Atiba Mbiwan

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Atiba Mbiwan

Template:TOCnestleft Atiba Mbiwan was born and graduated from Brown University as Michael Ward, but in 1983 changed his name to honor a young man who befriended him during his transformational experience as an exchange student in Nigeria and died soon afterward. The name Atiba means “one who is understanding” and he tries to live up to this meaning every day.

For the past 25 years, Atiba has been involved in youth development as a professional, a parent and a volunteer. Currently, he works as the Associate Director of The Zeist Foundation, a family foundation based in Atlanta that supports nonprofits who serve children and youth. He entered the philanthropic world in 2001 when he joined the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation as a Program Officer responsible for Education and Fostering Understanding. In the 1990s, Atiba was instrumental in the development and growth of the AmeriCorps Program in Georgia. Before moving to Georgia in 1992, Atiba spent ten years in Providence teaching teenagers and helping Brown students connect with community based organizations.[1]

Atiba is married to Tiffany Friesen and has three children – two young adults, Keisha & Keenan and one high school student, Jacob. [2]


Mbiwan earned his B.A. at Brown University (’82) where he spent a semester at the University of Lagos, Nigeria (Fall 1980). Upon graduation, he became a high school Math teacher-counselor and eventually earned a National Endowment of the Arts Summer Fellowship at the City University of New York Graduate Center.[3]

1980s U.S. Peace Council Executive Board

Atiba Mbiwan was an Executive Board member of the Communist Party USA dominated U.S. Peace Council[4] 1983-1985-Providence Rhode Island.

Rhode Island Divest

In 1985 Joseph Newsome, Prudence Mashile, Sally Mendzela, Atiba Mbiwan, were active in Rhode Island Divest.[5]

Communist Party reformer

In 1991 Atiba Mbiwan, Rhode Island was one of several hundred Communist Party USA members to sign the a paper "An initiative to Unite and Renew the Party" - most signatories left the Party after the December 1991 conference to found Committees of Correspondence.[6]

Conference on Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the 90s

The Conference on Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the 90s was the Committees of Correspondence's first national conference held in Berkeley, California July 17-19, 1992.[7]

Workshops that were held at the conference on Saturday, July 18 included:[8]

Strategy 2 Where to from here? What next in the struggle for democracy in the United States?


In 1994, the Committees of Correspondence National Organizing Committee, consisted of Barry Cohen (New York), Brenda Coley (Milwaukee), Carl Davidson, (Chicago), Pat Fry (New York), Libby Frank (Philadelphia), Kaleema Hasan (Detroit), Tristan Masat (Boston), Atiba Mbiwan (Atlanta), Huli Milanese (San Francisco), Charlene Mitchell (ex Officio), Sandy Patrinos (Chicago), Edith Pollach (Long Beach), Jay Schaffner, (New York).[9]


Atiba Mbiwan joined the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition Board of Directors in 2008 after being a member and supporter for many years. His love for cycling began in 1970 when he started delivering newspapers on a bike in his hometown of Jamaica, Queens. For the past 14 years, “Coach Atiba” has led the Bike Ride Across Georgia Dream Team in the annual trek across the state, helping more than 125 middle school youth complete the ride with the assistance of adult mentors.[10]



  1. Brown uni. Alumni association bio, accessed Sept. 21, 2011
  2. ABC profile, accessed Nov. 15, 2014
  3. ABC profile, accessed Nov. 15, 2014
  4. USPC conference brochure Yale University November 8-10, 1985
  5. African Activist Archive, A Commentary on the State of Affairs in South Africa and the Passage of Divestment Legislation in Rhode Island (No. 6)
  6. Addendum to Initiative document
  7. Conference program
  8. Proceedings of the Committees of Correspondence Conference: Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the '90s booklet, printed by CoC in NY, Sept. 1992 (Price: $4)
  9. Committees of Correspondence Jan. 14 1994, letter signed by Jay Schaffner
  10. ABC profile, accessed Nov. 15, 2014