Who We Are

The Pa’s Hat Foundation Team

Co-Founders

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    Cori Thomas

    Co-Founder – Playwright

    Cori has received fellowships from: The Sundance Institute, Rockefeller Brothers Fund,The Jerome Foundation, Playwrights Realm, The MacDowell Colony, Page73

    She has received commissions from The Sloan Foundation, South Coast Rep, Pillsbury House Theatre, Ensemble Studio Theatre, New York Foundation for the Arts.

    Produced and developed at Pittsburgh City Theatre, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, and The Goodman Theatre,  among others.
    Cori has a BA in Theatre from Marymount Manhattan College.

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    Dion Graham

    Co-Founder – Actor/Director

    Dion is an award winning actor of stage and screen. Many know him as Rupert Bond from HBO’s THE WIRE, and the narrator of THE FIRST 48 on A &E.  Dion has an extensive background as a director, workshop leader, and theater educator. He has taught and facilitated workshops at all levels, from the very young to seasoned professionals. He has been invited to lead workshops at schools, universities, and organizations both internationally, and across the United States. These most often center on acting, writing, and leadership. Dion has also conducted arts education training workshops for teachers internationally and in the US.

    Dion has an MFA from Rutgers University. Mason Gross School of The Arts.

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    Carolyn Hughes

    Co-Founder – Writer

    Carolyn has written for and contributed to several publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Village Voice, The China Morning Post among  others. She was a member of The National Books Circle and has worked as an Events Manager at Barnes& Noble, Tribeca

    Carolyn received a  BA in English and minors in Sociology and Political Science from Villanova and an MA from St. Louis University in English.

    She is pursuing an MA in the History of War, Culture and Society Program at the University of Portsmouth, UK.

  • Board of Directors

        • Cori Thomas             President
        • Dion Graham        VicePresident
        • Carolyn Hughes         Treasurer
        • Jocelyn C. Zuckerman   Secretary

    Jocelyn is the executive editor of Whole Living Magazine. Formerly the deputy editor of Gourmet and the articles editor of On Earth, she has written for numerous outlets, including Fast Company, Saveur, Parade, The New York Times Magazine, Afar, and many others. The recipient of a James Beard Award for feature writing, she was from 2010 to 2011 a Rosalynn Carter Fellow, producing a series of stories focused on mental-health issues in post-earthquake Haiti. Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

    Rosalind Walrath –  Director of Literacy Programs for Pa’s Hat Foundation

    Rosalind currently works on children’s literacy initiatives. She is on the executive committee of Project Cicero, an annual children’s book drive in New York City, and is the founder of another children’s book drive in San Francisco. She has worked as a consultant to the Children’s Aid Society. Previously, she worked in corporate finance on Wall Street for 18 years. She received her MBA in finance from the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania and a BA in economics from Middlebury College.

    Dr.Nancee Oku Bright 

    Nancee is Chief of Staff – Office of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on sexual Violence in Conflicts. She is a Liberian, and has worked for many years as an international civil servant in New York and in a number of conflict and post-conflict countries. She has undertaken humanitarian work in several countries in Africa, and has been a senior officer in international peacekeeping in Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She directed and produced the PBS Documentary, “Liberia: America’s Stepchild,” which examined the root causes of the Liberian civil war. Nancee holds a BA from Wesleyan University, an MA from Georgetown University, and an MA and PhD from Oxford University.

    R.Emery Bright

    Emery is a D.C. based attorney who represents a wide range of clients including Fortune 500 companies, non-profits, and individuals in complex legal matters in a variety of areas such as contracts, government investigations, class action lawsuits, professional malpractice, personal injury and employment. A native of Liberia, Emery has been actively involved in public awareness and advocacy efforts over the years including participating in Ebola relief campaigns, lobbying for humanitarian intervention, and participating in direct action to change U.S. policy in Liberia. Emery also moonlights as a writer, actor and producer. Emery received his B.A. from Beloit College, law degree from Case Western Reserve University and Masters in International & Comparative Law from Georgetown University.


  • Advisory Board

    ANTHONY PIRRO has been an educator in New York City for over 13 years as both a teacher and an administrator. He has dedicated his work to serving high needs populations, particularly those that are disadvantaged. He began his career in education as a New York City Teaching Fellow in Bedford Stuyvesant teaching 4th and 5th grade students. He is currently assistant principal at PS 503 in Sunset Park Brooklyn, where he has been for the past 8 years. PS 503 is an exemplary Learning Partners School, highlighted by the New York City Chancellor Carmen Fariña. He received his undergraduate degree in biology and psychology from Loyola University in Maryland, a graduate degree in education at Pace University, and a certification in Educational Leadership through the New York City Leadership Academy. He lives in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn with his wife, Tijuana.

    LISA LEAVERTON is a collaborative theatre artist, director and teacher. In addition to her work with Pa’s Hat Foundation, Lisa is directing a project to promote financial literacy of K-12 students through arts workshops.  Currently a finalist for the Leslie Scalapino Award for Innovative Women Playwrights, Lisa has taught theatre at College of the Atlantic, in Bar Harbor to students studying human ecology.

    DAWN MAI PADMORE is a Liberian Classical Singer. She has performed Internationally and at Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center and other venues. She has appeared in a variety of concert situations featuring African music. She sang for Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu in Minneapolis and at the Innauguration of Nobel Prize Laureate Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

    MICHAEL PATRICK MACDONALD is an Irish American activist and the author of memoirs, All Souls: A Family Story from Southie; Easter Rising: An Irish American Coming Up from Under. He helped to start Boston’s “gun buyback program”, and founded the South Boston Vigil Group which works with survivor families and young people in Boston’s anti-violence movement. Michael has received awards such as the Daily Points of Light award and several writing fellowships including at MacDowell and Blue Mountain Center. He devotes his time to writing and public speaking on “Trauma, Healing, and Social Change”, and “Race and Class in America.”

    JASPAR LEAHY (intern) is pursuing an MFA at Columbia University. She is concentrating on International Studies.

  • Education is a human right

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