BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Melodie L.C. Thompson is a professional performing artist with a Masters in Teaching, a minor in Theater and certification in Special Education. Ms Thompson began her formal training in the arts as a dancer, and has spent over 30 years as a professional actor, storyteller, playwright and choreographer. She has been endorsed as a RISCA Teaching Artist for almost twenty years and is best known for her long-running national tour as Female Buffalo Soldier, Cathay Williams. Her other Rhode Island-based theatrical credits include: The Providence Black Repertory Company (Tribute to Langston Hughes); Rites and Reason Theater (ChangeUp); StagePraise Productions (Moving Day); Trinity Repertory Theater (Every 28 Hours Project); and Mixed Magic Theater (Celebrations: An African Odyssey and The Red Tent). She co-founded and performed in the Rhode Island Black Storytellers’ annual Funda Fest for over a decade. Ms Thompson's contributions to the Rhode Island Arts community have been included in the RI Black Heritage Society's Stages of Freedom Exhibit, honoring the legacy of RI Black Artists from the late 1800's to the present. Her service to the Christian community has been recognized through numerous honors, including official commissioning as an Apostle in the Arts through Harvest International Ministries, California, and serving as the RI Chapter Chair for the National Liturgical Dance Network.
Ms. Thompson’s initiatives in the arts have often addressed the needs of disabled and/or underrepresented populations. Some of her projects have included: piloting Brown University's "ArtsLiteracy" at Birch Vocational for developmentally disabled students; launching “Advancing in Dance for the Differently-Abled,” in collaboration with Everett Dance Theater and Very Special Arts-RI; producing “W.A.R. Stories: Keep on-a Walkin’”, produced in collaboration with URI Arts and Culture Dept, in recognition of the many American lives lost to racial violence; and directing the W.A.R. Prison Outreach, an arts access program in collaboration with the Women’s Chapel Services at the RI Adult Correctional Institution.
Ms Thompson is the wife of Willie Thomas, the mother or 3 adult children and the grandmother of 3 adorable angels, who will no doubt carry on her legacy in Arts and Ministry.
James McBride, aka Mr. Deep Positivity, is the Healthy Ambassador of Providence and is also the Ambassador for Providence Promise. He is a local celebrity and award winning rap artist/educator who has been on a continuous tour of hundreds of schools in New England since 2002 reaching thousands of students each year. His assemblies are fun, educational and interactive teaching students invaluable life lessons in a language they move and relate to… positive rap. This seasoned veteran has been rapping for over 20 years inspiring youth to be safe, smart, healthy and successful in life so they can follow their dreams. He has written and recorded over 700 positive, powerful songs and released a fun educational series of 7 Lessons for Life CDs. Mr. Deep Positivity is also an award winning TV show host of a show titled, Deep Lessons for Life which features students as the stars of the show and is a published author as well. Mr. Deep Positivity’s impact reaches behind prison walls as well, as he is a member of WAR’s Prison Ministry Team. He is a positive role model for the many children, youth and adults impacted by his performance, educational and ministry work.
Maureen Bodden is a Spoken Word Artist, Poet, Actor and dancer. She is a missionary leader and the Founder of Children of Elisa Missionary Organization. She has a passion to help those called to missions by providing resources when needed. Maureen is a proud mother to two teenagers. She has been a member of WAR since its inception, and has faithfully served as Treasurer through two terms.
Stephanie Barboza is Certified Fitness &Wellness Life Skills Coach and a Prophetic Dance Minister with a commission to serve. She is passionate about creating a lifestyle that glorifies God to the fullest in leading the body of Christ in Kingdom living. She is a member of Fortified Life Church, Providence RI, a mother of 3 and currently has 6 lovely grandchildren. Stephanie is also an entrepreneur and works full time at the St. Francis House Homeless Shelter, Boston MA. as the Wellness & Life Skills Coach. Minister Stephanie is currently enrolled in The Eagles Training Institute School of Prophecy I & II and serves on The National Liturgical Dance Network- MA/RI Chapter.
Philip Paul Ashley
Philip Paul Ashley was born in Lethem, Guyana, raised in Brooklyn New York, and commissioned to Rhode Island.
Philip is a child of God blessed with the gift of visual arts, crafts, spoken word and, as Holy Spirit leads, he also dances. He is a part time student at Rhode Island School of Design and an art instructor at the Pawtucket family YMCA where he brings joy to the hearts of our next generation of youth. Philip believes that his purpose in life is to love God and Love people. "It's by the grace of God I am allowed the privileged opportunity to serve in the Rhode Island community". Philip is truly one of God's Servants in the Arts, who believes in serving "the sometimes bitter but sweet fragrant powerful transforming powerful creative beauty and love of Christ Jesus through visual art."
Karen Russell spent many years serving the Lord through volunteer work in many different capacities. She has served food to the homeless, distributed clothing and toys to those in need, and she has also taught teens and children through both Catholic and Protestant churches. Ms Russell’s list of agencies and ministries for which she has volunteered includes the Davinci Center, The Providence Rescue Mission and Peace & Providence. She has also done extensive volunteer work for WSTL Radio, including their Annual Day of Prayer, pledge drives and other events. Karen enjoys singing and has taken part in many musical ministries and community groups, including the Cumberland Lincoln Community Chorus and Faith Christian Center Worship Team. Her love of the arts also includes liturgical dance, and she has danced in both the Bristol 4th of July and the Boston Columbus Day parades. Ms Russell brings to WAR a commitment to prayer, volunteerism, and a heart to serve the Lord.