Afiya Bediako is the Advisory Board Chairwoman. She is an Associate at Goldman Sachs (Goldman) in their Operations division. Afiya went to work at Goldman after graduating from Amherst College (Amherst) cum laude with a degree in Black Studies. At Amherst she spent a semester in Madrid where she received her Certificado Básico de Español de los Negocios. Afiya’s senior thesis, “The Unhealed Wounds of Slavery: How Slavery traumatized African-Americans Long Past Emancipation,” focused on how the residual effects of American Enslavement affect the Black community. During her time at Amherst, Afiya served as Campus Coordinator for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program of Hampshire County and mentored a young girl from the town of Amherst. In her spare time she works at her father’s firm assisting with providing accounting and consulting services to non-profit organizations and churches, volunteers with Boys and Girls Harbor as a member of their Young Leadership Council, and enjoys entertaining friends and family.
Afiya is a Harlem native who has had a love for the performing arts since a young age. Growing up she attended LaRocque Bey Dance Theater, Harlem School of the Arts, Ifetayo Cultural Arts Academy, Dance Theater of Harlem, Ballet Hispanico, and Steps on Broadway where she studied Ballet, Flamenco, Tap Dance, and Spanish Folk Dance.
Porsche Dames is a member of the Advisory Board. She is currently an Assistant Vice President at Citigroup (Citi) in the Community Development group. Prior to Citi, Porsche worked as a Senior Analyst at Goldman Sachs (Goldman) within Internal Audit. Porsche began working at Goldman after graduating from Amherst College cum laude with a degree in Art History and Black Studies. During her junior year at Amherst, she spent a semester abroad in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil where she studied Portuguese language and Brazilian culture, primarily Afro-Brazilian culture and the ramifications of the slave trade on the city and country. While at Amherst, Porsche wrote a senior thesis titled, “Continuity in Rhythm: The Aural Visual Nexus in Kehinde Wiley’s Work and Hip Hop,” which imagined the artist’s work in relation to sonic and visual elements of the African American cultural experience, including traditional African art, jazz, blues, hip-hop, and 20th and 21st century American literature, theory, and portraiture. She was awarded the department prize for her work.
Porsche enjoys travelling, including Cuba most recently, and writing in her free time; she currently contributes monthly to an online blog that discuss global culture and philanthropy.
Porsche grew up in Harlem and looks forward to continuing to grow and build her life in the community.
Roderick J. Watts recently retired from his positions as a professor of Social Welfare at the Silberman school of Social Work at Hunter College and a Professor of Psychology at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. He is currently an adjunct faculty member at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, California.
Watts is a fellow in the American Psychological Association and in the Society for Community Research and Action. In past years, Watts held positions at Georgia State University, DePaul University, The Consultation Center and the School of Medicine at Yale University, and Howard University. He is both a community psychologist and a licensed clinical psychologist. Because his practice of psychology and applied research emphasizes social justice, his approach to interventions reflect an integrative analysis—one that includes larger social forces and qualities of community—along with growth at the personal level.
As a consultant, he has worked with governmental organizations, schools, foundations, research and public-policy organizations, universities, and other nonprofit organizations on diversity, program development and evaluation, and training. His interests as a scholar include liberation studies and action (with roots in liberation psychology), and youth sociopolitical development.
In the area of psychological services, his skills lie in holistic health and men’s development, with a particular interest in men’s well-being following incarceration. His most recent sponsored project is a four-year, international study of youth community organizing and civic engagement now in the dissemination phase.
Flores Forbes is a writer, urban planner and economic development expert and is currently an associate vice president in the Office of Government and Community Affairs, Columbia University in the City of New York. He holds a Bachelor of Arts, Interdisciplinary Studies of the Social Science from San Francisco State University and a Master of Urban Planning from the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service New York University. He has also been a Patricia Roberts Harris Fellow (NYU) and a Charles H. Revson Fellow (Columbia University). In 2000 he published an essay in the Norton Anthology on Police Brutality, entitled “Point Number Seven: We Want an Immediate End to Police Brutality and the Murder of Black People.” And in 2006 he published his memoir “Will You Die with Me?” My Life and the Black Panther Party (Atria 2006, Washington Square Press 2007) which chronicles his 10 years in the BPP, 3 years as a fugitive and 4 years, 8 months and 9 days as an inmate in Soledad and San Quentin Prisons in California. His new book, “Invisible Men: A Contemporary Slave Narrative in the Era of Mass Incarceration,” (Skyhorse Publishing, 2016) explores the lives of successful formerly incarcerated Black Men in the first person.