Class of 2018
Here's your chance to learn about this years amazing nominees!
Urban Cooperative Enterprise Legal Center
Elizabeth is an attorney, community planner, entrepreneur, and founder of a nonprofit called the Urban Cooperative Enterprise Legal Center that creates and supports cooperative enterprises within marginalized communities. She is also the founder of The Law Office of Elizabeth L. Carter where she represents artists, investors, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and small businesses in entertainment, business, and real estate transactions. She is passionate about empowering her community!
Her Travels Inc.
Madeleine Ramos is on a mission to travel all 193 United Nations countries. She has spoken in front of teens to diplomats from 20-15,000 guests at the UN and as Rutgers-Newark’s Student Commencement Speaker. As Manager of the International Youth Council, she led 6,000 youth with entrepreneurial projects. She was Production Coordinator for Global Degree, a series traveling all countries, then co-founded Our Travels, transforming youth through purpose—leading 3 trips with 13 people in 4 countries.
L.O.E (Love Over Everything)
Hip-Hop in its truest form, is poetry, it’s a more reflective view on situations in culture, politics, and it often expresses the artists’ opinion on everyday life. Due to hip-hop’s growing popularity and commercialization, much of that authenticity and artistry has been lost. But then there’s the exception, raised in a small town in New Jersey, called Irvington. MoRuf Adewumi, better know as MoRuf, has managed to grow a cult-like following by just being honest, with clever rhymes, and a storytelling ability that remind you of young “Mighty Mos”. It’s safe to say, that his movement: L.O.E., which stands for Love Over Everything, is a return to the golden era of Hip-Hop, when the size of your chain, meant nothing, and the focus was spreading positivity to the masses. To say Moruf is a breath of fresh air would be rather cliché, let’s say he’s artist in every sense of the word; reflective, thought provoking, yet entertaining. Bless up!
Dreams in Drive Podcast
I am the founder & chief Dream Driver at DREAMS IN DRIVE - a weekly podcast for creatives and lifestyle entrepreneurs who want to learn how to take their dreams out of PARK and into DRIVE. The podcast launched in January 2016 and has grown to over 350,000 downloads, streams in 150+ countries, and over 125 episodes.
Corey Zen Studio, MLJ Trucking
Corey Robert James, also known as, Corey Zen, was born and raised in Newark, NJ on May 20, 1993. His parents were both eighteen when they had him. He is the first child of three, with two younger siblings, Chanel, and Jazmyne. Coming from what is considered a Mixed family definitely shaped / provided many different perspectives for his young mind growing up... it's what really set a solid foundation for allowing him to find his style at a young age. Being of Caribbean (Taino), Native African American, and European (Italian) descent had it's challenges in his early years because of the expectations that are had by each culture. To him, it was seen as fuel for the fire... a strong wind pushing him in the direction he is meant to travel down. Corey Zen is known for his prolific work ethic, his color selection, line work, and his ability to navigate a multiple of Artistic mediums in which he has self-taught, and instructed discipline in. He is not only an Artist, but an Entrepreneur who is geared towards leading his businesses in the direction that allows him to contribute well balanced energy everywhere he goes.
Ashley Edwards is Co-founder and CEO of MindRight. MindRight is a Newark-based, tech + social justice nonprofit with the mission of empowering youth of color to heal from trauma from systemic oppression. MindRight partners with schools and cities to provide daily, evidence-informed mental health coaching over text message to students impacted by trauma. Ashley is a 2018 Forbes 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneur and MindRight has been recognized by Forbes as one of the top 30 innovations of the next century. ELLE Magazine has recognized Ashley among the Top 4 Women Changing the World in 2018. MindRight has also been featured in Fast Company, TechCrunch, and Huffington Post. Ashley holds a Master of Business Administration & Master of Education from Stanford University. She graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor’s in Economics
Kala La Fortune Reed
Girls On Bikes
Kala La Fortune is the Founder of Girls On Bikes, a Non-Profit Organization based in Newark, NJ. La Fortune Reed founded Girls On Bikes at the age of 20 when she realized that there were not many girls participating in recreational activities in the public, in her community, the West Ward of Newark. In doing so, in the span of 1 year, her organization has worked with over 300 GOB participants, teaching them how to build bicycles, ride bicycles, and mentoring them through empowerment and leadership workshops. Kala La Fortune Reed and the organization, Girls On Bikes, continue to conduct programs in her community by using the bicycle as a tool to create unity among women and girls.
Kutorkor Kotey is the owner of Kutor's Kloset is a gender neutral clothing line featuring bow ties, suspenders and ties made out of Ghanaian kente cloth. Kutorkor wanted to create something men and women can both rock. The mission of her business is to “embrace culture with style”. Kutorkor wanted her business to cater to the needs of people who are looking to connect back to their ancestral roots or simply just wanted a nice pair of suspender, bow tie or tie.
Future Tech Kids
Ravenné Gillett has had a passion for social entrepreneurship since was a junior in high school when she organized a group of Newark teenagers to execute "parties for a cause" under Teens Connect Association. While at Emory University's Goizueta Business School where she pursued her BBA in Strategy and Management Consulting, she lead Goizueta Multicultural Organization which developed partnerships with minority MBA groups as well as multi-cultural recruiters from leading companies to create talent acquisition pipelines for her peers. In the summer of 2018, Ravenné Gillett came on as President and has created strategic partnerships with recreation centers and other like-minded organizations. This summer she spearheaded a summer camp with the Boys and Girls Club of Union, NJ where she provided a Coding Camp for 30 youth ages 6-16, many of them being of Essex County. She has also created strategic partnerships with the Newark Youth One-Stop.
Creative wight & philanthropist Tiffany Salas is the creator of Chiffani Brands Unlimited, a lifestyle brand specializing in original, classic, size inclusive, multi-seasonal fashions and art. Her innovative aesthetic and knowledge of design is merging a new standard. Chiffani's mission is based on community uplift to citizens globally. Chiffani presentations charitably continue to raise awareness for relief efforts such as Haitian Earthquake Relief, Sickle Cell Anemia, Homelessness, and Sexual & Domestic Abuse. Salas has a background in business tailored to finance and management as well as a creative background in editing and media content. Notable achievements include becoming the youngest Afro-Latina to showcase at NYFW (2016), Miami Art Basel (2017), "Best in Show" Wearable Art Exhibit, Huntington Arts Council (2018), NYFW (2018). Salas has been designing since adolescence with help from her grandmother. Salas believes, to whom much is given, much is required.
Help Us, Help Us
The Covenant House
My name is Kirsten Corley for 4 years I wrote across the internet about mental health, lifestyle and relationships. Writing over 2,000 articles and one book, with a current following of almost 85,000. My goal, making mental health a conversation and helping people to not feel alone. Using my platform and audience I raised almost $20,000 for Covenant House as a volunteer. Shifting from volunteer to staff, my job is bring together Young Professionals in the community who want to serve our youth (volunteering as I did) and participate in our yearly Sleep Out:: March 22nd~Newark. Our motto: ‘We sleep on the streets so homeless youth don’t have to.’ Whatever role I’ve had, the common goal has been lead with kindness, doing things from the heart. It’s brought me to Newark, where I get a chance to serve our kids with both respect and unconditional love every day.I was born and raised in Ghana. Growing up in an underprivileged country was the struggle. Myself and many of my friends did not have the necessary resources to help us with our academics and educational goals. I moved to the United States in 2012. My journey to the United States was very challenging. It was a cultural shock. However, I gradually overcame that challenge. America provided me with all the opportunities I never had and Newark became my second home.
UVSO & 100 People of Newark
Daniel grew up in NYC but says that Newark is where he "woke up" and started putting others before himself. He applies his motto of imagining a better future to his love for cars. He is studying at Newark Tech High School to become a car designer and anytime he is not in class, at work or at basketball practice, he is drawing or learning the specifics of how cars function. (Taken from PSEG 100 People in Newark Text)
Black Lives Matter Morristown
T'Anna Kimbrough is the founder of Black Lives Matter Morristown. The 26-year-old Morristown High School alumnae, a resident of the Cedar Knolls section of Hanover, is an assistant family service worker for the state Department of Children and Families, and mother of 9-month-old Sky Autumn Watson. Kimbrough posted a Facebook message asking for help organizing a community response, and from that response, Black Lives Matter Morristown was born. (Excerpt taken from Daily Record article 7/11/16)
Black Genius Brand
Tyree Barnes is a Co Director of Great Oaks Legacy Charter School and the Founder of Black Genius Brand. Barnes graduated from Rider University with a Bachelor's degree in Entrepreneurship & Marketing. He also received a Graduate Degree in Education from Relay Graduate School. Barnes worked his way from being a tutor, teacher to then being a Co-Director serving as a great role model for students all around. He has created Black Genius Brand to inspire and highlight the achievements of past and future generations of black people. His brand sells stylish apparel that encourages consumers to embraces their inner genius with confidence.
We Are Pedul
I am the cofounder, COO and President of PeduL, the leading platform that connects students with the resources and support they need to pursue quality education. Our unique common application enables students to apply to thousands of scholarships at one time. Not only do we help optimize student campaigns, but we also protect sponsor generosity by transferring funds from student campaigns to their institutions directly. Formerly an ambassador for youth development organizations like The First Tee and the Disney Dreamers Academy, I regularly speak on the power and viability of student leadership and entrepreneurship, and the indispensability of diverse representation in today’s workforce. In a society where the necessity and costs of pursuing higher education are rising at the same rate, I’m on a mission to cultivate an economy that prioritizes equal access to education, democratizes financial support, and actualizes professional opportunities for students worldwide.
Love Is Love
Jonathan Jordyn is a 21 year old artist, born and raised in Newark, New Jersey. Best known for his prom season transformations & “31 Spooktacular Faces of Boylondxn”, his main goal is to inspire others to be true to who they are. To find what makes them feel beautiful and live in that truth. Jonathan’s dream is to be a performer while also indulging in all aspects of entertainment. Using his platform, he hopes to inspire queer people such as himself through his art and love for love.
New Alternatives for LGBTQ Homeless Youth
My name is Abigail Oquea and I am currently a graduate student of Rutgers’ School of Social Work. My work revolves around social justice and social change among all communities as well as striving to give a sense of empowerment and self-determination to marginalized communities. My work within the LGBTQ+ community has allowed me to create open spaces for the voiceless, find available resources, and to facilitate dialogues around the importance of intersectionality.
Stitch Queen & Co
Khloyei is the co-founder and leader of Stitch Queen & Co., a dance troupe composed of predominantly trans women of color. She conceived of Stitch Queen & Co. to help create a space of empowerment for trans women and to showcase the talents of trans women. Since the creation of Stitch Queen & Co., the dance troupe has performed at Newark Gay Pride 2018, the Heritage Ball 2018, and has planned performances at Rutgers University-Newark, as well as for the Wakanda Fire Ball. It is Khloyei's dream to utilize Stitch Queen & Co. to help raise funds to create the first homeless shelter for trans women in Newark, NJ.
Chosen Space & The LOUD Project
The LOUD Project - Artist, poet and youth activist - Nelly Bess believes all people are living libraries from which we can learn from. As an organizer Nelly believes in the power of love to educate and build stronger communities. In pursuit of this mission, Nelly has created and facilitated a series of programs for young people, created events centered around creating safe spaces for Queer and Trans people with her collective Chosen Space, as well as created visibility for Queer people of color through her poetry and music.Shelly Ferrell has opened up, along side New Jersey Karma Black, for DMV artist Ziggy World Wide in New York City. Shelly has also been a part of Open Doors Festival 2015 performing for the Femme Curators at Gallery 211. Most recently, Shelly has interned and work along side with the wonderful team of Brooklyn Music Week.
With a style so eclectic, Shelly Ferrell can spread her Legit Thinking through various forms of music and creative platforms. L.G.I.T (Lets Get It !)"
Deion "Dee" Session
Rutgers Newark LGBTQ Center
Born and raised in Newark NJ, Deion “Dee” Session has been involved in art, music, and dance since he was 5 years old. At an early age, he realized that his true self-shined brighter when he was involved in the performing arts, however, gaining confidence was something he would have to build. Approaching his Senior year in high school, Dee made a commitment to forget all his fears and begin performing on his high school stage. He hasn’t looked back since. Scouted at 17 years old, Dee became a member of Trilogy, The Opera Company and has been a guest performer for events all throughout the city. After high school, he continued sharing his passion for music with the community and began teaching dance to elementary and middle school students. He has volunteered with the Newark LGBTQ Community Center and a above and beyond youth volunteer for the Rutgers Newark LGBTQ Center; including “RU PRIDE”. “All I want to see is positivity and bring peace by inspiring. Love and peace exist within everybody, but I know you it begins with self.” -Dee Session
Albaner C. Eugene Jr.
King Season Ministries
Albaner C. Eugene Jr. is on a mission to shift the culture. He has a heart for his generation and a passion to see people move forward in every aspect of their lives. Albaner encourages people to grow spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally. His core values come from his faith in God. Albaner serves as one of the leaders of the youth ministry at his church in Orange NJ and he is currently a part of the Montclair State University EOF Male Leadership Academy.
Mr. Changing Lives
As an inspirer, Jean has motivated many to find out exactly what they want to do for a living; especially students through his poetry, inspirational stories and successful strategies. Having overcome his internal battles with fear and pressure to succeed as a college student, Jean used his imagination to create a career for himself. Jean’s gifts made for him as he published two books while in college (3 in total) along with taking social media by storm with his influential quotes.
Fitness Instructor & Health Coach
Born Pita Grace Bumba in Kinshasha, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the 26-year-old moved to Raleigh, North Carolina with her family around the age of four or five. “It’s a handful of us,” she said of her Congolese heritage and how it’s been all these years adjusting to life in the South. Growing up, Bumba wanted to take part in sports, but you know how African parents can be. “Sometimes in an African household it’s like, sports? No, homework [laughs].” So it wasn’t until Bumba reached adulthood, that she really had the chance to live out her dreams of getting physical, and there was no better motivator to that than a breakup. Four years since making the leap into changing her diet, doing weight training and even partaking in fitness competitions, Bumba has pushed her body in ways she never could have imagined, and she’s still doing so with a burgeoning interest in biking, yoga, running and even swimming (she recently learned how to at the YMCA). (Excerpt from MadameNoire Interview 8/11/17)
Food Recovery Network
My name is Divine Tanamal and I am the current president and a member of the founding leadership team of the Seton Hall Chapter Food Recovery Network. We do two things: we try to minimize food waste and we help feed people! Twice a week, my team and I recover surplus food from our campus cafeteria and drive it to soup kitchens nearby. Currently, we drop off the food at the House of Love Soup Kitchen in Newark on Tuesdays and on Thursdays, the Bethlehem Community Church in East Orange. Since our chapter's inception three semesters ago, we have been able to recover over 2,800 pounds of food that could have gone to waste, but we are instead feeding people with it! I enjoy helping out the community outside my campus and in a world where we seem to take a lot for granted, it's important to raise awareness on how much food we actually waste on a daily basis.
I Am beautifully Empowered
Schivane Bonhomme is an author, inspirational & motivational speaker, writer, advocate, and leader born and raised in Irvington, New Jersey. Schivane has allowed her past to help shape her into becoming a leader of young girls and women all over the world. Her transparency pertaining to her testimony has been able to inspire and impact countless lives. Her movement I Am Beautifully Empowered has truly transformed the lives of many by showing them the importance of self worth.
Visual & Sound
Diamond the Drummer
Diamond Anderson AKA Diamondthedrummer is a NJ/NY based drummer from Milltown, NJ. In just two years she has accomplished a strong reputation as a professional musician and drummer performing with such talented acts as Black Circle Symphony, Sqootie Jackson, Haze, and various jazz vocalists. She has also been showcased with her own band, The Diamond Project, in the New Brunswick Jazz Project's Women Month series. She is finishing her B.Mus. in Jazz Performance and plans to tour after school.
When it comes to Jersey club, Nadus is one of its most creative architects and steadfast ambassadors. Born Rahshon Bright and raised in the city of Newark, Nadus realized long ago that even though his hometown was once plagued with poverty and violence, it was also rich in a groundbreaking, hip-shaking culture that was meant to be shared with the world. Exposed to the hyperactive sound of Jersey club music around the age of 12, Nadus became a producer, DJ, and party promoter by the time he was in high school by working closely with DJ Jayhood and the infamous Brick Bandits crew. His talent for bringing people together under one roof in the name of club music came in handy when he co-founded Thread, once a wild, Jersey-based party and now a focused imprint with goals of going global
Andrece is a visual artist based in Newark, NJ with a passion of rebuilding black communities through art. A recent graduate of Clark Atlanta University with a Bachelors of Art in General Studio, Andrece aspires to continue traveling the world to connect with people of other cultures and creatively tell their stories.
Dear Elizabeth Documentary
When there are adolescents in urban communities living life without any guidance or role models and they turn to the streets for survival, Keon Benton from Elizabeth, NJ, feels it is his passion to be there to support and teach our youth a better way of thinking, despite their living conditions with his craft in screenwriting and directing films. The overall goal is to influence the youth in urban communities and inform them, that it is up to THEM, to make that change in their life to seek and want better for themselves.Keon Benton educational background includes a M.A. in English and Creative Writing with a concentration in Screenwriting, from Southern New Hampshire University, located in Manchester, NH. A B.A. in Communications from American International College in Springfield, MA. Mr. Benton is also pursuing another Master of Arts degree in Teaching, from Relay Graduate School of Education located in New York, NY.
Asha is way more than just a tap dancer, but an international performer, rapper/emcee, and all around creative force. This New Jersey native began dancing at the age of 5 at a local dance studio in New Jersey. At 16, she joined a pre-professional tap company based in NYC and started teaching tap at 18. Asha started exploring music at 10, and began writing and producing her own songs at 15. She released her debut project "Masterbait" in 2015 and has been moving ever since. Her versatility has led her the opportunity to choreograph for four-time Grammy award winning musician, Esperanza Spalding, work with Hilary Swank, and partner with some of our most beloved brands--including Pharrell Williams' Billionaire Boys Club brand and Converse. She's also a featured dancer/actress in "Gran’s", a new kids show produced by Jason and Steve Harvey set to air later this year.