When the Rev. Shayne E. Moore was growing up at 19th and Wingohocking in the 1970s and ’80s, he listened to his parents, did his homework, and went to church. Needless to say he never imagined one day becoming the subject of a mural, let alone one titled “ambition never rests.”
This striking portrait of Moore by Philadelphia mural artist Eric Okdeh was unveiled in October on the side of a prominent building at Wayne Ave. and Berkley St. It’s 35 feet high and a half dozen blocks from the Nicetown rowhouse Moore once called home.
“I wasn’t looking for something like this to happen, and when I was told I had been selected, I didn’t think it would [actually] happen,” said Moore, the vice-president of information technology at the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation.
A family man, prison minister, and youth basketball coach, Moore was chosen as part of a nationwide mural project sponsored by his alma mater, Western Governors University. The project aims to “inspire young people who are walking the same walk as alumni did growing up,” said WGU Regional Vice President Rebecca Watts.
“Shayne has never walked away from his childhood neighborhood," said Watts. "He continues to lift it up.”
The child who got good grades at Ethan Allen Elementary School and sang in the Deliverance Evangelistic Church choir is now 48. Moore and his wife, Latesha, an accountant, are parents of a grown son and live in Northeast Philly.
“The mural caused me to reflect on everything that went into the opportunities I have had,” Moore said. “I thought about my childhood, my parents, and everything and everybody who played a part in helping me become who I am.”
Moore’s father, James Moore Sr., worked as an auto mechanic; his mother, Gloria, taught elementary school in the city system. Both are retired, and Moore’s older brother, James, is a teacher at the Thomas M. Peirce elementary school in North Philadelphia.
“The mural makes me very proud,” Gloria Moore said, speaking for her family. "We believe in the Word of God and give all the glory to God, who ordained this and directs our lives.
“The mural sends out a message that, no matter where you begin, once you focus on what it is you want, and work for it, you can achieve it,” she said. “The message is all about your determination: ‘If that person can do it, I can do it, too.’"
Shayne Moore knows a thing or two about determination. After graduating from Roxborough High School in 1990, he studied electrical engineering at Drexel University but took an IT job before completing his bachelor’s degree. He got married, rose professionally, and was ordained and licensed as a Baptist clergyman. He became active in a prison ministry as well as in a youth basketball program called Aim for the Net, of which he is a board member.
But Moore never stopped wanting to complete college. So he enrolled at Western Governors University, a private, nonprofit online university, earning technical certifications and graduating with an IT degree in 2014. “Instead of me looking for jobs, jobs started finding me,” he said. In 2017, Moore was hired by PIDC.
“We were looking to professionalize our IT function,” said John Grady, who was then the corporation’s president. “Shayne is rooted in his community, his family, and his city.”
Grady, now an executive at a company that does science and research-related economic development, said that Moore "is truly committed to his work. He is authentic Philadelphia.”
Moore is now studying for a master’s degree at Drexel and serving as an assistant pastor at Trumpet of Zion Tabernacle Church, where has been part of its prison ministry since 2008.
“We visit several times a week," he said. “These are people from broken families who have burned bridges and see no way out of any situation they’re in. They didn’t have any guidance or role models.”
While Moore had an abundance of guidance — “our parents instilled in my brother and I that we were going to go to college” — he remembers some of his childhood peers having no real plans for what to do after high school.
Moore said his prison ministry is a chance to reach adults who likely did not grow up “in a home with faith and love” the way he did. "I want to be the person who lets them know they can change, learn, grow, and be assets to their communities,” he said.
Okdeh, the mural artist with 200 works around the city and beyond, also is a prison volunteer. What he called “this incredible coincidence” energized and deepened the relationship between the painter and his subject.
“You can just tell a lot of things about a person who is doing that kind of work,” said Okdeh, who has long been active with Mural Arts Philadelphia. “I know Shayne is trying to change hearts and minds.”
The mural includes an image of an owl named Sage, who, like “ambition never rests,” are part of the WGU brand. A plaque tells Moore’s story and painted figures represent family and community.
“When I look at this mural, I do not see me," Moore said. “I see us.”