James “Gork” Walker is a Violence Interrupter for the S.O.S. Crown Heights team. He grew up in Crown Heights, and is dedicated to making the neighborhood safer for youth. Walker attributes his bad decisions growing up to his lack of role models and support. Prior to being incarcerated for 14 years, Walker was shot 6 times; the first time he found a gun he was 9 years old. While in prison, Walker saw the prison population grow younger and younger; because of this he decided to become a role model for his community once he was released. Walker hopes the work that Save Our Streets does daily will result in a future with greater opportunities for young people in Crown Heights.
Kenton Kirby is the Director of Trauma Support Services for the Mediation Center and the program coordinator for Make It Happen. Kenton is a native New Yorker who firmly believes in the strength of community and the tremendous benefits that come with interdisciplinary collaboration. Make It Happen is geared towards providing supportive victim services to young men of color, historically an underserved population due to gender roles and societal expectations of manhood. This program aims to challenge and educate its members, and outside service providers, of the profound long term impacts trauma has on individuals regardless of gender or race.
Prior to coming to CHCMC, Kenton worked in child welfare where he witnessed firsthand the role and impact traumatic events in our communities can play on individuals without proper support. In his work though Make It Happen, Kenton hopes to develop a safe space for male victims of violence to support one another following their trauma and develop skills to help members realize their internal strength in pursuing a healthy and productive life.
Kenton has a Master’s Degree from New York University and is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) in the state of New York. Kenton has experience providing clinical individual and group therapy to children and adults.
Leon Kelly began as volunteer for S.O.S. Crown Heights in 2012 before becoming a staff member. Leon utilizes his street experience, credibility and influence as a way to mediate potential gun violent incidents. Leon became one of the first responders for S.O.S. Crown Heights after demonstrating to his colleagues the ability to respond to shootings no matter the time the shooting took place. In September, Leon became an Outreach Worker who duties are to work more closely with the high risk population in changing mindsets, establishing goals and mentoring. Leon will also serve as our Hospital Responder, which will allow him to utilize and expand on his violent interruption skills inside of a Hospital setting.
Marlies Talay joined the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center in September 2013, where she oversees Neighbor Services, a direct services program for Crown Heights residents in need of legal assistance, in issues such as housing, benefits, family law, immigration, and employment, among others. Previously, she spent two years working in youth development with City Year New York, and is a former Coro Fellow in Public Affairs. Marlies graduated from Pomona College in 2010, where she studied politics and racial justice.
Rahson began working at the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center as a Youth Programs Assistant for Y.O. S.O.S. and lead facilitator for a boys group at Brooklyn East Collegiate Charter School. Rahson is passionate about working with young people and has done such services for over ten years.
His journey to this platform stems from his earlier brush with the criminal justice system and his poor decision-making as a sixteen year old boy growing up in Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn. From this experience, he put together the pieces of his life and emerged as a respectful and responsible man committed to shaping the minds of young people through education and character development, further realizing that his transformation could help transform their lives too.
Rahson is a college graduate and holds a Bachelor’s of Behavioral Science and a Master’s of Professional Studies with a major concentration in Urban Ministry. He is very excited about working at the Crown Heights Mediation Center.
Shawn Deverteuil is the Men’s Empowerment Coordinator for the Make It Happen program at the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center. Shawn has ties to the Crown Heights community having grown up there. Shawn works with the Director of Trauma Support Services by providing our young men of color with supportive victim services, both individual and group counseling, as we help members figure out what healthy masculinity can be for them.
Shawn believes that violence can have a traumatic impact on the lives of young men of color, affecting their overall health and livelihood. This trauma combined on average with a lack of general support they may feel they have in their given community and lack of help-seeking behaviors, contributes to the overall social disadvantages they face in society. A goal within the Make It Happen program is to create trusting, organic working relationships with our members where they can feel comfortable sharing any underlying feelings or concerns they may have while getting the proper support they need to succeed in life.