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Congratulations to Dr. Dorothy Johnson-Speight on making Philadelphia Mayor Cherell Parker's transition team!

Who We Are

Sometimes, a shattered dream makes way for a powerful movement! That is the origin story of Mothers in Charge, Inc. (MIC). MIC was founded in May of 2003 by Dr. Dorothy Johnson-Speight as a response and coping mechanism to the murder of her 24-year-old son, Khaaliq Jabaar Johnson, over a parking space dispute. Khaaliq held all of the promise of an educated young man, dedicated to impact the lives of children. For that light to be snuffed out, was too much for Dorothy to bear. Lying in a prone position for weeks at a time, a vision came to Dorothy. The recurring picture was of a group of mothers in the center of a boxing ring with bullhorns, shouting to all that would hear, "Sons, put down your guns! Stop the violence, now!"


The importance of that vision was just a glimmer of what was to come in the coming months. After a devastating encounter with Ruth Donnelly, Dr. Dorothy discovered that Ruth's son, Justin, was killed by the same man who went on to kill Khaaliq five months later - who could have imagined that two women who seemed so disconnected, would be connected, forever, by this unfathomable fact. Unfortunately, Dorothy discovered that too many families belong to a sisterhood and brotherhood defined by homicide.

Our Story

Talking with family and friends about the state of senseless killings in Philadelphia, Dorothy decided to do something! She put out a call for action for other women with this lived experience of homicide to meet her at a local church. The goal was to simply support one another through the grief that was crippling families. Little did Dorothy know that the call would be answered in a way she never imagined! Expecting a dozen or so women to show up, the church was packed! Through their pain existed power; the power to make change.

So an advocacy mission was born - Mothers In Charge, Inc. The first year of Mothers In Charge, the organization served approximately 100 people through its grief support services. MIC now serves thousands of individuals and families affected by violence by providing a holistic approach and trauma-informed violence prevention, intervention, and education services such as anger management, reentry assistance for returning citizens, community outreach, and direct support to survivors of homicide, 365 days a year, in Philadelphia and other cities in our nation. 


Over 20 years later, Mothers In Charge is saving lives, every day, with a commitment to interrupting the violence that plagues our city and our nation. Echoing through all the work is the theme that, "hurt people, hurt people", and unless we as humans do nothing to address the persistent trauma that too many people live with, we will never realize the promise of a City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.


In Solidarity and Peace

Our Founder

Dr. Dorothy Johnson-Speight, EdD, MHS, LPC

Founder and National Executive Director of Mothers In Charge, Inc.

Dr. Dorothy Johnson Speight was honored to be the mother of Khaaliq Jabbar Johnson but at the early age of twenty-four, his life was taken, not by illness or accident, but by an act of gun violence over a parking space dispute. Grief-stricken and devastated by this senseless act, Dorothy channeled those emotions into the start of Mothers In Charge, a grass-roots organization dedicated to violence prevention, intervention, and education. In the beginning, from what started as connecting with a small group of mothers dealing with similar circumstances, Dorothy has built an organization that provides support to thousands of grieving families as well as awareness and violence prevention activities to the public to prevent others from experiencing the pain of a death of a son, daughter or loved one to violence.


With too many accolades and awards to enumerate, Dr. Dorothy has been identified as a national expert on issues related to gun violence and the grief associated with such a tragedy of having a loved one taken under such traumatic circumstances. Recently, Dr. Dorothy was honored to serve on both PA Governor Josh Shapiro and Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker's Public Safety Transition Teams. She has also been acknowledged by the Philadelphia Tribune Newspaper as one of Philadelphia’s Most Influential Persons, as well as garnering a Lifetime Achievement Award from Philadelphia United As 1. Additionally, she is a trusted and dependable partner among the community, elected officials, the District Attorney's Office, the Philadelphia Police Department, as well as other grassroots community groups. 

As part of the City of Philadelphia’s Trauma and Healing Network, Dr. Dorothy Johnson-Speight is dedicated to being a leading voice against the epidemic of violence, advocating for change, and making a lasting, positive impact on communities, nationwide.

Our Board

Vernetta Santiful


Ruth Donnelly

1st Vice President

Shanese Johnson


Jamal Vann


Luqman Abdullah

Board Member

Linard Gay

Board Member

Celeste Johnson

Board Member

Jim MacMillan

Board Member

Karen Nichols

Board Member

Xavier Smith

Board Member

Pam Yaller

Board Member

Interested in joining?

Contact us to learn more

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