Support By Design has developed a solid track record developing innovative program models throughout the states of Maryland and Pennsylvania designed to engage youth and families around critical life skills domains. Models focus on interactive workshops that build on principles of human development, integrity, honesty, and research-based best practices. Support By Design has been instrumental in creating national networking relationships with agencies and educational institutions for the purpose of training, education, curricular materials and resources developed for diverse communities.
The innovative work of Support By Design’s leadership with communities in Baltimore City has fostered participation in national study with the University of South Florida’s Research and Training Center for Children’s Mental Health of exemplary programs for youth with emotional disturbance.
Support By Design's Founders and Leadership Team
Our CEO and Co-Founder, Damon T. West, is characterized by others as a visionary. Mr. West possesses keen instincts and offer strategies to quickly effect change and improvement. As a seasoned professional, he has shown proven expertise in education, advocacy, counseling, program development and leadership.
For the past sixteen years, Mr. West has played the role of program leader, facilitator, specialist, and supervisor of special education programs, and consultant of psycho-educational programs that provide specialized services to youth with emotional and behavioral problems. He has developed and led programs that are considered to be “best practices” in the country; which has made him a sought after speaker to provide training/workshops (locally and nationally).
In essence, he has dedicated and invested his time and energy to the holistic development of both youth and adults. All of these experiences have compelled him to found and develop this cutting edge human service/development corporation called “Support By Design” that affords him the opportunity to spread his passion and expertise on a more global scale. Mr. West brings a sense of commitment, dedication, professionalism, and passion in every aspect of his work. that has allowed him to speak in massive arenas such as the Council for Exceptional Youth Conference, in New York City, and The Training Institutes for Developing Local Systems of Care, in Washington, DC. He has earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Applied Psychology, Masters of Science degree in Rehabilitation Counseling, Advanced Professional Certificate in Special Education, and Certificates I & II in Administration and Supervision for both Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Mr. West has also privileged to obtained distinguished awards such as the Service to the Institution Award from the Graduate Division of Coppin State University and the Leader/Servant Award from New Shiloh Baptist Church. Mr. West believes, “Our involvement with our children today will influence their involvement tomorrow” and has a compulsion to enhance the quality of life of individuals he encounters.
Our COO and Co-Founder, Robert F. Cephas III, is best described as a counselor, coach, educator, advocate, leader and speaker. He is committed to making a positive impact in the education of special needs students and the professional development of educators. Armed with vast professional knowledge, education and first-hand experience, Mr. Cephas provides all staff and students he encounters with an arsenal of strategies, skills and techniques to be successful.
Mr. Cephas began his educational career at the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School for adjudicated youth. From there he transitioned to the Non-Public Schools sector at the Board of Childcare, Strawbridge School. Mr. Cephas has spent the last six years working with students diagnosed with emotional disabilities. To date Mr. Cephas has held the position of Educational Specialist, overseeing the twenty five ED P.R.I.D.E. Programs in comprehensive school settings for Baltimore City Public Schools.
Mr. Cephas brings devotion, skill, and fervor to all aspects of his work. These characteristics have driven Mr. Cephas throughout his career. He has earned his Bachelor of Science from Morgan State University in Sports Administration, Master of Arts from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland in Leadership in Teaching, Advanced Professional Certificate in Special Education, and Certificates I & II in Administration and Supervision for Maryland. With great dedication he specializes in servicing a population that many are unwilling or hesitant to service. Mr. Cephas has strong belief that “you should educate all children as if they were your own.”
Our Chief Financial Officer, Tony Christian. In his capacity as CFO, Mr. Christian oversees the quality of accounting and financial reporting for our organization. Prior to joining Support By Design, Mr. Christian was a Financial Analyst for NATO, NSPO, and the U.S. Department of Defense. Mr. Christian has more than five years of experience in providing leadership and support to intense and deadline driven projects. Mr. Christian has received training on trading options and various investment strategies under an internship at the Chicago Board of Options Exchange (CBOE) in Chicago, Illinois. He is exceptionally skilled in planning, developing and implementing financial business strategies that achieve optimum cost efficiency and organic growth. Mr. Christian holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Finance from the University of Baltimore and an Master of Business Administration from the University of Maryland University College.
Our Clinical Director, Luanda Johnson, has stellar experience in the ever-changing field of Social Work. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Social Worker from Morgan State University and a Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of Maryland. In 2010, she became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Mrs. Johnson has performed her duties in many other capacities at Baltimore City Public Schools, Johns Hopkins, Baltimore City and County Department of Social Services, New York City Public Schools and Pennsylvania Public Schools.
Mrs. Johnson is a dynamic therapist, trainer, and strong child advocate. Enabling professionals with the tools needed to make children successful is one of her many passions. She also prides herself as being a liaison between families, the community and the school district, in order to offer ongoing communication. She is a voice for children in need and empowers the children to develop their own voice.
As her family is important to her, Mrs. Johnson believes in treating the children she works with as if they were her own. This dedication contributes to the numerous accomplishments and countless victories of the youth she serves.