Our Speakers and Performers


James Harris, CMHC, LPC

James Harris, attended St Paul’s College and has a BA in Psychology. After his freshman year, he joined the Army. James has eight years of service with an Honorable Discharge. He has two deployments one to Iraq and one to Afghanistan. After his military duty, he earned a MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) from South University. He is a License Mental Health Professional, (LPC). He is a member of The Omega Psi Phi Inc Fraternity, Chi Sigma Iota Honor Society (CSI), American Counselors Association (ACA), Richmond Area Counselors Association (RACA) and board member of National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI-CVA) and the Co-Chair of DEI for a DOD agency.

James is an Adjunct Professor at Virginia State University (VSU) and he is a multi-entrepreneur in Richmond VA. He works in community-based services in the inner cities, sits on Family Assessment Planning Team (F.A.P.T) meetings for Dep of Social Services (DSS) and at schools. He works in private practice and has started an international movement called “Men to Heal”.

“Men to Heal” assist men to focus on their overall wellness, MENtal, emotional, and physical HEALth. He conducts sessions on various topics involving boys/men and MENtal HEALth. Feel free to stroll his page to purchase a shirt, get familiar or to see him with celebrities, athletes and politicians who are in support of the movement. James conducts speaking engagements for various companies, nonprofits, colleges, universities and has done engagements in many states and a host of countries and he has a TEDx Talk.

James owns The HEALing Hub (@the_healing_hub-rva) which offers outpatient therapy, massages, yoga, mindfulness, seminars (financial literacy, first time homebuying, veteran seminars, voter education, restoration of rights, LGBTQ+ to name a few) toiletry drives, school supply drives and feed the less fortunate every third Saturday.


Breakout Session Facilitators        

Alexandria Gurley

“Vison to See Past 20/20”


Alex Tha Great (Given Real Encouragement Amongst Turmoil) is an accomplished speaker, spoken word artist, educator, and diversity, equity, and inclusion trainer. She is the co-founder and host of Random Xpressions, a monthly open mic venue space. A graduate of the University of California, Irvine with a B.A. in African American Studies, and Claremont Graduate University with a M.A. in Cultural Studies, she is now in service to others in the field with her scholarship program the Alex Tha Great Award for Black Studies Scholars. Her poems have been published in several journals including The Cookout, Illya’s Honey, The Voices Project, The Legendary, and Linden Avenue. Her one woman show Passport to Womanhood was awarded Best One Woman Show by the Houston Fringe Festival. She is the author of three books including the forthcoming titled Weeping in Public Spaces (2022). Her most gracious job is being mother to a vivacious 5-year-old little girl and is balanced by a self-care routine involving peanut M & M’s, prayer, and much needed naps.  She lives by the motto: Whatever you do, let it be bold

Wesley Frazier-Keys

“Can Health Be Inspired”


Wesley Frazier-Keys is a spoken work artist and native of the south side of Chicago. He has used the art of poetry and spoken word to take him all over the country teaching, workshopping, and competing. In 2014 he was initiated as a member of Nu Gamma Psi Fraternity, incorporated, where he currently holds the title of national step master. He is the 2015 Chicago Grand Slam champion and finished 9th out 200 poets at the 2015 Southern Fried poetry festival. In 2018 he repeated as Chicago Grand Slam champion and coached the team representing Chicago at the National Poetry Slam. During the 2021 Southern Fried festival he made it to the finals and placed 8th out of 150 poets. Most recently he participated in the Black Arts Matter Invitational competing against the top Black poets from across the country and finished 9th out of 48 poets. He is the 2022 Blackberry Peach spoken word winner. Writing and performing became a passion for Wesley at a young age and he cannot wait to see where the world leads him on his spoken word journey.

Amy R. Miller, MBA, LPC

It’s All of Our Business-Be R.A.W in Chaos


Amy R. Miller earned her second master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from the University of Missouri – St. Louis in May 2017. Amy has provided counseling services in the office as well as in home sessions. Amy has worked with clients that have severe mental health diagnosis, clients that have issues with memory loss, generational/environmental trauma (which would include all types of abuse), clients in unhealthy relationships, clients with issues with self-esteem, as well as clients with suicidal ideation.

Amy has a passion to work with teenagers, women, and families that have been affected by trauma. Amy’s personal philosophy is that there is good in everyone. Sometimes we all need a little help to bring the good to the surface. Amy uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy mostly, and some play and music therapy techniques to assist clients with their healing. Amy is also certified to provide relationship trauma repair (RTR) as well as trauma informed services.


Bushenga AaronAli

Reconstructing Black Boy Joy

Bushenga AaronAli, creatively known as Bubba Peace, is a curious Peace Advocate, Artist, Educator, Mindfulness Practitioner and the Founder of Peace Medi Moves – a program that aspires to develop compassionate beings through wellness disciplines, mindfulness, and martial arts.
Born in Oakland, California, Bushenga committed to his journey of Peace Advocacy and Mindfulness after experiencing various traumas, deep depressions, and witnessing the murder of his Uncle Mikel McIntyre by police via social media. Over time, Bubba Peace discovered music, poetry, mindfulness, martial arts, and being immersed in nature were necessary tools to maintain a healthy lifestyle. When he speaks to crowds, or barefoot walks on college campuses, he invites authentic expression and opportunities for others to practice being brave.

Devin Smith, Life Coach

“Sit in Your Ish”

Founder of Lifted KC, a nonprofit that focuses on mental health awareness and Life Coach.

Devin is certified by the State of Missouri as a Peer Specialist where she began her journey of coaching those directly affected with mental illness, facilitating classes and training that provided an alternative to living in the trauma cycle and later becoming a facilitator for the Mental Health First Aid program.

Devin uses her life experiences for the last 6 years as an advocate for mental health while encouraging those to seek support.

Frederick Johnson, PLPC, MPA, EDMR Certified

“More Black People Should Be Eaten by Sharks”

Frederick Johnson, founder of Diversify U, is a program director and mental health therapist with 25 years of experience providing services for youth, families, veterans, and persons experiencing homelessness. Fred is also a combat veteran, having served in Operation Iraqi Freedom as a Supply Sergeant with his Army Ranger Unit. Diversify U is a capacity building firm specializing in program development and culturally sensitive curriculum encouraging out of the box thinking and creative alternatives.Additionally, he currently works as a school-based therapist, providing intensive services and teaching Social-Emotional Learning classes.

Born and raised in Chicago, Fred attended high school and college in Iowa. He holds a BA degree in Public Administration and an MPA degree in Public Administration with an emphasis on nonprofit management from Upper Iowa University. Post military he moved to Kansas City with his wife Hanna and two children, Darian, and Marion, and completed his MA degree in Counseling from Midwestern Baptist Seminary. 

Brittany McCrary, LCSW

“Influence of Fatherlessness in Children in African American Homes”

Brittany McCrary is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (MO) , Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker (KS) and the owner and founder of Heal One, LLC in Kansas City, MO. Heal One offers mental health services and holistic alternatives, including psychotherapy services (Genesis Counseling & Consulting). Ms. McCrary is passionate about serving and guiding others toward healing. She believes that practicing holism is essential to achieving optimal wellness.

Ms. McCrary is a graduate of Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (Bachelor of Arts) and Loyola University Chicago (Master of Social Work – Child & Family). She has been serving others in the social service field for 15 years and gained a special interest in the mental health field after working closely with pregnant women and adolescents. Ms. McCrary is committed to reducing mental health stigma by providing education and facilitating conversations that address mental illness and the importance of holism.  Her passions include mental health in women and the black community, as well as health and wellness.





Marcus Miller, PLPC

“Tainted: A Mental Health Conversation Around Shame versus Acceptance Concerning Queer Identities”

Marcus Miller is from the small town of Marianna, AR in which he graduated Top 10 of his class in 2005. He then went on to attend the University of Central Arkansas where he remained a top student, mentor, and leader on campus. He graduated from the university in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in Sociology and 2 years later a second Bachelors in Family and Consumer Science. After going through life’s journey, he finally adhered to his life’s path and applied and was granted admission into Webster University to study Clinical Mental Health Counseling in 2015.

During his student training at Webster, he chose the KHAOS Program to Intern for. He was able to work with all age groups and even assisted with the development of a Mental Health school-based class for the SLPS. Marcus graduated and is now PLPC (Provisional License Professional Counselor). His background now includes work with trauma, Solution-Focused therapy around classroom behavior, clinical intake assessing for emergency departments and LGBTQ+/allyship mental wellness. Marcus has spoken at conferences, developed community wellness groups and continues to strive for the bridging and betterment of the Saint Louis Metropolitan area. He is the Founder of a GLO for queer black men, Theta Pi Upsilon Fraternity, Inc. His jobs currently include Therapist with Boys & Girls Club of American Teen Center of Excellence through A&A Inspirations and Mental Health Professional (School Therapist) for KIPP High School.

April Lucas Dixon, MS, LPC, LCPC

 April Dixon is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the state of MO and a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) in KS.  She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 2002 and completed her Master’s of Science program in Counseling Psychology in 2008. She is an adjunct professor of psychology at the undergraduate and graduate level at several colleges and universities in the Greater KC area.

April has been working in the field of mental health for more than 20 years and has extensive experience working with youth and adults with behavioral and emotional difficulties including depression, anxiety, and substance abuse issues.  She has received specialized training in treating trauma and working with issues related to grief and loss. April is an advocate for mental health being accessible to all communities. As a woman of color, she understands the importance of examining how the trauma of systemic racism impacts the individual and collective mental health of those in the African American community. Her passion has caused her to be a leading educator in the field with a focus on increasing mental health awareness and reducing the stigma connected to therapy and other mental health services.


Obbie West

Emotional Intelligence”


Obbie West is a native of Los Angeles, a retiree from the United States Army. Obbie is an International Spoken Word artist. He is the author and writer of a Poetry book entitled Blossom and a Poetry album entitled Unstable Man Obbie’s life with Poetry began in 2011 in Killeen, TX under the tutoring of the Killeen Poetry Slam Team. He travels the world, presenting life depicting Poetry on a variety of topics. He also uses Poetry as a form of a social activism. Obbie has invested a personal and sincere interest in bringing awareness to tabu topics, like sexual assault. Poetry isn’t something I do, it’s WHO I AM! Poetry is 1st & foremost my liberation; 2nd, my bullhorn for topics society has elected to keep quiet. I’m a conduit for the tongue tied. If you want to know more…JUST LISTEN!!!”

Dr. Deborah Wilcox, PhD

“Generating Whole Person Well-being Within the LGBTQ+ Community”


Dr. Wilcox is the Founder/ Chief Executive Officer of Confluency Consultants and Associates, a consultancy enterprise that provides comprehensive Multicultural Organizational Development and Holistic Health and Wellness Coaching services. The primary mission of her consultancy is to integrate multicultural competency into organizational life by bringing people together across cultural differences in the workplace and within communities. Also, to assist organizations in learning how to work through complex issues and engage in effective decision making through sustained deliberative dialogue. Dr. Wilcox has provided consultation and education/ training services with over 100 organizations within multi sectors, and numerous professional development workshops and engaged in numerous applied research projects.

Dr. Wilcox holds a Doctorate Degree in Education (PhD); master’s degree (M.Ed.) in Community Clinical Counseling from Kent State University Graduate College of Education, Department of Counseling and Human Development. She also has a master’s degree in public administration (M.P.A) from the School of Business and Management at Kent State University, and a Bachelor of Arts Degree (BA) in Sociology and Political Science from Fisk University, Nashville, TN.

Ryan Harvey

ROJ Motivational Speaker


Ryan S Harvey, founder of The Strongest Man in the Room, personal development specialist, public speaker, author but his most accomplished title is SINGLE FATHER. With all the trauma and obstacles, Ryan knows better than anyone what it’s like to create yourself out of nothing. From having experience in concurring the justice system and winning full custody of his daughter that was threatened to be subjected to the family court system; Ryan then learned the true meaning of being a MAN. Having suffered from an intense amount of adversity, including not having an actual role model until he became an adult, created experiences in his younger years where he bumped his head. Those lessons eventually created wisdom that allowed him to use his voice to inspire, motivate and empower one to be their best.

Ryan has created curriculums for both the homeless as well as for alternative schools for the youth. He has also held a position as an educator in alternative schools. Ryan has used his voice to tell his story to thousands. Countless lives have been impacted by the messages delivered, the mentoring and coaching services offered through The Strongest Man in the Room.

Tiara Patterson

“Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) Tools Session”

Tiara Patterson is a literary and performing artist with a heart for youth development. She founded an arts company called Project 1311 and has dedicated her art and life to serving those that often go voiceless.

Tiara was born and raised in Kansas City, MO, is a high school graduate of Kansas City Public Schools. A busy mom, and a spoken word artist, she competes in local slams and is a part of the host team for Arsyn Spit Fire Open Mic Nights.

She has led many youth groups and dance teams helping them to learn how to connect their spirit and body, helping them to find their voice through the empowerment of knowledge and poetry, and teaching them how words translate to body movement and back again.

While she is undeniably talented, she has a passion for behind the scenes work and has managed countless events, stage plays, and productions.



Chandra Green, MBA, LMFT, LCLMFT

Black Love and Trauma”


Chandra Green has been an advocate for the wellbeing and holistic health of her community for over 15 years. With a focus on human rights and trauma, Ms. Green has worked as a community educator, case manager and therapist for those experiencing domestic violence and various types of abuse and trauma. She provides trauma informed leadership coaching as the CEO of SoulMine LLC and is the Director of Alive and Thrive Wyandotte County, which focuses on awareness and education of ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences), Pair of ACEs, and trauma in Wyandotte County. 

Aja La'Starr Owens

“Changing the Question”

Aja La’Starr is a former Jennings councilwoman, former congressional outreach representative, author, poet, emcee, trauma educator and peer specialist from St.  Louis, Missouri.  She received her bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Xavier University of Louisiana and her MBA from University of Phoenix.  Aja is a change agent that has dedicated her life to utilizing creative arts to promote healing in the community. In addition to publishing 13 books, she has helped more than 30 authors publish their own books.   She has opened up for Jill Scott, Mary J. Blige, 50 Cents, Da Brat appeared on BET, ABC, Fox 2 News, KDSK, KMOX, KMOV, St. Louis Public Radio, Riverfront Times, St. Louis American, St. Louis Post Dispatch and served as a casting judge for American Idol.  Some of her most recent accolades include receiving St. Louis Black Pride’s Lifetime Achievement Award and becoming a Delux Power 100 honoree.  She currently serves as an Admissions Counselor for Harris-Stowe State University, the only HBCU in St. Louis, Missouri.

Featured Performers         

Taalam Acey

JoyUs Gala Feature


“You have so, so much inspired me with your Spoken Word” said the legendary Stevie Wonder, while interviewing Taalam Acey, during Wonder’s own birthday celebration in May 2008. Taalam, a child of the Newark Rebellion, was raised by a single mother who served as a member of the famed writer and activist Imamu Amiri Baraka’s community organization. Acey is an independent artist whose work has been featured frequently on TV One as well as the Documentary Channel and was selected as the original “number one thing you need to know about” on BET’s countdown show, “The 5ive.” Over the years, BET has featured and aired roughly a half dozen segments featuring Taalam Acey. The Newark, NJ native’s poetry has appeared in Essence Magazine and Susan Taylor, the magazine’s Editor Emeritus, personally invited Acey to perform for an audience of six thousand at The Essence Music Festival in New Orleans. Acey was a curator of the 2012 Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival (the largest poetry gathering in North America) and was selected as the initial presenter for the inaugural Baltimore TEDx.  He was also the guest curator of the 2011 Sacred Circle Cafe at New Jersey’s most prestigious theater, the NJ Performing Arts Center.



Jass R Couch

JoyUs Gala Feature


Jass is a vocalist, poet, instrumentalist, and creative from Kansas City, MO.  She was introduced to music at a very young age, through church choir and school band. She has been writing, producing, and performing my own music since 2019, but has always written poems, short stories, and songs when she was a kid. Since Jass started sharing my original works, she’s gotten the privilege to sing at many local venues, open for several national recording artists, and many of the amazing artists here in Kansas City. It has been a great joy to share my art and she is so excited for the opportunity to go further and represent my city.


Royce "Sauce" Handy

JoyUs Gala Feature


Royce Handy is a man who wears many hats — from his solo emcee project They Call Me Sauce and hip-hop collective NuBlvckCity, to his work as a community organizer. He and bandmate Kartez Marcel co-founded the We Are R.A.P. (Real and Positive) Hip Hop Education Workshop, which aims to equip teens with positive avenues of expression through a medium they enjoy. In these multi-week workshops, students gain literary and creative writing techniques, music theory, performance, recording tips and marketing strategies.

Ed Mabrey

JoyUs Gala Host


Ed Mabrey, actor, author, and speaker, exemplifies the modern-day renaissance artist.  From the script to the screen and the page to the stage, Ed captivates, motivates, and promulgates the performing arts. He is accepted as the greatest poet in the history of poetry slam with over 500 wins in his career, including 4 individual world titles and 6 consecutive individual regional titles.

From 2017 through 2020, Ed has been commissioned to perform at the Freedom Award ceremony and event. He is a Watering Hole Graduate Fellow, Scioto Retreat Cohort, a Pushcart Nominee, and a contributing author to a New York Times bestselling anthology. Also, Ed is a two-time TEDx speaker and the 2019 APCA Spoken Word Artist of the Year. He is an NAACP Image award nominee and Emmy nominee. Ed has been on Verses and Flow (TV One), as well as appearing on ABC, FOX, HBO All Def Digital, Crackle, CNN, and C-SPAN.  Also, he has been a voice actor of companies ranging from the Ohio State Medical Center to Lexus.

Roscoe Burnems

Slam Feature


Richmond Virginia native, Douglas Powell/Roscoe Burnems is a poet, published author, spoken-word artist, poetry slam champion, comedian, educator, father, husband, and Richmond, VA’s inaugural poet laureate, who has dedicated his craft to entertaining and educating.

Art of Surrender Performers       

One Single Rose

One Single Rose Bio

Rosemarie Wilson a.k.a. One Single Rose is an award-winning poet and playwright, spoken word artist, singer, actress, filmmaker, author of three self-published poetry collections, nice and naughty chapbooks. Rosemarie is the first poet to be filmed in Motown’s infamous Studio A and the first Motown Mic Performance Artist of the Year. Debuting in Detroit as an actor, she has performed nationally and internationally in a few amazing productions. Her notable performances include singing the National Anthem at a Detroit Piston’s game, TMZ Live commentary cast member, SoFar Detroit performing artist, the Floacist’s Flovertex and Sidewalk Festivals of the Performing Arts in Detroit, MI, Kistrech Poetry Festival in Kisii and Nairobi, Kenya, Piton International Film Festival in St. Lucia, International Videopoetry Festival in Athens, Greece as well as a one-year tour in Europe. She is currently a featured artist and songwriter dubbed Queen Rose with Defected Records, the United Kingdom’s #1 house music record label. Find her streaming on all platforms as One Single Rose or Queen Rose. She is also the first poet published under the Broadside-Lotus Press merger, two of the oldest African American presses in the United States. As a poetry host, she has hosted various open mics as well as performed for local and international dignitaries.  For more information on One Single Rose, visit www.onesinglerose.com to peek into her rose garden.

Bobby "Phree" Williams Jr.

Phree Bio

Bobby “Phree” Williams Jr is a creative at heart hailing from Alton, IL. From fashion to public speaking. Creativity is always connected to his expression. He channels his creativity through his spoken word poetry, hosting, public speaking, and visual arts by way of painting on anything he feels connected to. His work is vulnerable and thought provoking. As a member of the nationally ranked St. Louis Poetry SLAM team, he has toured throughout the country performing in various cities. He is featured in the film, Poetry in Motion: St. Louis Poets Take the Mic. 


Mashavu Bio

Mashavu is a singer/songwriter born and raised in Chicago. Her style can be described as a Neo Soul/Jazz/RnB fusion with some Gospel and hip-hop nuances. She has graced many stages including The Bantu Fest and the Black Excellence Awards. Mashavu is a Multifaceted Creator with a specialty in “Feeding the Soul” Vocally and through Word. Her Mission is to bring Love back to the forefront of the music industry and the world.