We are a collection of Southern organizations and scholars seeking an equitable and people-first response to economic recovery in a post-pandemic South.


This program is hosted by Genny Castillo, SEAP’s Deputy Director, and Emily Roberts, SEAP’s Engagement Coordinator. With the selection of 25 participants or organizations for each session, the program is committed to strengthening their impact in policy creation and advocacy. Additionally, the program features guest speakers and specialized programming designed to further enhance participants’ roles in the sphere of policy-making, ensuring they are well-equipped to contribute to more enlightened, effective, and empathetic governance and organizational policies.

Amanda Keller

Amanda is the Founding Director of the Magic City Acceptance Center and manages Family Matters: LGBTQ Youth Perspectives, a photography exhibition by Carolyn Sherer. Family Matters premiered at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in April 2014 and was selected as a Outwin Boochever Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery finalist in 2016. Amanda’s advocacy work began in Columbus, Ohio volunteering with a local AIDS service organization. That work continued at Birmingham AIDS Outreach in 2009 and she is proud to be in her 14th year of working with BAO. Awards include AL.com’s 2017 “Women Who Shape the State” honoree, 2018 Birmingham Business Journal’s “Women to Watch,” 2019 AMEX Leadership Academy, Leadership Birmingham Class of 2020, and the UAB College of Arts and Sciences 2020 Distinguished Young Alumni.

Andres Parra

Andres moved to Gwinnett county from Barranquilla, Colombia when he was ten years old. Andres graduated with a Bachelor’s degree double major in Political Science/IR and Latin American Studies and a minor in French from Carleton College in Minnesota. He is currently the Program Manager for Civic Engagement and Community Organizer for the GALEO Impact Fund. Andres is passionate about building leadership and empowering Latinos in Georgia to collectively build a better future.

Billy Anderson

Billy Anderson Jr., proud millennial and Shreveport native, channels his passion into supporting nonprofits to achieve their missions. Serving as the Northern Louisiana Organizer for the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, he spearheads significant coalition building and organizational efforts in targeted communities to advance equity and justice in North Louisiana. Actively contributing to boards such as the Shreveport-Bossier African American Chamber of Commerce, Red River Revel, Visit Shreveport-Bossier, and the Young Professional Initiative, Billy earned recognition as a 2022 Young Professional Initiative of Northwest Louisiana’s 40 Under Forty Honoree. He is also the founder of Shreveport-Bossier Black Restaurant Week and the 318 Day Festival. Billy’s life mission is to dismantle barriers and alleviate obstacles faced by people of color in securing basic human necessities.

Carrie Cole

Carrie Cole (she/her/hers) is the Kentucky Policy Advocacy and Partnerships Manager at The Bail Project. In this role, she is responsible for executing community engagement and advocacy strategies to advance legislation that improve pretrial justice in Kentucky. Ms. Cole previously held the titles of Bail Disruptor and Operations Manager at The Bail Project, where she managed client caseloads and oversaw the release of thousands of Kentuckians from pretrial incarceration. Prior to joining The Bail Project, Ms. Cole served within the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services helping families navigate the foster care system. She received both her B.A. and M.S. in social work from the University of Louisville.

Dom Kelly

Dom Kelly is the Co-Founder, President & CEO of New Disabled South, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and New Disabled South Rising, its 501(c)(4) arm. He previously served as both the Georgia Fundraising Director and the Senior Advisor for Disability for Stacey Abrams’ campaign for governor of Georgia. Prior to that, he was Senior Fundraising Manager and a Strategic Advisor for Disability at Fair Fight Action, the voting rights organization founded by Stacey Abrams. Dom is one of a set of triplets born with Cerebral Palsy and has been a disability advocate since he was four years old. He received a Master of Science in Nonprofit Leadership degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice where he also received the Excellence in Social Impact award.

Isabelle Philip

Isabelle Philip is a 4th year at the University of Georgia studying Political Science and International Affairs. Isabelle is also an organizer with the Georgia Youth Justice Coalition, an advocacy organization building power for young Georgians from the classroom to the state Capitol.

Julia Kunis

Julia Kunis, a CUNY Hunter College graduate, received her BA in Anthropology, specializing in Cultural and Linguistic Anthropology. In 2019, Julia participated in the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute’s service trip to Jackson, Mississippi. After graduation, she pursued a career in the Jackson nonprofit sector. Julia is committed to equity in the South and sits on the board of SOJOURN, advocating for Southern & Jewish LGBTQ+ communities. As a Fellowship Associate for Springboard To Opportunities, Julia found her passion for economic justice. She works with families living in affordable housing in recognizing their inherent power and building upon their advocacy skills. Julia believes in working locally to make a global impact and is an emerging change agent and visionary in the South.

Maggie Bell

As the Civic Engagement Director for SOWEGA Rising, Maggie Bell is passionate about shaking the table and being a part of the rising movement to break down systemic barriers in the South. She is adamant about ensuring that young black voters and black rural voters have a seat at the table and political power to improve our overall quality of life. If the room fits 20 people, she’s bringing 30—just to be safe. Maggie has spearheaded campaigns addressing food insecurity, criminal justice reform, corporate accountability, the cancellation of student loan debt, and mobilization efforts to empower rural Georgians.

Marijke Kylstra

Marijke Kylstra is the Redistricting Coordinator at Fair Count. She serves as a redistricting expert and works statewide and nationally to research best practices in redistricting, advocate for fair maps and an equitable democracy in the legislature, and educate and involve Georgians in the redistricting process. She previously worked to manage Fair Count’s PPE distribution program and coordinate multilingual events about the census, voting, and civic engagement. 

Stefania Arteaga

Stefania Arteaga the Co-Executive Director of the Carolina Migrant Network. She is an organizer and strategist who has played a crucial role in advancing immigrants’ rights organizing in North Carolina. Stefania has co-founded the grassroots group Comunidad Colectiva and the Carolina Migrant Network. For years she has worked to push back the tide of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and local law enforcement collaboration. As an immigrant from El Salvador, she spent years organizing undocumented students, deportation defense campaigns, and toward the successful end of 287(g) in Charlotte/Mecklenburg County. In 2019 She was selected as Z Smith Reynolds All for NC fellow working on access to legal representation for immigrants in the Carolinas. From 2019 to 2022 she worked at the ACLU of North Carolina as the Immigrants’ Rights Strategist.

Vivian Anderson

Vivian Anderson is a healer-activist dedicated to building a world where all Black girls thrive. In 2015, Vivian traded in the rich networks of her home in New York City, for many unknowns in Columbia, SC. Her courage was inspired by that of two young Black girls, introduced to the world when a school resource officer brutally assaulted one, for refusing to hand over a cell phone, and arrested her and the other girl, who stood up for her classmate when nobody else did. Thus #EveryBlackGirl was born. Since then, the #EveryBlackGirl campaign has become EveryBlackGirl, Inc, a 501c3 focused on creating the radical and systemic change that is needed to have a world worthy of the genius and heart of Every Black Girl.

Alicia Johnson

Alicia M. Johnson, a Savannah, Georgia native, is an accomplished leader with a trailblazing legacy. Armed with degrees in English and communications and a master’s in management & organizational leadership, she’s poised to complete her doctorate in business administration in May 2024. A certified grant writer and lifetime facilitator for Bridges Out of Poverty, Alicia boasts 27 years of progressive community development leadership. Her expertise spans equity, economic inclusion, strategic planning, program and organizational development, and marketing. As the first African American and native Savannahian executive director of Step Up Savannah, Alicia spearheads economic inclusion in the SE Region. Her rich career includes pioneering roles in public and private sectors, earning her statewide acclaim. Notably, she chairs the mayor’s Racial Equity and Leadership Taskforce, is a Prosperity Now Community Champion, is a member of the Invest Health Community Advisory Panel, and is a National League of Cities Southern City Leader. Alicia’s impactful journey includes transformative initiatives and recognition as a Bank of America Racial Economic Justice Fellow. Recently, she contributed to the Urban League of Greater Atlanta’s State of Black Georgia Report, and continues to showcase her expertise on various national, statewide, and local panels.

Bethany Vance

Bethany Vance is a proud native of Western North Carolina. She was educated at UNC Chapel Hill, where she pursued her education in Public Policy and Peace, War, & Defense. Driven by a desire to address issues of food insecurity, Bethany found her calling at MANNA Food Bank in Asheville, NC. As the Community Markets Supervisor, her work involves identifying gaps where there are no food resources available and filling those gaps with monthly pop-up markets that provide fresh, nutritious foods to the community. She is also the co-chair of MANNA’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion council. Outside of her professional life, she enjoys doing stand-up comedy, dancing, going to as many concerts as she can, and trying all the wonderful food and beverages that Asheville has to offer!

Carlos Javier Torres

Carlos Javier attended the University of Puerto Rico where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. He then moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he completed a Master of Science in Molecular Physiology and Biophysics at Vanderbilt University. Carlos has over 20 years of service in community outreach, higher education, clinical training, public health administration, philanthropy, and federal government. Before joining ¡HICA! as Director of Programs and Community Partnerships, Carlos worked for the Census Bureau as the Alabama Statewide Latino Partnership Specialist for the 2020 Census Decennial. He has served as Senior Program Officer for the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham and previously worked for 11 years at the Jefferson County Department of Health in Alabama. Carlos is a strong advocate for systems change.

Cate Tedford

Originally from Fort Mill, SC, Cate Tedford is a recent graduate of Clemson University where she studied Philosophy and Spanish. After graduating, Cate moved to Travelers Rest, SC, where she continued her fresh food access work with FoodShare Greenville powered by Mill Village Farms. Throughout her time with FoodShare, Cate became involved with the Committee to Strengthen Nutritional Assistance Programs (CSNAP) of the South Carolina Food Policy Council (SCFPC) which put her passion for food policy and advocacy into action. During the Growing Local Gathering Conference in August 2023, Cate stepped up as the Chair of the Committee. While she has since left her position with FoodShare and currently works as a grant writer for Soteria CDC, Cate remains eager to continue her food access and advocacy work through CSNAP.

Charlton L. Johnson

Reverend Johnson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communicative Disorders, Speech- Language Pathology (May 1998) from the University of Mississippi. Married his college sweetheart, Benetra Mangum-Johnson for twenty-five years and are the proud parents of twin sons, Corben (deceased 1/2004) and Creighton; and Charlton II, “Deuce.” Rev. Johnson is an ordained Elder in Full Connection in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church and has served as pastor for twenty years. In May 2011, completed a Master of Divinity Degree with honors from Memphis Theological Seminary. In October 2017, completed Clinical Pastoral Education and currently has the distinction of working with Together for Hope serving as Regional Vice President for the Delta. Rev. Johnson is extremely “grateful to be thankful and thankful to be grateful!”

Chyna Quarker

Chyna Quarker is the Director of Programs over the In Her Hands guaranteed income initiative at The GRO Fund in Atlanta. Chyna, a Los Angeles native, has spent her career building community-driven initiatives aimed at alternatives to incarceration. She began her career as a Sr. Cognitive Behavioral Health Counselor within the Georgia Department of Corrections where she provided substance use and mental health treatment and created programs centered around family reunification and restorative justice. Previously, Chyna was the Director of Community Response Services at the Policing Alternatives and Diversion Initiative in Atlanta, where she helped build the country’s first non-emergency non-police response program through a city’s 311 line. Chyna holds a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Howard University and a Master’s in Political Psychology from Arizona State University.

Dani Hoffpauir

Dani currently works as the Community Building and Program Manager at NC Budget and Tax Center where she provides strategic guidance that builds power for policy change. She stewards the organization’s ladder of engagement, and in collaboration with colleagues across the organization, identifies and supports connections between policy advocacy, research and partnerships. Born and raised in Louisiana, Dani received a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communications and Psychology from Louisiana Tech University. Outside of work, she enjoys reading, laughing and making other people laugh, learning and sharing root work and herbal practices, gardening with her wife, starting too many craft projects and then getting stressed about them all, making music with her band, and traveling back home to South Louisiana to spend time on her family’s farm and eat the best food in the world.

Jonathan Mosley

Jonathan Mosley is a passionate and dedicated individual serving as the Advocacy Director at BLDG Memphis. With a deep commitment to social change and a strong background in advocacy, Jonathan is the recent addition to BLDG Memphis’ efforts to create a positive impact in the city. His past works of community engagement with nonprofits, governmental agencies, faith-based groups, and small businesses have given him an informed perspective on how to approach this work. Driven by a deep sense of social justice, Jonathan is dedicated to creating a more equitable and inclusive society through his work. He firmly believes that change is possible through persistent advocacy, collaboration, and the power of collective action.

Larensy Rogers

A native of Natchez, Mississippi, Larensy L. Rogers graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a degree in public relations and advertising. She is a member of the National Society of Leadership Success (NSLS), previously served as Student President for the Mississippi Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind, holds a certification in media sales, and has more than 10 years of experience as a public speaker. Larensy believes the magic of communications and public relations can open doors and close divides. She endeavors to use her skills and experience in these areas to advocate for people in the South whose stories are traditionally overlooked and unheard. When Larensy isn’t working, she spends her time learning new things, creating new tea combinations, and hand-making soap. She currently resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with her cat named Zeus.

Paige Swanson

Paige is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Student Basic Needs Coalition (SBNC). After seeing firsthand how many students struggle to afford food and housing during their college tenure, she became determined to solve this issue. Along with three other college students, she launched SBNC to empower the next generation to develop and implement solutions to the student basic needs crisis. Now, as the first full-time employee of SBNC, she brings her fundraising, research, and policy expertise to support the organization in its next stage of growth.

Yumekia Jones

Yumekia Jones serves as the Senior Program & Office Manager and Community Outreach
Coordinator for Mississippi Center for Justice’s Indianola office and the Program Manager for
Special Projects in the Center’s Economic Justice Campaign. In the latter role, Yumekia
manages the New Roots Credit Partnership (NRCP), an alternative to predatory lending practices
in the state of Mississippi. The NRCP brings employers, community members, and financial
institutions together to engage Mississippians excluded from the economic mainstream for
generations. The program combines public education, grassroots outreach, and workforce
development with responsible and fair lending products. Because of this work, Yumekia was
featured in the USA Today, CNN, and a documentary by the UK’s Financial Times (FT).

Jasmine Payne

Jasmine Payne-Patterson joined the Economic Policy Institute in 2023 as a Senior State Policy Coordinator for the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN). She is a friend, advocate, scholar, and servant leader. An advocate for removing systemic barriers, she seeks to identify opportunities to combat intergenerational poverty, bolster socioeconomic mobility, and increase equity. Her key focus areas are economic empowerment, worker’s rights, housing, and social determinants of health.

Payne-Patterson has experience conducting research and advocating at the local, state, and federal levels holding positions at a plethora of nonprofits, government agencies, and campaigns. Previously she worked in the United States House of Representatives, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, CARE, and the Atlanta Community Food Bank, as well as several other community-centered organizations. Committed to community involvement, Payne-Patterson has served on various boards including the Georgia Piedmont Technical College Foundation board of trustees and as president of her homeowner’s association. Believing that everyone can be a catalyst for change, she believes that “we are the ones that we have been waiting for.”