Black Family and Child Services of Arizona

Key Staff
Mary Black
Read A Tribute to our Founder
Mary M. Black    (1950 - 2020)
Shawn Pearson

Shawn Pearson

Chief Executive Officer

Chief Executive Officer, Shawn M. Pearson is the successor to founder, Mary M. Black. Ms. Pearson began serving as CEO in January 2020, after the founder's retirement.

Ms. Pearson is also the founder of Zion Institute, a non-profit organization established in 2010 to break cycles of generational poverty for residents in South Phoenix communities.

Her professional background includes more than 25 years of nonprofit business administration, public speaking and community service. Ms. Pearson has engaged, advised and trained staff at more than 100 churches, agencies, businesses and government partners across the United States, including Arizona, California, Texas, Georgia, and Florida.

As an organizer, Ms. Pearson uses Asset Based Community Development techniques to train and develop collaborative partners and stakeholders that seek to improve the quality of life for residents in impoverished communities.

Her community organizing and mobilization in Arizona began in South Phoenix in 2006. As a community advocate, she has served on various government-led committees to foster transformation for South Phoenix. Some of these committees include: the Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee, Phoenix City Council District 8 African American Advisory Committee, Phoenix Police Department's Faith-based Advisory Committee, and the Community and Police Trust Initiative. She works to leverage a space for the voice of community in the development of community corrections, processes and economic development opportunities for residents in her community.

In 2012, Ms. Pearson spearheaded the launch of the South Mountain Re-entry Coalition to answer a call-to-action to reduce recidivism and improve public safety. This coalition included government, faith-based organizations, law enforcement, corporations and residents. The coalition subsequently launched the South Mountain Re-Entry Resource Center, a resource network that included housing placement assistance, employment, education, transportation, basic needs, life skills training, support groups, child support and family reunification education and other resources for formerly incarcerated residents of South Phoenix.

In addition to her community work, Shawn is a wife, mother, grandmother of 10, motivational speaker, teacher and published author. Her autobiography, "Taking Back My Heart: Surviving the Storms to Enjoy the Reign", was published in 2013. Her second title, "Breaking the Cycles: His Story in My Life" was released in 2018.

Ms. Pearson resides in South Phoenix, Arizona with her husband Erick.

Ebony Oakry

Ebony Oakry

Business Operations Manager

Ebony serves as Business Operations Manager for Black Family and Child Services. She is responsible coordinating special projecting and assisting with organizational development, strategic planning and program implementation, to fulfill the mission of Black Family and Child Services in the spirit of excellence.

She brings more than 20 years of extensive knowledge, experience and training in direct human services as well as behavioral health, working a total 12 years for Department of Economic Security, Family Assistance Administration, Child Care Administration and Department of Developmental Disability. She also served for more than eight years in the private sector for Jewish Family & Children's Service and Florence Crittenton Services as Transitional Living Program Director.

Ebony graduated from Ministry Training Institute (MTI) in 2006, where she obtained a B.S. degree in Biblical Studies. She is a contributing author for the Market Place Bible, and is the developer of Ready 4 the World, a curriculum for young leaders currently being taught in the Jobs for Arizona Graduates (JAG) program within Tempe Union High School District.

She is also founder of With God International (dba WGI Ministries) which was established in 2008. WGI Ministries' mission is to prophetically groom generations of leaders for true success and prepare them for making a global impact. This mission is realized through coaching pastors, leaders and small business owners in the area of compliance and organizational development.

Since 2019, Ebony has worked through her consulting firm, Kingdom Quality Solutions, to provide solutions for small businesses, churches, ministries, non-profit and community organizations. Kingdom Quality Solutions specializes in organizational development, including change management, problem solving and team building, process consulting and meeting design. She is passionate about her philosophy, "Order Preceeds Excellence," which is demonstrated in her work at Black Family and Child Services.

Unika Steele

Foster Care Program Manager

Unika has been a part of the BFCS family since 2012, serving as a team lead for the Foster Care and Adoption programs. She went on to become supervisor of the Therapeutic Foster Care Program in 2015 where she currently serves as Foster Care Program Manager. Unika attended Indiana University – Bloomington, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in 1996 and later obtained her Master’s degree in Human Services Counseling with an emphasis in Marriage and Family from Liberty University in 2016. Her professional experience includes 22 years of work in the nonprofit sector assisting children and families in Arizona and Indiana. Prior to BFCS, she served as Outreach Manager for the Families F.I.R.S.T. program at Terros, assisting families referred by the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS) to receive substance abuse counseling.