President & Board Member (ODB Board Chair 2010-2012)
“It has been a great honor to develop the ODB Strategic Plan and be a part of a dynamic, talented, and passionate group of Board members. Meeting the foster kids in our first ODB training program was an awakening for me, as they shared their stories and the reality of their challenges in sharp contrast with the passion and dreams that they so eloquently shared, changed me forever. Realizing incredible kids like them fall through the cracks every day, their talents untapped, their hopes and dreams so easily lost to the streets, was a defining moment in my life — a calling to help create a plan for change.”
A proven entrepreneur and speaker, Mike has extensive experience in business consulting and strategic planning. As president of CSI Creative Solutions, Inc., Mike specializes in designing creative solutions to companies’ most difficult problems. As ODB’s first Board Chair, Mike created the three year strategic plan, which the ODB team executed in a little over two years. He has grown the organization by connecting ODB with community, corporate, educational, non-profit, and government entities.
Vice President & Board Member
“Hope is contagious. I caught the fever the first time I was introduced to ODB, its co-founders and board members. Now I’m an incurable optimist having met our ODB grads. Challenges? Sure. But watch what happens when you empower a youth with a caring, adult advocate and a self-directed life plan. No mountain is too high.”
Diana earned her degree in Computer Science from Indiana University. Combining her technical and artistic skills, Black creates everything from illustrations, original artwork and portraits to logos, book layouts and Web designs. She is a published songwriter, author, cartoonist, illustrator and co-creator of the innovative educator tool, The Step Program. Diana brings her significant non-profit experience in community development to ODB. She is ODB’s operations manager, grant writer, and volunteer coordinator.
Board of Directors
Board Chair & Co-Founder of the Orange Duffel Bag Initiative/Journalist, Author, Speaker
“In much the same way that Sam Bracken did as a homeless teen, we want to help young people to pack their bags with their hopes and dreams for a future. We want to encourage corporations and organizations to pack those same bags with connections to communities and tools that will help young people succeed on their journeys to self-sufficiency. To our knowledge, we are the only organization in the nation providing certified life plan coaching to youth in foster care, those aging out, and homeless youth.”
The award-winning writer and journalist is co-author of My Orange Duffel Bag, the basis of ODB’s coaching curriculum. She is a tireless advocate for ODB youth, frequently speaking and writing about the issues facing teens aging out of foster care. She has been recognized by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal for her efforts on behalf of at-risk youth. The American Society of Journalists and Authors recently awarded My Orange Duffel Bag the Arlene Eisenberg Award for Writing That Makes a Difference, given every three years to a book that made a significant difference in society. She was also named the Woman of Letters by the Pen Women of Georgia recognizing her use of storytelling to raise awareness of this national crisis.
Board Member/Executive with Veterans Administration
Paul has an extensive professional career in organizational change management, strategic planning, marketing and public relations with an uncanny ability for implementing change. He has deep experience in media-led, population-based marketing campaigns and broad experience with management skills development and professional training. His diverse background, including Office of Corrections, Melbourne, Australia, provides the ODB team with a depth of experience with social issues.
Board Member/Managing Partner, In.Style Exchange
Kiran Bindra has been actively involved in supporting non-profits in mission implementation and successful fund-raising initiatives throughout her parallel careers in the corporate and entrepreneurial worlds. Her strengths lie in understanding the heart of the mission, identifying the gaps that exist in addressing the mission, and specifically designing innovative fundraising programs to help the non-profits implement their missions. She has has worked on raising awareness around causes such as Prevention of Child Abuse in Georgia; Raksha, Atlanta-based battered women’s and children’s organization; and United Way with emphasis on Hurricane Katrina relief efforts and homeless initiatives. She has raised emergency funding for ODB graduates in college.
Board Member/Founder & CEO of POS World and INTOUCH Interactive
“I have been on my own since my 16th birthday and finished the last two years of high school rooming wherever I could and providing for myself with a job at McDonald’s. That’s why I joined the board. I know what should be in those orange duffel bags, because I’ve been on the streets.”
The successful entrepreneur, given a computer at age 10 by his uncle, taught himself to write software and never went to college. Joe donates laptops, mentors teens, and generously provides ODB with office space, student scholarships, other funding. He is currently setting up a computer lab for use by ODB graduates.
Christopher C. Chan
Board Member/Technology & Strategic Planning Consultant
“I met Echo through Kiran at the November 2012 Atlanta Startup Village event. I was instantly intrigued when Echo told me about ODB’s mission, accomplishments, and the needs of a growing non-profit which performed like a startup. I had been looking for a way to leverage my interest in technology and non-profit experience and ODB was the perfect fit.”
Chris has been instrumental in evaluating, re-formulating, and establishing technical and operational processes to accelerate ODB’s sustainable growth. One major initiative is the ongoing project to collect, measure, and analyze key data about youth enrolled in the ODB program- all within a secure, state-of-the-art Salesforce implementation. He continues to look for ways to support the efforts of his fellow board members.
Marcia Jones Cross
Board Member & Advocate/Public Relations Consultant, Cross Solutions, Inc.
“Over the years as a college administrator and teacher, I’ve always had a passion for working with young people in providing them with life skills and the resources to map out their educational and professional futures. As an ODB board member and advocate, I have been struck by the strength and tenacity of the youth we serve, many of whom are determined, in the words of an ODB graduate, to be ‘victors and not victims’ of their circumstances.”
Marcia has spent more than 25 years as a public relations manager/professional, faculty member, and senior-level university administrator at several colleges and universities across the country. This includes working as the vice president for college relations at Morris Brown College; editing projects and speech writing for Clark Atlanta University, teaching journalism at Florida A&M University; and holding positions in management and practitioner positions at Meharry Medical College, Chicago State University, University of Chicago, Dartmouth College and University of Pittsburgh. She also worked as Special Assistant to the President for Operations at Clark Atlanta University as well as an Academic Partners Executive with the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance, based in Kansas City, MO. Marcia shares Team Orange’s passion for promoting access and helping break down the barriers to higher education for our youth. She serves as an advocate for Class 6 – Atlanta. 487
Board Member & Advocate/Partner, Walla Walla Bing Bang Productions; Writer/Director
“I know what it’s like to have the fog that blocks your full potential. You can’t see beyond the horizon. Orange Duffel Bag helps teach you how to get beyond the fog.”
Lydia entered foster youth at age seven with her cousin who was six months older. They were separated and then Lydia went through 18 placements, three failed adoptions, and four name changes before running away at 16. She lived in a car on her high school campus yet went to school every day. She brought the yellow duffel bag she received as head cheerleader to her first ODB board meeting. Drawing on her background, the filmmaker/writer/director is developing visual media to promote ODB. Her film that she’s working on is titled Sunny Lane. She’s also a consultant with Brevard Family Partnership. She was the social impact lead and wrote her story as the backdrop of My Sky Is Falling, an immersive experience done by Columbia University to help people understand what it is like to age out of foster care.
Board Member/Board Member/Author and Consultant
“When I visit high schools I always meet kids who identify with the character, Brandon, in my novel Slow Way Home. They might have also suffered abuse or have had a parent who failed them. But unlike Brandon, these kids do not have grandparents who are raising them. They tell of being shuffled from one home to the next in the foster care program. I am both inspired and heartbroken by their stories. These kids have faced one obstacle after the next but they remain steadfast and determined. The least we can do is to make sure that when they age out of foster care, they have the life skills to live on their own and pursue their dreams. Through the Orange Duffel Bag Imitative, I can play a small part in making sure that happens.”
After spending 15 years working in advocacy and lobbying for GlaxoSmithKline, Michael Morris is now a consultant and author. His award-winning novels often deal with characters who suffered abuse, which mirrors Morris’ own life. He frequently speaks to raise awareness of the 8 million children being raised by grandparents, a situation often experienced by the youth ODB serves. He is a frequent speaker at high schools and at kinship caregiving conferences across the country.
Reggie Pope II
Board Member/Regional Risk Manager, JE Dunn Construction
“It is important that we all get involved in the issues facing our society today if we are to make it better! And the work being done at ODB is a great place for me to get involved. The mission of this organization in saving as many youths as we can and providing a path of education for at-risk foster care youths is filling a huge gap where the system is failing. It’s just critical. ODB will be making a huge difference in this goal and I am very proud to be associated with it!”
Reggie Pope II brings great passion and enthusiasm to Team Orange. He immediately began connecting ODB with significant corporate partners and is concentrating on securing laptops for our future ODB graduates. With professional designations CPA, CISA, and PMP behind his name, he understands and values pursuing education. Reggie brings a wealth of talent to the Board in operations and finance. He is a graduate of the University Of South Alabama.
Reggie has spent his career as a public accountant and corporate auditor for Fortune 500 corporations. Reggie was also affiliated with Blueprints Solutions, LLC, a CPA and IT advisory firm regarding internal controls & IT network security procedures. He is currently employed by one of the top general building contractors in the nation.
Board Member/ Broker, Realtor, EcoBroker, ABR, NAR Green Designee
“As a former foster child, I was lucky to be placed with a distant relative at age 15 where I stayed until I aged out of foster care. Prior to this placement I was bounced around from age 12 thru 15. My journey was not pretty but through self-determination, I was victorious. After foster care and a brief military career, I became custodian to three of my younger siblings who had been in foster care for seven years. Being affiliated with ODB will allow me to provide some assistance to others who may be faced with similar issues. I look forward to providing assistance so that foster children who are in this transition phase can have better resources and skills to move forward.”
In addition to being a broker and realtor, Marion has more than 20 years of experience in management information systems with Fortune 500 and international companies. She is currently on contract with AT&T (Insight Global) as a consultant and senior program manager.
Key Players on Team Orange
Cindy is a Professional Certified Executive and Life Coach, author, artist, speaker, trainer, and mother. She has coached children and teens with physical and emotional challenges, parents, partners, presidents of companies, executive teams, individuals struggling with substance abuse, and people facing painful transitions. As director of coaching for two years, Cindy developed our 12-week coaching curriculum based on Sam’s 7 Rules for the Road as well as designing our workshop curriculum. In addition working with hundreds of ODB youth, she also recruited other coaches and provided training for them.
“Working with the youth in the 12-week coaching program is an amazing experience. Watching these exceptional beings learn and grow and blossom in such a short time is truly wonderful. Often I think that they teach me as much or more than we teach them! It’s an honor to work with them.”
Beth received her training and certification from The Coaches Training Institute out of San Rafael, CA. She has been our lead coach in Macon and Columbus. Before coaching, she was a speaker, meditation teacher and course developer, at a meditation retreat in New York state’s Catskill Mountains. Prior to that, she was a small business owner with a cookware shop, cooking school and later a restaurant, all in Atlanta, GA. She attended college at Georgetown Visitation Junior College and the Atlanta College of Art.
Audrey Taylor is President of DeBarros Ltd, a Human Resource Consulting, Training and Coaching business based in Marietta, Georgia as well as the founder of Coaching for Greatness services. She has partnered on a significant number of leadership and coaching initiatives for: American Cancer Society, Center for Disease Control, Coca Cola, ConocoPhillips Alliance Refinery, Denny’s Restaurant, Government Agencies, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc., Microsoft, Southern Company and Georgia Power, Texaco, Turnkey Coaching Solutions Inc., and United Way. Audrey holds distinct certificates: Best Year Yet® Online Coach, International Coach Federation as ACC, “Coach Academy Professional Coach (CAPC),” “Certified NLP Coach (NLPC),” “Passion Test” Facilitator, Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), graduate of Robbins Research International Inc., Mastery University Program. She is also an Online Adjunct Professor at DeVry University, teaching classes in Career Development. 99
Luis is a military academy graduate with a degree in military sciences and public administration. He served as an Infantry Captain in El Salvador’s Army during the long and violent conflict against communist terrorist groups. During Luis’ years of combat, he received two medals for being wounded in action and one for valor (heroism). He is also a recipient of the “Commander’s Award of Excellence,” a yearly award given to those whose devotion to duty has been their trademark. During the last 22 years, Luis has distinguished himself as a Drill Sergeant, and a Lieutenant in the first juvenile boot camp for the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice. He also served as a Senior Instructor at Georgia’s Public Safety Training Center, the Director of The Emanuel Youth Development Campus, the Executive Director of the Genesis Academy of Ashburn, the Campus Director at the Macon Behavioral Health System and as the Training Director for Cameron and Associates, Inc. Currently, Luis is the president and founder of MAXIMIZEBIZ, LLC., a Leadership Development Company and a Coach, Trainer and Speaker for The John C. Maxwell Team. He is a member of Leadership Macon 2009.
Bio coming soon
Dr. Dana Hartley
Director of College Advising/
Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology
“Many years ago, I learned about the reality of life for foster youth when they age out of the system. I wanted to help this population but discovered I had no way to identify if we even had any youth in this situation in college. I read an article by Sam Bracken about foster alumni in college and the support they needed. I immediately contacted him and wanted to get involved. I have spent my career in academia helping students make the most of their time in college. I am so excited to be part of Team Orange!”
Director of Marketing Relations
De Harris has over eighteen years of expertise as a manager, business owner, and development coach. As Founder & President of The WOW Network Alliance & CEO of AllBiz Web Support, De is passionately dedicated to keeping the web challenged expert in the know by offering solid networking connections and educational opportunities from experts located around the world. De has joined Team Orange in an effort to bring about additional awareness to aged out youth who desperately need support and guidance while reaching their educational goals.