Get to know the Be About Change Board of Directors
Marcel Hernandez founded Be About Change in 2016, putting his love for writing and working with others to use. He founded the non-profit organization to provide higher education scholarships to students from low-income households, using writing as a vehicle to promote expression.
Marcel leads writing and leadership workshops with students in the Nashville area and works with local youth to promote the philosophy of taking an active role in one’s community. He works in marketing and legal support at a Nashville-based law firm and plays piano and organ at a local church in Franklin, Tennessee. Currently, he is developing a pilot leadership curriculum for the youth at the Davidson County Juvenile Court that focuses on self-awareness, life skills, with an emphasis on confidence-building through fitness.
He received his BA in Communications, Business, and Music from Vanderbilt University. He also received a vocational degree from the Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences in Tempe, Arizona, where he studied audio engineering and music business. Before attending Vanderbilt, he participated in University Outreach/University Crossroads, a program designed to prepare students to achieve at the college level.
In addition to Founder and Board Chairman of Be About Change, Marcel was a member of the Advisory Board for the YMCA Latino Achievers Program in Nashville, Tennessee, from 2011-2014, and was appointed by Mayor Karl Dean to the Metro Alarm Appeals Board for the 2011-2012 term. In addition to leadership and writing workshops, he participates with the YMCA Y-Cap program, has spoken at local schools on topics ranging from writing and motivation to racism, and has presented at several community events with others on immigration law-related issues.
Marcel enjoys spending time with family and friends, getting to know others, writing and playing music, weight/calisthenics training, and practicing yoga.
Bruce Buchanan is an attorney at the Nashville and Atlanta offices of Sebelist Buchanan Law PLLC, where he primarily represents employers in all aspects of immigration law, with a special emphasis on employer immigration compliance, as well as employment/labor law matters. Mr. Buchanan received his law degree from the Vanderbilt University School of Law in 1982. Before going into private practice in 2003, he served as senior trial specialist for the National Labor Relations Board for 20 years. Mr. Buchanan also served for 12 years as Adjunct Professor at William H. Bowen UALR School of Law. He earned his undergraduate degree from Florida State University.
Mr. Buchanan authors his own blog on employer immigration compliance and is a guest blogger for LawLogix. He is also the editor of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Immigration Law Section Newsletter, TBA’s Labor & Employment Law Newsletter, and AILA’s Georgia-Alabama Newsletter. Mr. Buchanan recently served on the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s National Verification Liaison Committee. In addition to serving on the Be About Change Board of Directors, Mr. Buchanan serves on the Board of Directors of the United Cerebral Palsy of Middle Tennessee and the Lupus Foundation – Mid-South. He is past-Chair of the TBA’s Immigration Law Section and Arkansas Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Section.
Donna-Michelle Copas – a Nashville native – is an English teacher at Glencliff High School in Nashville, Tennessee, where she serves as Chair of the English Department. She was selected as a 2016 Blue Ribbon Teacher by Nashville Public Education Foundation and Metro Nashville Public Schools and has consistently won or been nominated for Teacher of the Year at Glencliff High School. She has also taught in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Dallas, Texas.
Mrs. Copas earned her BA in English and Speech Communications at Lipscomb University and is a Coach of National Qualifiers in Speech and Debate. She directs dramas in several different venues, from schools and churches to community theaters. She also enjoys acting in community and repertoire theaters. Some of the plays she has directed include Big River, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, The Crucible, Our Town, Hello, Dolly, Grease, and Little Shop of Horrors.
In addition to serving on the Be About Change Board and volunteering at her church, Mrs. Copas also enjoys sewing, reading, writing, sports, hiking and traveling.
Iván Díaz is an experienced business manager who also works with a Nashville-based engineering firm, building robotics. As a Nashville resident and graduate of a local high school, Mr. Díaz is familiar with the struggles our inner-city youth face on a daily basis.
Iván is a firm believer in the power of confidence-building when it comes to physical training. While undergoing a personal transformation and losing over 157 pounds through dedicated weights/calisthenics training and running, Iván realized the potential to apply this approach to personal challenges. Mr. Díaz further realized his capacity to pass this mentality on to others, and now trains several individuals to utilize physical fitness as a means to bolster personal achievement.
With this mindset, business management and operations expertise, and a proven history of overcoming adversity and facing challenges head-on, Iván has positioned himself to have a maximum impact on the youth Be About Change serves. In addition to serving the Nashville community and surrounding areas, Ivan enjoys kayaking, hiking, and meeting and getting to know others.
Michael L. Freeman, PhD, is a Professor of Radiation Oncology and Cancer Biology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN, where he served as Interim Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology. His research focuses on cancer and radiation biology. Mike is a member of the National Cancer Institute’s Board of Scientific Counselors, Clinical Sciences and Epidemiology and a Senior Editor for the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, and Physics, a leading radiation oncology medical journal. Mike also serves as a consultant to the National Institutes of Health. Previously, he consulted for the Department of Homeland Security. He is an ad hoc reviewer for the National Academy of Medicine, NASA, the Dutch Cancer Society, and the United Kingdom Cancer Research Directorate.
Mike’s community service includes serving as a Cub Scout leader. He was a Tennessee Commission on Firefighting Journeyman Fire Fighter with the Bellevue Volunteer Fire Department, Nashville, TN and the Pegram Volunteer Fire Department, Pegram, TN.
Mike is honored to be a Board Member of Be About Change. An avid reader, he considers the mission of “promoting expression through writing” to be an excellent vehicle for producing enduring and positive impact on the community.
Alicia Hernandez is a retired Dallas, Texas teacher of 31 years. She knew she would become a teacher when she was inspired by her 5th grade teacher. She serves as Secretary on the Board of Directors for Be About Change.
Mrs. Hernandez earned a BS in Elementary Education from University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and an MLA in Bilingual Education from Southern Methodist University (SMU). She taught at the following grade levels: Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, and 5th. She also taught English as a Second Language (ESL) in the following grades: 6th, 7th, and 8th.
Alicia regularly counseled students, parents, and faculty, often times listening to the struggles of others and finding ways to encourage them to push forward. In addition, she has served as an expert witness in legal matters involving the impact of single-parent households on the psychological development of pre-adolescent children.
Carlos Moncayo is a native of Guadalajara, Mexico, and lived in California prior to moving to Nashville in 1997. He is fluent in both English and Spanish. He earned his BA at Universidad de Guadalajara, where he studied Communications and Electronics.
With a natural ear for music, Carlos has been a DJ at numerous venues, specializing in multiple Latin music genres. He had his own Spanish-programmed radio show from 2000-2003 at the Fisk University radio station, 88.1 FM. He produced commercial radio spots and served as voice-over talent for other commercials and advertisements. Around the same time, he started and ultimately sold La Onda Entertainment Magazine.
A natural entrepreneur, Carlos opened Ibiza Night Club in 2004, and has built the venue into Nashville’s premier Latin night club, bringing in acts from across the world. Through Ibiza and as an individual, Carlos has led and been a part of numerous fundraisers, often times with a focus on education. These efforts have included scholarship awards and other scholastic need-based awards for students demonstrating excellence in academic achievement. In addition, Carlos has supported numerous nonprofits with a focus on academic achievement.
In addition to serving on the Board of Directors for Be About Change, Carlos has assisted with organizations like Futuro, YMCA Latino Achievers, and TIRRC, as well as event planning/hosting and promotion for community education/awareness efforts. Over the years, Carlos has also helped families in need, whether due to economic hardship, loss of loved ones, or natural disaster.
Woody Murray retired from The Gideons International in October 2017. The Gideons International is a major provider of Bibles for the world that operates in 201 countries, territories, and possessions. He still does freelance marketing communications, writing, and research for that association, as well as offering his communications services for other businesses and organizations.
Over a 40-year period, Woody has enjoyed three careers in mass communications: (1) vice president of a full-service advertising agency in Virginia, (2) first corporate brand manager for LifeWay Christian Resources—overseeing a major name transition and establishing a new slogan for this international organization, and (3) senior writer and researcher for The Gideons International. In the past, he also wrote a regular newspaper and online column for pastors on how to more effectively promote their churches.
Woody has a B.S. degree, cum laude, in Mass Communications from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. At VCU, he also received the Mass Communications Faculty Scholarship. He is still an active Gideon in the West Nashville area and involved in public relations and communications for his local church. At his church, he leads a Christian ministry for grade-school boys, called Royal Ambassadors (similar to boy scouts). He has been involved with that ministry to boys for more than forty years.
Woody is glad to be a part of Be About Change in providing scholarships to young people and helping them grow in their writing skills to gain confidence for facing the challenges of the business world.
Demian Vonzalu was born and raised on the East side of inner-city Dallas, Texas. He is currently in his 14th year of military service where he is a First Sergeant in the United States Army. He was selected to serve as Board Member and a world-wide advocate for Be About Change.
Before devoting his life to change, Demian lived in the world that most of us refuse to acknowledge exists in our minds. A world that restrains us from facing our fears and accepting the blood, sweat, and tears it takes for one to lean into the winds of adversity. Without any true sense of what he believed was right, he took a chance at change at the age of 22 and enlisted into the United States Army. Since then he has dedicated his life to be being a personal tour guide for those who face challenges with life’s day-to-day problems.
Demian earned his High School Equivalency Diploma at Dallas Can Academy in East Dallas in 1997. He joined the military in 2002 as an Infantry Man and served multiple tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He has served as a Drill Sergeant, a Coach/Teacher/Mentor for Army units across the country, and a Talent Management Leader. A few of his current certifications include, Master Resiliency Trainer, Master Fitness Trainer, Small Group Instructor/Leader, Equal Opportunity Advisor, Ranger, Music Publisher, and Writer. He is currently pursuing a BA in Business and Music through Berklee College of Music.
Demian is a “ground truth” representative of what the Be About Change organization is all about. Developing young minds through the transitions of life using writing as a tool for a voice that otherwise might never be heard.