Meet Our Founder

Will Allen began his professional career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he quickly became a leader on and off the field.  Aside from playing the game of football he also possessed a great passion to be a leader in the community and was inspired to give back and make a difference. Allen always felt it was his designed purpose to help provide tools and resources to Educate + Influence + Empower those in his surrounding community. Being afforded so much and having wonderful mentors in his life, Allen was fervent to “pay it forward”.

As a 12 year NFL veteran most recently with Pittsburgh Steelers, Allen is convicted in strengthening his community and helping to build hope. He is very enthusiastic in encouraging others to take his same stance in helping their respective communities. You can frequently find him sharing creative ideas at community round table forums, speaking at corporate events or elementary schools or inspiring his teammates to give back. Will also enjoys the game of golf and continuing his education.

Will has received continuing eduction certificates from Harvard Business School and Kellogg School of Business. He is also a graduate from The Ohio State University.


Dr. Aurora Sharrard is the Director of Sustainability at the University of Pittsburgh, tasked with enabling the Pitt Sustainability Plan, which formalizes decades of university-led and partnered green initiatives.  In pursuit of the Plan’s 61 measurable goals, she leads Pitt’s Office of Sustainability, cross-departmental sustainability staff, and University-wide sustainability strategy, activities, policies, collaborations, and partnerships.  Building on past progress and successes, Dr. Sharrard and her colleagues work daily across the spectrum of sustainability, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, incorporating sustainability into the curriculum, providing access and opportunity to all, transparently communicating progress, and embedding a culture of sustainability into the University of Pittsburgh so that it’s a sustainability leader in every scale, from campus to international.

Prior to joining the University, Dr. Sharrard worked at Green Building Alliance (GBA) for 11 years, ultimately serving as its Executive Director.  She led the nonprofit in advancing innovation in the built environment by empowering people to create environmentally, economically, and socially vibrant places.  GBA is one of the oldest regional green building and organizations in the United States, with a focus on innovative, evidence-based, and collaborative work throughout Western Pennsylvania.


LaShawnda Thomas  has over 17 years of progressive experience providing analysis, advice and insight regarding complex business issues to senior management and boards of directors, improving processes, and delivering services to ensure organizations are compliant with internal policies and procedures and external rules and regulations.

Prior to joining Mendes Consulting LLC, LaShawnda spent four years with Carnegie Mellon University where she led the accounting and financial reporting department of a university with a $1.1 billion operating budget and $3 billion in assets and was responsible for assessing the operational and financial impact of significant business transactions.

Jenell R. Ross is the President of the Mercedes-Benz of Centerville, Ohio. Mercedes-Benz of Centerville is the first African-American owned Mercedes-Benz Dealership in the world. Currently, Mercedes-Benz of Centerville has the distinction of being the only Mercedes-Benz dealership owned by an African American Woman. Jenell has been in her role since theuntimely death of her father, Robert P. Ross Sr. in 1997. Jenell not only serves her customers, but the community in general, sitting on a vast number of boards and committees. Pink-Ribbon Driven is her top charitable foundation, in honor of her late mother, Norma J. Ross. Jenell earned her bachelor degree from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. She is also an avid golfer, swimmer and enjoys travelling.

Paul Siefken, President and CEO,  of  Fred Rogers Productions (FRP) presents the very best in educational children’s media on broadcast and digital platforms—and beyond. Since joining FRP, he has steered the broadcast content and overseen the digital production pipelines for the award-winning series Daniel Tiger’s NeighborhoodPeg + Cat, and Odd Squad, working with respective production partners for each. Paul is also a co-creator of Donkey Hodie, a new puppet series for kids 3-5 that will premiere on PBS KIDS in winter 2021.

Paul spent nearly ten years at PBS, most recently as Director of Children’s Programming, where he managed the development of several PBS KIDS series, including The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About ThatSid the Science KidWordGirlWild KrattsFetch! With Ruff Ruffman, and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

William Generett Jr. serves as the vice president for community engagement at Duquesne University. In this role, he provides leadership in support of the University’s mission of service and its commitment to the city of Pittsburgh, Western Pennsylvania and the nation.

Generett facilitates and develops relationships with local and national community organizations, governments and civic organizations, strengthening the University’s partnerships with its neighbors. Through the newly formed Office of Community Engagement, he oversees the University’s government affairs function and its Center for Engaged Teaching and Research, which works to advance community-engaged research, teaching and scholarship.

Andrew Platt, Advisor and Certified Wealth Strategist to Successful Business Owners, Founders, and Entrepreneurs, BNY Mellon Wealth Management