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From Prison to Prosperity
- September 25 @ 10:30 am
Learn valuable tips on how to successfully start your own business. Hear from our experts, including successful formerly incarcerated business owners.
Topics covered will include financial wellness and money management, debt management, building business credit, business credit scores, securing funding, banking products, and more.
Waleisah S. Wilson
Client Services Advocate, SCHR
Community Development Manager, Regions Bank
Tiffany Kirk is the Community Development Manager for Regions Bank and is responsible for Georgia and South Carolina initiatives. Tiffany’s responsibilities include providing advice and guidance on community development needs and oversight of community development loans, investments and community service provided to underserved communities. Tiffany is from St. Paul, MN, where she completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and earned her Elementary Teaching License at the University of St. Thomas. The first four years of her professional career were dedicated to being an elementary teacher for St. Paul Public Schools. Since 2006, she has held various financial education and community affairs positions within the banking industry in both Minnesota and Atlanta. She is the Chair of the loan committee for Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership and a founding member of Project Re-Start, a collaborative effort focused on reducing recidivism among returning citizens. She enjoys music, home improvement projects, spending time with her family and traveling.
President and COO, Phax Group, LLC
Tracey D. Syphax is President and Chief Operating Officer of Phax Group, LLC, a real estate development company. He is the author of the award-winning Memoir, “From the Block to the Boardroom.” In December of 2017 Mr. Syphax was pardoned by Former Governor Chris Christie-NJ for a 27-year old conviction for drug possession and possession with intent to distribute. Tracey has spent 25 years in business as a strong advocate for ending mass incarceration through the use of proper re-entry tools coupled with the goal of visualizing entrepreneurship as a viable employment option for returning citizens. In 2017, for the second consecutive year, he was named as one of the Twenty-Five Most Influential African Americans in New Jersey by the South Jersey Journal. He made history in 2011 as the first African American to be awarded “Entrepreneur of the Year” by the Princeton Chamber of Commerce.
In 2014, out of a field of 900 nominees nationwide, Tracey was recognized by President Obama as a White House “Champion of Change” Honoree for his diligent and tireless work in the re-entry field and for being a strong advocate on behalf of formerly incarcerated people. In 2016, he taught the pilot program “Aspire to Entrepreneurship” in Washington, DC where a class of 15 formerly incarcerated people enrolled in a 12-week entrepreneurial training course. Tracey is a former founding board member and former Chairman of the Board (2007-2017) of the Minding Our Business (MOB) program. This is a 20-year old national award-winning program that mentors and provides instruction on entrepreneurship to sixth and eighth grade students in the public-school system. Tracey appears in the documentary “Elementary Genocide: The School to Prison Pipeline” and is featured in the award-winning documentary “Incarcerating US.”
At the age of 16 in 1995 Kevin Skidmore was convicted of an armed robbery charge. He was convicted under senate bill 440 and given the mandatory 10 year sentence. At the age of 17 he was moved from the juvenile section of the jail and transferred to the adult general population. Life was not easy while incarcerated but in his mind he said, “I will not be institutionalized” he knew there was a better life.
During his incarceration he purchased his first stock, earned certificates in graphic arts & architectural drafting making blueprints for homes and served in various leadership roles. After he maxed out in 2005 he was determined to work hard and secured a job at Trojan Battery in Lithonia, GA. His career culminated as a manager supervising 26 operators for 13 years. During this time Kevin became a proud homeowner, obtained his passport and has traveled to (5) countries. In 2014 he launched Four Fourty Trucking Company LLC to give individuals who were transitioning out of incarceration an opportunity to make a living wage. Kevin sent an email to the DeKalb DCS Community Coordinator Sharon Almon in the Fall of 2017 sharing his story and how he wanted to give back to those we serve. After vetting Kevin with the Chief he was invited in for a personal interview. His personal vision aligned with the goals of reentry services and he began to dedicate his time and resources and currently serves as one of the Co-Chairs on the DeKalb DCS Steering Committee. He always says, “Thank You Mrs. Almon for responding to my email”. His goal has been to improve the quality of life of the newly released in order to sustain the individual and allow for a smooth transition back into the community. Kevin is the epitome of an individual who has done the work and his life has transformed hundreds of young men and empowered them not to just survive but to thrive!