The Mystics and Capital One Bank are teaming up once again to recognize the heroes in our community. As part of their long-standing “Investing for Good” philosophy, at every home game this season, Capital One bank is saluting the people who truly make a real and last difference in the communities we call home.
You can read about each Capital One Bank Community Champion winners below:
May 14, 2017 vs. San Antonio Stars: Jessica Towers, Volunteer Coordinator, DC Central Kitchen
As the Volunteer Coordinator for nationally-recognized nonprofit and social enterprise, DC Central Kitchen, Jessica Towers leads over 15,000 annual volunteers in helping to prepare 5,000 meals, delivered each day to homeless shelters and partner nonprofits throughout DC.
Jessica first arrived at DC Central Kitchen in 2011 as a court-ordered volunteer before enrolling as a student in the Culinary Job Training program. Soon after graduating from the 14-week training program later that year, she was eager to return to DC Central Kitchen as an employee. She joined full-time as a receptionist and has since been promoted twice, first to a Human Resources Assistant, and then in 2015 to her current role managing the volunteer program.
Jessica enjoys giving back to her community. Her current role not only allows her to work with court-ordered volunteers, many of whom are experiencing some of the same challenges she once did, but her current position also allows her to support current students enrolled in the job-training program. In working with them, Jessica is able to share her story of strength and provide hope and guidance for current classes and those that follow.
In addition to her work at DC Central Kitchen, Jessica is completing a certificate in Human Resource Management from Northern Virginia Community College in 2017.
May 26, 2017 vs. Chicago Sky: Molly Teas, Executive Director, Everybody Wins DC
Dr. Molly Teas is the Executive Director of Everybody Wins DC, a non-profit organization that promotes literacy in the Washington DC area. Everybody Wins DC pairs children in DC public elementary schools with volunteer reading mentors for one-on-one, weekly reading sessions. Reading mentors come from a wide range of community businesses and organizations – from top law firms to business associations, sports and news organizations and the House and Senate – all of whom are deeply committed to children’s literacy and community engagement.
Before joining Everybody Wins DC, Molly advised government, nonprofit and international organization leaders on strategies to build equity and excellence in schools. She served as Senior Education Advisor in the U.S. Department of State, led girls’ education and literacy initiatives at several international development agencies and non-profit organizations, lived and worked in Nepal for seven years and taught at both Harvard University Graduate School of Education and Johns Hopkins SAIS.
Dr. Teas received her doctorate from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, a B.A. from Lawrence University, and an M.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal.
May 31, 2017 vs. Connecticut Sun: Diana Hosford, Chief Officer of Sports & Entertainment, TAPS
Diana Roday Hosford is the Chief Officer of Sports & Entertainment at Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. Diana joined the TAPS staff in January 2013. That spring, she traveled with a small delegation to Kabul, Afghanistan. During the trip, she conceived the idea for teams4taps. teams4taps creates meaningful opportunities for surviving military families by engaging with professional sports teams. With more than 125 teams, leagues and associations, teams4taps has provided thousands of surviving military families the opportunity to honor their loved ones with the teams they cheered for with their fallen heroes.
As the Chief Officer of Sports & Entertainment, Diana also oversees TEAM TAPS, the TAPS running program and Stars4TAPS, the TAPS entertainment program. Diana is a graduate of American University. She is originally from New York and currently resides in Washington, D.C., with her husband, Matt, daughter, Sophia, and a dog named Woody.
June 4, 2017 vs. Atlanta Dream: Max Levitt, Founder, Leveling the Playing Field
Leveling the Playing Field’s (LPF) founder, Max Levitt, conceptualized the organization’s model while working as the equipment manager for the Syracuse University football team as an undergraduate student. Mr. Levitt was stunned at the massive amount of fully functional equipment being thrown away at the end of each season and became fixated on finding a way to put all the potential in these wasted materials to good use. Based on his volunteer experiences in a variety of inner cities, he was intimately aware of the lack of resources many schools and youth programs have when it comes to athletics. Due to lack of funding and low socioeconomic status, families, schools and youth programs in low-income neighborhoods are unable to offer athletics to their kids.
Starting out of his parent’s basement in 2013, Levitt began his journey as a one-man operation with a mission to bring the underserved youths the opportunity to participate in sports. Following a collection and distribution model, Levitt has grown the organization organically through grassroots efforts and word of mouth marketing. In four years, LPF has donated approximately $2M worth of sporting equipment to over 350 programs and schools in the D.C./Baltimore area, directly impacting over 80,000 kids. In 2015, Levitt moved LPF into a 4,000 sq. ft. warehouse in Silver Spring, MD in order to provide sufficient space for the continuously growing supply of equipment. Additionally, he has expanded LPF’s organizational capacity, bringing on two full-time employees and engaging hundreds of volunteers. He is currently working to expand LPF’s impact even further by arranging the opening of a second warehouse in Baltimore, MD by the end of 2017.
June 11, 2017 vs. Indiana Fever: Dale Bannon, Executive Director & COO, The Salvation Army National Capital Area
Dale Bannon is the Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of The Salvation Army National Capital Area. Dale helps lead a team of professionals and volunteers that provide assistance to over 80,000 individuals through services such as Transitional Housing for Women and Children, Substance Abuse Treatment to individuals, utility and rent/mortgage assistance, holiday assistance, and arts and education programs for young people. “Our brand promise ‘Doing the Most Good’ drives us each and every day to provide a help-up to individuals and families that come through our doors with a crisis…may they find hope and new beginning through our service.”
Dale is a graduate of Leadership Greater Washington class of 2013 and is a Dr. George E. Walker Doctoral Fellow with the University of Charleston. Dale is happily married to Carol and they have a 16 year old son, Joshua; they reside in Arlington, Virginia.
June 18, 2017 vs. Dallas Wings: Sean Brunson, Founder and CEO, The Brunson League
Sean Brunson is the CEO and founder of The Brunson League, a basketball league for young men in the state of Maryland to continue to play basketball at a high level after completing high school or college while still building friendships and learning life lessons through basketball. The Brunson League’s goal is to become a fixture in Baltimore City, creating unity in the community through the power of sports for both its players and supporters.
Brunson strives to give young adults the opportunity to learn about athletic training, team management, and giving back to the community. He is a graduate of Morgan State University and currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland.
June 27, 2017 vs. Seattle Storm: Lydia Pearl Monroe, Program Supervisor, Catholic Charities of Washington, D.C.
Lydia Pearl Monroe is a Program Supervisor for the Catholic Charities of Washington D.C where she oversees the Saint Maria’s Meals and Cup of Joe Programs. The mission of both Catholic Charities programs is to provide nutritional meals for the homeless and low income families. The Saint Maria’s Meals Programs feeds an average of 600 people three times a week in Maryland and the Washington, D.C. area. The Cup of Joe Program provides nonperishable meal kits to eight Catholic Charities homeless shelters and feeds 1,500 homeless men and women every week. Lydia Pearl Monroe has over 10 years of human service and grassroots community engagement that she utilizes to ensure that the Cup of Joe and Saint Maria’s Meals clients receive compassion and a healthy meal every morning.
June 29, 2017 vs. New York Liberty: Carolyn Schneiders Fung, Program Director, Hope for Henry
Carolyn Schneiders Fung has been a part of the Hope for Henry team since 2012. She became a Child Life Specialist in 2008, following the completion of her internship at Children’s National Medical Center. Carolyn began her career at Duke University Medical in Durham, NC. She discovered her passion for working with children and teenagers receiving solid organ transplants, and helped pilot a child life position within the adult lung transplant team. Additionally, Carolyn managed the Pets at Duke Pet Therapy Program, introduced the Beads of Courage Serious Illness Program, and built relationships with community donors.
In 2012, she was hired to work at Children’s National Medical Center, becoming Hope for Henry’s first full-time, in-hospital staff member. In that role, she provided services alongside with the hospital’s top-notch child-life team, delivered Hope for Henry’s unique and exciting programming, and worked to create new programs to improve patient well-being and outcomes. Building on Hope for Henry’s special focus on play, learning, child development, and advocacy, Carolyn helped create the new patient incentives program—Hope for Henry’s Super Path to Super Duper Better.
In the spring of 2016, Carolyn became the first-ever program director for Hope for Henry, and she currently oversees Hope for Henry programs at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, Children’s National Medical Center, and Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, MD.
July 19, 2017 vs. Atlanta Dream: Kelly Makimaa, Development Manager, Girls on the Run – DC
Kelly Makimaa is responsible for Girls on the Run – DC’s overall development strategy and execution which helps young girls in 3rd – 8th grade across all 8 wards of DC believe in their limitless potential. She is the Development Manager for Girls on the Run – DC, a local non-profit that has changed over 14,000 girls’ lives since its founding in 2006. Kelly is responsible for overseeing donor and corporate relationship management, communications planning, marketing, and partnerships to help remove economic barriers so that more girls participate in the Girls on the Run – DC program.
Moved by the belief that every girl should have the opportunity to feel joyful, healthy, and confident, Kelly is honored to work with corporate and individual supporters, SoleMates (adult charity athletes), volunteers, and community partners whose remarkable support empowers girls to become our next generation of leaders.
Kelly has a background in marketing, technology, branding and sports management. She received a Juris Doctor and a Master’s of Sports Administration from the University of Miami.
August 6, 2017 vs. Phoenix Mercury: Vernon Myers II & Anya Myers, Co-Founders, KidsSTREAM, Inc.
Anya D. and Vernon Myers II are the co-founders of KidsSTREAM, Inc. These two professionals bring over 20 years of experience and knowledge to the educational industry. Anya and Vernon both have extensive knowledge and expertise with the compliance rules and regulations of operating quality summer camps and child care centers.
Anya has been passionate about helping children and adults for over 30 years. Anya started working with youth as a babysitter at age 14 and continued until working in the State Department in 1990. With the urge and desire to return to working with youth, she started her daycare in 2000. After ten years of taking care of children through her daycare and summer programs, she pursued her other passion of becoming a nurse. Anya worked at Children’s National Medical Center, Civista Medical Center, and Kaiser Permanente. Currently, Anya is the Co-Founder and Chair of KidsSTREAM, Inc.
Vernon is no stranger to the informal and formal educational arena since he has spent over 21 years in school, afterschool and summer program settings. Mr. Myers has served as a classroom teacher, Math Specialist, and Instructional Resource Teacher in Washington, D.C.’s Public Charter Schools, Prince George’s County Public Schools, and Charles County Public Schools. He has worked with youth and adults in Prince George’s Community College, Minnesota 4-H Program, Big Brother and Big Sister of Minneapolis, Motivation at the Xavier University of Louisiana, and Summer Enrichment Program at Suitland High School. Currently, Vernon is a doctoral candidate at Capella University, the Co-Founder and Executive Director of KidsSTREAM, Inc., a Supplemental Instructor at Capella University, and an adjunct professor at the College of Southern Maryland.
August 12, 2017 vs. Indiana Fever: Felicia Jackson & Amir Williams, Co-Founders, #Out’N’About
In the summer of 2016, Felicia Jackson and Amir Williams co-founded #Out’N’About with hopes of one day having a national, then a global impact. #Out’N’About is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization based out of Northern Virginia, whose mission is to provide young adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) ways and opportunities to have fun and meaningful social experiences with their peers. Since their launch, Felicia and Amir have successfully and consistently executed the organization’s primary purpose-the inclusion of young adults with IDD into society in a way that is not only enjoyable and fun, but that also enhances their quality of life. Together this mother-son duo is shedding light on the importance of embracing and supporting young people with IDD.
“Though greatly under-served, our friends with IDD deserve to be more than just spectators as others around them enjoy full and active lives. Oftentimes what is needed is not for us to treat them differently, but to provide, create or even just allow them the opportunity for inclusion. At #Out’N’About we have formed relationships with many young people and their families and understand how the social isolation of a person with IDD affects everyone in that family. By creating relationships with community businesses, donors and supporters, we are able to host or plan, outings and events-as well as transportation to/from these events-that help our participants build a network of friends and confidence as well…encouraging everyone to get #Out’N’About to join in the fun!”
Though #Out’N’About is a new organization, Felicia and Amir feel honored to do this work and look forward to many years of continued service to this great community.
August 16, 2017 vs. Los Angeles Sparks: Stephen Groves, Veteran, United States Navy
Stephen Groves served in the United States Navy for almost 6 years and was stationed in San Diego, CA. While serving in the US Navy, Groves traveled to over 20 countries while being deployed three times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
After his Military service, Groves worked on Capitol Hill during the repeal DADT and eventually became a Military Legislative Assistant working on defense and veterans issues.
Groves currently works in political strategy and has extensive experience in campaigning, including 2 presidential and 2 US house of representative campaigns. He has a passion for helping Veterans, especially veterans interested in public service.
In his free time, Groves enjoys being near the ocean, traveling abroad, and being home with family and friends in Charleston, SC.
August 18, 2017 vs. Phoenix Mercury: Rachel Merritt, Board Member, Dreams For Kids DC
Dreams For Kids DC provides life-changing activities that empower children with physical and developmental disabilities to unite with their peers and realize their potential. DFKDC offers a wide variety of adaptive clinics for children with disabilities aged 4 to 24 – from waterskiing and football to cooking and Prom.
Many DFKDC participants are bullied in schools, and are left out of activities with able-bodied children. DFKDC events encourage these children to come off the sidelines and have fun. The empowerment and self-confidence gained through the clinics carries over from the field to the home, classroom, and the community, allowing participants to realize that their disability will not prevent them from fulfilling their dreams.
To learn more, volunteer or donate, go to dreamsforkidsdc.org.
Rachel Merritt accepted the award on behalf of Dreams For Kids DC. Rachel’s relationship with Dreams For Kids DC began as a volunteer in 2009, and it has evolved ever since. As a pro-bono, non-profit consultant in 2010, she assisted with grant writing, leadership transition, board development, strategic planning and financial management.
August 29, 2017 vs. Connecticut Sun: Shakeita Boyd
Shakeita Boyd-Johnson, a native of Washington, DC, has over twelve years of specialized experience with assisting special populations produce supportive outcomes that bridge the gap between housing and homelessness for families across the District. One of her many accomplishments includes her commitment to serving as a Commissioner for the DC Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board.
Currently, she serves as the Deputy Director of Programs at the District Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH). DASH is an innovator in providing access to safe housing and services to survivors of domestic violence and sexual violence and their families as they rebuild their lives on their own terms. Shakeita has held senior management and direct service positions, which has provided her with leverage and leadership opportunities that are essential to non-profit organization management. Her professional experiences include positions held as a Program Manager for a permanent supportive housing program where she supported individuals and families using the housing first model. As a Case Manager, she provided exceptional care coordination services to individuals faced with severe barriers throughout the metropolitan area.
In addition to her work experience, she is a graduate of Trinity Washington University in Washington, DC. Shakeita has a passion for cultivating safe and diverse spaces and facilitating effective leadership strategies while implementing best practices for working with survivors of domestic and sexual violence. She has a proven track record to lead and grow outcome/evidence-based programs and driven to make an impact in the lives of families who experience episodes of housing instability.
September 1, 2017 vs. Seattle Storm: Abena Ocran-Jackson
Abena Ocran-Jackson is the Senior Manager for Credentialing Services at the Council for Professional Recognition. The Council for Professional Recognition promotes improved performance and recognition of professionals in the early childhood education of children ages birth to 5 years old. In her current role, Ms. Ocran-Jackson provides the oversight of all systems and processes necessary to ensure that the Council delivers on its fundamental goal of issuing the Child Development Associate (CDA) to teachers. In her year and a half tenure with the Council, Ms. Ocran-Jackson’s department has issued almost 70, 000 CDA credentials.
Ms. Ocran-Jackson has been in the field of early childhood, holding various positions, for over 20 years. In 2015, she was named one of the Exceptional Leaders in the field of early childhood by Childcare Exchange’s Leadership Initiative. Ms. Ocran-Jackson has moderated, presented, and participated in numerous local, state, and national early childhood conferences.
Ms. Ocran-Jackson is a graduate of Howard University with a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development. She also holds a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Management from Trinity Washington University. She is married to Hans Jackson and the proud mother of two boys Landyn and Caelyn.