The National Institute for Restorative Justice
"Educating for Advocacy"
15226 Lakeshore Blvd
Cleveland, Ohio 44110
Board of Directors & Advisors
Photographs: Mittie Imani
Jordan and Jeff Ivey unless
otherwise identified
Join The
Drum Majors
For Justice!
Social Justice

Economic Justice

Legal Justice
Mittie Imani Jordan *
Founder and Chair

In October 2001, Mittie Imani Jordan incorporated Restoration
Source, materializing a long-time plan for a company committed to
the physical, intellectual and spiritual restoration of inner-city
communities.  In 2002, the corporation initiated its first venture
with opening Deuteronomy 8:3 Café Books and Music in the heart
of Cleveland’s historic Hough and Glenville neighborhoods.  

Along with operating Deuteronomy 8:3, Restoration Source’s
primary programming was through its Restorative Justice
Initiative, facilitating discussion series, symposiums and summits
on critical issues surrounding racial, legal and socio-economic
justice.  As an outgrowth of the Initiative’s three summits on the Thirteenth Amendment and Prison
Industrial Complex (2006, 2008 and 2010), The National Institue For Restorative Justice was
established in March 2011, with the organization of a 2015 Sesquicentennial dialogue on the
constitutional issue as its first national initiative.

A product of the Cleveland Public Schools, Mittie Jordan’s early intellectual and artistic
development was supplemented by studies in the Cultural Arts Education Division Karamu House,
Inc. and the Cleveland Music School Settlement.  She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double
major in African American Studies and Theatre at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts in
1975, and went on to study film at The University of Southern California’s School of Performing
Arts – Cinema in Los Angeles.  
"Every great dream begins with a dreamer.
Always remember, you have within you the
strength, the patience,
and the
passion to reach for the stars to change the world."
Harriett Ross Tubman
Wanda Jordan Birch, JD *
General Counsel
An exceptionally gifted songwriter, Bevel's lyrics reflect the
personal and communal victories and struggles of African people,
particularly those of us in America.  His CD "Not of Seasons"
remains a popular seller by acoustic recording label Sage Arts.

Born the fourteenth of seventeen children on a cotton plantation in
the Delta Mississippi, Mr. Bevel left the "Jim Crow" south for
northern "big cities" including Memphis, St. Louis and Cleveland,
where he would eventually settle after a military tour in the Pacific
Islands, and a three year residency in Monrovia, Liberia.   Trained
as an electrical engineer, Bevel has worked as an aviation
electronics technician, naval in-flight radio operator, steel mill
laborer, television engineer and missile test technician...
occupations that took him a long way from his early start as a
cotton picker.

"Mississippi" has strong connections to the 1950's and 60's
American Civil Rights Movement in the south, and is deeply
committed to the ongoing struggle of African people throughout
the world.  Mr. Bevel is a graduate of Cleveland State University,
and is a founding member of The National Institute For
Restorative Justice.
Charles Bevel *

Actor, Musician
and Human Rights Activist

"Mississippi" Charles Bevel
began his career as a performing
artist in 1973 with his A&M
label recording of "Meet
Mississippi Charles Bevel."  He
has performed on professional
and community theater stages
throuhgout the United States
and abroad as both an actor and
Dolores Person Lairet, PhD *


Dr. Dolores Person Lairet is a retired
professor of French, Russian, and
Francophone West African and
Caribbean literature at Cleveland
State University.  She is a founding
and valued member of the The
National Institute For Restorative
When Dolores Person received her Bachelor of Arts degree at  
Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts in the late 1940's,
she was not only the only black woman in her class, she was
also the only woman of color, period. That count would not
change upon earning her Masters in French Language and
Literature from Connecticut's Midlebury College School of
French in France.  Her course work for the degree with a
Modern Language focus was completed at The Sorbonne - the
Humanities College of the University of Paris.  It was her thesis
work for the latter that began her journey into the research,
curriculum development and teaching of Francophone literature
of pan-African people.  She would go on to earn a PhD at Case
Western Reserve University.

Dr. Lairet began her teaching career in 1969 at Cleveland State
University, where she taught 17th and 20th century French
theatre, and beginning levels of Russian literature and theatre.  
Recognizing the complete void of inclusion of literature from
French-speaking African, Caribbean and South American
authors, she began research and curriculum development for the
same in the early 1970s.  Her research took her to West Africa,
Rio, Brazil and Martinque.  Her South American and Caribbean
focus was especially on works by women writers.  

Because of her command of the French language and scholarship
in pan-African literature, in the late 1970's she was invited by
the United States Department of State to teach
African-American literature at universities in Senegal, Mali,
Ghana, Cote-d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and what is now
Burkina-Faso.  She returned to Cleveland State in  1980, where
she continued to teach until 2000.   

Prior to joining the Cleveland State faculty, she was a strong
supporter and campaigner for the Carl Stokes mayoral race, and
subsequent his election served as the senior personal assistant in
his administration.  Raised in Cleveland's Central-Fairfax areas,
and committed to inner-city Cleveland living, she has resided in
the East Boulevard and Wade Park-Magnolia districts
throughout her adult life.
He is an Associate Professor of African American
History at The University of Akron in Ohio.

The South Carolina native earned his Bachelor of Arts
degree at Clemson University, and his Ph.D. at Bowling
Green State University in Ohio. Both degrees are in
history with emphasis in African American History.

At the University of Akron he teaches African American
History, Historical Methods, African American Social
and Intellectual History, and African American Men’s
History and Studies.  

Dr. Williams is the editor of
Africana Cultures and Policy
Studies: Scholarship and the Transformation of Public
, and serves as an Assistant Minister of Cleveland's
historic Olivet Institutional Baptist Church.

The South Carolina native earned his Bachelor of Arts
degree at Clemson University, and his Ph.D. at Bowling
Green State University in Ohio. Both degrees are in
history with emphasis in African American History.
Reverend Zachery Williams,
PhD,  Vice Chair

Associate Professor
of History
The University of Akron

Dr. Zachery Williams is a
brilliant, young critical thinker,
community advocate, and
author of
In Search of The
Talented Tenth: Howard
University Public Intellectuals
and the Dilemmas of Race.
participation in the "Black Liberation Movement."  Nearly
twenty years later, he found himself again organizing students
to sit in at Cleveland State University, again, in support of
hiring and retaining progressive black faculty.   

A member of Board of Directors of the East Cleveland Public
Library, Mr. Page is a founding member of The National
Institute For Restorative Justice, Mr. Page earned a Bachelor
of Arts degree at Cleveland State University and worked
extensively in the social service field; including serving as a
mental health case manager for Community Guidance, and as a
community support provider for West Haven Youth Crisis

A forty-two year student and practitioner of Astrology, Mr.
Page is currently studying for the Yoruba Priesthood in the
Nigerian tradition.  

Mr. Page is a founding member of The National Institute for
Restorative Justice.
James Page *

Community Activist
& Astrologer

James Page began advocating
on behalf of his community
while a student at East
Technical School in 1968,
when he helped organized a
student body walk out in
support of excellent
educators being fired for their
Renewing Inalienable Rights, Rebuilding Communal Confidence, Re-energizing Sustainable Economy, Reviving Unbridled Spirit
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Photo: Purdue University
the early twentieth century.

His first book,
A. Philip Randolph and the Struggle for
Civil Rights,
is an analytical intellectual history that
explores central aspects of Randolph's thought and
activism.  In it he argues that Randolph's life and career
shaped and were shaped by many of the monumental
events, ideas, and developments of the twentieth
century and demonstrates that Randolph's firm
determination to improve the lives of black workers
fundamentally affected core strategies and tactics of the
civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

His second book examines the small, but significant
cohort of West Indian radicals in Harlem that migrated
into the American Communist Party in the 1920s.  Led
by Cyril Briggs and Richard B. Moore, this group
known as the African Blood Brotherhood raised searing
questions about the economic structure of black
oppression in the United States, the Caribbean, and the
world and illustrates the unique ways in which Harlem
radicals drew on both nationalist and Marxist themes in
the postwar years to fashion a distinct     critique of
industrial capitalism that constituted an authentic and
largely independent program of social reform

Dr. Bynum received his Bachelor of Arts and PhD in
history from the University of Virginia.
Cornelius L. Bynum, PhD

Associate Professor of
History, Purdue University

Dr. Cornelius L. Bynum is
an Assistant Professor of
History at Purdue
University, where he teaches
courses in African American
history and writes about
progressive impulses among
African Americans and
authentic and independent
strains of black radicalism in
Brucella Wiggins Jordan, PhD

Curator and Historian
The African American Heritage
Family Tree Museum, WV

Dr. Brucella Wiggins Jordan is the
co-founder, curator and historian of
the African American Heritage Family
Tree Museum in Ansted, West
Virginia.  Her responsibilities include
research and writing,  exhibit design,
conservation and grant writing,
Cedric Merlin Powell, JD

Professor of Law
The University of Louisville
Louis Brandeis School of Law

Cedric Merlin Powell received his Bachelor of Arts with Honors in
Politics from Oberlin College in 1984 and his J.D. in 1987 from New
York University School of Law, where he served as Managing Editor of
The N.Y.U. Review of Law and Social Change. Prior work experiences
include a judicial clerkship with the Honorable Julia Cooper Mack of the
D.C. Court of Appeals from 1987-88, a one-year term as Karpatkin
Fellow in the national office of the American Civil Liberties Union in
New York from 1988-89, and as a litigation associate with the New York
law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate & Flom from 1989-1993.
He is a member of the Ohio and New York state bars, and is admitted to practice before the Supreme
Court of the United States, and the federal courts of the Second and Sixth Circuits, and the Southern and
Eastern Districts of New York.Professor Powell has written over a broad range of topics including
affirmative action and Critical Race Theory, the First Amendment and hate speech, and the First
Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. His current research focuses on developing an
analytical framework for critiquing post-racial neutrality under the Fourteenth Amendment and Title VII.  

Professor Powell was awarded the Ferreri & Fogle Fellowship for teaching in 1998, 2000-2001 and again
in 2007. He was the recipient of the Ann Oldfather fellowship in 2006, and he won the University
Multicultural Teaching Award in 2000.

Beginning in 2016, Dr. Powell is the Research Dean for the Louis Brandeis School of Law
Photo University of Louisville
Cheryl Brown Wattley, JD

Director, Experiential Education
Professor of Law
University of North Texas Dallas College of Law

Professor Cheryl Brown Wattley teaches criminal
procedure, criminal law, trial techniques, and civil rights.  
Professor Wattley graduated from Smith College, cum laude,
with high honors in Sociology. She received her Juris
Doctorate degree from Boston University College of Law.

Ms. Wattley began her legal career as an Assistant United
States Attorney, District of Connecticut.
 She later
transferred to the United States Attorney’s Office for the
Photo UNT Dallas College of Law
Northern District of Texas where she focused on the prosecution of white collar crime.  She
received numerous awards and commendations for her service as a prosecutor including two
Department of Justice Special Achievement Awards and the United States Postal
Inspection Service National Award.

For the past eighteen years, Professor Wattley has been actively engaged in the practice of
law in the areas of criminal defense and employment litigation. Professor Wattley has also
represented clients in post-conviction proceedings leading to the exoneration of clients who
were wrongfully convicted.

Professor Wattley also served on a variety of civic and professional boards and committees
including the State Bar of Texas Board of Disciplinary Appeals; District 6 Grievance
Committee; Dallas Bar Foundation; and Board of Regents for Texas Woman’s University.
She was also appointed to serve on “Dallas Together” a mayoral committee appointed to
address racial issues within the city. Professor Wattley was also appointed Vice
Chairperson for the 1990 and 2000 City of Dallas Redistricting Commission.

Professor Wattley has also served as Professor of Law at the University of Oklahoma,
Visiting Assistant Professor and adjunct faculty member at Southern Methodist University
School of Law. She has also been an instructor for National Institute of Trial Advocacy
programs and a presenter at a variety of continuing legal education programs.

Professor Watley is the author of
A Step Toward Brown vs Board of Education: Ada Lois
Sipuel Fisher and Her Fight to End Segregation.  (Univ Oklahoma Press, 2014)
Dr. Jordan earned a Bachelor of Arts in History and
Governtment at West Virginia Institute of Technology in
Montgomery.  She earned her Masters of Arts in Public History
and  PhD in History (both Summa Cum Laude) at West Virginia
University in Morgantown, where she was awarded the W.E.B.
DuBois Fellowship and the Canaga Hale Fellowship.  Her areas
of concentration are in African American History, Museum
Administration and preservation of local history.  

She is a former Assistant Professor of History at Lane College
in Jackson, Tennessee.  She has also taught history at the
Instructor level at West Virginia University of Tehchology,
Marshall University and West Virginia University.  Dr. Jordan
has also served as a History Alive! Scholar for the West Virginia
Humanities Council, and as a Chautauqua Scholar for the Kansas
Humanities Council.

She has researched an published works on Harlem Renaissance
poet Anne Spencer; Ida B. Wells, Catherine Impey and Trans
Atlantic Dimensions of the Nineteenth Century Anti-lynching
Movement; African American Appalachian Migration.  She has
also published a children's book titled
Aunt Artie's House.

Dr. Jordan serves on the boards of The African American Arts
and Heritage Academy Alumni Foundation and The Center for
the Study of Ethnicity and Gender in Appalachia.  She is a
member of the Social Justice and Cultural Diversity Committee
MUGC, the Mentoring Program of WVU, United African
American Artists of West Virginia, West Virginia Museum
Association and the African American Association of Museums.
Genevieve Mitchell
Executive Secretary

Genevieve Mitchell's
commitment to advocacy for
peace and justice issues is
long standing.  She is
President of the Carl B.
Stokes Brigade, an
organization which dedicates
itself to continuing the work
and legacy of the nation's
first black major city
Board of Directors: Executive Committee
community based non-profit which honors leadership
and vision of dynamic black women - both historical and
living.  Ms. Mitchell also serves as Editor and journalist
for the print communication arms of both organizations:
The Brigade and The Blackboard, respectively.

A gifted writer and communicator, Genevieve has served
as theSupervisor of the Public Information Department
of the Cuyahoga County Recorder's Office; a writer and
reporter for Cleveland-based
Crusade Urban News;  and,
Administrative Assistant to the director of Harambee
Services to Black Children.  She is als the former Vice
President of the Cleveland Board of Education,   served
in the last publicly elected Board for the Municipal
School District.

Ms. Mitchell graduated the Beaumont High School for
Girls, and studied Communications Media at Cuyahoga
County Community College and Cleveland State
University.  As well, she earned a study certificate at the
Harvard University JFK School of Government, HUD
Urban Issues Public Policy Institute in Cambridge
Massachusetts.  In nurturing her artistic passion and
talent for fabric design, Ms. Mitchell branched out to
study design curriculum at the Fashion Institute of
Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles California.
A retired Magistrate of the Probate Court of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Wanda Jordan Birch serves the
Executive Committee of The National Institute For Restorative Justice as General Counsel.Having
practiced administrative law for twenty years, including her service to the City of Solon, Ohio as a
judge in the Mayor's Court, Attorney Birch advocates for community sanctioned, non-carceral
alternatives for the rehabilitation of non-violent offenders, particularly for youth and young adults.  

Counselor Birch earned her Bachelor of Arts degree at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts,
where she majored in Sociology and helped to establish the Department of African-American Studies
and Florence Mwangi Cultural Center.  She went on to earn a post-undergraduate certificate in Special
Education at Wellesly College in Wellesly, Mass.   

After teaching for fifteen years for the Cuyahoga County school system, she entered Case Western
Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland, and earned her Juris Doctorate degree.  Her successful
2004 United States and Ohio Civil Rights law suit against her then employer - Birch v Cuyahoga
County Probate Court - was upheld by the Sixth Circuit Federal court in 2007, and continues to be
cited in cases throughout the country regarding gender wage discrimination.

Attorney Birch is a founding member of the National Institute for Restorative Justice.
Board of Directors: Administrative & Programming Members At Large  (* denotes Charter Members)
Board of Directors : National & Faculty Advisory
Reverend Dr. Leah C. Lewis, MDiv, JD

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church

Leah C.K. Lewis is a wordsmith—a writer,
preacher, public speaker, lawyer and
educator. She is a 2005 graduate of Yale
University School of Divinity where she
was The Reverend and Mrs. Allen C.
Blume Scholarship recipient and the Jessie
Ball DuPont Scholarship recipient.
While at Yale, she served two consecutive terms as the Magee
Fellow at Dwight Hall, the Center for Public Service and Social
Justice. She holds degrees from Bowling Green State University (B.
S. Ed. „87); and Howard University School of Law (J.D., ‟95)
where she served as Managing Editor of the Howard Law Journal
and received the Fats Waller Award for Excellence in Entertainment

Ms. Lewis is currently on hiatus from graduate studies at Emory
University to complete a book tentatively entitled Human Striving:
Undoing the Conundrum of “Race.” Her book examines legal,
religious and political rhetoric that is particularly “racial” and the
ways in which such speech influences human relations and the
human condition. During her studies at Yale Divinity and Emory
University, she conducted research in Ghana, West African and in
Londrina, Parana, Brazil.  Her publications include: “Like Mother,
Like Daughter: Prophetic Principles from the Motherline—A
Sermon,” in Black Womanist Leadership: Tracing the Motherline,
ed. Toni Denton King and S. Alease Ferguson (SUNY University
Press 2011); “Liturgy, Lining Up, and Easy Access,” The African
American Pulpit, Seminarian Issue Fall (2003); and a children‟s
picture book, Little Lumpy’s Book of Blessings (New York: Three
Butterflies Entertainment & Press, Inc., 2001 (self-published).

Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Jr., Pastor Emeritus of Olivet Institutional
Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio, ordained Rev. Lewis in 2006.  
She remains an Associate Minister at Olivet working in service
with Pastor Jawanza Karriem Lightfoot Colvin.  Rev. Lewis is
Olivet‟s Lead Organizer for the social justice mission under the
banner of the Greater Cleveland Congregations - an Industrial Areas
Foundation affiliate. The Singles‟ Fellowship and Ministers‟
Lecture Series of Olivet also follow under Rev. Lewis‟s oversight.
Beginning in 1977, the first fifteen years of her professional commitment was to cultural and educational affairs.  Her experiences include:
the first Director of the Artists-In-Residence Program for the City of Atlanta, Georgia Bureau of Cultural Affairs; Performing Arts
Assistant and Development Officer for Karamu House, Inc., Ohio; Director of Afrikan Heritage House and Assistant Director of
Admissions for Oberlin College, Ohio; Founder and Executive Director of the Rockefeller Park Cultural Arts Association, Inc.; Project
Developer and Director for the Rockefeller Park Cultural Arts Festival for the City of Cleveland, Ohio; Curator of Education for the City
of Dallas, Texas Zoo; Director of the South Dallas Cultural Center for the City of Dallas Department of Cultural Affairs; and Founder and
Executive Director of the South Dallas Cultural Center Association, Inc., a program funding auxiliary for the then 18,000 square foot
facility, housing a black box theater, visual arts gallery, and five teaching studios for dance, recording, pottery & weaving, drawing and
painting and theatre set design.

In 1991 Mittie responded to her call to ministry and began part-time studies in the Master of Divinity Program at Southern Methodist
University’s Perkins School of Theology in Dallas.  Over the next five years, she concurrently served as full-time director of The South
Dallas Cultural Center and as a part-time Assistant Pastor for St. Luke Community United Methodist Church, a 6,000 plus member,
flagship congregation of the denomination.  In 1996 she began service as St. Luke's first full-time woman Assistant Pastor, and Director of
Program Ministries and Communication.  Returning to Cleveland in 1999, she served the Cleveland District of the United Methodist
Church directing the Eastside Cooperative Parish Ministry seated at Cory UMC.  In this capacity, she developed and coordinated
Christian education, program ministries and publications for Cory, St. Matthew and East Glenville United Methodist Churches, and
assisted with worship leadership and pastoral care.  

Ms. Jordan’s sense of civic responsibility began as early as high school when she served as president of the East High School Student
Council, and president of the local youth chapter of the National Conference of Christian and Jews (now the National Conference).  In
2005 she served on the Executive Committee of the Inaugural Black Culture International Parade & Festival and as the chair of its
International Business Conference in 2006.  Also in 2006, she established the School Without Walls program with Famicos Foundation
for Hough and Glenville area students.  In 2008, she helped organize a community watch group based at St. Matthew United Methodist
Church where she is a member, ran for Cleveland's Ward 7 Council seat, and served as a Neighborhood Team Leader for the Obama For
America Campaign.  She attended the 2008 Democratic National Convention as a guest of the Democratic Congressional Campaign

In 2013, in her role as Chair of the St. Matthew United Methodist Church Community Outreach Ministries, Mittie provided the
leadership for the establishment of an indigenously community controlled development corporation, The Rockefeller Park Community
Restoration and Development Association, Inc. Their first major initiative is the establishment of the Brookdale Orchard, with plans for
creating jobs harvesting, preserving and producing baked goods from its fruit trees, and branding and marketing a label for the same.

She is the first woman of color president of the Smith College Club of Cleveland,  elected to the office in June 2018.  She is the former
Chairwoman of the Dallas Leadership Foundation, a Christian community development corporation focusing on inner-city neighborhood
restoration and revitalization, Christian-centered non-profit leadership development, and reconciliation of relationships between the
races.  She is a former member of the Community Advisory Board for Case Western Reserve University’s Flora Stone Mather Center for
Women in Cleveland, the State of Texas Advisory for the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services which oversees the issues,
services and placement of neglected and abused children; the Urban Design Advisory Committee of the City of Dallas; the Core group of
the Greater Dallas Community of Churches’ Council of Leaders; the Southern Methodist University Delta Gamma Ethics Lectureship
Steering Committee; and the African-American Studies Committee of the Board of Counselors of Smith College.
Alicia N. Graves is admitted to practice law before the Ohio Supreme Court as well as all local trial and appellate Courts in the State of Ohio. Her experience in
financial services, advocating for others, and getting results provides her with a wealth of knowledge to take care of your legal needs. As a native Clevelander, she is
dedicated to the local economy and helping clients get the results they seek.

Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Alicia attended Cleveland Public Schools, and graduated from East High School in 2001 with two diplomas: a regular high school
diploma and a diploma from the Academy of Finance. She then went on to attend Case Western Reserve University, earning a Bachelor of Arts in 2005, majoring in
Psychology and American Studies. Alicia earned a Juris Doctor Degree from The University of Akron School of Law in May 2008. She has also worked at
Cuyahoga County Board of County Commissioners, Cuyahoga Department of Development, and the City of Cleveland Office of tje Mayor throughout her high
school and college years.  During law school she worked as a Law Clerk for the Honorable Patricia Ann Cosgrove in Summit County Court of Common Pleas and at
placements including The Ohio Department of Development, Team NEO, Citizen's Academy and Hights Hillcrest Regional Chamber of Commerce.  Alicia also
worked as a Diversity Coordinator for the Metropolitan Bar Association, and as a Partnership Assistant for the United States Census Bureau.
Alicia N. Graves, JD
Vice Chair and Treasurer
She has traveled extensively, as a student, a volunteer, and as a business professional. She has visited Abu Dhabi & Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Duisburg & Stuttgart, Germany; Kigali, Rwanda;
London, Bradford, & Manchester, England; Port-A-Prince, Haiti; and Zurich, Switzerland, to name a few.  In 2011, she had the opportunity to travel to Europe to meet with business professionals
to learn about Retirement and Long Term Care issues in various parts of the Netherlands, including Amsterdam.

Alicia has received numerous professional and civic awards and participates in various community organizations. In July 2011, she received the New York Life Career Life Success Award. In
October 2010, Alicia received the Rising Star Alumni Award from Case Western Reserve University. Additionally, in January 2009, she was highlighted in Inside Business Magazine for receiving
the NEO Top 25 Under 35 Movers & Shakers Award.Alicia is a Rotarian of the Strongsville Rotary Club, the President of Case Western Reserve University’s African American Alumni
Association, a member of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, and the Mediation Association of Northeast Ohio, to name a few.
Dr. Ruth Ryida Reese, PhD

Dr. Ruth Ryida Reese is a strong
advocate for student success and has
worked many years with students in
higher education.  As former
Manager of Cultural Learning and
Multicultural Student Retention and
a Coordinator in the Black Studies
Program at Cleveland State
University she worked tirelessly
with students as a progressive leader
in holistic engagement.
Dr. Gillian Johns, PhD

Associate Professor of English
Oberlin College

An Associate Professor of
English at Oberlin College, Dr.
Johns teaches courses in
American and African American
literature and literary culture, in
such areas as African American
detective fiction, modern African
American literary humor and
irony, black women writers and
autobiographical subjectivity,
modernism in Chicago cultures of
letters, and orality and literacy in works by major black writers.
With a special interest in modernist black authors such as Zora
Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, and Ralph Ellison, and have
conducted research on these authors.

Dr. Johns earned her Bachelors of Science degree at Slippery
Rock University, and her Masters and PhD at Temple
University.  Some of her more general interests are in rhetoric
and reader response theory; humor, comedy, and irony; critical
race theory; narrative and genre theory; and transformations in
high and low cultural studies.
Photo coming soon
Van Anthony Amos

Educator and Program

Elected to the Board in 2015,
Van Amos brings over thirty
years of experience as a college
administrator and program
developer to the National
Institute of Restorative

As the former Program Director
for the Center of Black Studies
William Clarence Marshall III

Performing Artist

William Clarence Marshall III is an
accomplished opera singer and
Broadway veteran whose talent has
graced stages all over the world.

A former Aspen Music Festival Opera
Theater Fellow, Mr. Marshall debuted
as Bartolo in Le Nozze de Figaro with
the Aspen Music Festival conducted
by John DeMain.
Sherrie E. Tolliver

Performing Artists
Historical Interpreter

Sherrie E. Tolliver boast over thirty-five years of extensive experience working in public service as an
educator and performing artist, working with diverse populations  including those with physical and mental
challenges.  She has performance experience in theater, dance and music, and is highly regarded for her wide  
range of artistry, including  engagements as a comedienne, and her very serious work as a cultural history

An actress portraying African American women history makers, Sherrie has accumulated a rich cadre of
characters.   Ms. Tolliver’s favorite characters are the ones who have a rags-to-riches theme in their lives.
at Northern Illinois University, he taught foundational classes for
traditional and non-traditional students, served as a career
counselor, and developed pre-professional programs for students
and student organizations throughout the academic year.

In addition to his routine administrative responsibilities,
including serving as a program grants writer, he directed staff to
implement workshops in leadership development, managed
in-house recruitment packages for minors in Black Studies and
implemented campus/city-wide cultural activities including: New
Student Welcome Days, Talented Tenth Mentoring Program, and
Black Heritage Month celebrations.

Prior to going to Illinois, Van served as the Assistant Director of
the College Preparatory Program at the University of
Massachusetts - Boston, Educational Research Coordinator for
the Center of Pan African Studies, taught chemistry and physical
science at Shaw High School in East Cleveland, was Assistant
Director of Upward Bound at Kent State University, where he
also earned his Bachelor of Arts in psychology and Masters of
Education in administration.

Van is a proud member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., and the
National Council for Black Studies.
He went on to appear at Carnegie Hall in An Evening of Spirituals
and as the bass soloist in Beethoven’s Mass in C, receiving further
acclaim for his performances as Porgy in Porgy and Bess at the
Jerusalem Music Festival with the Charleston Symphony
Orchestra conducted by Stuart Malina, Pooh-Bah in the Utah
Festival Opera’s production of The Mikado conducted by Karen
Keltner and Shields in Opera Ebony’s Frederick Douglass with the
Icelandic Symphony Orchestra conducted by Daniel Swift. During
the Langston Hughes Centennial, Mr. Marshall also appeared in
the premiere of After Hours, A Song Cycle, an original work by
Jeremie Michael inspired by the poems of the noted Black poet.
He is perhaps best known, however, for his acclaimed performance
as Joe in Hal Prince’s Tony-award-winning revival of ShowBoat
on Broadway, a role he reprised at the Kennedy Center in
Washington, D.C., and on the Broadway national tour.

A gifted bass baritone, Mr. Marshall has amassed an impressive
resume of performances on regional stages and concert halls
including Opera Cleveland, Opera Western Reserve, Opera per
Tutti, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Civic Light
Opera, the Beck Center, Ensemble Theatre, Karamu House and
Severance Hall.  He is also a busy voice-over performer, voicing
ads for the Cleveland Browns, the Cleveland Clinic and Case
Western Reserve University, among many others.
William Clarence Marshall is a proud member of Actors’ Equity
and makes his home in East Cleveland, Ohio, and New York City
with his faithful terrier, Luciano.

Outside of his music profession, Mr. Marshall is committed to
organizations and activities surrounding issues of social and
restorative justice, most notably through is work with the Carl
Stokes Brigade of Cleveland.
of North Carolina at Greensboro where she was employed as
an instructor in a retention intervention program helping
students on academic probation recover their academic
standing. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Reese received
her Bachelor of Arts from Smith College in Education and
Masters of Arts from CSU in Psychology-Diversity

She is passionate about the developmental, academic, and
professional achievements of under-served and
under-represented populations. Currently, she is volunteering
as an education consultant for AfricaHouse International and
the Northern Ohio Recovery Association. She previously
worked for Cleveland State University, the United Negro
College Fund, March of Dimes Foundation, Job Corps and the
Phillis Wheatley Association
"These women inspired me because they triumphed over incredibly difficult circumstances. At a time when being poor, black and
female usually meant most doors of opportunity were closed. They dared to dream big dreams and refused to take “no” for an
answer. They chose to pursue excellence and they did it with vision, courage, and compassion for others. They blazed trails for other,
and all of them were dedicated to empowering, encouraging, and educating women and men, so that they, too, could achieve their

Ms. Tolliver has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting from New York University where she minored in African-American History. She
has extensive training in dance, theater and music. Currently she works as an Early Childcare Educator and performs as an actress and
stand-up comic. She has taught drama at the Cleveland School of the Arts, the Beck Center and the Jerry Leonard Youth Theater. She
has performed at the Cleveland Playhouse, Cain Park’s Alma Theater, Karamu House, the Front Row Theater, Jewish Community
Center’s Variety Tale Theater and Kennedy’s Cabaret at Playhouse Square.   She is a member of Women in History, an Ohio based
organization that in her words "combines the two things I love, history and acting, with the two things I enjoy doing, teaching and

Ms. Tolliver also host an historical perspective,  
Living the Legacy on Facebook.