Speakers Biographies

Raising My Voice 2015

James Baxter

James Baxter, who likes to refer to himself as a “work in progress,” strives to continuously uncover the potential inside him, and help others realize their potential. He is a highly motivated and humble individual with big goals and big dreams. He currently guest lectures at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and plans on returning to school to finish his college degree. He dreams of running huge workshops to help others be happy and realize their dreams despite barriers. In the past, James has assisted with transitional services programs for incarcerated individuals and helped facilitate anger management and substance abuse workshops. He is very devoted to helping people in his community, and is very excited to be expecting his first child this fall.


Chydé Chapman

Born in Manhattan and raised in Queens, Chydé is currently involved in the STRIVE Program, a program that empowers its participants with the tools and skills to succeed in the workplace. She will graduate from STRIVE with 6 certificates and 4 awards. Chydé strives to find new ways to enrich her mind and body ranging from her fascination for science, to her joy of reading, passion of swimming and love of animals. In anything that she does, Chydé finds herself constantly asking questions. With her strong will and determination, Chydé is committed to finishing whatever she’s started. In the future, Chydé plans on becoming a carpenter, owning her own home, and caring for her pets.


Jamarl Flaherty

Jamarl Flaherty is a charismatic and ambitious young individual with a passion for helping young people promote positivity in their lives and plan for positive futures. He has lived in the Bronx and Harlem, and attended Washington Irving High School, where he played basketball. He currently works at the YMCA, assisting with maintenance projects. Jamarl is very close with his family and has been inspired by many of his family members to eventually become a TSA airport agent. In the future, he dreams of opening up a center in Harlem that provides positive programs and services for teenagers to engage in. He is very passionate about music, and in his free time he enjoys recording his own music.


Otis Johnson

Otis Johnson, a man who dreams of teaching kung fu to the homeless community, is a hard-working, inspiring, and caring individual. Born in Georgia and raised in New Jersey, Otis conveys a warmth and kindness in his manner that extends beyond his work with the homeless, and into his surrounding community. He holds two Associate’s Degrees in Small Business and Modification Behavior. He has been involved with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, worked as a nurse’s aide helping people with HIV, and participated in meditation and tai chi programs. Otis currently volunteers with Exodus Transitional Community, an organization that assists formerly incarcerated individuals with reentry. Additionally, he devotes much of his time to speaking at churches about criminal justice, reentry, and affordable housing. He is very passionate about working with the homeless community and helping people find affordable housing. Otis is currently working on developing a non-profit organization that provides anti-drug and crime related services, and hopes to continue his work as a nurse’s aide and home aide.


Michael Rowe

Michael Rowe, a confident, motivated, and humble father of three, was born and raised in New York. Michael has always been committed to finding opportunities for self improvement. Growing up, Michael was passionate about playing football and dedicated himself to becoming a better player and working hard. His hard work and determination shines in other parts of his life, too. He was a serious student, and with his strong work ethic, he has been able to acquire a Master’s Degree. He has worked with Exodus Transitional Community and is interested in continuing to help his community by becoming a Community Programs Director. In his spare time, Michael continues to work on himself, whether physically or mentally, by going to the gym or reading.


Almond Santos

Almond Santos was born and raised in Harlem and attended Chelsea Vocational High School. He has worked as an urban farmer for Harlem Grown, a non-profit organization devoted to promoting hands-on education for youth in sustainability and nutrition, and just recently started working at Eataly Italian Marketplace. He learned about urban farming while participating in a horticulture program, where he helped convert and cultivate green spaces. He is passionate about standing up for the rights of all people and plans on getting involved in social work. Almond is thoughtful and creative, and in his free time enjoys writing poetry and short stories.

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