From The Fire

The Staff

TOBY SANDERS

Co-Founder

Rev. Toby Sanders is a teacher, motivational speaker, writer, and social activist for educational and economic justice and faith-based economic development. He is an adjunct professor, scholar, youth mentor, board member of Children’s Futures, and former President of the Trenton Board of Education. Rev. Sanders is the founding Pastor of Beloved Community of Trenton, New Jersey. He is an honors graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia and a Masters of Divinity graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary where he received the prestigious Aaron E. Gast Award in Urban Ministry. He studied Religion Ethics and Politics at Princeton University, where he received a Presidential Fellowship.

JACQUELINE GLASS

Co-Founder

Rev. Jacqueline Glass is CEO and Founder  of At The Well Conferences, Inc.  The 501 (c)3 non-profit organization she founded to empower women, particular women of color, who often are on the bottom of the socio-economic ladder.  Workplace challenges for women prompted her to direct energies toward planning conferences that provide empowerment in the areas of finance, health, and spirituality. Since 2009, she has been organizing several successful empowerment events for minority teen girls and women. They include At the Well Young Women’s Leadership Conference and At the Well Young Women’s Leadership Academy at Princeton University in Princeton, NJ.  Her inaugural event for minority boys, From The Fire Leadership Academy For Young Men debuted July  2018.  A graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, she received her Master of Divinity degree in 2003. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Lehman College in 2000 where she graduated with the distinction of Magna Cum Laude.  A licensed minister, she currently serves as Co-Pastor at Central Church, Newark, New Jersey.  A publishing professional, she served as the Editor for two books: Those Preaching Women, Volume 4 (Judson Press: 2003) and Fire in the Well by Henry and Ella Mitchell (Judson Press: 2002). As is representative of her diverse background, Ms. Glass recently retired after 34 years as a court reporter for the New York Supreme Civil Court.

DELROY LINDO, ACTOR and DIRECTOR

Program Chair, FTF Leadership Academy for Young Men

Delroy Lindo has had memorable roles in films such as The Cider House Rules; Heist; and garnered critical acclaim in a trio of films with director Spike Lee, Clockers; Crooklyn and Malcolm X. Other notable films include Wondrous Oblivion; The Core; The One; Gone in 60 Seconds; Ransom; Get Shorty; Romeo Must Die; This Christmas (also as executive producer); the recent remake of Point Break; and Pixar’s Up! He’ll next be seen in the independent films, Malicious and 001LithiumX. On TV, he currently appears as Adrian Boseman in CBS’ The Good Fight (sequel to The Good Wife). He’s featured in TV series such as Believe; The Chicago Code and Kidnapped; and in TV films, such as Soul of The Game; Profoundly Normal; Strange Justice (winning a Peabody Award); & Glory & Honor. He won an NAACP Award for a guest appearance on Law and Order: SVU. On Broadway, Lindo received Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations, playing Herald Loomis in August Wilson’s, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone; and played Walter Lee in the Kennedy Center and Los Angeles productions of A Raisin in the Sun (Helen Hayes Award Nomination and NAACP Image Award, Best Actor). Lindo directed the plays Blue Door and Joe Turner’s Come and Gone at Berkeley Repertory Theater; and won a Los Angeles Theater Weekly Award directing the play, Medal of Honor Rag. Mr. Lindo has an Honorary Doctorate in Arts and Humanities from Virginia Union University; a BFA degree (cum laude) from San Francisco State University; and a MFA from New York University.

DANNY GLOVER, ACTOR, PRODUCER and HUMANITARIAN

Key Note Speaker and Lecturer, FTF Leadership Academy For Young Men

Danny Glover has been a commanding presence on screen, stage and television for more than 25 years. His first leading role was in 1984’s Oscar®-nominated Best Picture Places in the Heart. The following year, Glover starred in two more Best Picture nominees: Peter Weir’s Witness and Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple. In 1987, Glover partnered with Mel Gibson in the first Lethal Weapon film and went on to star in three hugely successful Lethal Weapon sequels. Glover has also invested his talents in more personal projects, including the award-winning To Sleep With Anger, which he executive produced and for which he won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Actor; Bopha!; Manderlay; Missing in America; and the film version of Athol Fugard’s play Boesman and Lena. On the small screen, Glover won an Image Award and a Cable ACE Award and earned an Emmy nomination for his performance in the title role of the HBO movie Mandela. He has also received Emmy nominations for his work in the acclaimed miniseries Lonesome Dove and the telefilm Freedom Song. As a director, he earned a Daytime Emmy nomination for Showtime’s Just a Dream. In 2005, Glover co-founded Louverture Films dedicated to the development and production of films of historical relevance, social purpose, commercial value and artistic integrity. Glover graduated from San Francisco State College and attended The Black Actors’ Workshop, American Conservatory Theatre. He received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts Degree from San Francisco State University in May 1997.

SHURMAN L. RIGGINS

Executive Director and Leadership Instructor

Shurman’s Life Moto is God☆Family☆Country. A former shoe-shine and paper-boy Shurman says “I believe everyone has a Dream and a right to pursue their Dream but not the right to achieve their Dream. I believe that right only comes from the work THEY put in to achieve their Dream. If they are ready to work, FTF is ready to help.”

As Executive Director of From The Fire (FTF) Shurman is focused on helping Young people identify and improve their talents and skills by educating them in Leadership and other life skills that aid them on their Success Journey.

Shurman stresses the importance of Family, Leadership, Emotional Intelligence, Success Principals and Financial Literacy. He is a graduate of Jersey City State College, (New Jersey City University), certified in Leadership, Coaching and Youth Education by the John Maxwell Team® (JMT) and is certified by Success Dynamics International® in Emotional Intelligence. He is a retired 22 ½ year Army Veteran and received numerous military awards and accolades. As an eternal optimist Shurman says his glass is always filled with Mountain Dew and the perpetual learner in him reads up to 50 books a year. For more than 40 years Shurman has worked with individuals, school districts, municipalities, JROTC programs, Youth organizations and corporations to set them all on their Success Journey.

Shurman is the CEO and Founder of two companies, The Riggins Coaching Institute (RCI) and Your Success Image (YSI). RCI provides Life Coaching, Motivational Speaking and Business Coaching services and YSI is dedicated to Teaching, Training and Coaching (TTC®) the Success Principles and Strategies that build a Legacy Mindset and lead to success.  YSI also stresses financial literacy that aids anyone in generating, keeping and passing wealth to their future generations.

Shurman’s favorite scripture is 1st Timothy 5:8 – But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

He has been married for more than 30 years and lives in Lawrenceville, NJ with his wife, they have three children and three grandchildren.

ISAIAH WASHINGTON

Executive Assistant and Lead Teaching Assistant

Isaiah Washington is a member of From The Fire’s 2018 Inaugural Class.  He is a rising senior at American University in Washington, D.C. He was accepted into its Honors College and Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars Program, the institution’s premier Honors community through which he is provided full tuition. He is majoring in Literature with a minor in Political Science. As one of the university’s Honors Program Associates, he serves as a teaching assistant for the Honors Complex Problems Course, “Black is Beautiful,” cultivates an inclusive living-learning community, and champions scholarship through co-curricular and extracurricular activities. He is also a Copy Editor for The Blackprint which is a student publication that centralizes minority voices, a member of the NAACP chapter, and the Editor for Circle K, a community service organization. He serves on the institution’s Literature Department Outreach Committee, advising the Director of Outreach, Department co-chairs, Admissions Office, and Career Center. He was elected to be a Student Media Board co-chair, a role in which he supervises all ten of the student media organizations on campus. He intends to pursue a career in journalism, law, and public policy.

CARLA JONES BROWN

Director of Curriculum and Critical Writing Instructor

Professor Jones Brown is the Pastor/Head of Staff at Arch Street Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, PA and served as the Pastor for Encouragement, Inspiration and Intercession previously.  Professor Jones Brown received her Bachelors from Rutgers University followed by her Masters in English/Language Arts Teacher Education and her Masters of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary.

DUANE BOWEN

Critical Thinking Instructor

Duane is a retired US Air Force officer with over 30 years of experience finding solutions and creating value as a coach, logistician, and emergency manager in both the Department of Defense and First Responder communities.  Duane holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Grambling State University, and a M.A. in Computer Resources and Information Management from Webster University.  His analytical but practical approach serves to simplify the difficult and helps you see what others don’t.  Duane is a Speaker, Trainer & Coach with the John Maxwell Team™ and is pursuing certification as a Human Behavior consultant (DISC).  Duane’s goal in life is to help folks be their best selves and organizations to soar.

FRANCIS JEAN-BAPTISTE

Teaching Assistant

Francis Jean-Baptiste is a graduate of FTF and is currently a pre-business student at the C.T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration specializing in Management.

JANEEN BOWEN

Get Your L.E.A.N. On Instructor

Janeen is an Air Force Veteran and graduate of the United States Air Force Academy.  She has an MBA and has worked in private industry and civil service.  Janeen has been a realtor for the past 16 years.  She is a certified Health Coach and Personal Trainer, and a Performance Enhancement Specialist.  Janeen helps folks prioritize self-care so they can live their best lives.  As the owner of Teknyqe Health and Lifestyle Coaching, Janeen supports, motivates and encourages individuals, groups and organizations to balance their health by using the L.E.A.N. Method (Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitude, and Nutrition).

JASON MCNATT

Director of Counselors and Social Awareness Instructor

In 2011, Jason McNatt began his professional career with the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) as an elementary school paraprofessional and teacher at Metropolitan Lighthouse Charter School (METLCS) in the Bronx. His first five years were spent working with students ranging from 1st to 3rd grade, before being promoted to the role of Middle School Dean of Scholars. Under the position of Middle School Dean of Scholars, Jason would spend the next seven years achieving academic and behavioral success at METLCS, where he helped in improving state test scores by 30% while decreasing suspension rates by 50%. His ability to be completely transparent with students and parents have been of a great benefit to him, in building and sustaining great relationships amongst the school community. As a result, he was promoted to his current position of Director of School Culture. Jason holds an Associate of Arts (A.A) degree from Hostos Community College of New York, and a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree from Lehman College of New York, where he graduated summa cum laude. HE also holds a Master of Public Affairs and Administration (M.P.A) degree from Metropolitan College of New York, where he graduated summa cum laude, and was inducted into the Pi Alpha Alpha, the international Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration.

Jason is currently pursuing his  Doctorate in Executive Leadership (Ed.D.) at Iona College in New Rochelle, NY.

Jason’s favorite quote is:  “A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”

MYLES MELLVILLE

Director of Logistics and Financial Literacy Instructor

Bio TBP

ROMAN RHONE

Teaching Assistant

Roman is currently a Business Administration major at the University of Michigan with an interest in Finance.

SHERWIN ALEXANDER

Teaching Assistant

Sherwin Alexander is a graduate of From The Fire’s 2019 class and is currently pursuing an Associate Degree in Agribusiness Entrepreneurship at Sir Arthur Lewis Community College in his native Saint Lucia. While growing up, he realized he had a passion for helping others and volunteerism. These interests continued in secondary school prompting him to vie for and succeed in becoming the President of the Corinth Secondary School’s Students’ Council. During his tenure as President, his administration was recognized for having the most active students’ council by the President of the Saint Lucia National Students’ Council. He later became the President of the Junior Achievers Club at the school and resurrected the Duke of Edinburgh International Award scheme (Dukers) and became its President.  The group was later recognized as the most active Dukers team in Saint Lucia. Through his love for volunteering, Sherwin became increasingly renowned and gained more knowledge and experience.  With this vast experience and knowledge, he began presenting on the topic of leadership. Gradually advancing in his level of participation in the school, he became a “Prefect” and then “Head Prefect” at the Corinth Secondary School.

As a very talented individual with a love for music, he was a part-time musician playing in the school’s marching band and music band. At the Corinth secondary school graduation, Sherwin was honored as Student of the Year, Soccer Player of the Year, Best Male School Student Representative, Principal’s Prize and Spirit of Corinth. His involvement in youth development and advocacy extended beyond the walls of Corinth secondary school and continued in his community and nation at large where he partook in youth work, with a multitude of organizations.

Sherwin is the former Assistant Treasurer of the Gros Islet South Youth and Sports Council, the former 2nd Vice President of the Babonneau Youth and Sports Council, a member of the Problem Resolution Committee of the Babonneau Youth Synergy youth group where he was awarded for his Valuable Contribution to the organization. During his secondary school career, he was selected as the 2019 Male U.S. Youth Ambassador for St. Lucia. Additionally, he was chosen to go to Dubai to represent Saint Lucia at the special Olympics world games as a unified football player in 2019, where he got the privilege to meet Drogba the legendary footballer alongside other football legends and celebrities. Sherwin was awarded as the “Voice for Change” at the Babonneau Community Youth Awards Ceremony in 2020. His dedication to service and youth development led him to capture the “Most Outstanding Student Leader” Award at the St. Lucia National Youth Awards in 2020. Consequent of his volunteerism, he was granted the opportunity to be one of the first Saint Lucians to graduate from the From The Fire Leadership Academy at Princeton University where he is now a Teaching Assistant.  Sherwin currently serves as the outgoing President of the Saint Lucia National Students’ Council and he shares his wisdom with youth on topics such as Leadership and communication etc. In line with his perpetual love for music, he is an upcoming sound technician.

THOMAS HOLMES

How To Select The Right College, Debt Free Instructor

One of the major decisions aspiring scholars (and their parents) will make are the educational pathways they choose on their journey to greatness. What is your vision, plan and process for choosing the right college and paying for it debt free?
Professor Holmes will provide scholars (and their parents) with the tools and proven strategies to help them navigate the admissions process, financial aid, and valuable tips for winning scholarships for a debt free education. Can you see it? This is not only possible, but probable if you are committed to putting in the work!  Rev. Prof. Thomas N. Holmes is an educator, motivational speaker, pastoral leader, deejay, and founder and CEO of Powerful Visions LLC, an educational and community-based consulting organization. He has over 27 years of experience in higher education from Rutgers University as an Associate Director in Financial Aid and technology systems. He is the Vice President of Making A Better Tomorrow Foundation, which empowers young people today with resources to build community and a brighter future. Rev. Holmes holds a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers College, a Master of Divinity degree from New Brunswick Theological Seminary, and a Master of Public Administration degree from Rutgers-Newark School of Public Affairs and Administration. His doctoral work at Rutgers University-Camden is in the Childhood Studies Department focused on how technology influences adolescent spiritual formation. Some of his major written works include: Faith Seeking Understanding, How Technology Influences Spiritual Formation within Adolescent Youth Identity Formation and another provocative work, An Afrocentric Worldview of African-American Youth, which argued the need for rituals and cultural connections between adolescents and their African heritage. His website can be accessed at www.powerfulvisions.org. His Facebook, Twitter and Instagram handle is @djprophetic1.

TREY VANCE, Bermuda

Teaching Assistant

Trey Vance was born and raised in Bermuda and started his academia career at Paget Primary.  He  then graduated and attended middle school and graduated high school in June 2022 from Impact Mentoring Academy as a Citizenship Leader with Honors.  Trey is a former graduate of From The Fire Program 2019 and returned as a Teacher’s Assistant in 2021.  He will again fulfill this roll in 2022.  Trey is a certified Scuba Diver and is now studying to be a Master Diver. He will intern in August 2022 with Waterstart to achieve his Master Diver Designation.  Trey is also working towards achieving his Gold Medal Duke of Edinburgh Award after successfully completing his Silver Medal Award.  Trey will be attending Word of Life Bible College in Pottersville, NY in August of 2022 for a year with plans to attend Howard University to study Engineering in the Fall of 2023.  Trey is looking forward to fulfilling his Teacher’s Assistant role in 2022 and is grateful for the opportunity.