Join host Dr. Erika D. Tate and her inspiring guests live! |  2nd & 4th Fridays at 11:30 am Eastern on LinkedIn.

Remix EQ Live! Amplifying equity through a mix of information, interviews, and inspiration.

Every episode, we “center the work” to further your knowledge of approaches and strategies for advancing equity in and across communities. To inspire, guests share their “why”, their motivations for making the world a more just place. 

Learn more about the host, Dr. Erika D. Tate, and her organization, Bluknowledge.

 

Our Inspiring Guest List

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Follow Vivian Acquah on LinkedIn or Twitter.

As an inclusive Workplace Wellness Advocate, Vivian Acquah advises managers on how to keep their team members engaged, energized, and safe in a sustainable manner. Vivian Acquah is making topics related to workplace wellness & DEI accessible to everyone. She provides people with the right tools, at the right time, to embrace inclusive changes. Vivian motivates people to think consciously and inspires them to take action. Learn more about Amplify DEI at www.amplifydei.com.

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Learn more about Dr. Kathy Anderson’s practice, Nurturing Wellness Pediatrics, PLLC.

Dr. Kathy Anderson, MD, FAAP, IBCLC, CEIM is board certified in General Pediatrics and Integrative Medicine. She is committed to preserving, promoting, and optimizing the health, wellness, and safety of children by providing education, consultation, and most importantly, premium quality, compassionate, clinical care. She is well respected by patients and colleagues alike for her quality clinical care and judgment, unwavering commitment to community interest through training and education, and her impassioned legislative advocacy. Dr. Anderson’s skills extend far beyond her education, training, and experience. She is genuinely interested in optimizing the health and wellness of children, and brings an open mind to exploring how we best accomplish this. She is able to think critically and systematically outside the narrow boxes of health and disease, and look more broadly at factors affecting wellness.  

Dr. Kathy Anderson started practicing general pediatrics in Bismarck, North Dakota in 2009 and quickly became one of the most sought after pediatricians in the region. She served as the Chief of the Department of Pediatrics at St. Alexius Medical Center and Mid Dakota Clinic, and is assistant professor at University of North Dakota School of Medicine where she teaches both medical students and residents. She is also an associate professor at the University of Mary where she provides pediatric content lectures to nurse practitioners.

Dr. Anderson attributes her interest in health and healing and her openness to complementary and alternative approaches to her grandmother. She has directed her course of study to meet a curiosity that was born in her childhood. This curiosity continues to drive her desire to ensure that we are providing optimal recommendations for health maintenance, disease prevention, and treatment of acute and chronic disease to her patients and families. 

Dr. Anderson attended Brown University and the Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University through the Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME) which granted her entrance into undergraduate and medical school at 17yo as a senior in high school. She completed her education in Pediatrics through the University of Hawaii at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children in 2009 and graduated from her fellowship in Integrative Medicine from University of Arizona in 2015.  

Dr. Anderson has been an active member of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) since residency. She is currently president of the North Dakota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Regional Champion of Diversity and Inclusion for AAP, and former board member to the Section on Integrative Medicine, as well as member at large of the Sections on Telemedicine, International Child Health, and Breastfeeding. Dr. Anderson is a Certified Lactation Consultant (CLC) and Certified Educator of Infant Massage (CEIM). She has been actively following the growth of telemedicine as a member of the American Telemedicine Association, attendee at conferences, and has been credentialed by and received extensive training with various national telemedicine companies and leaders including American Well, Teladoc and Maven.

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Follow The Rev. Guillermo A. Arboleda on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

The Rev. Guillermo A. Arboleda (he/him) is the Rector of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Savannah, and the Missioner for Racial Justice in the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia. In addition to his pastoral duties, his work includes community organizing, political advocacy, training others in antiracist leadership, and theological research about criminal justice policy. He has degrees from Messiah University and Duke University Divinity School. A grandchild of Ecuadorian, Dominican, and Puerto Rican immigrants, Guillermo is married to the Rev. Kelly Steele (Rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Savannah), and they have a dog named Reina. He enjoys watching sports, creating music, CrossFit, and yoga.

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Follow Tesmerelna Atsbeha on Twitter.

Tesmerelna Atsbeha is a senior program officer on the Women’s Rights team at Wellspring Philanthropic Fund. Her grantmaking focus is reproductive rights in Latin America and the global prevention of gender-based violence. She previously worked at UNWomen in the Policy Division and at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health as part of the International AIDS Care and Treatment Program (ICAP).

Prior to that, she was based for ten years in Eastern and Southern Africa and Latin America. During that time, she was part of Sexual and Reproductive Health research and implementation projects with UNDP, The Global Fund and several academic institutions. She bring her knowledge of the violence against women and girls research field specifically related to prevention of intimate partner violence, including relevant research institutions, leaders, civil society partners and violence prevention practitioners.

She holds a BA in International Relations from Brown University, a MPH from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; and a MA in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University.  

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Follow Dr. Tracey A Benson on LinkedIn.

Dr. Tracey A. Benson is the founder of The Anti-Racist Leadership Institute. He has served as a university professor, principal coach, high school principal, middle school vice-principal, district trainer, and elementary school teacher. His book, Unconscious Bias in Schools: A Developmental Approach to Exploring Race and Racism, was released with Harvard Education Press in August 2019.

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Follow Jean-Claude Brizard on LinkedIn.

Jean-Claude Brizard is President and CEO of Digital Promise Global, a global, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization focused on shaping the future of learning and advancing equitable education systems by bridging solutions across research, practice, and technology. He is former Senior Advisor and Deputy Director at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation where he focused on PK-16 education. He also led several strategies supporting Washington State’s educational system. He is former Chief Executive of Chicago Public Schools. Prior to his appointment in Chicago, he was Superintendent of Schools for the Rochester, NY School District. Mr. Brizard’s experience also includes a 21-year career as an educator and administrator with the NYC Department of Education. He served as a Regional Superintendent, supervising more than 100 schools in the Borough of Brooklyn and he also served as the system’s Executive Director for its 400 secondary schools. He is a Fellow of the Broad Center, a Fellow of the Pahara-Aspen Institute, and a member of the Aspen Institute Global Leadership Network.

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Follow Sagdrina Brown Jalal on LinkedIn or Instagram.

Sagdrina Brown Jalal is the founder of SageD Consulting and owner of Atlanta Leadership Consulting, Sagdrina cultivates and delivers transformational experiences for executive teams, non-profit boards, and impact-driven professionals. As a graduate of the University of Georgia with a degree in Education, Sagdrina inspires learning and advancement in all of her consulting work. She leverages her unique talent for engaging diverse stakeholders in solving shared problems and is highly sought-after for helping companies and organizations think creatively about their impact. From helping balance equity in Atlanta’s philanthropic community to assisting in awarding grants for organizations like Mailchimp, her work thrives at the intersection of community and innovation.

She has also served as the founding Executive Director for the Georgia Farmers Market Association, a board member for the national Farmers Market Coalition, a Well-Being Impact Area Advisor for the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, and an advisor for Tuskegee University’s Organic Farming Project. In 2022, she collaborated with Black growers and farmers market leaders to curate the Anti-Racist Farmers Market Toolkit that is now utilized by farmers market leaders across the country.

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Follow Josh Edelman on LinkedIn.

Josh Edelman is the Head of Network at Transcend Education. Prior to his current role, Josh served as a Senior Advisor with the US Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), supporting individual portfolios with strategy development while also focusing on division-wide implementation of DEI and talent development to enhance expected investment outcomes.

Before becoming a Senior Advisor, Josh was a Deputy Director on the K-12 team within the US Program co-leading a 7-year, 500M portfolio focused on increasing the number of Black, Latino, and low-income students who earn a high school diploma, enroll in a postsecondary institution, and are on track in their first year to attain a credential with labor market value. Prior to being a Deputy Director, Josh was a Senior Program Officer on the k-12 team supporting efforts to prepare students for college and career success in Tennessee and Florida and oversaw the 7-year, 90M investment in teacher effectiveness in the Memphis City/Shelby County Schools.

Before Gates, Josh was the Deputy Chief of School Innovation (OSI) for the DC Public Schools. OSI oversaw efforts to support and empower 58 DC public schools through the infusion of unique programmatic elements targeting student investment and achievement.

Prior to working at DC Public Schools, Josh was the Executive Officer of the Office of New Schools (ONS) at Chicago Public Schools, which worked to recruit, develop, and support new schools and ultimately, hold them accountable to high performance measures.

He has also held various leadership positions at The SEED Foundation, first on the board of directors, then as principal of The SEED School, a public charter boarding school in Washington DC.

Josh also taught for ten years before working with SEED. He taught social studies for three years at Milton Academy in Massachusetts and seven years at Menlo-Atherton High School in Atherton, California.

Josh has a bachelor’s degree in American History from Harvard University, a master’s degree in Education from Stanford University, and a second master’s in Educational Administration, also from Stanford University. Josh is or has served on the boards of AVID (current), Breakthrough Collaborative, Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning, City Works DC (current), City Year DC, Education Forward DC (current), EL Haynes Public Charter School (current – board chair), Maya Angelou Public Charter School and The National Alliance of Public Charter Schools.

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Follow Dr. Angela H. DeBarger on Twitter.

Angela Haydel DeBarger is a Program Officer in Education at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Her portfolio addresses open education, with the aim of democratizing knowledge, creating inclusive and engaging experiences for learners, and advancing racial equity in education systems.

Previously, Angela served as senior program officer for Lucas Education Research at the George Lucas Educational Foundation, where she led elementary and middle school project-based learning initiatives.

From 2002 to 2014, she worked as an education researcher at SRI International. Her research focused on improving classroom pedagogy, specifically assessment strategies, to promote student learning and engagement in science.

Angela has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Stanford University, a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Michigan, and a doctorate in educational psychology from Stanford University. She is a native Californian and enjoys spending time with her two boys.

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Follow Marsha Guerrier on LinkedIn.

Marsha Guerrier, Founder & CEO of HerSuiteSpot®, TEDx Speaker and Bestselling Author. HerSuiteSpot, a Certified MWBE and WBENC organization, helps women of color early stage founders, startups, side hustlers, and small business owners develop business and marketing plans, build brands, reach goals, increase revenue, and access funding. The platform is made up of over 7,000 women of color small businesses that are seeking access to funding and capital, business development training, mentorship and networking opportunities, marketing and branding support.

Marsha has given away over $500,000 in non-equity grants and business development services to close the racial equity gap in business. With a Bachelor’s of Science in Business, Management and Economics, Marsha was named on the 2022 Empower Role Model list of 100 Future Leaders Role Model supported by Yahoo Finance, and recognized as one of the Top 50 Women in Business by the Long Island Business News. Marsha served on the Nassau County Comptroller MWBE Steering Committee. Marsha has been featured in media including the Tamron Hall Show, ABC7NY, Fox5NY, News12Bx, Black Enterprise, Amsterdam News, Newsday, Next Nation on Sirius XM, 90.3 WHPC, and other media outlets. As a professional and business development trainer Marsha has had the pleasure to work with Microsoft, National Grid, National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Dress for Success and many other organizations.

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Follow Ayodele Harrison on LinkedIn Learn more CommunityBuild Ventures on Twitter or Instagram. Follow BMEsTalk Podcast, on Twitter and Instagram.

Ayodele Harrison helps Black Male Educators (BMEs) scale their leadership skills through training and coaching. He recently launch a 10-month leadership development program for BMEs entitled the BMEsTalk Incubator.

The Incubator exclusively focuses on equipping BMEs with the tools, knowledge and support community to overcome the challenges they face in the workplace, so that they can more effective drive positive change in the lives of the students and communities they serve.

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Follow Deepa Iyer on Twitter and Instagram.

Deepa Iyer has played many roles: weaver, frontline responder, storyteller, and guide. Over the course of two decades supporting social movements, her political and community homes include Asian American, South Asian, Muslim, and Arab ecosystems where she spent fifteen years in policy advocacy and coalition building in the wake of the September 11th attacks and ensuing backlash.

Currently, Deepa leads projects on solidarity and social movements at the Building Movement Project, a national nonprofit organization that catalyzes social change through research, relationships, and resources. She conducts trainings, uplifts narratives through the Solidarity Is This podcast, and facilitates solidarity strategy for cohorts and networks. Previously, she served as executive director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) for a decade, and also held positions at Race Forward, the US Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center, and the Asian American Justice Center.

Deepa’s first book, We Too Sing America: South Asian, Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future (The New Press, 2015), chronicles community-based histories in the wake of 9/11 and received a 2016 American Book Award. Deepa’s second book, a guide based on the social change ecosystem map, is available in late 2022 (Social Change Now: A Guide for Reflection and Connection is available here).

Deepa serves on the advisory council of the Emergent Fund. She has been an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland in the Asian American Studies and Public Policy programs.

Deepa is an immigrant who moved to Kentucky from Kerala (India) when she was twelve years old. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame Law School and Vanderbilt University.

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Follow Alicia M. Johnson’s organization, Step Up Savannah, on Twitter.

Alicia M. Johnson is a native of Savannah, Georgia, where she earned her degrees in English and Communications and master’s in management & organizational leadership, respectively, and is on track to complete her doctorate in organizational leadership in 2023. She is also a certified grant writer and administrator and a lifetime certified facilitator for Bridges Out of Poverty. She brings over twenty-six years of progressive leadership experience in program and community development with specific expertise in strategic planning, leadership, program and organizational development, fund development, marketing, and communications.

Alicia is currently the executive director for Step Up Savannah, leading the strategic direction of the nonprofit organization focused on economic inclusion and financial security in the SE Region of Georgia. Alicia is the first African-American and native Savannahian to have the leadership role. Prior to her work at Step Up, she served as the Director of Medicaid Marketing and Member Services for WellCare of Georgia, Inc., where she developed and oversaw the company’s statewide outreach and member services program for over 545,000 Medicaid lives.

Alicia has had an expansive career in both the public and private sectors. Notably, she served as the first Public Information Officer for the first African-American DA in the eastern judicial circuit creating community engagement and transparency for the Chatham County Community. She also scaled and provided an administrative overhaul of the Violence Intervention Program, the first forward-facing social justice program of its kind for this region of the country. She has received statewide recognition for her work and advocacy in the public sector and has served on numerous panels nationally, statewide, and locally.

Alicia has also held numerous leadership roles in the Savannah- Chatham County Public Schools, Carson Products, Girl Scouts of Savannah, and other local entities. Likewise, she has served on community and state boards to include the Black Heritage Festival, Mayor’s Leadership Council for a Healthy Savannah, Lifeline for Children, Ferst Foundation, Orange Duffle Bag, Boys and Girls Club, School Social Workers Conference, and Chatham County Safety Net Council, Today she serves on Coastal Georgia Indicators Council, the Mayor’s taskforce for Racial Equity and Leadership and the Advocates for a Restorative Community in Savannah; the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum Advisory Board, United Way Executive Council, BIPOC Nonprofit Leadership Council, HOPE Court Steering Committee, DEEP Center Action Policy Team, Eastside United, and the Employee Disciplinary Appeals Board for Chatham County.

She is the proud wife of Illustrator and SCAD Professor H. Pernell Johnson and the doting mother of one daughter, Alexis Samone Dudley, one son, Caleb Pernell, and one grandson, Devin O’Ryan Dudley, Jr.

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Follow Kathleen Maignan, NP on LinkedIn

Kathleen Maignan, AGPCNP-BC, MSN, OCN is the Medical Executive Director for the Upstate New York ecosystem at Genentech. A nurse practitioner by training, she comes with an extensive background centered in hematology-oncology, clinical research, and real world evidence. 

Just prior to starting her tenure at Genentech, Kathleen served as a Senior Clinical Director at Flatiron Health. In this role, she led a diverse group of clinicians to provide oncology and medical expertise to cross functional teams using electronic medical record data to conduct retrospective outcomes research.

In addition to guiding life science partners on how to use real world data (RWD) to support regulatory strategy, Kathleen has a special interest in examining how RWD can be used to examine the journey of overlooked and underrepresented patient populations. Kathleen continues to serve as a Nurse Practitioner Bone Marrow and Stem Cell transplantation at Weill Cornell Medicine.

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Follow Dr. Brandeis Marshall, on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Learn more about the her company DataedX Group on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Dr. Brandeis Marshall is the Founder and CEO of DataedX Group. DataedX Grup is a social impact business that provides educational resources and training in recognizing algorithmic harms and humanizing data for data educators, scholars and practitioners. As its founder and CEO, Brandeis is a data equity strategist who has advised and educated thousands in the public and corporate sectors. Her work focuses on exposing and mitigating the harmful impact of data practices on technology and society.

Before founding her data education and ethics company, she thought she’d be a college professor or administrator for the rest of her career. The cascading multigenerational influence of algorithms made engaging the current workforce in data eduction more urgent than educating the next generation. Data is fueling the algorithms that’s making the tech and that tech is perpetuating harm to Black women and other minoritized groups. Her book, Data Conscience: Algorithmic Siege on our Humanity Wiley Publishing September 2022, is written for rebel tech talent who acknowledge and are prepared to address the current limitations of the data life cycle and software development.

Brandeis holds a Ph.D. and Master of Science in Computer Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Rochester.

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Follow Dr. Nandi A. Marshall on Twitter.

Dr. Nandi A. Marshall is a community engaged scholar committed to maternal and child health equity and preparing the next generation of the public health workforce. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Community Health and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health at Georgia Southern University. Dr. Marshall holds a BA from Spelman College, an MPH from East Stroudsburg University, and a DrPH from Georgia Southern University. Dr. Marshall is also a certified health education specialist, a certified lactation counselor, and a certified diversity executive.

Dr. Marshall has over 19 years of community engagement experience at the local, state, and national levels, particularly around health inequities. These experiences, along with her completion of the Health Equity Leadership Institute (HELI), the Birth and Breastfeeding Leadership Institute, and the Georgia Governor’s Teaching Fellows Program, have fueled to her commitment to addressing the social determinants of health through community engagement, breastfeeding equity, and preparing students to address public health challenges through a health equity lense.

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Follow Jonathan McCrorye on Instagram.

Jonathan McCrory is a two Obie Award-winning, Harlem-based artist who has served as Artistic Director at National Black Theatre since 2012 under the leadership of CEO, Sade Lythcott. He has directed numerous professional productions and concerts. He has been acknowledged as an exceptional leader additionally through Craine’s New York Business 2020 Notable LGBTQ Leaders and Executives. In 2013, he was awarded the Emerging Producer Award by the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston Salem, North Carolina, and the Torch Bearer Award by theatrical legend Woodie King Jr. He is a founding member of the collaborative producing organizations Harlem9, Black Theatre Commons, The Jubilee, Next Generation National Network and The Movement Theatre Company. McCrory sits on the National Advisory Committee for Howlround.com and was a member of the original cohort for ArtEquity. A Washington, DC native, McCrory attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and New York University’s TISCH School of the Arts. To learn more, please visit www.jonathanmccrory.com.

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Follow Dr. Kyla McMullen, on Twitter and LinkedIn. Learn more about the Modern Figures Podcast on Twitter and Instagram.

Dr. Kyla McMullen earned her Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), where she was also a Meyerhoff Scholar. She earned her Masters and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan (2007-2012). While earning her Ph.D. she was also a faculty member at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. At Wayne State University she taught computer literacy courses to over 2,000 students. Dr. McMullen is the first (and currently the only) underrepresented woman to earn a Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan. She is currently an Associate Professor in the University of Florida’s Computer & Information Sciences & Engineering Department. Dr. McMullen has a personal commitment to encouraging women and minorities to pursue careers in computing and other STEM fields. She created the features “Beautiful, Black, and Brainy” and “Brilliant is the New Black” which showcase hundreds of exceptional young African Americans who excel in STEM fields and don’t fit the typical “scientist” stereotype. In addition she is the cohost of Modern Figures Podcast, which focuses on elevating the voices of Black Women in Computing.

Dr. McMullen’s research interests are in the perception, applications, and development of 3D audio technologies. In this line of research, sounds are digitally filtered such that when they are played over headphones, the listener perceives the sound as being emitted from a specific location in their own physical space. She is using this research to create realistic augmented and virtual environments, augment low-vision environments, and decrease cognitive load in multimodal systems. She received the National Science Foundation’s CAREER Award to further support her research in this area.

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Andraya Mimms, Esq. currently serves as an Assistant Public Defender for Chatham County, Georgia. Her extensive legal career spans 25+ years with experience in bankruptcy, criminal defense, real estate, family, and juvenile law.

Andraya is the founder of Mimms Mediation. She has been a registered mediator and arbitrator since 2016 and has trained as a community conferencing facilitator and in community mediation.

Andraya is the proud graduate of Spelman College and Georgia State University, College of Law in the heart of urban Atlanta.

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Connect with Venola Mason on Twitter.

Venola Mason is driven by the belief that every student deserves a high-quality education that can afford them many opportunities to lead and contribute to the world as they transition to adulthood.  She is passionate about partnering with school districts across the country to create and implement practical solutions to increase student achievement and wellness.  

Venola began her career in education as a Teach For America • Metro Atlanta corps member in 2003.  She taught for five years in Atlanta Public Schools leading her students to consistently make 1-3 years of academic growth across all content areas closing the achievement gap.  She also served as a Site Manager for The New Teacher Project (TNTP) where she managed the Atlanta Content Seminar program, a professional development program for K-12 teachers.  During her last year with TNTP, she served as a central Site Manager to support the state approval process and launch of the Georgia Teaching Fellows program, an alternative teacher certification program. 

In 2011, Venola served as the Director of Alternative Certification for Teach for America • Metro Atlanta.  In this role, she created the Teacher Leadership Development Program, an alternative certification program for Teach for America corps members, and secured the program’s designation as an accredited teacher preparation program through the Georgia Professional Standards Commission. In that same year, she joined the International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE) as a Consultant and supported school districts across the country in the areas of Instructional Excellence, Blended Learning, and Leadership.  Currently,  Venola serves as an Associate Partner with ICLE.  In this role, she supports school districts with designing strategies to implement practical solutions to increase student achievement and wellness.

Venola has recently published Teach Up! Empowering Teachers through Relationships, Rigor, and Relevance and maintains her teacher and administrator credentials in the state of Georgia. Learn more about her venolamason.com

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Connect with Leslie-Ann Murray on LinkedIn.

Leslie Ann Murray is a fiction writer and book enthusiast hailing from Trinidad and Tobago. Having spent her formative years in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, Leslie now calls Crown Heights, Brooklyn, her home.

At Brown Girl Book Lover, Leslie and her team engage in the following activities: they conduct reviews of diverse books and conduct interviews with a wide range of writers. Their mission is to bring attention to published works that have been overlooked and to spark discussions about literature that deserves to be in the forefront of our collective imagination.

What sets them apart? Leslie’s extensive experience of over a decade in teaching and advocating for diversity in literature. She has imparted her knowledge through writing workshops and participation in literary panels across the globe, including South Africa, China, New York City, Trinidad, Bangladesh, and France.

Leslie and her team firmly believe in the magic of books and are dedicated to creating an inclusive space where everyone can discover their own literary superpower.

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Follow Dr. Lesley-Ann Noel on LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter.

Lesley-Ann Noel, the author of Design Social Change, is a designer, researcher, and educator who practices design through critical and anti-hegemonic lenses with a focus on equity, social justice, and the experience of those often excluded from design research. She practices primarily in social innovation, education, and public health. In her research, Lesley-Ann highlights the work of designers outside of Europe and North America and promotes critical awareness by introducing critical theory concepts and vocabulary into the industry. She is an Assistant Professor focusing on Design Studies in the Department of Media Arts, Design, and Technology at North Carolina State University.

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Follow Michael O’Neal’s organization, Parent University on Facebook and Instagram.

Michael O’Neal is the founder of Parent University in Savannah, Georgia, and now serves as the Executive Director of Community United Services Inc., which is the entity that manages the Parent University program.

Michael has been the chief steward of this grassroots community-based program since its inception in Savannah in 1999. Currently he leads Parent University and its newer component “Early Learning College” for the parents of children birth to five years old. 

Michael was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA., and has been a Savannah resident for 47 years. He has been married for 45 years to wife Jo-Nell and they are the parents of three sons and a daughter, three daughters-in-law, and 10 grandchildren.

From 1976 to 2018, Michael was employed with International Paper. He worked most of that time in the Electrical and Instrument maintenance and Safety department. In 2015, Michael was awarded a year-long paid leave from International Paper, which allowed him to work with Parent University and Early Learning College full time and develop a sustainable model. He then returned to International Paper in 2016 until his retirement in May 2018.

Michael has given numerous talks about Parent University and community building throughout the United States and abroad. Mr. O’Neal also hosts the TV show “Parent University TV”. He previously co-wrote the “Dear Diane and Mike” column and currently is a contributing columnist for the Savannah Morning News.

In addition, Michael volunteered as a Junior Achievement Consultant. He managed a pilot project for the City of Savannah called the Strong Families Program to give parental training to the parents of youth who were considered at risk by the schools or courts. He also co-facilitated Parental Engagement seminars in Georgia and South Carolina, which were featured on Georgia Public Broadcasting.

Michael has served on Boards of Directors or councils in the Savannah area, including the Advisory Board of the Savannah Early Childhood Foundation. Michael was listed as one of the 2015 Fortune Magazine “Heroes of the 500” and has received numerous awards for himself and Parent University. A Paul Harris Fellow, Michael is currently President of the Rotary Club West in Savannah, Georgia.

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Connect with Nita Penn on Instagram.

Nita Penn is passionate about facilitating conversations around the sociopolitical climate and strategizing opportunities for individuals & organizations to be more authentic, personable, efficient, and effective.

She has over 10 years of experience strategizing creative & innovative organizational development experiences for clients as small as a one-person team to a 600-soldier battalion of the United States Army National Guard.

She has helped photographers show their work in international exhibitions, voice-over actors land deals with national brands, muralists display their artwork in the heart of their hometown, and textile designers sell their products in West Elm.

She additionally consults in the areas of career & professional development, nonprofit & small business organizational development, talent acquisition, team building, and executive administration. Learn more about her at nitapenn.com

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Connect with Dr. C on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Dr. Chantel A. Perry, commonly known as “Dr. C” is an award winning data scientist, researcher, and best-selling author of “Data Newbie to Guru”. She has 13+ years of experience in data and technology and currently works at Microsoft leading Data Science and A.I. efforts. She is also the co-founder of Data Select Star an online data science training program.

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Connect with Dr. Nichole Pinkard on LinkedIn.

Nichole Pinkard, PhD is an Alice Hamilton Professor in the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University. She is the founder of Digital Youth Network, co-founder of Inquirium LLC, and Remix Learning, home of iRemix, a social learning platform that connects youth’s learning opportunities in school, home, and beyond.

In collaboration with the Chicago Public Library, Dr. Pinkard helped found YOUmedia, a public learning space that immerses high school students in a context of traditional media – books – to make and produce new media artifacts like music, games, videos, and virtual worlds.

Dr. Pinkard is the recipient of a 2014 Northwestern Alumni Award, a 2010 Common Sense Media Award for Outstanding Commitment to Creativity and Youth, and the 2004 the Jan Hawkins Award for Early Career Contributions to Humanistic Research and Scholarship in Learning Technologies, an NSF Early CAREER Fellowship, and a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for research on how digital media affects literacy. She serves on the Advisory Board of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center and Institute of Play. She holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Stanford University, an M.S. in Computer Science and a Ph.D. in Learning Sciences from Northwestern University.

Her current scholarly interests include the design and use of pedagogical-based social networks, new media literacy learning outcomes, ecological models of learning, digital badging, computational-making learning environments for underrepresented groups, and designing city-level learning ecologies.

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Connect with Rahimeh Ramezany on LinkedIn.

Rahimeh Ramezany is a multiethnic, neurodiverse, visibly Muslim American woman, and is a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Intercultural Specialist. No matter at what scale, all of us have spheres of influence to push for greater inclusion, equity, and intercultural understanding. Rahimeh founded her DEI consulting business in order to address the experiences of marginalized religious, racial, ethnic, and neurodiverse communities in the United States with the goal of creating change on individual, interpersonal, and systemic levels that center dignity, compassion, and justice. You can find out more about her work at www.rahimehramezany.com.

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Connect with Yolanda A. Rankin, PhD on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Yolanda A. Rankin, PhD is currently an Assistant Professor in the School of Information at Florida State University. Her research interests include applying Black feminist epistemologies as critical frameworks for designing technology with underserved populations and developing strategies for broadening participation in K-16 computing education. A McKnight Fellow and a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, Yolanda has published more than 40 peer-reviewed publications, including journal articles, conference papers, and book chapters. Prior to academia, she accumulated more than twelve years of industry experience while employed at IBM Research Lab – Almaden in San Jose, CA and Lucent Technologies Bell Labs in Naperville, IL. Yolanda completed her Ph.D. in Computer Science at Northwestern University, her M.A. in Computer Science at Kent State University, and her B.S. in Mathematics at Tougaloo College, a historically Black college in Jackson, Mississippi.

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Follow Pastor Yolanda Robinson on LinkedIn or Instagram.

Pastor Yolanda Roberson serves as Executive Pastor of Kingdom Life Christian Fellowship, a church focused on loving people and caring for our community. She is honored to play a key role in the church. As a communicator, leader and role model, Yolanda is passionate about encouraging and empowering women to step into their God-given callings, regardless of their many walks of life.

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Connect with Victoria Saxton on LinkedIn.

Victoria Saxton is the President and CEO of the Small Business Assistance Corporation (SBAC). In her role, she develops and designs programs to assist in future economic development activities for businesses and entrepreneurs. She assisted in completing over $9 million for the organization in her 8-year tenure and has a total of 15 years of work experience in accounting.

Victoria completed her BBA in Accounting at Savannah State University and received her Master of Accounting Degree (MAcc) at Georgia Southern University. She is a graduate of the Savannah Area Chamber Leadership Savannah Class of 2019-2020, serves on the City of Savannah Taskforce Subcommittee for Economic Empowerment and Wealth Development, and is a member of the Steering Committee for the first-ever minority-owned co-op, Ignite Advantage, in Savannah, GA. Victoria is also named one of Georgia Trend’s 40 under 40 award recipients for 2023.

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Connect with Dr. Christopher Small on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Dr. Christopher Small currently serve as the Director of the online Educational Leadership/Administration Masters and Specialist programs in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Florida State University.

He currently oversee over 100 teacher leaders from across the state of Florida who are working towards securing state certification in educational leadership. Dr. Small’s research includes the examination of leadership preparation programs for Black males and frameworks that equip school leaders to be prepared to address diversity, equity and inclusion in K-12 schools. I currently serve as a member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coalition within the College of Education.

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Connect with Gloria J. Strauthers on Facebook. Follow her business, Exodus Management and Consulting on Twitter and Facebook.

From Statistic to Success. Gloria Strauthers defied the statistical outcomes associated with being a teen mother. Her strategy of developing a “Growth Mindset” set in motion a series of opportunities she capitalized on that paved the way for her success as a business owner, coach, and mentor.

She has multiplied her influence as a Certified Maxwell Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Teacher, assisting individuals and organizations maximize growth opportunities. She is a multiplier that gives more in-use value than she receives in cash value and makes those who encounter her feel valued by playing to their strengths and cultivating their weaknesses. She is a multi-industry credentialed professional who volunteers as a Certified SCORE Business Mentor guiding small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs in business growth and development.

In 2020, she published Cleaning for Health: The Emerging Pathogen Threat as a resource guide to aid everyday individuals in adopting a Cleaning for Health mindset to break the chain of infection to minimize the impact of COVID-19. Before retiring at age 40, Gloria held various leadership roles. She leveraged her 25 plus years of experience in business, janitorial, education, finance, healthcare, and the military to start Exodus Management and Consulting, LLC.

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Connect with Jakita O. Thomas, PhD on Instagram.

Jakita O. Thomas, PhD is a Philpott Westpoint Stevens Associate Professor of Computer Science and Software Engineering at Auburn University in Auburn, AL, and Director of the CUltuRally & SOcially Relevent (CURSOR) Computing Lab.

Dr. Thomas received a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer & Information Science with a minor in Mathematics from Spelman College in 1999. In 2006, Dr. Thomas was conferred a Ph.D. in Computer Science with a specialization in the Learning Sciences and Technology from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, GA.

Dr. Thomas is a recipient of the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award (2012 – 2019). She is also a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) (2016) where she received a commendation from President Barack Obama for her research focused on understanding the intersectional experiences of Black girls in computing in the context of game design for social change.
Dr. Thomas is also an entrepreneur having launched several ventures in different sectors. She is the founder of Grab Your Grant, which develops grant writing skills for non-profit founders and community program developers so that they can cover their costs, grow their teams, and scale their impact. Dr. Thomas is the co-founder of Pharaoh’s Conclave (PCX), a tech company that prepares youth for esports careers. Additionally, she is co-founder of PCX’s non-profit arm, PCX GO!, which builds on PCX’s mission of preparing youth for esports careers through capacity building around eSports career pathways. She is also the co-founder of STATUS: FLOW, a monthly curated package of CBD oils, product pairings you can infuse, and information to help you play and level up your game.


Dr. Thomas is a graduate of the digital undivided BIG Incubator as well as the YC Startup School and the inaugural cohort of the Google for Startups Atlanta Founder’s Academy. Dr. Thomas is also a former Camelback Ventures Fellow and a recent graduate of the Epiphany accelerator sponsored by the First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta. PCX is also a Google startup, Microsoft Startup, and a recipient of the Black Founders Fund.

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Connect with Joy E Triche on LinkedIn and Joy for Books on LinkedIn and Instagram.

Joy E Trice has spent her career in educational publishing, honing her operations skills during a nearly decade-long stint at National Geographic School Publishing. After spending years helping others self-publish their books, she started her own publishing company Tiger Stripe Publishing (TSP) with a mission to publish children’s books that feature BIPOC characters. TSP published nearly a dozen children’s books. The company became a platform to advocate for the creation of more BIPOC content through relationships with organizations such as the American Library Association.

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Connect with Dr. Sarah L. Webb on LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram.

Dr. Sarah L. Webb is the founder and owner of Colorism Healing, a global leader in raising awareness, shifting attitudes, and taking action to address colorism with corporate, consumer, and community strategies. Since 2011, Dr. Webb’s myriad efforts to address colorism include designing college courses, hosting an international writing contest, publishing books, teaching workshops, and mentoring students across the world from Sacramento, California to Sydney, Australia.

Dr. Webb has written and contributed to several academic and non-academic articles, presented at numerous conferences, and been featured on regional NPR stations, Fox Soul TV, the Illinois Times, Forbes.com, the Tavis Smiley radio show, and the TEDx stage.

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Visit Dr. Jullian Whatley on her Website, LinkedIn or Instagram.

Dr. Jillian Whatley received her B.S in Education from Miles College Birmingham, Al. She continued her education at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville where she received her M.S. in Education, and Gallaudet University in Washington, DC to obtain a M.A in Developmental Psychology and a Specialist degree in School Psychologist, both with an emphasis in deafness.

Dr. Whatley received her Ph.D. from Mercer University in Atlanta, GA. Dr. Whatley’s dissertation was entitled Implicit bias as a contributing factor to disproportionality of African Americans in special education: The promise of a bias literacy intervention, which was published in 2018.

Dr. Whatley started her career as a teacher and spent majority of her foundation years as a school psychologist. As a school psychologist, Dr. Whatley specialized in assessments and evaluations of student in pre-K through 12th grade. Dr. Whatley functioned as a school psychologist for 13 years in the Maryland and Georgia. Dr. Whatley quickly ascended through the leadership ranks in P-12 Education. Dr. Whatley is the former Coordinator of Psychological Services and Behavior Programs for Atlanta Public Schools and the former Executive Director of Student Support Services in Clarke County Public Schools in Athens, GA. Dr. Whatley is the Director of Professional Learning for The Center for Model Schools- a division of Houghton Mifflin. Dr. Whatley completed the AASA Urban Superintendent Program at Howard University. Dr. Whatley is an adjunct Georgia State University in the Education Department, and instructor and Implicit Bias Expert for Academy of Creative Coaching, and adjunct professor in the Center for Leadership and Organization.

Dr. Whatley is the proud mother of a beautiful and intelligent daughter. She enjoys dancing, reading and traveling. Dr. Whatley is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and Junior League of Gwinnett/ North Fulton. Dr. Whatley is the 2021 recipient of the Jack and Jill of America – Stone Mountain Chapter Shero award for the community work in eliminating racial barriers in Gwinnett and Dekalb County Georgia. Dr. Whatley is an alumna of Leadership Athens Class of 2022.

Dr. Whatley recently authored a children’s book entitled: Where is my teacher? A Story for Children Who Have Lost Their Teacher. Where is My Teacher is a book that can be used to start the healing process for a child, parent, psychologist, counselor, grandparent, or caregiver when you cannot find the words. Hopefully, Lissie and Dr. Whatley can give you the words to begin that process.

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Connect with Rachel E. White on LinkedIn.

Rachel E. White is a native of Detroit, MI, and a graduate of the University of Michigan. With 24 years of banking experience, she has become a financial expert in her field. She is a Vice President, Business Connect Advisor for Truist, supporting business owners through advisory dialogue providing strategic advice at every stage of their business lifecycle. Prior to her role as Business Banker, she worked as a Vice President, Branch Leader for SunTrust and Comerica Bank. During her tenure as a Branch Leader in retail banking, she served in the capacity of a Small Business Champion and Business Development Officer. Daughter of an entrepreneur, she’s always been passionate about working with business owners, inspiring, and helping people achieve their financial goals. Her passion to serve is not only evident in the workplace. She is the First Vice President of the National Association of University Women Savannah Branch, a board member for Savannah Regional Small Business Capital Fund, and a board member for Victory Housing Solutions. She is most proud of her son and twin daughters.

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