In 2003, Alicia founded The Khaya Cookie Company (US) & the Khayelitsha Cookie Co (South Africa) both with innovative business models with a social objective. A former investment banker turned social entrepreneur; the Bronx born entrepreneur created a forward-thinking business model that allowed her to fulfill a personal commitment to better the lives of the residents in her adopted home of South Africa. These jobs provide sustainable opportunities and job skills training for the women and men of the local community. Alicia grew her company and sold it back to local South Africans in the true spirit of empowerment. Alicia and her work have been featured in CNN Headline News “Small & Global” and in publications such as The Financial Times, Glamour (South Africa), O, the Oprah Magazine (South Africa), and Business 2.0. She received the Food Network Award for Edible Entrepreneur recognized for her “passionate pursuit of bright ideas.”
Ariael Brooks Porter, is a Delaware State University Alumna with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Psychology and a Masters of Art from Relay Graduate School of Education. Ariael has always had a passion to serve the community through mentor-ship and empowerment with goals to actively uplift and motivate those who surround her. Ariael has maintained a career in education with a goal to educate and empower students who look like her. Ariael's philosophy in her everyday work is to be the person that she has always needed in all that she does - this rings true as she advocates to ensure that the people she encounters feel loved, safe and heard. Her belief in equity for all influences her desire to be a student of special education and to use this knowledge to inform others and to one day shape how this information can be used to create a society accessible to all.
Dr. Ashley Huderson is a STEM policy expert, researcher, entrepreneur, author, and professor, with over 15 years’ experience as STEM mentor and advocate. She has published over 12 peer reviewed articles, including two book chapters on Urban STEM education and counter spaces for minority women in STEM. She is the recipient of several awards and honors and has served as a member of several STEM based committees and boards. Currently, Dr. Huderson works in the Office of the US Deputy Secretary of Education as a STEM and CS Equity Policy Fellow. She is working to develop and implement a STEM and CS strategy that advances the Deputy Secretary’s vision for education in America and supports the strategic goals and priorities of the Department. Dr. Huderson holds a BS in Chemistry from Spelman College, a certificate in Health Policy, Ph.D in Biomedical Research from Meharry Medical College, & an MBA from Georgetown University.
Desiree Coleman-Fry is an internationally recognized speaker, award-winning DEI executive, and best-selling author who empowers women and advances equity. She’s been featured in the New York Times, Harvard Business Review, Business Insider and PBS, and was named to Hive’s 2020 Top D&I Leaders of North America list. Desiree is studying racial and gender inequities in a multidisciplinary doctoral program at Saint Louis University. She’s also a working mama of four and leads DEI for a national organization.
As a graduate of LinkedIn’s prestigious Creator Accelerator Program, Desiree centers the voices of working moms and helps women work well with curated content and an engaged following of 35K on the platform. She received Career Mastered’s 2022 D&I Champions Award and Investment News’ 2019 Rising Star in D&I Award. Desiree holds a Master of Public Administration from Syracuse University, is a Danforth Plant Science Center trustee and lives in St. Louis, MO, with her husband and kids.
DeWana Hadder is a dynamic and energetic thought leader from Louisville, KY where she currently resides, and is a current doctoral student at the University of Kentucky pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Education Sciences with a concentration in Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation. Professionally, she has spent over 15 years serving in social services and education, specifically focusing on conducting critical policy analyses to advocate for changes at the systemic level. DeWana is dedicated to helping elevate and amplify the voices of those who feel silenced and being an example for those who feel like they can’t make it. She uses her own life experiences to serve as a testimony to show that regardless of your situation or circumstance, you can become whoever you want to be.
Emmy Award Winning TV Broadcaster
Gwen Tolbart is an Emmy award winning, television broadcaster, and philanthropist whose life of giving back, making a difference for others, earned her President Obama’s Lifetime Community Service Award. A trailblazer of Canada and the USA she is the first Canadian and first meteorologist inducted into the National Association of Black Journalist (NABJ) Hall of Fame (2023), first Canadian to receive the NABJ Community Service Award, first Black weather anchor on both Canada’s, “The Weather Network” (English division) and Montreal’s CTV CFCF-12 and only Black host of "Travel, Travel”. A weather anchor and feature reporter at WTTG Fox5 Washington, DC, for 21 years she produces “Because Of You;” positive life-changing stories. She founded mentorship programs, and championed countless causes while inspiring, encouraging and instilling growth and empowerment. Gwen is CEO of “Tolbart Talks" and co-founder of “4EveryGoodReason”, a film company focusing on stories of underserved communities.
Miss DC 2023, Jude Maboné is a heart health and athlete safety advocate, a small business owner, and an active member of the community serving with Children’s National Hospital, the Honor Flight Network, and a variety of other organizations in the District. Her diagnosis of heart disease at age sixteen led her to begin her community service initiative “Check Your Heart” which provides preemptive heart screenings and AED devices for young people. When Jude is not working at a DC based law firm, she enjoys pampering her dog, Waffle, running through Rock Creek Park and helping female-owned small businesses in DC with their marketing plans. Jude is looking forward to her next chapter as she applies to business school this fall as a Management Leadership for Tomorrow fellow.
Kayla is an International Wellness Practitioner, Optimal Breathologist, GYROTONIC®/GYROKINESIS® Trainer, Full Spectrum Doula and a 2023 Joy Award Winner as presented by Taraji P. Henson & the Boris L. Henson Foundation. Harley takes a spirit-centered approach to providing holistic & physical care; one that empowers individuals to be proactive, vocal, confident and informed. An overcomer of Chronic Facial Pain- Trigeminal Neuralgia, Kayla founded her private practice The Beebodi Marketplace in 2017. She firmly believes that the body has the power to heal itself through Breathwork and Movement. Kayla performed, toured and taught in corporate settings, international festivals, conferences, and more. She is a member of ProDoula, TheMomagerCo. and an at-large volunteer in community spaces and 501(c)3 organizations that advocate for Maternal Care, policy reform, and equity for female professionals in the corporate sector.
Dr. Martha James earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Kinesiology, her Master’s in Inquiry-Based Education from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN, & a Doctorate in Critical Pedagogy with a focus in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis, MN. She is an Associate Professor in the School of Education and Urban Studies at Morgan State University. Her research agenda focuses on cultural fluency, interdisciplinary teaching, and best practices in professional development. Martha’s most recent publications, “HQPE: Exploring the Role of Physical Education in Facing America’s Educational Debt “(2021) and” It is a Movement, not a Moment: Utilizing Hope Theory to Situate Kinesiology in the Path for Social Justice” (2021) explore how access to high-quality physical education and recreation are essential in addressing the historical exclusion and contemporary marginalization and are, in and of themselves, acts of antiracism.
Washington, DC native, Tasia Grant is a successful Human Resources Professional turned Actress. From elementary school through college,
Tasia has performed as an actress in community and university theatre. Now living in Atlanta, GA, she began to explore acting opportunities there as a hobby. Her reintroduction to theatre was the gateway to broadening her interest in the TV and Film industries. As her acting “hobby” progressed from theatre to commercials to tv show appearances, she realized that acting was more than a hobby but indeed still a passion. Her acting career has also flourished, working with Angela Bassett, Sterling K. Brown, Robin Givens, Kevin Spacey, and Gary Owen. She has also had the pleasure of working opposite T.C. Carson as a leading lady in the film “Bricked” and with Vanessa Bell Calloway and Clifton Powell in her recurring role as Samantha Pearson in the hit TV drama, “Saints and Sinners”.