A’Bryana is the Executive Director of Black Women Speak, an organization centered on uplifting and amplifying the lives of Black women based in Minnesota. She has studied Sociology and African American studies at the University of Minnesota and is an organizer that puts healing at the forefront. Founded in 2019, Black Women Speak has created spaces where Black women are gathered, heard, celebrated, and uplifted toward liberation on their own terms. A’Bryana is rooted in the legacy of Black feminism, grassroots organizing and collective freedom. She echoes Audre Lorde as she has stated, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Black Women Speak is dedicated to ensuring Black women and girls have lives of abundance and specializes in equipping them with the tools to walk them into their futures.
Ms Ella Chapman
Ms. Ella is a transformational coach and motivational speaker who empowers and inspires individuals to process their personal healing by sharing her own life experiences. Her inspiring story of overcoming challenges with illiteracy, drug abuse, teen pregnancy, and abortion, domestic violence (teen & adult) has taught her to redevelop her life. In 2008 she was diagnosed with multiple autoimmune disease disorders, such as Lupus, Sjogren, and in 2018 Fibromyalgia. Ms. Ella strongly believes through adversity she can still have an inspired life. She received her Master of Arts Degree in Counseling and Psychotherapy and is a certified Genesis Relapse Prevention Counselor. She has developed numerous core curriculums for women for over 15 years. She also specializes in forgiveness and has taught the “Power of Forgiveness” course for eight years. Ms. Ella is the founder of MsEllaInspires, LLC. She shares her professional expertise and life experiences as a professional educational speaker, influencer, and workshop facilitator. Ms. Ella created a motivational curriculum, the Seven Principles on “Power In Your Purpose”—a curriculum that prepares individuals to discover their worth, passion, and true purpose in this life. Ms. Ella is a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother who lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her husband of 20 plus years.
Angela Rose Myers
After graduating from Barnard College of Columbia University in New York City, Angela, a Twin Cities Native, returned to Minneapolis looking to make a change in her community through meaningful relationship building, an honest commitment to equality, and empowering young women to be the change they want to see. After being connected with the Minneapolis NAACP, she quickly rose to the position of 2nd Vice-President at the age of 23, then was elected President of the Minneapolis NAACP in November 2020 at 25, making her one of the youngest NAACP Adult Branch Presidents in the Nation. She has worked with and built relationships with many local community groups on issues of Civic Engagement like Minnesota Voice, Black Votes Matter Minnesota, ACER, ACLU Minnesota, national groups like the National Organization For Women and National Action Network. In addition, she has traveled worldwide, engaging scholars on social justice issues and public policy, most notably helping coordinate the 5th World Conference on Racial and Ethnic Economic Inequalities in Vitoria, Brazil.
Jasmine Carey (she/her) is a policy generalist and advocate, focusing on addressing social issues that disproportionately impact the Black community, Indigenous communities, and other communities of color. Jasmine has over five years’ experience in the public sector at both the local and state level, most recently serving as the Legislative & Policy Director for the Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage. Currently, Jasmine is the Senior Program Associate for the Community Equity Program at the Wilder Foundation, a 9-month leadership program based out of Wilder Foundation specifically designed for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) community leaders. The purpose of the program is to learn the Minnesota legislative policy-making process, build community with one another, and re-imagine new systems and ways of decentralizing white supremacy systems. In her past role, Jasmine created and advanced the Council’s policy agenda and advised the executive branch and legislators on policy issues that impact Minnesotans of African Heritage. Jasmine is passionate about demystifying the legislative process, specifically around opportunities to engage communities that are most impacted but have been historically overlooked and excluded from the process.
Sharhonda York currently works as a full-time Probation officer in Ramsey County and a part-time Correction officer in Washington county. She has a bachelor’s and Master’s degree from Minnesota State University, Mankato. She was recently accepted to a doctoral program in Sociology beginning this fall at Iowa State University. Sharonda is a proud member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated where she actively serves as the 3rd Vice President and Undergraduate Advisor-Sigma Phi chapter Minnesota State University Mankato (assisted in chartering in 2020) for the local graduate chapter, as well as the State Parliamentarian. Her long-term goal is to open a group home to serve African American males ages 30 to 45 who struggle in the criminal justice system.
Tamara (Tami) Lee has been a librarian for the Ramsey County Library for fourteen years. Tami received her MLIS from St. Catherine University and has been an ALA Spectrum scholar, adjunct instructor in the St. Kate’s MLIS program, and is a certified early literacy specialist (ECRR). Tami co-authored a piece on racial diversity and inclusion in storytime for the ALSC journal, Children and Libraries, and has facilitated many workshops, trainings, and discussions around equity, diversity, and inclusion in libraries and collection development. Besides being *THAT* person on various and assorted panels and committees, Tami is passionate about racial equity, social justice, drumming, and kitchen chemistry.
Sharai Sims is a Black Woman living and working in Minneapolis. She has five years of experience working in infectious disease, HIV, and STI care, education, testing, prevention, research, and data collection. Her work primarily has been in health disparities for Black and Brown communities, adolescents, and same gender loving communities. She is in the process of obtaining her Master’s in Public Administration from Metropolitan State University. Sharai’s passion for public health and health systems inspires her to gain more experience in research and data to run quality community impact projects. It is her goal to bridge the gap between communities experiencing multiple barriers in accessing public service goods. Her belief is to create a welcoming environment that acknowledges community experience as a vehicle for transformative health care equity. She has worked with multiple clinics in the Twin Cities area that are at the heart of health equity work, such as The Annex Teen Clinic, Minneapolis School-Based Clinics, North Point Health and Wellness, and Red Door Clinical Services. In these experiences, she has led equity presentations to develop and improve clinical services and increase patient care.
Kylie Peterson is a community-focused leader who leads by being present and seeing representation at all levels to increase growth and visibility. She has worked in the non-profit field for over ten years, developing young people and leaders in different capacities. As a trained facilitator, she is knowledgeable in moving towards change into action. Kylie was named a 2021 New Leadership Fellow. She holds a BA from the University of Minnesota and is an active learner who works best in collaboration.
Meet Demetria Poe, Born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She moved to Minnesota in 2013 to pursue her degree in education. In 2017, Demetria received her Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education with a minor in Child Psychology. In 2018, She returned to the University of Minnesota to receive her M.Ed in Early Childhood Elementary and received a teaching license in early childhood and Elementary Education. Currently, she is studying at the University of Minnesota to receive a Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Leadership. She has experience in childcare from infancy to toddlers. Alongside her participation in mentoring programs such as being UY-YMCA Literacy Mentor site lead and MN History Day Mentor, she has taught in various school districts, including Minneapolis Public Schools, St. Paul Public, and Osseo Area Schools. She is the founder and a full-time CEO and tutor for Scholar School LLC. Scholar School LLC was created during the pandemic because Ms. Poe realized that scholars needed an equitable opportunity during this new way of distance learning. She uses her expertise in education to help these brilliant minds. Ms. Poe is currently offering in-person and virtual tutoring for ages K-5, willing to work with older children as well. She has clients both in Minnesota and Wisconsin, so distance is no problem. Every scholar has an individual plan created around their learning style, learning strengths, and learning needs. The goal is to inspire, motivate, and progress each scholar at their grade level or above their grade level.
I was born in Nigeria and came to the U.S at 3 years old. I grew up on the east side of Saint Paul and received my undergraduate degree from the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University in Political Science and Anthropology. I was involved in various student organizations like the Climate Action Club and part of a few scholarship programs called the Intercultural Leadership Scholarship and John Brandl Program. I’ve also studied abroad in London while interning at an international NGO. I feel passionate about the environmental justice and did field research at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris (COP 21) in 2015 where I studied how marginalized populations engage in global conferences. After graduating from college, I lived abroad in Taiwan for a year teaching English as a Teaching Assistant through the Fulbright Program. When I returned, I worked at the City of Minneapolis’ Sustainability Division as a Policy Aide then later joined the Tina Smith re-election campaign. Currently, I work at the St. Paul Office of U.S Senator Tina Smith as an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Outreach Director.
Thomas Montreal Collins
Thomas Collins is a proud young black man. He was born and raised in California until moving to Mississippi, where he completed his high school years. After receiving his high school diploma, he obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Thomas has been living in Minnesota for about five years. He is currently working in Human Services as an advocate for young people experiencing homelessness in the Twin Cities. Outside of his occupation, he has a passion for uplifting his community and providing others with healthy opportunities for positive development. His passion stems from his adverse childhood experiences and broken background. He has interests ranging from mental health awareness to philosophy and arts. His life goal is to open up an overall wellness center accessible to disenfranchised individuals who have no means to alternative holistic healing methods.
Markus Flynn is the executive director of Black Men Teach. He advocates for accessible and affordable pathways for Black men to become elementary school educators in this role. As a leader in the Twin Cities community, he works with partner schools, teacher training programs, and community-based organizations to recruit, prepare, place and retain Black male teachers. In addition to his Black Men Teach responsibilities, Markus has continued his teaching career as a lead science teacher at Prodeo Academy in Minneapolis. Before becoming executive director, Markus’ passion for creating educational opportunities for future Black male teachers initially brought him to Black Men Teach as part of its College Cohort Program. Markus received his Master of Science in kinesiology and Bachelor of Science in kinesiology and health from Iowa State University.