Phil Hissom 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.
Dr. Bahiyyah Maroon is President and Chief Data Officer at Polis Institute. Widely recognized for her contributions, Dr. Maroon is a recipient of the United States President’s Volunteer Service Award and has been a National Science Foundation Fellow. In her career she’s provided research and strategy insights to Intel Corporation, the US Dept. of Justice, US Dept of Education, Harvard University, Columbia University, and the US Dept. of Labor among others. She has an MA and PhD in Anthropology from the University of California Santa Cruz. Dr. Maroon is passionate about using scientific insights to create solutions for building a more compassionate and vibrant world benefiting the many.
Alexis Richmond is the Executive Assistant to Founder Phil Hissom. She assists with communications, coordinating data and research for Polis Institute. She’s held a leadership position at The Coalition of the Homeless. In 2017 she created and organized data for Health Care Center for the Homeless, a referral guide to increase team performance with utilization of information for clients. Her commitment to service also includes Lisa Merlin House for Women, The American Cancer Society, and The Center for Drug Free Living. Alexis has a long history of committed service, support, and compassion to the community. She attended Valencia Community College for Information Technology. Alexis is the widower of a Vietnam veteran, mother of her favorite son Anthony and grandmother to her precious granddaughter Malaysja.
Shawn Welcome is the Family Engagement Coordinator at Polis. He exercises his gift of communication and event organization to facilitate Polis program offerings conducive to positive change. He 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 husband to his beautiful wife, Jannah.
Brandy Hannah leads place-based projects with excellence at Polis. She is a Project Management Consultant with over fifteen years of nonprofit and community building experience. 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 creating meaningful relationships with the people. She believes it is there that the seed of truly strengthening and engaging a community cultivates. Brandy is the proud mother of two amazing children.
Dr. Hills is passionate about research that contributes to real world solutions. She is a Senior Research & Evaluation Consultant at Polis. Dr. Hills obtained her Doctorate in Health Education, and holds a Master of Arts in Public Policy & Law. She is a Research & Evaluation professional with expertise in leveraging methodologies to improve strategic decision-making, reduce risk, create operational efficiencies, maximize return on investments and achieve key performance indicators. Dr. Hill has extensive experience developing evaluation plans; collecting data for outcome and fidelity-measures; developing and delivering trainings on evaluation; providing technical assistance on evaluation and applying evaluation theory, methodology and techniques to strategies for addressing today’s most pressing social challenges.
Andres Florez deploys the power of geographic information systems and data analysis to understand the current assets and socioeconomic status of each community. He holds a Master of Science in Human Geography, and 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.
Ron Jones is a Community Engagement Specialist at Polis. He has been a vital team member of the organization since it was founded. He thrives in understanding and empowering individuals and communities. 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 two children and four grandchildren.
Julie Thomas is an evaluation consultant at Polis Institute. She works on evaluations that accurately illustrates outcomes for collective impact initiatives. She holds a master’s degree in Nonprofit Management from the University of Central Florida and is a member of the American Evaluation Association. She serves with Samaritan Village on their Internal Affairs Committee. Julie holds a master’s degree in Nonprofit Management from the University of Central Florida. Julie Thomas has spent over 15 years working in education, healthcare, and nonprofits including AdventHealth (formerly Florida Hospital). She and her husband, Dan, have two sweet children, Everett and Ruby, and two crazy dogs, Indy and Bella.
Chris Mock is the Lead Graphic Designer for Polis Institute. He helps create visual pieces that portray the intended messaging for the specific audience. He is skilled at designing collateral that is culturally sensitive and relevant. Since graduating from UCF, he has built an impeccable portfolio as a freelance graphic designer for both non-profit and for-profit companies.
Jasmine Ramos is the Community Engagement Coordinator at Polis Institute. She executes engagement strategies, leads the survey team, and organizes community events. Jasmine holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a concentration in Public Administration from the University of South Florida. She champions every community resident, and is dedicated to walking alongside each individual and community as they turn their dreams into realities.
Chris Ramos empowers individuals and organizations clearly articulate their goals, and develop strategies to best communicate them. He is a Communications Strategist at Polis Institute. Chris has a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication from Florida Gulf Coast University. His work in collegiate athletics has included strategic communications, life coaching, operations management, and video production. Chris now brings his desire to ensure every individual and community receives a just opportunity to fulfill their goals to Polis.
DeAndre Bush has been a spirited champion for the youth of the greater Central Florida Area. He has dedicated himself to working in his community through various mentorships, ministries, and community outreach programs. DeAndre has been coaching in Florida for over 5 years. He has coached football and basketball throughout Orange County with stops at Cypress Creek High School, South Creek Middle School, and Saint Andrews Catholic School. DeAndre is the founder and president of Suns Youth Sports Association (SYSA). SYSA is a youth program that uses athletics as a platform to entice kids to perform better in school and get involved in the community. DeAndre is also an Assistant Girls Varsity Basketball Coach at Cypress Creek High School.