(Thomasville, NC) Mary Jane Akerman has been actively involved youth leadership for many years, most recently in youth development and service learning. Her passion is providing young people the tools and resources they need to be successful in life and helping them navigate the journey. She is currently the Wellness Coordinator for Thomasville City Schools and is responsible for pregnancy prevention programs, safe and drug free schools, improving physical activity and nutrition, and anything else that improves the health and wellness of the students in Thomasville. A number of the programs developed by Mary Jane have received state and national recognition. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancies and Advocates for Youth have both identified Thomasville’s pregnancy prevention program as a model program. Mary Jane is a trained Low Ropes facilitator and oversees the local Challenge Course including training of new facilitators. She is a successful grant writer, a necessity to support her programs and see her great ideas come to fruition. Active in the community, she serves on the CIS of Thomasville, YMCA, Thomasville Parks & Recreation boards. Mary Jane earned her BA at Austin College, Sherman, Texas and her MBA from the University of Texas at Dallas. She lives in the suburbs of Thomasville where she enjoys family, friends and the slower pace of life. She holds fast to the motto “go forth until apprehended”.
(Charlotte, NC) Ana Jassel Covarrubias was born in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico and considers Spanish as her first language. One of her most recent accomplishments is her graduation from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, with a Business Degree (Major in Marketing). Ana shares her expertise of public speaking and community organizing as a Training Associate with Leading To Change where she has provided training support and consultation to the Communities In Schools, NC Teaching Fellows, Pennsylvania Diversity Summit, Ohio Afterschool Association, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, and beyond. Additionally, Ana has worked for Douglas K. Simmons and Associates Law Firm for the past eight years. Ana moved to Charlotte in 2004 and lives with her husband and son.
(Greenville, NC) Vernisha Crawford is a 2013 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where she majored in Sociology. Her experience includes her work as the Development/Marketing Assistant at the Barnabas Center, and now as a rising manager within the Ross corporation. Vernisha has brought her laughter and hard-work ethic as a Training Associate to Leading To Change where she has provided training support and consultation to Youth Philanthropy programs in Gaston and Mecklenburg Counties, and has presented to over 50 different training audiences, including the Western North Carolina Teen Institute, South Carolina Association of Prevention Professionals, and Communities In Schools. She comes from a family of 10 siblings (5 boys AND 5 girls), she being the fourth of ten. Vernisha enjoys singing, dancing, reading, poetry and helping others.
(Charlotte, NC) Pat Kelsaw, MSW is the CEO and Founder at The InnerWorks Group, LLC. The company provides training, career coaching, consulting and program development activities that engage participants to initiate individual and systemic change. She is frequently sought after to facilitate numerous strategic planning meetings and staff retreats across the country. A California native, Pat earned a BA in communications and a teaching credential from the University of California, Davis. As an elementary school teacher, Pat taught in the Rio Linda (Sacramento area) and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. Being a passionate advocate for youth, families and communities inspired Pat to return to school to obtain a Masters in Social Welfare from U.C. Berkeley. Working in maternal and child health for over 25 years, Pat received numerous commendations for her paid and volunteer work with community health programs. As a grant writer and a former program officer, Pat has garnered over $2.5 million in funds for community initiatives and programs. As a training associate with Leading To Change, Pat has presented across the country to youth and adult audiences, including the Alabama Community Educators Association, California/Sierra Health Foundation Youth Summit, and South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. Prior to joining the LTC staff, Pat was the executive director for an adolescent health clinic in Rock Hill, SC. To fortify her love for teaching, she works as an adjunct instructor for several local colleges in the Carolinas.
(Greensboro, NC) Monique Steele has over a decade of experience working with youth and nonprofits. Since graduating from The Ohio State University with a BA in English and obtaining a certification in nonprofit management from Duke University, Monique has worked in all areas of the nonprofit sector including her experience as a Program Officer for The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro. Prior to moving to the Community Foundation she worked with the Greensboro Public Library where she became familiar with the functioning and management of nonprofits by providing technical assistance, training and resource development. Aside from her nonprofit background, her experiences include student leadership trainer for college and university student leaders, Freedom School trainer for the Children’s Defense Fund, program development and event planning. Monique has conducted workshops and trainings on goal setting, time management, stress relief and organizing for success as well as many other topics. She currently works as a Senior Project Manager with the Center for Community Leadership in Greensboro.
(Durham, NC) Originally from Durham, North Carolina, Nancy Tom attended UNC-Chapel Hill for a B.A. in Communication Studies and Dramatic Arts. She then moved to Boston in 2005 to attend graduate school at Lesley University where she completed her Master’s degree in Intercultural Relations with a focus in Intercultural Training and Conflict Management in 2007. During these two years, she discovered her passion for diversity training and social justice and began working with youth in the areas of leadership development and social advocacy. She continued this work while traveling the world aboard a passenger ship turned transnational university for an intercultural academic program in 2008. Her enthusiasm and love for travel, nature, yoga, and art motivate her work in social justice and her approach to life. Nancy shares her extensive training and leadership development experience as a Training Associate with Leading To Change where she had provided support and consultation to the Winston-Salem Foundation, Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, NC Teaching Fellows, NC Workforce Development Training Center, Thompson Island Outward Bound Program, and more.
(Charlotte, NC) Erik M. Turner is a native of Charlotte and graduated from North Carolina Central with a B.A. in History and a concentration in education. While attending college, he was a member of the student chapter of the NAACP, Campus Ambassadors, History Club, Sigma Tau Delta (literary honor society), Alpha Kappa Mu ( national honor society), Pi Gamma Mu (social science honor society) and Phi Alpha Theta ( history honor society). During this time Mr. Turner worked as a Crisis Behavior Intervention Technician and High Risk Intervention Technician for Carolina Behavior Services and Alpha Omega Health. After his undergraduate work, Erik began teaching seventh grade students geographical, historical and cultural information about nations in Africa, Asia and the Pacific Realm. Additionally, Erik has worked as a member of the Charlotte Fire Department and has created a training ground for young men that have the potential and desire for greatness called the Nile Academy. Erik recently worked with Citizen Schools in North Carolina and shares his solid presentation and negotiation skills as a Training Associate with Leading To Change where he provides training support and consultation to audiences from Florida to Virginia. He is a proven public servant with leadership skills that have allowed him to help assist children and adults throughout the Carolinas.
(Fayetteville, NC) Fred Baker is a native of the Bronx, NY and joined the United States Air Force in 1987 where he served his country for 10 years. During that time, he has traveled the world extensively. He is a disabled veteran of the first Persian Gulf War. In 1995, Fred moved to Fayetteville, NC where he currently resides, and is the co-owner of D F Marketing Inc. a multi-media company. He is very active in his church and serves his community by volunteering his time, and talent. As a member of Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church he serves as a Senior Deacon, and is the Young Adult Sunday School teacher, Wednesday Night Youth Bible Study Teacher, Youth Care Specialist, President of the Laymen League and a host of other duties.
Fred works diligently in the community with organizations such as the City Rescue Mission Inc. which is a homeless shelter for women; he serves as treasurer. Fred is also a member of C.A.R.E.S. (Coalition for Awareness Resources and Education of Substances), where he serves as the vice chairman. Fred is a male mentor for the Cumberland County Workforce Development Center; and was a presenter for the YES (Youth Empowered to Succeed) Leadership Conference. Fred recently accepted the position of Youth and Adolescent Motivational Coach for Room 538 Gifting Organization, which is a small non-profit organization for youth with disabilities. He was also a presenter on numerous occasions for the Project Virtue Junior Social Club, an organization for adolescent girls. In addition, Fred is also the vice chair for the Cumberland County Coalition for Teen Pregnancy Prevention and Adolescent Parenting.
(Hanover, PA) Kelly Jeffries is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where she earned Bachelors of Arts degrees in both Criminal Justice and Political Science. Kelly also possesses a Juris Doctorate degree with a special concentration in Family Law & Social Policy from Syracuse University. Kelly has over 10 years experience working with youth people primarily in the areas of teaching and program development for middle and high school youth in Los Angeles, California and the Carolinas. She has dedicated most of her professional career to empowering and educating young people who are most vulnerable to succumbing to crime, teen pregnancy, drugs and low educational attainment.
In addition to her work with Leading To Change, Kelly currently works as a legal compliance and program contractor for the Teen Health Center in Rock Hill, SC. In this capacity, she is responsible for ensuring the agency’s compliance with federal, state and local laws as well as coordinating a middle school mentoring program and teaching health education classes. She is very passionate about her work as an advocate for youth and families. Kelly is a California native and mother of one son. She strives to lives her life according Mahatma Gandhi’s quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
(Charlotte, NC) Ahmed Touré is an alumni of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and at age 25, has spoken to over a hundred events, touring from New York City to Los Angeles and almost everywhere in between. A native of New York with ties to the Ivory Coast, he brings the Rockstar element to his sessions by engaging the audience and inspiring them to aspire. Within the past year he’s inducted thousands of teachers, managers, supervisors and other professionals into the "Rockstar Lifestyle". In this community of ordinary people doing extraordinary things his goal is to induct 50,000 members in the next 5 years.
(Charlotte, NC) Marcella Young is a native Texan having moved to North Carolina in 2009. Marcella is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and holds a BA in Journalism with a minor in Sociology. After working a year in the news industry, Marcella decided to make a career change and work with young people that many considered “at-risk”. Marcella worked as a Graduation Coach for Cleveland County Communities in Schools for a year and a half. She worked with freshman and sophomore students, at Shelby High School, who have been identified by teachers, and administrators as “at-risk.” In January 2012, Marcella began working for Anuvia Prevention and Recovery Center in Charlotte as a Prevention Specialist. She works with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and area after-school programs to educate youth on the dangers of substance abuse. Marcella has found her true passion in connecting students with the resources they need to succeed, and helping them make good decisions for their future. Having a big personality with a bit of a competitive streak, Marcella is a great member to the LTC team where she has presented to audience from North Carolina to Nashville and everywhere in between.
(Charlotte, NC) Bio coming soon
(Charlotte, NC) Derrick Long is a native of South Carolina and graduated from Johnson C. Smith University with a B.S. in Health and Physical Education Administration with a minor in Sociology. While attending college, he was a member of National Association of Christian Athletes, the prestigious PHI BETA SIGMA FRATERNITY INCORPORATED. Since this time Derrick has worked as a non-profit guru/professional in the Charlotte area for 20 years working with organizations such as the Jewish Community Center, YMCA of Greater Charlotte, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Police Activity League, Athletes United for Youth and Right Moves for Youth. Currently Derrick is a consultant with several non-profits in the Atlanta, and Charlotte area were he shares his passion in making a difference in the lives of youth and shares his passion for training and life skills through his daily interaction with at-risk youth or “kids in need” as he calls them. Active in the community, he serves on the National Black Child Development Board of Charlotte Mecklenburg and the West Charlotte We Care Committee Board for the West Charlotte Corridor. He is married and resides in Charlotte with his wife Stacey and 15 year old son Kris.
(Greensboro, NC) A native of Greensboro, North Carolina, Traci Poole enjoys working and volunteering in the nonprofit sector. Her twin passions of education/training and youth encouragement have guided both her career choices and extra-curricular activities. Currently, Ms. Poole contributes her expertise as the Program Assistant at the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, Inc. Working at the Foundation exposes Traci to a plethora of ideas and opportunities, but her adventures as the coordinator of the Teen Grantmaking Council imbues her work life with the most humor and joy. When not learning from high school students at work, Traci plays softball, trains with Leading to Change, Inc., and laughs with family and friends.
(Charlotte, NC) Cameron Mitchell started working for LTC through T.O.U.C.H philanthropy team in 2008, his senior year of high school. That next year he left for college, but never lost contact or passion for his LTC family. Two years into college Cameron found himself back in Charlotte for a brief academic intermission. He needed to find himself and focus on his passions. During that time he began volunteering with the Meck Cares program, working as an active member of their Community Collaborative and W.H.E.E.L.S initiative. Around the same time he began working closer with LTC, planning and speaking at teen summits for the youth and community board meetings across the state.
(Chesnee, SC) Napoleon Melton, Jr. is a native of Spartanburg County with a passion for developing youth & college students as individuals and galvanizing communities to become better places to live, work, and play. He holds a B.A. in Marketing from Clemson University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. Napoleon has over 8 years of experience working in higher education (Clemson University and the College of Charleston), retail communications (AT&T Mobility), and non-profit organizing (REACH Upstate). Napoleon is the current Building Manager at the first ever indoor trampoline park in South Carolina - a perfect job to match his boundless energy and enthusiasm!
(Charlotte, NC) Daniel Tolbert was born & raised in the Bull City of Durham, NC and is a 2010 graduate of UNC Charlotte, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Theatre. In addition to pursuing his acting career, Daniel is the Computer Technology Instructor at Newell Elementary in Charlotte, NC. Daniel joined Leading to Change in 2012 and has loved every minute of working with the LTC staff. Audiences through the South East have had the opportunity to see him in action, including the NC Teaching Fellows, NC Association of Fundraising Professionals, and the Georgia Department of Education.
(Boone, NC) Stephen graduated from Appalachian State University in 2006 with a Bachelors degree in Communications. For over 12 years he has worked with youth in different numerous capacities - five of those as a program director for a non-profit organization focused on at-risk youth, where he ran after school programs and summer programs middle school students. Stephen also has experience as a prevention specialist where he has taught evidence based substance abuse prevention programming at both school and community wide levels. Stephen has a strong passion for youth, learning from others, and can joke around with the best of us! Stephen has travelled throughout the region with LTC, supporting the Jackson 4H Youth Giving program, NC Teaching Fellows, NC Department of Public Instruction, and even on the West Coast with the California Friday Night Live program.
(Boiling Spring, SC) Lekesa is an independent strong well woman who has always pursed higher education. After receiving her high school diploma from Spartanburg High School, Lekesa went on to earn a Associates in System support technology, an Associates in Arts degree, A+ certification, and a Bachelors in Business Administration with a minor in Computer Science. She is currently pursuing a Master in Business Administration from Limestone College. Lekesa started Children and Choices, a non-profit organization in 2012, to fill her mission of increasing the graduation rate in Spartanburg County. She is an active volunteer for her organization along with Southside unity in the community, AmeriCorps, Broken but Healed and the Salvation Army Community Center, and currently works for Youth Build in Spartanburg. Lekesa enjoys dancing, working out, and especially roller skating!
(Charlotte, NC) Reia Chapman was born in Washington, DC, raised in Lumberton, NC, earned her MSW from Savannah State University, and currently resides in Charlotte, NC. Reia has been featured in various articles and publications regarding her stance on LGBT and reproductive justice issues and is a well-known sex educator. Additionally, she has developed and facilitated workshops on Human Rights, Social Justice, LGBT issues and has cultivated her commitment to her community through activism, education, service, and advocacy. She is a member of the Council on Social Work Education, the National Association of Social Workers, Spitfire Poetry Group of Savannah, and has shared her passion for equity through powerful trainings with the NC Dept. of Public Instruction, NC Teaching Fellows, and beyond.
(Athens, GA) Quincy is a graduate student at the University of Georgia studying educational psychology with a focus on cognition and motivation. Originally from Greensboro, North Carolina, he received a degree in history education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. With over 10+ years experience working with young people ages 3 to 19,heI spent four years in urban title I middle and high schools. QB continues to travel the country while on "tour" with LTC, including speaking engagements in California, Georgia, and throughout the Carolinas.