Board of Directors

We are a team of committed and passionate volunteers with a wide range of skills and experience. We love what we do, and we do it with passion.

Heddy Keith, M. Ed, CI

President and CEO

Her experience working with trauma is through using expressive writing workshops throughout Milwaukee at local churches and veterans centers. Heddy is also a certified Peer Specialist she enjoys writing and gardening and loves growing flowers and vegetables in her garden.

Heddy is the founder of CLAWW. She has worked with veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) since 2011, helping them write about their thoughts and feelings concerning their trauma. She is a published author of two books related to trauma, her memoir, and a trauma recovery journal. She experienced trauma as a child, which she shares in her memoir, Through It All: A Memoir of Love and Loss. Heddy is a retired Milwaukee Public Schools Language Arts and Social Studies teacher.

Patrice Robinson


Patrice is a founding member of CLAWW. Her background and education consist of over 30 years in the Criminal Justice Field. She has been employed for 26 years in state service case management and Intake, with a Letter of Arts and Science Degree, and Police Science. She studied at MATC and Marquette University in Criminology, Law Studies, and Social Justice, with a minor in Psychology.

She knows the hardship of trauma, personally and professionally, working within Milwaukee’s Community how it can affect women and children and change one’s life.  Creativity and innovative presentation is her outlet of expression when designing and creating jewelry.  She enjoys event and party planning as well as packing food baskets and serving meals in the community.

Tina Payne


After more than 25 years of service in the field of Human and Social Service for Milwaukee County, Tina retired and later became a volunteer for Vets 76 as well as volunteering for the Reproductive Justice Collective. She later become involved in activist work with the Coalition for Justice.

She is a graduate of the NAACP community Rite of Passage program and a graduate of the Neighborhood Leadership Institute Program (Cohort 4) through Cardinal Stritch University.

Tina is the author of a recently published book entitled, Untethered, where she shares her own story of personal trauma and her journey to healing.  As a Black woman who has lived with and through trauma, her desire is to see Black women live wholly, and as mentally, spiritually, and physically healthy as possible.  She is passionate about healing and reconciliation for all people, especially Black women. Tina is excited to lend her support or walk alongside her fellow sisters into their own restorative passage.

As a people person, Tina enjoys entertaining family and friends and celebrations with dear friends. She also enjoys local and Black Theater, volunteering at the Marcus Performing Arts Theater, and the Milwaukee Film Festival, and traveling.

Yvette Gibbs


Yvette was a single mother at a young age. This experience gives her an insight into the lives of young mothers raising their children alone today. As a child, she and her family experienced poverty and was able to work through it.  Her parents raised their children to be close and support one another.  Yvette pushed herself to work hard and raise her children. She attended Milwaukee Area Technical College and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for social work. She worked at New Concepts Social Development and has held many positions in financial management at TCF bank, Wells Fargo Bank, and Best Buy. Yvette loves to help people improve their life.  She joined CLAWW because of her passion for helping people.  She enjoys reading, taking walks, and spending time with her grandchildren.

Chrystal Edwards


Chrystal is a Consultant.  Currently, she teaches Financial Literacy to eighth-grade students. She is the adult advisor for a group called FACT, which is a youth-led group that spreads the truth about tobacco through peer-to-peer advocacy and legislative visits.  She helps families eliminate debt, build and preserve wealth, and prepare for emergencies, retirement,  and leaving a legacy to break the cycles of generational poverty.  Chrystal has experienced the trauma of poverty. 

“As an African American Woman, living with trauma is normal.  Being Black in America is traumatic.  We’re taught to believe we have no value or beauty.  We are led to believe that we were put on this earth to suffer great injustices, but thankfully, through groups like the Center for Leadership of Afrikan Women’s Wellness, I was able to find my voice and value.  I want to help other women not only survive, but thrive.  I want them to see that they can carve out their path and become successful and wear their scars like the badges of honor that they are.”

A Do It Yourself Queen, Chrystal loves making things with her hands. Her hobbies include knitting, crocheting, jewelry-making, gardening, henna body art, cooking, and reading.  She loves learning and exploring with her children.

Zelda Okia, MD, Life Coach

Education and Awareness Committee Chair

Dr. Zelda Okia is a retired forensic pathologist who has transitioned from death into life in January 2020. Before this, she worked as a medical examiner in the Waukesha County Medical Examiner’s Office, viewing traumatic and non-traumatic deaths.

In many non-traumatic (natural) deaths, although no physical trauma may have been noticeable outwardly, the effects of long-standing chronic stressors, including heart disease, depression and anxiety, diabetes, and obesity, were evident. Dr. Okia spent the last ten years examining results people created within their bodies that caused their deaths. She studied these results while they were on her autopsy table, but it was too late for them to make any changes.  Now, she examines the effects that people create in their lives. Her and her coaching clients, together, look at their results and determine if they are serving them or not.  The great thing now is that she has an incredible opportunity to help them change those results if they want to create something extraordinary in their lives.

Tim Klingman


Tim brings legal and real estate backgrounds to the board of CLAWW.  A 1996 graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School, his legal practice focused on equal employment opportunity in the workplace, with concentrations on racial discrimination and sexual harassment of employees.  He combined his legal work with real estate investing and brokering, and in 2011 he segued fully into his role as president of a real estate firm that he co-founded a few years prior.  He cares greatly about CLAWW’s important mission and is excited to be involved with such credentialed and caring individuals.

Advisory Board

Brenda Ward, MSW

Brenda is a founding member of CLAWW. She holds a Master of Social Work degree.  Her experience is in the field of Social Work Care Coordination, Medical Social Worker, School Social Worker and Psychotherapist span years of working with children and families in the home, schools, and community offering treatment to address the complexities that trauma brings.  The trauma education Brenda has learned and continues to learn offers information and trauma education that is objective, researched-based, and proven to address traumatic symptoms.  She approaches every person she encounters with compassion and understanding.  Brenda knows that the diversity of trauma requires individualized approaches.

Mary Ali-Masai, MS

Mary is a founding member of CLAWW and currently serves on the advisory board. She is a former Speech Pathologist and a middle school teacher. In her role as an educator, she witnessed the active/ongoing trauma as students struggled with the effects of gun violence, incarcerated parents, food and housing insecurity, and mental health issues.  Un-diagnosed and or untreated trauma continues to be a primary mental health issue in Black communities.  It is almost impossible to grow up Black in America and not experience trauma. As a result, Mary works diligently to maintain recovery. Because of her desire to help others who’ve also experienced trauma, she is now a Certified Peer Specialist.  In retirement, Mary continues to write poetry, quilt, and collect vintage textiles. She is an active gardener and herbal apprentice, drying and blending herbal teas is her latest passion.

Lucille Bennett

Frances Pitt, MSW

LeAnn Minor

Julieann Bankston

Julie A. Bankston, BSW, M.Ed., Ph.D. (a.b.d)

Julie A Bankston is the author of five published books, in Fiction, Short Stories, and Poetry. She was a Mental Health Professional for twenty-five years at the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex. She worked helping parents to become empowered in the Milwaukee Public School system for nine years.

Julie is a former United States Peace Corps Volunteer, serving in Tanzania (Africa) for two years. While a United States Peace Corps Volunteer, she taught English in the local village school, she participated in World Food Fair. Julie worked with local farmers to help improve crop growing conditions. She later worked in Malawi (Africa) for six months at the Development Aid People to People Teacher Training college April 2019 to September 2019. While there, Julie developed a women’s Woman Empowerment group-DAPP. She continues to help Malawi women with self-confidence, school fees and encouraging them to think positively.

Besides her Humanitarian work and experience, she is a certified Behavior Cognitive Counselor, a Hypnosis therapist, a Licensed Social Worker. Julie has a Bachelor of Social Welfare, Master of in Education of Family Studies, and a Ph.D. (ABD). In Organizational Leadership, she is currently working on her dissertation, which focuses on African Women in Malawi’s access to higher education.

Julie wants to be a Servant Leader, inspiring and empowering ordinary people to take action against worldwide poverty. Teaching individuals to support social justice and equity for all in a positive way.  Striving to help the less advantaged people in the world to improve their lives and become an instrument of Peace and Love in the world

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