May 20 - Post show panel discussion:
THE black community & Mental health


August Wilson has written an amazing African-American narrative, where the issue of mental health undergirds a powerful and engaging script. Hidden in this story are the impacts of racism, violence, depression, abandonment, and developmental issues. All of these impact the African-American community in a damaging way, but often times are hidden in the closets and the historical backgrounds of the Black community and rarely addressed. We don't talk about it, we don't get help for it, and often shame folks for living with the stigma and health impacts of mental health issues. This conversation is designed to elevate the perspective from one of shame and harm to one that is inclusive and informative towards helping us heal ourselves and our communities.

In honor of Mental Health Month we invite you to join us for The Black Community & Mental Health: A panel discussion aimed at dismantling barriers and addressing the needs of mental health access and services for the Black Community. This post show panel will take place on May 20 following the 2pm matinee.  You do not need to attend the performance to attend this discussion.  If attending the discussion only, please arrive at the theatre at 4:50 pm.  

Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 4.28.45 PM.png

Noni Causey

Noni Causey is the Executive Director of Black Educational Achievement Movement (BEAM). Noni is a native Portlander, whose family settled in the NE Portland community in 1905, and she has lived and worked across Oregon specifically serving her NE Community for over fifty years.

After working in social service for 25 years she returned to school to expand her knowledge. Noni quickly recognized that the students and community she came in contact with were being underserved and she has focused her work on advocating on behalf of those students and others who have historically been disenfranchised by the educational system.

Noni graduated from Linfield College in 2007 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Social Behavioral Science and received her Master's degree in 2012 from Portland State University in Educational Leadership and Policy.

Noni is passionate about social justice, education, leadership and providing access, resources, and advocacy for women and youth who are at risk of falling through the holes of our educational system. She believes in supporting their families to overcome the barriers of institutional racism, oppression, and structural violence. All the while, herself remaining committed to self-care, supporting and mentoring her adult children and spoiling her grandchildren with all the love, time, trips and toys they desire!

me 11-8.jpg

Lakeesha Dumas

LaKeesha Dumas is one of the Office of Consumer Engagement Coordinators for Multnomah County Mental Health and Addiction Services Division, she comes with a Wealth of Knowledge and Lived Life Experience; she is In Recovery from Substance Disorder and Mental Health.

LaKeesha is certified by the State as a Community Health Worker and a Peer Support Specialist through the Oregon Health Authority. She started off working with Systems when she was a part of the WOW Project through Healthshare , Kaiser Permanente , ORCHWA and 5 Community Based Organizations, working on Well-child checks and Mental Health. Through her Advocacy for Culturally -Specific Mental Health Services for those on the OHP, she was the recipient of the Oregon Public Health Association 2014 Emerging Leader Award. After that, she worked with CareOregon for multiple years, Providing Peer Support services to their members contracted through the Urban League of Portland and the African American Health Coalition.

Born and raised in Portland she has seen the Gentrification, Gang-Violence, Drug-Epidemic and Trauma faced by her community. Since being in Recovery she has worked tirelessly reaching back to her community to give them Hope and get them the appropriate resources to become healthier, overcome Barriers and also recover.

Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 4.58.21 PM.png

Michelle M. Lewis, cswa,msw

Michelle has a B.S. in Human Services from University of Phoenix in Portland, OR and a MSW from Portland State University. She has worked for over 15 years in the Human Services field, specializing in families involved in the criminal justice and/or child welfare systems.  She currently works as Afrocentric practitioner at OHSU Avel Gordly Center for Healing providing culturally specific mental health services to the African American community. Michelle is a Portland native she has been married for 20 years, is a mother of three sons, and a grandmother of two children ages 5 yo and 16 months. She enjoys spending time with her family, dancing, reading, and scrapbooking.

Michelle is the co-author of a community based family violence prevention curriculum titled Healthy Relationships Successful Families. She has a wealth of experience and knowledge in providing parenting education, advocacy, and case management support services to families involved in the criminal justice and/or child welfare systems.

Michelle applies a combination of Anti-Oppressive Practice, Liberation Psychology, Empowerment theories, and the Strengths Perspective to inform her practice when working with families and community members.


Tony Funchess, moderator

Tony is the founder and lead Diversity & Engagement Consultant with Unlimited Potential PDX. Tony started Unlimited Potential Productions in 2012 helping artists with professional coaching in the areas of business management, networking, event planning and image development. Tony's skill in training and development has made him a skilled facilitator and moderator on a host of topics related to race, social justice, philanthropy, non-profit management, marketing, leadership, community development, policy development, and the arts. Tony's unique world lens, and talent as an engaging orator sets him apart and makes him a welcome addition to almost any space on any topic.

Tony’s community leadership has included executive roles in both the local NAACP as well as the Urban League of Portland’s Young Professional Network.  He has been a long-time advocate, member, and leader in a host of other organizations representing criminal justice policy and reform, public safety, LGBTQ rights, and student rights. Tony has testified before the Oregon legislature, been interviewed numerous times, and continues to follow his passion for impacting lives and changing the world through thoughtful and meaningful dialog.

Currently, Tony is a 2017 Just Leadership USA Leading with Conviction Fellow/Alum who has expanded his local advocacy to a national platform helping to reduce the impacts of mass incarceration across the nation. His work here as a social justice leader afforded him the opportunity to join the JLUSA community as 1 of 3 Oregonians to ever participate in the intensive Breakthrough Leadership Development.

Today, Tony works as a Consultant for educational and arts organizations.  His work has been elevating the conversation around diversity, social justice, and community engagement in areas that tend to be exclusive and lacking in diverse representation.  This work marries his passions for justice, art, leadership development, education, and community engagement. Tony is helping shape the conversation for transformative change.

Tony has worked with Portland Playhouse since 2016 helping us think critically and strategically about audience development, and has helped us provide meaningful post show-discussions. We are excited to be working with Tony on our production of August Wilson's Fences.