Youth Action

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Board of Directors

Meet Our 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.

James JonesJames Jones (Board Co-President), PhD- Assistant Professor at Rutgers University & Youth Action Alum

James Jones received his PhD in Sociology from Columbia University in 2016. His research focuses on interrogating the role race plays in organizing American democratic institutions and the mechanisms that (re)produce inequality within them. In particular, he focuses on the social experiences of African-American professionals in government as a way to see not only inequality, but also to explicate the relationship between race and power in state institutions.

He is currently completing his first book, The Last Plantation, which represents the first major study of racial inequality in the congressional workplace. The title draws on the fact that members of Congress and their staff have applied this telling nickname to the legislature to highlight how the institution is exempt from the very policies and principles it is tasked to create and implement, including federal workplace laws. In the context of his title, he extends its meaning to describe how race is a constitutive element of the Capitol’s workforce. To date, race has not an important consideration in research on how legislative employees get jobs or how the institution operates. However, through a mixed-methods study he establishes that race is in fact an organizing factor in the congressional workplace and the institution at large.  The Last Plantation demonstrates how the congressional workplace is a raced political organization by documenting how congressional labor is racially stratified, how physical space is segregated, and how identities and interactions are racialized.

His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Dirksen Congressional Center, and Columbia University and covered extensively in The Atlantic, Washington Post, Associated Press, Daily Beast, and numerous other local and national newspapers.

Laura PayneLaura Payne (Board Secretary & Development Chair), MANNA Event Manager

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 most recently worked as its Wave Week Director. Laura has worked as the 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. Laura is currently the Event Manager at MANNA, an organization that provides nutrition and educational services to those living with HIV/AIDS. She lives and works in Philadelphia, PA.

Maxine BagleyMaxine Bagley (Governance Chair),  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.

Thais McNeal

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.

Larry RayeLarry 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.

Gavin GrantGavin Grant (Board Co-President), Chief of Staff- Vanguard

Gavin Grant is the past 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. While in college, Gavin 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, Gavin served on the Mayor’s Commission on African American Males, was 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 recently graduated from Temple University where he received a degree in Economics and Finance and minor in Legal Studies. He currently is a project manager with Vanguard.

Linda LewisLinda Lewis (Treasurer & Finance Chair), 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.

Jordan Harris

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.

Ginene LewisGinene Lewis Esq, Associate at Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP & Youth Action Co-Founder

Ginene Lewis Esq is a 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. Ginene served as the law clerk to the Honorable Petrese B. Tucker in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  Ginene now works for the Philadelphia office of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP as an associate in the Commercial Litigation Practice.


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