FOUNDER & SENIOR ADVISOR
Pastor William McCullough is an influential leader who has served with excellence and integrity throughout his 20 years of ministry. He is the Senior Pastor of Russell Temple CME Church in Bridgeport, Connecticut with more than 250 members and 10 outreach ministries. He is also the Chair of the Bridge-Building Committee of the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport, and the Scholarship Chair of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Greater Bridgeport and Vicinity, an alliance of 86 black christian pastors. The founder of U-Turn Ministries and Safe Street Kids, Pastor McCullough has touched the lives of thousands in Pennsylvania and Connecticut through relief efforts, community service initiatives, and humanitarian projects. His vision is to proactively bridge the gap between churches and schools, creating a safe community environment that promises, promotes, and provides educational enhancement for our children.
Jamilah is a native of New Haven, Connecticut and graduate of Yale University. After graduation, Jamilah worked at Hartford Youth Scholars Foundation as the Placement Manager, where she placed inner-city middle school students into independent secondary schools around the country. Recognizing larger systemic issues facing Connecticut's education system, Jamilah embarked on a journey to increase the participation of community leaders, parents, and people of color in Connecticut’s education reform movement as the Director of Community Engagement at ConnCAN, a state-level advocacy organization. During her time at ConnCAN, Jamilah began a robust Clergy organizing initiative that garnered major wins for Connecticut's education reform movement and an important bond with Pastor William McCullough that would lead to the creation of FaithActs for Education.
DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS & PROGRAM
During her studies to become a classroom teacher, Brittany witnessed the harm that systemic dysfunction has on excellent educators and their students' potential to succeed. She decided to step outside the classroom in order to tackle the pervasive challenges of education access and equity through advocacy. Prior to joining FaithActs for Education, Brittany was Special Projects Manager at ConnCAN, where she developed and evaluated new programs, managed an organizational strategic planning process, and served as resident tech nerd. Brittany previously worked with educational nonprofits 826 Valencia, QuestBridge, and REACH Prep and in public schools in Vermont, Massachusetts, and New York. She earned a joint degree in Spanish and English from Middlebury College.
Keyla is a dedicated, hard-working mother of three beautiful girls in the Bridgeport school system and a minister's wife. She earned a Bachelor of Science with a major in Theology. Keyla has always had a passion to work with children. She was the superintendent of the children’s department in her local church for twelve years, and has worked extensively with elementary schools in the Bridgeport area. As a parent, Keyla knows first hand that parents are precious assets in their children's education. Her goal is to make connections, communicate them, and analyze them in order to find solutions that will help better our school system. She wants all children to be inspired, to be challenged, and to have a voice in the education that will prepare them for their future.
The daughter of a minister, Francis grew up attending 11 different public schools across the country. After moving from her third-grade classroom in the Bronx to a new school in Passaic, New Jersey, Francis was told that she was drastically behind the rest of her class. Her first hand experience with educational inequity fueled a lifelong determination and passion for education. This passion continued through her college career at the University of Bridgeport, where Francis served as Class President and founded a new student organization. She also honed her skills through organizing internships with Obama for America and a successful mayoral race in Newark, New Jersey. After graduating with her degree in Political Science, Francis worked as a Community Organizer at Excel Bridgeport to help families advocate for increased resources and improved educational outcomes. Outside of work, Francis is passionate about the performing arts and is actively engaged in the Bridgeport art scene. You can find her regularly at Poetz Realm and open mic events downtown.
Sharon was introduced to Connecticut’s education reform community while serving as Preacher Steward at Varick Memorial AME Zion Church, New Haven, CT under former Pastor Eldren Morrison. There she witnessed the birth of Booker T. Washington School and saw first hand God’s calling, struggle, and drive to get a school open in an area that needed it. Sharon was reminded of the systematic divides that bar our children from the quality education they deserve. As a parent, she understands that education reform is the modern day civil rights movement. Sharon has over 10 years of experience in the nonprofit sector from her years with United Way of Greater New Haven, Community Health Charities of New England, and ConnCAN. She’s honored to bring her skills to expand God’s ministry on a daily basis and to bring about positive change in Bridgeport. Sharon earned a degree in Business Administration, Finance at Albertus Magnus College.
SPECIAL PROJECTS MANAGER
Solana is a New Jersey native who loves project planning because it’s a chance for a dream to be actualized. She has served the children and families of Bridgeport for four years, first as an AmeriCorps member and then as Office Manager at Great Oaks Charter School - Bridgeport. She’s seen the impact of the achievement gap firsthand and witnessed the negative effects of a struggling education system. During her own education, Solana served in her home church’s Youth Ministry, mentored students through the DREAM Village Mentoring Program and Tufts Emerging Black Leaders, and worked at an academic summer camp focused on preventing “summer slide.” Solana earned her degree in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Tufts University, and has been extremely blessed in her own education. Now she’s fighting for other students to have the same opportunities. She hopes to combine her passion for planning with her belief in the power of an excellent education. Outside of work, you can find Solana reading, deep-sea fishing, traveling, color-coding her planner, or experimenting in the kitchen with new recipes.
Jesse has over a decade of experience working with civil rights organizations, political campaigns, city administration, and faith-based organizations. He is the former Chief of Staff at Varick Memorial AME Zion Church in New Haven, serving under the leadership of former Pastor Eldren Morrison. Jesse's passion for education emerged when Pastor Morrison recruited him and other community leaders found Booker T. Washington Academy Charter School which has been recognized by the Connecticut State Department of Education as a school of distinction. Through his work at FaithActs for Education and the Urban League of Southern Connecticut, Jesse continues to pursue this passion by making sure young people have every resource and support needed to compete in the global economy and thrive as productive citizens of society. Jesse is a life long resident of the City of New Haven.