James 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 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 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, 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 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.