Gerald “Gerry” Smith is currently the Associate Director of the Minority Engineering Recruitment and Retention Program (MERRP) in the College of Engineering (COE) at the University of Illinois-Chicago. In his role at MERRP, Mr. Smith spends a large percent of his time with students, advising them to take advantage of the UIC MERRP programs to be successful in their goal to graduate from the College of Engineering; advising and counseling undergraduate students on course performance and future career opportunities; and reviewing selected senior projects and research initiatives. The remainder of his responsibilities entail managing minority affairs and enhancing the MERRP program image for COE.
Mr. Smith has 17 years of knowledge and advisory board membership with the University of Illinois-Chicago MERRP program and 33 years of experience with the IBM Corporation, where he managed engineers, consultants, and system engineers over the course of his career.
Adrienne Brooks is Director of Marketing and Development with Youth Guidance in Chicago. For more than twenty-two years, she has assisted nonprofit organizations with her expertise in fundraising. Beginning as a social worker and program developer, Ms. Brooks learned the art of fundraising through a commitment to ensure that programs that employed her were fiscally healthy. She has played a key role in raising a wide range of funds for human service organizations – both “grassroots” as well as nationally recognized nonprofits, including Nia Comprehensive Center, Howard Area Community Center, Lutheran Family Services, ChildServ, Little Brothers-Friends of the Elderly, and United Way-Metropolitan Chicago. Assuming the primary role as grant writer for the aforementioned organizations, Ms. Brooks evolved as a top resource development administrator, overseeing fundraising, marketing, planned giving, and special events for a wide variety of human service organizations throughout the Chicago area.
For the past 17 years, Ms. Brooks has taught as an adjunct professor for the social science and psychology departments of National Louis University (Chicago), Aurora University (Aurora, IL), and the City Colleges of Chicago. She also makes frequent presentations on nonprofit board training and grant writing techniques.
Ms. Brooks holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, New Mexico and a Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas. Ms. Brooks has also done post-graduate work at Erickson Institute for Early Childhood Studies in Chicago and at National Louis University, where she pursued a doctorate in Educational Psychology.
Daniel O. Ash is chief marketing officer for The Chicago Community Trust. As lead brand manager, he is responsible for developing, overseeing and implementing communications, and the marketing, public and government relations strategies that advance the Trust’s mission to lead and inspire philanthropic efforts that measurably improve the quality of life and the prosperity of our region.
Prior to joining the Trust, Ash spent 10 years as vice president at Chicago Public Media, production home of WBEZ/91.5FM (Chicago’s primary NPR station), This American Life, Sound Opinions, Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me and Vocalo.org.
Ash’s professional career has been focused on developing and using marketing and communication tools to advance social causes. He has worked exclusively in the nonprofit sector on issues including poverty, adolescent health and HIV/AIDS care and prevention. The early stage of Ash’s professional career included leadership roles at Sergeant Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, Chicago Department of Public Health, Center for Family Policy and Practice and the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health.
Daniel earned a M.P.P. from the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, and a B.A. in Economics from Oberlin College. He also completed a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship at Princeton University. Originally from Youngstown, Ohio, Ash resides in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood with his wife Sarah Karp and their three sons DeVonte, Josiah and Zion.
Professor Tonya Brito received her undergraduate degree from Barnard College, Columbia University in 1986. She received her law degree from Harvard Law School, where she graduated cum laude, served as Executive Editor of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, and was a student attorney with the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau.
Professor Brito’s scholarly interests are in the areas of family law, children’s issues, and poverty law. She has written on the relationship between family law and welfare law, child support, and the image of mothers in poverty discourse. More recently, she has worked with colleagues across campus as part of the Institute for Research on Poverty’s Child Support Demonstration Evaluation. Her work here has examined how the child support rules treat families where there is multiple partner fertility and how the child support rules treat situations of shared parenting.
At UW-Madison, she teaches courses in Civil Procedure, Family Law, and seminars she developed entitled Children, Law & Society, and Adoption Law & Policy. Professor Brito serves as an executive board member of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, serves on the executive board of the Center for Excellence in Family Studies at the UW, and is an affiliate of the UW Institute for Research on Poverty.
Prior to joining UW-Madison, Professor Brito clerked for Judge John Garrett Penn of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, practiced civil litigation for four years with the law firm of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering in Washington, D.C., and served on the law faculty at Arizona State University College of Law.
Robert “Bobby” Lee Verdugo, Jr., Supporting Fatherhood Involvement Specialist with Strategies, is the former Fatherhood Program Coordinator with Bienvenidos Family Services. He is a member of the National Latino Fatherhood and Family Institute (NLFFI), an integrated effort of nationally recognized leaders in the field of Latino health, education, social services, and community mobilization to address the important area of Latino fatherhood and families. From 1995-2003, Mr. Verdugo served as the Coordinator for the Con Los Padres Program, an innovative mentoring and support program in East Los Angeles that helps young fathers develop positive and nurturing relationships with their children.
Born, raised, and still living in the East Los Angeles area, Mr. Verdugo attended UCLA and graduated from California State University at Los Angeles with a degree in Social Work. He is a member of the National Compadres Network, a national effort to promote the positive involvement of Chicano/Latino males in the lives of their families, community, and society. Because of his work with fathers and families, Mr. Verdugo has been invited to speak at symposiums and conferences across the country, and was invited to participate in the 2003 International Fatherhood Summit in Oxford, England.
Mr. Verdugo has been a member of the National Practitioners Network for Fathers and Families (NPNFF) since 1997 and has served as the organization’s President of the Board of Directors. He also sits on the National Advisory Board for the Johns Hopkins University Native American Fatherhood Project, is a member of the US Office of Child Support Enforcement’s National Hispanic/Latino Forum, and has served as a member of the Prevention Advisory Council, established by California’s Office of Child Abuse Prevention.
Bobby Verdugo was featured in the critically acclaimed documentary CHICANO- The History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement, which aired on PBS, and he was portrayed in the HBO movie Walkout, a docu-drama about the historic 1968 high school walkouts of East Los Angeles. He is social worker, an actor, and a public speaker. He is also a family man, married to his high school sweetheart, Yoli, who is also portrayed in Walkout, and is the proud father of two daughters, Monica and Maricela.
Margaret Stapleton is an attorney with the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law in Chicago, where she works on behalf of low-income clients on poverty and civil rights issues. Currently, she is working extensively on expanding access to health care for all the people of Illinois and eliminating barriers to employment for people with conviction records. As an attorney, she has worked on civil rights and poverty law issues in Illinois and nationally through litigation, policy advocacy, and publication in professional journals and the popular press. After completing law school at the University of Chicago in 1971, she first worked with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under Law in Cairo, Illinois, then with the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation in East St. Louis, Illinois. Ms. Stapleton has worked for the past 20 plus years in Chicago with the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago and the Shriver Center. She is a 1967 graduate of Dominican University, where she majored in political science. She currently serves on advisory committees to the Illinois Departments of Human Services and Health Care & Family Services.
Floyd Rose, Ph.D., is President of the Wisconsin Supplier Development Council (WSDC), a nonprofit organization which supports and develops minority-owned businesses by facilitating important connections between corporations and minority suppliers of goods and services. Dr. Rose started the Wisconsin Supplier Development Council in 1984. Today, the Wisconsin Council’s membership involves 200 major corporations and 500 minority owned businesses. In 1987, Dr. Rose was involved in the creation of the Business Management Seminar (BMS), an executive management symposium that has been exclusively tailored for the owners and executives of minority-owned firms. Entrepreneurs from across the United States are brought to the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison for a five-day educational experience. During this period, business theory and practical application are integrated into a core curriculum taught by some of the country’s most distinguished business faculty and practitioners.
Dr. Rose received a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 1976. He resides in Madison, Wisconsin with his wife Mary (a retired elementary school principal). Dr. Rose is also the founder of the African American Communication and Collaboration Council and currently is a Board Member of Kappa Alpha Psi, Boys and Girls Club of Dane County, and 100 Black Men of Madison. He is a former member of the Edgewood Campus School Board of Directors.
Dr. Johnson is Associate Professor with the School of Social Service Administration and Faculty Affiliate at the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago. His research interests focus on the physical and behavioral health status of African American males across the life course, fatherhood among low-income African American males and the social construction of masculinity in urban contexts.
He is Principal Investigator for the Chicago Parenting Initiative Evaluation Study, a multi-year evaluation study funded by the Office of Adolescent Parenting Programs of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that assesses the impact of paternal enhancement services to young fathers on the wellbeing of adolescent African American and Latina parenting mothers and their children. He is also Community Engagement Chair for the South Side Health and Vitality Studies, a family of medical, public health, social science and community–based participatory research studies of the Urban Health Initiative designed to improve health, vitality and wellbeing of Chicago residents residing in 34 community areas served by the University of Chicago Medicine.
Johnson is family formation and stability consultant for the Urban Institute’s Race, Place and Poverty: An Urban Ethnographer Symposium on Low-Income Men, an empirical research and policy forum supported by the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and research consultant for Mathematica Policy Research’s Parents and Children Together (PACT), a multi-year, national mixed-methods program impact and implementation evaluation study of the Administration of Children and Family’s (ACF) Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood grants initiative. He has been a research consultant for the Warren Institute of Berkeley Law School, The California Endowment, Chicago Community Trust and United Way of Metropolitan Chicago in developing African American Male initiatives. He is also an investigator with the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study.
His memberships include Ford Foundation Scholars Network on Masculinity and the Wellbeing of African American Males; the Office of Planning Research and Evaluation (OPRE) Welfare and Economic Self-Sufficiency Technical Working Group; 2025 Network for Black Men and Boys; Chair, Commission on Research, Council on Social Work Education and editor, Social Work with African American Males: Health, Mental Health and Social Policy (Oxford University Press, 2010).
He received his B.A. degree in Sociology and English at the Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, MSW degree from the University of Michigan and Ph.D. in social work from the University of Chicago. He was also a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Scholar at the Program for Research for Black Americans at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.
For the past twelve years, Mr. Cruz’s primary focus has been working with at risk youth within the greater Los Angeles area through community based programs, school evidence based programs and detention centers. Mr. Cruz currently holds the position of Prevention Specialist at El Sereno Healthy Start within Los Angeles Unified School District, where he works with at risk boys and young men.
Mr. Cruz is a member of The National Compadres Network, a not-for-profit organization that responds to local and national requests to address the growing needs of the Latino community, with a primary focus on providing services to Latino males.
Because of his own personal past experiences as a teen father and a troubled youth, Mr. Cruz understands the great need for services and the importance of community based programs. It is through his involvement in curriculum development and implementation that he continues to provide the necessary resources and support to improve the quality of life of young men, fathers and their families.
Mr. Cruz has been featured in several local and national publications highlighting his work promoting positive male involvement and youth empowerment.
In 2002, Tenet California paid a special tribute to Mr. Cruz in a program titled “Honoring Struggle and Courage.” The purpose of the program was to honor Latino heroes who are “transforming the face of the Southland through remarkable and inspiring stories of dedication, courage and accomplishment.”
Guy Bowling is the Program Manager for the FATHER Project, a program of Goodwill/ Easter Seals Minnesota. Mr. Bowling has been a leader in the fatherhood field for 18 years with a special focus on working with low-income, non-custodial fathers in culturally specific communities. He has been the Manager of the FATHER Project since 1999. In that role, he oversaw the successful implementation of a five-year $2.5 million grant project funded through the federal Department of Health and Human Services, through the Office of Family Assistance (OFA). He remains in that role as the FATHER Project has received a one-year, $1.7 million grant award from OFA to expand its proven service model across Minnesota. He received the 2001 “Spirit of Fatherhood” award at the National Center for Strategic Planning and Community Leadership’s (NPCL) Annual International Fatherhood conference. He received the Ronald F. Johnson Award to be inducted into the Spirit of Fatherhood Hall of Fame in 2012 at the 14th annual NPCL conference. Guy was recently selected as an emerging leader to participate in the National Practitioners Leadership Institute (NPLI). The NPLI Leadership Academy is designed to assist field leaders in growing their network and expertise in one or more of the following areas: Responsible Fatherhood, Family Stability, Workforce Development, and Black Male Achievement.
Oliver J. Williams, Ph.D., is the Executive Director of the Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community (IDVAAC) and a professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul. He is also the Director of the Safe Return Initiative that addresses the issues of prisoner reentry and domestic violence. He has worked in the field of domestic violence for more than twenty-nine years. Dr. Williams has worked in battered women’s shelters, developed curricula for batterers’ intervention programs, and facilitated counseling groups in these programs. He has provided training across the United States and abroad on research and service delivery surrounding partner abuse. Dr. Williams’ extensive research and publications in scholarly journals and books have centered on creating service delivery strategies to reduce violent behavior. Dr. Williams received a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Michigan State University; a Master’s degree in Social Work from Western Michigan University; and both a Master’s in Public Health and a Ph.D. in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh.