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









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 Specialist









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.


Pam Amundsen, Grant Manager

Ingrained with a desire for lasting systemic change, Pam Amundsen’s commitment to justice-based solutions has led her to work on farms, partner with small, local businesses, and land in the nonprofit world. With a Bachelors in Marketing, her aim is to promote initiatives worth following and come alongside people working for change. Pam and her husband, Roger, live in a small apartment where they try to be good neighbors.



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