Reclaiming Our Humanity

Our Mission

Forward Promise affirms the full humanity of people of color and rallies against the narratives, policies, and practices that dehumanize them. Our work asserts that young people heal, grow, and thrive in healthy villages; therefore, we advance individual and structural solutions rooted in culture that strengthen whole communities.

Forward Promise is an independent initiative of The Moriah Group.

Our Mandates for a Healthy,
Thriving Village

Our village of grantees and fellows identified seven mandates that will guide the work of our hands:

Our Team

Jonathan Leon, Ed.D.

Senior Director

Dr. Jonathan Leon is the Senior Director of Forward Promise responsible for the day-to-day operations and strategic direction of the initiative. Jonathan has more than a decade of experience in program development and operations, strategic advising and consulting, and communications in the social impact sector. He holds a master’s degree in teaching from Georgia State University, a master’s degree in Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, and a doctorate in Education Policy and Leadership from American University.

Rainah Davis

Director, Field Building

Rainah Davis is the Director of Field Building for Forward Promise, an initiative of The Moriah Group. Nicknamed “Champion of the Underdog” by her father at a young age, she has spent the past 15 years uplifting and advocating for people through her work as a brand strategist, content developer, entrepreneur, author, and leadership consultant. Mrs. Davis, a North Carolina native, completed her undergraduate studies at NC Central University and received her master’s degree in Communications from Queens University of Charlotte.

Paul Larkin

Director, Leadership

Paul Larkin is the Director of Leadership for Forward Promise, an initiative of The Moriah Group. His research interests center on developing cultural best practices in community health for people of color. Mr. Larkin is an active member of Prince Hall Masonry, 100 Black Men of America, and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated. He earned a B.S. from Albany State University and an MPH from Morehouse School of Medicine. He is also a Higher Education Leadership Doctoral Candidate at Clark Atlanta University.

Rosalee Blalock

Program Manager

Rosalee Blalock serves as the Program Manager for Forward Promise. She has experience in program and project management, grants and development, social service outreach, and event planning within the higher education and nonprofit sector. She holds an M.P.H. in Health Behavior and Health Education and an M.S.W. in Interpersonal Practice from the University of Michigan. Rosalee is passionate about personal health literacy, college access, and creating solutions that ensure communities of color thrive.

Janay Eustace

Janay Eustace is the President and CEO of the Child Abuse Prevention Center, in Sacramento,

Janay Eustace is the President and CEO of the Child Abuse Prevention Center, in Sacramento, CA.

The mission of The Child Abuse Prevention Center is to prevent child abuse and neglect through a spectrum of prevention at the local, statewide, and national level. Janay was previously the Executive Director of California Youth Connection (CYC). She has worked for the California Welfare Directors Association (CWDA) and as the Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI) Champion and Youth Engagement Lead at the Youth Law Center. 

When she was a Sacramento County Child Protective Services Social Worker, she advocated to establish the Sacramento State University’s Guardian Scholars Program, which still continues to serve systems impacted parents, families, and youth today. She first became involved with prevention and systems transformation work during her time in the foster care system. 

One of the many accomplishments Janay is proud of is helping execute the California Fostering Connections to Success Act nationally and implementation across the State of California. Janay is committed to ensuring the integrity of prevention frameworks that are fundamentally rooted in diversity, with a community-led partnership.

She graduated from Sacramento State University where she received a Bachelors and Master of Social Work Degree. Janay is also an immensely proud wife, mother to three amazing boys, sister/chosen sister, God-mom, and aunty.

Andrew Mulinge

Director of Programs, The Institute for Responsible Citizenship

Andrew Mulinge is an educator, researcher, and advocate for equity-based education for all students. His experiences and interests have primarily been focused on researching, developing, and implementing best practices that improve, educational, health and social opportunities for boys and young men of color. Andrew received his master’s degree in Sociology and Education Policy from Columbia University, Teachers College. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in Government and Politics and a certificate in African-American studies from the University of Maryland, College Park. He is originally from the D.C. metropolitan area but currently resides in New York City.

Angela Diaz, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H.

Director, Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center/ Dean of Global Health, Social Justice, and Human Rights,

Angela Diaz, MD, PhD, MPH is the Jean C. and James W. Crystal Professor, Department of Pediatrics and Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health, at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. After earning her medical degree at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, she completed a Master in Public Health from Harvard University and a PhD in Epidemiology from Columbia University.

Dr. Diaz is the Director of the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center, a unique program that provides comprehensive, interdisciplinary, integrated, medical care, sexual and reproductive health, mental health, dental and optical services to young people. Under her leadership the Center has become one of the largest adolescent-specific health center in the U.S., serving more than 13,000 young people every year – for free. The Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center is a major training site in the field of adolescent health and medicine, with research funded by NIH.

Dr. Diaz is a member of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), where she sits on its governing council, is a member of the Committee for the Health and Medicine Division, and chairs the Board on Children, Youth and Families at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Dr. Diaz has been a White House Fellow, a member of the Food and Drug Administration Pediatric Advisory Committee, and a member of the Board of Directors of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. In 2003, Dr. Diaz chaired the National Advisory Committee on Children and Terrorism for the Department of Health and Human Services. In 2009, she was appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to the New York City Commission for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) Runaway and Homeless Youth Taskforce. Dr. Diaz is active in public policy and advocacy in the U.S. and has conducted many international health projects in Asia, Central and South America, Europe and Africa. She is a frequent speaker at conferences throughout the country and around the world.

Kalimah Priforce

Retired Headmaster and CEO at Qeyno Labs

At eight years old, Kalimah Priforce held a successful hunger strike against his Brooklyn group home to add more books to its library, which drew the attention of a community of Buddhist monks and nuns who privately tutored him until the age of 14.

He left both the group home and the Buddhist order as a lost teenager, but in Harlem, NY, legendary educator Dr. Lorraine Monroe discovered and mentored his potential to be an education innovator. By 16, Kalimah started his first tech startup that primarily served low income neighborhoods and the elderly. He sold the company at 19. In 2000, his younger brother was shot and killed behind their childhood elementary school, inspiring Kalimah to accept his Bodhisattva path to transform children’s lives towards mindfulness of their path and purpose.

As the Headmaster CEO of Qeyno, an industry leader for the inclusive innovation ecosystem, Kalimah Priforce is just a kid from Brooklyn committed to eliminating barriers to human potential. Qeyno is home to Hackathon Academy, the first pop-up school that prepares youth and their mentors to build web and mobile apps that accelerate college and career pathways in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art Design, and Mathematics) and launched hackathons for Prince at the Essence Festival to Pres. Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper”. From Tech EQuity Week’s multi-city world’s fair to Moonshot Q’s product development school for college students and pre-professionals, Qeyno creates magical opportunity for all.

Kalimah’s brand of inclusive hacktivism has been featured on the cover of USA Today, the MSNBC mini-documentary, “Swimming in Their Genius”, indie award winning film “Code Oakland” and recognized by the White House as a Champion of Change. He is a 2013 Echoing Green fellow and a 40 Under 40: Tech Diversity for Silicon Valley.

Kisha Bird

Founder, Travel Deeper, Inc./ Former Director of Youth Policy, Center for Law and Social Policy

Kisha Bird is the former director of youth policy at CLASP and project director for the Campaign for Youth (CFY), a national coalition chaired by CLASP. Ms. Bird works to expand access to education, employment, and support services for disconnected and other vulnerable youth. She is an expert in federal policy for vulnerable youth and helps ensure national legislation (such as Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act) is fully implemented in communities nationwide and has maximum impact for poor and low-income youth and youth of color.

Before joining CLASP, Ms. Bird was director for the Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network, working to make quality education and afterschool programs accessible to young people. Prior to that, she was a program officer at the Philadelphia Foundation, where she helped develop and manage the Fund for Children, Youth Advisory Board, and discretionary grants process. She also has direct service experience, working in various community settings with children, youth and families.

Ms. Bird holds a Masters of Social Service and Master of Law and Social Policy from Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research. She also earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Spelman College. Lastly, she is a graduate of the Education Policy Fellowship Program, a joint program of the Institute for Educational Leadership and the Pennsylvania Educational Policy Leadership Center.

Patrick Tolan, Ph.D.

Charles S. Robb Professor Emeritus, UVA School of Education & Human Development Professor Emeritus of

Patrick H. Tolan is Professor at the University of Virginia in the Curry School of Education and in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences in the School of Medicine. Prior to arriving at UVA he was Director of the Institute for Juvenile Research, a multidisciplinary center focused on child mental health and mental illness. He is now Emeritus Professor at the University of Illinois.

He is director of the cross-university multidisciplinary center, Youth-Nex: The U.Va. Center to Promote Effective Youth Development, a transdisciplinary nexus of research, training, and application of science about the capabilities of young people in connection to health, communities, schools, and relationships.

Over the past 30 years he has conducted many research studies on youth development, programs to affect positive development and prevent problems, and to understand and affect youth development in context. He has conducted several large scale randomized trials focused on promoting and supporting healthy development in high-risk communities, including the 24-year longitudinal study of development of young men residing in inner-city Chicago, the Chicago Youth Development Study. His studies have provided insights and innovation in how families managed the challenges of underresourced schools and unsafe neighborhoods, the complex determinants of violence, how children and families can manage life stress, and neighborhoods affect risk for school failure, delinquency, and mental health problems.

At present, he heads up the 7-year $11.75 million group randomized trial, the Compassionate Schools Project, which tests a curriculum to bring “21st century health and wellness skills” to elementary school children. This unique collaboration with the school system and city of Louisville is testing a compassion-oriented curriculum for impact on SEL and personal care skills. He is a one of the leaders of the Boys of Color Collaboration and contributed to the National Academy of Medicine regarding health equity as a civil rights issue. With colleagues at UVA he was recently awarded a grant to study how youth in middle school can help promote learning and inclusion and potentially reduce racially based achievement disparities.

He serves on several advisory boards. Professor Tolan is a frequent contributor to the scientific literature. Recent contributions include chapters on humanizing developmental science in study of boys of color, comparison of major models of positive development, and the value of developmental science and legal research in advancing health justice. His latest book is Gene-Environment Transactions in Developmental Psychopathology: The Role in Intervention Research, a volume in the Brain Research Foundation Symposium Series he edits. (Springer, 2017). He was the 2016 recipient of the Nicholas Hobbs Award from the Society for Child and Family Practice and Policy (APA).

Quyen Dinh

Executive Director of the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center

Quyen Dinh is the Executive Director of the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC). Originally formed in 1979, SEARAC was founded by a group of American humanitarians as a direct response to the refugee crises arising throughout Southeast Asia as a result of U.S. military actions. Today, SEARAC represents the largest refugee community ever resettled in America as a civil rights organization. SEARAC works to empower Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese American communities to create a socially just and equitable society through policy advocacy, advocacy capacity building, community engagement, and mobilization.

As Executive Director, Quyen has advocated for Southeast Asian Americans on key civil rights issues including education, immigration, criminal justice, health, and aging. Under Quyen’s leadership, SEARAC has authored national legislation and passed California legislation calling for transparent, disaggregated data for the Asian American community. Quyen has also extended SEARAC’s coalition presence and leadership in other civil rights and social justice movements through her leadership roles with the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), Detention Watch Network (DWN), the Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC), and Allies for Reaching Community Health Equity (ARCHE) Action Collaborative.

Quyen has also contributed her voice as a thought leader through speaking roles with the White House, U.S. Department of Education, American Radio Works, and Education Weekly. Prior to SEARAC, she built lasting infrastructure for the International Children Assistance Network (ICAN) in San Jose, California serving Vietnamese immigrant parents, grandparents, and youth.

Born to Vietnamese refugees, Quyen identifies as a second-generation Vietnamese American. She holds a Masters of Public Policy from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley. Quyen was born in New Orleans, LA, and grew up in Orange County, CA and San Jose, CA. She currently resides with her husband in Washington, DC.

Tanisha Abernathy Browne

Executive Director, Of Home, Family, and Future

Tanisha Abernathy Browne is a passionate professional with over 15 years of strategic communications experience in a range of categories, including financial services, healthcare, telecommunications and the non-profit sector.

In her current role as Director of Marketing for the NYC Administration for Children’s Services, Tanisha oversees the strategy and execution of public awareness campaigns, large events and an array of marketing materials supporting the agency’s Child Welfare, Juvenile Justice and Early Care and Education divisions. Prior to that, Tanisha served as Brand Specialist at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), where she was responsible for positioning the Foundation’s brand and developing an audience engagement strategy to support the RWJF’s vision to build a Culture of Health. Her previous experience includes leading teams to develop advertising and marketing strategies for a number of clients such as Capital One, Weight Watchers and Verizon.

Tanisha holds an MPA from Baruch College and a BBA in Marketing from Howard University. She is both the Junior Board President an active mentor for Of Home, Family and Future, a nonprofit organization that offers programming to support domestic violence survivors and college-bound foster youth. Tanisha is a native New Yorker and a Brooklyn resident. She is married and is a step mother to two amazing and precocious teenagers.

Tshaka Barrows

Executive Director and Founding Member of the W. Haywood Burns Institute (BI)

Tshaka Barrows is a founding member of the W. Haywood Burns Institute (BI).

As Executive Director he works closely with the Executive Team to advance the Burns Institute’s mission to protect and improve the lives of communities of color and poor people. His work involves strategic planning, organizational development, financial over site, project development and managing relationships with community leaders and system decision makers, funders and other partners across the nation.

Tshaka joined the Burns Institute in 2002 as Regional Manager for the Community Justice Network for Youth (CJNY) after graduating from the University of Wisconsin. Previously, he worked to build the CJNY from 35 active member organizations in 2002 to over 200 nationwide today! He developed several curricula including a comprehensive juvenile justice history curriculum, as well as racial and ethnic disparity taskforces in Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Chicago and New Orleans. He is proud to have worked with and supported so many community leaders committed to ‘Stopping the Rail to Jail’.

Throughout the development of the CJNY he visited over 140 organizations; held 12 regional conferences and two national conferences, and facilitated numerous trainings and workshops. He has participated in several national initiatives including the Youth Justice Learning Group, the Funders Collaborative on Youth Justice and the Casey Foundations Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative.

Tshaka’s work in CJNY bolstered BI’s site-based approach. His community engagement contributions to BI’s site-based strategy lead to a significant increase in meaningful community involvement with detention reform. His work established several community-based interventions that have reduced racial and ethnic disparities and increased positive life outcomes for youth involved in criminal justice systems.

Tshaka is an alumnus of the Rockwood Leadership Institute Fellowship program and currently participates in the Sierra Health Foundation’s Positive Youth Justice Initiative; additionally, he serves as an Advisory Council Member for the Campaign for Youth Justice.

William Buster

President and CEO, New Hanover Community Endowment, Inc. (NAC Chair)

William Buster is a North Carolina native who has built a career in philanthropy as is the CEO & President of New Hanover Community Endowment. William previously served as a Senior Vice President at Dogwood Health Trust where he led the Foundation’s Education work and Racial Equity investments. Over his long career, he has also worked for and with communities in leadership roles with St. David’s Health Foundation, Common-Unity Philanthropic and Nonprofit Advisors, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation. William holds a Master of Arts in Policy and Practice of Development, University of New Hampshire as well as a BA from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical University and an Executive Education certificate in Mastering Negotiation from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.