Bishop Darlingston G. Johnson, D.Min., D.D., is the Presiding Bishop of Bethel World Outreach Ministries International, a global organization which has planted more than 300 churches, schools, and ministries in over 25 nations located in Africa, North America, Europe, Australia and South America. He is also the Founder and Senior Pastor of Bethel World Outreach Church—City of Hope in Olney, Maryland, a multicultural congregation of more than 2,000 members from over 45 nations.
A scholar, Bishop Johnson graduated summa cum laude from Oral Roberts University in 1981. In 1984, he earned his Master of Divinity degree from Oral Roberts University and received The Outstanding Master of Divinity Student Award. In 1986, he earned his Doctor of Ministry degree from Phillips University in Enid, Oklahoma. In 2009, Bishop received an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity degree from St. Thomas Christian College in Jacksonville, Florida.
Bishop Johnson has received numerous recognitions from religious institutions and civil governments, including being presented the Key to the City of Douala, Cameroon, the Key to the City of Monrovia, Liberia, and the Key to the City of Freetown, Sierra Leone.
He is married to Pastor Chrys Johnson, M.A., his partner in life and ministry.
Daniel Koroma is the Business Liaison Officer for the Montgomery County government in the State of Maryland. His work in the Office of the County Executive focuses on assisting companies doing business in, or with, Montgomery County Government. He manages the award-winning Montgomery County Business Portal, a gateway to information on how Montgomery County interacts with the business community. Mr. Koroma was the Community Outreach Manager and Liaison to African and Caribbean Communities at the Montgomery County Office of Community Partnerships. He ensured ongoing dialog and partnership exist between the government and various nonprofit service providers, community associations, diaspora and hometown groups. Mr. Koroma’s office ensured stakeholder voices were heard and removed roadblocks that could impede residents’ ability to access County services. He is the first African immigrant appointed to the County Executive’s office in Montgomery County, Maryland.
In the height of the global financial crisis, Mr. Koroma was tasked to create a Resource Center in the Eastern part of Montgomery County in order to help community members who needed additional skills in order to gain employment. He engaged community leaders and recruited volunteers to enrolled students in Computer and English classes. He helped fostered a collaboration with Montgomery College and together, they have served over 4000 residents. In 2008, Mr. Koroma was one of the advocates who went to the United States Congress to fight for the extension of Temporary Protected Services (TPS) for Liberians and Sierra Leoneans. In 2012, Mr. Koroma was one of the leaders engaged by the White House, when President Obama was urging Congress to come up with a comprehensive immigration plan. Mr. Koroma holds a Master’s degree in Engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park’s, A. James Clark School of Engineering and is an Executive Leadership graduate from the prestigious Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Rev. Dr. Isaac Mwase, a multi-disciplinary and versatile educator, public health specialist, and innovative leader, with graduate degrees in philosophy of religion and theology, business management, and public health. He is currently teaching philosophy and religion courses for the University of Phoenix, serving a Coach/Mentor for students at Montgomery College, teaching 8th-grade Math as a long-term Substitute Teacher for a teacher on maternity leave, and recently served as an Associate Pastor of a 1600-member church in Columbia (2010-2014). He was a Cancer Prevention Fellow with the National Cancer Institute at the National Institute of Health (2008-2010) and an Associate Professor of Philosophy and Bioethics and a Bioethics Core Investigator for the NCI-funded research collaboration involving Tuskegee University, the University of Alabama Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the Morehouse School of Medicine (2004-2008). He was an Assistant and then Associate Professor of Philosophy at Ouachita Baptist University (1994-2004), concurrently teaching a Medical Ethics course at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. He has published with, among others, the Oxford University Press, Acton Press, Cambridge University Press, Kent State University Press, University Press of America, American Nurses Association, Hastings Center Report, the Journal of Religion and Health, Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, and African American Perspectives, Northeast Arkansas. Dr. Mwase is an internationally respected educator and leader with a reputation for improving organizational effectiveness wherever he has served.
Fatmata Barrie came to Maryland by way of Florida and Sierra Leone, West Africa. She came to the U.S. at the age of 11. She grew up in Florida where she received her B.S. in Psychology from the Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University and her J.D. from the University of Florida, Levin College of Law. For the past sixteen years Fatmata has lived in White Oak, MD. She has dedicated her life to the service of her community and have spent most of her adult life as an activist and advocate for the educational rights of children, especially those with special needs. During her 16 years in Montgomery County, she has advocated for immigrant rights and protections, affordable housing, affordable and practical transportation options, economic development that benefits everyone in the community, access to quality education, health benefits and public safety by working with the local police department, the county and the community to hold meetings to promote proper dialogue.
She is a former chair and current executive member of the African Affairs Advisory Group for Montgomery (AAAG) County. As co-chair of the Cultural working group in AAAG, she is a member of the PanAfrican Festival planning committee which produces PanAfest every September to celebrate Montgomery County’s African Heritage Month. She was a member of the Montgomery County East County Citizens Advisory Board for six years, a current member of the Urban Parks Advisory Committee and several other community groups and organizations. She works with community members and organizations to hold free workshops and forums to address immigration, health, public safety and economic development concerns affecting the community.
As an attorney, she has successfully litigated many special education cases representing students with special needs against the DC Public School system to ensure that students receive their legally mandated Free and Appropriate Public Education; this includes provision of needed educational and related services. As a special education advocate, she advocates for appropriate testing and services for students. As an immigration attorney, she works diligently to ensure that immigrants receive their immigration benefits and helps immigrants navigate the U.S. immigration system. As an immigration and community activist, she has advocated with elected officials, Department of Homeland Security, USCIS, organizations/coalitions and the community to affect policy.
During the 2018 primary elections, Fatmata ran for one of the three District 20 State Delegate seats. Although she did not win a seat, she made a great impact and brought awareness to communities that otherwise would not have been recognized. She is the first African woman to run for this seat and earned almost 9% of the votes with over 4,000 votes.
Will Jawando is an attorney, activist, and community leader who is dedicated to expanding opportunity for all Americans.
He most recently served as Director of Corporate & Government Affairs at Discovery Communications where he was responsible for developing and cultivating public-private partnerships. Prior to his tenure at Discovery, Will served in the Obama Administration as the Deputy Director of Strategic Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Education, where he acted as liaison to the business and philanthropic communities and as Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement where he led White House outreach efforts in the areas of education, poverty, and on issues relating to children and families.
Prior to his appointments in the Obama Administration, he served as legislative counsel for Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and as a legislative aide in the offices of Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, where his portfolio included work on education, judiciary issues, election reform, civil liberties, and poverty.
Jawando lives in Silver Spring, MD with his wife Michele L. Jawando, Esq. and their three daughters. He holds a B.A. in Sociology from Catholic University, where he graduated Cum Laude and his J.D. from the Columbus School of Law, Catholic University.
Soffie Ceesay is an executive and founding member of the African Immigrant Caucus. She is a native of The Gambia and a passionate community advocate. As a member of a vibrant and multi-talented immigrant community, Soffie is driven to building bridges across the multitude of communities in Maryland. She advocates for students and other community members, working to ensure that all have equal access to the resources that are funded by our tax dollars.
In 2008, along with Mumin Barre, she was chosen by County Executive, Isiah Leggett, to lead and co-chair the newly formed African Affairs Advisory Group, one of 6 advisory groups, which serves as a liaison between the African Communities and the County Government.
Ms. Ceesay also serves as a cluster representative and the co-chair for programs for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Parents’ Council in Montgomery County Maryland. She serves the public in several non-profit organizations – as the Public Relations Officer of the Gambian American Association, secretary to African Association of Maryland, Treasurer of the Democratic Union of Gambian Activists, to name a few. In addition, Ms. Ceesay also sits on the Advisory Committee of the Suburban Maryland Welcome Back Center, supporting the integration of skilled immigrant professionals into the U.S. Workforce. She has a Master of Arts degree in Human Resources Development.