Chairwoman of the Board/President
Cherese Akers is the founder of We Heard You Non-Profit Organization. She serves as Chairwoman on the board of directors and is Interim Executive Director. Helping people has always been Cherese’s passion, even when she didn’t realize it was her purpose. Working full-time and a full-time mother Cherese received her Associate’s degree from Community College of Philadelphia in Behavioral Health and Human Services as well as becoming certified in Social & Human Services. Working in academics and furthering her education, Cherese took a clinical skills position with Drexel University College of Medicine’s Standardized Patient Program and is currently enrolled in Drexel University’s Behavioral Health Counseling Program. Serving hundreds of community service volunteer hours in her community and completing two internships with two prevalent non-profits in our community was when she realized she wanted to be a chief part of the change she hoped for. Cherese assisted in facilitating mentoring groups, outreach in the community, advocating for violence, HIV, sexual assault, and STD prevention, identifying resources for various client populations, and so much more. Cherese is also a member of The Prestige Society, a membership organization where women have the opportunity to network and build business acumen while striving for success together.
Liz Frisby is a resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She’s currently employed as a Financial Analyst for an Engineering Firm and is a Fox School of Business student at Temple University. Liz has a strong passion for encouraging and inspiring youth to pursue their best life possible. Based on her own childhood experiences of growing up in foster care, Liz feels compelled to be a positive influence in the lives of others. Liz volunteers as a team lead serving on the hospitality team at EPIC Church and offers professional leadership support as the Vice-Chair of the Board for We Heard You.
Constance Dogan has been mentoring since 1999. She is a Temple graduate and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Leadership. She is on the Senior Management team at a 5-star non-profit organization and teaches a monthly seminar on how to prevent violence in the workplace. She is also an author and has released 2 books and is currently working on her 3rd book. Constance awards students that excel in the arts with a yearly financial stipend that comes directly from her book royalties. She proudly serves as a mentor and the Secretary for the board of We Heard You.
Shanell Vicks understands the importance of being self-sufficient. As a small business owner, she recognizes that to be successful, you must be focused, resilient and have a true passion for your work. In addition to her own entrepreneurship, Shanell is currently employed with the City of Wilmington government office as an Earned Income Tax Agent where she is recognized for her ability to analyze and dissect figures as it relates to being in compliance. Shanell holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting and a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Healthcare administration. If assenting to being the Board Treasurer of We Heard You wasn’t plentiful, Shanell has also committed her time to being a mentor of We Heard You.
Kiara Benschop is a Learning and Development Professional and a Travel Entrepreneur who truly has a passion for helping people live the abundant life they deserve. Kiara currently serves as the VP of the Prestige Society a membership organization where women have the opportunity to network and build business acumen while striving for success together. As a child, Kiara always dreamed of ways she could change or make a difference in her community. And vowed to live a life that could be a beacon of light to those from non-ideal backgrounds and a great testimony to those around her. Today she is purposefully living out her dream as an Executive Board Member for We Heard You where she works diligently with the We Heard You Team to volunteer and mentor the young leaders of tomorrow. Together the team works hard instill core values and skills necessary for our young men to thrive as they grow and develop into the men of purpose they were destined to be.
Chris Woods currently serves as the Executive Vice President of the National Union for Hospital & Health Care Employees, District 1199C in Philadelphia, PA. Chris started his career with National Union for Hospital & Health Care Employees in September of 2007 as field organizer. He began moving up the ranks in July of 2011 as the Organizing Director for District 1199C; one month later he was appointed the Executive Vice President Hospital Division. In April of 2013 he was elected by the members of District 1199C as Executive Vice President of 1199C Hospital Division. Executive Vice President Woods is one of the youngest trustees to serve on the Philadelphia AFL-CIO board. Chris also serves as a trustee to several of the Union’s Taft Harley Funds. Executive Vice President Woods grew up in North Philadelphia, where he was raised by his grandmother Emma Woods. He is a devoted Husband and a Father of two. Chris received his BS in Sports Administration from Edinboro University in May of 2007. He currently serves as the Co-Chair to the Philadelphia Working Families and he is also an Executive Board member to the Philadelphia Jobs with Justice and Philadelphia’s Prison Board. Lastly, EVP Woods is the Co-Founder of the Thomas & Woods Foundation, which serves underprivileged youth in Philadelphia through sports camps and educational scholarships.
Isaiah Thomas is a coach, educator and mentor from Philadelphia, PA. He currently serves as the Director of Community Affairs for the City Controller’s Office and the Co-Founder of the Thomas & Woods Foundation. As a former high school and college student athlete, Thomas is passionate about mentoring youth through sports. Thomas is the Athletic Director, Head Boys Basketball coach and Softball coach at Sankofa Freedom Academy. He is also the President of the Coaches Association for Public League Boys Basketball where he fundraises for the All Public Game (Public League All-Star Game) and he founded and helps manage the inaugural and newly created website for Public League Boys Basketball. Thomas also holds several leadership positions. Thomas currently serves on the Mayors Commission for African American Men where he is a Co-Chair. Thomas is a Bme Community Leader, Urban Philadelphia Professional Network (UPPN) Connector and a Mentor Instructor in Universal’s From Boys to Men Program. Thomas is a Board Member for Year-Up Philadelphia, Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia and he sits on the Steering Committee for Men Can (Stand against domestic violence). Thomas previously served as Associate Dean of Students at Sankofa Freedom Academy and an Adjunct Professor in the Human Studies Department at Lincoln University. He was also the Board Chair of Rising Sons, Inc., an organization that seeks to empower inner-city youth by providing resources and positive role-models, a Philly Roots Fellow, and a New Leaders Council of Philadelphia Fellow and Board Member. For fourteen consecutive summers, Thomas was involved with Freedom School programs in various capacities. Through this experience, he has sought to instill the meaning and value of servant leadership to children throughout country. His roles have included Project Director and Ella Baker Consultant/Trainer for the Children’s Defense Fund and Communities in Schools. He is also a former Consultant/Trainer for the United Way and has been employed by various other charitable organizations. From 2009-2010, Thomas was a Legislative Assistant to former State Representative Tony Payton Jr., where he provided constituent service to the families and youth of the Frankford community. Through this position, he learned the difference he could make as an elected official with a servant-leader mindset. At age 26, he decided to run for City Council At-Large and as the youngest candidate running, gained more than 31,000 votes in the May, 2011 Municipal Primary. He ran again at the age of 30 and gained more than 47,000 votes in the May, 2015 Municipal Primary.Thomas is alum of Frankford High School and Penn State University, where he received his Bachelor’s of Science in Psychological and Social Behavior with a minor in English. He also holds a Master’s degree in Education from Lincoln University.