Meet the Team



Rashaad Abdur-Rahman, LCSW Director

Rashaad’s prior experience comes from working in the child welfare system as a direct care provider, therapist, and program director. He earned a master’s of science in social work from the University of Louisville and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Berea College, where he learned in an environment that emphasized service and social justice. Rashaad believes that community solutions are in the community, and that there should be nothing for us without us. He is an advocate for anti-racism, youth voice, and the truth that we all win when we lead with equity to disrupt structures that perpetuate violence and the root causes of conflict.

MA-headshotMaryam Ahmed, MPH Assistant Director

Maryam’s prior experience comes from the public, academic, and non-profit sectors. She previously served as a benefits coordinator, research interventionist, bilingual instructor, and children’s health policy advocate. Maryam serves as a Bridge Kids International board member and has completed volunteer work with the Muhammad Ali Institute for Peace and Justice both locally and internationally. She earned a Master’s of Public Health from the University of Louisville’s School of Public Health and Information Sciences and a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology with a minor in Pan-African Studies. Maryam is passionate about collective efforts to achieve systematic changes that promote as well as ensure equity, health, quality of life, peace, social justice, and opportunities to lifelong success.



Amber Burns-Jones, THRIVE Fellowship Coordinator

Amber Burns-Jones is a mother, partner, play-cousin and believes in the power of collective work. She is a proud West Louisvillian and can often be found trading stories with her neighbors. Amber is driven by her love for community and the belief that every person is creative, resourceful and whole. 





Lavel White, Community Outreach Specialist

Lavel is not new to community service. Lavel lost a friend to community violence as a teen which led him on this journey. He has worked with the Network Center for Community Change (NC3) as a youth video coordinator for Let The Kids Grow with Master P, and previously served as a member of the West Louisville Violence Prevention WorkGroup. Lavel received a B.A. in Communication and minor in Pan African Studies from the University of Louisville. He went on to start his own business and has produced documentaries for Louisville Metro Housing Authority, including More Than Bricks and Mortar: The Sheppard Square Story and More Than Bricks and Mortar: Smoketown A New Beginning. He also produced "We All We Got," Hood 2 Hood a documentary about violence and incarceration and the effects it has on the inner-city. Lavel was selected as a 2019 BMe Genius Fellow and received a generous grant to contribute towards a community impact project of his choosing as well as an Ignite Louisville Fall 2019 Classmember. 


Nubia Bennett, M.Ed Youth Specialist

Nubia’s prior experience comes from Spalding University and Indiana University Southeast. She previously served as a Student Success Coordinator where her work focused heavily on the first-year experience of conditionally admitted students and students of color. She received both her Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and her Masters of Education Degree from the University of Louisville. Nubia was named a member of the 2019 "Forty Under 40" class. When she is not plotting on ways to "make this world better for the people who need it most", she enjoys reading, cooking for friends and family, and spending time with her son Malik. 




Joshua Watkins, Executive Administrator

Joshua’s prior experience comes from nearly ten years in real estate and community development. Previously serving as a Real Estate Coordinator for Develop Louisville’s Vacant and Public Property Administration helped confirm Joshua's belief that a safe and healthy neighborhood impacts people and place. Joshua serves as the President of the Friends of the Waterfront Board, Board Member of New Directions Housing Corporation and Keeper of Exchequer for the Louisville Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity Inc. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Community Leadership Development from the University of Kentucky and earned his PMP in 2018. Joshua envisions Louisville as a city where every neighborhood thrives and is passionate about being a collaborative, innovative and fearless change agent focused on building out that vision every day.



Kelsey HeadshotKelsey Hamilton-Layer, M.Div Community Outreach Specialist

Kelsey has spent most of his professional career serving others and finding ways to connect people to resources. He believes when the community has sufficient resources, thriving is inevitable. Kelsey is a bi-vocational Pastor and serves at the Love First Church of Louisville and St. Peter's United Church of Christ in the Russell neighborhood. His priority has always been engaging the needs of those who are living on the margins of society through radical inclusion because we are all gifted and necessary. Kelsey's academic background includes undergraduate studies in Health Care Systems Administration and graduate studies in Social Work. He has a M. Div. degree from Lancaster Theological Seminary with a focus in pastoral care. 




Give a Day: Team


Members of the Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods with Mayor Fischer and Superintendent Polio during the Mayor's Give-A-Day Week of Service. Team members traveled to Newcomer Academy to assist in painting a new and inspiring mural for students. 










Do you want to learn more about our team or our work?

Learn about the office and contact us via the Information Request Form and we will reach out to you.



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