Independent Sector Announces Inaugural 2022 Cohort of Bridging Fellows

Forty changemakers from Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Dallas will learn, amplify, and share adaptive skills to help organizations and communities bridge across various divides

Note: This press release date was May 2, 2022

(WASHINGTON, May 2, 2022) – Independent Sector, a national membership organization bringing together a diverse community of changemakers at nonprofits, foundations, and corporate giving programs working to strengthen civil society, announced today the inaugural 2022 cohort of its Bridging Fellows program.

The two-year program, generously supported by Walmart, is designed to give Fellows the space, skill-building opportunities, and resources to socialize and embed bridging as a core competency in their organizations and communities. Fellows will learn, amplify, and share adaptive leadership skills to engage in challenging conversations; solve divisive, complex issues with other people in a constructive manner; and manage positive social change.

The program, intended for leaders whose work has local communities at the core, focuses on bridging specific areas of division, including ideological, racial, socioeconomic, and geographical.

“We are incredibly honored to host changemakers from Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Dallas in our first Bridging Fellows program, aimed at addressing the deep divisions that have plagued our country since its founding, said IS President and CEO Daniel J. Cardinali.

“In addition to the skills and insights the Fellows will gain from a number of incredible facilitators and experts to tackle our nation’s various divides, these bridge-builders from Dallas, Pittsburgh, and Chicago will also build relationship and community with one another in order to build out the bridge-building field across these rich and diverse cities and communities.”

Independent Sector’s partners and facilitators for the Bridging Fellows program include:

The 40 Bridging Fellows, selected from more than 105 applicants for the program, include activists, community residents, organization leaders, community liaisons, youth development coordinators, program officers, case managers, community organizers, educators, and human resource professionals.

Through their participation, Fellows will receive capacity and skill-building activities and instructions around bridging frameworks, share their bridging expertise with the broader social sector, and deploy these practices in their organizations and communities. As a cohort, they also commit to share their learnings and deepen their connections with each other across sectors, institutions, and geographies.

Below are the members of the 2022 Bridging Fellows program. Refer to Independent Sector’s Bridging Fellows web page for more information on the Fellows, as well as program FAQs and Fellowship goals.

  • Jorge Arteaga, Midwest Program Manager, Young Invincibles, Chicago, Illinois
  • Bianca Avery, Texas State Coordinator, Campus Vote Project, Dallas, Texas
  • Christine Balarezo, Intuitive Spiritual Coach & Consultant, Christine Balarezo LLC, Dallas, Texas
  • Jamil Bey, President & CEO, UrbanKind Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Alvin C. Bibbs, Sr., President/CEO, Justice Journey Alliance, Leadership Foundation of Chicago, Illinois
  • Millicent Boykin, Director of Statewide Initiatives, OneStar Foundation, Dallas, Texas
  • Fatima Bunafoor, Director of Talent and Equity, Pittsburgh Arts Cohort, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Dania Carter, Founder/CEO, Heart of Courage, Dallas, Texas
  • X Cornute, Co-Director/Program Manager, House of Rebirth / Youth 2 Power, Dallas, Texas
  • Sarah Cotton Nelson, On personal sabbatical, formerly with Communities Foundation of Texas, Dallas, Texas
  • Nathan Darity, Executive Director, The Global Switchboard, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Joseph Darwin, Director of Community Outreach, BridgeBuilders, Dallas, Texas
  • Chelsea Dennis, Associate Director of Volunteer Engagement, Year Up, Chicago, Illinois
  • Abigail Endashaw, Summer Service National Coordinator, Mennonite Central Committee, Dallas, Texas
  • Pamela Fields, Founder, Visible Unity, Inc., Dallas, Texas
  • David Gianfrancesco, Vice President, Strategy and Innovation, Safer Foundation, Chicago, Illinois
  • Jerry Hawkins, Executive Director, Dallas Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation, Dallas, Texas
  • Kirk Holbrook, Director, Community Engagement Center, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Jeimy Ibarra, Deputy Organizing Director, PA United, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Riley Jones, Director of Ventures, CityBridge Education, Chicago, Illinois
  • Imran Khan, CEO & Co-Founder, Embarc, Inc., Chicago, Illinois
  • Antong Lucky, President, Urban Specialists, Dallas, Texas
  • Susie Marshall, Executive Director, GROW North Texas, Dallas, Texas
  • Shareefah Mason, Associate Dean of Educator Certification, Dallas College, Dallas, Texas
  • Marjorie Murat, CEO, Dallas Afterschool, Dallas, Texas
  • Nitika Nautiyal, Co-Founder, Chief Strategy and Development Officer, Business Services Collective, Chicago, Illinois
  • Nicole Polk, Secretary, Suits For Judah, Dallas, Texas
  • Kellee Randle, Physician/Consultant, Equity Ventures Plus, LLC, Dallas, Texas
  • William Paul Haalilio Ferran Reeves, Community Policy Organizer, Casa San Jose, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Joel Rodriguez, Community Organizer, Southwest Organizing Project, Chicago, Illinois
  • Rodrigua Ross, Vice President – Diversity Equity & Inclusion, YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas, Dallas, Texas
  • Zena Ruiz, Community Pollinator / Teaching Artist / Council Member, YMCA, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Deondre’ Rutues, Community Engagement Specialist/Research Scholar, New York University School of Law, Chicago, Illinois
  • Fitzhugh Shaw, Farmer / Re-wilder, Oasis Farm & Fishery / Braddock Food Collaborative Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Amanda Shields, Vice President, Human Resources, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas, Dallas, Texas
  • Amber Sims, CEO/Executive Director, Young Leaders Strong City, Dallas, Texas
  • Celeste Smith, Senior Program Officer for Arts & Culture, The Pittsburgh Foundation, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • James Whitfield, Consultant, Self Employed, Dallas, Texas
  • Dani Wilson, Strategic Director, Cancer & Environment Network of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Janel Young, Community Artist/Muralist, UrbanKind Institute, Chicago, Illinois

Independent Sector is the only national membership organization that brings together a diverse community of changemakers at nonprofits, foundations, and corporate giving programs to ensure all people in the United States thrive. Learn more at

Media Contact:


Bradley Wong

Types: Press Release
TAGS: Bridging Fellows, Chicago, Dallas, Independent Sector, nonprofits, Pittsburgh, social change, Walmart
Global Topics: Bridging Fellows, Bridging Fellowship, Community, Dialogue, Dignity, Equity, Identity, Innovation, Purpose, Race, Equity, and Inclusion, Voice
Focus Areas: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion