Weaver Awards

Baltimore 2023

in partnership with M&T Bank

Congratulations to the 2023 Baltimore Weaver Awardees!

Some people weave our communities together. They are the ones we all trust, the people we count on to get things done and to see the best in everyone. They weave a strong social fabric that makes us proud of where we live. Here’s our chance to recognize and celebrate the weavers of Baltimore.

Why have Weaver Awards?

We all know neighbors who show up, again and again, to make our community better. They seem to know everyone. They inspire us to support each other. They see a need and fill it. They often don’t have big titles or receive grants for their work. We count on them and yet we rarely celebrate how important they are to us.

The Baltimore Weaver Awards celebrate and publicly recognize them so we all can learn and be inspired by their work. Each receives $5000 to advance their projects that weave a tighter community. A group of Baltimore neighbors reviewed numerous applications and recommendations and selected 20 Awardees to receive this recognition.

The Aspen Institute in Washington, DC and M&T Bank created the Weaver Awards to honor neighbors who are serving their communities and creating emotional connection, lasting relationships, and a strong, inclusive social fabric. These weavers are showing us the way to heal the divides in our country and help us build trust in each other from the ground up.

Meet the Awardees

Tiny Adams

East Baltimore and beyond

Tiny was a basketball star at Morgan State University and played overseas before returning to Baltimore to be a men’s basketball coach at Loyola University Maryland. She saw that students needed support beyond athletics, so she started a nonprofit that provides tutoring, life skills, and mentorship. Her motto is “Be who you needed when you were younger.”

Ulysses Archie, Jr.


After being traumatized by student violence while working in a classroom, Ulysses began a journey to heal himself. Now, he supports teachers and homeschooling parents so children can raise chicks from eggs to gain healing and social and emotional skills. He is a master gardener who organized collaborative urban farming across houses on his dead-end block.

Monique Bess

Southwest Baltimore

Monique believes that every person and community needs to be seen and heard. She created BlakBoxxRadio, a digital production studio and media platform, to help neighbors share their voices and experiences and to highlight excellence in their community. She wants to host live shows to foster positive interactions as well as storytelling.

Sanahara Ama Chandra Brown

Greenmount West and beyond

Sanahara Ama Chandra, a trained Reiki master and sound healer, believes that when people find connection to nature and its cycles, they find it as well with each other. She hosts gatherings in Greenmount West focused on self and relational awareness, community building, stress relief, and energy healing for men and women of all ages.

Michael Cornish

Druid Heights and beyond

Michael created Dads United to develop a collective of fathers to support each other, their children, and their communities. He recognizes that fathers can find healing by coming together around green space beautification and other community efforts. One of their core activities is to turn vacant lots in their neighborhoods into gardens and safe places.

Crystal Forman

East Baltimore

Since Crystal was a child, she saw the need for people to grow their own food everywhere in Baltimore so that no one would go hungry. As a public health expert, gardener, and wellness educator, she hosts educational programs and cooking demonstrations to bring together people of all ages around delicious, plant-based food grown in sustainable ways.

Jason Harris

West Baltimore and beyond

Jason Harris is a futurist and educational technologist, who founded the BlkRobot Project to bring art of scale, ethics, and citizen-based science into his community. Jason is working to equip youth with STEAM educational tools, so that they can use their skills to create equity and transformation in their communities.

Melony Hill


Melony grew up hearing, “What happens in this house, stays in this house” – told to people struggling with mental health issues. After experiencing her own mental and physical struggles, she decided to break that culture of silence. She offers mental health workshops, resources, and events so that trauma survivors have a space to talk and heal.

Lucia Islas


When Lucia first moved to the US from Mexico, she felt lonely and vulnerable, and had a hard time accessing resources due to language barriers. She created an organization so that new immigrants would not feel alone. Lucia will use the award to continue supporting immigrants through gatherings, help accessing resources, and language and skill classes.

Diana Martinez


As a yoga and wellness teacher, Diana believes that mental and physical wellness is vital for black and brown communities. She has also learned to appreciate boxing as a tool for kids to learn to regulate their emotions. Diana provides free boxing, yoga, and mindfulness classes for youth, using a train-the-trainer model so students learn how to become instructors.

CJay Philip

Greenmount and beyond

CJay came to Baltimore after being an actor on Broadway in New York. At Dance & Bmore, she uses dance and performance arts to deepen connections within families and communities. CJay provides free classes and jam sessions for parents, grandparents, and kids to dance, sing, and play together, building creativity and healthy self-esteem.

Danelle Pinder

Park Heights and beyond

When Danelle realized her daughters were experiencing summer learning loss, she created enrichment activities for them and their friends to teach soft skills and entrepreneurship. Now, she brings the community together to offer youth the support, resources, and connections they need to succeed, from safe transportation to mentorships.

Anthony Sartori

Locust Point and beyond

Anthony understands that we all have a mental health story — either one we have experienced or one involving someone close to us. He will host an interactive display in his Locust Point neighborhood that shares personal stories of people impacted by suicide to create awareness, provide mental health resources, and build community.

Leslie Smith


Growing up, Leslie saw how entrepreneurship was a force for good in her Druid Heights neighborhood, especially when residents came together in mutual support. She leads a project at her church, St. Katherine of Alexandria, that connects aspiring entrepreneurs with business owners and professionals to help them develop and operate a successful business.

Cherring Spence


In the heart of Pastor Spence’s neighborhood, a park was abandoned for two decades. She brought neighbors together to revitalize it, establish a community garden and pursue funds to build a playground, restore the amphitheater, create wayfinding, and plant new trees. She is now working on a new program that teaches kids how to build and maintain their bicycles.

Sean Stinnett

West Arlington and beyond

Sean wants youth in his community to be active and find pride in service to others. Every Saturday for three hours, a group of volunteers leads youth as they do cleanups around town, showing love to a community and combating negative stereotypes. The youth earn a small stipend, learn responsibility, and build bonds with each other.

Nikki Stokes


As the mother of an autistic son and a community advocate, Nikki learned the importance of creating inclusive spaces and experiences. She will use her award to create a free, interactive exhibit of large-scale wall art and sensory rooms for the public, collaborating with autistic community members, artists, and individuals with intellectual differences on the design.

Fred "Big Fred" Watkins


As a comedian, Fred knows that laughter opens people to learning, becoming comfortable with vulnerability, and accepting hard truths. Through his organization, Lil’ Laughs, he works in schools with kids, educators, and families to provide affirming and comedy-infused content around topics like anti-bullying, violence prevention, and self confidence.

Jennifer West

Curtis Bay and beyond

After eight years of caring for her ailing mother until her passing, Jennifer began a journey of healing that took her to holistic medicine, herbalism, and integrative health. Today, she helps families and children in her Curtis Bay neighborhood learn about accessible nutrition and herbalism through gardening, interactive cooking experiences, and educational workshops.

Shaleece Williams

Central West Baltimore & beyond

As an experienced leader in the nonprofit field, Shaleece wants to help foster a new generation of community leaders. She hosts seminars designed for youth aged 14-24 who aspire to become leaders, providing them with skills and networking opportunities to excel in their educational, professional, and personal journeys.

The Advisors

A local advisory group, made up mainly of Baltimore community advocates, chooses the Awardees. These are people who know the spirit of the community and its neighborhoods. They care about weaving a strong, inclusive social fabric and they know what it takes.

Meet past Awardees

Past Awardees come from across Baltimore and are connecting and supporting their neighborhoods in a huge range of ways. Some organize clean-ups, others help struggling youth, some plan prayer walks and cookouts, while still others start parent or teach groups. All help neighbors build a sense of belonging, mutual support, and pride in their community. Many Awardees have appeared in local papers or on radio and TV.

Get Involved as a Weaver

Join with others who care about building trust and community in Baltimore by participating in the Weave Baltimore online group. You’ll meet other weavers, be invited to gatherings, get updates on the Weaver Awards, and find resources, partners, and opportunities to learn weaving skills. You’ll join with neighbors and also meet weavers from communities across the country. It takes just a few minutes to register and become connected to a wealth of people, stories, and resources.

Contact Us

If you have questions about the Awards, want to partner, or have issues using this website, let us know. If you want to learn more about weavers across the US, visit weavers.org

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