Celeta Hickman - President Emeritus, Arts and Agricultural Innovation
Ms. Hickman is a co-founder of the Ujamaa Collective. Since 2007 she has vended her jewelry and cards throughout the region and always maintained a small garden and/or composting system with hopes of improving soil conditions in her community and moving to commercial production. She is a cultural historian focusing on Africana Studies in general and more specifically in African functionalism. Along with Yejide Joy KMT and LaKeisha Wolf, she has built the Ujamaa cooperative brand and its commercial components; marketplace, retail store and agricultural model. She has a long history as a teaching artist (Western PA Wolf Trap, Culturally Responsive Arts Education, and Lincoln Center Model of Aesthetic Education). She has a working knowledge of using soil amendments to improve and build healthy soil for urban communities who have issues with blight have brown fields. She has worked closely with the Find the Rivers/Greenprint team, the partners at the Dwayne Cooper Garden of Hope, Hill District Master Plan Management Committee and New Hill District Business Association to address these issues. Ms. Hickman is working with the United Negro College Fund to get young people from the Hill District interested in careers college programs around land management, agriculture and nature interpretation at the 1890 Land Grant Historically Black Colleges in Universities. Ms. Hickman was the first farm manager at the Dwayne Cooper Garden of Hope on Bedford Avenue.
LaKeisha Wolf - Executive Director, Business Affairs & Cooperative Development
LaKeisha Wolf is a founding member and vice president for Ujamaa Collective, focusing on business affairs and cooperative development. She has 11 years experience in community organizing and leadership development. A 2007 graduate of NASCO’s Emerging Cooperative Leaders Program, LaKeisha holds a BA in Communications from Penn State University, as well as a certificate in Aromacology from Community College of Allegheny County. She is a poet, artist and entrepreneur; founding a micro-enterprise shortly after graduation called EnjoyourSelf, creating gemstone based jewelry and E-Ma’s Natural Body and Hair Care products. LaKeisha became a birth doula in 2009, nurturing women during the most miraculous time in life and became the mother of Amari Iman in 2011. She is intrigued by the effectiveness of natural therapies including crystal technology, herbs and homeopathy and is sure that Earth Mother provides all we need to thrive. LaKeisha is divinely inspired by nature and her community. She walks on a healing path.
Deborah Starling-Pollard - Director of Programs and Entertainment
Artistic Director for the Ujamaa Collective and is responsible for booking talent and entertainment for Ujamaa’s Summer Delights events. Formerly Community Liaison with Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh in Oakland for 10 years, Debbie also served as Community organizer for Allegheny County’s office of Behavioral Health. A member of Kuntu Repertory Theater, she is also Drama Director of Central Baptist Church in the Hill District as well as a community playwright in the areas of violence prevention, empowerment and the power of prayer. Debbie is a published author with work included in a newly released anthology of women’s writings called Reflections from Women on Life’s Defining Moments. Additionally, she is completing her first novel centered on common bonds through friendships across cultures and ethnicities. Debbie sings with the Flow Band, one of the premier reggae bands in the city and is also jazz vocalist with a multi-genre musical ensemble called Confluence. She holds a Bachelors degree in Social work and a Masters of Fine arts degree in Creative Writing from Carlow University.
Tia L. Baker - Boutique Manager
Tia L. Baker and President Barack Obama share something in common: both were born in Honolulu, Hawaii and have birth certificates to prove it. Tia is the owner and operator of Errands Made Easy, an errand/concierge service, serving the greater Pittsburgh area. As a proud resident of Pittsburgh’s Hill District and a community activist, Tia initiated and served as secretary for the Bedford Hill Tenant Council and on several ministries as a member of Macedonia Baptist Church. Ms. Baker studied psychology at Community College of Allegheny County, and for 5 years was employed as an administrative coordinator for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center where she also served on the Above and Beyond committee. Currently, she is Boutique Manager for the Ujamaa Collective, where she is responsible for the day to day operations and the procuring of unique cultural items sold in the Hill District shop. A supporter of the arts, Tia is a member of The August Wilson Center, and has performed in several community theatrical productions. Most importantly, Tia is a wife, mother, and adoring grandmother.