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NELP Class I (2009 - 2010)

Mark Adams

General Manager, AHI Construction, Inc.


Mark Adams works as the General Manager of AHI Construction Inc. in Sacramento, California. In 2009, AHI Construction won an award from the Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce as one of the fastest growing minority owned companies in the region. Prior to starting AHI Construction, Mr. Adams held various positions at the Hewlett-Packard Company in Roseville, California as Supply Chain Buyer, Customer Support Agreement Specialist and Data Conversion Support Agreement Specialist. He served as Senator for the Associated Students of the University of California, Davis where he developed and administered an $8.5 million dollar budget and authored legislation to be voted on by Senate members. Mr. Adams won both the African Continuum Leadership Award and the Outstanding African American Leadership Award from the University of California, Davis. AHI Construction was recently selected to receive the 2009 Small Business of the Year award by the Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology, and a Construction Management Certificate from the University of California, Davis.  He also holds an Executive MBA from CSUS.

Naomi Amaha

Senior Director of State Policy Initiatives, SouthWest Affiliate of the American Heart Association


Naomi Amaha-Gollnick is the Senior Director of State Policy Initiatives for the SouthWest Affiliate of the American Heart Association (AHA). In her role, Naomi oversees state government relations operations across six states. She previously served as the Oklahoma Government Relations Director for the AHA and successful secured passage of legislation regarding quality systems to care, access to care and obesity prevention.  Prior to joining the AHA, Naomi served as a Communications Analyst for the URS Corporation in Washington D.C. Additionally while working in the D.C. area,  she worked as a  Legislative Associate at Stateside Associates, one the leading state and local government affairs firm in the country. Her careen in government relations advocacy began when she served as a Legislative Assistant to California State Assembly Member Joe Coto. Mrs. Amaha-Gollnick holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology and Communications from the University of California, Davis, and hopes to pursue a Master’s of Public Policy and Administration. She currently resides in the Denver Metro area and looks forward to making an impact in her new community. 

Jose Bodipo-Memba

Manager of Environmental Services, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD)


Jose Bodipo-Memba is currently the Manager of Environmental Services for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD)  Mr. Bodipo-Memba leads a talented environmental team and has spent over 16 years managing projects associated with California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) on both the private and public side. Mr. Bodipo-Memba has capitalized on his strong understanding of environmental regulatory issues, covering a range of technical areas including specific plan development, infill development, school and facilities planning, historical research, site feasibility analysis, wind energy, and infrastructure improvement. Mr. Bodipo-Memba is active in the community, serving as the Chair of the Sacramento Planning and Design Commission, a member of the Coro Fellowship Program of Northern California Board of Directors, a member of the American River Parkway Foundation Board of Directors,  a founding member of the Metro Chamber Project Inspire Giving Circle, and a member of the ULI National Public Development and Infrastructure Council.  Mr. Bodipo-Memba is also a past chair of the Next Move Sacramento Board of Directors, the Urban Land Institute Young Leaders Group, the Drexel University Graduate Student Association Civic Involvement Committee, and the Nehemiah Emerging Leaders Alumni Association.  He was a 2010 recipient of the Sacramento Business Journal 40 under 40 leadership award, the  2012 Recipient of the Drexel University Oxholm Award for Leadership in the Classroom and the Community, a four time SMUD Power Done Right Leadership Award Winner, a 2015 Drexel University 40 under 40 Distinguished Alumni honoree, and Diversity MBA Top 100 Leaders Under 50 Awardee. Mr. Bodipo-Memba holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of California at Berkeley and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Drexel University.

Kiyana Davis Kiel



Kiyana Davis Kiel is a former Attorney at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD). Her areas of responsibility include Real Estate, Land Use, and Environmental law; Distribution Services; Customer Services; and Record Requests. She was previously the Director of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law Education Pipeline Initiative, as well as an Academic Advisor and Adjunct Faculty member of Paralegal Studies at National University where she taught Legal Research and Writing, and Real Estate law. Mrs. Davis Kiel has served as the Assistant Director for the University of California, Berkeley Graduate Assembly where she planned events to provide graduate school information to low-income and minority students. She earned a Vice Provost Award for Academic Excellence and Vice Provost Award for Outstanding Community Service from the University of California, Los Angeles. Mrs. Davis Kiel currently serves as a Board Member for Capitol Collegiate Academy and the Coro Center for Civic Leadership in San Francisco. She is also a member of Closing the Gap; American Association of Blacks in Energy; Nehemiah Emerging Leaders Alumni Association (NELAA); and Operation Protect and Defend. Mrs. Davis Kiel has a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Berkeley and a Bachelor degree in American Literature and Cultures with College Honors from the University of California, Los Angeles.


Courtney Frieh



Courtney Frieh is an environmental and land use attorney.  Prior to starting her own practices in Sacramento and Marin County, Courtney was an Associate at the law firms of Diepenbrock Harrison and Remy, Thomas, Moose and Manley, both in Sacramento, California. Courtney has served on the Board of Directors of the California Capital Airshow for the past three years.  She also  served as Interim Executive Director of the Legal Center for Elderly and Disabled, a not-for-profit legal aid firm serving Sacramento's poor, elderly and disabled. Courtney also volunteers for the Whole Life Foundation that provides housing, meals and support services for the homeless. While attending the University of California, Davis, Courtney served as the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) Environmental Outreach Coordinator where she conducted investigative research for new laws and other protections for the public. Courtney earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with High Honors in Classical Civilizations from University of California, Davis and a Juris Doctorate degree from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. 


Melissa Gear

Deputy Legislative Director, California Department of Insurance


Melissa Gear is currently a Deputy Legislative Director at CDI. Ms. Gear is an experienced governmental affairs professional who possesses over 10 years of legislative experience with several state departments. She currently works on crucial legislative matters related to CDI and providing insurance protection to all Californians. Ms. Gear has achieved success by working with and maintaining relationships with diverse groups and various stakeholder groups.

Prior to CDI, Ms. Gear worked at the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) as a Legislative Advocate. Ms. Gear has also worked at the California Department of Justice the LAO and as an Executive Fellow with the Department of Education.

Ms. Gear currently serves as a board member for River Oaks Center for Children and previously served as a board member for the Nehemiah Emerging Leaders Alumni Association. Ms. Gear was recognized by the Sacramento Business Journal as a 40 Under 40 award recipient in 2012 and participated in the Nehemiah Emerging Leaders Program in 2009. She received a Master of Public Health and Administration degree from New York University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies, with an emphasis in Public Health and Social Policy from the University of California Berkeley.


Parrish Geary

Dean of Student Services, Admission and Transition Services; American River College


Parrish Geary is the Dean of Student Services, Admission and Transition Services at American River College. He provides leadership to the Admission, Health Services, Veteran Affairs and College Welcome center. He previously served as the Student Success Interim Dean at Folsom Lake College. In this role he managed the counseling services offered at the main campus and outreach centers. He also collaborated with instructional divisions and other student service areas. Mr. Geary held the  position as Supervisor of Counseling at Cosumnes River College and served as the President of the Classified Senate at Sacramento City College. He was the Executive Vice President of the Graduate Education Student Association at California State University, Sacramento where he organized minority graduates into workshops and mentorship programs. He received both a Master of Arts degree in Higher Education and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Natural Science from California State University, Sacramento.

Nicole Howard
Chief Customer Officer, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD)
MPA, CSU Dominguez Hills
BA, Legal Studies- University of California, Berkeley


Nicole Howard is SMUD’s Chief Customer Officer. Reporting to the chief executive officer and general manager, Ms. Howard runs SMUD’s $1.5 billion retail electric business, overseeing customer strategy, operations, programs and services including energy efficiency and advanced energy solutions. Her role also oversees corporate brand, marketing, communications and economic and community development.

Ms. Howard previously served as SMUD’s senior director of Customer Services, overseeing all customer-related operations and programs and services including the contact center, Customer Service Center processes, billing and credit, field services (such as connects and disconnects) and revenue protection. She was also responsible for implementing operational changes brought about by SMUD's smart grid/smart meter initiative including new contact center technology, CRM, CRM-DSM, web application tools, MDMS and new time-based rate designs.
Since joining SMUD in 2002, Ms. Howard has held supervisory and operational roles in several parts of the business including supervisor of Supply Chain Services, cost-scheduling specialist in Distribution Services, supplier diversity analyst and customer service representative.

A native Sacramentan, she holds a bachelor’s degree in legal studies from UC Berkeley and a master's degree in public administration from CSU, Dominguez Hills. Ms. Howard currently sits on the Board of the Sacramento Metro Chamber Board-Executive Committee, the Sacramento Black Chamber Board, UC Davis Energy Council and the Western Energy Institute Customer Service Executive Council.

Lourdes Jimenez-Price
Senior Attorney
Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD)
B.A. in Political Science, University of California, Berkeley
J.D., University of California, Hastings College of the Law


Over the course of her 11 year tenure at SMUD, Ms. Jimenez-Price has successfully negotiated several multi-million dollar contracts, advised clients on the California Environmental Quality Act and represented clients in administrative proceedings before regulatory agencies in areas of license compliance, hazardous materials and air quality. Ms. Jimenez-Price volunteered at WOMAN, Inc. for three years assisting domestic violence clients in obtaining temporary restraining orders and serving as a Spanish translator for court hearings and mediations. She is a Board Member of the River Oak Center for Children, President of the SCUSD District Advisory Council, Secretary for the Phoebe Hearst Gate and Basic Elementary School, and an active member of the SCUSD Superintendent Parent and Community Advisory Committee, Facility Consolidation and Re-use Committee, Sacramento Chapter of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Citizens' Academy Alumni Association (CAAA) and the Nehemiah Emerging Leaders Alumni Association (2010 Fellow). Ms. Jimenez-Price is the 2011 recipient of the Sacramento Business Journal's 40 under 40 award, honoring 40 of Sacramento's most dynamic business leaders for their business success and community contributions.

Christopher Johnson

President & CEO, Rapid Brands

Founder & CEO, The Johnson Group, Inc.

President of Basketball Operations, Chris Johnson Basketball Academy (CJBA)

Christopher Johnson is the President and CEO of Rapid Brands, Inc. His leadership and strategic execution has lead Rapid Brands to become the fastest growing microwave cookware company in the country.  The company’s retail footprint has grown to over 50,000 doors nationwide in less than 3 years.  As a result of Johnson’s leadership, strategic sales representation, and strong management team, Rapid Brands continues gain market share and shelf space in the world’s largest retailers. Such retailers include Walmart, Target, Walgreens, Safeway, Kroger and Bed Bath & Beyond to name a few.  Rapid Brands product line has expanded from 2 products, the Rapid Ramen Cooker and Rapid Mac Cooker in 2014, to over 15 products in development for 2015, and expected to exceed over 50 products in 2016.  Many of Rapid Brands products have been recognized as the #1 best selling microwave accessories on  Johnson appeared on ABCs hit show “Shark Tank” in 2013, and secured a deal with Dallas Maverick’s owner Mark Cuban.  He and his products have also been featured on “Good Morning America,” CNN, Yahoo News, and the cover of Comstock Magazine to name a few. 


Christopher Johnson is also the Founder and CEO of The Johnson Group, Inc. a corporate recruiting company. The Johnson Group, Inc. has experienced over 327% growth and was recognized as the 7th fastest growing company in the Sacramento Area by the Sacramento Business Journal.  Mr. Johnson was recognized as one of the “40 under 40” by Sacramento Business Journal. In 2012, The Johnson Group, Inc. was recognized as “Small Business of the Year” by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.  In 2013, Mr. Johnson was recognized as “Small Business of the Year,” by Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce.

Johnson also maintains a strong sense of community involvement. He founded the Chris Johnson Basketball Academy (CJBA) as a way of combining one of his passions with giving back by coaching players and teaching valuable life lessons. Johnson is also committed to helping entrepreneurs and aspiring inventors succeed via speaking engagements, mentorship, and even a book currently in the works.  He also has plans for an “Entrepreneur’s Camp” for kids and teens.


Johnson serves on the Board of Directors for the Sutter Health Sacramento Sierra Region and Executive Board for Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce.

William Jahmal Miller, MHA

Deputy Director, Office of Health Equity|California Department of Public Health


Wm. Jahmal Miller is the Deputy Director of the California Department of Public Health’s Office of Health Equity (OHE). Appointed to this role by Governor Jerry Brown in 2013, Miller is the State’s lead advisor on issues related to reducing health and mental health disparities and achieving health equity for all Californians. He is responsible for leading the OHE mission to promote equitable social, economic and environmental conditions to achieve optimal health, mental health and well-being for all.

Miller’s passion for working to achieve health equity comes from his background as a healthcare administrator in a pediatric treatment center, where he witnessed firsthand the troubling health disparities children faced simply because of living conditions that were no fault of their own. Though he has translated his professional passion in many ways, providing those less fortunate with greater opportunities to achieve health has been the common thread.

Miller’s prior work includes managing and overseeing the communications outreach for a $1 billion annual philanthropic community benefit program, as well as several leadership roles with Sutter Health.
Miller is a graduate of Columbia University in New York City, with a Bachelor of Arts(BA) degree in Psychology. He also holds a Master of Health Administration(MHA) degree from the University of Southern California. In May 2016, Western University of Health Sciences conferred an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters(DHL) to Miller, recognizing his lifetime achievements in the field of health and human services. He has completed an Executive Fellowship with the Nehemiah Emerging Leaders Program in conjunction with the American Leadership Forum & CORO. In 2013, Miller received the Leukemia & Lymphoma Man of the Year Nominee for the Greater Sacramento Sierra Region. In 2012 he received the Sacramento Business Journal’s 40-Under-40 Award for Community Service. More recently Miller was named a 2015 “Up and Comer” by Modern HealthCare. Miller has also served on the boards of directors for some of the nation’s most respected organizations, including The California Child Care Referral and Resource Network, The American Heart Association’s Western Region Health Equity Task Force, The American Diabetes Association, and Ronald McDonald House.

Miller currently serves on the Pacific and Southwest Regional Health Equity Council and as a board member of the National Association of State Offices of Minority Health, the California Telehealth Network and the Faith Fellowship Community Church, respectively. Miller is a native of Sacramento, California and is a proud father to two young daughters.

Stephen Kyle Nichols

Executive vice president, Communication Resources for Schools


Stephen has significant experience working with public agencies, for-profit, and non-profit organizations across the United States. Appointed by the U.S. Department of Education as Subject-Matter Expert Consultant in the area of marketing, communication and diversity, Stephen supports our nation’s school systems in their efforts to effectively connect with communities. He serves on the Executive Board of Directors of the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA), as Vice President At-Large for Diversity Engagement. Stephen previously served as the Chief Communications Officer for Capistrano Unified School District and as Public Information Officer for the Folsom Cordova Unified School District. He began his career at Natomas Unified School District in Sacramento, which in 2006 was the second most diverse school district in the United States. He is an active member of the California School Public Relations Association (CalSPRA), serving in various officer roles, including 2014-15 chapter president. Stephen earned a BA in Political Science and Classical Civilization from Howard University and an MBA from Drexel University, LeBow College of Business. Stephen received his Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) from the Public Relations Society of America in 2015. As Executive Vice President, Stephen manages the consulting practice of the firm.

Amos Nugent

 Special Education Technician, Sacramento County Office of Education


Amos Nugent is a Special Education Technician at the Sacramento County Office of Education and provides academic assistance to students who have behavioral or learning disabilities. He was previously a Team Leader for the 21st Century Advantage Program at Howard University where he organized a conference on financial literacy for Howard students and arranged a successful "feed-the-homeless” program. Mr. Nugent is the Founder and CEO of the Enlightened Minds Group Inc. in Sacramento, California. He is responsible for compiling a beginner's money management curriculum aimed at teaching low income families and individuals successful budgeting and investment strategies. As a member of the Greater Sacramento Urban League Young Professionals, he coordinates financial literacy initiatives for local high school and middle school students. He earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Finance from Howard University in Washington DC.

Rhonda Staley-Brooks

Executive Director, Nehemiah Community Foundation


Rhonda Staley-Brooks is the Executive Director of the Nehemiah Community Foundation (NCF).  She started in this role in January 2016.  Prior to that she held the post of President & CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Sacramento for 14-years


As the Executive Director of NCF, Staley-Brooks is responsible for advancing the brand of the Nehemiah Emerging Leaders Program (NELP).  NELP is a 10-month leadership program that provides a diverse “bench” of young professionals who will develop a set of skills, abilities and relationships that will enable them to move up the leadership ladder, both professionally and in civic engagement.  NELP has graduated 91 Fellows and they sit on 150 Boards and Commissions in the Sacramento Region and beyond.


Staley-Brooks was awarded Black History Month All Stars from the Maloof Sports & Entertainment staff in February 2007. She completed her fellowship in the Nehemiah Emerging Leaders Program in June 2010 and Leadership California in 2012.  Brooks was awarded the Sacramento Business Journal Top 40 Under 40 and Women Who Mean Business, Exceptional Women of Color Award and received the CSUS Distinguished Alumni Award. She serves on both the Wells Fargo Community Advisory Board and CSUS Alumni Association Board.  She holds a BA in Child Development from Sacramento State and is currently enrolled in their EMBA program.

 Darrell Teat

President, Nehemiah Companies


Darrell Teat serves as the President of the Nehemiah Companies, a Sacramento, CA based social enterprise and real estate development firm. Darrell is responsible for managing the strategic expansion of Nehemiah’s core business line across the United States, including Township 9 - a 2,300 unit master-planned, smart-growth community in downtown Sacramento. As President of Nehemiah, he manages the Nehemiah Community Reinvestment Fund, which has leveraged over $880 million in projects to spur development in low-income and underserved communities.

Prior to joining Nehemiah, Darrell held leadership roles for international pharmaceutical and consulting companies.
Mr. Teat is currently Board Chairman of the California Department of Insurance – California Organized Investment Network Advisory Board (COIN), Chairman of the Community Health Charities of California, and Board Director of the Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Teat earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications from Santa Clara University and Masters in Business Administration from Drexel University, LeBow College of Business.

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