Phil Hissom, Founder/Director

Phil founded the Polis Institute in 2009 to improve quality of life with Orlando’s 100 distressed neighborhoods. He has extensive experience creating solutions to complex social problems and holds a Master of Divinity degree. Phil hails from a family that has been laboring with the poor for four generations since his great-grandfather founded a Christian mission in Charleston, West Virginia in 1934. Phil’s immediate family includes his wife Jennie, three teenage children, and their lovable mutt Liberty.





Brandy Hannah, Director of Operations

Brandy Hannah’s nonprofit and community experience spans over 15 years and includes extensive experience in the areas of Program Development and Management, Community Building, Community Engagement, and Volunteer Management. A Florida native, she attended the University of South Florida with a major in Criminology.  She gained most of her work experience however in New Jersey working with multiple family service and community based nonprofit organizations. She has proudly served on the Essex County Human Services Advisory Board, Essex County Council for Young Children, Rutgers University Community Health Board, and the City of Newark Coalition on Homelessness, among countless other roles and affiliations. She has a strong background working in diverse communities and truly connecting with the people. She believes it is there that the seed of truly building and engaging a community cultivates.  Recently relocated back to Florida, Brandy is enjoying her role at Polis as she develops new partnerships with stakeholders and community members alike. Brandy is the proud mother of 2 amazing children.




Shawn Welcome, Family Engagement Coordinator

Shawn Welcome has been engaged in community improvement since creating a poetry and life skills program for youth offenders at the 33rd Street Jail in 2006. Shawn is the founder and host of Diverse Word, the longest running, weekly open mic gathering in Orlando. In the past, Shawn has devoted himself to area nonprofits including The Hope Community Center, the Orlando Boys & Girls Club, Frontline Outreach Community Center, and Professional Opportunities Program for Students (POPS), a youth empowerment and internships program. Shawn Welcome is the proud father of four children and married to his beautiful wife, Jannah.



Ronald Jones, Community Engagement Specialist

Ron is a life-long resident of Orlando and a passionate advocate for the youth of the city. Ron has also worked extensively with Orlando’s homeless population and helped found the Steps program at the Coalition for the Homeless in 1999. Ron has 2 adult children and 4 grandchildren.






Andres Florez, GIS + Data Management

Andres Florez holds a Master of Science in Human Geography. He has studied the impact of development programs in a highly vulnerable area of Colombia in South America. He brings experience creating and managing Geographic Information Systems, as well as quantitative and qualitative research experience. He has worked in different facets of the nonprofit arena, including economic development and faith based organizations. Andres’s work and education are grounded in the belief that every single person is deserving of access to the same opportunities. He is married to his high school sweetheart Hannah and they are the proud parents of three beautiful children.



Alexis Richmond, Quality Control








Dr. Bahiyyah Maroon, Senior Research Fellow

Dr. Bahiyyah Maroon guides individuals and organizations in the discovery and cultivation of their optimal. Holding a PhD in anthropology, Bahiyyah has spent more than a decade consulting and researching the integral link between meaningful individual growth and significant change outcomes for communities and organizations. As a strategic facilitator, speaker, and thought leader, Bahiyyah brings her expertise into organizational, educational, and community settings.




Not pictured:
Timothy Ayers | Director of Community Development, West Lakes Partnership