Melvin Parson (AKA Farmer Parson) has spent approximately 13 years of his life incarcerated. As such, he has experienced many of the challenges that come along with either being on parole or probation. In 2016 Melvin earned a BSW from Eastern Michigan University. In 2015 he co-founded a mentor program for men and women returning home from incarceration called A Brighter Way. In that same year, Melvin founded We The People Growers Association (WTPGA) and in 2018 he started a nonprofit organization called We The People Opportunity Center (WTPOC). Both WTPGA and WTPOC’s vision centers around providing “soil changing” opportunities for both men and women returning home from incarceration. Melvin believes that the main factor people return back to prison, is a result of not being able to find meaningful employment. One of Melvin’s goals is to provide as many meaningful job opportunities as possible and to create a culture where folks will have enough support to make meaningful strides towards caring about themselves, others, and their community.
Lisa is a licensed professional counselor with two decades of experience encouraging and guiding job seekers to overcome barriers to achieve and sustain career success. Currently, she is working for the State of Michigan as a Business Relations Consultant advocating for inclusive hiring and work cultures throughout her five-county region. Previously she served as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor helping individuals with disabilities achieve career satisfaction.
Mark founded Schrupp Consulting, LLC, in 2015 to help public, private and non-profit entities achieve excellence in operations. Mark is a problem solver with a keen ability to find the root cause of inefficiency, poor performance and waste and develop innovative, sometimes radical, solutions to help organizations become high-performing and efficient. Mark is also a business and finance attorney, former high school teacher and served as Chief Operating Officer for Detroit Public Schools from 2010-2015.
Morghan has concentrated her academic and professional trajectory on creating, protecting, and guiding equitable spaces for those who identify with disenfranchised and oppressed populations. Her core topics of focus are: housing and homelessness, grant making and funding, senior support services, youth empowerment and self-efficacy, education training on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, as well as nonprofit strategic planning, marketing, community outreach, and networking. Via this body of work she places an emphasis on creating, maintaining, and facilitating processes for building equity.
Deconstructing the ‘school-to-prison pipeline’ has always been a passion for Frazier. In his current position at WISD he has become familiar with the intersection of our educational and judicial systems. He believes that some of the structural forces that help to lead to positive outcomes are healthy food sustainability and economic empowerment, which WTPOF is trying to address. His work at the County Jail and with justice-involved youth
Leo is a Taiwanese-American chef and raised-bed farmer who works as a banker at JPMorgan Chase. He is an aspiring yogi and believes in the power of self-love, forgiveness, and kindness. He enjoys planting vegetables from seeds because there is this incredible joy when you see the progression of nature from seed to seedling to plant and then to harvest. The joy is from the journey of cultivation, not the destination, similarly, he believes in the cultivation of community and people. He believes food is the universal language, as is love and smiles. It is his hope that through his work with We The People Opportunity Farm, we can cultivate and harvest an abundance of reconciliation and redemption through the planting of seeds.
Follow him on his YouTube Channel: Meogja with Leo, Moegja in Korean means “Let’s eat!”
Heidi is currently pursuing her MSW at Eastern Michigan University while working as a Graduate Assistant at Swoop’s Food Pantry. Heidi has a passion to see policy change in the areas of poverty, racial justice, mass incarceration, and the effects these issues have on the population that WTPOF serves. She is an avid learner and enjoys approaching new challenges on the job. Heidi is married with two children and enjoys hiking, swimming, gardening, traveling, and trying new foods.