Our Staff and Partners
Adia Harmon, Executive Director, is an impact-driven change agent with progressive achievements and ten plus years of experience in the areas of education administration, program management and youth development, who has owned her role as a leader, dreamer and achiever. Adia is a proud graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing and has since then contributed to the success of numerous grassroots campaigns aimed to improve health and social-based outcomes among at-risk youth and women of color across the U.S., including long-term projects in Chicago, New Orleans and Philadelphia.
Prior to joining The Advocate Center as Program Coordinator two years ago, Adia served as Project U-Turn Associate at Philadelphia Youth Network where she collaborated with leadership at the School District of Philadelphia, the Mayor’s Office of Education, Community College of Philadelphia and numerous youth advocacy organizations to advance the work of Project U-Turn, Philadelphia's collaborative approach to dropout prevention and re-engagement put in place by former Mayor Michael Nutter. Adia is a native of Philadelphia, but spent thirteen years as a resident of Brooklyn, New York where she discovered her passion for educating and empowering young people, particularly those in under-resourced communities who struggle socially and emotionally.
A skilled writer, content creator and lover of everything arts, Adia’s passion for bringing creative visions to life through words and artistic expression has inspired her to share her gift with people of all ages and backgrounds. In her current role, Adia challenges the youth she works with to march fearlessly in the direction of their dreams and believes that in order to truly transform the mindset of young person, you must first get them to recognize and believe in their own power and ability to be successful - not just academically - but in every aspect of their lives. Her greatest aspiration is to impact the lives of youth in ways that are equally inspiring, empowering and transformative. Contact Adia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ardencie Hall-Karambe, Ph. D. , Founder and Director of Arts4All, is an associate professor of English/Theatre Arts at the Community College of Philadelphia, avid artist, and single mother. She has worked as a college professor for 20 years; as an actress, she performed in NYC at The Public Theatre, Theatre for The New City, P.S. 122 and other theatres; in 2011, Dr. Hall’s musical “Ain’t Nobody…” was presented at TNC by her theatre company, Kaleidoscope Cultural Arts Collective. Most recently, she adapted and directed “Lysistrata, Cross Your Legs Sister!” presented at Community College of Philadelphia. She lives in Philadelphia with her son.
Sharlena Johnson, Arts4All Drama and Dance Teaching Artist. At 26 years of age, Sharlena is a working actor and playwright who was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. She received her BA in Theatre from Temple University in 2014 and now works as a performer at Arden Blaire Enterprises, an upcoming theatre company established by Ardencie Hall-Karambe'. This is her second year working for Arts4All. Sharlena is excited that she can take her love for theatre and share the art of acting/dance with our youth. Some of her favorite hobbies include cooking, listening to music, reading and dancing to her favorite show tunes in her bedroom mirror.
Scott Bickmore leads project-based curricula and workshops in collaboration with area organizations, institutions and businesses. Working with the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the Art Futures program in 2016, he won the People’s Choice Award and the Robert Rauschenberg Award for a mural project involving two classrooms. Bickmore has exhibited and been featured in print, television, and online locally, nationally and internationally.
"I am interested in experimenting and exploring new forms. I want to find new ways of looking at things, and facilitate work with collective purpose and cultural contribution. I enjoy being resourceful and developing creative solutions with materials, production and participation—considering whatever is around, and then reconsidering its purpose and all the things it could be. The charcoal out back is pigment for India ink. Weeds across the street combined with designer scraps from Fashion Week enter an autistic classroom and come out as nests for The Bluebird of Happiness Project. A “French Knot” is braille code on a bracelet introducing sighted and unsighted populations. Whether working with crafts or concepts, I value creative activity as a vehicle for growth and learning, and for forming new relationships with people, material and initiatives alike."
Patricia Thomas (b. 1995) is a painter and Teaching Artist living and working in Philadelphia, and a Tyler School of Art alum. She has exhibited all across the US and as far as Italy, is the recipient of the Edna Weinstein Grant and Richard Cramer Award, and has work in several collections including a private collection in the Smithsonian’s African American Museum of History and Culture. Her passion is to continuously grow as an artist and watch students creatively grow as an educator.
Gregory “Heavy” Deas, H.E.A.V.Y. Founder, Director, and Head Coach, known to many as "Coach Heav" or "Heavy" has been coaching and working with young people for over two decades. Every now and again, here at The Advocate Center, we hear one of our young people ask, "So, why do they call you Heav?!" Fun fact: Heav was a nickname given to him as a teenager to describe his strong passion and involvement with the sport of basketball, a sport he has played on every level through junior college. In 1995, Coach Heav began his coaching career and since then has coached several traveling and A.A.U. teams in and around North Philadelphia where he grew up. In 2004, he started The H.E.A.V.Y. (Help Educate Athletes Very Young) Program as a way to give back to the youth in his community, many of whom still play on the same playgrounds and courts he did as a kid. Through the H.E.A.V.Y. Program, Coach Heav hopes to provide a safe haven and positive outlet for young people in Philadelphia, equipping them with the tools and fundamentals they will need to be successful student-athletes.
Up2Us Coach is the first national service program to identify and train young adults to coach and mentor kids in low-income communities. Up2Us Sports inspires youth to achieve their potential by providing them with coaches who are trained in positive youth development. Through partnership with AmeriCorps, Up2Us Sports trains coaches on how to translate athletic skills to life skills for youth living in communities afflicted by violence and other negative social behaviors.
In 2016, The Advocate Center was selected to serve as an AmeriCorps program site. AmeriCorps engages more than 75,000 members in intensive service annually to serve through nonprofit, faith-based, and community organizations at 21,000 locations across the country. These members help communities tackle pressing problems while mobilizing millions of volunteers for the organizations they serve. Since 1994, more than 980,000 Americans have provided more than 1.2 billion hours of service to their communities and country through AmeriCorps. For more information, visit NationalService.gov.
AmeriCorps is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that engages more than 5 million Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads the President's national call to service initiative, United We Serve.
Dasha Saintremy, MSW, MDiv., Spiritual M.C. is a spoken word artist, interfaith spiritual counselor, and poetic preacher who loves to learn the world through the voices of the people as they share stories of their lived experience. She recently joined the Advocate Center after learning about its mission and activities that serve youth within an urban context, which were aligned with her passion and ministry to be an advocate for youth. Right after she graduated from seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center, she did a short term mission work in North Philly working with youth to build urban gardens throughout the city. She has worked with youth for over a decade in various capacities as a mentor, youth minister, social worker, therapist and chaplain. Dasha has developed a creative expressive platform to address the social emotional health of the youth that will frequent the Advocate Center. Through the integration of various skills, talents and training she hopes to facilitate meditation groups, drum circles, and spoken word cyphers as an outlet for youth to begin to deal with their internal selves outwardly. Her overall mission is to do spirit work through living, loving and liberating.