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        

Sabrina Catlett

“Reclaiming the Legacy of Art as a Means of Healing & Liberation”


Sabrina LaSha is a multitalented performer and educator from Chicago’s South Side. She has participated in the performing arts since she was 3 years old, singing and acting with Chicago Opera Theater and performing with dozens of other organizations across the country. She has been featured in many shows across the country and performed on hundreds of stages. Sabrina is the founder of Go! Creative Arts Collective in Nashville, Tennessee; co-founder of Nommo Poetry Collective in Chicago, IL; and is an alumni of the Grammy-award winning Fisk Jubilee Singers. Through poetry, song, and storytelling, Sabrina has captivated audiences around the world with boldness and authenticity. Her mission is to encourage people of all walks of life to be their most beautiful selves without apology.

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, CMHC



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, artistically known as Bubba Peace, is a Peace Advocate & Activator working towards self emancipation through reflective songwriting, performances, and poems. As a Kansas State University alumni with a background in American Ethnic Studies and Women’s Studies, he has organized culturally responsive events since 2014 in hopes of facilitating peaceful experiences through authentic expression. Bushenga has partnered or worked on staff with a variety of non-profits advocating for youth and families exposed to violence, folks who were formerly incarcerated, and historically harmed communities. In 2022, Bushenga and his Queen Lover Jahmila Co-Founded B Peace Productions LLC, “to ensure the unheard and misunderstood voices of the world discover pathways for peace”. 

Devin Smith

“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.

Twoana N. Clark-Sheppard, LMHP

“Triggerproof,-How to locate and quiet the internal “alarms”


Twoana N. Clark-Sheppard, Licensed Mental Health Professional and founder of Abundant Living Legacy Life Care is dedicated to supporting women, individuals, families, and communities toward mental, spiritual, and overall wellness through counseling, coaching as well as personal and professional development. She also travels regularly to provide mediation, counsel, and crisis intervention to a wide variety of Individuals in Leadership in both Church & business institutions. She proudly serves as a member of the Pastor Serve organization.

Twoana has over 22 years in the social service and counseling field.  She is currently a Licensed Mental Health Professional in private practice where she specializes in Trauma-informed Care as well as therapeutic coaching.  She is also a certified Level II Coach and Professional Development Specialist who regularly volunteers her time to champion the causes of underserved individuals and families across Kansas City and surrounding areas.


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.

Natasha Ria El-Scari

“Mama Sutra”: Reclaiming the Sexual Self through Exposing Taboos”


Natasha Ria El-Scari is the author of five books and 4 CDs. She owns and operates the Natasha Ria Art Gallery and is the founder and curator of Black Space Black Art. When she isn’t being her artist self she serves as the UMKC Women’s Center Director. For more information: www.natasharia.com

Sgt Darnell JuJu

Black Love and Trauma”


After eight years of active duty as a Marine, Darrell Julu enlisted in the U.S. Army National Guard. Additionally, Darrell knew that he wanted to help rehabilitate and guide troubled youth, so he joined the New Jersey Department of Corrections as a Juvenile Correctional Officer.

Afterwards, Darrell became active duty in the U.S. Army and was deployed to war-torn parts of the world, including Afghanistan and Iraq. During Darrell’s nine years of service, he sustained physical injuries and, for the first time in his military career, began dealing with the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Through his challenges with PTSD and recovery through therapy, “Sgt. Julu” has an evolved philosophy about rehabilitation.

Sgt. Julu’s married Jasmine and together they help families grow through trauma. Jasmine is a case manager in Wyandotte County and currently a graduate school student at Park University for Social Work.






Pastor Jerome & Evelyn Foster

“Your Mind, Your Health, Your Faith”


Dr. Jerome is a former Kansas City, Missouri Police Officer of (10 years of service), and former Community Safety Initiative Coordinator for Swope Community Builders (8 years of service). Currently, he serves as a part of the armed security team for Black & Veatch, for the past 8 years. Dr. Jerome is also the proud Owner and Operator of Fosters Transformation as a personal Trainer.

Dr. Evelyn Foster has been a Master Esthetician and Esthetic Instructor for over 10 years. She currently teaches at Summit Salon Academy as lead Esthetic Instructor and Counselor and has worked as a Makeup Artist for over 38 years. She is the Owner and Operator of Faces by Eve KC, LLC. where she specializes in “All things Skin!”

Together they have served as minsters and youth pastors for over 34 years, and in 2017 began their ministry – New Dimensions of Praise Christian Fellowship, where they serve as Senior Pastor, and Co-Pastor.

They recieved their Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorates in Scriptural Psychology and Pastoral Theology from Faith Bible College International. They currently serve as evening educators at college.


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.