Atif Bostic, President and CEO
Always ready for a challenge and to make a difference in the lives of justice-impacted individuals, Atif joined Uplift Solutions in May of 2015 to lead the organization through supermarket development programs to include finance and operations consulting, placed-based healthcare interventions, and development of its Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). In 2017, Atif steered the organization into workforce development for justice impacted individuals to obtain retail training for supermarket work.
In 2021, Atif repositioned the organization to focus exclusively on its justice-impacted citizens work by divesting its last-mile food distribution program, Philly Food Rescue, to Share Food Program. Philly Food Rescue was an innovative and disruptive solution to reducing food waste, increasing the volume of food in the hunger relief system, as well as increasing the system’s ability to reach hard-to-reach populations. Understanding the importance of this innovation and the unwillingness of larger market actors, Atif incubated the idea, de-risked it, and ultimately transferred it to an organization positioned to grow it. These efforts spurred the need for a strategic realignment to which Atif led the way. Uplift now adopted a new mission: “Reducing barriers for justice involved individuals and at-risk youth, helping them find pathways to longer term success.”
Atif is an active community leader in the workforce and nonprofit ecosystem, having won such awards as the Philadelphia Foundation’s Black Leadership Award. He has served as chair of the board for the Philadelphia OIC for over a decade, treasurer for Urban League of Philadelphia and Pathways PA, and has been a board member of the Allegheny West Foundation, Main Line Chamber of Commerce, American Heart Association, and more. He willingly offers his time and expertise by serving on such prestigious government committees as the City of Philadelphia’s Professional Workforce Alliance and the State’s Reentry Committee.
Maureen Cislo, Director of Development
Maureen is a graduate of SUNY College at Buffalo with a degree in Journalism. She also completed graduate studies in International Relations at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands. Her Journalism career began in Washington DC by covering the FDA, CPSC and subcommittees of the House and Senate for various national trade publications. She was featured in the Washington Post after cracking a story about a federal agency who was in violation of the Freedom of Information Act. Maureen turned her attention and writing style to non-profit work in 2013. “I wanted to be in the non-profit sector to give back to the community. I wanted to instill the importance of this type of work to my 3 children,” she says. Maureen has served as Business Development Manager at The Children’s Scholarship Fund, Philadelphia, Director of Development at Surrey Services for Seniors and at Harcum College. She brings a wealth of experience in grant research and writing; event planning and execution; major donor cultivation; effective communication and public relations strategies. In her free time Maureen enjoys gardening.
Julia Keleher, Strategic Advisor
Julia Keleher, Ed.D, MBA, PMP, is an educator, leader, and executive with extensive experience in the public and private sectors. For over 25 years, Dr. Keleher has worked to identify and remove structural barriers to equality. She is skilled in designing and implementing strategic initiatives and leveraging data and analytics to inform operational decisions. As the Chief Programs Officer, Julia contributes to strategic planning and leads program development at Uplift Solutions, ensuring the vision and goals of the organization remain client-focused and responsive to emerging community needs. A native Philadelphian with first-hand knowledge of the criminal justice system, Julia is committed to creating opportunities and advocating for incarcerated individuals and returning citizens.
Barry Johnson, Vice President, Workforce Operations
Barry Johnson is the Vice President of Uplift Workforce Solutions. Mr. Johnson is responsible for program operations and effectiveness. Mr. Johnson has over fifteen years’ experience in workforce development, having managed programs for JEVS Human Services, the Center for Literacy and the Philadelphia Prison Society. In addition to his experience and education Mr. Johnson has lived experience. Mr. Johnson has a Master’s Certification in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Maryland, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of California-Irvine.
Barb Varela, Chief Financial Officer
Barb Varela joins Uplift Solutions with 20+ years of experience in finance with a gift for organizational administration. During the last 10 years, she’s focused on non profit administration, finance and real estate development. As a driver of strategies and business plans, Ms. Varela oversaw the development of an $18M low income housing tax credit project providing housing for some of the city’s most vulnerable population located in the heart of Kensington.
Wayne Garrett, Community Engagement
Wayne, a previous participant in the Retail program in 2018, transitioned to a role at Brown’s Super Stores. Throughout his tenure, he earned recognition for his perseverance, receiving the Uplift’s Perseverance award, and becoming a member of the Uplift Board. Over the course of four years, Wayne was promoted twice, eventually reaching the position of Assistant Store Manager. His time at Uplift sparked a strong dedication, prompting him to leave Brown’s and assume the role of Community Engagement and Reentry Coordinator. Additionally, Wayne currently serves as the President of the Uplift Alumni Association.
Jeff Jones is Uplift’s Community Engagement Manager. Jeff is certified by the University of Pennsylvania as Social Impact Strategist and Financial Planner with decades of providing community development workshops, personal empowerment presentations, life coaching, drug abuse prevention intention sessions, along with community building and activist experience. Jeff brings a wealth of knowledge and a unique perspective to his work. He is active in his local community and does various seminars and events to help empower youth, strengthen families, restore lives that have been devastated by addiction, social injustice, and disenfranchisement. Jeff is skilled at building communities to help them achieve their goals and bring change for the better. He successfully helped to reduce substance abuse and crime levels in Philadelphia as the Director of the South Philadelphia Prevention Coalition, and he has also worked with Just Leadership USA to reduce the prison population and advocate to end mass incarceration. For his outstanding community work Jeff has received the Gold Volunteer Service Award from President Barak Obama.
Brian A. Mincer, Life Skills Instructor/ Trauma-Informed Behavioral Coach
Brian A. Mincer, the previous CEO/Founder of Nu Creationz, Inc., has been actively involved in assisting underserved young individuals and adults since 2007. Through his non-profit organization, he has dedicated himself to meeting the needs of both male and female youth. With a Bachelor of Theology in Christian Counseling and a Master of Arts in Human Services, specializing in Behavior Modification, obtained from Lincoln University and Almeda University respectively, Brian A. Mincer has extensive academic qualifications. His collaborations with local initiatives have aimed to reduce violence, promote employment, and support primary education. Additionally, he has worked as a drug and alcohol therapist and provided consultation services for the School District of Philadelphia.
Monique Oakman-Robinson, Education and Training Manager
Monique Oakman-Robinson is the lead instructor for Uplift Workforce Solutions. In her role, Ms. Oakman-Robinson is responsible for instruction. Mrs. Oakman-Robinson delivers instruction in a group setting and provides one-to-one support for participants that need additional training. Ms. Oakman-Robinson is a former School District of Philadelphia Educator and holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from Temple University. Mrs. Oakman-Robinson has over 18 years’ experience in customer service; which she utilizes and incorporates within the curriculum. Mrs. Oakman-Robinson holds several awards for her contributions in the community, such as Teacher of the Year for 2005 for the Philadelphia Christian Academy and the 190th Legislative District Image Award in 2015. She’s also had the privilege of participating in a panel discussion with Michelle Obama for her Let’s Move initiative for fighting childhood obesity.
Christina Pomponio became a part of Uplift in 2023, taking on the role of a case manager for Workforce Solutions. In this capacity, Christina’s responsibilities include evaluating and creating customized plans for program participants, locating suitable resources and benefits, ensuring participant retention, and monitoring their progress. Through personalized one-on-one sessions, Christina assesses the specific needs of each individual and devises tailored action plans to overcome obstacles and facilitate a seamless integration into the workforce. With a background in Social and Behavioral Science and a certification as a Recovery Specialist, Christina brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her role.
Lauren Ruday, Client Services Manager
Lauren Ruday is the senior case advisor for Uplift Workforce Solutions. In her role, Ms. Ruday is responsible for screening, developing individualized plans, identifying resources and benefits, retention, and tracking of program participants. Ms. Ruday conducts one-to-one sessions with each participant to understand their unique needs and builds an individualized plan to gain access to resources, address social barriers, and transition to work effectively. Ms. Ruday holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from West Chester University, and a Master of Science in Education Psychological Services from the University of Pennsylvania.
Emma Spearing, Case Manager/Intake Specialist
Emma Spearing began her work with Uplift Solutions in October of 2022 as an intern. During her internship Emma assisted with a variety of events and duties working with both the client services team and the instructors. Emma’s internship solidified her passion for this work. After completing her undergraduate degree, in January of 2024 Emma joined the client services team full time as a case manager and intake specialist. In this role Emma assists clients in removing barriers and provides ongoing support to ensure long term success. As intake specialist Emma handles each step of the intake process from the initial interview to the start of orientation. In December of 2023 Ms. Spearing graduated summa cum laude from Arcadia University, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with a concentration in social justice. Although Emma is relatively new to the world of reentry, she brings with her a dedication and passion for assisting people in paving new pathways to their goals and successes. Ms. Spearing’s commitment to this work stems from growing up in an area where the opioid epidemic has affected and taken the lives of many members of the community. From her early teens Emma has been an advocate for harm reduction and addressing social issues impacting her community.
Mark Tucker, Tech. Skills Instructor
Mark Tucker is currently the instructor of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning at Uplift Solutions. His past employment experience includes Director of Building Trades for NCIA Philadelphia Chapter, President of Guardian Property Specialist, and I T.E.A.C.H Vocational Program. Mark Tucker has over twenty certifications and earned his HVAC Certification from Camden County College in Blackwood NJ.
He also holds a bachelor’s degree of Health Science and Biology from Thomas Edison State University, a diploma of Property Management from Ashworth University in Atlanta Georgia, and a Doctor of Divinity from the National Association of Drug and Alcohol interventionist.
He’s currently pursuing a master’s degree in disaster management and counter terrorism from Liberty University in Virginia
Board of Directors
- Sandy Brown, Chairman – Chairman/ Executive Vice President, Brown’s Super Stores
- Sam Kates, Treasurer – Principal, CKCRG
- Linda Rosanio, Secretary – COO, VSBLTY
- Anna Keith – Vice President, Long-Term Services & Supports
- Ron Berman – Uplift, Retired
- Keir Bradford-Grey – Partner, Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads LLP
- Scott Brown – Business Development Manager, Conservist Capital Advisors
- Troy Crichton – Chair, Criminal Defense, Gibbons Legal
- Nancy Gephart, Shift Capital
- David Litsky – Vice President / Team Credit Manager, TD Bank
- Sharmain Matlock-Turner – President and CEO, UAC
- Scott Moses – Head of Grocery, Pharmacy and Restaurants, PJ Solomon
- Sharana Worsley, Citizens Bank