Not in our state.
Not on our watch.

Founded in July 2015, Arm-in-Arm coalesced in response to the Emanuel AME tragedy—a tragedy that might have been averted if not for a breakdown in the background check system.

Today, our 1,200-person strong community of advocates has come together to work toward legislation that would close gaps in existing laws and support lawful gun ownership.


Peter Zalka


A retired businessman from New York City (he ran the Wilkins Furniture Company), Peter holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Adelphi University and a Master’s degree in Human Resource Management from Stony Brook University.  As a volunteer over many years, Peter has specialized in advocacy and job creation and placement for the disabled at Mount Sinai and other programs in NYC and also developed a new means of improving productivity and resolving dispute. In South Carolina, he became Charleston supervisor for the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. He has also volunteered with Hollings Cancer Center, Meals on Wheels, Berkeley County Schools, East Cooper Community Outreach, and Charleston Green. A volunteer since Arm-in-Arm was founded, Peter was also co-coordinator of our group’s Daniel Island forum on gun safety.  He was elected chair in June 2017.

Jessie Brynan

Vice Chair, Chair of Outreach Committee

A long-time volunteer, chair of our outreach programs and former chair for Stand Up Sunday 2017, Jessie has a B.A. from Vassar College and an M.ED from Lesley College. was a research assistant at Cornell in literacy research and a reading clinician and patient advocate at Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Brighton MA. She was a member of the Finance committee for Stow and Boxborough, MA and was elected to the latter’s school board. She served as chair of curriculum committee and later board chair for community leadership organization Leadership Redmond, Redmond WA. In Charleston, she also serves on the board of the League of Women Voters.

Dick Simons


Dick and his wife Pam, who is a volunteer with Stand Up Sunday, have been strong supporters of Arm-in-Arm since our inception. They have three grown daughters. Dick is a native of Philadelphia and holds a BA from Princeton University in American History and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He spent most of his business career in banking, primarily at First National City Bank, which later became Citicorp.

Judy Hines


Judy is an MSW with 53 years experience. She served as the former acting chair of the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission and former CEO of the Council on Accreditation of Services to Families and Children. She was a gubernatorial appointee to both the Legislative-Governor’s Committee on Children and the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission. In Charleston, she worked for many years with Father Henry Grant of St John’s Episcopal Mission on Charleston’s East Side, co-led the Governor’s Committee on Child Development that resulted in public funding of 20 day care centers in the 1970’s, and led a statewide project training developmental disabilities boards while an adjunct faculty at the College of Charleston. She is a Distinguished Alumna of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, recognized for her public service.

Reverend Joseph Darby

Board Member

The Presiding Elder of the Beaufort District of the AME Church, Reverend Darby has served as a Board Member for the United Way of the Midlands, the Center for Religion in the South, the Christian-Jewish Council of Greater Charleston and as a founding Co-Chairperson of the Charleston Area Justice Ministry. A former President of the Greater Columbia Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, the Greater Columbia Interfaith Clergy Association the SC Christian Action Council and the South Carolina Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, Reverend Darby is a Life Member of the NAACP and has also served as First Vice-President of the South Carolina Conference. He is a regular OpEd contributor to the Post and Courier and other publications.

Sallie Duell

Board Member

Sallie was Past President of the Junior League of Charleston, Board Member of the Preservation Society, has served on the Executive Committee of the Coastal Community Foundation, Vice President of Historic Charleston Foundation, Executive Committee and Development Chairman of Spoleto Festival USA. Sallie was also a founder and President of the Charleston Horticultural Society, Chairman of the Middleton Place Foundation, and is on the Board of the Charleston World Heritage Coalition. She has also served on the board of the Nature Conservancy of South Carolina. She is experienced in nonprofit leadership and fund development.  She has worked for many years on gun safety initiatives and has a strong sense of the need for citizen involvement in bringing about change.

Mary Hart Craig, MD

Board Member, Co Chair of Public Health Committee

Dr. Craig graduated from UC San Diego cum laude and with highest distinction with a BA in sociology. She received her MD from MUSC in 2001 and completed residency training in Psychiatry at UNC Chapel Hill in 2005, her fellowship training in Geriatric Psychiatry at MUSC in 2007and is now an assistant professor of Geriatric Psychiatry at MUSC, doing nursing home consultations, outpatient and inpatient care. Dr. Craig has been a long-time supporter of Arm-in-Arm, an involved volunteer since our very first meeting in July 2015.

Richard Hagerty, MD

Board Member, Co-Chair of Public Health Committee

Dr. Hagerty is a retired plastic surgeon, the former head of the Division of Plastic Surgery at the Medical University of South Carolina, a former Charleston City Councilman, and an artist. A critically acclaimed work: Richard Hagerty: American Surrealist showcases his artistic production. He is a visionary leader on the subject of gun violence as a public health crisis.

Margaret M. Kelly, PhD Genetics

Board Member, Chair of Legislative Committee

Dr. Kelly is a molecular biologist and basic research scientist. During her 24 year term at MUSC she conducted research in Neuroscience, Hormonal Gene Regulation, and managed the Hollings Cancer Center Molecular Imaging Core Facility. Active in Gun Violence Prevention since December 2012 at the federal and state level, she has lobbied for Universal Background Checks on four occasions in DC. Versed in SC firearm related legislation and policy, associated activities include 2015 and 2016 CLE ‘Criminal and Civil Liability of Gun Ownership, Possession, and Use in SC’ and served on the planning panel for the 2015 ‘Moving from Crisis to Action: A Public Health Approach to Reducing Gun Violence’. Dr. Kelly joined Arm-in-Arm at its inception.

Marlvis (Butch) Kennedy

Board Member

Butch is a systems engineer whose work supports the Combat Operations Center for the U.S. Marine Corps.  Butch is also the director of Project Unity USA, a non-profit organization that works with law enforcement, clergy, local businesses and community leaders to reduce crime. He’s also an executive board member of the Tri-County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council and the founder of REALMAD, which stands for real men against domestic violence. Butch is an Air Force veteran and gun owner.

Gary Smith

Board Member

Gary was recently inducted into the National Sports Media Hall of Fame after 32 years of writing for Sports Illustrated. A graduate of La Salle University, Gary has won four national magazine awards for his feature writing.  He was also the driving force behind the creation of Arm-in-Arm’s Stand-Up Sunday event, which garnered national media attention and saw the participation of hundreds of congregations (including churches, synagogues and mosques).  Gary is the Mindfulness Director of Empowered Minds, a volunteer-driven program that teaches both yoga and mindfulness to about 1,000 South Carolina children a week in Title 1 schools, offering students practices and tools to regulate their emotions and to cultivate awareness, kindness and compassion.

Adelaida Bennett, MBA

Board Member

Adelaida was the first treasurer of the board through January 2017 and now serves as chair of the governance committee. She is a board member of the Preservation Society and the Charlestowne Neighborhood Association.  She is a graduate of Wellesley College and Harvard Business School.

Meghan Alexander

Founder, Board Member and Chair of Communications Committee

Meghan has more than 20 years experience running PR, marketing and advertising programs for national brands and SC businesses.  She served as our group’s primary public spokesperson and organized public participation in the hearings held on gun issues by the Senate Judiciary Committee.  A communications consultant, Meghan formerly owned Vivid PR & Marketing, specializing in restaurants and hospitality, for 12 years.