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.
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.
Alexis Richmond is responsible for 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 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.
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 strengthening 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.
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.
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.
Julie Thomas has spent over 15 years working in education, healthcare, and nonprofits. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Middle & Secondary Education, she taught English in a large urban school in Indianapolis. Upon relocating to Orlando in 2006, she began working for AdventHealth (formerly Florida Hospital). During her time with AdventHealth, she held various positions in the Marketing & Planning, Patient Experience, and Human Resources departments. In her roles, she has served as an internal consultant to hospital leaders, assisted them with understanding departmental and organizational data points, and applying best practices to improve the experience of their patients, employees, and overall performance of their department. Julie also managed the new employee onboarding program, which led many multidisciplinary work groups that implemented an assortment of initiatives for improving patient experience, employee engagement, and employee retention.
Currently, Julie serves with the Polis Institute supporting their data and reporting analysis and Collective Impact initiatives. She is a member of the American Evaluation Association and serves with Samaritan Village on their Internal Affairs Committee. She also holds a master’s degree in Nonprofit Management from the University of Central Florida.
She and her husband, Dan, have two sweet children, Everett and Ruby, and two crazy dogs, Indy and Bella.
Krystal Harrington is a two-year AmeriCorps member (2017-2019). She served as an AmeriCorps member in Charleston, WV which was ranked the number one Ameristate of 2018. During her year, she served at Catholic Charities in emergency assistance. Krystal is a Marshall University alumna. Currently, she is a Notre Dame AmeriCorps member serving at Polis Institute as the Family Support Coach for the West Lakes MVP Families Program.
Chris Mock is born and raised in Florida. He moved from Pensacola, Florida to Orlando to attend the University of Central Florida. After graduating from UCF, he stayed in Orlando working as both an in-house and freelance graphic designer for both non-profit and for-profit companies. At Polis, he helps create visual pieces that reinforce the communication of who Polis is and what they are doing.
Jasmine Ramos is the Community Engagement Coordinator at Polis Institute. In this role, Jasmine oversees the communications planning, assists in devising community engagement approaches, leads the survey team, and assists in organizing events and fundraisers. Jasmine is a qualified community mobilizer and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a concentration in Public Administration from the University of South Florida. Jasmine is a champion of education and criminal justice reform. She’s dedicated to working towards a resolution in these and any social issues that stand in the way of every person receiving their unalienable rights.
Chris Ramos helps others clearly articulate their goals, and develops strategies to best communicate them publicly. Working towards a Master’s in Interpersonal Communication, Chris has recently shifted into the nonprofit sector from an eight year athletic coaching career. During his coaching career, which included multi-year stints with both the FGCU and UCF Men’s Basketball Programs, Chris learned how to build and sustain a culture of excellence, create innovative internal and external communication strategies, and assist hundreds of young men in achieving their dreams. 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.