BIOGRAPHY OF THE BOARD DIRECTORS
Melody Webb, President
Melody began building Mothers’ Outreach Network in late 2009. As a consultant and attorney, she currently focuses in the areas of Equal Employment Opportunity law and family law. Melody has worked as a public policy advocate throughout her career. After law school, she received an Equal Justice Works Fellowship with Legal Aid Society of D.C., and ran a youth violence prevention project, before becoming the Executive Director of the Anacostia Congress Heights Partnership in Ward 8. She worked as a systemic reform attorney with the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless advocating before the D.C. Council and the U.S. Congress until she left to have a family.
While at home with her three children, she founded www.Lobbyline.com, managing pro bono advocacy campaigns. These efforts led to a citation from the late Senator Edward Kennedy. When she returned to the workforce, it culminated in a short stint as Legislative Counsel to Senator Robert Casey (D-PA), and thereafter a position as Associate General Counsel with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), where she provided counsel on internal governance issues and political programs, in addition to training grassroots lobbyists, among other activities. Melody’s pro bono experience includes launching and running these issue campaigns: Waterfordckids and Social Security Credits for Mothers. Her work has been cited in the Washington Post and the Washington Times. Melody is a graduate of Harvard Law School, Harvard College, and Washington, D.C.’s Benjamin Banneker High School.
Cheli English-Figaro, Treasurer
Cheli, an initial board director of Mothers Outreach Network, is a co-founder and president emerita of Mocha Moms, Inc.. She graduated from Yale University and Columbia University School of Law. Prior to leaving full-time employment outside the home, she practiced law in New York and Washington, D.C.
She currently works part-time from home. She has been featured in Ebony Magazine, the Washington Post, the Gazette, and has been a featured writer for the Proctor and Gamble website, HomeMadeSimple.com. She has also apppeared as a regular guest on National Public Radio’s Tell Me More with Michel Martin.
Rene Blocker, Secretary
Rene, a long-time advisor to Mothers Outreach Network, is a graduate of Cornell Law School. She worked as Deputy Attorney General for New Jersey, and then from 1994 to 2005 with the Multistate Tax Commission, rising through the ranks to become Interim Executive Director. Since then she has worked as a consultant to small businesses and nonprofit organizations.
Esther DeAnn Coleman is a proud native of Jacksonville, Florida. At an early age, Esther became disillusioned with the images of children and teens being thrown into the juvenile justice system and resolved that she could be a part of the solution to this burgeoning problem. After a harrowing trip with Youth Leadership Jacksonville to the county jail, where the students were allowed to speak with several teen inmates who were housed in the jail, Esther’s plans to become an attorney and legal advocate were solidified. She knew at that point that the only way that she would be able to help those in her community fight the allure of crime and to fight against other civil injustices would be to be well versed in the tool that was being used against them– the law. Esther found that the law would be a perfect utilization of her analytical skills and her gifts of language and creative expression.
Esther attended the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University where she became president of the school’s section of the National Council of Negro Women; and completed internships at the Florida State Senate and the Levin College of Law’s Center for Governmental Responsibility at the University of Florida. After moving to D.C. to matriculate at the Georgetown University Law Center, Esther nurtured her interest in constitutional law by interning at the Advancement Project and the D.C. Office of the Corporation Counsel.
Esther’s desire to empower her community through knowledge of law continues to be the motivating factor for all of the work that she does. Esther is striving to continue to work with community based groups to create and facilitate their public policy platforms and to address the legal issues that the groups that they serve face. Esther has a particular interest in advancing the rights of women and youth and works closely with small business startups. She currently is principal attorney at Executive DC Legal Services and compliance manager for a behavioral health services provider; on the board of directors of Mother’s Outreach Network, and Words, Beats and Life, Inc.; as a trustee of the Shiloh Baptist Church of Washington, DC; and regularly volunteers with Capital Caring, the Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts and the Maryland Volunteer Lawyer Service. Esther works to use her talents to inform and encourage others to discover their own power and voice.