2021 Josie R. Johnson Leadership Academy Fellows
A’Bryana is the Executive Director of Black Women Speak, an organization centered on uplifting and amplifying the lives of Black women based in Minnesota. She has studied Sociology and African American studies at the University of Minnesota and is an organizer that puts healing at the forefront. Founded in 2019, Black Women Speak has created spaces where Black women are gathered, heard, celebrated, and uplifted toward liberation on their own terms. A’Bryana is rooted in the legacy of Black feminism, grassroots organizing and collective freedom. She echoes Audre Lorde as she has stated, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Black Women Speak is dedicated to ensuring that Black women and girls have lives of abundance along with equipping them with the tools to walk them into their futures.
Ms. Ella Chapman
Ms. Ella is a transformational coach and motivational speaker who inspires individuals to process their personal healing by sharing her own life experiences. Her inspiring story of overcoming challenges with illiteracy, drug abuse, teen pregnancy, abortion, and domestic violence (teen & adult) has taught her to redevelop her life. In 2008 she was diagnosed with multiple autoimmune disease disorders, such as Lupus, Sjogren, and in 2018, Fibromyalgia. She received her Master of Arts Degree in Counseling and Psychotherapy and is a certified Genesis Relapse Prevention Counselor. This distinguished young lady has developed numerous core curriculums for women over the past 15 years. She also specializes in forgiveness and has taught the “Power of Forgiveness” course for eight years. Ms. Ella is the founder of MsEllaInspires, LLC. She shares her professional expertise and life experiences as a professional educational speaker, influencer, and workshop facilitator. Ms. Ella created a motivational curriculum, the Seven Principles on “Power In Your Purpose”—a curriculum that prepares individuals to discover their worth, passion, and true purpose in this life. Ms. Ella is a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother who lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her husband of 20 plus years.
Angela Rose Myers
After graduating from Barnard College of Columbia University in New York City, Angela, a Twin Cities native, returned to Minneapolis looking to make a change in her community through meaningful relationship building, an honest commitment to equality, and empowering young women to embody the change they want to see. After being connected with the Minneapolis NAACP, she quickly rose to the position of 2nd Vice-President at the age of 23, then was elected President of the Minneapolis NAACP in November 2020 at 25, making her one of the youngest NAACP Adult Branch Presidents in the Nation. She has worked with and built relationships with many local community groups on issues of Civic Engagement like Minnesota Voice, Black Votes Matter Minnesota, ACER, ACLU Minnesota, national groups such as the National Organization For Women and National Action Network. In addition, she has traveled worldwide, engaging scholars on social justice issues and public policy, most notably helping coordinate the 5th World Conference on Racial and Ethnic Economic Inequalities in Vitoria, Brazil.
Sharhonda York currently works as a full-time Probation officer in Ramsey County and a part-time Correction officer in Washington county. She has a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Minnesota State University, Mankato. She was recently accepted to a doctoral program in Sociology which starts in the fall of 2021 at Iowa State University. Sharhonda is a proud member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated where she actively serves as the 3rd Vice President and Undergraduate Advisor at Sigma Phi chapter Minnesota State University, Mankato. Sharhonda also assisted in chartering the local graduate chapter in 2020, also serving as the State Parliamentarian. Her long-term goal is to open a group home to serve African American males ages 30 to 45 who struggle in the criminal justice system.
Tamara (Tami) Lee has been a librarian for the Ramsey County Library for nearly years. Tami received her MLIS from St. Catherine University and has been an ALA Spectrum scholar, adjunct instructor in the St. Kate’s MLIS program, and is a certified early literacy specialist (ECRR). Tami co-authored a piece on racial diversity and inclusion in storytime for the ALSC journal, Children and Libraries, and has facilitated many workshops, trainings, and discussions around equity, diversity, and inclusion in libraries and collection development. Besides being *THAT* person on various and assorted panels and committees, Tami is passionate about racial equity, social justice, drumming, and kitchen chemistry.
Thomas Montreal Collins