and a leading expert on trauma-informed care, global health, reentry, and community engagement.

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    Hasshan is the Executive Director of the Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley, a Black-led, antiracist, non-profit organization dedicated to the liberation of all people. He is the Founder and President of the Prison Survivors Network, a founding member of the Society for the Healing and Study of Historical Trauma, and a founding board member of the Northeast Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Association of Black Social Workers. He is a distinguished Robert Wood Johnson Culture of Health Leader and a board member of Penn State Extension and the Resurrected Community Development Corporation.

    Hasshan holds a joint MSW from North Carolina A&T and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and a doctorate in Health Sciences and post graduate certificate in Global Health from Nova Southeastern University in Florida. He was previously an adjunct professor at Lenoir Rhyne University, Lincoln University and Lehigh University and has been awarded fellowships at Lehigh University, the Rider-Pool Foundation, and the Practitioners Research and Scholarship Institute. He currently serves on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Reentry Council and the Lehigh Valley Justice Institute.

 

Rev. Dr. Malcolm Byrd D. MinMalcolm Byrd headshot

Dr. Malcolm T. Byrd is a public theologian engaged in Philadelphia ministries and civic interests.

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    He is the pastor of the Hope’s Beacon Baptist Church seeking to restore and minister hope in the neighborhood. He is the CEO and President of Forum Philly, a social advocacy nonprofit organization and President of NewCORE, an interfaith, multicultural organization dedicated to facilitating racial understanding through conversation. Likewise, Dr. Byrd serves as adjunct faculty at Eastern University, a private Christian university and Lancaster Bible College and Capital Seminary & Graduate School

     

    Dr. Byrd was raised in Philadelphia and attended its public schools. He  graduated with a Bachelor and Master degree in secondary guidance from Antioch University; Master of Governmental Administration from the University of Pennsylvania, Fels School of Government and; completed both Masters of Theological Studies and Master of Divinity degrees followed by the Doctor of Ministry degree from Palmer Theological Seminary

    He resides in Lansdowne, Penna. And enjoys gospel music.

 

Lauren EnlowLauren Enlow headshot

Lauren Enlow serves as the Associate Director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving at the Penn State University Abington Campus. She has enjoyed a 15-year career in development, specializing in both K-12 and higher education.

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    Driven by a deep passion for education, she believes in making education more accessible and affordable for all students. Throughout her career she has remained focused on increasing donor participation and retention through intentional relationship building and solicitation, impactful event production, donor database management, and donor stewardship.

    Lauren holds her undergraduate degree from George Washington University and a MPA from Ashford University. She also holds a certificate in Non-Profit Management from Harvard University. In her downtime, Lauren serves as the advisor to the Black Student Union at Penn State Abington mentoring the students to serve the campus community, and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

 

Chioma Azi EsquireChioma Azi headshot

Chioma Azi Esquire is the managing attorney for the Law Office of Chioma Azi, a firm specializing in immigration law, non-profit consulting and project management. Throughout her career, Chioma has leveraged her legal skills, vigorous activism and international experience to advance the interests of the African community in Greater Philadelphia.

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    A dedicated community advocate, Chioma has consulted with various local government entities including the Philadelphia City Council and the administration of former Mayor Michael Nutter on immigration and employment law policy issues.

    In 2015, Chioma was the recipient of the Exemplary Service Award from the Nigerian Lawyers Association for her “demonstrated a commitment to public service and has used legal expertise and skills to serve the needs of the members of the community at large.”

    In addition to her legal work, Chioma is founder and Chief Executive Officer of Philly Nigerian Professionals- a professional development and networking group that brings African students and professionals together for social, networking, charitable and volunteer events in and around the Philadelphia area.

 

Nasaiah Izon HoskinsNasaiah Izon Hoskins headshot

Born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, Nasaiah’s experience leading massive organizations has revealed him to be a visionary, multigenerational leader. Hoskins is an entrepreneur, thought leader, environmentalist, humanitarian, and social engineer.

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    He’s the Former Vice-Chairman of the NAACP’s, National Youth Work Committee where he led the 30,000-member division. He now serves as Chairman & CEO of a non-profit mass media company called One Energy Global Inc. Their organization’s vision is to impact families by producing engaging content that will uplift, educate, motivate, and entertain members, while also partnering and facilitating global community outreach. Nasaiah believes we have more in common than what separates us. His goal is to be a global leader, where he believes the collaborative efforts of nations can end worldwide crises.

 

Cynthia L. James

Biography to come.

 

Glynis M. JohnsGlynis Johns headshot

Glynis M. Johns is the founder of Black Scranton Project, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, local heritage initiative, and public history venture.

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    BSP is dedicated to archiving and celebrating the Black history of Scranton and NEPA. Glynis has created a defined presence for the Black community in Lackawanna county – having worked with senators, state representatives, county officials, and community leaders on major projects across the commonwealth. Her past projects include a TEDx Scranton 2020 Talk, “Why Local Black History Matters”. She joined the Scranton Public Library Board of Trustees in 2020. As an educator, Glynis has taught undergraduate sociology courses at various universities and has had the distinct privilege of “favorite substitute teacher” title bestowed upon her by many students of the Scranton School District. Because of her belief in the cultural importance of art Glynis is a member of the Lackawanna County Council on Art, Culture and Education. Glynis spends much of her time studying 19 th and 20 th century African American history. A native Scrantonian, local historian, sociologist, artist, documentarian, and advocate; Glynis invests time researching Scranton in an attempt to piece together narratives of the Black community. She is proud to shift local perspectives on culture, inclusion, representation, and history. For Glynis, passions and projects are indistinguishable from each other. In 2018, Glynis created a Black-Owned Business Directory for the NEPA region as part of her latest passion, the aforementioned Black Scranton Project. The directory took off last year and this venture led to her acquisition of a historic bank building in Scranton PA. Now, her and the BSP team are working to revive and repurpose the North Scranton landmark into the Black Scranton Project Center for Arts & Culture (BSPCAC), an educational and recreational resource for all of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Glynis holds a BA and MA in Sociology from St. John’s University. In February 2021, Glynis received a distinguished honor from Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) as a notable Black Leader in Pennsylvania and leading activist in the pursuit of racial justice.

 

Chantay LoveChantay Love headshot

Chantay Love, Program Director of EMIR Healing Center is an innovative leader healing communities one family at a time.

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    Chantay was raised in the Abbotsford Projects where most of her exposure to violence occurred. She is a survivor of incest and witness to domestic violence. On March 26, 1997, Chantay’s only brother Emir Peter Greene was shot seven times in the back. The trauma from her loss, and exposure to violence became Chantay’s blueprint for her tireless work to save her city. EMIR Healing Center with the visions of Chantay, has created models for schools, families and communities to support them with their healing and to uncover their trauma with the goal to break the cycle of future violence. Chantay has a Masters in Human Services Administration from Lincoln University. She is a Certified Crisis Response and Restorative Justice Trainer. She is a Christ Servant Minister for Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of United Methodist Church. Chantay is appointed Governor Wolf’s Homicide Review Team and Advisory Commission on African American Affairs. Chantay is a newlywed and is married to her best friend, Chuck.

 

Andita N. Parker Lloyd

Biography to come.

 

Anette Nance MSW

Anette Nance is a dynamic professional who is a servant-minded leader. She is an Operation Enduring Freedom Marine veteran and served 8 years, honorably.

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    She is also graduate from the University of Pittsburgh where she earned her master’s in social work with a concentration in community organization and social action along with a certificate in Human Services Management. She also has a bachelor’s in psychology which provides a theoretical foundation for her as a social service practitioner. She has done advocacy work in the veteran space locally, regionally, and nationally. Through her work, she was one of 10 student veterans nominated for the 2020 Student Veteran of the Year finalist in the nation for Student Veterans of America, which is headquartered in Washington D.C.

    As a masters level social worker, Mrs. Nance is involved with a variety of nonprofit boards such as, Urban League Young Professionals of Greater Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work Alumni, Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Pittsburgh and The Sons of God Ministry Inc. She currently works for the University of Pittsburgh in the Office of Child Development as the Director of Partnerships for Family Support.. The work she does for the university provides a macro social work lens which aides in program development, implementation, and array of other services for over 25 family support centers in Allegheny County in conjunction with the county’s Department of Human Services.

    Anette’s fuel for the work she does comes from her mother, a Haitian immigrant, who truly taught her the importance of leadership and hard work. Anette’s mindset continues to guide her many endeavors. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband, a Pittsburgh native, Ramon Nance and they parent Evander, affectionately known as “Scoot”.

 

Shamelle Price-Wheeler

Biography to come.

 

Oni RichardsOni Richards headshot

Oni Richards currently serves as the Executive Director of the African Family Health Organization
(AFAHO) where she is responsible for leading the development, implementation and management of
health and human service programs for African and Caribbean immigrants and refugees in the greater
Philadelphia area.

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    Under her leadership, AFAHO’s focus has expanded to holistically serve the needs of
    the target population through the development of new programs; forging strategic partnerships with
    local institutions; diversifying and increasing funding and other capacity building activities to strengthen
    and build the organization. She brings more than ten years of public health, social justice and
    community building experience to the position. Oni previously worked in the Peacebuilding and Africa
    Programs of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) where she organized advocacy activities
    related to peace, health, social and economic justice issues in Africa with a particular focus on
    developing campaigns to impact U.S. congressional decisions on debt cancellation and fairer economic
    policies for African nations. Oni was selected as a Visionary Emerging Leader by the Valentine
    Foundation and awarded a scholarship to attend the Non-Profit Executive Leadership Institute at Bryn
    Mawr College where she further sharpened her administrative and management skills. Oni serves as a
    member of the Inaugural Board of Health for Delaware County and was recently appointed to serve as a
    member of the Governor of Pennsylvania’s Advisory Commission on African American Affairs. She has
    received several awards for her work including the 2018 Human Rights and Dignity Innovator Award
    (Social Innovations Awards); the 2017 Women of Influence Award from Fun-times Voices of the
    Diaspora; the 2017 Community Leader Award from the African and Caribbean Business Council; the
    2016 Echoes of Africa Community Service Award by the Mayor’s Commission on African and Caribbean
    Immigrant Affairs and a Citation by the City Council of Philadelphia. She has spoken nationwide in the
    U.S. and in different African countries on the health needs and trends of African and Afro-Caribbean
    immigrants and refugees.

 

Wanda RichardsImage of Wanda Richards.

Wanda Richards is a financial services attorney.

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    During her more than twenty years as an attorney, Ms. Richards has provided legal and regulatory compliance support for small and large financial institutions in various areas such as consumer lending, deposits, consumer product marketing, consumer/commercial insurance, and most recently treasury management and consumer directed health care.

    A graduate of the University at Buffalo School of Law, Ms. Richards is admitted to the bar in Pennsylvania, New York, and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Ms. Richards holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from Niagara University.  She is a 2014 Leadership Council on Legal Diversity Fellow and is also a mentor for the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity Success in Law School Mentorship Program.

    Ms. Richards has been both a panelist and co-chair for the American Conference Institute “Women Leaders in Financial Services Law and Compliance,” and also serves on the conference’s Advisory Board. Ms. Richards has always focused on serving her community and has served on the boards of various non-profits in Montgomery County. She is currently serving on the Board of Directors of the SeniorLAW Center, which focuses on protecting the rights of older Pennsylvanians.

 

Haniyyah B. Sharpe-BrownHaniyyah Sharpe headshot

Haniyyah Sharpe-Brown is a driven leader. She is a creative thinker and innovative in her approach to create collaborative opportunities for others and most importantly, can motivate people around her to turn their ideas into reality.

 

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    Haniyyah currently works as the Director of Advocacy and External Engagement at the School District of Philadelphia where she is responsible for directing the development and planning of strategies regarding government relations and the passage or defeat of legislation of interest to the Philadelphia School District. Additionally she is charged with developing and maintaining external partnerships to create student opportunities, enhance the District’s reputation and increase its brand recognition.

    With a B.A. in Journalism from Temple University, she brings over 10 years of experience (locally, regionally and nationally) in the communications field with a special focus on PR, social media campaigns, community relations and strategic planning. In addition to her day job, she continues to be invested in telling the stories of local nonprofits and small businesses through her passion projects as the founder and Principal of On Point Communications, LLC.

    She is a 2021 Black Girls Vote, Ladies & Politics honoree. In 2019, Philadelphia Magazine named Haniyyah as one of 38 Philadelphians who represent the “New Philly Power,” individuals who are “changing the city by proving that power is about creating urgency and getting people to believe in something.” She was also named one of 54 “Connectors and Keepers” by LEADERSHIP Philadelphia; 2017 Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists Media Professional of the Year; 2016 Woman of Destiny; Femme & Fortune’s 30 Under 30 Philadelphia’s Most Inspiring Women; Influencing Action Movement’s “Woman Born to Make History and recipient of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalsits President’s Award.

    Haniyyah serves on the board of Cancer WHO?, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide emotional, mental, and financial support to cancer patients during current and post cancer treatment; PA Cares Mentoring Movement, an arm of the national CARES mentoring movement spearheaded by Susan L. Taylor, dedicated to recruiting and connecting mentors with local youth-serving and mentoring organizations to help guide struggling Black children to academic and social success, and to closing the huge gap between the relatively few Black mentors and millions of our vulnerable children; BanksGiving, a non-profit that helps kids better understand personal and business economics.

Rev. Walter S. Thomas, Jr.Image of Rev. Walter S. Thomas.

Being an example to others not only in word, but also in deed is a principle that Pastor Walter Scott Thomas, Jr. aspires to live by.

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    In November of 2014 Pastor Thomas was called to pastor the First Baptist Church of Steelton in Harrisburg, PA. Since taking over as pastor, the church has grown by leaps and bounds and new ministry components have been added including public safety, social media, web streaming, and online giving.

    Pastor Thomas attended Morehouse College and graduated Cum Laude with a major in religious studies and a minor in psychology. He also graduated as the top-ranking senior in his major department. In 2001, Pastor Thomas acknowledged the call on his life to preach the gospel and preached his initial sermon on July 20th of that year. In 2007 Pastor Thomas was ordained into ministry. After Morehouse, Pastor Thomas continued his education and earned his Master of Divinity degree from the Howard University School of Divinity. At Howard, he served as a graduate assistant at the Historic Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel.

    Pastor Thomas has worked to facilitate change wherever he has been. From working on reform in schools, to traveling to Hiroshima, Japan, to take part in a peace summit, Pastor Thomas has always had a mind to work on behalf of others. In 2016 he was elected to serve as the vice-president of the African American Ministerial Alliance of Steelton and Vicinity. Pastor Thomas has also been recognized nationally and inducted into the Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. Board of Preachers in 2018.

    Pastor Thomas is married to Mrs. Jarrette L. Thomas, and they have two lovely children, Lillian Grace and Walter, III. Pastor Walter Thomas is committed to serving God with a spirit of excellence.

 

Kyasha C. Tysonkyasha-tyson-headshot

Biography to come.

 

Dwan Walker

Biography to come.

 

Ivan Watsonivan-watson-headshot

Mr. Ivan Watson, President, CEO of The Watson Organization, has over 15 years of experience In General Construction.

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    Mr. Watson is the President and CEO of The Watson Organization where his primary focus is to open doors for minorities in business, with his tenacious attitude and assiduous demeanour, Mr.Watson has built a successful business starting from industrial and commercial painting company to excelling to a leading General Contractor in the Southeast Region of the country. While Mr.Watson’s reputation speaks for itself with the capability of building a successful business, not only for himself but for his community. The Watson Organization is a business that is a Minority Business Enterprise/ Disadvantaged Business Enterprise. While successfully contributing to the growth of diversity which is a key principle of Mr.Watson to be a dedicated advocate for minorities in business. Mr. Watson has set precedence with openly discussing inclusion and diversity with small business owners in the City of Philadelphia. Utilizing his governance to open doors for minorities in business has aided him in the success of being awarded Commissioner to the Governor’s Commission on African American Affairs as well as a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Mr Watson serves as Co-Chairman of Driscoll’s Diversity Inclusion Council of L.F Driscoll, one of the largest general contractors in the region dedicated to creating small business opportunities along advocating for small businesses, subcontractors in the City of Philadelphia Mr.Watson has built a reputation that exceeds expectations when it comes to leading the charge regarding diversification and unification of minorities. Mr.Watson aspiration to open doors and make improvements for minorities in business with his cumulative approach to want to see everyone win, not only in the construction industry but the uniqueness of the growth for minority owned businesses and collaborating with small businesses, not only in the City of Philadelphia, but throughout the State of Pennsylvania transcending diversity and inclusion. Mr. Watson resides in Philadelphia and is a strong leader.

Contact Us

For more information regarding the Governor’s Advisory Commission on African American Affairs please contact:

Jalila Parker, Executive Director
110 N. Eighth Street, Suite 505, 11th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 965-4603