So Others Ascend Righteously
Kimberly A. Collins, MFA, founded SOAR in 1990 after working as a teacher and bearing witness to the trauma, conflict, and confusion some of her young students faced. Ms. Collins is a published poet, writer and professor of English at Howard University who created SOAR’s six and eight-week workshops that use her trademarked Writing Training Wheels™ included in her workbook: Choose You! Wednesday Wisdom’s to Wake Your Soul! SOAR seeks to target BIPOC young women ages 18 to 26 who are out of work, out of school, attending adult literacy programs, in returning citizen programs, young women aging out of foster care, teen-mom facilities and other community groups as needed. SOAR seeks support for its Writing for Healing workshops and annual My Daughter’s Power Circle Retreat which is the culminating activity of its six and eight-week writing workshops. The Power Circle is transformative in its design to catch young women at pivotal moments in their lives to impact choices that affect their physical and mental well-being by connecting them to Mother Mentors who volunteer to provide their mentees a continuum of care.
April E. Baskin, HCCP, TCS, CPM Candidate, is the Founder and Owner, of ALT Tax Services for the past 15 years. She is a Property Manager at Roundtree Residences for the past 10 years. She is a Howard University Alumni committed to motivating, educating, and mentoring young ladies to encourage them that all career avenues are achievable with knowledge, drive, and commitment.
Margery Hannah, MFA is a writer with several years' experience in program development and management within the nonprofit sector. An ardent supporter of education, Margery has experience teaching K-12 English throughout NYC. She holds a bachelor's degree in English, Literature, and Ethnic Studies from Wichita State University, where she received multiple scholarships and English departmental honors; an MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from Stony Brook University; and an MA in Aging Studies from Wichita State University. She is a McNair Scholar alumna whose scholarly research helped propel financial literacy course requirements for Kansas high school graduates. Margery worked as a ghostwriter many years and currently keeps a multi-genre blog called The Literary Purveyor.
Dr. James Austin is the founder of the JFA Institute which he launched 2003.
Prior to that, he was the Director of the Institute of Crime, Justice and Corrections at theGeorge Washington University, and Executive Vice President for the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. He began his career in corrections with the Illinois Department of Corrections at Stateville and Joliet Penitentiaries. He received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Davis.
He has worked with a number of state and local adult and juvenile justice
systems to develop population projections, risk assessment systems, custody classification systems and program evaluations. Relative to pretrial risk assessment systems he developed and/or evaluated such systems for states of Nevada, Virginia, and Kentucky, and the counties of Montgomery (MD), Baltimore (MD), Broward (FL), Harris (TX), San Francisco (CA), and Bexar (TX).
He has received numerous awards including the American Correctional
Association’s Peter P. Lejins Research Award, the Western Society of Criminology Paul Tappin award for outstanding contributions in the field of criminology, and the .American Society of Criminology’s Marguerite Q. Warren And Ted B. Palmer Differential Intervention Award.
Dr. Nicole Watford is a passionate educator who recently earned her doctorate to ensure the educational experiences of underserved students are more equitable. While she currently works as an Associate at FourPoint Education Partners to empower education and community leaders by helping them strengthen school and system capacity to promote success for every student, it was her role as an English instructor at Morgan State University for over a decade that inspired her to serve as a SOAR board member.
When her students were required to write a personal narrative, it often came with a little resistance. However, upon completing the assignment, it seemed almost therapeutic and transformative for many students. For some, that one essay was healing; for some, it offered clarity; and, for others, it offered a clear path forward to reaching their goals. Writing is many things to many people, and I am confident that those we have an opportunity to work with at SOAR will be better for the experience of sharing their story.
Melane Conyers-Ausbrooks brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the board of SOAR, having served in multiple legal positions in the last twenty years. She currently serves as legal counsel for the National Credit Union Administration. In this role, she ensures that the agency's staff and leadership govern themselves legally and ethically.
Before serving on this board, she has held legal positions at the Fairfax County Attorney Office, the National Association of Federal Credit Union and CitiMortgage, Inc. These positions have allowed her to understand legal issues and support teams in a manner that increases productivity.
Mrs. Conyers-Ausbrooks is a highly skilled and innovative leader. She successfully implemented and led initiatives resulting in increased awareness of the African-American experience. In April 2020, she wrote an editorial about the stress of being a mother of an African-American teenage son, that was received with critical acclaim within and outside her agency.
Mrs. Conyers-Ausbrooks earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Maryland and her Juris Doctorate from the Howard University School of Law. She is a member of the Maryland Bar Association. In addition to her professional credentials, Mrs. Conyers-Ausbrooks is a Diamond Life member of Delta Theta Sigma Sorority, Inc. She resides in Washington, DC, with her husband of twenty-six years and her two children.