Board of Directors


APEDF President Ona Zene Yeshitela

APEDF mission statement spoke to me directly. It calls for immediate action. We are committed to creating institutions, programs and campaigns that defend the human and civil rights of the African community and address the grave disparities in health, health care, economic development and education.

What is your passion?
Meeting and working with our volunteers. APEDF volunteers are an integral part of the success of our organization. Our volunteers have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world, and to develop and gain work skills, all while giving back to the community. I salute them for their passion and commitment to APEDF’s mission. The support of our volunteers means APEDF can provide real solutions!

Get to know Ona…
I'm not me when I'm hungry! But fine once I get my BabyRuth... I love, love meeting people. As a part of this movement I have traveled all over the world. My favorite place without a doubt has to be Africa: Ghana, Sierra Leone, Azania (South Africa) and Kenya are just a few countries I have visited.

Creating new institutions and programs that deal directly with economic development is something I really enjoy. Some of these institutions are:

  • NZO: African Styles at Home and Abroad
  • UZI: A Thread of Freedom
  • Zenzele Consignment: Revolutionary- Confident - Style
  • Akwaaba Hall (s): Friends, Family and Freedom
  • African Independence Workforce Program: Our Labor! Our Future
The most important thing is that I am making a difference and that I am committed to not just explaining the world, but changing it. The Uhuru Movement has made real impact on African communities in all the cities where we are located. I am proud to be a part of this organization!

APEDF Board Treasurer Maureen Wagener
Oakland, California

I grew up in the Sixties in the Midwestern United States. I saw the movement of black people for justice and black power. I began to understand the huge disparities that exist between white people and black people in this country. As a child, the injustice of the two Americas struck me. When I saw the mission, programs, successes and dynamism of APEDF, I knew it was a solution to this divide, and I wanted to be a part of it.

What is your passion?
It’s such an honor to work with the black community changing its own conditions and know that I’m not doing charity work. I’m part of real solutions, not just band aids that don’t change the world. I love working with so many different people, especially young people. I get so excited by the energy and innovation that they bring to the programs. Volunteering brings great satisfaction and has opened up so many experiences in my life that I would not have had. Then, I’m a “numbers person.” I love numbers. In APEDF, you can see growth, expansion and participate in lasting economic development in the black community that you can feel and count.

APEDF Board Member Ticharwa Masimba
St. Louis, MO

In the wake of numerous televised executions of African men and women at the hands of police, I met the Uhuru Movement and began to understand the relationship between economic self-determination and political power. With APEDF I am building institutions on the ground in the St. Louis area with an understanding that the economic question and the political question are one.

What is your passion?
Teaching others about the importance of building our organizational systems. Off of a 25+ year model, created by APEDF members in Philadelphia, PA and in Oakland, CA, I was part of building the first annual One Africa One Nation Marketplace on the ground in St. Louis-Ferguson. And we are continuing that work of building economic institutions in St. Louis as a strategy for APEDF to create real self-reliance for the African community, through self-determination.

APEDF Board Secretary, Kitty Reilly
St Petersburg, FL

I was born and raised in New Jersey. I traveled throughout the country and all the way from San Diego to Alaska searching for solutions to a social system I felt was unjust. I found the African People’s Education and Defense Fund in Oakland, CA where I lived for 20 years. I was hooked. There were solutions to the disparities in the conditions the Black community is faced with led by African self-determination in the center. And that’s how I got to St. Petersburg, Florida where I currently live -- not to retire -- but to work in the national APEDF office! I was disturbed by the conditions I witnessed as a teacher in the public schools and can now put my energies to supporting the African community’s vision for community control of education which puts power in the hands of the African community itself.

What is your passion?
It has been an honor to be part of “the baddest non-profit on the planet!” I love meeting and working with donors and volunteers who are the heart and soul of APEDF. And how about working on the sales floor of Uhuru Furniture! It can’t get better than that… unless we’re talking about the incredible process that resulted in building Black Power 96 FM radio station. You’ve got to hear the music and shows on Black Power 96!