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Who We Are

We are professionals that hold ourselves to the highest standards and have an enduring passion for bringing brightness and “good” into the world. We are also dreamers, activists, mavericks, consultants, among many other words we could use to describe ourselves. 

Meet Our Team

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Abbie Cohen

Research, Learning, and Impact Manager

Abbie has worked across sectors to support organizations in designing accessible MEL frameworks for over 7 years . Her passion for advancing organizational learning blossomed during her service with the U.S Peace Corps in South Africa, where she employed participatory methods to support HIV mitigation programs in local communities. This was where one of Abbie’s biggest AHA moments came; she internalized just how interconnected the social drivers of HIV/AIDS (and all other health issues, for that matter) really are. Today, Abbie continues to foster a commitment to solving complex social problems by employing an interdisciplinary lens, with empathy as one of her most potent superpowers. If a genie were to grant her one wish for the social sector, Abbie would ask for greater access to reliable funding sources for community-led initiatives. Dependable funding that comes with little to no stipulations allows smaller organizations to focus on expanding their impact rather than engaging donors.

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Malaika Cheney-Coker

Founder and Principal

When Malaika founded Ignited Word, it felt like a homegoing to a place where creativity could be let loose for the bettering of the human condition. Since then, she has applied tools from the literary and organizational learning toolboxes to help organizations with social missions apply uncommon approaches in their work. With 22 years of experience in thought leadership, coalition-building, creativity approaches, program management, monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL), organizational learning, strategy development, research, and communications with U.S. and international organizations, she brings versatility and constant innovation to her clients. Her superpowers are writing fiction in a difficult genre; also being able to swop in tenacity for bravery when the latter is insufficient. If a genie granted her one wish for the social sector, it would be (unsurprisingly) that all in it would unlock their full creative potential.

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Yulia Chuvileva

Senior Advisor

A bridge builder across boundaries, Yulia has amassed experience and expertise in multiple sectors, disciplines, and methods, which she combines in creative ways to help social sector groups better understand and improve their work. Her grounding in psychology, development studies, and anthropology have equipped her with the necessary tools to unpack contexts across multiple levels, starting from individuals and communities and zooming out to global systems. She brings those lenses to her work in research, monitoring, evaluation, and learning. Some of Yulia's biggest AHA moments have come from deep realizations of the relational interdependence and ecodependence of human beings. Using systems thinking, network analysis, and collective impact approaches to help groups collectively foster positive social, health, environmental change is among her superpowers. Her one wish for the social sector would be for more people in it to think relationally about all facets of their work.

Darnesha Tabor

Evaluator and Writer

While serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in South Africa working on HIV prevention and economic development, Darnesha grappled with a critical question: Why do communities in such close proximity exhibit stark differences in development and access to vital resources? South Africa has one of the largest wealth gaps in the world and it was in the midst of this experience that Darnesha recognized the parallels in wealth disparities between South Africa and the United States. Darnesha recognized that historical and present-day structural violence exacerbates social inequities across race and class throughout the world. This awareness continues to drive her work, which includes culturally responsive methods to develop, monitor, and evaluate projects and initiatives. Her superpower lies within her ability to approach each project that she takes on with empathy and an intersectional lens. If a genie granted her one wish for the social sector, it would be a transformative shift to address the root causes of social disparities and to collectively create a more equitable and just world.

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Ena Taguiam

Research and Communications Assistant

Ena has always identified herself as a feminist and has always been critically aware of the inequalities among genders. It was in her college days that she realized that women's oppression is intersectional and pervasive— women and other marginalized groups are often disenfranchised by socio-political infrastructures. It seemed to her that the system was rigged to keep powerful people in power and disempower minorities. She then made an active decision to shape a career in the development sector, but one question remained: How could she influence change? She had her AHA moment as a project manager working on social marketing projects: effective communication served as a powerful entry point in influencing social change! Leveraging her skills in writing and research, she led participatory projects that aim to highlight the needs and capabilities of marginalized groups. Her superpower lies in her capability to tell accurate and impactful stories to help involve the often invisible groups in conversations about their own development. Her wish for the development sector is for social workers to be more intent on including participatory tools in their work.

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Jay Black

Writer and Videographer

"Lifelong-movie-fanatic" might best describe Jay's obsession with visual storytelling.  After getting a master's in Communications, he lived a dual life: one as a university instructor, the other as a freelance videographer/moviemaker.  He taught moviemaking for eleven years at the master's level, and simultaneously took on many professional roles and projects including director of corporate training videos, fiction movies, commercials, camera operator, lighting technician, and professional editor, to name a few. His AHA moment regarding the massive power of moving images to influence thought and action came after a study of the great Frank Capra movie, It Happened One Night. Clark Gable brazenly takes off his shirt in front of Claudette Colbert, revealing he was not wearing an undershirt. The undershirt business nearly failed in the months after the film was released. Gathering enthusiasm for projects in which he believes is his superpower. And that would be his wish for the social sector if a genie granted him one wish: a tidal wave of enthusiasm for worthy projects.

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Amanda Charaka

Practicum Intern

Amanda began her career in the social sector serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania teaching Math in a rural high school. During her time in the Peace Corps, Amanda worked with teachers and community members to implement student-centered teaching practices and address gender equity issues both in school and in the community. Her time in the Peace Corps followed by three years teaching in Morocco opened her eyes to the structural and systemic problems that create inequities in health and education globally. Amanda had her AHA moment when she returned to the United States and saw parallels between the racial and gender inequities in the education and healthcare sectors in the U.S. and the inequities she experienced in Tanzania and Morocco. These experiences led to Amanda’s passion for incorporating systems thinking and cross-sectoral collaboration in the social sector to address complex problems. As a former teacher, Amanda values a growth mindset and her superpower is learning from both her successes and failures and helping others do the same. Amanda also uses an intersectional and gender justice lens in all her work, with a special focus on using inclusive and empowering evaluation and research approaches.

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