Team emPower


DeShuna Spencer, Publisher/Editorial Director
DeShuna Spencer is Founder/CEO of Liu Karama Productions LLC, an online multimedia company that produces socially-conscious content and products for people of color. The first entity under Liu Karama is emPower magazine, which launched in 2008. Spencer, a graduate of Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss., began her journalism career while in college, where she was a staff/obituary writer for the Clarion-Ledger. She briefly worked at the Oakland Tribune, writing feature and crime stories, and at the Fort Campbell Courier, serving as the leisure section editor. She dedicated a year of her life volunteering in a low-income Buffalo, NY community with AmeriCorps*VISTA. Most recently, she served as magazine editor and director of communications for an organization in the Washington DC metro area before launching emPower. She has written freelance articles for the Crisis magazine, AOL and the Washington Examiner. Spencer is very active in her city. In her spare time, she sits on the City of Alexandria’s Social Services Advisory Board. In addition, she is a member of the Alexandria Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy and was recently appointed to the United Way Regional Council of the National Capital Area (Alexandria Branch). She formerly served as a board member for Capital Cause in Washington DC and the Northern Virginia Urban League’s Young Professional’s Network. Spencer, a native of Memphis, is an alum of the Chips Quinn Scholars Program, a competitive fellowship program for young journalists of color.


Melia Sandler, Associate Editor 
lia Sandler is an award-winning journalist and communications professional with more than 10 years experience managing and developing content for newspapers, public relations campaigns, and the Web. She has worked as a staff writer for the St. Petersburg Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Sandler also served as the communications director for a Washington, D.C.-area trade association before starting Sandler Editorial, which provides copywriting, editing, and communications support to organizations. Her work has appeared in The Baltimore Sun,, The Orlando Sentinel, the Associated Press, and others. Sandler is well-versed in a multitude of healthcare topics. She has also worked on business, government, and education issues.


Erica Blackburn, Editorial Intern
Erica Blackburn is a third year Broadcast Journalism major at Hampton University. At Hampton, she writes for the campus newspaper, Hampton Script, and a member of the production team for the campus radio station, 88.1 WHOV: The Essence of Hampton University. In addition, she is also a writer for Journalism and Communications organization, Center for Broadcast Excellence, which offers new media integrated projects that can develop advanced professional skills in studio and field production, and editing. This is Erica’s first internship at emPower magazine.


Letese' Clark, Editorial Intern
Letese' Clark is a junior at Howard University, hailing from Muskegon, Michigan studying journalism with a concentration in broadcast news and a minor in electronic studio design. She is currently a staff writer for the student voice of Howard University, The Hilltop, a contributor for The District Chronicles, the historian of Adonai Mime Ministers of Praise and the Community Service Co-Chair for the Howard University Chapter of Lady Diva Corporation. Letese is also a member of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), a Turning the Page mentor and a Newseum volunteer. She is an aspiring journalist with the intent to become an investigative reporter. She hopes to expose and reveal the corruption of the world while being the voice to the voiceless.


Larisa Robinson, Editorial Intern
Larisa Robinson recently graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University where she majored in Mass Communications with a concentration with print journalism. Born and raised in Hampton, VA, her goal is to travel through the country and globally. Her hard work has landed her several writing opportunities just in the past year. This past spring she interned for and wrote for the VCU Capital News Service program, for which she covered the Virginia General Assembly and was published in several papers and sites, including the university news paper. She currently writes and edits for Her Campus VCU, an female-oriented web magazine. She is also a Richmond, VA correspondent for Next spring, she will be a copy editing intern for the Daily Press in Virginia. Other than journalism, song, dance, poetry and art are what she lives for. Because of that, she likes to live in the present and not dwell too critically on her past or future.



Matt Amaral, Education
Matt Amaral is a writer and high school English teacher from the San Francisco Bay Area. He received his undergraduate degree in English Literature from the University of California at Davis and an MFA in Creative Writing from National University. Matt is a featured Blogger at, a leading international website for Education, and New America Media, the nation’s leading ethnic news organization. You can also read his work in the 2010 issues of TeachHub,emPower magazine, The Dirty Napkin, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Eclectic Flash, Bird’s Eye ReView, TravelMag, Escape From America Magazine and InTravel Magazine. Read his blog


Rev. Tyree A. Anderson, M.A., M.Div., Social Issues & Theology 
Reverend Tyree A. Anderson is a native of Birmingham, Alabama and is the Protestant Chaplain for the Federal Bureau of Prisons at FCI Tallahassee in Tallahassee, FL. He most recently served as the Executive Pastor at the Shiloh Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia under the pastorate of Rev. Dr. Lee A Earl.  Rev. Anderson studied African Traditional Religions in Ghana, West Africa; and has preached the gospel in Uganda, East Africa. Reverend Anderson also served as one of the founding directors of an international theological Christian Education program at Shiloh for The Soroti Pastors and Elders Fellowship (SOPEF) in Uganda, East Africa. Currently, Rev. Anderson works with Harambee International Development as its Vice President of Global Business Development; and is preparing to launch the Macedonia Pastoral Development Ministry, Inc., a Christian Education ministry that will develop leaders in the Diaspora. Rev. Anderson is also a senior faculty member for the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. Leadership Academy. Rev. Anderson is the recipient of several degrees – Bachelor of Science from the University of Alabama at Birmingham; an Master of Arts from George Mason University; and Master of Divinity from Virginia Union University, Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology. In 2002, Rev. Anderson received the prestigious Evelyn Pugh Memorial Fellowship for Excellence in History from George Mason University; and in 2005 at the John Malcus Ellison Convocation, Rev. Anderson served as the only student lecturer for the convocation. Rev. Anderson is married to Denise Brown Anderson, PhD and they have one child, Lesley A. Anderson.


kat calvin, Politics, Social Issues, Pop Culture 
kat calvin is a writer, a lawyer and a small business owner. She lives in Washington, DC where she vents her frustration at Past Presidents when the tourists aren't watching, works to improve the economic outlook of women and Black Americans and attends several happy hours a week.







Adrienne Fikes, Motivational Monday
Adrienne Fikes, M.Ed., C.S.C is the Soul Power Coach™, President of Soul Power LLC and host of the 1st Fridays Soul Power Coaching Hour. She knows that people are resourceful, creative, and can master the ability to get the results they want by making deliberate purposeful choices. This means you too so come take the 3 Minute Sort Out Your Life with Soul Power Challenge and request your Complimentary Taste of Soul Power Coaching Conversation For more information about living with Soul Power, visit You may also connect with Adrienne, the Soul Power Coach on Twitter (soulpowercoach), Google+ (SoulPower Coach), and Facebook (Soul Power Coach). 


Curis Monday, Finances, Social Issues
Curtis R. Monday is providing the educational foundation for tomorrow’s business owners and our nation’s next generation community leaders. With an extensive financial background and as an engaged member of the African American community, Curtis is empowering and training our nations next generation of leaders. After acquiring his bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University, Curtis got his MBA from Illinois State University in finance. This was just the beginning for Curtis as he started helping individuals protect themselves and their assets. Catering to Chicago and the southern suburbs, Curtis began to see needs in the African American communities. He directed all of his attention to these needs and addressed them as host of “Dollars and Sense”® on WVON 1690-AM talk radio in Chicago, where he currently broadcasts Saturdays from 8:00am to 9:30am. Curtis focuses on helping the community to embrace the importance of exercising both personal and professional responsibility. "Dollars and Sense"® provides the community with a platform to start having the “conversation” about personal responsibility and also allows listeners to express socially conscious and responsible ideologies, discuss political issues and promote spiritual wellness. Website:


Tamara Shirer, Education, Youth Empowerment
Tamara Shirer has worked as a Child/Adolescent Social Worker & School Counselor for 11 years. She is now the founder and CEO of Born For Greatness Youth Empowerment Resources. The Born For Greatness company provides parents & educators with solutions that build confidene in their children to succeed. Website:






Jameta Barlow, Harmony: Health Disparities
Jameta Barlow is a scholar-activist, writer and doula in North Carolina. A native Virginian, she received her undergraduate degree in English from Spelman College, a Masters of Public Health in maternal and child health from The George Washington University and is completing her doctoral degree in psychology at North Carolina State University. Enchanted by words, inspired by healthy families and committed to social justice, Jameta enjoys using the written word to educate, inform and inspire others about healthy
living. You can connect with Jameta at and read her blog at


Alanna Brown, News/BizTech: Housing, Finances and Economy
Alanna Brown was born and raised in New York, and has lived in Washington DC for almost 10 years. She is a housing and finance professional with over 15 years of experience in financial products, lending, real estate, and marketing. She has been a leader on housing issues at a national level, working with the Obama Administration on the Making Home Affordable program, and she is an industry speaker on housing policy, finance, and foreclosure prevention. Alanna founded and writes a consumer education blog,, which focuses on issues related to Housing in America including home buying, selling, renting, foreclosure, credit, mortgages, policy and much more. She started writing the blog because she is passionate about getting accurate and timely information into the hands of the community about how to navigate our complex financial and housing systems. She dedicates her personal time to community service and is an advocate for financial and housing literacy. Alanna works for a financial services firm in Washington DC and sits on the board of directors for Women in Housing and Finance Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to financial literacy, safe affordable housing programs, and economic empowerment for women and their families. Website: Contact: [email protected]


Shanelle Chambers, Soul Life: The Arts and Film 
Shanelle Chambers was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. She graduated from Spelman College with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While attending Spelman, she spent a semester abroad, studying art history and theory at the University of London – Goldsmith. She then went on to Vanderbilt University, earning a master’s degree in Community Development. Shanelle currently works in grants but devotes much of her free time to the study and appreciate of art, photography and film. As a member of the Smithsonian Institute, Shanelle has received extensive training in photography. She also frequently attends lectures and seminars on film theory and cinematography. A long time patron of independent films and documentaries, Shanelle regularly attends and blogs about domestic and international film. Website:



Leah Trotter D’Antonio, Social Issues/Women's Issues 
Leah Trotter D’Antonio is a native Texan who now resides in the D.C. Metro Area with her husband and two children. She holds a B.A. in Sociology with a minor in English. She enjoys challenging the status quo. Leah often focuses her discussions on the sociological experience of the individual while encouraging readers (or listeners) to examine the basis of their belief system. She believes that in doing so, we activate a greater sense of self-awareness (Nosce te ipsum -know thyself), which is essential to our shift away from the issues that plague us to a place of health and balance in every matter of life. Leah is a fitness enthusiast and avid runner and spends a great deal of her time in the gym or pounding ’the concrete wilderness’. She also devotes a great deal of time volunteering for a local non-profit organization.


Matthew C. Horne, Harmony: Life on Purpose
Matthew C. Horne, motivational speaker and author, is the president of Optimum Success International, a speaking and publishing company located in the metropolitan Washington, DC area. He is an international authority on Maximizing Human Potential. Matthew is the author of “The Universe Is Inviting You In,” which is publicly endorsed by legendary motivational speaker Les Brown, and the soon-to-released book “All We Have Is NOW.” Growing up, Matthew’s ultimate vision for his life was to play basketball in the NBA. He positioned himself to live this reality through obtaining a full-athletic scholarship to play Division I basketball in college. Much to his surprise destiny revealed his true calling during his collegiate years, as he discovered a passion for motivational speaking. Matthew was told by his professors he would never make it as an English major, and to the astonishment of everyone he not only obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English, but was offered his first book contract before he graduated in his last semester of college. Matthew’s message is one of creating your own reality according your vivid destiny pictures. Matthew empowers audiences live their unique truth, independent of the opinions of others. Matthew’s message is quickly spanning the globe through his books, audios and motivational speeches. He is the co-host of the television show “How To Survive In A Bad Economy.” He has also been featured on the legendary radio station WOL with his weekly minute motivational segments. Matthew is also a regular contributor the Internet’s leading motivational e-zine: Let’s Talk Motivation Matthew will bring any event to life! Matthew is available for speeches, radio and television interviews, and book signings. All who encounter Matthew C. Horne will leave with a heightened awareness of their limitless possibilities, and be positioned to live their Best Life Possible. Follow Matthew C. Horne at and


Denisha Jones, News: Education
Denisha Jones received her BS in Early Childhood Education from the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) in 2003. She taught kindergarten in Washington DC before deciding to attend graduate school at Indiana University (IU). There she studied Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis on Early Childhood Education while teaching undergraduate courses in early childhood education and diversity. Currently Denisha is writing her dissertation, planning to defend her work in 2011. Recently she was selected to participate in the 2011-2012 Preparing Future Faculty Fellowship at Howard University. She will be teaching courses in early childhood education at Howard University while completing her dissertation and building her research agenda.


Rita Massey, Photography
Rita was first introduced to photography as a student at Saint Augustine's College when she took an Intro to Photography course as an elective in 2001. However, it was not until she captured a beautiful scenic picture in January of 2004 that she realized her natural gifted eye for photography. After which, she launched her company Level LVM Photography and began to make her camera tell the story of her everyday life; her camera became her voice to the world. Since that day, she has been capturing moments of life and communicating her ideas which focuses on the different aspects of her community and society as a whole.

Because photography is not the only source of artistic vision that Rita has to offer to the world, in 2007 My Level Creations Inc. was born. Level LVM Photography falls under the My Level Creations umbrella. My Level Creations brings the world different aspects of art including photography, graphics, fine art, and apparels. My Level Creations holds the same value as Level LVM and that’s ‘bringing you creations that shine light onto the dark’. My Level’s artistic vision expresses the beauty of life and brings awareness of all facets of life that occurs on a day to day basis in society. It's Rita’s believe that it’s time for individuals to open their eyes to reality and put more focus on information the media has no intentions on showcasing. My Level Creations attempts not only to represent beautiful imagery of life, but a level of personal commitment to inspire change in the world while working toward a high degree of quality.

In addition to being a freelance photographer, she also teaches photography for an after school and summer enrichment program. When she is not at work or out taking pictures, Rita enjoys conversing with others of like minds and experiencing all that life has to offer.


Candace Y.A. Montague, News: Social Issues, Community: Grassroots Giver
Candace Y.A. Montague was born and raised in Washington, D.C.  She graduated from Lincoln University (Pa.) with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She graduated from Trinity University with a Master’s degree in Community Health Education. She has a certificate of advance studies in TESOL from College of Notre Dame in Baltimore.. After watching the documentary Blacks In America in the summer 2008, Candace was struck by an alarming fact.  HIV/AIDS is the number one killer of Black women ages 18-35. Candace decided to fight HIV/AIDS particularly in her native Washington, D. C. where the rates are the highest in the country. Writing is another interest of Candace’s. She sees the written word as “the sword in the fight against ignorance”. Candace enjoys cooking, cooking, and more cooking in her spare time. She also loves to read, and shop. She is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Candace resides in Howard County with her family.


Janessa Mondestin, Harmony: Nutrition
Janessa Mondestin--creator of Better Fit Body, an integrated training and nutrition company--hails from Rockland County, NY as a thirty-something Corporate America escapee gone rogue. She is a certified personal trainer and sports performance nutritionist coaching clients through their body transformations and also competes for the National Physique Committee (NPC) as an athlete. With the support and sponsorship of Muscleology, Janessa provides clients with the best information, training and supplementation to live a balanced life and attain a better fit body. Look forward to seeing more of Janessa Mondestin on the competition stage in 2010 as she is working on a new website, calendars, events and appearances. In 2011 Janessa will bestow another title under her belt: author. She is currently penning a personal growth book based on her life, tentatively titled Becoming You. Contact: [email protected] 


Vernelle Nelson, Harmony: Spirit
Vernelle Nelson is a native of Washington, DC, who lives and writes in South Florida. Her latest book is called Don’t Invite Me to your Pity Party. Misery loves company, and Don’t Invite Me to Your Pity Party tells readers how to avoid the pitfalls that can land them on that slippery slope of feeling sorry for themselves and others when life’s challenges present themselves, blocking the positive energy that is essential to rising above those hardships. Nelson reminds us that “Life happens, bad things happen to good people. Our reactions to these challenges are what make the difference between our staying in the throes of fear and agony or moving on to find peace in our lives.” Her first book, Favorable Conditions, was released last year. In that work, she shows readers how to grow beyond the labels placed upon them by parents, friends, teachers and other authority figures. She contends that many if not all of these labels are not true descriptions of who we are, yet we wear them, eventually taking them on as parts of our own personalities, suppressing our true selves, and opening ourselves up to physical and emotional distress. She is a motivational speaker who presents lectures, workshops and panel discussions to large and small groups upon request. Website: Contact: [email protected]


William R. Patterson, BizTech Wealth Building
William R. Patterson is CEO of The Baron Solution Group and The Warcoffer Capital Group, LLC. He is ranked as the number one Business Motivational Speaker by, and is an internationally-recognized wealth coach and business coach, who has been a featured guest on over 300 television and radio programs. William is a two-time, award-winning lecturer and national bestselling co-author of The Baron Son. His Web site,, is winner of three 2008 Web Awards, including Best Speaker, Best Male Author, and Best Wealth-Building Site. As your wealth coach, world-renowned financial and business expert, William R. Patterson, will personally walk you through how to apply THE BARON SOLUTIONTM model to quickly improve your personal finances or business. THE BARON SOLUTION draws on over 200 proven financial and business accelerators and 500 wealth-building resources to help you rapidly achieve your personal or organizational goals. For more information and coaching on THE BARON SOLUTION Strategies for Wealth and Business Success, please visit: Contact: [email protected]


Lisa Rose, Community: Mission Accomplished
Lisa Rose lives near Detroit, Michigan with her husband and 17-month-old daughter and writes children's books. Look for her mid-grade novel Tia's Better Day about a girl and her mother living in a homeless shelter. Learn more about Lisa at Brown Ink Books, follow her on Twitter or be her friend on Facebook. Contact: [email protected]





Dr. Ivory Toldson, News: Education, Social Issues
Dr. Ivory A. Toldson is a tenured, associate professor at Howard University, Senior Research Analyst for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and Editor-In-Chief of “The Journal of Negro Education.” After completing coursework for a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology at Temple University, Dr. Toldson became a correctional and forensic psychology pre-doctoral intern at the United States Penitentiary. Upon completion, Dr. Toldson joined the faculty of Southern University and became the fourth recipient of the prestigious DuBois Fellowship from the US Department of Justice. He also served as the clinical director of the Manhood Training Village. He has held visiting research appointments at Emory, Drexel, and Morehouse School of Medicine. Web: