We’re so excited to announce something special today — our brand-new #Fight4AFuture Leadership Council! When our Gun Violence Prevention Network rebranded last month to the #Fight4AFuture Network for Gun Violence Prevention and Criminal Justice Reform, we knew we wanted a special group of young leaders alongside us as we continue our work on gun violence prevention, criminal justice reform, and the intersections between these two important issues.
Generation Progress believes in the power and passion of young people wanting to make a difference. With members from 13 states and Washington, DC, the Leadership Council will be working to make sure Millennial voices are heard in the fight for gun violence prevention and criminal justice reform.
Through the Leadership Council, we will continue to build a movement that is inclusive and sensitive to the urgent needs of communities impacted by gun violence and the criminal justice system, and a movement that is led by young people to address gun violence at its roots while pushing for genuine security in all communities.
You can learn more about the members of our Leadership Council below and join the #Fight4AFuture Network yourself here.
Amy Chen is from North Philadelphia and at the age of 9, she experienced violence in her community and lost several friends to gun violence. She believes addressing the root causes to violence, like lack of community resources, is crucial in stopping the gun violence epidemic in America. She finally decided to take action to stop gun violence when she attended the first #Fight4AFuture summit in 2014. It was a wake up call that her voice does matter. Amy was appointed to serve on Philadelphia’s Youth Commission by Councilwoman Tasco in 2013 and organized events in her community to reduce violence. She hopes to continue her leadership role with the #Fight4AFuture Network and develop more youth into leaders.
Brandon Randall lives in Indianapolis and graduated from Indiana University (Indianapolis). For five years, he worked at the local Juvenile Detention Center, where he met hundreds of amazing young people caught up in a system designed to destroy them. In 2009, he lost his first young person to gun violence and over the next few years, that number would continually grow. This took a toll on Brandon, and he began focusing on violence prevention and youth empowerment. He participated in community organizing and is working with mentoring organizations. His goal is to provide platforms for young people to embrace and explode their leadership potential.
Bruce Franks is a community leader and activist from St. Louis, Missouri. Bruce is a business owner, founder of 28 to Life, and husband and father of five. Bruce lost his brother, Christopher Harris, in 1991 to gun violence. While playing with neighborhood friends, his brother, then 9 years old, was used as a human shield. Bruce has dedicated his life to preventing gun violence from the root cause, as well as criminal justice reform and trying to bridge the gap between the protesters and the protested. He has become a volunteer consultant who huddles frequently with the circuit attorney, police chiefs, police academy candidates, St. Louis City Hall leaders, and the Department of Justice. Currently, Bruce is running for state representative in Missouri’s 78th District.
Bryanta Maxwell is from Laurens, SC and attended South Carolina State University. Bryanta’s family has been impacted by the system of mass incarceration and the War on Drugs. These issues became a passion for Bryanta once she graduated from college in 2006. She has volunteered in her community and built trust and relationships, and encourages youth to stay in school, clean up their community, and not succumb to the pressures to take part in crimes.
Camiella Williams is from Chicago, IL. A renowned community activist and gun reform advocate, she is also the spokesperson for Congresswoman Robin Kelly’s Violence Prevention Task Force. Her goal is to help people in violent and impoverished communities learn how to resolve conflicts without getting physical or using weapons, as well as treating many of the mental health issues, primarily depression, that said communities often face without resources for treatment.
DeJuan Patterson is from Baltimore, MD. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Public Policy. During the beginning of his senior year of high school, he suffered from a near fatal gunshot wound to the head. From that moment on, he has been an advocate for gun violence prevention, mental health resources, and education quality and access. He drives forward youth development programs, advocates for mental health resources, and seeks to improve representation for under-served communities. DeJuan is a believer in the importance of coalition-building for making significant progress and systemic change.
Ivan Carter is a Columbia, SC native and attended Columbia High School. He continued on to pursue his associates degree in Paralegal Studies at Midlands Technical College, and he is currently on the path to completing his BSW at the University of South Carolina. At the age of 21, Ivan lost his younger brother to a senseless act of gun violence. From that point on, he decided to be an advocate influencing the lives of at-risk youth around him for the betterment of their future. Ivan has dedicated his life to developing young people in South Carolina. He has helped implement positive growth within several nonprofits and organizations within their outreach department in Columbia, SC such as the Columbia Urban League, Midlands Community Development Corporation, City of Columbia, and Bible Way Church of Atlas Road. He currently works for Midlands Fatherhood Coalition, educating and empowering young people to become better parents to enhance their children’s lives. He is currently in collaboration with United Way of the Midlands to help change the lives of youth in the Midlands.
Josie Brady is a Denver native who is an advocate for gun violence prevention and has dedicated her life to create a better world. She was the chair and member of Generation Progress’ Gun Violence Prevention Regional Organizing Committee and the president and founder of Colorado Ceasefire Millennials. Josie has grown up in the area between Columbine High School and the Aurora Theater, where two mass shootings occurred and forever impacted her life, motivating her to take action in her community and across the nation.
Kaylynn Toomey currently resides in Tallahassee, Florida where she attends Florida State University. She was raised in a concentrated area of poverty in Boca Raton, an otherwise affluent city. The disparities in resources and opportunities lead to high rates of gun violence within her community. She began working on gun violence prevention with the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus, which she’s been a part of for the past two years. She hopes to extend her activism to communities outside of the campus realm.
Kina Collins is a 25-year-old native of Chicago, IL and also a sociology major at Louisiana State University. Ms. Collins became a youth activist as a teenager and has dedicated her advocacy efforts toward education, fighting poverty, and the rights of women and girls. As an alumna of Chicago Public Schools (CPS), Ms. Collins has served as a youth and college mentor, assisting low-income CPS students with researching, applying, and preparing for college. She also served as a Harris Fellow and college mentor for the Summer of Service Learning initiative, a program geared toward providing incoming high school students with the opportunity to conduct their own independent service projects before entering high school. During the summer of 2011, Ms. Collins created a women and girls empowerment group in the Austin community in Chicago, through the Austin Community Peace Corner Youth Center, where she taught young women positive conflict resolution, college readiness, and community beautification. Ms. Collins is also a member of NAACP and the Black Student Union of Louisiana State University, while serving as a Ronald E. McNair Research Scholar and a member of Delta Sigma Theta, Sorority, Inc.
Lauren Footman is from Yeadon, PA. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College in May of 2014, with a bachelor’s degree in English and double minors in Political Science and Africana Studies. While at Bryn Mawr, she charted a College Chapter of the NAACP. She currently works for a public accounting firm in Philadelphia, while serving as President of the NAACP PA State Conference Youth and College Division, and as a Gun Violence Prevention Regional Organizer for Generation Progress. She remains committed to advocating for marginalized populations.
Lawrence Grandpre is from Baltimore, MD. He is the Director of Research for Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle (LBS), a grassroots think tank that advances the public policy interest of black people in Baltimore through youth leadership development, political advocacy, and autonomous intellectual innovation. His work includes collaborating with community organizations in grassroots organizing and lobbying efforts as well as producing original research and content to support the organization’s policy agenda on issues ranging from police accountability and education to economic development and housing. He is also the creative director of LBS The New Timbuktu project, an effort to center the black radical tradition and Afrikan centered thought in activism through training workshops and creating digital tools to aggregating relevant audio visual materials. He is currently LBS’ liaison to the Campaign for Jobs, Safety and Jobs Coalition, a coalition working on law enforcement reform and social justice in Baltimore. He is a member of the Baltimore United for Change (BUC) coalition. In 2014, Mr. Grandpre co-authored The Black Book: Reflections from the Baltimore Grassroots, and his writing has been featured in The Baltimore City Paper, the Baltimore Sun, and Time Magazine online.
Lelani Russell is from Dallas, TX, lives in Denton, TX, and currently attends Texas Woman’s University. At the age of five, she watched her father be beaten by Dallas police outside of of her daycare center. By the age of 22, Lelani had been a victim of police brutality numerous times, from being hit by a police car, to being body slammed by male officers multiple times. At the age of 19, Lelani started a non-profit organization with her sister that helps the community in every way possible. She also has a team made up of friends that are determined to fight injustice and stand up at all cost.
Marc Carr lives in Washington, DC. In the wake of Ferguson, he started researching the underlying issues that lead to high incarceration rates in African-American communities. This was partly due to his own experiences with gun violence (two of his brothers and a cousin have been shot; one of them died) and interactions with the criminal justice system. Since Ferguson, he has led over a dozen workshops and events on criminal justice reform. He hopes to meet like-minded people who are interested in working together to decrease violence and increase opportunities for our youth.
Rishaun Hall is from Philadelphia, PA and is currently a senior at Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School. Working to the end gun violence has been a major initiative for him since he was 15. Former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter gave him the opportunity to serve as his appointee on the Philadelphia Youth Commission. As a Youth Commissioner, Rishaun has utilized the opportunity to be a servant to those who are in need of a voice against all forms of violence, but especially gun violence. He cares about the issue of violence because he feels as though the owes it to his Godbrother, who was killed unjustly by a gunman on the streets of West Philadelphia. Because of this, it is up to Rishaun to live for his Godbrother to make sure that his life was not taken in vain.
Ronnie Mosley currently lives in Atlanta, GA and attends Morehouse College. He is a co-founder of the Generation Progress #Fight4AFuture Network and founder of the Millennials Movement, a student and youth think tank. A native of Chicago, IL, Mosley has been working on gun violence prevention for over nine years on the local, state, and national levels. The issue touches close to home for Mosley. In May of 2015, his great-grandmother and cousin were shot while on the porch of his great-grandmother’s home in the South Side of Chicago. Most recently, Mosley served as an assistant to an alderman in the City of Chicago.
Sarah Clements resides in Washington, DC. She is a sophomore (COL ’18) at Georgetown University hoping to double major in Government and Justice and Peace Studies. On December 14, 2012, Sarah’s mother survived the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. In the aftermath, Sarah began using gun violence prevention advocacy to transform her painful experience into positive action. She founded and served as Chairwoman for the Jr. Newtown Action Alliance, and continues to volunteer her efforts with Generation Progress. At school, Sarah leads advocacy efforts with Georgetown Against Gun Violence.
A resident of Columbia, SC, Zakiya Esper is the Executive Director of Sowing Seeds into the Midlands and a wife and mother of two. After years of working as a juvenile probation officer in South Carolina, Zakiya became increasingly alarmed by the gap in support services for the teens she served. Although mentorship programs exist by the dozens in the state, many often cannot meet the overwhelming and ever-growing demand for services. The vision for Sowing Seeds into the Midlands was birthed from Zakiya’s belief in redemption for troubled youth, especially those living in the communities where she was raised.