Board of Directors

Youth Action has several non-profit, for-profit, education, civic, and community leaders who advise and offer financial support to the organization. In addition to these individuals, its Board of Directors principally works to ensure that the organization effectively upholds its values and purpose. They also provide support by assisting the organization’s growth and development

Anthony Phillips, Managing Director & Board Chairman of Youth Action

Anthony Phillips is the Managing Director & Board Chairman of Youth Action.  In 2003, at the age of 14, Anthony co-founded Youth Action with a desire for the organization to grow to become a fine local and national model for student-led service and civic engagement. Anthony finds working for service, leadership, and college access programs gratifying. He is very passionate about observing the impact that student development programs have on students of color.  He is a member of Advisory Boards for several civic-engagement non-profit organizations such as Spark The Wave and the Better Making Men Campaign. He has served as the Assistant Director of the Scholars program at the W.E.B. Du Bois Scholars Institute at Princeton University, Graduate Assistant to the Dean of the Afro-American Cultural Center at Yale, Recruitment Coordinator for the educational non-profit management organization Scholar Academies and a literacy tutor at New Haven Reads.  Anthony is a proud alumni member of The Institute for Responsible Citizenship. Anthony  holds a B.A.  in African American Studies and Philosophy from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine and received his M.A. degree in Black Religion in the African Diaspora from Yale. Currently, he is a PhD student in the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. His general research focuses on U.S. Protest movements and Blacks in higher education.


Maxine Bagley,  National Coalition of 100 Black Women

Maxine Bagley is a retired Administrative Analyst for the School District of Philadelphia. Maxine is a member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women Southern New Jersey Chapter, where she once served as the chapter’s Executive Vice-President and is currently a member of the organization’s National Board. For three years, Maxine served on the Monroe Township Board of Education. Maxine has also served as a commissioner on Gloucester County Commission on Women for sixteen years. In addition to this, Bagley is an executive board member of the Gloucester County NAACP.  Since 2003, Maxine has been a member of Youth Action’s advisory Board and helped support the founding of the organization. She is recipient of several awards which include proclamations from New Jersey state officials, a Dedication to Service award from the Mayor of Monroe County, and the Woman of the Decade Award from the Williamstown, New Jersey Women’s Club. She received a degree in business administration from the University of Pennsylvania and currently resides in Williamstown, New Jersey with her husband.


Reverend William Gipson, Associate Vice-Provost for Equity & Access at the University of Pennsylvania

Reverend William Gipson has served as associate vice provost for equity and access at Penn since January 2008. He is responsible for the coordination of Vice Provost for University Life (VPUL) initiatives and programs that increase access and support for first generation, low income, and traditionally under-represented students, in partnership with other VPUL offices and centers and particularly with the advising offices for the four undergraduate schools. In addition, he is responsible for the oversight of VPUL grant-funded pre-college and baccalaureate programs that provide access to academic resources for Penn undergraduate, graduate and professional school students as well as members of the community. Gipson previously served at Penn as University Chaplain and Special Advisor to the President for 12 years. His prior experience before coming to Penn in 1996 include having served as associate dean of religious life and vice chair of the race relations working group at Princeton University and as interim  director of the Office of Minority Student Affairs at the Rochester Institute of Technology.  Gipson holds an undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Louisiana and a master of divinity degree from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School.


Gavin Grant, President of Youth Action

Gavin Grant is the proud President of Youth Action and a native of Northwest Philadelphia. He is passionate about empowering and mobilizing people to resolve community issues. In 2009, he was recognized for accumulating over 1000 hours of community service, most prominently through his involvement with Youth Action, City Year Greater Philadelphia, The American Cities Foundation, and Youth Workforce Development initiatives. While in high school, he was a member of the National Society of High School Scholars and a 4.0 graduate and valedictorian of Wyncote Academy. He also enrolled in business and legal courses at Arcadia University, Temple University, and Manor College as a member of the College Excel Dual Enrollment Program. Throughout his college career, he has worked as: a Paralegal assistant at the Hoyle Law Firm; an Entrepreneurship Program Director for Institute for the Development of African American Youth;  a Supply Chain and Procurement intern at Johnson & Johnson (a year-long co-op); a Project Administrator in the Institutional Recordkeeping Services division at The Vanguard Group; and a Resident Assistant at Temple University. Additionally he was recently appointed to the Mayor’s Commission on African American Males, serves on the Programming Board for Spark the Wave and was selected to join the highly competitive Management Leadership for Tomorrow Career Prep program.  He has received awards and recognition for his service from both the Tavis Smiley and Stafford Foundations. Gavin is currently a senior at Temple University where he double majors in Economics and Finance and minor in Legal Studies. Ultimately, he aspires to go to law school and obtain a Masters in Business Administration.


Jordan Harris, State Representative for Pennsylvania & Youth Action Co-Founder

Jordan Harris was elected to the State Legislature on Nov. 6, 2012, representing the 186th Legislative District in Philadelphia. Prior to being elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Harris was appointed as the Executive Director of Philadelphia’s Youth Commission where he advised the Mayor, City Council and other key decision makers on issues relating to the city’s youth and young adults. In this office, Harris spearheaded initiatives that helped address and ultimately end Philadelphia’s outbreak of nuisance flash mobs, including extending the hours of the city’s recreation centers and creating alternative activities. Harris earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Millersville University in Governmental and Political Affairs. He also holds a Master’s Degree in Education from Cabrini College and is currently a Doctoral candidate in Educational Leadership at Neumann University. Before pursuing a career in public service, he worked as an educator in the Philadelphia Public School System for several years. He was also instrumental in designing Slam Dunk, a summer program that assisted over 600 high school students in meeting credit requirements for graduation. Named one of The Philadelphia Tribune Magazine’s “10 People Under 40 to Watch in 2011″, Representative Harris is sought after to discuss youth leadership and development at universities, churches and on other platforms across the nation. Harris is an informed advocate for the improvement of the educational system. He is passionate about a myriad of issues that affect the District he serves, including equal and quality education; employment and job creation; vocational training and job readiness programs; the rights and care of senior citizens; minority inclusion; bidding reform; and prison system reform.


Edward Hill, Program Associate at Summer Search and Career Counselor at Peirce College

Edward Hill earned a B.A. in sociology from the University of Pittsburgh before engaging the city of Philadelphia as a Treatment Foster Care social worker for Pennsylvania Mentor. It was here where he developed a passion for counseling and stressing the importance of their education. While attaining a M.Ed. in Sports and Recreation Administration from Temple University, he took advantage of experiential learning experiences by working for the Philadelphia Eagles Community Relations department and volunteering as a career counselor for Peirce College. His last employment was in the non-profit sector working for a youth development organization called Summer Search.



James Jones, PhD Candidate in Sociology at Columbia University & Youth Action Alumni

James Jones obtained his undergraduate degree at the George Washington University, where he majored in Political Science with a minor in African American Studies and Sociology. As a NSF Graduate Research Fellow, James’ research interests include race/ethnicity, organizations/occupations, political sociology and ethnography. Currently, he is working on a project that examines how race impacts the daily lives and careers of black employees in the United States Congress.


Linda Lewis, Youth Action Senior Adviser & First Republic Bank

Linda Lewis, Youth Action’s senior adviser, is a dedicated and passionate community volunteer.  Her involvement with the community has included working with Mt. Airy Church of God in Christ’s scholarship fund, Future Minds Inc., and serving as an advisory board member for The Tavis Smiley Foundation. Ms. Lewis first got involved with Youth Action back in 2003 and she has been a superb advocate for the organization. Most recently, Ms. Lewis has spearheaded work for the team’s Ann C. Phillips Scholarship Fund and for the past 10 years has overseen the work of our team’s allies. Linda Lewis is an exciting and diligent professional who always ensures that she puts the community first. In 2005, the Tavis Smiley Foundation named Ms. Lewis their Volunteer of the Year. She is currently employed as an Executive Assistant to the CEO of First Republic Bank in Philadelphia.  Ms. Lewis, a member of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, lives in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia and is the grandmother of two and mother of Alicia and Ginene.


Ginene Lewis Esq, Law Clerk to the Honorable Petrese B. Tucker in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania & Youth Action Co-Founder

Ginene Lewis Esq is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School.  While attending Penn Law, Ginene served on the board of the Black Law Students Association, as the Advocacy Liaison and Co-Chair of the 23rd Annual Sadie T.M. Alexander Commemorative Conference.  Ginene also served on the board of the Employment Advocacy Project, as the Outreach Coordinator, and was Senior Editor of the Journal of International Law.  During her last year of law school, Ginene won the Frederick Douglas Moot Court Competition for the Mid-Atlantic Region and was also awarded Best Respondent’s Brief. Prior to entering Penn Law, Ginene attended Spelman College where she graduated summa cum laude in 2009.  While attending Spelman, she was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, Bonner Scholars Program, and Women of Excellence in Leadership Series (WELS). Having a firm interest in the law, Ginene gained early exposure to the legal field by serving as an undergraduate intern in the Atlanta office of McGuireWoods LLP and a summer fellow in the Arthur Liman Public Interest Program at Yale Law School.  Ginene also participated in the Prelaw Undergraduate Studies Program at Villanova Law School where she first discovered an interest for trial and appellate advocacy. As a proud native of Philadelphia, Ginene is committed to serving as an asset to her hometown.  Currently, Ginene serves as the law clerk to the Honorable Petrese B. Tucker in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  Upon completing her clerkship, Ginene will join the Philadelphia office of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP as an associate in the Commercial Litigation Practice.


Edward Mensah, Director of the Scholars Program at Steppingstone Scholars

Eddie has been with Steppingstone Scholars since 2001 and coaches girls’ varsity soccer at William Penn Charter School.  Prior to joining Steppingstone, he taught at Abington Friends School where he was the head of the soccer program and a member of the Admissions Committee and Diversity Committee.  A native of Ghana, Eddie attended an international boarding school in Canada prior to receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Franklin and Marshall College. He received a Masters in Educational Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania. Eddie also sits on the Post-Secondary Readiness Strategies Task Force of the Philadelphia College Prep Roundtable and works as a volunteer coach for the Starfinder Foundation.


Thais McNeal, National Director, Advocacy & Alliance Development GlaxoSmithKline

At GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) since 1988, Thais McNeal has contributed to the success of the organization through her high performance in various roles, as a leader in the sales organization for the company’s respiratory and CNS brands, to her current role as National Director, Advocacy & Alliance Development, North America Pharmaceuticals.Throughout her career, she has advocated for healthcare equity, collaborated with multiple stakeholders, e.g., community and patient groups, healthcare professionals and their associations. Highly regarded as a visionary leader, she seeks to continuously improve upon processes to help improve the quality of life for patients and communities.Thais led the development and implementation of GSK’s Healthy Communities™ a health education and outreach initiative. This program provided a collection of resources designed to interact with communities to help educate individuals to take charge of their health, improve outcomes and start more conversations with healthcare providers to build healthier communities. She was recognized by community leaders, professional associations (including members from various NFL teams) for her engagement to elevate awareness about wellness, disease prevention and management.Thais’ passion reveals the human power behind GSK’s commitment to enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer.


Laura Payne, Spark The Wave Program Director

Laura is a fundraiser and specializes in domestic and international public-private partnerships in the global health arena. She attended Spark the Wave’s predecessor camp, the Leadership Development Center, in 2001 and helped to establish Spark the Wave in 2004. Laura has spent eleven years on Spark the Wave’s staff, serving as Director of Service Mentoring, Director of Operations, and now Wave Week Director.Currently, Laura works as a Resource Development Associate for the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases at the Sabin Vaccine Institute, splitting her time between corporate and foundation partnerships and END7, the Global Network’s grassroots advocacy and fundraising campaign. She has also worked at the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the World Health Organization (WHO), and for the Becton Dickinson/Measles Initiative partnership.Laura holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from Boston University and a Master of Public Health degree in Global Health from The George Washington University. She lives and works in Washington, DC.


Larry Raye, Founder & President of Raye of Hope Ministries

Larry Raye has been involved with Youth Action since 2005, serving as a mentor and member of our team’s advisory Board. Larry brings significant leadership experience to our Board, having served for more than 35 years as a community volunteer as well as employer with Philadelphia Municipal Government. Larry Raye has been involved with the Department of Human Services where he has served as the executive assistant to the Department’s commissioner. He is the Founder and President of Raye of Hope Ministries, a community development non-profit in Philadelphia. In addition to this, he is the Founder of the “Each One, Reach One, to Teach One” Annual Youth Summit, in which he has impacted the lives of more 10,000 youth for the past 18 years. In addition to working with Youth Action, Larry is a Board member of the Imani Charter School, Blacks Networking for Progress and is intensely involved with ministries and services at Mt. Airy Church of God in Christ. He is the recipient of Youth Action’s 2008 Outstanding Leadership Awards. Raye, a licensed social worker, earned his B.A. in sociology and history at Fayetteville State University and a masters in Social Work at Temple University.


Liz Shriver, K-16 Partnerships Coordinator for the Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development

Liz Shriver is the K-16 Partnerships Coordinator for the Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development (PHENND), at the University of Pennsylvania Netter Center for Community Partnerships. Liz is a 2008 Graduate of Haverford College and is currently attending the School for Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania for her Masters in Social Work. She began her work in Philadelphia through a fellowship at Parkway Northwest Peace and Social Justice High School, which introduced her to the power of community partnerships to enhance the real world learning experiences of high school students.


Laurena Tolson, Middle School Teacher, Young Scholars Frederick Douglass

Laurena Tolson is a Philadelphia native that has spent her entire professional career working as a dedicated educator. She is currently working to close the achievement gap at Young Scholars Frederick Douglass Charter School as a middle school special education teacher. Laurena has played a leading role in her school through her work as a 21st Century Grant Advisory Board member, where she helps to keep her students engaged in their school and local communities. Laurena has also led her school with curriculum and teaching training programs. At Douglass, she was appointed by her school’s administration to serve as a teacher trainer for Teach for America’s Philadelphia Summer Institute. She also actively tutors students outside her classroom. Before working at Douglass, Laurena spent several summers teaching middle school students at Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia. She is devoted to children, education, and the arts. Laurena, a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated, through this sorority is currently co-chairing a mentoring program for young Black men called EMBODI. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Special Education and Elementary Education at West Chester University in Pennsylvania.