Board of Directors
Kirsten Allen, an East Baltimore resident, is the founder of Meraki Community Uplift, which focuses on East Baltimore. She was a first-year project advisor to BCYF on community engagement and design and is consultant who supports organizations and change agents who are passionate about equity in communities of color. She has a commitment to creating and implementing innovative and holistic solutions to problems in under-resourced communities. She has a commitment to grassroots community development initiatives as a local neighborhood advocate and community leader. Ms. Allen has experience with comprehensive community development initiatives and workforce and economic inclusion strategy as an Impact Investment Associate with Port Covington Impact Investments, LLC.
Catherine Benton-Jones served as a first-year grant review team member and community advocate for BCYF. She is the President of Change4Real, a resident-led development effort in Oldtown, and President of Chick Webb Recreation Center. She has a long career working for the City of Baltimore, including 20 years in the City Hall Law Department and 15 years at the Housing Authority of Baltimore City in Resident Services as the Manager of Resident Staffing Program. Ms. Benton-Jones managed the support group It’s Your Turn for five years, and she is founder and pastor of New Creations Ministries, Inc. Ms. Benton-Jones is an advocate for those in low-income areas and continues this work advising the Douglass Homes Tenant Council and the Village of Love and Resistance (VOLAR). She holds a Bachelor’s degree from North Carolina College of Theology.
Jacqueline Caldwell is a Community Leader in Greater Mondawmin, serving as the past president of the Greater Mondawmin Coordinating Council. She has a commitment to and experience with grassroots community development initiatives as a local neighborhood advocate and community leader.
Dion Cartwright is the director of Equitable Initiatives and Leadership Development with The Funders Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities, where she manages a national fellowship focused on leadership development in advancing racial equity in philanthropy. She was the first volunteer with BCYF, providing capacity building and technical assistance, including applicant support and advisement. She has served as a program officer with the Baltimore Community Foundation, leading the foundation’s Neighborhood Grants Program and strategic priorities for neighborhoods. She has 20 years of experience in the philanthropic sector focused mainly on neighborhoods and community development.
Keiona Gorham is committed to serving alongside like-minded individuals who are heavily invested in the development of Baltimore City youth. As a mom of three beautiful Black children who have or are being educated in the Baltimore City School District she wants to leave a legacy of service to the place in which she lived for the last 15 years.
Keiona is the founder of The BFA Institute | Beauty for Ashes, which offers life coaching, leadership cultivation, and nonprofit consultation for organizations that are centered on empowering underfunded and minority communities. She joined Wide Angle Youth Media as the Programs Director in 2020.
Keiona centers her work at Wide Angle and The BFA Institute around assets-based language and compassionate accountability.
Lisa Mollock is a passionate advocate for Baltimore’s youth and young adults – particularly youth violence prevention. In 2016, she founded Let’s Thrive Baltimore – which works to divert youth from gun violence by teaching them conflict resolution, heal from youth from their personal trauma, and assisting their families in prospering. She currently volunteers for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. In her role as the Baltimore lead, she has worked on legislation that prevents guns from coming into the hands of young people.
John Morris is the former Dean of the School of Urban Planning & Community Economic Development at Sojourner Douglass College. He is an attorney with a long track record of community development work. He is co-founder of Change4Real, a resident-led development effort in Oldtown. He was a founding and long-serving Director on the Board for Associated Black Charities.
Marcus Pollack is an experienced advocate for youth development in Baltimore City. He has professional experience in designing processes to achieve youth development. through the creation of a youth standard for program interoperability, integration, and accountability.
He has served as the co-investigator of a groundbreaking study of youth resilience to drugs, violence, and criminality. His work was concentrated in the South Baltimore Youth Center and the Washington D.C. Boys and Girls Club.
Marcus has also previously served as the Chief of Operations for the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, providing executive oversight of Career and Youth Development Centers.
Larry Carlton Simmons Jr.
Larry Carlton Simmons Jr. is a West Baltimore native and Edmonson Village resident. He has over twenty years of experience in directing youth and community development programs, community organizing, coordinating city-wide services and program initiatives.
Larry managed the multi-million dollar budget of the Resiliency in Communities After Stress and Trauma (ReCAST) grant through Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration(SAMHSA), As a result of his work by building partnerships and a community granting program – ReCast has granted over 2 million dollars to grassroots organizations.
His is the current Board Chair of the Parent and Community Advisory Board (PCAB) of Baltimore City Schools and member of several other boards and organizations.