I am from the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area and have lived in Pittsburgh PA, the last twenty-five years. Since working in the early 90’s to get an Afrikan Cultural Center at the University of Pittsburgh as a part of the Black Action Society, I have been co-organizing and facilitating the creation and development of organizations and projects. After being a father, co-creating spaces that people improve, adapt and use for their own ends is pretty much how I engage the world.
I have spent the last eleven years working for The Heinz Endowments as Senior Program Officer for Arts & Culture. In this capacity, one of my chief projects was working with staff, artists, young people, and funders to build the Transformative Arts Process, a $1,000,000 field building initiative designed, implemented and evaluated with a diverse group of people largely not employees of the Endowments.
Before and during my time with the Endowments, I worked with friends, family, students, co-workers, frat brothers, mentors, teachers in the building and organizing of The Village 4 an Afrikan Cultural Center, Nego Gato, Inc, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc,’s, Omega Dr Carter G. Woodson Academy, a program of the Iota Phi Chapter, the One Hill Community Benefits Agreement Coalition and #ArtsinHD, an arts planning effort of Pittsburgh’s Hill District hosted by the Hill District Consensus Group. I believe “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”. So, figuring out the kind of collective work that is required to accomplish something that goes far is what interests me, and, if I might, it’s something I’m good at!
I’ve had the honor of serving on the board of Grantmakers in the Arts and was the chair of its Thought Leader Forum on Racial Equity, I am a Commissioner on the City of Pittsburgh’s Equal Opportunity Review Commission, on the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and am a member of Omega Psi Phi, Fraternity, Inc. I have a B.A. in Black Studies from the University of Pittsburgh, a Masters in Public Management from Carnegie Mellon University, and studied Capoeira Angola for 12 years with Mestre Nego Gato. I’m the eldest child of Susan and Clarence Laing, brother of Alex and Nina, husband of Bonnie and father of Kufere, Etana and Adeyemi. I do a little vegan cooking too!
Bonnie Young Laing
Bonnie Young Laing is a mother, wife, sister, organizer, professor, social worker, scholar of community change. She is a faculty member in the Department of Social Work at California University of Pennsylvania. She is a native of the Hill District of Pittsburgh. She is a former Director and now board member of the Hill District Consensus Group.
Bonnie’s work and scholarship are focused on equitable and inclusionary organizing, planning and policy development and community transformation in challenged African American communities. Her personal experiences growing up in a family and community that struggled with poverty give her a deep passion for achieving economic justice. She holds a Master of Social Work degree with a concentration in community health and mental health from West Virginia University and a Ph.D degree in social work from Virginia Commonwealth University. She has published work on organizing for economic justice, labor/community partnerships, community organizing in African American communities, culturally competent community practice and youth organizing. She will be working on limited projects with Hillombo, she looks forward to helping to advance the work of others to engage, educate and act to make communities better places to live. She is a member of LDI Class 1, and recipient of the Three Rivers Community Fund Champions of Change Award. Bonnie is the proud wife of Justin Laing and mother of Kufere, Etana and Adeyemi and a proud descent of her ancestors.