Meet Our Team

Lewis Smith, MS – Director of Operations

Lewis lives in Prince Georges County, but works in Baltimore, Maryland. He is very accomplished in the area of community development and his education and skills are as follow to name a few; Post Graduate courses in Human Services at Bowie State University, Post Graduate courses in Healthcare Management at University of Phoenix, Masters of Human Services- Lincoln University, Pennsylvania, Associate in General Studies-American University, Washington, DC. Lewis sits on various Boards and has a very impressive skill set to include but not limited to various certifications in family therapy, juvenile sex offenders, gambling, community mediation, behavioral healthcare standards and addiction. Lewis is a prime example of one who is vested in the community, always seeking to make a difference on the front line or behind the scenes.

James Peterson, EdD, MHS – Director of Evaluations

James is a Research Professor with George Washington University, Milliken School of Public Health where he specializes in HIV/AIDS and bio statistics.  Prior to joining the School of Public Health in 2006, Dr. Peterson was a Lecturer at Lincoln University and a Research Associate at the University of Maryland, School of Anthropology.  James is from Washington, DC and in his spare time enjoys racquetball and jazz.

Tiarra Abu-Bakr’ – Clinical Director, LPC

Mrs. Tiarra Abu-Bakr is a Licensed Graduate Professional Counselor. Mrs. Abu-Bakr has a Bachelor ofScience Degree in Criminal Justice from Southeastern University with a Master of Art in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Argosy University. She has over 15 years of service in the field of victim services; and exudes passion about helping individuals work through trauma related to domestic abuse, sexual assault, infidelity, sexual orientation, and gender identity challenges.

Tiarra has been given the opportunity to serve a diverse population. Tiarra worked in the capacity of a Domestic Violence Advocate for DC SAFE for approximately 8 years. She dedicated multiple years to assisting returning citizens by preparing them for reunification through the Department of Corrections. Tiarra has had the privilege of worked along DC’s finest in the Metropolitan Police Department as an Outreach Coordinator for the Victim Services Branch.

An extensive number of years have been committed to serving homeless families and children through Bright Beginnings Inc. Ms. Abu-Bakr now serves in the full capacity of a Mental Health Therapist providing individual, couples, family, and group therapy.  She approaches counseling holistically and believes that her clients are the expert on what he/she needs, and she is here to provide support for their journey.

Office Manager – TBA


Kayla Deal – Acting President of the Board

Kayla Deal is member of the Board of Directors for Building Bridges. She is from Prince George’s County Maryland. Kayla graduated from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore with her Bachelor of Science in biology. She is now a student pharmacist obtaining her Doctor of Pharmacy the School of Pharmacy located at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. She enjoys using her skills and resources to help better her community.

Kayla is heavily involved her community. Kayla is the Class of 2023 pharmacy student government representative, a certified tutor and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.In her free-time Kayla likes being with her family, listening to music, and watching movies.
She enjoys using her skills and resources to help better her community.

Delmus Nelson – Board Director Treasurer

Delmus is the Owner of Nelson Welding, Founder of the Southeast Welding Academy, and Southeast Welding Center all located in Washington, DC. He has an extensive history working in the historical Anacostia area and is a key player and stakeholder in getting people to work. He believes whole-heartedly in second chances, and thus provides training and education; as well as employment placement assistance to students graduating from the academy. We are blessed to have him on our board and look forward to providing second chances here at the foundation. He brings enormous experience and knowledge of successfully owning and operating multiple agencies, and a multitude of opportunities for our consumers.

Cheryl Daniels – Board Member Secretary

Cheryl is a former consumer, and current domestic violence advocate who uses her lived experience to encourage, educate and empower others. She is a billing and coding specialist for Family and Medical Counseling Services. She is dedicated to the consumers that she serves and is always a champion for trauma informed services and approaches to human service provisions.

Kimberly Burks – Board Member

Kimberly is an advocate of trauma informed care, and she is a champion for “nothing about us without us. A model that the agency has embraced, we always have consumers at the table. Kimberly has excellent interpersonal and communication skills. She takes great pride in being the change that she wants to see.

Marsha A. Woodland, BS – Board Director

As Founder and Consultant, Marsha is an established professional, Peer and Consultant working with the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Council for Behavioral Health and the National Center for Trauma Informed Care (NCTIC). Marsha is a nationally recognized orator & trauma survivor who uses her lived experiences to change mindsets regarding trauma, her overall mission is to “erase” the stigma associated with domestic violence and co-occurring dynamics. Her personal experiences as a consumer inspired her to “Do Something” to educate organizations and individuals about the harmful impact of witnessing and experiencing violence at a young age. Her advocacy is powerful because “To whom much is given, much is required.”

Taliyah Woodland – Events Coordination

Taliyah ensures that all aspects of our agency’s programs are meeting program outcomes and are in accordance with trauma informed care. She is responsible for the day to day run of our program. She is a senior of University of District of Columbia, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in social work.

Kayla Banks, BS – Fundraising Coordination

Kayla is responsible for all aspects of our agency’s activities and events. She handles logistics, outreach, marketing, and coordination. Kayla graduated from North Carolina A and T with a bachelor’s in social work and is attending Temple University to pursue her Master’s of Social Work.