Rev. Dr. Alex Gee
President and Founder
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.
Executive Vice President
Harry Hawkins 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, a 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.
Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Reentry Services
Anthony Cooper, Sr. (“Coop”) 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 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.
Vice President of Research and Education
Karen Reece 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.
With more than 30 years in the fields of education and social services, Lilada founded Black Woman Heal—a Madison-based non-profit organization that inspires Black women to join her in her life’s work to defend Black girlhood, by creating safe places for Black girls as well as themselves, to heal. Unapologetic advocate and audacious Healer, Lilada organized the international healing movement—Black Woman Heal Day. Black Woman Heal Day is held worldwide every April 1st.
Lilada is a life-long resident of Madison, Wisconsin, and a proud mother of two awesome adult children–Alexandra and Christian.
Director of Youth Development and Education
Coach O, is devoted to uplifting her community through education, mentorship, curriculum development and academic coaching. She is a mother of three boys and a wife of 22 years. As a community educator, Ozanne is passionate about education that serves children and youth holistically. She believes people are best served when we prepare to serve them completely considering the spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical well-being of the whole persons she serves.
Community Support SpecialistMs. Hunt is a caring, compassionate professional with over 18 years of experience in the Substance Abuse/Mental Health field. She provides culturally relevant, strength-based, and trauma-informed care. Jacquelyn knows first hand what it is like to be marginalized and in need of supportive services. Her own testimony of recovery, redemption, and restoration provides the foundation for her work and allows for just the right balance to support the community and instill the belief in them that they too can overcome and become all that they want to be. Hunt provides services right there in the heart of where those who were most impacted by racial disparities dwell. Ms. Hunt is also the founder and CEO of F.O.S.T.E.R of Dane County. firstname.lastname@example.org
Director of Mobilization
Siobhan Jackson is a Cardinal Stritch University graduate that has found her home here in Madison,WI. She is an artist first but community advocate through and through. Siobhan’s life long goal is to always be active in her community no matter how big or small the role may be. She has spent most of her time in the Musical Theater Non-profit world teaching music and performance to public school students with little or no arts programing. In her role with Nehemiah, like any producer or director would, she coordinates and elevates the knowledge, natural care, and talents of this community’s volunteers.
Andrea J Dearlove
Director of Donor Engagement
Andrea’s career has included 30+ years of experience in both the nonprofit and foundation worlds. Her introduction to Nehemiah was as a participant in the first cohort of the Justified Anger Black History for a New Day course in 2016 and she has remained engaged from that point forward. Born in Washington DC, she has been a Madison, Wisconsin resident for 29 years and lives here with her husband, son and parents just around the corner. Her retirement dream is to have a rescue for old dogs to live out their days in peace and comfort. Andrea hopes her legacy will be changing how philanthropy views community experience and voice in order to achieve genuine and lasting impact.
Aaron Hicks 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.
Frank Davis is an activist, community leader, and a self-described “Inspirationist”. He helps facilitate the Man Up group. For years he has fought for policy reform in the criminal justice system around Solitary Confinement, Old Law, and Crimeless Revocation. He has a passion to give back to the community and wants to be a catalyst of change within the criminal justice system and beyond.
Reentry Housing Program Coordinator
Rebecca Barber is our Re-entry Services Housing Coordinator for the Nehemiah Dignity Housing Program. Outside of Nehemiah, she has a strong background in connecting people through music. She has been the host of the Universal Soul Explosion on 89.9FM WORT, Madison, for over 10 years and continues to use that platform to connect those incarcerated with loved ones outside the walls. An advocate of social justice and community support, she is a board member of the Urban Community Arts Network, the Midwest member of Wazzup Radio Group NYC, and board member of 89.9fm WORT. Rebecca is the mother of two, holds Degrees in Marketing and Business Administration / Human Resources, brings experience in Early Childhood Education / Teaching, Corporate Training, and Handy-(Wo)man skills.
Director of Adult Education
Rasheid Atlas, the educator, has been in education from the very beginning and is a lifelong designer and artist. He has worked all over the United States; and has been in the digital and spatial design industry, and curriculum creation for nearly 20 years. He brings knowledge, honesty, integrity, humility, and dignity to his job each day. He has experience in curriculum design, instruction, and development. From start to finish, Rasheid has been a part of the process. This all gives him a unique ability to reach students in a diverse way—preparing them for the real world of experiences and honest reflection. His favorite part of working with Nehemiah is watching participants’ transformational changes in their lives and the lives of their families.
Adult Education Coordinator
Shawna Lutzow worked in Madison in the areas of student engagement and volunteer management since 2011. In these roles she has coordinated programs that support adults and youth impacted by the carceral system including a mentoring program for youth who have a parent in prison, and monthly trips for youth to visit their parent in prison. Shawna has an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice from Blackhawk Technical College and a Bachelor Degree in Ethnic Studies from Edgewood College. She is passionate about social and racial justice and she is committed to continuing to learn and build on her anti-racist identity. Outside of work, Shawna enjoys going to the dog park, going on bike rides, being by the water, soaking in sunshine, eating good food, and performing stand up comedy.
Director of Communications
Eli Steenlage 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 Jess and enjoys podcasting, traveling, trying new restaurants, and debating film theory.
Faith Community Relationship Manager
Tyler Nylen 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.
Executive Assistant and Creative Solutionist
Alexandra went from hanging around in a playpen at her mom’s side in Nehemiah (back in the early 90’s) to now serving as its Executive Assistant and Creative Solutionist, under Harry Hawkins. She comes with unique experiences of serving some of Madison’s most underprivileged communities: including those who struggle with addiction and children with special needs. She is passionate about helping youth and adults take hold of true freedom and justice, unlocking the purposes and promises God has for their lives. She is able to live out this call through her work at Nehemiah and through serving as a 4th-generation Minister at Fountain of Life Church.
Her hobbies include traveling, reading, improv, cooking, finding new restaurants, and being outdoors.
Executive Assistant to Dr. Alex GeeDon Thornton has a varied professional and educational background. His work experiences include retail and business management, software testing, several roles within the USPS, and most recently, working as a debit card fraud protection coordinator before retiring in 2015. His volunteer work with Nehemiah began shortly afterward, where his passion for their work led to yet another career. He and his wife, Denise, moved to Madison in 1999, he’s the proud father of four amazing adult children, and his hobbies/obsessions include cycling, converting his yard to native pollinator plants, and spoiling his two Russian Blue cats.
Harry J. Hawkins
Creative Content Specialist
I am passionate about the work that Nehemiah does because of the work we do to help my community. For a while now, when someone asked me why I wanted to help someone I’d say, “I know and have been through too much to not get involved in some way.” With Nehemiah, I am going to do anything I can to be a part of its work in the community.