African American Leadership Council

Like systemic health inequities, inadequate end-of-life options in the African American community have dramatically impacted our social and economic viability. The African American Leadership Council is taking an active leadership role in changing this by partnering with national organizations, noted scholars, and community activists to help find culturally relevant solutions. Our goal is to empower and educate our communities about the value of preparation and to better advocate for ourselves and our loved ones. Planning equals peace!  To learn more about and to get involved in the Council’s work, follow us on Facebook.

The Compassion & Choices community mourns the loss of Dr. Omega Silva, African American Leadership Council member, who died on April 2, 2020. Read more about her life here and our tribute to her here.

Bobbie Alexander, MBA

Bobbie Alexander has been an employee of the City and County of Denver since 2006 where she currently serves as the Special Projects Manager for the Mayor’s Office of Social Equity and Innovation. Bobbie is honored to currently serve on the Denver African American Commission and on the Denver Black Reparations Council.

Dr. Gregory Bolden

Dr. Gregory Bolden is a nationally recognized consultant in men’s health, community organizing, cancer, cardiology, and diabetes. He currently serves as the Community Initiatives Program Manager for The Center for Black Health & Equity. He has 30 years of experience in Public Health and Community Medicine. He served as a co-principal investigator, researcher and health educator for the American Cancer Society, and advisor for the Congressional Black Caucus Health BrainTrust.

Dr. DeLon Canterbury

Dr. DeLon Canterbury, PharmD, BCGP, is President/CEO of GeriatRx, Inc. As a  board-Certified Geriatric Pharmacist, Dr. Canterbury has a vision to reduce over medication of senior adults by implementing medication action plans and drug screenings for geriatric patients in cooperation with patient’s providers. This novel approach of instituting personalized care improves patient satisfaction and wellness.  Founder of the Deprescribing Accelerator, Dr. Canterbury trains prescribers, nurses and pharmacists in this innovative approach to holistic wellness for older adults. Dr. Canterbury was a recent TEDx Talk presenter on the topic of “The Power of Deprescribing”, and presented at the Aging Life Care Association’s regional conference in 2022. He was voted as one of the Top 50 “most influential pharmacists” from the Pharmacy Podcast Network in 2023, and is a recent recipient of the “Advocate for Aging” award given by the American Society on Aging.

james farnum

James Farnum, MBA

As President of OneAccord Health (OAH), James Farnum leads the organization with strategic vision and expertise. OAH is dedicated to advance care planning and palliative care and provides education, training, and patient engagement strategies to healthcare stakeholders. With over 30 years of experience in finance, business development, account management, sales, marketing, and training, James brings a wealth of knowledge to his role. He holds a B.B.A. in Accounting and Computers from Pace University and an M.B.A. in Marketing Management from St. John’s University in New York City. James is committed to driving growth and aligning business strategies with the organization’s goals to ensure continued success.

Ashley Johnson

Ashley Johnson is the current President of National End of Life Doula Alliance. She belongs to the Cremation Association of North America (CANA), the National Funeral Home Alliance (NHFA), the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association (ICCFA), and the Florida Palliative Care Coalition. She also launched Loyal Hands, an End-of-Life consulting agency.

Channte’ Keith

Director of Operations, Center for Black Health & Equity, North Carolina

Channté is a public health activist, trainer, racial equity champion, and a breast cancer survivor. For 15 years, she has worked on issues that impact African American health. Keith has traveled across the country to provide training and technical assistance to federal and state agencies, faith-based institutions, appointed and elected officials, and HBCUs. She serves as a board member for Breast Cancer Action, Compassion and Choices, and Boards of the Community Advocacy Committee (CAC) for Wake County, North Carolina, and Hands of Protection.

Joél Simone Maldonado

Joél Simone Maldonado is a licensed funeral director, insurance agent and sacred grief practitioner. She specializes in helping individuals, families, businesses and governmental agencies navigate uncomfortable and difficult conversations about death, dying, end of life and funeral and burial planning. She was born in Europe and raised in Beaufort, South Carolina, the heart of Gullah and Geechee culture. Spirituality, the sacredness of death, caring for those in transition, the deceased and supporting her community through grief have always been a huge part of her life. Her professional approach is deeply rooted in ancient and ancestral wisdom passed down from generation to generation.

During her decade of service in the funeral service industry, her unique background and professional experiences are reflected in her style of care and comfort that guides those that she serves toward healing through journeys with grief. Her life’s work is to educate everyone – regardless of faith, race, age or status – that death, dying and grief are sacred and transformative to our journeys as human beings.

Reverend Charles W. McNeill, Jr.

Senior Pastor, Unity Baptist Church, Maryland

Pastor McNeill is a Past President of the National Capital Baptist Convention, Washington, DC & Vicinity. Pastor McNeill is also Chair of the 2022 National Baptist Convention, USA Annual Session at the National Harbor, and President of the Washington Baptist Ministers Conference of Washington, DC & Vicinity. He serves on the Executive Board of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., the First Vice Moderator of the Mt. Bethel Baptist Association, the Faith-Based Liaison to Prince George’s, Maryland – County Executive, Angela Alsobrooks’, Chairman of the Board of the United Community Against Poverty (UCAP), and MSNBC as a commentator.

Ottamissiah “Missy” Moore

Nurse, Consultant & Community Activist, Washington, DC

Missy is a resident of Washington DC. Her nursing experience and knowledge in nursing spans over 30 years. She currently is Director of Staff Development at Bridgepoint Nursing and Rehabilitation Center at Capitol Hill. Ms. Moore has extensive experience in Care at the end of life. Moore is a past president of the National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses and a Lifetime member of the National Black Nurses Association. She served on the board for the District of Columbia State Board of Nursing and other appointed committee positions including, National Council of State Boards of Nursing, PN NCLEX Item Selection Committee, Commission of Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools, LPN Standards Committee, and National League for Nursing Licensed Practical Nurse Ad Hoc Committee.

Beverly Morgan

Nurse, Entrepreneur & Community Activist, Washington, DC

Beverly is a passionate community activist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. She is the owner of two private duty home care agencies that provide comprehensive home care services to seniors and has given generously to students pursuing careers in nursing. Beverly also works tirelessly as faculty for Vitas Innovative Hospice, traveling the country providing education on End-of-Life Care and Palliative Services. She also provides community outreach and education to churches and senior centers in Washington, DC on Medicare vs. Medicaid and Advanced Senior Planning. In addition to her work with Compassion and Choices, Beverly serves as a board member for several healthcare organizations such as, the National Association of Licensed Practical Nurses, NALPN Education Foundation, Maryland Licensed Practical Nurses Association, Black Nurses of Southern Maryland, Black Nurses Rock, Foundation and is a member of National Association Health Service Executives, Washington, D.C., chapter.

Shawn Perry

Executive Producer & Host, The Senior Zone, Washington, D.C.

Shawn Perry is the executive producer and host of The Senior Zone, a weekly radio program dedicated to serving the needs of the older adult community. Shawn has worked tirelessly to promote older adults’ well-being and created a forum to provide relevant information, encouragement, and guidance. Uniting seniors, age 50+, with tips and directions to senior programs and services, tools and resources, events, advice and cultural forums. The Senior Zone serves as an invaluable and versatile resource each Monday at 10:00am EST on WYCB, 1340AM. Shawn is a retired military officer, serving nearly 22 years in the US Air Force and holds a BS from the University of Maryland. He has lived in the Washington, D.C., area for 32 years.

Reverend Madison Shockley

Pastor, Pilgrim United Church of Christ, California

Rev. Shockley is the pastor of the Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Carlsbad, CA. He brings to Pilgrim Church a wealth of experience from his work in the political, non-profit and media environments. Originally ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1979, he served churches in St. Louis, Denver and Seattle. In 1990, he joined the United Church of Christ when he accepted the call to the Congregational Church of Christian Fellowship, UCC, in Los Angeles. In Los Angeles, he became a leader in the aftermath of the 1992 riots by organizing and hosting an interracial dialogue to heal the broken community. Along with performing his pastoral duties with Pilgrim, Madison serves on the board of directors of American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of San Diego and Imperial Counties and the board of directors of Compassion & Choices. He also writes commentary for various online and print outlets.

shaleka smith

Shaleka Smith

Shaleka Smith, the writer behind “Grief, I Didn’t Sign Up for This,” has compiled a collection of stories from thirty-three individuals recounting their personal experiences with grief. Shaleka’s objective is to establish a supportive environment where individuals can openly express their grief, whether in a group or one-on-one setting. As an associate minister at her local church, Shaleka frequently offers spiritual guidance. Through her initiative, “Grief Talks,” Shaleka strives to normalize discussions about grief.

Al Thomas

Newspaper Publisher & Entrepreneur, Pennsylvania

Thomas co-founded the South Jersey Journal, a monthly publication that serves a culturally diverse Southern New Jersey footprint. He currently operates as President & CEO of the South Jersey Journal. Thomas began his distinguished career as the Associate Publisher of Grio’ Magazine. He then joined the Philadelphia Tribune Newspaper as Director of Marketing & Advertising, where he was instrumental in creating local, regional, and national business partnerships. Thomas continues to extend his successes beyond publishing. He was a selected member of the Wilt Chamberlain Stamp Committee, founder of the Alice Coachman and Paul Roberson Field Day, member of the Mid-Atlantic Community Publishers Association, National Newspapers Publishers Association, and Gloucester County NAACP. Thomas is currently a board member of the Philadelphia Tribune Trust.

Ricardo D. Thomas

Registered Financial Consultant and Public Speaker, Louisiana

Ricardo Thomas is a practicing financial consultant and is the president of Thomas-Waddell & Associates, Inc., a financial consulting and asset management firm with clients across the country. He is a Registered Financial Consultant and Chartered Federal Employee Benefits Consultant who has been a practicing financial consultant for over 35 years. He is a former instructor at Delgado Community College, where he taught for 10 years several financial-related courses he developed. He also taught at the University of New Orleans as a part of their Project Pass program. He is also a former contributing financial writer for both Perspectives Magazine and Women of Excellence Magazine. His work in the area of personal finance has been featured in the Times-Picayune, New Orleans CityBusiness, New Orleans Tribune, Barnes & Noble bookstore, and other publications across the country.

Ayana Woods, MPH

Ayana Woods, MPH has a BA in Sociology and African American studies from Princeton University and a Master of Public Health in Health Behavior and Health Education from the University of North Carolina. She is a public health professional with over 20 years of experience in developing health education and outreach programs to promote wellness, successful management of chronic illness, and patient empowerment.

She is passionate about addressing health disparities and has created a multitude of culturally appropriate interventions for underserved populations. Ayana has worked with a variety of national and local nonprofit organizations including the The Wallace Foundation, Arthritis Foundation, National Hemophilia Foundation, and End of Life Choices New York. She is currently the Deputy Director of US Advocacy Relations at Bayer Healthcare in Hematology and Cardiovascular Renal Health.

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