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PRESENTERS

SPEAKER

KEYNOTE

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Alicia A. Ray

(She/her)

Marketer and Serial Social Fire Starter 

Product Marketing

(Previously, Comcast, AT&T, COX )

Alicia Ray is radically different from what her community expected of her. She is passionate about media and technology that drives commerce and culture! She has 10+ years of driving brand, consumer and B2B interactions, especially through culturally relevant initiatives that provokes audiences to reimagine the world around them.

 

Additionally, she has been focused on making art at Alicia A. Ray Studios plus advocating for diversity, equity and inclusion in media and advertising through Black-Owned Long Island and The AdTech Collective.

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TISIA MUZINGA
Emcee / Panelist

Tisia Muzinga is an Anchor/Reporter for KCCI 8 News. She joined the team in June of 2019.

Tisia was born in Champaign, Illinois and was raised in Platteville, Wisconsin. Her parents, Lawrence and Annie, immigrated to the United States from the Democratic Republic of Congo. She also has family in France, Germany, and Canada.

Growing tired of living in a small “farm” town, Tisia decided to move to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and attend college at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She studied Journalism, Advertising, and Media Studies. Shortly after Tisia graduated college, she accepted a job as a multimedia journalist in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Tisia is a big Wisconsin sports fan and loves to work out on her free time.

You can catch Tisia anchoring KCCI 8 News This Morning Weekends from 5 to 6 a.m. and 8 to 9 a.m. Saturday and 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. Sunday. During the weekdays, Tisia will be field reporting for KCCI 8 News This Morning.

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STEPHANIE JOHNSON
Panelist

WHO 13.

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LAUREN JOHNSON
Panelist

KCCI TV 8.

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LARYSSA LEONE
Panelist

Local 5. We Are Iowa

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ANNISSA ROLAND


Dr. Annissa Roland is an educator, community leader, and entrepreneur. Annissa was born in Des Moines and began her service there as well as a director of educational programs at the Willkie House, teacher in Des Moines Public Schools, director of the then Tiny Tots Learning Center, and member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. before marrying and moving to Georgia. There she continued her work as an educator in Savannah Chatham County Public Schools. Currently she is a national education consultant with the nonprofit organization, the Schlechty Center. For the last 13 years she has been consulting and partnering with public school systems across the nation to focus on designing quality, challenging, interesting, and satisfying work for students. At her church she serves as a deaconess, president of music ministry, mentor to high school girls. She is the owner and designer of AJ Stone Jewelry hand-making one of a kind semiprecious stone jewelry for men and women. Additionally, Dr. Roland is the board of directors secretary for the Greater Savannah Black Chamber of Commerce. And she still maintains her Iowa roots as the chief operating officer of Taste of the Junction Inc. in West Des Monies.

An alumnus of Iowa State University Annissa earned two bachelors of science degrees in elementary education and early childhood education. Her masters degree in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in integrating the arts is from Lesley University in Massachusetts. Dr. Roland studied organizational leadership at Nova Southeastern University in Florida.

This proud mother of three, nana of three and wife to a veteran loves to learn and lives to teach.

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VICTORIA WILLIAMS

Victoria Williams is a 7th grader at Ames Middle School. She hasbeen attending HIP-HOPE’s-Helping Ignite People’s Hope Over Problems Everyday- programs since the third grade. She spent this past summer participating in their Executive MOLD- Microsoft Office Leadership Development program. Victoria now has an executive mindset which means to know your responsibilities and the consequences of not fulfilling those responsibilities. She practices by having her priorities straight and doing what she must do. Victoria loves gaining more and more wisdom and knowledge on everyday life things. Some of her hobbies are playing basketball for CY Select Wolves, cooking, coding, playing instruments, and LEARNING.  She plans to speak at this year’s Many Shades of Colour “Know Your Worth” Conference on friendship with Dr. Annissa Roland. 

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RAQUISHIA HARRINGTON

RaQuishia Harrington is an Iowa native and graduate of the University of Iowa. She, along with her husband and their three children reside in North Liberty,IA where she proudly serves as the first elected black woman to City Council. She is also the program supervisor for Special and Underserved Populations with the City of Iowa City. RaQuishia is a true change agent, fierce advocate for youth and families and has been very instrumental in giving voice to the voiceless. Serving in a capacity both personally and professionally to provide opportunities for all.

 

Her passion and drive for helping others to succeed runs deep and was instilled in her from an early age. Prior to working in city government, RaQuishia, passionately worked at a local non-profit, serving some of the most vulnerable populations. Each day she worked closely with families to address disproportionality issues in education, employment, housing and accessibility to resources. She actively seeks ways of bringing together diverse populations and helping to build stronger relationships with city leaders.  RaQuishia, has had the pleasure of creating, planning and successfully developing programs that benefit families in the area. She finds joy in the small things but enjoys spending time with her family, traveling and learning about different cultures the most. She is cofounder to G!World and Sankofa Outreach Connection Working in various positions and serving on a variety of boards has been rewarding and beneficial to RaQuishia’s growth as a productive leader.

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MATOYA WOODS

Matoya Woods was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, IL and relocated to Des Moines, IA in August 2006.  She has a  B.A. in Business Administration from Barat College of DePaul University. Matoya started her career in the non-profit sector working with Little Brothers, Friends of the Elderly as a program assistant. She later began working with at risk teenage girls at Lawrence Hall Youth Services.  Upon transition to Des Moines, she began working for Wells Fargo Bank N.A.  Matoya is currently a Quality Manager in the bankruptcy Center of Excellence. During her 13 years at Wells Fargo, Matoya has served the community through volunteer work. She currently serves as a board member for the MLK Scholarship fund of Des Moines and is passionate about helping people.

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WILLOW JOHNSON

Willow Johnson is an 9th grader from Ames Middle School. Since the 6th grade Willow has been active in sports and service. She has taken on leadership in ISTEP-Iowa Student Tobacco Education Prevention in her school and is currently the sole Story County member of Iowa's 12-member Executive Council for ISTEP. This year she was involved in Mock Trials at AMS. She was an attendee of the Many Shades of Colour "Know Your Worth" Women's Colour Conference, 2020. She is honored to have been selected to be a part of the 2021 conference planning committee. She is also a 2020 Hip Hope Inc. Executive Mold-Microsoft Office Leadership Development graduate. Willow enjoys crocheting and gifting friends and family.

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BRIDGET CRAVENS-NEELY

Descriptors: Woman of God, Wife, Mother, Business Professional, Entrepreneur, Community Leader/Advocate, Mentor, Friend

Bridget Cravens-Neely is a native of Illinois, but has lived in Iowa for 25 years. She currently works for Nationwide as a Business Consultant in their Agribusiness unit. Bridget is also co-owner of Bottle & Bottega Des Moines, a wine and art party business located in Downtown Des Moines. Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Illinois State University and a Masters of Business Administration with an Entrepreneurship focus from Keller Graduate School of Management. Having worked in the insurance industry for over 25 years, Bridget has had many opportunities to grow and excel in various business capacities. She has held various roles throughout her career from formal people leadership to individual contributor. She has been afforded the chance to develop a very versatile skill set as result. Her experience includes positions in administration, operations, sales, service, project management, and organizational leadership. These roles have helped establish her brand as a thought leader who is collaborative, entrepreneurial, and innovative. Bridget and her husband, James, have learned several important lessons about the successes and trials of entrepreneurship since becoming small business owners. One important lesson is the essentials of resilience, determination, and self-motivation. Another is to become relevant and stake their position in the competitive market of social experiences. A strong social media presence and community-based connections has been key to growing their clientele. Introducing a new brand to the Des Moines community is humbling and has required strong leadership, drive, patience, and time management. At a very young age, Bridget was taught the value of possessing a strong character - particularly one that emulates a “paying it forward” attitude. In addition to her career, she has raised three sons and is very active in the greater Des Moines community. Her passion to serve others comes from family influences. She credits the people who opened doors for her and invested in her as the reason she has achieved success in her life. It is also because of these influencers that Bridget’s passion is mentoring young people and sharing her life lessons with them. “Perception is the opportunity to learn the truth” is Bridget’s personal mantra that keeps her grounded. It helps her stay focused on always looking beyond the surface to understand the depth and breadth of a person, situation, or environment to avoid passing judgement but rather learn how to engage. As a result, Bridget has been fortunate to identify opportunities and make an impact through her professional and civic work in organizations like Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., the Des Moines Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute, Women Lead Change (Central Iowa Conference), Many Shades of Colour Conference, the Willkie House, and the YMCA MLK Prayer Breakfast Steering Committee.

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DEBRA CARR

Debra has more than 25+ years serving as an administrative leader for federal, state, and local government agencies and nonprofit organizations. Currently, she is Principal Consultant and owner of Carr& Associates, a consulting firm that focuses on helping individuals, organizations, and business to achieve their full potential and owner of a health & wellness company for Life Vantage. In addition, Debra works for Des Moines Public Schools.

 

Highlights of her community service include founding the first Miss Black Iowa U.S.A. Scholarship Pageant where she served as director for more than 20 years. She previously served as Executive Director for the Miss Black U.S.A. Pageant and served on the National Board of Advisors. Debra was instrumental in securing an international humanitarian delegation “Journey to the Motherland,” leading a national delegation of more than 150 people to witness the crowning of Miss Black U.S.A. on the continent of Africa. She led international efforts to secure essential medical supplies for area hospitals and established a book drive for schools throughout Banjul, Gambia, West Africa. She developed an international ambassador mentorship program between young African and American women that remained operational for more than 15 years and adopted a village for a year.   

 

Debra’s work has been nationally recognized by the White House in addition to her leadership efforts led to assist an organization to become the recipient of the Families Count Award from Annie E. Casey Foundation and National Points of Light Award. She has served as guest lecturer at schools of Social Work and as a practicum field supervisor.

 

Debra holds a BA degree in Human Services from Upper Iowa University and a Master of Social Work from the University of Iowa School of School Work. In addition, Debra received a Certificate of Nonprofit Management from Iowa State University, graduate of the Larned A. Waterman Nonprofit Management Institute, and holds an Honorary Doctorate of Letters Degree from Aspen Theological Seminary. She is a Licensed Master Social Worker, Certified Financial Social Worker and recognized by the National Association of Social Workers with the Academy of Social Workers distinction. Debra previously served as National Trainer & Volunteer for American Red Cross and President for Cheatom Park Neighborhood Association. Debra is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Economic Development Committee and holds membership in the National Association of Social Work.

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TINA TURNER

It all started in Sierra Leone, West Africa, where Tina was born. Being around her grandmother she then picked up the volunteering qualities of her grandmother. With that being instilled in her as a child, Tina has an uncanny passion for volunteering and community service. Migrating to Iowa in the 90’s, she picked up the passion for beauty; particularly, hair, makeup and teaching beauty tips. Combining the two qualities, with the help of her husband, Nico and her two boys, Jahvonie and Jayden, Tina has participated in many community activities, like: the Back To School Bash, Sunday meals at Creative Vision, Team Mom for Des Moines’ Youth Football team, natural Hair Club at DSMP schools. In 2012, she opened her first salon called Paparazzi Hair Studio which was a room size of 250 square feet. Having persevered through the years, she opened a larger location in 2015, occupying 2800 square feet. Her original room size location is now a Jim in Des Moines called Lifestyle Juices (freshly made fruits and vegetable juice made right in front of you) . Wanting to give back even more in this space, to her community that has supported her, Tina will be starting a non-profit grooming service. Through this she will be undertaking the professional responsibility to renew individuals who are left out and left behind, so that they can begin to restore our communities. Investing in these individuals gives them the power to bring about change that is passionate, uplifting and holds value to their community. Being an avid Christian, Tina accredits her abilities and drives to execute her goals to her lord and savior Jesus Christ.

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MRS. KATRINA HARDEN WILLIAMS

Mrs. Katrina Harden Williams is pleased to serve as an educator over the past 25 plus years in higher education and public-school education. 

Mrs. Williams received her Bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in Little Rock, Arkansas and a Master’s degree in Applied Mathematics from Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia.  She holds certifications to teach mathematics on the secondary level in multiple states, is a SENG certified group facilitator (online and in-person), and has endorsements in the following: gifted education, drivers’ education (in-class and BTW-behind the wheel) and is actively pursuing Instructional Strategist II ID-Intellectual Disability K-12, LD-Learning Disabilities and BD- Behavioral Disorders for K-12 and Instructional Strategist I Mild and Moderate 5-12. She is currently employed at the Ames Community School District. Katrina actively serves on the Board of Directors for ITAG-Iowa Talented and Gifted and AIPCA-Ames International Partner City Association.

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JANICE LINTZ

Janice Lintz, a Des Moines, Iowa native, graduated from Roosevelt High School and received a bachelor’s degree from Upper Iowa University where she majored in Human Resources Management. Her 40 years of professional experience at Wellmark Blue Cross and Blues Shield of Iowa includes: employee benefits administration, technical writing, database design, webpage design, process improvement, project management, and training and development. An inclusion activist, she’s a member of Wellmark’s Inclusion Council and a former Chair of its Communication Committee. 

Raising two children in the Des Moines and West Des Moines School Districts, Ms. Lintz community involvement began when she became heavily active in school affairs throughout her children’s years from K through 12. She’s served as Parent Representative for high school sports teams (basketball, baseball, track, and football), as well as serving as chair for parent groups and on a Valley High School Principal Selection Committee. She is an active member on the NAACP Des Moines Branch and on the Board of Directors for Investing In My Future, as Fundraising Chair. She is also a strong supporter of OneIowa and DMACC Foundation and the Mary E. Rife Scholarship Program, in particular. 

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KATHRYN ESPE

Kathryn Espe is a Team Leader in the Operations Division at Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. She is also a member of Wellmark’s Inclusion Council, currently serving as Chair of the Community Involvement Committee.

Kathryn was raised in a small town in Southwest Iowa, studied Psychology at the University of Northern Iowa and Social Work at the University of Iowa. After college, she continued her education by traveling to more than 50 countries, learning about culture, history, language, and people. She started her career as director of a community-based program supporting individuals with serious and persistent mental illness. Since transitioning to Wellmark in 2014, she has focused on improving member experiences as well as educating the workforce as an inclusion course facilitator. Kathryn lives in the great city of Des Moines and is the proud mother of two children.

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KAYLA BOOTS

Kayla Boots is a Business Planning Consultant at Wellmark BCBS and has been with the company for 9.5 years. She finished up an 8-year term on the Inclusion Council where she was an active member and Chair of the Workforce Engagement Committee. She was born and raised in a very small town in northeast Iowa before moving to the Des Moines metro area after college. She is married to her husband of 2 years and has a 10-month-old daughter. She enjoys volunteering in the community and is looking forward to being part of the community engagement workshop.

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EMANI DUBOISE

Emani DuBoise (she/her/hers) is a native of Los Angeles, California. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Grand Canyon University (’18) and will be graduating with a Masters of Education degree in Educational Leadership from Iowa State University in the Spring 2022. Having taught abroad in Indonesia, as well as both Texas and Iowa schools, Emani believes she is truly walking in her calling as a leader and educator of students, worldwide.

Emani not only currently serves as a middle school teacher in Ames, Iowa, she also serves the Greater Des Moines Area through community organizing. Acting as both a board member and organizer for the Des Moines non-profit organization called The Supply Hive, DuBoise has had the opportunity learn and meet the needs of her new community, while also advocating for those who are marginalized and facing hardship. Emani’s passion for education, youth mentorship, community service, and families is what continues to drive her each day.

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TRACI S. DANIELS

Traci S. Daniels is a passionate woman of God who serves as the assistant pastor at Anchored in Truth Ministries in Edwardsville, IL. Traci is also a radio morning motivational host, Founder and CEO of womenrevive.com, 1st Vice president of the Edwardsville NAACP branch, and wife to her wonderful husband of 18 years. Traci received her Bachelor of Science in Sociology from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and is a proud graduate of Jake’s Divinity School powered by North Central University, where she graduated with a Master of Arts in Strategic Leadership. Traci is currently enrolled at Liberty University, seeking her Doctorate in Education in Christian Ministry and Leadership. Traci’s ultimate goal is to become a published author and establish a Christian Leadership Academy in her community.

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VICTORIA KNIGHT

Victoria Knight has been involved with numerous non-profit youth organizations for the past 10 years including, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Hope in Christ Back-to-School Celebration, Kids Across America, Boys and Girls Club of Story County and many youth ministry groups in Ames and Des Moines. As a graduate of Iowa State University and lifetime resident of Iowa, she has faced many challenges growing up as a woman of colour in a predominantly white community. She offers a unique perspective in learning what it means to be confident in who she is and understanding that her worth is not determined by others.

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DR. KIMBERLY WAYNE

Dr. Kimberly Wayne is the founder and executive director of Jewels Academy. She has a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University and a Master’s of Business Administration from Iowa State University. She completed her doctoral studies at Drake through the Educational Leadership Program.  Her research: Keeping Them in the STEM Pipeline: A Phenomenology Exploring the Experiences of Young Women and Underrepresented Minorities in a Long-Term STEM Enrichment Program, serves as the origin of Jewels Academy.  She served on the Iowa State Board of Education for three years appointed by the Governor of Iowa. She has an extensive background in manufacturing engineering, technology, and supply chain management. 

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ALICIA HILLIGAS

Alicia Hilligas is Assistant Director of Admission and Diversity Initiatives at Drake University Law School. Originally from El Salvador, Mrs. Hilligas grew up in Miami, Fl.

Mrs. Hilligas has worked for over a decade in higher education as an admission professional. Her work in higher education has given her the opportunity to provide students and parents college readiness information and guidance navigating the college application and financial aid process. In her current role at Drake Law School, she works to recruit a diverse student body to the legal profession.

Mrs. Hilligas attended Wellesley College and received a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Economics. Before joining Drake Law, she worked at American University and the University of Central Florida. She is married and is the proud mother of two boys and two Chihuahuas.

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DELTA SIGMA THETA SORORITY, INCORPORATED

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated is a private, not-for-profit organization whose purpose is to provide assistance and support through established programs in local communities throughout the world. Founded on January 13, 1913 by 22 phenomenal trendsetters, the organization is a sisterhood of predominantly Black, college educated women who have a vision to make a positive difference in their communities.

Delta’s Founders stepped out on faith to march with the suffragettes and took a stand for social justice as their first public act in March of 1913 in Washington, D.C. More than 107 years later, Deltas continue to take pride in following the footsteps of its founders and remain in the forefront of action as a voice for those in need.

With a 2021 quadrennial theme of “joy in our sisterhood, power in our voice and service in our heart,” as stated by our National President. The organization proudly continues to share their hearts, hands, and service to make a difference in local and international communities across the globe.

MISSION

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated is an organization of college educated women committed to the constructive development of its members and to public service with a primary focus on the Black community.

The National Organization Celebrates Key Impacts that include:

A sisterhood of more than 350,00 members

1,058 chapters located in the United States, the Arabian Gulf, Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Germany, Jamaica, Japan, The Republic of Korea, and the Virgin Islands.

Through 2019, the national organization has awarded more than 5,600,000 dollars of scholarship funds.

LOCAL CHAPTER

The Des Moines Alumnae Chapter members, led by local chapter President Robin Jenkins, embrace the torch for furthering the organization’s purpose and mission. Members of the local chapter are trailblazers in their local, regional, and national communities.

For more than 98 years, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority has made tremendous impacts throughout the Des Moines community. Highlights of key partnerships range from partnering with community organizations to help build homes, feed the homeless, strengthen and promote economic development and academic and financial literacy while awarding scholarships to numerous beneficiaries, the impact of the Alumnae Chapter is life changing. Chapter members continue to lift and support the values, principles, and practices of its founding members. 

The organization fulfills its commitment to public serve by enacting its’ five programmatic thrust:

  • Economic Development

  • Educational Development

  • International Awareness and Involvement

  • Physical and Mental Health

  • Political Awareness and Involvement