Merri Ann Osborne (She/Her/Her’s)
Merri Ann Osborne is the Executive Director of the Mahogany Project and has performed in Japan, the UK and US as an actor, singer, dancer voice-over artist and songwriter. She recently published her first short story, "The Crew" and plans to complete her first historical fiction novel later this year. She is the granddaughter of Caribbean immigrants (Barbados) who arrived to the US through Ellis Island AND a descendent of enslaved peoples. As a child, she had the honour of living in Nigeria which coincidentally brought both sides of her families history full circle. These experiences, rooted in her DNA, influence Merri Ann's art and her collaboration with others on sharing stories of the African diaspora-past, present and future.
Dani Tirrell (He/Him/His)
Dance artist, performer, choreographer and dance educator. Dani has danced with Jazz and Spirit Dance Theater of Detroit, Monroe Ballet Company, Full Circle Dance Company, Natural Locz Dance Company and Dani Tirrell Dance Theater that he founded and serves as Artistic Director. Dani also created Color Lines Dance Ensemble for youth dance artist ages 12 to 18.
Rashida Gaye (She/Her/Her’s)
Rashida Gaye graduated from Penn State in 1999. She is an Agent with New York Life helping her clients achieve financial security. Before starting her financial services business, she had a great sales career and sold over $2 million dollars in programs. She was also a mindset coach and business coach for three years and during that time helped her clients sell over $4 million dollars in new business by helping them upgrade their money mindset, confidence, and business strategy.
She recently just started a non-profit organization called WomenRise where she provides free coaching and other free resources to help women all over the world achieve their goals. She has been married for 14 years and has a 6 year old daughter and a 9 year old son. Her interests include spending time with her family, working with clients, traveling, and hosting international retreats for women.
Ajay Thompkins (She/Her/Her’s)
Ajay, retired Army, has a bachelor's degree in business administration and is currently continuing her education as an MBA with a dual emphasis in change leadership and entrepreneurship. Ajay left her corporate role as a Marketing Director for a large Real Estate Investment firm in early 2018 and began advising small business owners full time through Thompkins Consulting and serving as the Chief Operating Officer of Vioure. Ajay stepped down from COO and co-founder of Vioure, a short term rental company in Seattle, in April 2019 to follow her passion in uplifting the community. Ajay’s focus on infrastructure development of various businesses and years of experience in real estate and human intelligence makes her a perfect candidate to lead the Empower US social movement as a thought leader and change maker in the community. Ajay will introduce and describe Empower Us, a thought leadership idea, centered around collectivism, group economics and education of the black community across all walks of life in the African diaspora.
John Guy (He/Him/His)
John Guy is a facilitator and psychotherapist with nearly 15 years of experience working at the nexus where individual and organizational psychologies meet the social conditioning of inequality, exclusion, power, privilege and difference. His passion is to assist businesses and organizations to achieve two primary goals: insight with regard to the presence and mechanics of oppression at individual, organizational and institutional levels; implementation of these insights into decision-making, policy and outreach. His approach is intersectional and stresses experience prior to theory. John has studied and practiced this work under the auspices of Matrixworks, LLC (matrixworkslivingsystems.com) applying the science and understanding of living systems to organizational leadership and change; at the National Civic League (ncl.org) through its work in visioning and strategic planning with municipalities; at Gender Equity and Reconciliation International (GRWorld.org) applying a 3-day process of healing and reconciliation across the gender divide; and at Catholic Community Services of Western Washington (ccsww.org) assisting low income and homeless individuals gain access to housing, supportive services and counseling. John has facilitated groups in the United States, South Africa, and England. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Nevada and a Master's degree in Contemplative Psychology from Naropa University. John has been a practitioner of Buddhism and meditation since 2005 and applies this spiritual practice to varying degrees in his work. He has a private psychotherapy practice working with couples and individuals in Seattle.
Kate Mensah (She/Her/Her’s)
Kate Mensah, a 42-year-old woman, is a cultured designer here in the Seattle area. Originally from the fashion capital of the world, Paris, it was no surprise that creativity, style, and passion flow through her veins. With a hands-on approach to her designs, Kate is inspired by textures and the fusion of cultures. With a bit of Parisian Madame, powerful African heritage, and Asian inspiration her designs aesthetic is a fresh take on luxury apparel. Kate S Mensah creates luxury apparel and accessories that give strong women the ability to express their bold personal style in their everyday life - without sacrificing functionality and practicality.
Kate Mensah entered the industry officially in 2009. Then She opened her first ready-to-wear /evening collection with which she got the winning prize of “Best Evening Wear Designer” for her 2011 collection named “Femme Fatale”, awarded by renowned Seattle based Magazine’s “Seamless” in Seattle Competition. Kate’s 2012 collection, “The Visionaire” was launched at Seattle’s Metropolitan Fashion Week, and nominated as one of the best designer in town. Carrying the legacy further, her design ensembles have added flair to runways such as Bellevue Fashion Week, with the Spring 2013 collection in Bellevue Collection’s Independent Designer Runway Show. She is also proud to be nominated on the category of “Women’s Evening Wear of the Year 2014”, by the much coveted DList magazine’s annual award show held on 12 Sep’ 2014. She is as well recognized as one of the leaders of the fashion industry in Seattle in several events such as A.Convention by A.Productions in January 2016.
Kate extended her wing in the fashion industry as a fashion stylist and Model. Her fashion style has been recognized by entrepreneur women, Model agency such WespeakNY and fashion magazines such as Ellements magazine or VGXW magazine, Surreal beauty Magazine to name few that have published her styling work.
She is as well the owner of a new personal stylist consulting services name Volee Vie that will officially launch in 2019.
When she is not designing for her brand, she is helping other brands to develop their designs by offering her consulting service to her clients.
As a testimony to her strong complex character and talent, Kate is teaching fitness boxing/kickboxing, Yoga, personal trainer as well as other fitness classes at Fly Fitness in Kirkland. You can as well see her teaching yoga at Get Zen Yoga.
She lives her passions (fitness and fashion) every day and nicely melting them together to empower women.
Kate believes that the two disciplines represent the yin and the yang of our behavior: intensity, aggressiveness, but also kindness and softness.
J Mase III (He/Him/His)
J Mase III is a Black/trans/queer poet & educator that has worked in the US, UK, and Canada on LGBTQIA+ rights and racial justice in spaces such as K-12 schools, universities, faith communities and restricted care facilities. He is founder of awQward, the first trans and queer people of color talent agency.
Mase is author of And Then I got Fired: One Transqueer's Reflections on Grief, Unemployment & Inappropriate Jokes About Death and co-editor of the Black Trans Prayer Book.
His work has been featured on MSNBC, Essence Live, Everyday Feminism, Black Girl Dangerous, the New York Times, Buzzfeed, the Root, the Huffington Post, TEDx and more.
Find him on Instagram (@jmaseiii) and www.jmaseiii.com!