Tag Archives: Girl Power

Mentoring: The Time is Now

2017 was the year many of us broke free, made momentum, and defined new trends of success within our families and our spheres of influence. When I look back from this new space I occupy this year, I realize that I’m grateful for the struggles I’ve endured because they’ve led me to appreciate my successes in ways that I never would have if I didn’t have obstacles to overcome. I’m sure you can say the same. Looking around at the women I call friends, I’m amazed at the accomplishments we’ve made. Some graduated as first generation college students. Some kicked addictions. Some stepped out on faith and opened new businesses, and others decided to persist until they saw their first six figure salary or a doctorate in hand.

What did you accomplish? I dare you to identify one thing you overcame, one success that surprised you, one moment that you questioned would ever come. Titus 2:4-5 encourages us to mentor others as women of God, and even though we’ve all found talking about our accomplishments to be rewarding, I’ve found that talking about who you’ve brought along to learn from your accomplishments is even more rewarding. Mentorship spreads hope and makes the accomplishments we achieve appear even more attainable in the eyes of those who lead lives much like our younger selves.

November 2017 brought news that shocked many of us across the world with the revelation that slave auctions in Libya are still active today, and many were shaken because the new knowledge brought a sense of hopelessness for how to fix the problem along with it for the average person. Would you be surprised to know that slavery is alive and active in the United States as well? Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery, in which perpetrators use force, fraud, or coercion to manipulate and establish control over individuals who are exploited for profit. Here in Las Vegas, I meet girls and women who have been recruited, coerced, and forced into selling their bodies from small towns throughout the United States and beyond, and it’s scary to realize that modern day slavery has the potential to affect the women we call daughter, sister, niece, friend.

Lenore Jean-Baptiste is the Project Coordinator for Power ON!, a program in Las Vegas that provides youth that have been sex trafficked or are at high-risk to sex trafficking, mentorship by pairing them with community trained mentors. Lenore notes:

“Anyone that is trying to reach any level of success needs a mentor because mentors are the bridges to an individual’s next phase in life…Mentorship is vital to the community because it serves as an intervention piece that empowers a youth that has a life filled with problems, to living a life filled with promise.”

In honor of Anti Human Trafficking Awareness Month and Mentoring Awareness Month this January, let’s choose to mentor a younger sister(s) in our communities by consistently visiting a school to provide assistance, volunteering in a mentorship program, connecting with the youth in your church, or incorporating an internship program in your business. Mentoring matters. After all, could you imagine the possibilities that now define your life had it not been for someone that spoke into you, listened to you, or showed you the way during your time in need? Choose to pay it forward. Become the mentor you needed when you were in high school, when you nursed addictions, when you wondered if you would ever pay the bills. It matters. The quality of our world and the next generation of leaders depend on it.

#BlackWomanHeal

For this issue our editor was able to speak with Alexandra Gee-Lewis about her strong desire to help others. That desire began at a young age watching her own mother who was involved in non-profit organizations. When Alexandra was 17 she went on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. Upon her return she felt a need to become more involved with her mother and work with Lilada’s Livingroom.

Lilada’s Livingroom is an organization that is geared towards working with teenage girls and young adult women. Lilada’s Livingroom was founded by Alexandra’s mother, Lilada Gee. After Lilada battled with overcoming her past life experiences of sexual abuse by her step-father and a difficult marriage Lilada began meeting with other women to share her story to encourage them to leave dangerous situations in their own homes and create a sense of community for single mothers.

Alexandra works alongside her mother in the efforts of the organization. She can be found conducting groups and keeping up with young women who have come through the school programs that are conducted as part of programming for Lilada’s Livingroom. Specifically, those programs are prevention groups with younger girls in elementary, middle and high school that centers around cultural identity.
Quite a bit of the work for Lilada’s Livingroom is Afro-centric. There is a global movement called Black Women Heal Day which began to provide early intervention, healing support and help to equip others to work with a particular population of women. April 1, 2015 was the first year that this was done. In the first year there were black women from 40 states and 12 countries who joined.

Black Woman Heal Day occurs on the first day of April, and how befitting that it does. April is the month for sexual assault awareness. This April you can be apart by hosting a group in your own living room or a small event in your local area for women to come together and share with others to increase the awareness of sexual assault and the grace that God can grant to be able to move forward in life and begin healing. Feel free to make posts on social media sharing your testimony or photos from your group/event using the hashtag #blackwomanheal.

To learn more about the organization visit their website www.lilada.org or on Twitter and Instagram @blackwomenheal at for the organization on all of your social media outlets and their website.

Empowering Women, Igniting Change

With March being Women History Month it is only befitting for Nouveau Exposure to feature a woman who is impacting the world locally, nationally and globally. Carlisha Williams is a woman of many hats. She was born in Monroe, LA and raised in Tulsa, OK. She started her career as a young woman teaching and has grown to be the Executive Director of Tulsa Legacy Charter School. She also does consulting work as well as runs a growing organization known as Women Empowering Nations (WEN). She describes herself as a social entrepreneur. In her own words, she “helps leaders to identify their power, unlock their purpose and develop their platform.” Her passion ignites the most when she is working to empower young girls and women.

It wasn’t until Carlisha attended college that she felt something unlock within her to ignite change. Carlisha experienced her own struggles with self-esteem during her childhood and from that was inspired to help young ladies to be able to overcome any struggles they experience and take every opportunity she could to expose them to a world they never knew was accessible to them.  Upon her completion of undergraduate studies, she competed and won the Miss Black University of Oklahoma pageant and went on to compete for the Miss Black Oklahoma USA pageant. From her role as a pageant winner, she was afforded the opportunity to travel and speak with girls across the state of Oklahoma helping them to build their self-esteem and find their purpose in life. After her graduate studies ended, she resided in Gambia working on a consulting project with the Gambian government for a girls education program. It was also there that she started Women Empowering Nations with their Literacy and Empowerment program for girls. From there, she returned to the United States to participate in the Teach for America program.

Through teaching, she was able to see how all the pieces of her life had aligned together and to took advantage of the partnerships she had created. She brought the work of WEN into her classroom and other schools to provide social and emotional development for female students.

WEN has been operating since 2009 and promotes the self-esteem and leadership development of girls through mentorship, leadership, and travel seminar programs. In the United States there are girls participating in Tulsa and Oklahoma City in the state of Oklahoma as well as participants in Houston, TX. The participants and mentors attend the quarterly sessions focused on leadership development, team building, global awareness, women’s empowerment, advocacy, and more. The experience culminates in the summer with the travel seminar to The Netherlands and Tanzania in July where the girls will participate in the Girls Leading Our World Leadership conference that WEN will be hosting in Tanzania. They will have the opportunity to build relationships with Tanzanian girls and do volunteer/mission work. There will be connections made on the social level and exposure to places inaccessible in the local communities of the participants.

What is beautiful about the WEN organization is that the girls who were in one of the very first programs in Gambia have completed the program and graduated from high school. Some of those young ladies are now mentoring in their own branch of the program in their own country. This is truly an accomplishment in Gambia as Carlisha informs that only 30% of girls go on to even enroll in high school.  Not only are there past mentees participating as mentors in Gambia, but in the chapters in the United States as well.

The program directors are currently working to build a technology platform for the mentor relationships to connect with participants abroad and across the nation. This development limit he barrier of having to be in the physical location of a partner school. Now  mentors will be able to reach girls globally in their homes through technology.

With all of the work that Carlisha is doing through WEN, it is not as a faith based organization but the leader does have a Christian foundation. Carlisha is also a published author on top of everything that she does. She has written a book entitled Choosing Faith Over Fear.

“My motivation for writing this book was to share the story behind the glory and allow for people to realize that this life is precious and it is time to step out of your comfort zone and run towards your calling,” said Carlisha when asked what inspired her to write this book. She became an executive leader at the age of 28. Carlisha has been asked what her secret to success is to accomplish all that she has done. She simply felt the need to share her testimony of how her faith in God grew. People were able to see the success but were unaware of the choices that she had to make. Carlisha simply explained that for this reason she decided to share through this book how she has chosen faith over fear in her professional choices, relationships and self-views.

With a book having such a powerful title some would think that there just has to be a strong foundation of faith. Well, while Carlisha was raised in the church, there was a pivotal moment in the 7th grade when her life changed. Carlisha experienced a tragedy losing her best friend, at the time, who was murdered by their father. Carlisha recalls that she was supposed to have a sleepover at the friends’ home and her mother had told her that she didn’t feel right about her spending the night that particular evening and had her stay at home. The next morning a mutual friend called to tell her to turn on the news and she learned that the friend and her entire family had been murdered by the father.

The following week Carlisha attended a youth group that her friend would bring her to and remembers that the words the minister spoke that evening felt as though he was speaking directly to her. She feels that literally from that moment her life had changed. She began to travel to do mission work and witness to people in various countries. From there her view of the world was unlocked.

Carlisha’s life has been a puzzle coming together piece by piece connecting each story and building a grand portrait of what her heart has a desire to accomplish. She has a heart to encourage others and God has enabled her to continuously have opportunities where her past experience helps to build the future. To you, our readers, she says, “Really take a hold of your gifts and your passion to use it and not allow the obstacles you face or the pain and the valleys  you go through to be a detour from that path of purpose. Often times it’s in our pain that God transforms it into purpose to be used to bless the lives of other people.”

Melissa Fredericks

Melissa set out to write her book in February. She expressed the idea to Kevin during their date night and between dinner and a movie he took her to the store and purchased a computer for her to use to write the book. Hard work paid off because this past August she released her book titled, Journey to Self-Love.

Melissa considers herself an introvert, but if she has to pick something it would be public speaking. During the process of writing the book she found it to be stressful and intimidating. Her husband encouraged her to write as if she were actually speaking to women and the words began to flow. She wanted to share her story on personal experiences and struggles for universal issues with the readers. “I thought I could humpty dumpty myself to be this woman that I thought was beautiful and perfect and everything that I thought that I wasn’t,” said Melissa. As she reflected for writing purposes on her emotions while dealing with low self-esteem she found it to be therapeutic for her and even realized some areas where she was still struggling. She wants women to feel empowered after reading her book and understand that the way God created them is great. She has read books about many subjects that have brought about a range of emotions but she wants the women who read her book to feel empowered to change. The person in the mirror should be someone you like and love and anyone who struggles with that, as she did, should begin their journey to love themselves as is, no exceptions.

You might think that Melissa, a.k.a. MrsKevOnStage, was anticipating sales of hundreds of books. Well, surprisingly one exciting weekend Melissa’s husband, Kevin, took to social media to promote pre-sales of her book. Melissa recalls thinking she would order no more than 50 books and thought from that amount she would only sale a few from online orders and try to sale more at the Love Yourself Gabfest, which was recently held in Atlanta, GA. Well, thanks to her husband promoting her book she went from 50 books to over 200 in the first few days from online orders and needed to order more for the Gabfest.

When asked how she is handling the spotlight as an author she stated, “at the end of the day I still feel like we’re in the thick of the grind, we haven’t arrived. It’s still an adjustment.” Melissa has dreams and aspirations to accomplish and having this book published is just one of them.