FERNANDO VINCENT - CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER/CO-FOUNDER
Fernando is a highly creative professional, with an incredibly accomplished track record of skillful entertainment marketing, who for over 18 years, has been successfully using urban communication tools and branding as a way of life. He is considered by many to be one of Midwest’s leading independent creative consultants and entertainment developers. Fernando is a creative consultant with proficient knowledge that evolved from independent and creative direction, development of special events and projects encompassing all facets of entertainment, including clubs/club nights, concert promotions, promotions and marketing for major recording artists, promotions for film and soundtrack, and has creatively developed and produced for television.
He has worked in a variety of capacities including Promotions, Marketing, Special Events, Concert Promotions, Special Project Development and Implementation for performers such as: Melba Moore, Salli Richardson, Danny Boy, Harry Belafonte, Outkast, Public Enemy, Groove Theory, Mary J Blige, 112, Chaka Khan, Bones Thug N Harmony, Brandy, Eve, George Tillman Jr., Boyz II Men, Blackstreet, Cee-Lo, Monica, Total, Lil Kim, Xscape, Diddy, LL Cool J, Usher, Ashanti, Do or Die, Foxy Brown, Brownstone, Crucial Conflict, Dru Hill, Snoop Dog, Twista, Ann Nesby, Busta Rhymes, and Jay-Z, among others.
REVIN FELLOWS - CHIEF OPERATIONS OFFICER/CO-FOUNDER
Revin has been a prominent force in the Chicago Metropolitan area for more than three decades. He has dedicated a large portion of his career to community empowerment and being the primary strategic advocate for programs and projects that elevate “underserved” families consisting of seniors, adults, young adults, teens, ex-offenders and single parents. Through the use of excellent communication skills, professional expertise with social services and formulation of key political relationships, he has sustained liaisons and strategic alliances that effectively and efficiently facilitate executions of plans resulting in notable successful outcomes for the community, businesses, public agencies and private agencies alike.
Revin’s extensive community activism experience includes: Vice Chairman - National Black Agenda Consortium; Family Focus Lawndale Program Coordinator (for 15 years); Director of Mission Men Father Support Group (for 10 years); Director of Research and Community Outreach of National Block Club University (a Network of 250 Block Clubs); Former NCAA Division 3 Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach - Aurora University; US Minority Contracts Advocate, Greater Far South Halsted IL RT 1; Chambers of Commerce Advisory Board; Employment Planning; Co-Author of “Blacks To Work State Government”; Legislative Advocacy 2010-22; Campaign Liaison - State Representative LaShawn K. Ford and Small Business and Workforce Development Advisory Group just to name a few of his accomplishments.
AL RAIFORD - CHIEF BUSINESS OFFICER/CO-FOUNDER
Al is a native of Chicago’s West Side. During his childhood, he traveled extensively and was exposed to different cities with varying cultures. After three years of living in Japan he returned back to Chicago he began working for the Law Offices of Chapman and Cutler LLP as a paralegal professional in the Public Finance Department.
As a paraprofessional, he assisted in the process of mergers, acquisitions, financing and other corporate transactions including: due diligence, disclosure schedules, regulatory filings, ancillary agreements, coordination of closings, post-closing transition and compliance, maintaining corporate archival processes for business records, organizing and maintaining corporate ownership documents, conducted legal research, assisting with special projects for legal, operations and other corporate departments.
Mr. Raiford has also organized, supervised, managed and produced a variety of promotional, entertainment and special events such as: developer/manager/party for Crown Point, promoted and organized Strawberry Festival in Grant Park; organized and promoted Battle of the DJ in Yokohama, Japan, and “Mid West is Cracking” Tour throughout the southern regions of Illinois.
As a husband and a father of three, who later adopted a child, Al has always demonstrated his love and compassion for children. At St. Mark’s Missionary Baptist Church, he served as a Youth Director under Bishop Willie L. Jordan. Al has also volunteered for many not-for-profits such as Ladder Up and the Sparks Program.
While working with these agencies he saw a need to reach youth in a way that would excite them and bring forth a positive change in their lives. With that as his ultimate goal — BOOKS OVER BALLS was formed.
THOMAS WOOD - TREASURER/EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT
Thomas has 25+ years of experience in finance, youth mentoring and sports operations. He has successfully developed effective mentoring curriculum for high schools in Detroit, MI. He also has extensive experience in soliciting and negotiating contracts with Public and Private school districts in regards to efficient program design and implementation.
Mr. Wood has experience in creating and submitting of 501c3 documents, Corporate Bylaws, accounting documentation and fulfilling all grant requests. Mr. Wood has also overseen rehab projects related to donated inventory to assure compliance with Governmental Agencies. He has also been instrumental in the completion of required monthly financial statements, payroll and tax reporting, and annual 990 financial documents for several nonprofits that he has had the pleasure of working with while reporting directly to the Board of Directors. He has been responsible for connecting with agencies, sponsors and participants to produce athletic contest and tournaments while simultaneously promoting and overseeing skills training in baseball, basketball, football, and golf. Mr. Wood is experienced in recruiting , scheduling and training basketball and baseball officials. He possesses Bachelor of Science degrees in Finance and Organizational Structure & Design.
DARREN POWELL - DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY RELATIONS & OUTREACH
Darren Powell is a Husband, Father, and Community Leader. Darren is a life producer and an author that was born and raised in the Englewood community. He also has 20 plus years in commodities and is knowledgeable in worldwide markets, where he has worked for and with Fortune five hundred companies from Tokyo, France, the Middle East, London and the United States. He currently sits on the board as President for Hamilton Park, Park Advisory Council. For over ten years he has been involved with politics, community outreach and education to strengthen our youths’ future.
Also, he has been an advocate for better funding for programs and against out of school suspension bringing his concerns to the table while sitting on Bogan H.S (LSAC) Local School Advisory Council as a parent representative. He further chose to stay on as a community representative of Bogan H.S.(LSAC) even after his son graduated.
In addition, he also serves on the (LSC) Local School Council at Harvard School of excellence as a community representative. In the year of 2005 He started his organization Why Community Development as Founder/CEO and a board member where he pushed for positive change by starting a campaign, we don’t just want to just exist but we want to make a difference.’ His mission continued to 2015 which was one of his most active years. He has pushed for programs with substance, that make a real difference such as the time substitution program, the baby sitting program and non-wasteful programs. That’s why he is an advisor and supporter for LT’s and the youth of Englewood, the Director of Youth and Community outreach for the 17th ward, a Training Coordinator for MVP Training.
He also feels the position of Community Relations & Outreach for BOB is one of the most important positions he has ever held because it’s about serving the community and the chance to change the lives of our young men. Darren sees this as a chance to unify and create partnerships with our residents, churches, businesses, politicians, schools, parks and organizations.
PAUL BIANCHI - ADVISORY BOARD CO-CHAIR & LIFE COACH/MENTOR
Paul is a young professional that strives for greatness every day. He is someone who is always looking to improve and grow. But not only does he have a desire to do those things for himself, he also wants to help others do the same. His path to Books Over Balls is a tale of a man recognizing a problem, and deciding to come together with individuals following a dream in order to help to create a change.
Around late 2014, during his senior year in college at the University of Illinois at Chicago (College of Business), he noticed a recurring theme. As he began to watch the news every day, he noticed that the local news was always focused around Chicago’s prevalent violence and senseless murders. Often noticing these actions were affecting the young people of Chicago. During that same period of time, he realized he had a desire to be a basketball coach for the youth in Chicago. Browsing the Internet, he stumbled upon a listing that Books Over Balls had posted, requesting a volunteer to coach young individuals and mentor the youth. So he filled out the application, and received a call from Fernando Vincent. This is a call that Paul says, “Changed my life for the better. It provided me the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of others. For the first time in my life, I felt what it was like to be a part of something much, much bigger than myself.”
When he’s not volunteering with BOB and playing/watching basketball, he enjoys spending time with his family, girlfriend, and his friends. His professional career since his graduation at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has taken him on a journey through an organization called MSDS online and a company he joined recently, LinkedIn. LinkedIn is where he just began his position as a Sales Development Specialist on January 4th, 2016. He utilizes the experience he’s gained from his professional and personal life, to help the youth of Chicago. The light that is his passion for BOB, shines very, very bright. He believes that anything that is worth doing is worth over-doing.
TAKESHA HOWARD - STRATEGIC ALLIANCE SPECIALIST
Takesha Howard was born in Chicago, Illinois. At the early age of 10, her parents moved the family to Atlanta, Georgia to escape the harsh realities of low-income housing in Chicago. At the age of 18, Takesha moved back to her hometown of Chicago where she finished her last year of high school, and went on to receive her Associates Degree in Applied Science at Sawyer College in Hammond, Indiana.
As a lover of all forms of art, Takesha purchased her own music equipment, opened up her own studio, and began writing lyrics for other artists. In addition to writing lyrics, she also loved to write stories.
Striving to achieve more, along with a gentle nudge from her step-father, Takesha began writing her first book titled, “God Never Left Me” in 2008, which was published March 2009 by Author House Publishing. Her second book, “A Nightmare From Hell”, was published in 2011. She also wrote a children’s book is titled, “Where Are You Dad?” which was published in April 2012.
Now an accomplished and published author, Takesha focused on her first love; music. She decided to go full force with her songwriting career. In 2013, she met Grammy award winning producer Maurice Joshua, who inspired her to go for her dreams. She hired her own vocalist and Maurice Joshua arranged and assisted her in produced three singles titled, “A Real Woman” ,“My King” and "Tell Me".
In November 2015, Takesha became a co-host and independent consultant for Laroy Mack on Rejoice 102.3 FM. She has also established her own company "Artistic Production". With this particular business venture, Ms. Howard focuses on assisting entrepreneurs with business development, health education and networking events.