biographies, N-Z

This is N-Z. For the three other pages of bios, click:

Naryan Leazer: I am the youngest of 5 born to Marie and the late George Leazer. My life is a reflection of the legacy of their Arkansas and North Carolina roots and values passed on. I am the husband of Vera where our 26 years of marriage have produced two beautiful grown daughters Raphael 23 and Amber 21. My newest joy is my granddaughter Kylie Grace who has graced this earth for 5 short months. Fatherhood is my most cherished experience.

My greatest work has been helping people; both young and old, realize and walk in their potential and ultimately their purpose. I believe that each of us was uniquely made with a preordained destiny. It is tragic when the struggles of life hinder what one could have been.

I rather listen than speak and prefer to consume, reflect and then speak. I often find myself saying the things that others think or are uncomfortable in saying. I believe that the thoughts that we are given and the perspectives in which we see are not given to us just to keep to ourselves.

I desire that each day I obtain some type of new knowledge. I am most at peace when I am building and creating. I find my peace through gardening, jigsaw puzzles and reading. I rather ride in a car with no radio and utilize the time to think and consider the possibilities and to allow the still of the moment for my creator to speak. I am who I am and comfortable with myself having grown from intense silence because of shyness to a conscious silence to first listen and learn and then words after reflection. I am Naryan David Leazer a work under construction helping to construct others through Growing Black Men and Boys of Milwaukee.

Nathan Brown: As time continues to progress, I continue to progress. Every day I expose myself to something new so that I can ensure that I am challenging myself. Challenges present areas within me that can be strengthened in return aiding in my overall growth. In 2013 I can confidently say that I, Nathan Brown Jr, am a young man that has an appreciation for life. I find joy in the mere realization of life itself. Because of my awareness of life’s abundant opportunities, I thrive to stay highly active. I seek a balance between school, family, the pursuit of financial stability, love, faith, self development, and many more aspects of life everyday as a way to maintain good health, which is the greatest gift to us all. At this current time in my life I found myself finishing my last year of my undergraduate degree in Political Science, while starting my first year in an International Masters in Business Administration graduate degree. My interest around what lies within this massive world has caused me to start taking the necessary steps to ensure my future consist of global travel and operations. This has led me to study aboard in Beijing, China during the first semester of my senior year of undergrad, while preparing for a second international trip next spring during graduates school. When it is not all about me, I am often engaging in services, programs, and events that help promote the growth and development of young people, especially young African American males. I am a strong member of my family and look forwarded to continuing and strengthening my role and the relationships within my family. With that being said, I simply say: Life is what you make it, keep it simple and smile.

Randi R. Byrd (Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians) is the Community Engagement Coordinator for the American Indian Center at UNC Chapel Hill and currently serves as Project Director for Healthy Native North Carolinians (HNNC), a grant project supported by the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. The grant is designed to create sustainable community changes around healthy eating and active living and to build capacity within tribes and urban Indian organizations. Previously, Ms. Byrd served as a Community Liaison for the American Indian Healthy Eating Project. During her tenure at the American Indian Center, Ms. Byrd has provided technical assistance and collaboration with 8 tribes and 4 urban Indian organizations in North Carolina, in a variety of capacities including health and wellness, community asset building, grant administration training, economic development, cultural preservation, and education. In 2011, she facilitated the tribally-led development of an online K-12 Curriculum Guide for Teaching about American Indians in North Carolina, in partnership with Learn NC in the UNC School of Education. Ms. Byrd continues to serve as mentor for students with a particular interest in giving back to their communities through education and service. Randi’s hobbies include growing giant pumpkins for competition, fishing, and spending quality time with her little sister.

Shon Thurman

Shorlette Ammons

Sino Chum: Who is this dude? Sino is a filmmaker who is currently based in New York City. He was born in a refugee camp 200 miles outside of Bangkok, Thailand, to a Cambodian parent. At the age of 7, his family moved to Aurora, Colorado, to pursue a better opportunity for the family. When Sino turned 12, his mother purchased him his first video camera to film families and friends that are visiting from other parts of the States. Upon, entering college, Sino’s major was Computer Information System, and not until his sophomore year when he decided to take Film and Video courses. Furthermore, Sino fell in love with filmmaking, especially editing, and MTV’s style of editing was his inspiration. He stated during College he would sometimes be late to class just so he can watch the show TRL (Total Request Live). Sino loves to pull creative inspiration from music videos and documentary films.

Sumayya Coleman lives out her calling to activism and advocacy for women, children and families to heal from domestic violence like a peaceful warrior and entrepreneur. She has learned many lessons through building comprehensive community and faith-based organizations and programs, motivating leaders, and mobilizing communities to become change agents. Whether from a local, statewide or national platform Sumayya captures her audiences’ attention as a trainer or plenary speaker at events or as a planner. She is inspired by the human spirit’s resiliency to heal the impact of woundedness and thrive beyond imagination. Mentoring is about providing leadership for her focus on social justice and ensuring that the underserved and underrepresented from diverse populations are included and recognized as social change agents. Sumayya’s faith continues to impel her and produce concrete evidence for whatever she puts her heart and mind toward for the empowerment of African-American/Black women and girls. Serving over twenty years, and making room for future opportunities to lift her voice, she continuously gives her time, talent, and treasure to create a place for those who come behind and along with her.

Tahz Walker has spent the past 12 years working on small organic farms in North Carolina, Kentucky, Georgia and in community gardens, and community food settings across the South. Raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Tahz has witnessed a dramatic shift in cultural food traditions as well as access to healthy food choices in many urban and rural communities that he has lived in. This has fueled his work and awareness around sustainable agriculture, ecology based education, and food justice. He envisions a food-system where farmers are diverse and are made up of many races, class backgrounds, genders, where youth have a voice in the food they consume, and where there is honor and justice in putting your hands in the dirt. Tahz is co-founder of Tierra Negra Farm, and also co founder of Earthseed Collective a people of color led group working to gain more access to land for educational, agricultural, and healing space. He has most recently been manager of the 70 acre property at the Stone House Retreat Center in Mebane, NC. He believes through work individually and in partnership we have a deep understanding of the community aspects of this work. We are committed to our communities and understand that listening and responding to community needs around food will be the key to our success.

Tim McIntosh

Tina Crisp

Tony V. Locklear, Executive Director of the Native American Interfaith Ministries, Inc.; Community Advisor on several of the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention American Indian projects; and member of Sycamore Hill Holiness Church.

Tony Pigford

Described an “idea whisperer,” Valaida Fullwood brings a mix of unbridled imagination and a gift for harnessing wild ideas to her work as a writer, creative consultant and project strategist. Her client base ranges widely and her interests center on social innovation in education, philanthropy and arts & culture. Valaida is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she majored in International Studies with a focus in Economics. For nearly a decade, she managed international economic development projects for major corporations, living and working overseas prior to establishing a Charlotte-based consulting practice.

Valaida is author of Giving Back, a 400-page hardcover book named one of the “10 Best Black Books” of 2011 and winner the prestigious 2012 McAdam Book Award as the best new book for the nonprofit sector. She is a founding member of Charlotte’s New Generation of African American Philanthropists, a giving circle that both inspired and served as publisher of Giving Back.

Follow her blog and @valaidaf on Twitter.

Wilhelmina Scott-Ratliff

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