Join us on Founder’s Day, Thursday Aug. 26, when we honor the awardees. Click here for a full schedule of Founder’s Day events.
The 2021 WURD Founder’s Day Community Impact Award recipients are:
Mazzie Casher and Steve Pickens of Philly Truce
Philly native Mazzie (muh-ZEE) Casher (kuh-SHARE) has a long and storied history of artist contributions to the world as a representative of the soul and spirit of everyday Philadelphians. His artistic journey began as a member of NAME, a Philadelphia hip-hop ensemble consisting of theater director Ozzie Jones and DJ/producer/sound designer Larry “Mr. Cisum” Fowler.
Beginning in 1998, Mazzie embarked on a solo career under the pseudonym Grand Agent, touring North America and the world with the likes of Poor Righteous Teachers, Common, Large Professor, Camp Lo and other legendary acts. Some of these he has also recorded with, including Grand Puba, Souls of Mischief and Pete Rock.
In the 2010s Mazzie turned his attention to theater, television and film. He has more than 100 placements of original songwriting and performances on network and cable television including The Disney Channel and “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Much of this work took place while living in Los Angeles, where he also created the unscripted TV series “One Last Shot.”
Mazzie often supplemented his entertainment income with work as a truck driver. In the spring of 2017, he survived a horrific accident in western Pennsylvania. While recovering he dusted off some ideas he had been toying with for some years. They included other forms of storytelling, namely for stage and film.
His first stage play “Hustle Til’ It Hurt” debuted in the 2017 New York Theater Festival. It featured music from his album of the same name and starred Philadelphia actress Roni Graham. His first feature-length screenplay, “The Opposite of Art,” was completed the following year.
He began spending more time in Philly late in 2020 when the number of homicides on the books was nearing the mid-400s. When he ran into his lifelong friend and high school classmate Steve Pickens, one thing led to another and Philly Truce was born.
These days Mazzie is a resident of Germantown and the director of PHILLY TRUCE Inc. Returning to Philly with a mission, he pours all of his creative experience and production prowess into the story of how Philadelphia transformed from a culture of violent conflict resolution to Truce culture.
He’s still writing and recording and has a new album “I Survived The Crack Era” set to release as soon as he can find time to promote it. Anyone curious as to what the Philly Truce guy with the sideburns sounds like in the booth should visit grandagent.net.
Steven K. Pickens is an 18-year veteran in the Philadelphia Fire Department. He has been happily married to his wife, Malika, for the past 21 years and has two daughters, Malaka Pickens, 26, and Kirsten, 19.
Steven is a native Philadelphian raised between the North Philly and Mt. Airy sections of the city. Steven is a product of the Philadelphia Public School system. He attended Anna B. Pratt from grades K-2nd,, then Henry H. Houston Elementary school for grades three through eight. He graduated from William Penn High School and was an honors society inductee in spring of 1992. He attended his first year of college at Elizabeth City State University, located in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Steven returned to Philadelphia for the fall semester in 1993 and attended Community College of Philadelphia for a semester.
After attending college, he began working with various temporary employment agencies until being hired full time by an employee’s benefits company. In 1997, Steven became a pest control technician until being hired as a route delivery driver from 1999-2003. In 2000, Steven applied for employment to join the Philadelphia Fire Department and successfully passed and attended the Philadelphia Fire Academy on March 3, 2003. He is still presently employed with the Philadelphia Fire Department.
Steven is currently the co-creator of the Philly Truce app, Philadelphia’s gun violence prevention app that puts citizens with knowledge of potentially violent conflicts in contact with trained mediators 24/7.
He began mentoring teenage boys in 2005 with the Philly Pride amateur athletic union basketball team as a strength and conditioning trainer, which led to forming a bond with one of the most notable alumni, NBA all- star and champion Kyle Lowry. He has continued offering advice and guidance to young men in the community and in areas of physical training, life-altering decisions and overcoming the pitfalls that are rampant in our neighborhoods.
Steven has a strong belief system and faith in God. He has actively participated in church membership and desires to learn God’s word to disciple others until they come into the full knowledge of the mercy and grace of God.
Veronica Hill-Millbourne, President and CEO, Spectrum Health Services
Veronica Hill-Milbourne is the president and CEO of Spectrum Health Services Inc., a federally qualified health center serving Philadelphia’s most vulnerable for more than 55 years. Hill-Milbourne is a graduate of Villanova University’s College of Nursing. She holds a master’s degree in health education from St. Joseph’s University and a Juris Doctorate from Temple University’s College of Law. As a registered nurse for more than 35 years, Hill-Milbourne has devoted her career to developing and leading home- and community-based programs and services. She is passionate about community services and has been an advocate for health equality and social justice in traditionally underserved communities of color.
Laneshe Miller-White, Carlo Campbell and Walter DeShields of Theatre in the X
Theatre in the X was created in 2013 to provide the people of West Philadelphia and the African American community at large the opportunity to see professional-quality theater in their own neighborhood for no cost. By removing the barriers of location and price the audience is able to experience theater that they possibly would not be able to access otherwise. Theatre in the X also provides opportunities to playwrights, actors, directors, stage managers, DJs, sound engineers and vendors of color.
Reverend Dr. Alyn E. Waller, senior pastor of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church
Reverend Dr. Alyn E. Waller was called to lead Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church in Philadelphia as its senior pastor in 1994. A man who always puts words to action, Waller is very active in the Philadelphia School District and is known to host town hall meetings and other events that support the education of youth. He also created the Young Abrahams, a ministry at Enon that pairs young boys ages 7 to 12 with men who help them improve academics and develop the social skills necessary to become productive men in society. In addition, Dr. Waller also provides direction to Enon’s Scholarship Ministry, through which church offerings and donations provide scholarships and stipends to scores of students each year.
Dr. Waller and Enon have assisted in the renovation of the former Germantown High School library and financially sponsored the music program at Martin Luther King High School (MLK). In his spare time, he puts on his assistant wrestling coach hat for MLK High School.
During the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Waller partnered with Rev. Marshall Mitchell, Dr. Ala Stanford and the Black Doctors Covid-19 Consortium, first to offer free testing for thousands of people in the parking lot of Enon and then, once a vaccine was approved, for vaccinations at his church.
Recognizing the need for healing amongst men, another passion of Dr. Waller’s is his Men’s Ministry. Dr. Waller has gathered hundreds of men from various religious backgrounds and community affiliations to offer a visible presence and positive influence in Philadelphia neighborhoods. Dr. Waller draws on his love for people to shape God’s vision for Enon with over 100 ministries that focus on worship, discipleship, fellowship, missions and evangelism. His outreach extends far beyond the four walls of Enon through local and international community activism.
Dr. Waller has served as the president of the Lott Carey Global Christian Missional Community, and he developed the Enon International Pastors Fellowship, where pastors from the United States and South Africa partner to present missional and evangelistic opportunities throughout the African continent. Dr. Waller also has preached in South Korea to over 100,000 people and presented at an Oxford University roundtable on religious theory.
On top of Dr. Waller’s powerful gift of preaching God’s word in such a way that he has you sitting on the edge of your seat, God has blessed him with other gifts that further extend his ability to share God through singing, teaching and literature. He is the author of several books including “Enjoy Your Journey: Our Quest for a Deeper Relationship with Christ,” “Hope for the Journey: Believing God is Enough When the Road Gets Rough” and the most recent “The Code of the Righteous Warrior — 10 Laws of Moral Manhood for an Uncertain World.” He carries the gospel message through regular appearances on Philadelphia radio stations and offers social commentary on Facebook and Twitter. He is involved with numerous service organizations and has been awarded countless honors for his leadership throughout the Philadelphia area.
A native of Cleveland, Dr. Waller was born to the late Reverend Dr. Alfred M. Waller, Sr. and Mrs. Belva J. Waller. Dr. Waller earned a bachelor’s degree in music business from Ohio; a master’s of divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; and a doctor of ministry degree in ministry to marriage and family from Palmer Theological Seminary (formerly Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary) in Wynnewood, PA.
Dr. Waller was licensed to preach the gospel and ordained at Shiloh Baptist Church in Cleveland. He honed his love of music and preaching gifts as minister of music at Canaan Missionary Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, and accepted the call to the pastorate as the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Donora in Pennsylvania before being called to lead Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church.
Reverend. Dr. Alyn E. Waller is a highly sought-after revivalist, vocalist and lecturer. He’s a true visionary of the church and community who serves humanity far beyond the restraints of traditionalism. His partner in marriage and ministry, the love of his life, is Dr. Ellyn Jo Waller, the leader of Enon’s Women’s Ministry and a devoted mother to their two daughters, Elynn Morgan and Eryka Lynn.
Kwasa Mathis, Morning Drive Producer and Digital Media Manager, WURD Radio
Kwasa Mathis is a Hampton University graduate with a degree in Journalism and Communications. She started off in radio at her alma mater back in 2006 and from there, went on to NBC Universal in NYC, a major global ad agency, and eventually landed at WURD in 2017 as the Morning Drive Producer and Digital Media Manager. Kwasa is also a proud member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., where the sorority practices, “Greater Service, Greater Progress.” She went into journalism to give a voice to the voiceless and feels that working at WURD has been a wonderful catalyst to do just that.
WURD Radio is proud to support and acknowledge those who work tirelessly to uplift our community. Congratulations to all of the 2021 WURD Founder’s Day Community Impact Award recipients!