Meet our Panelists & Moderator
Reverend Tonya Pass, MSW
Tonya M. Pass is currently the Human Resources Officer for The Up Center located in Norfolk Virginia. She received both her bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Norfolk State University Ethelyn R. Strong School of Social Work. She currently attends The Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University pursuing her Doctorate in Ministry. Her dissertation work is: How to Effectively Engage Trauma-Informed Spirituality in the Workplace for Social Workers and HR Professionals.
Mrs. Pass’ professional experience includes extensive work in the public and private sectors working in Virginia’s child welfare system helping children and families. For the past seventeen years, she has worked in the private sector as a social work administrator. She is responsible for the following areas of the employee life cycle: Recruitment, New Hire Orientation, Payroll/Tax, Employee Benefits, Evaluating/Training, Labor Law Compliance, Employee Relations, and COBRA/Termination. Her primary responsibilities include but is not limited to helping to maintain a motivate a productive workforce and to ensure all Human Resource policies and practices are in compliance with regulatory agencies, accrediting bodies and state and federal law. She oversees the administration and management of all personnel records and works closely with supervisors to recruit for agency positions and oversee the performance of background checks of applicants. She oversees the management and provision of current information on agency benefits including enrollment and claim information; establishes, administers, explains and maintains the employee evaluation system. She assists supervisors in counseling employees on any problem affecting work performance, as well as interprets and explains personnel rules and regulations to program managers, employees, and applicants.
Ms. Pass is responsible for developing and administering in-service orientation and training programs, which include: Supervisor Training, Cultural Diversity Training, Soft Skills Training, Internship & Volunteer Training. She is an active member of the agency’s Trauma-Informed Care Transformational Team and is the senior leader of the agency’s Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Initiative.
Ms. Pass has worked in the social work field for the past 25 years. Her work experience includes Virginia Beach DSS where she worked as a Resource Development Social Worker working with the homeless population; Help & Emergency Response Shelter, where she worked with homeless battered women; Portsmouth Department of Social Services where she worked as an Adoption Social Worker; Child and Family Services where she worked as a group facilitator for the Families and Schools Together Program and later served as the Director of the FAST Program for 10 years. She held certifications as a FAST National Trainer and trained FAST teams locally, regionally, and in London.
Additionally, Ms. Pass has been able to hone her project management skills by directing the agency’s Quality First Program and leading the agency through several accreditation cycles through the Council on Accreditation (COA). Most recently, she served on the agency’s CARF Accreditation Team, which led the agency in successfully receiving it’s 3- year accreditation.
Ms. Pass works collaboratively with area colleges and universities to recruit volunteers and interns for the agency. She has worked collaboratively as an NSU MSW Field Liaison and as an adjunct professor for the Ethelyn R. Strong School of Social Work for Norfolk State University for the past 18 years, responsible for MSW and BSW Social Work instruction. Ms. Pass is also an itinerate pastor for the A.M.E. Zion Connectional Church and currently serves as the Senior Pastor at Brighton Rock A.M.E. Zion Church in Chesapeake, VA. Most recently, she helped launch, FalTon Solutions, LLC., offering professional services (i.e. Online Driver Improvement Clinic, Microsoft Office Trainings (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) to the Hampton Roads Community.
Ms. Pass is married to her most precious gift, Falandius, for 35 years and together they have two lovely daughters, Victoria (Stephen) and Deborah (Marsalis), two sons-in-love and four beautiful grandchildren, Joshua, Sarai, Eden, and Zahra.
Reverend Dr. Kirk T. Houston, Sr.
The Reverend Dr. Kirk T. Houston, Sr. is the founder and senior pastor of the Gethsemane Community Fellowship Baptist Church located in Norfolk, VA. A ministry he has proudly led for 23 years.
A highly respected community leader, Dr. Houston is one who truly leads by service to others. Among his many obligations, he serves as the Chaplain to the City of Norfolk’s Sheriff’s Office, chairman of the Norfolk Jail Ministry’s Board of Directors, and Chairman of the Garden of Hope Community Development Corporation Board of Directors and. He is also the author of “The Church’s Return Policy: Equipping the Church to Minister to Ex-offenders.”
Possessing a strong passion for issues of personal and spiritual development, Dr. Houston has committed his life to improving the quality of human life through programs and services that serves disenfranchised individuals, families, and communities. He is also a trainer and frequent lecturer in leadership and organizational development.
Dr. Houston holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio; as well as a Masters of Divinity degree from the Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology at the historical Virginia Union University in Richmond, VA.
Dr. Houston is a native of South Florida, a U.S. Navy Veteran, and he and his wife Sharon are the proud parents of one son, Rev. Kirk T. Houston Jr. and one daughter, Sharonja Houston; and the grateful grandparents of one granddaughter (Jsyiah) and three grandsons (Kirk III, Max, and Marc).
Michelle Ellis Young
Michelle Ellis Young is the Chief Executive Officer of YWCA South Hampton Roads where she stewards the organization’s mission of eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.
Equipped with years of experience in higher education, community engagement, retail, and HR, she brings a unique and well-balanced perspective to her role. Described as a connector of people and resources, Michelle is passionate about service and the development of people, esp. women and young girls, and helping them to actualize their passion and purpose. She simply encourages people to walk in excellence and reminds them to Continue to M.O.V.E. ~ Meditate on Victory Every day!
Michelle is a proud native of New Orleans, LA, and alumna of Seton Academy School for Girls, University of Houston, Hampton University, and West Virginia University. She’s also an ordained minister and serves on several community boards, committees, and ministries and is a die-hard ‘Who Dat’ New Orleans Saints fan!