Derrick B. Hayes

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Derrick B. Hayes was born and raised in the city of Detroit in a single parent household; he was the youngest of two boys. His mother struggled with drug addiction early in his childhood but despite being addicted to drugs, his mother managed to keep both her boys focused on more constructive things (sports). His first love was and still is basketball and his mother always knew how to fuel that passion by being his biggest supporter. Derrick attended Southwestern High School 93, from there he attended Iowa State University for (2) years then transferred back home to University of Detroit Mercy 95, where he would play collegiate basketball and graduate with his Bachelor in Criminal Justice 98. Derrick has been blessed to travel the world as a professional basketball player, landing him after college in Europe playing professionally. After playing (4) years of professional basketball abroad and state side, Derrick returned home and joined the Detroit Police Department in 2002. February 12th, 2005, Derrick was shot (6) times while on duty. After receiving his disability retirement from the police department, Derrick, began coaching high school basketball for several years and went back to his alma mater to earn his Masters’ Degree in Educational Administration Leadership (University of Detroit Mercy 2015). Derrick is known for his charismatic personality and is an inspiration to his peers as he is a true leader in every aspect of the word.

Olivia Ries


Olivia is a 17-year-old girl from Atlanta GA who knows that if we want to see change happen, we all need to roll up our sleeves and get involved. At the age of seven, Olivia first learned about the fact that Cheetahs were becoming endangered and she immediately knew she had to do something, so together with her brother Carter, they created their nonprofit called One More Generation (OMG). The organization is a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of endangered species, our communities, and our environment. Their goal is to ensure the wellbeing of our planet for at least One More Generation… and beyond.

Since starting OMG, Olivia and her brother have launched countless initiatives designed to use education as the driving force to effect change. Since starting, they have created three divisions within OMG, the first was their Animal Conservation Division, the second happened shortly after starting OMG when the BP Gulf oil spill happened. Olivia quickly realized that in order to care for the animals, you also needed to take care of the environment. Their third division is their Youth Empowerment Division which is designed to help other youths realize that they too can make a difference.

Olivia travels around the world inspiring others and sharing her community outreach efforts with students and families in an effort to get more people to learn about the problems so that collectively, we can all work towards finding solutions. You can learn more about Olivia's work by viewing their TEDxYouth presentation or their keynote speech at the recent G7 Summit in Canada which are all located on their websites and

Zahra Ahmad


Zahra Ahmad, 24, is an award-winning city reporter at The Flint Journal-MLive. She has reported extensively on the lead pipe replacement project and other issues connected to the Flint water crisis. In February, she traveled back to Iraq to reunite with her extended family for the first time since her family immigrated to the United States in 1998 when Saddam Hussein issued a warrant for her father’s arrest. Follow her on Instagram at zeee_m.a to see her journey unfold or ask her questions on Twitter using the handle @AhmadZahra1m.

Hannah Reynolds


Though she isn’t yet out of high school, Hannah is already starting her career of assisting the helpless and speaking for the voiceless. Hannah’s experiences with cruel bullying and battling adversity has given her a new perspective on the power of the human voice and capabilities of kindness which she is determined to spread to all ears.

After years as a child experiencing the cruelty of people’s apathy and indifference, Hannah took on the mission to preserve the reputation of kindness and be a light in a world that can often feel too dim. Starting with an Instagram and evolving into giving speeches, Hannah has gained popularity for her work and continues to take on new tasks to better the lives of the ones around her. She’s committed to help build the world’s future heroes to change the world.

David Budas

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David Budas has worked with young people as a camp counselor, teacher, coach, activities coordinator, and college professor for more than 15 years. He was originally drawn to the Hero Round Table because he believed it was a way to help curb bullying in his classroom and school. He quickly began to realize this movement provided an opportunity to help develop young people into leaders who would not be bystanders. He has spent the last several years working with colleagues to build the McCord Heroes program at McCord Junior High School. The McCord Heroes are a group of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade student leaders that are upstanders and look to promote a positive culture within the school and community. 

The McCord Heroes have four goals each school year.

  1. Create a more positive and accepting culture/atmosphere at McCord Junior High for students and the staff.

  2. Nurture and develop student leadership in the school. Both from our McCord Heroes and the rest of the students.

  3. Develop the habit of actively participating to improve McCord and the rest of the world.

  4. Teach  all students how to be a hero and not a bystander.

Christy Nichols

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Christy’s sought out expertise in professional education has afforded her the opportunity to work all over the world. Since achieving a Masters Degree and Teaching Credentials in Sussex, England, she has delivered leadership initiatives internationally to both secondary and university students in the UK, Europe, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, South Africa, the USA, and Australia. After successfully creating and developing EDventure International, she launched Venture Within to deliver personal leadership experiences for professionals. Her passion is providing opportunities for personal transformation through immersive overseas Retreats or personalized online one-to-one coaching.

Nicholas Domingo

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Nicholas Domingo is a 28 year old who has stepped into many arenas of work in his life ranging from manual labor in his teenage years, business development and acting in his early 20's to where he is now in the pursuit of building a better world for current and future generations through philanthropic ventures. He is a catalyst for change!

Through his acting career, He has been seen on Nickelodeon’s “The Thundermans”, Disney’s “Mighty Med” and The Arsenio Hall show.

His main focus has been the dedication to running the superhero based non-profit youth program, Captain Encouragement, the first superhero teaching real values to kids and showcasing superpowers based on resilience and coping techniques. Through this program they have developed school assembly programs, a children's comic book series, musical productions and are now developing a live action movie

He runs this successful program with his wife, Candice Domingo.

The Captain Encouragement program has been featured in The Boston Globe, The Rotarian Magazine, The Kansas City Star, The Union Democrat Newspaper, guest on Action 41 news and guest on various radio stations to promote their mission.

He lives every day in gratitude for the abundant life that he has been given and is always on the look out for new opportunities to serve humanity!

Kelly Ferencz

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The journey, that is life, will often present us with opportunities. Opportunities to be a version of our self, that we have either worked to nurture, or that the Universe sees us in need of nurturing.

Kelly, immediately after getting married, in a time of her life that should have been fairy-tale-ish, found herself in a war. This war was to be against Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APL). Little did she know, the lessons learned while winning each battle and eventually this war against APL were to be the fundamental stones on which the strength of her personality were to be built.

Kelly finds herself today an independent single mother of two beautiful daughters. She raises them to find the positive perspectives that are the silver linings to every situation and experience. She raises them in the presence of a loving tribe that she has surrounded herself with as she has grown to be her own hero. A hero that draws super-powers from being around other strong women, practicing yoga, professional therapy, finding positive perspective, and being honest about the obstacles that she has lived to tell about.

Today, Kelly is the strongest, most positive version of herself yet. A women willing to share her story so that others, in moments of uncertainty, can draw strength in knowing they aren’t alone.

Jessyca Mathews


Jessyca Mathews received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint in English, with a minor in history, with a Specialization in Secondary Education. She received her Masters in the Art of Teaching from Marygrove College. Along with these degrees, Jessyca attended Michigan State University and is a member of the Red Cedar Writing Project. 

Ms. Mathews is a language arts teacher at Carman-Ainsworth High School and a Racial, Environmental Justice, and Institutional Racism activist. In 2017, Jessyca was named a finalist for the NEA’s Social Justice Activist of the Year for her work on the Flint water crisis. Jessyca has done national interviews, projects, protest, and community actions to speak out for those affected by the Flint water crisis. In celebration of her activism work, Jessyca was named the 2018 Secondary English Teacher of the Year from the Michigan Council of Teachers of English and the 2018 National Sanford Award Winner for being the most inspirational teacher in Michigan.

Recently, Jessyca was awarded Regional Teacher of the Year from the state of Michigan and was a finalist for Michigan Teacher of the Year 2019-2020.

Along with her activism work, she is a prominent member of the writing community. In 2013, Jessyca Mathews won a national contest sponsored by MANA Publishing and was named the 2013 Passion for Poetry writer. After winning this prestigious award, Jessyca was able to publish her first poetry collection, Simply: A Collection of Poetry. In 2015 she published her memoir, 318: A Chubby Chick’s Tale of Weight Loss Surgery. She co-wrote her first play, Appointments in 2017, which features a focus on the Flint water crisis. She also has been published writer in Nia Magazine, Pure Haiku, Mighty Magazine, and is now a blogger for Teaching Tolerance.