Yashi Brown is a writer, poet, spoken word artist and passionate mental health advocate. After a rare disappearance at 24 years old, she was found by Los Angeles law enforcement skipping along Ventura Boulevard in a psychotic, manic state. From then on, Yashi, daughter of Rebbie Jackson, eldest member of the high-profile musical Jackson family, vowed to keep her condition a secret as doctors diagnosed her with schizoaffective disorder, which was later confirmed as bipolar disorder type I. Today, she’s a passionate advocate for individuals with serious mental illness and openly shares her resilient story of recovery across multiple media outlets including the TODAY Show, Huffington Post, CBS, ABC News and Ebony/Jet. She was invited by President Obama’s office to participate in the National Dialogue on Mental Illness and was a recipient of SAMHSA’s Special Recognition Award at the 2016 Voice Awards. She also conducts poetry workshops for patients at California State Psychiatric facilities through her foundation project, People of Poetry (POP).
Ronald Chisom is co-founder of The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond and a senior fellow of Ashoka’s Global Academy, a program for men and women seeking solutions for the world’s most urgent social problems. He has organized workers and poor people throughout the South for over thirty-five years. In the 1990s, he co-founded and was associate director of the Treme Community Improvement Association, which won several significant Louisiana victories in New Orleans. His legal suit, Ronald Chisom v. Charles E. Roemer, Governor of Louisiana et al., challenged the Louisiana Supreme Court to achieve equal representation for the predominantly black city of New Orleans. Ron has served as an organizer, advisor, lecturer and consultant to a wide variety of community, legal, and church groups. He has led numerous workshops around the country on Undoing Racism®, community organizing, and leadership and strategy development. His many prestigious awards include: the Bannerman Fellowship, the Petra Foundation Award, the Pax Christi Bread & Roses Award, and the Tenant Resource Center Achievement Award.
Barbara Major is a community organizer and trainer in New Orleans with over forty years of experience in local, national, and international community development efforts. Her work includes everything from nurturing leadership development efforts within local communities to assisting institutions in developing strategies to de-institutionalize racism. In particular, her contribution has been instrumental in developing The Peoples’ Institute for Survival and Beyond as well as the St. Thomas Community Health Center. Barbara’s expertise allows her to speak candidly from a grassroots and administrative view. Her work with the St. Thomas Community Health Center, which provides mental health services, yielded the following mission statement: the St. Thomas Community Health Center’s mission is to provide culturally competent health care of the highest quality, regardless of the ability to pay. St. Thomas Community Health Center fosters relevant research and educational activities directed toward achieving health initiatives that reduce health disparities in our community.