Founder of STRIDE (Self Awareness, Teamwork, Responsibility, Independence, and Excellence) an initiative focused on fashion as the basis for mentoring underprivileged girls in DC
Shannon Williams is a community leader, young philanthropist, and rising Youth Development Professional, with a core understanding and competence in the nonprofit sector. From a young age Ms. Williams has devoted herself to molding and lifting up inner-city girls of color by sharing her passion and creativity, and most importantly herself.
Born and raised in Washington DC, Shannon Williams quickly realized that determination would ultimately present her with a way out of the poverty and the despair she often witnessed. Ms. Williams grew up attending a community-based nonprofit youth development program called Beacon House. She was the beneficiary of the kindness, patience and generosity of many, many Beacon House staff and volunteers. As an adult Ms. Williams served Beacon House by creating STRIDE, a positive, inspirational mentoring program for girls ages 5-17. Ms. Williams brought enormous energy, commitment and creativity to her work. Her ability to “connect” with Beacon House’s hard-to-reach girls gave otherwise detached children opportunities to join in positive, enriching activities. She poured herself into lifting the girls and young women up and out of discordant home situations and infused their lives with beauty, pride and learning.
Ms. Williams founded STRIDE (Self Awareness, Teamwork, Responsibility, Independence, and Excellence) program on her own initiative as a vehicle to reach underprivileged girls in DC. STRIDE uses fashion as the basis for a mentoring program for underprivileged girls. Fifty girls and young women, ages 5-17, meet three times a week during the school year, and more frequently during the summer. Performances involve choreographed movements, music, lighting, set design, and teamwork – the participants are involved in all aspects of the production. The participants keep journals about their experiences and are tutored in written expression. Professional choreographers, designers, fashion marketing professionals and other experts in the fashion field came as guests and taught the girls and young women about different aspects of the fashion world.
While STRIDE is ostensibly a fashion-based arts program, the real purpose of STRIDE is to lift participants’ self-esteem. The culture in this low-income, primarily African-American community where Beacon House operated was not conducive to positive self-images. While many boys and young men got a lot of reinforcement from athletics in the community, many girls and young women were relegated to being sideline supporters. Academic achievement, particularly among females, was not highly valued by family and friends, and many high school-age girls succumb to environmental pressure and become chronic truants and or mothers.
Congressional Aide for the Congressman Chris Van Hollen (MD-8), the Ranking Member on the Budget Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. She acts as a field representative throughout the state of Maryland and also manages constituent issues regarding Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, and Transportation.
Nikki Thompson, Esq. is currently a Congressional Aide for the Congressman Chris Van Hollen (MD-8), the Ranking Member on the Budget Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. She acts as a field representative throughout the state of Maryland and also manages constituent issues regarding Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, and Transportation. Her policy areas of interest also includes telecommunications, technology, and renewable energies. Nikki is active is various political organizations, including the Montgomery County Young Democrats and African American Democrats of Montgomery County.
Her career in government affairs includes working with the Executive Director of Transportation in the Congressional and Public Affairs office of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as a legislative intern for the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and most recently as a policy analyst for the independent investment firm, American Continental Group. She received a B.S. in Journalism from the University of Florida in 2012 and a Juris Doctor from Howard University School of Law in 2015. She is also member of the Georgia State Bar.
Nikki is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority Inc.
System Administrator at Howard University
Jonathan Murphy is currently a System Administrator at Howard University and former Director of Technology for the Psi Tau Chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi, professional Business Fraternity.
Jonathan earned a degree in Computer Engineering from Howard University in 2012. Upon graduation, he returned to his home-state of Connecticut and worked at Hewlett Packard, where he provided technical support and training for HP products across multiple stores. His passion for computers and ability to connect with others bought him back to Washington DC to work at the Department of Human Services Office of Information Systems in 2014. During that time, Jonathan was also admitted into the Helping Other People Excel (H.O.P.E.) program where he was able to obtain his A+ Technical certification. Currently, Jonathan is pursuing additional certifications in Security and Networking and learning additional coding languages.
Jonathan is a highly motivated entrepreneur who understands the importance of giving back to the community. In 2013, Jonathan founded a small company called “Loose Screws”. Loose Screws is dedicated to providing practical training and employment to college student who are pursuing a degree in computer engineering while offering technical support to college students.
International Speaker, third year Georgetown Law Student, and Founder of The Brilliant Group LLC
Khiree Smith is an International Speaker, Consultant, Entrepreneur, and third-year Georgetown Law student.
Khiree has spoken in over 40 states and in 4 countries across 3 continents. He addressed the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Vienna, Austria and coached young ambassadors from Peru, Italy, Austria and Serbia. Additionally, he has met with high-ranking government officials in Rome, Italy to discuss approaches to youth drug prevention and traveled to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, United Arab Emirates to lead trainings at the first Global Forum on Drug Abuse.
While in high school Khiree was instrumental in securing 1.5 million dollars in federal grants to combat violence and substance abuse. In While in college he interned with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and was later appointed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to serve on the National Advisory Counsel for the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention.
With organizations like The Stump the Violence Youth Leadership Initiative, and Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, Khiree has coached thousands of youth from all over the nation in strategic problem solving, violence prevention, policy advocacy, and public speaking. He has led, directed and trained groups of over 400. To date, he has educated and helped nearly 3,000 youth and adults.
As Founder of The Brilliant Group LLC. Khiree teaches groups and individual clients to maximize cognitive ability for creative entrepreneurship and general achievement. He is an alumnus of Hampton University where he graduated Cum Laude and currently works as a legal fellow with Impact Strategies, a Washington DC, political advocacy firm devoted to fostering diversity in politics, and will begin work as a complex commercial litigation attorney in the fall of 2016. Khiree has received numerous awards including mayoral citations, an NAACP scholarship award, and a nomination for President Obama’s “Champions of Change” award.
Dr. Ashley Elliott-Adams
Mental Health Specialist, Motivational Speaker, Educator, and Owner of Vivid Innovations Consulting, LLC
Dr. Ashley Elliott-Adams is a native Washingtonian and considers herself to be a positive product of her urban environment. First hand family exposure to the impact that substance abuse, mental illness, interpersonal violence, and sexual trauma can have on an individual, family, and community, made Dr. Elliott-Adams passionate about empowering others and working to change lives. From a young age she was intent on pursuing a career that would strengthen and enlighten her community.
While receiving her doctorate in Clinical Psychology, she started Vivid Innovations Consulting, LLC. Vivid Innovations is a one-woman business that offers mental health consultation, lifestyle consultation, psychological assessment, and seminar/lecture opportunities to schools and businesses. She also operates as a motivational speaker, working to empower visions and promote positive well-being.
Dr. Elliott-Adams has worked with children, adults, and adolescents from various multicultural backgrounds. She also has clinical experience in inpatient mental health, community mental health, and school settings in the DC Metropolitan Area.
Her clinical interests include community mental health, client psycho-education/health education, substance abuse treatment, group therapy, and the integration of non-traditional & artistic expression in therapy.
In 2015, Dr. Elliott-Adams launched Innovator Academy and Vivid Kids. These are youth programs offered free of charge to the youth in the Washington DC area. Innovator Academy (Youth ages 12-17) and Vivid Kids (3-11) focus on college/career preparation, building a positive self-image/identity, developing emotional awareness and creating a positive space to celebrate creativity and individual differences. She has exposed the youth of these programs to guest speakers from different professions, one-on-one mentoring, college application preparation, study skill development, and social/emotional skills building groups. She also offers to opportunity to take students on college tours. She plans to launch Camp Innovator in Summer 2016.
While pursuing her license to practice clinical psychology in DC and Maryland, she currently teaches at a local college. She encourages her students to stay focused, embrace their experiences as a testimony of strength, and to never allow rejection or simple failures to kill their vision.
Dr. Elliott-Adams is a proud alumna of Eastern Senior High School, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the American School of Professional Psychology. She is also an active member and part of national administrative team for Fierce Ladies Achieving Ministry and Entrepreneurial Success (F.L.A.M.E.S).
Her motto is “Be Vivid, Be Innovative, Be You!”