With a firm belief that DEI is a lifelong journey rather than a mere checkbox exercise, I am here to collaborate with you in creating positive change. What sets me apart is not only my expertise but also my lived experience, which provides me with a unique perspective on working with diverse communities.
I was born in Long Beach, California in June of 1975 by my courageous mother, Astrid Van. She raised me and three older siblings, Rodney, Anthony, and Rosemary as a single parent; which came with its own challenges for a child growing up in a city with gangs, crime, and drugs. I lost my mother at the young age of 13 to cancer and moved in with my older brother, Rodney. My time with Rodney enforced my love for football, which I excelled at, and I’m fortunate enough to say that he became the father I never had. While living with my brother, I attended Horace Mann and went on to attend Monte Vista High School where I was one of the best football players in the state of California. I was also a Links Achiever, a program that honors the top African-American male seniors for excellence in academics, sports, and community. After high school, I attended Fresno State University where I played wide receiver for the football team.
During my tenure as the founder and leader of Youth Campaigns, which ran from 2014 to 2017, we made a significant impact in the lives of young individuals. Our dedication and hard work were recognized when Youth Campaigns became a finalist for the nonprofit of the year award. I was also honored to be recognized as a notable person by the Union-Tribune and featured in numerous media outlets, where I shared the success stories and transformative experiences of the youth involved. Through the program, over 150 young individuals found jobs or internships, creating a meaningful pipeline toward careers in digital marketing.
In addition to my professional achievements, I gained valuable insights and experience in local government through various roles. As the Communications Director for City Councilmember Myrtle Cole, I learned the intricacies of governance and the importance of effective communication in driving positive change. Furthermore, my own unsuccessful runs for Solana Beach City Council taught me valuable lessons about the complexities of local politics and the power of collective action. These experiences shaped my understanding of the importance of community engagement and motivated my journey towards diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
Living in Solana Beach as one of the very few black residents, my passion for equity grew exponentially. Within this predominantly homogeneous community, I experienced firsthand the need for diversity and racial equity. While living in Solana Beach, I was an active member of the leadership teams for Solana Beach 4 Equality and Encinitas 4 Equality, groups dedicated to advocating for greater diversity and racial equity in their respective communities. As part of the leadership team, I helped contribute to their tireless work to create positive change and foster a more inclusive environment.
One of my most significant endeavors is Sister Cities Project, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that I founded in 2020 as a response to the tragic murder of George Floyd. Our organization is driven by a profound commitment to fostering deep cultural understanding and promoting racial justice in America. Through strategic partnerships between underserved minority communities and affluent, white communities, we actively work to bridge the divides between black and white people. We also firmly believe in the transformative power of uplifting black women, as we honor the dreams of my late mother and empower communities to thrive. To achieve these goals, we have implemented impactful initiatives focused on economic development, entrepreneurship, and workforce development for youth. By creating real changes and fostering equitable opportunities, the organization strives to build a more inclusive and just society.
I am eager and available to collaborate with school districts, law firms, corporations, and local governments, leveraging my extensive networks in both North County and throughout San Diego County. With my extensive connections, I can create leveraged partnerships and utilize these relationships to get things done. My services include my trademarked Leading with Compassion, Courage, and Authenticity, action-oriented training program, speaking engagements, group discussion and panel moderation, as well as DEI strategy consulting. Together, we can develop impactful strategies that drive meaningful change and create inclusive environments that embrace diversity and promote equality.
I am truly excited to embark on this transformative journey with all of you. Together, we can navigate the complexities of DEI, leveraging my collaborative approach, lived experience, and creative out-of-the-box strategies. Let’s create lasting change and build a more inclusive future for our community and beyond.