Our Staff


Melvin Hayes

Executive Director

Mr. Hayes is the founder and executive director of Up World Inc. Having founded other similar programs such as The Global Men’s Leadership at a University, and also The King's Men’s Initiative which is catering to male students. Mr. Hayes designed and implemented community service opportunities, mentoring, academic support, career development, and workshops that promote academic, social and personal success. Throughout his career he has developed highly successful and award winning leadership education, community engagement, cultural enrichment, business exploration and leadership development initiatives in Milwaukee, Michigan and Chicago.

Elizabeth Lopez

Director of Operations

She has an undergraduate degree in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice. She later continued her passion for education and obtained a graduate degree from Concordia University and is a certified School Guidance Counselor. She has 8 years combined experience working with youth and young adults’ ages 10-24. Elizabeth’s passion has always been to enhance the development of students.

Toccarra Wilson

Director of Programs

Toccarra Wilson has over 10 years experience working within the education and family services sectors. A graduate of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she received a Bachelors of Arts in Speech Communication with a minor in African Art History.


Cleveland Pitts

Community Impact Director

He has over five years of youth development experience. Mr. Pitts coordinated youth employment programs, worked as a residential counselor, youth and clinical case manager. He has a commitment to helping disadvantaged youth.

Cherly Muhammed

Volunteer Coordinator

Ramon Davis

Workforce Development & Social Enterprise Director

Ramon is an educator, entrepreneur and marketing professional with a passion for connecting brands globally. He has worked in the Ad industry as an Account Executive for agencies such as DraftFCB, Leo Burnett, Burrell and Saatchi and Saatchi.Ramon has recently returned to Chicago after residing in the UK for 7yrs. Ramon spends his time running a Flying Tiger Agency an innovation consultancy which helps brands transition to global and new local markets. Ramon has also taught Advertising at Columbia College Chicago and guest lectures at the London College of Communication.