Michael A. Walrond, Jr. | Sr. Pastor | First Corinthian Baptist Church
Michael A. Walrond, Jr. is the seventh Senior Pastor of the historic First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York. A native of Freeport, New York, Rev. Walrond pursued his undergraduate studies at Morehouse College in Atlanta Georgia, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and Religion. During his matriculation at Morehouse, Rev. Walrond accepted his call to ministry and began to work diligently through education and service to prepare for a life in ministry. He continued his studies at Duke University School of Divinity, as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholar and earned a Master of Divinity degree with a focus in Theology.
Rev. Walrond served Duke University as the University Minister and Director of the African American Campus Ministry for eight years. During that time he worked with students and staff to build capacity for ministry through worship services, mission trips, spiritual retreats and theological reflection. Rev. Walrond served as the Senior Pastor of Zion Temple United Church of Christ in Durham, North Carolina for seven years. While there the congregation grew from twenty five members to nearly five hundred as Rev. Walrond raised the bar for effectiveness and efficiency through enhanced worship, ministry building and community service.
Presently, Rev. Walrond, who is also affectionately known by the congregation as Pastor Mike, serves as the leader, pastor and teacher to the “ever evolving community of visionaries & dreamers” at First Corinthian Baptist Church. Within two years of his leadership at FCBC, the church experienced a tremendous amount of growth, tripling its membership, and inevitably necessitating the addition of a second service. Over the past eight years, membership at FCBC has grown from three hundred and fifty disciples to over seven thousand, and has led to the creation of several new ministries and initiatives. Pastor Mike’s vision for discipleship wholeness and community wellness has launched vision teams including- HEALED HIV/AIDS Ministry, Social Justice, DTV Drama, Clothing, Celebrate Life Recovery Ministries, and Business and Culinary Arts Vision Teams. The dynamic preaching, teaching and discipleship of Pastor Mike led to the need for an additional service in 2010: Freestyle Fridays, a service that celebrates the art of improvisation and creativity. Pastor Mike’s foresight and passion for the Harlem community has shaped the vision for FCBC’s, newest innovation; the FCBC Dream Center. Set to launch in Central Harlem in the summer of 2012, the FCBC Dream Center will be a transformative space designed to awaken the dreams of the community through leadership development, arts enrichment, and economic empowerment.
Rev. Walrond has worked effortlessly to build an innovative, relevant and ground-breaking ministry with a commitment to social justice. He played a vital role in getting the ‘New York City Living Wage’ legislation passed through the city council, and currently serves as a board member of the National Action Network. In the spring of 2012, Rev. Walrond was appointed as the first National Director of Minister’s Division of the National Action Network by Rev. Al Sharpton. Rev. Walrond also has a strong commitment to public, private, and higher education and currently serves as a Trustee and adjunct faculty member of Chicago Theological Seminary, in Chicago, Illinois. His work has been recognized by many media publications including – The Harlem Torch, Positive Community Magazine, The Amsterdam News, and by Newsweek Magazine as “One of the Lord’s Foot Soldiers”. Rev. Walrond has been honored as the recipient of various recognitions and citations including being inducted into Morehouse Colleges’ Martin Luther King, Jr. Board of Preachers as a “Distinguished Preacher”. He is a member Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and Morehouse College Alumni Association. In addition to his religious affiliations and community involvement, Rev. Walrond also serves as weekly columnist for the New York Amsterdam News.
Rev. Walrond is married the Rev. Dr. LaKeesha N. Walrond, who serves as the Executive Pastor of First Corinthian Baptist Church. They are the proud parents of two beautiful children, Michael III and Jasmyn Dominique.
David Banks | President/CEO | Eagle Academy
David C. Banks is the President/CEO of The Eagle Academy Foundation. He was the Founding Principal of The Eagle Academy for Young Men, the first school in a network of innovative all-boys public school in New York City. As President he is responsible for the successful leadership and management of the organization, which is charged with the replication of the successful Eagle model. Since opening in 2004, the Eagle Academy family has grown to encompass a total of three schools in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens, and is expanding its vision nationally.
The Eagle Academy for Young Men, the first all-boys public high school in New York City in over thirty years, is a nurturing institution which believes that excellence, both in character and scholarship, opens doors and provides a bridge to equality. The Eagle Academies represent a partnership between students, school staff, parents, mentors, and community partners, who are all committed to the guiding principles of academic excellence, leadership and character development. These principles are supported by our core initiatives of mentoring, community service, extended day activities, Saturday Institute, summer programs, and parental involvement. The first Eagle Academy for Young Men was established as part of New York City’s twenty-first century high school reform initiative, an accomplishment achieved through a unique partnership with One Hundred Black Men, Inc. After five years of sharing space with the Bronx School for Law, Government & Justice, it has since moved into its own, state of the art facility.
Prior to becoming principal of Eagle, David served as the Founding Principal of The Bronx School for Law, Government & Justice. This theme-based high school provided a unique opportunity for him to combine his law and education background. During his tenure, David helped spearhead a community-wide effort to secure a permanent home for the school. As a result, Bronx Law is now housed in a $75 million, state of the art facility, representing an unprecedented partnership between the criminal justice community and an inner-city high school.
David is a graduate of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey and received his Juris Doctorate from St. John’s University. He earned his Educational Administration and Supervision certification in only one semester by attending three colleges: Brooklyn College, City College and Baruch College.
David and his wife Marion reside in New Jersey. They have four children, Jamaal, Aaliyah, Ali and Malcolm Rashaad, and one grandchild, Hayleigh.
Ericka Pittman | VP of Brand Strategy | Blue Flame
It has been a 13 year adventure since her graduation in 1998 with a degree in Corporate Communications, but Ericka Pittman has risen to a position in Senior Marketing Management overseeing brand strategy at Blue Flame (a Sean Combs Enterprises company), reporting to the EVP/GM of The Blue Flame Agency/Bad Boy Worldwide. Her current duties include everything from staff development, and training to brand positioning, innovation, revenue forecasting and strategic process streamlining.
Blue Flame is a leading boutique firm providing expert capabilities in the areas of Influencer Marketing, Social Diffusion, and Advertising. Ms. Pittman joined Blue Flame in March of 2009 as Vice President of Brand Strategy after previous success within the Radio One Inc, Time Inc, Conde’ Nast, and Vibe Media Group publishing houses. Her work with Blue Flame follows more than 15 years of experience in interactive and publishing media. Prior to joining Blue Flame, Ms. Pittman held positions at iVillage.com ; Honey, Heart &Soul, and Savoy Magazines – Vaguarde Media Group; Baby Talk Magazine – Time Inc; Glamour Magazine – Conde’ Nast; Vibe & Vixen Magazines – Vibe Media Group and GIANT Magazine – Radio One Inc.
“My secret is to become focused and passionate about every brand I represent. By creating a genuine group effort, I inspire my team which in turn produces program effectiveness and positive return on key performance indicators. I develop a deep understanding of my audience, fully comprehend my brand, apply learned and fool-proof techniques ultimately bridging audience connection, into one neat package that generates revenue for the client. I think my unique strength is seeing from a “birds-eye” perspective the opportunities that others do not via multi-dimensional marketing programs which in kind, catapult my clients into new revenue streams and opportunities.”
Ms. Pittman is a member of Advertising Women of New York, Cosmetic Executive Women, lends her time and energy to a number of causes and other organizations, including Dress for Success.
Ms. Pittman holds a Bachelor of Arts in Corporate Communications from Baruch College. She is a native New Yorker with homes in both New Jersey and Maryland.
Laurens Grant | Film Producer | Freedom Riders
LAURENS GRANT (Producer/Director) is a multiple Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, and recent recipient of a doctorate in humanities degree from Governors State University in Illinois.
Grant directed the acclaimed documentary Jesse Owens which had both its US and UK premier on PBS’s American Experience series in 2012.
Grant recently won a Peabody award and a Primetime Emmy as the Producer of the award-winning documentary Freedom Riders, which aired on PBS’ American Experience series. The film is the first feature-length documentary to tell the story of the 1961 freedom rides that helped end segregation in the United States. Grant had the honor of working with Director Stanley Nelson on the film.
Laurens Grant has also co-produced two four-hour specials for PBS: Slavery and the Making of America: Seeds of Destruction for which she won an Emmy; and Latin Music USA: The Chicano Wave.
Grant has also produced and directed documentaries for A&E, The History Channel and has directed films in Africa and Latin America.
Before working in documentary, Grant was a foreign correspondent in Latin America. She was the chief correspondent for the Reuters bureau in Panama, Central America, and wrote about Latin American politics and culture for many publications including Newsweek, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in Texas and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Grant is fluent in Spanish and French and received a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University the Medill School of Journalism.