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Senior Leadership Team

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

—Barack Obama


President and CEO

Joseph T. Jones, Jr. is Founder, President and CEO of the Center for Urban Families (CFUF), a Baltimore, Maryland nonprofit service organization established to empower low-income families by enhancing both the ability of women and men to contribute to their families as wage earners and of men to fulfill their roles as fathers.

Prior to founding CFUF, Joe developed and directed the Men’s Services program for the federally funded Baltimore Healthy Start initiative and replicated the Baltimore affiliate of the nationally recognized STRIVE employment services program.

His ability to engage and provide hands-on services to fathers garnered him the reputation of trailblazer in the field. Joe is now a national leader in workforce development, fatherhood and family services programming, and through his professional and civic involvement influences policy direction nationwide.

Joe has received numerous awards and honors for his leadership and programming including the Johns Hopkins University Leadership Development Program’s Distinguished Leadership Award, an honorary Doctorate in Public Service from Morgan State University, the Walter Sondheim Public Service Award, the White House Champion of Change, and was a 2013 CNN Hero.

Joe is a Weinberg Fellow and a graduate of the University of Maryland Baltimore County. He is happily married and has three children.


Chief Operating Officer

Brian Lyght is a business development and strategy professional with over 25 years of combined private, public and philanthropic sector experience helping organizations improve their operational performance and fulfill their mission. Reporting to the Founder, President & CEO of the Center for Urban Families, Brian has led all internal operations since joining CFUF in 2017. Brian manages the organization’s senior staff who have responsibilities for programs, finance and administration, human resources, and research and evaluation. He provides a strong day-to-day leadership presence to achieve CFUF’s mission to strengthen urban communities by helping fathers and families achieve stability and economic success.

Between 2013 and 2017, Brian served in dual roles: as Director of Knowledge Management at Casey Family Programs, and as Executive-on-Loan to the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. While at the U.S. Department of Labor, Brian contributed to the implementation of an integrated national workforce investment system that supports economic growth; provides employers with skilled workers; and supports disadvantaged youth to obtain skills and good paying jobs with career pathways.

Prior to joining Casey Family Programs, Brian served as a Senior Associate at the Annie E. Casey Foundation from 2002 to 2013, where he coordinated strategic grant making and cross-foundation collaboration to improve outcomes for youth in foster care. Brian also served as a Program Director for Economic Opportunity Programs at the Enterprise Foundation from 1997 to 2002. In earlier career positions – as Assistant Vice President for Corporate Community Development at CoreStates Bank, and as Special Assistant to the President of the Massachusetts Community Development Finance Corporation – Brian supported the development and expansion of small, minority-owned, and community-based businesses. Brian began his career in 1986 as an investment banker at PaineWebber where he structured tax-exempt bond financings to support the development of affordable housing.

Brian holds an MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurial Management from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He is happily married and has two children.


Director of Development

Marilyn Aklin has 30+ years of experience in fundraising, community development, TRIO Programs, Title I parental involvement policy and advocacy, international relief, and higher education.

As the Director of Development for the Center for Urban Families, Marilyn reports directly to the Founder, President and CEO. She is responsible for the fundraising, marketing & communications, and contracts management functions of the organization, and the management of the CFUF Homebuying Assistance Program. In addition, she is often asked to lead significant special projects that are critical to meeting the needs of CFUF members and the success of the organization.

Before joining the CFUF family, Marilyn was the Director of Development for Community Preservation and Development Corporation (CPDC), an award-winning nonprofit affordable housing development corporation dedicated to creating vibrant communities by developing affordable housing communities supported by research-based and continuously evaluated resident programs. In her role, Marilyn secured funding to support the extensive community building work of CPDC, conducted partner fundraising, and guided the design, implementation, and evaluation of multiple CPDC resident services programs.

Marilyn earned the Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and the Master of Public Administration degrees from the University of South Carolina; the Doctor of Public Administration degree from the University of Baltimore; and the Master of Theological Studies from the Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, DC. While at Wesley, she was a Presidential Scholar. Marilyn is an itinerant elder and pastor in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.


Director of Advocacy and Strategic Initiatives

Zachary (Zach) Alberts is a dedicated and innovative advocacy and strategic initiatives professional. He has served for- and nonprofit organizations for more than 10 years. He is passionate about serving every individual who comes through the Center for Urban Families’ doors without losing sight of the need for systemic change.

Before joining the Center for Urban Families, Zach held progressively responsible roles at, a multi-national marketing company, finishing his time there as the Senior Director of Operations for Sales. Zach was responsible for leading an international division focused on data analysis, performance and process evaluation, and go-to-market strategy for more than 600 individuals. Zach’s tenure at honed his strategic visioning skills, operations knowledge, and commitment to driving tangible results in dynamic environments.

As the son of a schoolteacher and a human services professional, working for a mission greater than oneself is Zach’s blood. He is a proud resident of Baltimore City and a proud alumnus of Tufts University (go Jumbos!). In his free time, he and his wife enjoy hikes with their dog Bear and exploring Baltimore’s amazing restaurant offerings.


Director of People & Culture

An executive management partner and organization culture leader with a reputation for identifying, developing, coaching, and retaining talent, Steve Anderson has a love of human capital management. With more than 25 years of successfully leading HR teams at multi-national companies such as Air Products and Catholic Relief Services, he takes great pride in facilitating dialogue and partnerships across diverse constituencies, building collaborations, and coaching leaders to succeed and thrive. Steve specializes in diversity, inclusion, and workforce readiness because “people are at the heart of what we do.: His expertise with for-profit, non-profit organizations and the federal government includes implementing systems that increase employee engagement and drive operational productivity. A Baltimore native and proud veteran of the U.S. Army, Steve was certified as a Senior Professional in HR (SPHR) in 2011.

As CFUF’s Director of People & Culture, he is responsible for providing strategic guidance and leadership for all aspects of the employee experience and shaping the organization’s culture to reflect its values and mission by fostering an inclusive work environment. He is further charged with establishing a vision and implementing initiatives to create a work environment that supports employees’ physical and mental wellbeing.


Director of Family Strengthening & Community Engagement

Dr. Brittny Herring is an experienced human services professional who has spent most of her life living in Long Island, New York where she worked for almost a decade at Catholic Charites, dedicating her career to working in the areas of mental health and senior services, before relocating her family to Baltimore, Maryland in 2015.

Prior to joining the Center for Urban Families as the Director of Family Strengthening & Community Engagement, Brittny most recently held the position of Director of Homesharing at St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center.  In that critical role, she successfully led a team that addressed housing instability experienced by some of Baltimore’s most vulnerable residents—seniors and youth experiencing homelessness. Brittny was also instrumental in implementing an intensive family preservation program for fragile families involved with the child protective service system.  This program utilized research-based strategies; provided crisis intervention, counseling, skill building, and access to other life-changing services; as well as, advocating for families impacted by substance use in Baltimore County.

Brittny has held various leadership positions in the human service field, with expertise in the areas of early childhood education, mental health, senior services, case management, and affordable housing. Brittny has a passion for supporting at-risk youth and has conducted motivational speaking at youth shelters and detention centers in New York. Brittny holds a Master’s degree in Human Services. In 2019, Brittny was awarded a PhD in Human and Social Services after completing a research study and her dissertation, “Cyberbullying: The Lived Experience of Parents,” which explored the impacts of cyberbullying and identified it as a public health issue affecting individuals, families, and communities at-large.

Brittny is the mother of two young adults and a resident of Baltimore City. Brittny continuously seeks opportunities to affect change and assist people with improving the quality of their lives through acts of mentorship and volunteering.


Director of Finance & Administration

Zachary B. Jeffers (Bryant) is a skilled and strategic finance professional. He has served organizations in both the for-profit and not-for-profit industries for approximately 20 years. He has worked seamlessly with internal and external stakeholders to provide Financial Reporting to help navigate their journey toward meeting goals and adapting to changing financial dynamics.

During the early part of his career, he worked as an Accountant in the Financial Reporting and Operations Division of T. Rowe Price. After leaving T. Rowe Price to pursue opportunities in Real Estate Accounting, he ultimately became the Vice President of Accounting for KLNB Management, a regional commercial property management company where he worked for five years. After a successful season at KLNB, he was a Property Accounting Manager and Controller for General Growth Properties, where he was responsible for the oversight of a portfolio of regional malls and office properties whose aggregate annual revenue was over $200 million.

Prior to joining the Center for Urban Families as its Director of Finance and Administration, Bryant most recently served as the Controller for the Baltimore Community Foundation (which manages approximately $130 million in Net Assets).

Bryant is a seasoned financial professional who has a passion for people. Bryant has served the Baltimore Community for the majority of his life. He mentors and coaches young men, serves as the Vice President of his family’s non-profit, which continues his father’s legacy of assisting families in need and has a long track record of mentoring and enhancing the professional climate at the various organizations he has been part of.

Bryant is a graduate of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.


Director of Programs

Catherine (Cathy) Pitchford serves as the Director of Programs for the Center for Urban Families. In her role at CFUF, Cathy leads a dynamic team and oversees the implementation and evaluation of multiple programs and strategies resulting in positive outcomes for CFUF members and their families. She has 20 years of workforce development experience.  As a lifelong resident of Baltimore City, Cathy is dedicated to systems-change work, stemming from her own lived experiences as a low-income, teenage mother who successfully navigated many public systems. Cathy is a leader of extraordinary vision, passion, creativity, and ambition, who is committed to advancing human services and strengthening the lives of Baltimore’s vulnerable families.

Cathy’s commitment and connection to community residents uniquely positions her to understand their needs and to successfully find solutions to fill gaps within challenging systems.  Her drive to explore and pilot innovative service-delivery models and methodologies has resulted in positive outcomes for a multitude of Baltimore City residents.  In addition, she is a highly sought developer of successful employer pipelines, and strategies and partnerships that bring together leaders of different industries, nonprofit organizations, networks of nonprofit organizations, colleges and universities, and community residents to solve complex workforce development challenges.

Cathy holds a master’s degree in social work from University of Maryland, Baltimore, and a bachelor’s degree in human services administration from University of Baltimore.  Cathy is also a Licensed Social Worker with expertise in Behavioral Health, Crisis, and Intervention Strategies. Cathy is an active member of Baltimore City Head Start Board, Baltimore City Mayor’s Office of Employment Development’s Practice Advisory Governance Committee, and the National Association of Social Workers.