Outreach & Engagement Organizer
Jamil Bey, PhD
TaQuala Donaldson, an expert in communication, is the Outreach and Engagement Organizer at UrbanKind Institute. Growing up on the Northside of Pittsburgh, TaQuala was a very active member of the community council, recreation center, and the after school programs. She also hosted and volunteered at different events at the Northview Family Support Center. She later got experience at Sanford Brown Institute, CCAC, and Pittsburgh Job Corps Center, where she obtained a certificate in Facilities Maintenance. TaQuala is very interested in politics, history, and environmental issues.
Prior to joining the UrbanKind team, TaQuala worked as a Youth Counselor for the Bethany House Academy, and as a Youth Support Partner for Diversified Care Management. As a Youth Support Partner, TaQuala obtained certificates in Youth Mental Health First Aid USA, and Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse: Mandated and Permissive Reporting in Pennsylvania.
TaQuala’s greatest contribution to UrbanKind is being able to exercise her passion daily, which is closing the gap and building bridges between the young and old. She is dedicated to helping them build the tools needed to survive so they are better equipped to learn the ways of being successful and build a successful community together as one. Her goal is to help build today’s generation on knowledge being key, not technology.
Prior to working with UrbanKind, Dana worked several different jobs in childcare and customer service. Dana began working at UrbanKind Institute in June 2016. She is the Office and Operations Manager where she ensures office efficiency and productivity.
Growing up in Pittsburgh, Dana has always had an interest in bettering her community. She graduated from Allderdice in 2008 and is currently enrolled at Community College of Allegheny County majoring in General Studies. At UrbanKind Institute, Dana hopes to inspire those who think they can’t. She is passionate about empowering young girls to love themselves and to teach young women not to see each other as competition. She is in the process of helping to develop UrbanKind's "Young Women's Institute: Space For Us" project. This project will focus on issues that young African American and underprivileged women face. She hopes that the project will start a conversation and find solutions.
When she is not at UrbanKind, her interests include music, dance, and creative writing. She would also like to provide resources for her community to create the change that is needed for everyone to thrive. One thing she sees herself accomplishing in the future is creating a program that offers effective opportunities for young girls/boys that will ultimately become an investment in their future. Dana's out-of-the-box thinking and real life experience of growing up in underprivileged neighborhood brings a needed outlook to the team.
Colleen is a sociologist specializing in urban studies, she is responsible for applied research, as well as project development and management. Prior to joining the UrbanKind team, she served as a senior policy analyst at the Washington, DC-based Northeast-Midwest Institute. She is from Beechview and credits her experiences growing up in Pittsburgh with her interest in cities and neighborhoods today. Colleen earned masters and doctoral degrees in sociology from the University of Florida. She completed her bachelor’s degree, also in sociology, from John Carroll University. Her doctoral dissertation focused on Pittsburgh’s first Community Benefits Agreement.
Colleen brings to UrbanKind Institute a wealth of knowledge in regional demographic trends, the revitalization of older cities, and federal funding to states and cities. She is passionate about racial, social, and environmental justice, especially in the context of community development and housing. She is interested in connecting research and policy, as well as translating research for non-academic audiences.
Special Assistant to the Executive Director
Rick became a part of the UrbanKind team in July 2016. He works with the organizations that service the youth in the South Hilltop area. As an Outreach & Engagement Organizer, Rick fosters relationships and collaborations with other organizations. Rick has served the South Hilltop communities for 20 years and has an extensive background in community outreach and youth initiatives. He currently is a mentor and creator of the Reaching Inspiring Students Everyday initiative in the Arlington K-8 school.
Prior to joining UrbanKind, Rick worked for different youth organizations including, Voices Against Violence (VAV), Youth Places, Mercy Behavioral Health, and Shadow Student Athletes. In 2005, during his time with Youth Places, Rick helped create a program to bridge the communities of Beltzhoover and the former St. Clair Village. The program was highly successful in that it brought known gang-members together from these communities to have a positive impact. This model was used in 18 subsequent Pittsburgh communities.
With his positive impact and history with community youth, Rick will direct our Youth Advisory Board during the school year. He hopes to continue to provide leadership and support to traumatized families and communities.
Tayler is the Special Assistant to the Executive Director at UrbanKind Institute. In her role, she is responsible for coordinating, supporting, and furthering the work of the organization. She also manages various UrbanKind projects, focusing on youth education & organizing. Additionally, she is responsible for assisting the Executive Director and serving as the newly formed Beltzhoover Consensus Group's Secretary. Prior to joining the UrbanKind team, Tayler worked in the Banking Industry for three years, while always maintaining an interest in giving back to those less fortunate.
Growing up in the Pittsburgh area, Tayler had a niche for history and geography. Upon graduating high school, Tayler enrolled at the Community College of Allegheny County. There she took multiple comprehensive African History classes. With that new knowledge, she developed a better understanding of her history, her purpose in life, and the importance of mindfulness. Those classes ultimately led her to change her path and begin working with UrbanKind Institute.
At UrbanKind, Tayler plans to use her position to make communities better places to live and to share her experience to as many youth as possible. Tayler’s long term goal is to help communities rebuild their trust to work together to become more sustainable. Her interests include history, natural healing, traveling, and spending time outdoors.
Jason joined the UrbanKind team in August 2016. Trained as a geographer, he examines spatial difference from a holistic, intersectional perspective. In his work, this perspective means that political, economic, environmental, legal, and health issues cannot be separated from each other or from race, gender, class, or ability. Jason focuses on a variety of areas, including environmental justice, community development, food systems, transportation, and housing.
Jason received his PhD in Geography from the University of Manchester (UK), his M.S. in Geography from Penn State, and his B.A. in International Studies from Johns Hopkins University. His dissertation research focused on politics, economics, environment, law, and uneven development in the context of global commons. Other research analyzed the development of private space travel in New Mexico and compared water management policies along the Zambezi River. His research has been published in Political Geography, Geoforum, and elsewhere.
For several years, Jason taught in the Environmental Studies Program and in the Department of Statistics at the University of Pittsburgh. While there, he co-organized and moderated the 2015 “‘Sustainability’ or Survival? Popular Responses to Global Climate Change” Speaker Series. Jason also worked as a union organizer, volunteered for several years at a friend’s organic farmers’ market stand, and, as an undergraduate student, worked to create an Africana studies center and major at Johns Hopkins. He grew up in Mt. Lebanon and has roots on the Hilltop: His mother grew up in Knoxville and his grandfather grew up in Beltzhoover.
Colleen Cain, PhD
Research & Policy Consultant
Outreach & Engagement Organizer
Jason Beery, PhD
Senior Research & Policy Analyst
As the Executive Director, Jamil works to get the most out of the team in pursuit of a vision of justice, equity, and inclusion. Jamil is a researcher, analyst, and consultant specializing in challenging common assumptions and bringing alternative perspectives for consideration. Trained as both a professional geographer and as an educator, he excels in spatial analysis and synthesis, pedagogy, and instruction. His integrated-systems view of the world provides highly contextualized conclusions and recommendations that consider the interconnectivity of economics, politics, history, culture, health, social movements, and the environment. Before creating UrbanKind Institute, Jamil served as a social studies teacher prior to pursuing a PhD in Geography at Penn State University.
Growing up in Beltzhoover (a neighborhood in Pittsburgh), Jamil spent much time with a close-knit family regularly discussing injustices in political, economic, and education systems in the US. As an undergraduate, Jamil’s activist identity solidified through participation in various movements to champion justice, equity, and inclusion. Although his awareness, education, and upbringing gave him advantages, he realize that many others lacked these things, which he attributes to shortcomings of broken systems. As a teacher, he sought to strengthen the voices of students in communities and school districts where students were most under served and whose education and development were not priorities for the state.
Along with his support and experience, Jamil provides an authoritative perspective on expanding equity and justice, strengthening resident voices and participation, and improving youth outcomes.
Office and Operations Coordinator