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Board of Directors

Pastor Demetries Edwards


Demetries Edwards is a native Oaklander who loves his city and it's people. Demetries currently serves as pastor of the Twenty-third Avenue Church of God in Oakland. Demetries is involved in social justice work as a member of the Bay Area Clergy Cohort and Pico California. Demetries was educated in the Oakland Public School System and is a proud alum of McClymonds High School and continued his educational journey at Laney College and then Dallas Baptist University in Dallas, Texas. Demetries is happily married to Chantrelle Renee and they have three children Savaugn, Demi and Madison.

Rev. Damita Davis-Howard


Rev. Damita Davis-Howard has lived in Oakland since she was 17 years old. She is the Assistant Pastor at First Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church, and she is a deeply committed and trusted leader and organizer in Oakland.

After many years fighting for workers rights in the union movement, Rev. Damita currently works with Oakland Community Organizations.  She leads the weekly night walks through East Oakland as a part of OCO's Live Free Campaign. She also leads the clergy caucus and organizes faith leaders to work for justice.

Ben McBride


Ben is a native of San Francisco and a longtime activist for peace and justice in the Bay Area. As an advocate for youth, he served as a member of the crisis counseling team for West Contra Costa Unified School District; and as Program Director for Global Education Partnership, he served to empower at-risk youth through entrepreneurship.

Ben has a history of spiritual leadership, beginning as a youth pastor and continuing throughout his term as collegiate pastor for Greater St. Paul Baptist Church and Shiloh Church. In 2008, Ben relocated his family to a difficult neighborhood in Oakland known as “The Kill Zone.” This positioned him to gain firsthand understanding in order to intelligently respond to the epidemic of gun violence.

During this tenure, he also served as Executive Director of Cityteam, a Christian non-profit providing rescue and recovery; medical and financial; educational and spiritual opportunities to hurting and homeless Oakland residents.

In 2012, Ben was an instrumental component in relaunching the first successful iteration of Operation Ceasefire: a data-driven, communication strategy to reduce gun violence. Operation Ceasefire’s strategy has contributed heavily to a near 40% reduction in homicides over the last two years.

As a result of Ben’s zeal for social improvement and judicial restructuring, Ben founded the Empower Initiative in 2014. Empower provides faith-based technical assistance concerning public safety and training for religious community members around the intersection of race and faith.

In late 2014, Ben became the primary civilian trainer for the Oakland Police Department’s Procedural Justice & Police Legitimacy Course. Though the course is facilitated nationally, Ben is the sole community participant currently providing training and consultation to police departments, nationally. Ben is deeply committed to rebuilding the relationship between the community and police departments through reform and practice.

In June 2015, Ben joined the PICO California team and now serves as the Deputy Director with a focus on formation and innovation.

Ben has received many honors, including the FRED Scholars Award; Oakland Natives Non-Profit Leader of the Year; the Oakland Police Foundation's Neighborhood Champion Award; and the ASIS Community Policing award. Ben authored his first book, Cry for Freedom, in 2006, and his current work, Crossing the Street, is slated for release in 2016.

Ben is an internationally sought after speaker and has shared his motivational message of peacemaking and transformation in Canada, the United Kingdom and the Middle East. He carries an inspiring message that resonates in religious circles and corporate communities alike.  Ben’s core message of “Crossing the Street” incorporates a fusion of anecdotes and reflective principles, challenging leaders to bring conflicting parties together in a manner idealizing “the world as it should be.”

Ben has keynoted a variety of sessions, including World Vision International offering insight to global relief executives; the Global Immersion Project providing remedies towards the cessation of global conflict; the Sauder School of Business regarding the retooling of strategies for today’s impact; and Q Commons/Silicon Valley, as he inspired technological entrepreneurs from just making a difference to “being the difference.”

Ben is a well-known conference speaker, delivering passionate directives that motivate listeners to action. He has been featured at the Cityteam Ministries, "iDisciple Conference" and the Colson Center’s "Wilberforce Conference."

Ben and his wife Gynelle have been married for 15 years and they reside in Oakland, California with their three beautiful daughters: Brittani, Jasmin and Symonne.

Susannah Prinz


Board Member

Susannah is a long time Oakland resident, a professional artist, a wife and a mother of two fabulous girls.  She mentored girls in East Oakland through local non-profit Harbor House several years ago and still keeps in touch with her crew of young women. She lives in Oakland Leadership Center's neighborhood and can easily keep an eye on our headquarters from her front porch.  Susannah has consulted and taught youth and young adults at OLC in areas of art, photography and political posters.

W. Brian Fuery


Board Member

Brian has known the Lord since 1979.  He grew up in Oakland and has a heart to help change his hometown through his participation on the Board of Oakland Leadership Center.  Currently Brian is CEO of US Cancer Management, a licensed CPA and functions as CFO for  OLC.  He is also an elder and teaching pastor at Creekside Community Church in Alamo.  He has two grown children in college.  His wife, Rhonda, is also involved in OLC as an dedicated volunteer who mentors young women.