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Honorees JoyTutor Celebrations of Courage Award


Melissa Elliott


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

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Odalis Avant


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.

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LaKisha Carter


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!

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Bridget Papino


Co-Founder, We Are Jersey

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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


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

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Tamara Dopewell


Founder, Designs By Tee

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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. 

Keith Lee


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

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Christian Cashelle


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

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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.


Waneta Willis-Cooper


Founder, Mirror 2 Me Photos 

Wanetta Willis-JoyTutor Celebrations of Courage Honoree

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Like a phoenix who has risen from ashes, Waneta Willis-Cooper is a walking testimony that you can have love again and a joyful life. In 2011, Waneta married the love of her life, Anton Cooper. A match made in heaven and love that inspired others. What was a normal dental visit would forever change their union as Anton would later confirm he had cancer. Over the years following, Waneta would care for Anton with an unwavering, unconditional love. In February 2018, God called Anton home. 


The healing journey for Waneta was challenging but nothing she couldn't handle with the strength of God and the love and support of family and friends. After 4 years of doing the work to reinvent her life from the inside out, Waneta stands strong and tall as a woman who exudes self-love, forgiveness, and courage. In July 2022, Waneta will walk down the aisle again with her new love and soon-to-be life partner, Curtis Rupert. Their joy, love, and friendship are a true testimony of having a 2nd chance at love! 


Waneta has a 14-year career as a developmental therapist for children with special needs. As a true superwoman, Waneta owns three businesses: Mirror Me 2 Photos (an interactive photo booth company), Queen My Yoni (all-natural products for women's health), and a travel specialist with Inteltravel


Glenda M. Francis

Glenda M Francis: JoyTutor Celebrations of Courage Honoree

Founder, Audacious Inner Works (AIW) Institute LLC 

Associate Certified Coach (ACC) & ICF Member 

Glenda M. Francis is a constructivist educator, professional life coach, and organizational development consultant specializing in facilitation, professional development, and curriculum and program development. Over the span of a 25-year career in education, her masterful teaching practices have profoundly impacted a wide diversity of students, teachers, and school communities.


Driven by a new mission to broaden her impact and reach among women, Black women in particular, in 2019, Glenda expanded her portfolio into professional coaching and founded Audacious Inner Works (AIW) Institute. AIW is a personal development service organization dedicated to self-cultivation and capacity building through its provision of coaching programs, Power Sips™️, workshops, and masterminds. As a life coach, Glenda specializes in confidence building, women’s wellness and power, and mindset. She’s passionate about powering women to bring forth their full potential and the unlived life within them.  


Whether teaching young minds, coaching educators, facilitating workshops and institutes, or partnering with clients, Glenda has thrived in a sustained mission to cultivate greatness in human potential. She engages you with love, deep listening, and a fierce commitment to your learning and transformation. An “inspirational powerhouse,” you can experience Glenda’s magnetic presence and warmth through coaching conversations, collaborations, and AIW’s programs and institutes. She resides in Brooklyn, New York.

Vivian Ward


Founder, The Cultured ExBeerience 

Vivian, is a wife and a mom who loves a good craft beer and turned her passion into The Cultured Exbeerience! After attending several beer tasting events, Vivian began to host them in my home. Each time, Vivian was met with disappointment when she could not find any Black-owned beers from the area distributors. Thus, the dream began of hosting beer tasting events to highlight those breweries.  Vivian's family and friends have helped make this dream a movement.

The Cultured Exbeerience mission is a simplistic one.  Love of the craft. Love of the people. We strive to support Black-owned breweries and other small/micro/nano breweries by creating a craft beer tasting experience that fosters respect, inclusion, empowerment and love.  Drink the good beer and fight the good fight!

Vivian Ward: JoyTutor Celebrations of Courage Honoree

Carolyn Williams


Chef & Founder, Oh She Cookin 

A jack of all trades, Ms. Carolyn Williams is blowing taste buds away with her blooming catering company, Oh She Cookin. Breaking ground in 2020, Carolyn served the Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana area. Her love for serving high-quality food with fresh ingredients is her mission statement. 

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Carolyn Williams: JoyTutor Celebrations of Courage Honoree

Elle Stovall


Elle Stovall: JoyTutor Celebrations of Courage Honoree

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Founder, Elle Stovall

Fashion Designer

A South Korean native, raised in Chicago, IL, Elle Stovall has always had a love for fashion and designing. As a young child she would draw pictures of garments paying attention to the details and lines seen in the clothing her family would wear. One day, as fate would have it, she purchased her first sewing machine and the rest is history.


Elle started designing dance and clergy wear for churches and ministers but eventually evolved into what she really loved, ready-to-wear and custom women and menswear. Elle has been creating and designing for over 20 yrs and has taken full opportunity to make her mark in the fashion industry. Elle mentors many sewists and emerging designers through direct mentorship and virtually through her sewing community, The Elite Sewciety. She is also an author and a highly sought after lecturer.

Elle Stovall was created in 2008 by LeeChunHwa "Elle" Stovall. Elle's vision is for the confident woman who isn't afraid to make a statement with her own individual style. Elle Stovall offers a variety of clothing options from custom to ready-to-wear, casual to formal.

Joelle Fouse


Chef & Founder, Elle 7 

While working a full-time job, chef Joelle Fouse is growing her spice business, Adventures in Spice, and booming catering service, Elle 7. From the Essence Festival to pop-up shops in Norstrom, Joelle is shaking things up in the spice industry with her unique specialty spice blends. Unstoppable and focused, Joelle is taking her spices from local vendor shelves to intimate dinner plates with her small bites catering business, Elle 7.

Delivering beautifully presented bites with white glove customer service, Joelle lives out her company mission by creating a unique and stress-free event. Elle 7 has serviced events such as soirees, engagement parties, corporate catering, private parties and private staff chef services. Joelle is proud to be recognized as one of the best catering services in Saint Louis, MO.

Joelle Fouse: JoyTutor Celebrations of Courage Honoree

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Charlene M. Rogers


Founder, Lit Life Creations

Charlene Rogers: JoyTutor Celebrations of Courage Honoree

Charlene, who goes by Charlie, is a true symbol of resilience and determination. Her business, Lit Life Creations, is more than just a candle brand as Charlie believes that humans are spiritual beings having a physical experience and your home is your sanctuary. This is the foundational principle and her 'why' for creating products that will add peace, balance and spiritual enlightenment to the homes of her clients.

Embarking on the entrepreneurial journey of making candles inspired her to provide more products with clean ingredients for our home, body, and spirit. Lit Life Creations is an inclusive and customer-centric brand that is passionate about inspiring clients to explore their spirituality, one product at a time.

Charlie's moral code and social responsibility are demonstrated in the high standards placed on her products which are non-toxic and eco-friendly. Providing the highest level of customer service, Charlie is building long-lasting, nurturing relationships with her customers. Charlie believes that every client is and should be treated as the most important person in the world.



JoAnnna Williams

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Founder, JoyTutor

Personal and Business Development

Breaking through significant barriers and setting a new standard for herself and her family, JoAnna Williams transformed her life from the inside out. JoAnna healed from trauma and generational karma and relaunched her podcast (JoyTutor). 


With strength and perseverance, JoAnna changed her life and is now helping others to change the course of theirs through her business, JoyTutor. Offering entrepreneur development services, JoAnna helps individuals’ set up a business and develop a business plan. JoAnna also provides personal development services and assists individuals with taking actionable steps towards their goals and dreams.

Azizah McEntire

Founder, Healing On Us

Co-author, From Hurting to Healing 

Azizah McEntire is the founder of a not-for-profit organization: Azizah Love Loves. Initially launched as a weekly podcast that empowers domestic violence and sexual assault victims, the Azizah Love Loves brand has expanded its reach by providing summits and events that enable women to heal holistically. The guiding principle - you are worthy of a love that loves! Walking the walk, Azizah left her corporate career and launched her own therapy practice, Healing On Us, and co-authored her first book, From Hurting to Healing.


Azzizah Healing on Us


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Tamara Knighten

Founder, Tamara Knighten Ent.

Author of Dashing and Confident and Burned But Not Broken

If beauty for ashes was a person, it would be Tamara. Through healing and releasing years of pain, Tamara unlocked  own her courageous superpowers and came back  "healed, happy and whole."  As a result, Tamara Knighten Enterprises, was created, helping entrepreneurs heal, teaching aspiring podcasters how to launch, and encouraging storytellers to write. Tamara's mission is to help every entrepreneur release their pain, unlock their superpowers, and activate their businesses. Tamara's tribe finds daily inspiration from her podcast, The Inspiration Station, and spice things up a little in her Spicy Knight Ryders Facebook group. 

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