Where We're Going
Kai WrightWNYC Studios
Kai Wright is host and managing editor of The United States of Anxiety. He was also the host of the podcasts The Stakes, Caught, and There Goes the Neighborhood, as well as a co-host of Indivisible, a live national call-in show that WNYC convened during the Trump administration’s first 100 days. He is a former editor for The Nation, as well as the former editorial director of Colorlines. As a fellow of Type Investigations, he covered economic inequality, access to healthcare, and racial inequity for years. Kai is the author of Drifting Toward Love: Black, Brown, Gay and Coming of Age on the Streets of New York and two surveys of black American history.
Deidre DeJear has dedicated her career to community and small business development. In 2008, on the brink of the recession, Deidre found her affinity for working with small business and building relationships in the community. She began her own small business, Caleo Enterprises, which provides entrepreneurs affordable marketing tools and business strategies. As the sole-founder, Deidre’s work has impacted over 300 small businesses and nonprofit organizations.
Deidre developed and implemented the Financial Capability Network, a collaborative that targets low to moderate income individuals and families. Over the last 5 years, the program provided nearly 100,000 Iowans access to financial management, knowledge and skills. This included training that provides quality education to more than 300 businesses and nonprofits.
In 2005, as a Drake University student, Deidre co-founded Back 2 School Iowa, a non-profit dedicated to collaborating with communities and corporations in order to provide resources to inspire youth in continuing in their education and build their future careers. This small organization impacts more than 3,000 Central Iowans annually.
Her first introduction to campaigns was through her grandmother, who became County Elections Commissioner in Mississippi in the mid-nineties. It was from that early experience, that she learned the value in engaging the community through voting.
In 2012, Deidre worked statewide to re-elect President Barack Obama. She developed and implemented a program to educate, motivate, and mobilize low-propensity voters, which resulted in over 5,000 new registrants and more than doubled African American turnout. After 2012, Deidre went on to manage two victorious campaigns for Des Moines School Board, District 2 & 4.
In every campaign she has worked for, Deidre has a track record of increasing turnout and registering new voters.
Rev. Abraham Funchess
Rev. Abraham FunchessExecutive Director, Waterloo Commission on Human Rights, Pastor, Jubilee United Methodist Church
Rev. Abraham L. Funchess, Jr., is the oldest son of Abraham and Bernice Funchess of St. Matthews, South Carolina. Recipient of many awards and recognitions, Funchess is most proud of receiving the W.E.B DuBois Award for Social Activism from Hampton University in Virginia and the Bishop James S. Thomas Leadership Award from former Bishop Julius C. Trimble of the Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Funchess is currently pastor of Jubilee UMC and executive director at Waterloo Commission on Human Rights.
Married to Veronica McGee with one son Solomon Diara at Iowa State, Rev. Funchess is author of a children’s book entitled Rise! and is the founder of MLK New Jerusalem LLC.
Joe HenryLeague of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa #370