Reverend Dr. Alexander Gee, President & Founder, is the visionary of Nehemiah. He is a loving husband and father and also a pastor, writer, community activist, life coach, international lecturer, relief worker, and social entrepreneur. His interests include: understanding the impact of fatherlessness on the African American community, cross-cultural leadership empowerment, spiritual life coaching, motivational speaking, mentoring, and transformational leadership development. You can find more of his own personal thoughts and insights at his personal website: AlexGee.com.
Dr. Gee studied at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Fuller Seminary’s Distance Learning Program and Bakke Graduate University, where he earned his doctorate. The author of two books and a local radio host, his relief work and motivational lectures have lately taken him to Cambodia, Korea, and South Africa.
Harry Hawkins, Executive Vice President, brings over ten years of management experience to Nehemiah. He holds multiple degrees in Business Administration with a focus on Organizational Behavior. Harry is an author, business owner, and a dreamer. When asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, he responded "One of the X-men". He hopes to leave a legacy of excellence at Nehemiah, building on the work of the last 25 years.
Anthony Cooper, Sr. ("Coop"), Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Reentry Services, uses his life experiences to help men in the Madison community. A devoted husband and father of two sons, he dedicates his time to ensure that men leaving prison are re-acclimated to society. Anthony brings over 10 years of job development and mentoring experience to this role. He has served as a placement specialist, corporate recruiter, Fatherhood Program facilitator at the Urban League of Greater Madison and as Owner/Director of Opportunity Tree, Inc.
As the Director of Reentry Services, Anthony is responsible for networking with employers, partnering with community organizations and the Dept. of Corrections, mentoring and establishing mentor relationships, and operating the Nehemiah House and Dignity House. Anthony has a strong passion for changing the view of incarcerated individuals in society so they no longer feel imprisoned when released.
Karen Reece, Vice President of Research and Education, holds a Ph.D. in Physiology granted from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. She began her career as a research scientist in academic and biotechnology settings. Dr. Reece is involved in strategic planning for Justified Anger and manages a continuous/dynamic evaluation program to ensure forward progress and quality control. Dr. Reece supports Nehemiah program staff and others to expand their understanding and use of evidence-based practices. She works to help program staff with setting realistic and measurable goals and outcomes and develops data collection tools that can be seamlessly integrated into day-to-day program activities to facilitate accurate tracking and reporting. When she’s not doing research and/or organizing events, Karen enjoys the local music scene (particularly Hip-Hop), playing the cello and singing, and fighting for social justice.
Gloria Manadier-Farr, Director of Community Chaplaincy & Allied Empowerment Services, is a licensed Minister of Fountain of Life Church and licensed Clinical Substance Abuse Counselor. She has worked in several positions throughout Dane County, including: Allied Wellness Center, Harper Adult Family Home, Rise-Up Inc., Tellurian U-CAN, Madison Inner City Council on Substance Abuse, and Mental Health Center of Dane County. Most notably, Gloria has over 18 years of experience in the fields of substance abuse, trauma, and mental health. She worked for seven years as the Program Director for Genesis Development Corporation, serving primarily African American families of Dane County and surrounding areas.
Ozanne J. Anderson, Director of Youth Development and Education, is the only girl of four children in her family from Milwaukee, WI. Collectively Ozanne has worked with children and youth for over twenty years. State certified as an Early Childhood Education Program Director, she has worked in both children’s and youth ministries for her home church. As a creative outlet, Ozanne uses her passion for music, singing, and dance or writes poetry when inspired to capture quiet moments. She has been married for 13 years and has three children of her own; they are her joy.
Jasmine Zapata, MD, Empowerment Coordinator and Assistant Director of the Madison Allied Community Gospel Choir, is a mother, wife, pediatrician, singer, songwriter, musician, and community leader. She loves working alongside her mother as a co-leader of the choir. Ever since the sudden death of her 16 year old brother in 2007, she has been passionate about spreading the message of "hope, strength and the power to overcome" to not only her patients but to the kids she works with in the community. One of her favorite activities is holding empowerment sleepovers with teen girls across the city focusing on self-esteem, inner beauty, healthy relationships, and positive choices.
Julia Saffold, Program Director of Performing Arts for Madison Allied Community Gospel Choir (MACGC), is a choral director and gifted teacher of music with a sharp ear for both vocalists and instrumentalists. Having served as guest directress for several choir workshops and community programs, Julia's 30+ years of directing experience, along with her anointed and energetic style, encourages, motivates, and demands excellence, from those whom she serves. Julia’s passion to encourage and uplift others is greatly inspired by the life of her son, Aaron Battle, who suddenly passed away in 2007 at the age of 16. As a result, Julia, along with her daughter Jasmine Zapata, M.D. (Empowerment Coordinator for MACGC) instituted MACGC's theme to spread the message of "Hope, Strength, & the Power to Overcome" with the goal to help empower others to overcome various obstacles in their lives as well. Julia currently serves as Director of Choral Ministries and Worship Team Leader at Fountain of Life Covenant Church. She cherishes being a grandmother and is happily married to husband, Melvin Saffold, who also plays organ at their church.
Lindsey Johnson, Director of Youth, Family, and Community Wellness, grew up a military brat, having spent the majority of her life traveling the United States. She lived in six different states and has revisited each multiple times. Moving across the country has allowed Lindsey to build lifelong friendships with people from all different backgrounds. She brings over 10 years of administrative skills to Nehemiah and she is passionate about family, health, and fitness. As a mother of four children, Lindsey is committed to helping make positive changes that will help underprivileged children and families. Her hobbies include working out, traveling to new parts of the world, exploring Madison’s parks and libraries with her kids and shopping.
Aaron Hicks, Reentry Specialist, started working with Jerome Dillard and Voices Beyond Bars on return from incarceration back into the community, which brought the very work that he was doing while incarcerated now into the community. This was also his introduction to Nehemiah and meeting Pastor Alex Gee, who had started his own men’s group, called Man Up. Aaron then moved into a Reentry Specialist role at Nehemiah, where he now facilitates the Man Up Group with his amazing ability to connect with people and help them work through their hurts and pains.
Eli Steenlage, Director of Communications, has a Masters in Cinema and Media Studies from DePaul University and has previously taught Film and Media in higher education. Eli is a filmmaker and instructor with experience ranging from community development, digital marketing, and cross-cultural interaction. He is passionate about storytelling and highlighting the amazing work that individuals are doing in their community. Eli has three energetic kids with his wife Jessica and enjoys podcasting, traveling, trying new restaurants, and debating film theory.
Tyler Nylen, Faith Community Relationship Manager, received his Master’s of Divinity from North Park Theological Seminary in May of 2017. After serving as an intern at both Nehemiah and Fountain of Life Covenant Church during the summer of 2016, Tyler relocated to Madison following graduate school in order to pursue the vision of Nehemiah after his compelling experience with the organization. In this role, Tyler loves connecting, building relationships, and strategizing with faith communities and churches to determine how they can partner with Nehemiah to strengthen the African American community while addressing racism in faith contexts. He loves reading, exploring the city through coffeeshops (he even ranks and reviews them all), and all things Chicago sports.