Christian is the Manager of Strategic Initiatives and a Community Engagement Facilitator at UrbanKind Institute. In his role, he is responsible for creating collaborations and partnerships that propels the Urbankind’s community engagement forward. He also implements strategies, processes, and practices that allows Urbankind to serve the community more effectively.
A New Jersey native, Christian relocated to Pittsburgh to attend Point Park University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in Business Management & Marketing. During undergrad, Christian became intrigued in the correlation between 21st century skills and social justice. Prior to joining the UrbanKind team, Christian served as the Interim Manager of Marketing and Public Ally for Bible Center Church in the Pittsburgh’s historic Homewood neighborhood where he supported social enterprise and STEM initiatives.
Serving at UrbanKind as a 2017-2018 Executive Ally, Christian plans to use his position to centralize the voices of residents in the decision-making processes that affect their lives.
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 realized 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.
Jamil Bey, PhD
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
Community Engagement Facilitator/ Manager of Strategic Initiatives
Before joining UrbanKind, Aarika graduated from Winston Salem State University and has since been promoting community engagement and activism through organizations like Planned Parenthood, People for the American Way, and the Fund for the Public Interest. She hopes to utilize her prior experience and build upon it in the Pittsburgh community, and to combat gentrification in a sustainable way.
Through her position as a Public Ally and Community Engagement Facilitator for UrbanKind, she will be charged with the delicate responsibility of building and sustaining community initiatives in the Homewood and South Pittsburgh neighborhoods. In a society where wealth and income is concentrated in few hands, she will work long-term to support and affirm the civic voice and influence of the displaced.
Community Engagement Facilitator
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 knack 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