Ju’Riese Colón is the Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Center for SafeSport, where, since July 2019, she has led the organization’s strategic vision and direction.
Before her Center tenure, Ju’Riese served as National Vice President of Child & Club Safety for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, developing, and leading the child safety policies and initiatives for over 1,100 U.S. Boys & Girls Clubs organizations and nearly 4,300 Boys & Girls Club locations.
Prior to that, Ju’Riese served as Executive Director of Prevention & Outreach for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), leading prevention and education programs related to child abduction and sexual exploitation and their delivery to children, families, and the public. Ju’Riese was with NCMEC for 15 years.
An experienced child advocate who serves as an expert on issues related to child safety, Ju’Riese has led prevention and outreach initiatives with youth-serving organizations serving families, educators, law enforcement, and diverse communities. She earned bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice and Spanish from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Charles Leitch is a Founding Principal of Patterson Buchanan Fobes & Leitch, Inc., P.S. Prior to founding PBF&L in 2007, he was a partner in another longstanding, downtown Seattle litigation firm. Before transitioning to his civil practice, he served as a prosecutor on the city and county levels.
Mr. Leitch’s civil practice emphasizes complex public sector litigation, tort defense, school law, employment law, abuse litigation, and civil rights. His experience includes over two decades of work for school districts, counties, cities and towns, law enforcement, Fire/Emergency Medical Service entities, and corporate clients. Throughout his career, he has tried multiple bench and jury trials in State court and Federal District court. These include complex litigation.
Mr. Leitch also provides counsel to public entities on prevention and response to harassment, intimidation and bullying (HIB) in personal and electronic form, effective supervision in workplace and educational settings, and civil rights issues. Within this context, he routinely advises on policy creation, implementation oversight, training, compliance, administrative hearings, and limits to enforcement. He previously served on multiple regional HIB and cyberbullying public entity workgroups and was a member of the Washington State Attorney General’s Youth Internet Safety Task-force and the Advisory Board of the Internet Keep Safe Coalition (iKeepSafe.org) in Washington D.C.
Mr. Leitch also advises on critical response to workplace violence, boundary invasion and abuse, catastrophic events, and, since the beginning of the worldwide pandemic, best practices on COVID-19 for educational public entities. He routinely coordinates response to governmental agency inquiry and handles proceedings, such as administrative hearings, grievance and labor arbitrations, and terminations within the scope of his practices.
Mer Joyce worked on her first presidential campaign for Bill Bradley while still a high school student in New Jersey and volunteered as a Congressional intern for Tennessee Democrat Harold Ford, Jr. while in college. Six years later, she was New Media Operations Manager for President Obama’s national campaign in 2008, where she managed logistics for the 60-person new media department at campaign headquarters in Chicago.
For the 2018 midterm elections, she crisscrossed the country, volunteering for twenty Congressional candidates in swing districts from Washington and Colorado to Missouri and New York, all the while keeping a video diary of her travels. In the summer of 2020, she was a volunteer at the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) in Seattle in response to disproportionate violence by Seattle police following the murder of George Floyd. Mer had previously traveled to Ferguson, MO in 2014 to participate in Black Lives Matter mobilizations following the murder of Mike Brown.
International Politics and Activism
Her interest in politics is international. Mer interned in the media department of the United Nations Association in New York in 2003 and was a Programs Assistant at the National Democratic Institute in Morocco 2004–05, while a Fulbright Scholar there. In her twenties, she was a digital activism consultant, traveling the world to give talks and train activists in the use of digital tools for social change, working in such countries as Lebanon, Croatia, Mexico, and Turkey. Mer also lived in India and Ghana. She speaks or has learned six languages other than English: French, Spanish, Arabic, Latin, Hindi, and Twi, in order of fluency.
Digital Activism Writing
Mer first became interested in the political effects of technology while living in Morocco. She saw the powerful effect of social media and blogs—both relatively new at the time—to give a global stage to activists with few financial resources. Her first public work in the this area, The Election Blogging Guide (2006), was written with Zephyr Teachout and Solana Larsen, and was followed by Blog for a Cause! (2007), which she wrote for the citizen media nonprofit Global Voices. In 2017–18, Mer was was the project manager for VR Action Lab, a project that experimented with the social impact affordances of VR to combat youth bullying.
Digital Activism Research
In 2012, Mer co-founded the Digital Activism Research Project at the University of Washington, while she was a Graduate Research Fellow of the National Science Foundation. There, she led a team that developed the Global Digital Activism Data Set, a first-of-its-kind event data set of over 1,500 digital activism campaigns from 151 countries. Mer was also the editor of the book Digital Activism Decoded (2010). In 2007–08, Mer was Research Assistant at the Internet & Democracy Project at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society.
Early qualitative research experience includes interview-based reports on democracy activism in Morocco (2005) her Fulbright final project, and online citizen journalism and the 2002 South Korean presidential election (2007) for the Berkman Klein Center. More recently, Mer wrote a report on social movements and transparency (2015), based on interviews with transparency activists around the world, for the Transparency and Accountability Initiative, which is a donor collaborative.
Mer holds a MA in communication from the University of Washington. Her academic training also includes graduate work in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, undergraduate work in history and Africana studies at Vassar College and the University of Ghana, and a certificate in the advanced study of nonviolent conflict from the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict’s summer institute at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
Today, Mer is the founder of Do Big Good, a change facilitation firm, and lives in Seattle, where she enjoys biking and intentional communities. Formerly known as Mary Joyce, she changed her name to Mer (she/her) in 2020 to better reflect her gender identity.
Sheena Brown is lead facilitator for stakeholder listening sessions, workshops, and one-on-one interviews. She is also an advisor in social justice and human rights and approaches her work with a lens that is trauma-informed and culturally humble. Her intention is to hold space for those she serves. Sheena’s passion for this work stems from her early experiences with racism, classism, and weightism and is reinforced by her continued amazement at the phenomenon of human resiliency. At the University of Washington, Sheena completed her Master of Social Work and Bachelor of Science in Speech and Hearing Sciences with minors in Education, Learning and Society and Disability Studies with a special focus on Southeast Asian Studies. She was also awarded the Northwest Leaders of Behavioral Health Fellowship and Leadership Education in Neurodevelopment and Related Disabilities Post-Graduate Fellowship. Sheena has collaborated on projects with the Community Literacy Program and Inclusive Dance to improve self-efficacy in the BI-POC youth and disability communities through access and representation. She has worked for half a decade facilitating therapeutic interventions for survivors of various traumas in school and medical settings. She enjoys reading, being with her cats, and traveling to new places that feed her soul.
Dorothy Gjerdrum leads one of Gallagher’s largest practice groups, representing cities, counties, special districts, K–12 public and private schools, state and tribal governments and public sector pools of all types and sizes. Gallagher Public Sector & K–12 Education produces insurance and risk management resources for this broad range of clients and leads in the development of innovative risk financing solutions.
Dorothy leads the development of thought leadership for one of Gallagher’s newest divisions, Risk Program Administrators, which was formed to serve the needs of public sector pools, programs, and membership organizations.
Dorothy also provides thought leadership and consulting services on risk management and enterprise risk management to a variety of clients.
Dorothy began her risk management career in 1989, working with the newly established New Mexico county association pool. During her tenure there, she developed new pool coverage and risk prevention programs, added new members, developed, and served on the board of the nation’s first county association-owned captive, wrote the pool’s first coverage document, and brought claims in house.
Since joining Gallagher in 1999, she has developed the resource and leadership infrastructure that serves more than 500 sales professionals and 13,000 clients. Gallagher Public Sector & K–12 Education is recognized nationally for its innovative and client-centric services and its consistent support of client associations, conferences and thought leadership.
In 2008, Dorothy helped form and lead U.S. engagement in the development of international risk management standards, and she served as the Chair of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group from 2008–14. She brings her knowledge of best practices from around the world to her work as a risk management consultant for cities, counties, K–12 schools, community colleges, universities, and public sector pools. She is a frequent speaker on ERM and ISO 31000 and its application in the public sector and is a curriculum developer and trainer for the PRIMA/URMIA ISO 31000 training series.
Awards & Recognition
In 2014, Dorothy was named as one of “25 Women to Watch” by Business Insurance. In 2012, Dorothy was recognized by Treasury & Risk as a “Top 100 Leader in Finance and Risk,” and she has been recognized as a “Power Broker” by Risk & Insurance three times.
AGRiP, Association of Governmental Risk Pools
ISO TC 262, International Standards Association Technical Committee on Risk Management
NBOA, National Business Officers Association
PRIMA, Public Risk Management Association
URMIA, University Risk Management, and Insurance Association