Our leaders are the visionaries at the core of this new enterprise. With a wealth of experience as entrepreneurs, archive management and philanthropic endeavors, this team will lead our growing legion of fellows, archivists, historians and storytellers to share this history with the world.
FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Angela Ford is the Founder and Executive Director of The Obsidian Collection Archives, a national non-profit organization focused on getting the images and articles of African – American newspapers and small archives into the marketplace and on the Internet. Once hidden for decades, she has now made available over 250,000 images and other information to the public. With 25 years experience as an entrepreneur, she has the skills and fortitude to bring this organization to fruition. Angela is an entrepreneur, sustainability expert, licensed real estate broker and property manager. She is also author of the new book Making a Microbusiness. A Bootstrapper’s Checklist of 78 Action Items for your Startup.
Sixteen years ago Angela founded a real estate and sustainability consulting firm and secured both SBA financing and rounds of capital from family and friends. Recently she partnered with a software developer and launched another start-up for property management software solutions. With success as a microbusiness owner she has also become a Community Philanthropist giving over 1,000 bicycles to children in Chicago’s neighborhoods. A graduate of Illinois State University, she is the mother of one son who lived in China and South Korea.
DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
Michael NJ Wright has been a creator of original content for decades. He is an Award winning Filmmaker in Writing, Directing and Cinematography. He is the recipient of a Midwest Region Emmy and seven Telly Awards for his work in Television and Independent Cinema.
Michael’s clients have included, WTTW, WSNS, WMAQ, HBO, NAACP, Chicago Blackhawks, MTV, ESPN, Sears, Northwestern Hospital, Indiana Lottery and McDonald’s. His inventive Motion-Panel Photo Novella is referenced in the University of Salamanca’s “Clasicos Y Contemporaneo En El Genero Negro” (Alex Martin Escriba & Javier Sanchez Zapatero). Most recently he was the Gaffer on the “Conrad” TV Pilot, Lighting Director of the Invictus Production of “Merchant of Venice” and “A Raisin in the Sun ” and the Writer, Director, DP of the Amazon original Documentary “American Fumble.”
Wright currently is an Instructor of Cinema Lighting at Columbia College, Chicago. A lifelong Chicagoan of Hyde Park as well as an American Film Institute Fellow Wright prefers Rye to Bourbon, is married to Producer Caro Posse and father of Actor-Music Artist, Marcelo Augustus Wright all the while secretly dreaming of owning a Teal and White 1963 Thunderbird Convertible.
DIRECTOR OF TECHNOLOGY
Adam is a data professional interested in using technology to make work easier and competitive. Adam has become a subject matter expert whose work experiences expand multiple industries including private, non-profit, start-up and academic institutions.
He started as a Dissertation Assistant to the Director of Technology at Howard University, assisting with randomizing and visualizing data associated with distinguishing patterns between distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks and normal web traffic.
From that experience, he was dedicated to pursuing any activity that would help him further his expertise as a data professional. This included interning at a non-profit, Data Science for Social Good, which was focused on addressing social issues using data. Additionally, he’s attended Hack-a-thons, data-driven development conferences, and technical meetups.
Most recently Adam worked as a Data Engineer at Autodesk, a multinational company that develops software which helps individuals model and make anything. His role involved tracking customer product usage through each quarterly review, combining different data sources into tidy tables for consumption, and automating ETL workflows that help executives and stakeholders become more data-driven.
DIRECTOR OF SALES, OBSIDIAN IMAGES
Lonyea is a seasoned sales professional and thought leader with more than 10 years of proven success in business development, sales, communications and prospect research in the stock photography and non-profit industry.
Currently she’s the Resource Development Specialist at Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation where she has successfully raised funds through non-profit funders such as Forefront, Prosperity Now and Chicago Community Trust Foundation to address the racial wealth divide and socioeconomic disparities faced in underserved communities.
With success as a sales and business development leader, Lonyea has successfully increased sales within the Midwest region by 30% year over year growth by establishing global annual contracts with corporations including McGraw Hill Education, Brand Muscle Agency, Vista Higher Learning, and Nationwide Insurance. From this experience she has been dedicated to cultivating relationships with funders of community-based organizations to improve the economic viability and quality of life of residents residing on the south side of Chicago. Most recently, Lonyea has joined the Obsidian Collection team as the Director of Image Licensing & Sales. She received her a B.A. in Marketing Communications from Columbia College Chicago.
JOURNALIST, MEDIA & DIVERSITY CONSULTANT
Sheila Solomon's an award-winning former newspaper reporter and editor who has worked for the Hampton Monitor, Daily Press, Newsday, The Charlotte Observer and Chicago Tribune.
Currently she’s the senior consultant in Chicago for the Democracy Fund (based in Washington, D.C.) and the strategic alliance liaison and manager of recruitment and internships at Rivet, a Chicago-based “smart audio” creation and distribution company.
She was one of the first African American journalists hired at her hometown newspaper, The Daily Press (Newport News, Va.), where some of her titles included intern, reporter, copy editor, staff development editor and reader editor. At Newsday, she was a general assignment reporter in the Garden City office. In Charlotte, her duties included copy editing, being a member of the editorial board and launching a teen section.
Sheila came to Chicago in 2002 as senior editor for recruitment at the Chicago Tribune. Later she became the newspaper's cross media editor and helped increase collaboration among print, digital, radio and TV reporters. But among her proudest accomplishments is the number of journalists she's helped realize their goal of working in some of the top newsrooms in the U.S. Her work's recognized for helping to increase the number of diverse candidates and hires.
She's been inducted into the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications Hall of Fame at Hampton University (Hampton, Va.) and was presented with the Ida B. Wells Award, given by The Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications and the National Association of Black Journalists.
Sheila has been a lecturer and adjunct professor and serves on numerous journalism-related boards and advisory committees. She also serves as a judge for the National Headliner Awards founded by the Press Club of Atlantic City, N.J. It's one of the oldest and largest annual contests in the media industry recognizing journalistic merit.
CURATOR OF IMAGES, OBSIDIAN - UK
Anthony arrived in the UK in 1998 having left Kenya and migrated to Syria Aleppo earlier. He worked for a London agency doing Horticultural and adult care work before being recruited as a Duty manager for a Filling station and Grocery supermarket for 9 years until getting a level 3 qualification of a Community Interpreter 2007 working with The Police, National Health Service and social workers/migration lawyers. Kalume did a PGCert (M.A. Level) Community Engagement and Enterprises University of Brighton Graduated 2014. He also volunteers for The Royal Pavilion Galleries & Gardens of Brighton Museums. Now Anthony is a 2019/2021 M.A. Student at the University of Brighton Grand Parade Campus Humanities Department Curating Collections and Heritage. Most notably Kalume is the proud father of three and an uncle to more than 45 nieces and nephews.
In his early years, Anthony was raised in a household with 9 siblings. Being the second last made him a fighter and he worked as a mechanic at the age of 17. He was a mobile disco operator by the age of 18 and took up training in Tropical Agriculture. He then graduated in 1983 with a Diploma. Following he worked as a Civil Servant for the Ministry of Agriculture as a change agent introducing crop production in Arid areas of the Southern Sahara ,Soil conservation and training Farmers on Animal Husbandry.
Kalume left the civil service 1988 to pursue his passion of music, playing keyboards and performing vocals for a local tourist beach band called “Black Warriors” playing cover versions of popular music. He returned to civil service as a clerk in the Office of the President of Kenya and worked at various posts before being transferred to the capital city Nairobi to the Department of Defence as a binder clerk doing payroll for the military. In !993, Anthony left the Civil Service and was a presenter and producer for the only local radio station in 1993-97.
T. SHAWN TAYLOR
Shawn is a writer, publicist and media consultant who brings leadership and creativity to mission-driven content for businesses, government, educators and nonprofits. She founded Treetop Consulting in 2006 following a successful career in newspapers that spanned the Midwest. She spent 15 years at the Chicago Tribune, including stints on the copy desk, the police and courts beat, as a business reporter and column writer, and a feature writer. Her investigative piece on lack of participation by African Americans in the building trade construction unions in northeastern Illinois (June 2004) revealed the challenges and failures of apprenticeship programs. Later, she expanded her research to women and Latinos, and examined the economic impact of these disparities for studies commissioned by the City Colleges of Chicago.
Shawn has also worked in the newsrooms of the Kansas City Star, Detroit Free Press and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which awarded her its minority journalism scholarship in 1984.
Through Treetop, Shawn has built a reputation for raising the visibility and thought leadership positions of organizations and emerging leaders. She’s developed content on a range of topics, including social justice; gender equality; equal pay; unequal education; entrepreneurship; small business financing; industry; and labor and management issues.
Shawn continues to uplift stories from the black Diaspora through her writings and most recently, film. She is in post-production on her first documentary, “Gone Too Soon: America’s Missing Black Men,” which examines the pervasiveness of early death among black men and its long-term impact on wealth and community building. She serves on the board of Creative Cypher (501c3), which champions diversity and collaboration in the film industry, with resources for independent artists. She also is on the Associate Board of the Chicago Sinfonietta, “the most diverse orchestra in the world.”