Julius BOATWRIGHT, MSW, LSW
Founder and Managing Director | he/him
Julius is responsible for working collaboratively with the community, key funders, staff and has ultimate responsibility for the overall management of the organization including, but not limited to operations, fundraising, financial management, hiring and personnel management, external relations, vendor management, grant making/strategic investments and evaluation/outcomes/quality assurance.
Prior to his work with Steel Smiling, Julius served as Executive Director with the Will Allen Foundation. He also worked as a Community-Based Mental Health Therapist with Pressley Ridge and a Community Engagement Associate with The Education Partnership.
He’s a Licensed Social Worker who completed a Trauma-Informed Community Practice Workshop with Duquesne University through their Department of Psychology and Rita McGinley Clinic. He obtained his Master of Social Work degree with a Certificate in Human Services Management from the University of Pittsburgh. Julius also earned a bachelor’s degree in Communication from Pitt. Lastly, he completed a 1-year professional development program for nonprofit executives with Leadership Pittsburgh and the California-based Rockwood Leadership Institute.
Julius is training to become a Registered Yoga Teacher through the Black Male Yoga Initiative and is currently completing the supervision requirements to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in PA. He has also served as Board Member with the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh.
Cait LEE, MSW
Storytelling Strategist | she/her
Cait Lee is the Storytelling Strategist at Steel Smiling, an Organization-in-Residence with Neighborhood Allies. In this role, Cait leads Steel Smiling’s grant-writing, communications, public relations, and storytelling activities. She strives to elevate the organization’s position as a local thought leader on Black mental health and to amplify Steel Smiling’s role as a nurturing and unbiased “way-finder” for residents navigating an often-complex maze of service options and supports.
Cait is one of the lead creators of the Organization-in-Residence model, the strategic alignment that amplifies Steel Smiling’s growth within Neighborhood Allies’ organizational infrastructure. She has been with Steel Smiling since 2021 and Neighborhood Allies since 2017. During her tenure across the organizations, she has held roles such as Operations Director of Steel Smiling, Program Manager for Grants and Investments, Program Manager for Community Trauma and Executive Assistant. Prior to joining Neighborhood Allies, Cait worked as a Grants Management Intern at the Birmingham Foundation, a place-based foundation in South Pittsburgh.
Cait holds a Master of Social Work with a COSA (Community Organizing and Social Action) concentration from the University of Pittsburgh, in addition to a Human Services Management Certificate. Cait’s professional interests lie in mental health equity, person-centered care, healing justice, and organizational capacity building.
Robin M. SHEFFEY, MC
Program Manager of Wellness Services | she/her
As the Program Manager of Wellness Services at Steel Smiling, Robin is responsible for providing clinical support to the Black Mental Health Fund, co-facilitating the Beams to Bridges Program, conducting referral intakes, providing check-ins to community members and providing group and individual non formal mental health support.
She brings over twenty years of experience in the mental health field, where she has provided Drug and Alcohol counseling and program management for a Maternal Addiction Program Youth Homeless Shelter. Robin is also the Sole Proprietor of 4 Wellness , an organization that provides consulting services, training to organizations on mental wellness, psychoeducational classes to the community on Mental Health as well as conflict resolution to individuals and groups.
Robin obtained an undergraduate degree from Duquesne University in Political Science and holds a Micro-Master in Substance Abuse and Trauma Informed Care. She also has a Masters of Science in Professional Counseling from Carlow University and is a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional.
Courtney Abegunde, MA
Operations Director | she/her
Courtney Abegunde (she/her) is a mental health educator, support group facilitator, and advocate serving and supporting communities in Pittsburgh for the last 15 years. Courtney has served as a mental health/substance use counselor for justice-involved youth and adults participating in Medication-assisted treatment for Opiate dependence, and as program coordinator for specialized services for teens and young adults newly experiencing psychosis or who have recently been diagnosed with a Serious Mental Illness (like Schizophrenia). Courtney has a depth of experience in the areas of community engagement, outreach and education, counseling, program evaluation and quality improvement, program development, mutual aid and peer support. Courtney holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master of Arts in Psychology from Chatham University. Courtney has delivered trainings and workshops on Recovery Oriented Systems of Care, Early Intervention for First Episode Psychosis, Cultural Competence and Humility for Mental Healthcare Providers, Improving Mental Health Service Systems for Black Folks, and Healing Justice Strategies for Black Mental Health and Wellness. She has been recognized as a Dignity and Respect Champion by UMPC (2021) and has achieved the Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award from the University of Pittsburgh Department of Psychiatry (2021) and the Women’s Health and Leadership Award from Chatham University (2015).
Courtney currently serves as Operations Director for Steel Smiling, a Black-led “Organization in Residence” of Neighborhood Allies. Courtney furthers Steel Smiling’s mission of exposing Black Pittsburghers to at least one positive mental health experience by 2030 by supporting the daily operations of their flagship programs Beams to Bridges (a 6-month community mental health advocate training program) and Steel Healing (Wellness navigation, peer support, financial assistance for care for Black Pittsburgh residents). Courtney uses her personal experience of racism, mental health problems, and journey towards mental wellness and healing to inform her work and approaches.
Peer Advocacy Fellow | he/him
Thomas Tyson is the inaugural Peer Advocacy Fellow at Steel Smiling, an “Organization-in-Residence” of Neighborhood Allies. In this role, Thomas leverages his lived experiences and training as a Certified Peer to facilitate critical Peer Support Services through a blend of community support groups, mental health check-ins and other community wellness activities. Peer Support provides a platform for individuals to share their stories, offer guidance, as well as a listening ear. Through the power of lived experiences, community members empower each other to overcome obstacles, build resilience, and navigate the intricacies of personal growth.
In Thomas’ previous role as a Life Skills Trainer, he also served in a Peer Support capacity, encouraging program participants to discuss their needs and goals, develop plans and strategies for wellness, and to develop self-efficacy. Additionally, Thomas has served as a Youth Advocate and Mentor, advocating for youth in court settings and supporting their overall wellness throughout the process. He has also participated in Steel Smiling’s Beams to Bridges program at the Kingsley Association and got connected to resources through the Black Mental Health Fund prior to his tenure with the organization.
Thomas’ professional interests lie in the promotion of mental health and wellness and dismantling of stigma for Black Men, specifically. Thomas is also deeply passionate about supporting those community members who are experiencing either the criminal justice system or the juvenile justice system, as he acknowledges the propensity for these systems to cause further harm and detract from wellness.