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COC About

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The JoyTutor Celebrations of Courage Award event is a momentous occasion that recognizes exceptional individuals who have demonstrated remarkable personal and entrepreneurial growth. We take pride in honoring and celebrating determined trailblazers from diverse backgrounds, highlighting their achievements.

 

The event is held in Brooklyn, NY, and is live-streamed online and in-person, accompanied by an elegant brunch experience and vendor market.

 

On June 3, 2023, we celebrated the following trailblazers: Melissa Elliott, Lakisha Carter, Odalis Avant, Sparkle Jai, Tamara Dopewell, Keith Lee, Bridget Papino, and Christian Cashelle. 

We are currently accepting nominations for the 2024 honorees. Click here to nominate yourself or others. 

2023 HONOREES

Melissa Elliott

Melissa Elliott

IMPACT AWARD
HONOREE

Founder, AGAPE Family Therapy & Coaching 

As a product of immigrant parents and the eldest adult child, Melissa had been tasked with making the family proud. However, when she needed support to manage stress at several parts of my academic career, she found a few examples that looked like her. Therefore, she vowed to be the person and created systems to support people, families, and communities that look like her!

 

Melissa has learned that people are the experts of their lives, and we, as professionals are privileged to be on the journey. Therefore Melissa calls members of Agape a community shaped by love, learning, and growing to be loving. 

Melissa expanded her services from being a solo practitioner in private practice to group practice. Before the pandemic, she decided in March 2020 to take a leap of faith and resign from a position as a senior director of a non-profit agency.

 

AGAPE Family Therapy & Coaching is a telehealth group practice that provides mental health counseling, coaching, training, and employee assistance programming to agencies and supervision in New York.

Through member testimonies of reaching their goals or reducing their symptoms of anxiety, depression, and trauma, Melissa’s organization has greatly impacted her community. They have impacted over 200 people and four organizations within the past two years.

Melissa Elliott JoyTutor 2023 Impact Award Honoree

Contact Info:

Odalis Avant

Odalis Avant

 EMERGING 
ENTREPRENEUR
HONOREE

Founder, Mint & Ocean Apothecary

Odalis Avant

Odalis Avant, the creator of Mint & Ocean Apothecary, blended her journey as a medical coder, herbalist, and spiritualist to curate a growing wellness line that assists our community with its own healing paths. After 20+ years of gardening & studying plants with her parents, earning her B.A. in Linguistics and certificate in Behavioral Health coding, she began blending balms & salves in her kitchen for family & friends. With an amazingly warm response & encouragement, Odalis opened Mint & Ocean’s virtual doors in 2017.

 

One year later, after realizing some of her family’s spiritual practices could also assist the community, the Botánica portion of the shop was shared. The mission? To help our community mentally, physically & spiritually with traditional recipes sourced from both the earth & the sea. Mint & Ocean has been blessed to be featured in BuzzFeed, New York Live, and, most recently, the JoyTutor Podcast. :) On her ever-evolving journey, one of the most vital lessons learned is that a strong and healthy connection to the earth, ourselves, and our tribes is essential to our longevity.  Asè.

Contact Info:​

Lakisha Carter

LaKisha Carter

IMPACT AWARD
HONOREE

Founder, Take 5 Management 

Ms. Lakisha Carter is a 20+ year veteran middle school teacher.  Classroom management quickly became a passion of Ms. Carter in her early years of teaching, as she understood that no learning could take place in a classroom without a proper management system. 

 

After years of trying many different published best practices approaches, to no avail, Ms. Carter decided to go back to school to earn a Master's in General Administration, and a few years later, returned for a second Master's in Curriculum & Instruction.  Armed with new research information, she created her research-based classroom management system.  After a few years of collecting data and tweaking, she finally had it. The Take 5 Learning Management system was born!

Take 5 Logo

Contact Info:

Bridget Papino

Bridget Papino

EMERGING 
ENTREPRENUER
HONOREE

Co-Founder, We Are Jersey

JerseyQueen x David Alexander Media Brand Shoot 2-8917.JPG (1).jpg

Contact Info:

Bridget Papino is making a positive impact within her community and around the world. In 2012, Bridget and her partner, Daniel Banks, cocreated "Jersey Turnt Up Ent," now known as We Are Jersey, an all-inclusive entertainment company based out of northern New Jersey. A few years later, "We Are Jersey Magazine" was established to give fast-rising Jersey talents a platform that supports their growth and exposure and a solid foundation for those who want to make a difference in entertainment, arts, business, and community. 


We Are Jersey Magazine is all about celebrating creatives, community, and culture. They provide creative content and marketing solutions alongside our events and magazine publication. They are energetic and passionate about what they do, and they love connecting with like-minded people. Their mission is to inspire positive change in the world through creativity, collaboration, and cultural awareness. 

Bridget's biggest challenge was whether to conform to mainstream media standards or remain underground. She twisted it because she saw how important and valuable things are still occurring, but regularly mainstream media may not spotlight that or give it an opportunity. She wanted to bridge the gap where talent could be seen, and impactful stories could be shared.

Her business helped her see the importance of connecting the community and displaying the positive impact of the world around them. The ability to motivate and inspire those across numerous niches showed her that our voices and actions matter more than we acknowledge. The good we do with our businesses, and clients creates a ripple effect among individuals lives.

Sparkle Jai

RESILIENCE
HONOREE

Founder, Sparkle's Junk Bowtique 

At the age of 7, Sparkle began her passion for sewing. By 14, Sparkle's mom noticed her passion for cutting and sewing and bought Sparkle's first sewing machine. Cutting and redesigning her own clothes bought by her mom would nurture her love for sewing. Sparkle attended the Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago to sharpen her skills and build a successful path toward her dreams.

 

Sparkle's unique designs and creativity would lead to making bows and accessories from scrap fabric, which inspired her business name, Junk Bowtique. Tapping into her swatch book and notes from college, Sparkle began making matching garments for herself and her daughter. This would lead to Sparkle making garments for her entire family. Thus Sparkle’s Junk Bowtique was born.

Sparkle's success and growth did not come easy; she had to overcome many challenges that made it difficult to cultivate her joy for sewing. But her strength and determination to achieve her dreams would show others around her how to never give up. Sparkle's one-of-a-kind creations are blazing new trails in the fashion industry, while her resilience inspires others to go after their dreams. 

Sparkle Jai

Contact Info:

Sparkle Jai

Tamara Dopewell

IMPACT AWARD
HONOREE

Founder, Designs By Tee

Tamara Dopwell New Picture (1) (1).png

Contact Info:​

Tamara “Tee” Dopwell from Brooklyn, NY, identified a gap within the community that was beyond the reach of local services. With a passion for giving back to the community, Tamara developed a t-shirt line, Designs by Tee (DBT), to fund the needs of local residents struggling to make ends meet.

 

As a social entrepreneur, Tamara has over 15 years of medical social work experience and currently works in the space of Elder Justice. Tamara is utilizing her creativity to create a positive, motivating, and socially-conscious T-shirt line. To pave the way for others, Tamara provides a free e-book and online classes teaching others how to start their own t-shirt business.

While constantly learning new skills, marketing strategies, and social media management, Tamara conquered the challenge of making sales and continued growth during the onset of Covid. Pivoting to social media and online marketing enabled Designs By Tee to gain sales and increased social media following that would exceed expectations. 

Tamara Dopewell

Keith Lee

IMPACT AWARD
HONOREE

Food Critic & Dream Maker

Over the past few months, Keith has transformed the lives of struggling business owners and slingshot aspiring entrepreneurs to record sales. All by providing honest food reviews to bridge the gap of much-needed marketing promotion and exposure. The joy that Keith spreads is a ripple effect that has called others to support small business owners. To change lives for a service fee of gratitude for being blessed with the opportunity to help others is simply amazing. If humbleness and kindness were a person, it would be Keith. 

 

With an already loyal following on TikTok, Keith grew his platform over the past few years by featuring the growth and joys of his beautiful family. Leading by example, Keith also empowers others to maintain an attitude of gratitude and trust the process, and you, too, can achieve your boldest dreams. The power of speaking life and manifesting your dreams is also his superpower. This is only the beginning for Keith as he steps into a new season of transformation and abundance on every level. 

Keith Lee

Contact Info:

Keit Lee
Christian Cashelle

Christian Cashelle

EMERGING ENTREPRENEUR
HONOREE

Author & Founder

Dynamic Imaging Publications (DIP) 

In 2006, Christian founded Dynamic Image Publications (DIP). With a vision and a finished manuscript, Christian planned to shop for her first book with traditional publishers. After an endless search to find a publishing house that catered to her genre and style of writing, Christian realized there were none. With the help of her online community of writers, she founded Dynamic Image with a mission to create a space for writers like herself.

Dynamic Image's mission is to be a motivating publishing house that displays triumph and redemption as central themes in our literature and ultimately influences the lives of our readers in a positive way. We aspire to entertain while motivating our readers to better themselves through stories of love, triumph, redemption, and faith.

In 2011, Christian won the Author of the Year award at the St. Louis Traffic Music Awards for her novel, My Joy.

In 2009, Dynamic Edits was created to aid all writers by providing quality editing services. Editors Christian and Jasmine freelance for various genres outside of the Dynamic Image family to polish manuscripts and other projects for writers.

Christian Cashelle

Contact Info:

After publishing her own titles for years, Christian welcomed two new authors to the roster in 2017, also branching out into poetry and nonfiction in the following years to come. Dynamic Image Publications is committed to creating literature that creates positive change in the culture through stories of love, triumph, and redemption.

2024 Schedule

1:30 pm ~ 3:00 pm (EST)

Lunch & Network ~ In-Person, Brooklyn, NY

 Guests will enjoy an elegant lunch experience while making new connections.

3:00 pm - 3:10 pm (EST)

Opening Introduction: Welcome guests and recognize sponsors 

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3:20 pm - 3:40 pm (EST)

 Presentation of awards by JoAnna Williams

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3:10 pm - 3:20 pm (EST)

 Keynote Speaker:  TBD

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3:50 pm - 4:00 pm (EST)

Closing remarks & Toast:  Thank our guests, honorees, and sponsors

3:40 pm - 3:50 pm (EST)

 Keynote Speaker:  TBD

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4:00 pm - 5:00 pm (EST)

      Vendor Market: Discover, network, and support local small businesses. 

Elegant Brunch

Before the award ceremony begins, we welcome guests to join us for a memorable brunch fit for Queen & King status. For convenience and safety, JoyTutor honorees have the option to dine together both in person and virtually. JoyTutor ships, via priority mail, an elegant brunch setting for the honoree to set up and enjoy in the safe comforts of their own space. Each honoree has the option to select their local restaurant and meal of choice, and JoyTutor takes it from there! 

Sponsor, Vendor, Volunteer

Show up and show out!

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