Guest Speakers & Performers

  • Biography

    Sheryl Lee Ralph has never been one to rest on her laurels. A triple threat Dreamgirl, Ralph is an acclaimed veteran of film, television and the Broadway stage.  Her award-winning work includes creating the role of Deena Jones in the legendary Broadway musical, “Dreamgirls,” which earned her Best Actress nods for Tony and Drama Desk Awards. She returned to Broadway for a 12-month stint in the Tony-award winning musical, “Thoroughly Modern Millie,’ creating the role of sassy chanteuse Muzzy Van Hossmere to rave reviews.  Ralph has just wrapped the NBC series SMASH where she plays “mom-ager” to Jennifer Hudson.  As an author her critically acclaimed book Redefining DIVA (Simon & Schuster) is a New York Times best seller.

    No stranger to television, Ralph’s credits include “It’s a Living,” “Designing Women,” and most notably, “Moesha” for which TV Guide named her one of TV’s best Mom’s and was nominated for seven Image Awards.  Sheryl has shared the big screen with some of Hollywood’s award-winning leading men with film credits that include “The Mighty Quinn” with Denzel Washington; “Mistress” with Robert de Niro; “The Distinguished Gentlemen” with Eddie Murphy and “To Sleep With Anger” with Danny Glover for which Ralph picked up a win for Best Supporting Actress at the Independent Spirit Awards for her critically acclaimed performance. Her latest film, Christmas in Compton with Omar Gooding and Eric Roberts premieres Nov 9th across country.

    Finding success in writing and directing, Ralph’s award-winning short film, “Secrets,” co-starring award-winning actress Alfre Woodard and Robin Givens was a finalist in the HBO Film Short Competition, Showtime’s Filmmaker Award Series, and the BET Filmmaker Award Competition. The film was also selected as the audience favorite at the Outfest Film Festival. “Secrets” was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, as well as the Hollywood Film Festival, the Acapulco Film Festival and the Urban World Film Festival.

    About the DIVA Foundation
    The DIVA Foundation is a national nonprofit 501c (3) charitable organization founded by Sheryl Lee Ralph in 1990 as a memorial to the many friends she lost to HIV/AIDS while in the original Broadway company of Dreamgirls. The organization focuses on generating resources and coordinating activities to create awareness of and combat against HIV/AIDS. The DIVA Foundation utilizes music and entertainment as a vehicle to inform, educate and erase the stigma still attached to this disease. In 2005, Sheryl Lee Ralph and the DIVA Foundation received the first Red Ribbon Leadership Award at the United Nations on World AIDS Day for the unique


  • About Our Vice-Mayor

    Vice-Mayor Lisa C. Davis has been a vital and community oriented resident of the City of Miami Gardens for over 34 years. She is a graduate of Miami Norland Senior High School, and is currently pursuing a degree in Business Administration at Miami-Dade Community College.

    Currently, she is the CEO/Founder of Dare2dream International. However, her community service did not start when she was elected to the Miami Gardens City Council, August 2010. Early on Vice-Mayor Davis recognized the importance of giving back to her community. Through social service based organizations she took on the challenge of quality of life issues and worked with at-risk youth, as well as young single mothers, helping many to become self-sufficient.

    Davis' professional career in social services has spanned over 25 years: CEO of Bold New Vision Community Development Corporation, Beckham Hall Homeless Shelter, South Florida Workforce, Movers Inc., OTAC Youth Counselor.

    Professional Affiliations includes: Vice President of Black Elected Officials of Miami-Dade County; Member Miami-Dade League of Cities and Board of Director Member of Sharp Towers.

    Vice-Mayor Lisa C. Davis' favorite quote: "It is so important that we lead by example; let my work speak for what I do!"

    Vice-Mayor Lisa C. Davis represents Residential Area Seat 2, which encompasses: Northern Boundary: NW 215th Street; Eastern Boundary: NE 2nd Avenue, south to NW 199th Street; Southern Boundary: NW 183rd Street; Western Boundary: Florida Turnpike, north to NW 199th Street, west to NW 27th Avenue, north to NW 215th Street.


    Born and raised in the area that has become The City of Miami Gardens, Councilwoman Felicia Robinson is a community activist that has been effecting change in the Miami Dade Public School System for over 16 years. Ms. Robinson graduated from North Miami Beach Senior High School, Tuskegee University, and the University of Miami. She holds a Bachelor's Degree and Master's Degree in Mathematics.

    Ms. Robinson is lifelong educator, who chose the teaching profession because she believes that lasting change in a community must come through the achievements of our children. Ms. Robinson prides herself on putting people before politics, this coupled with her analytical and problem-solving background provides her with the tools to develop creative and unique ideas to solve complex problems.

    Ms. Robinson was elected to represent City of Miami Gardens, Residential Seat 4, in August of 2010.

  • Greater Fort Lauderdale

    The basis of "Stay-A-Day" is to ask all visitors and conference attendees traveling to or within the US to add an extra day or more to their itinerary and: visit an African-American cultural and/or heritage site; dine at an Ethnic Eatery; and purchase items from African-American retail stores, artists and craft artisans.

    Additionally, the program suggests, if possible: book travel/tours with an African-American Travel Agent, Tour Operator; stay at a Black-owned hotel or bed and breakfast; and worship at an African-American Church

    The Herberts will drive home the point that an estimated $367.1 million in revenue would be added to the US economy each day if all international visitors extended their travel experience in this country. And that approximately $1.8 billion a day would be generated if all domestic travelers included an additional day in their itineraries. Imagine the economic impact possibilities if a fare share of these dollars found their way into our community.


    The NPA is composed of 13 organizations, including the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF), Blacks in Government (BIG), National Bar Association (NBA), National Black Caucus of State Legislator (NBCSL), , National Black Caucus of State Legislators Foundation (NBCSLF), National Association of Black County Officials (NABCO), National Organization of Black County Officials, Inc. (NOBCO), National Conference of Black Mayors (NCBM), National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials (NBC0LEO), National Black Caucus of School Board Members (NBC), and World Conference of Mayors (WCM).

    In addition to the Town Hall Meeting, a number of events have been specifically designed for NPA delegates, including a city tour that will showcase Fort Lauderdale's meeting and conference product, as well as provide an opportunity for participants to experience the city's African-American history, culture and attractions. There will also be a private business meeting between NPA attendees and representatives from GFLCVB and the Westin Diplomat to explore the possibility of bringing NPA meetings and conventions to the Fort Lauderdale area. To facilitate this dialogue, NPA members will submit RFPs to the Bureau prior to their arrival.The hosted buyer program gets under way on Thursday afternoon, March 13 when Black Meetings & Tourism publishers/editors Solomon and Gloria Herbert set the tone for the 5-day program by delivering opening remarks to NPA delegates and invited guests about the publication's "Stay-A-Day, See Our USA" initiative, which was launched in September of 2012.

  • About Her Book

    The focus of the town hall meeting, organized by Black Meetings & Tourism, the official publication of the NPA, will be "Building Jobs And Entrepreneurial Opportunities Through Tourism Initiatives." The panel will include three representatives from NPA - Mayor James Walls, Jr., president of World Conference of Mayors and mayor, City of District Heights, MD, Judge Denise Langford Morris, chair - Judicial Council, National Bar Association, and Darlene Young, national president, Blacks in Government - as well as Albert Tucker, vice president of Multicultural Business Development for GFLCVB, Andy Ingraham, president/CEO of the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers, Matt Thomas, board member of the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce (that has called for a boycott of San Francisco's tourism/meetings industry), and a local Florida elected official, still to be determined. Gloria Herbert, associate publisher/editor of Black Meetings & Tourism will serve as moderator.

  • The purpose of "Stay-A-Day…See Our USA" is to help revitalize the overall travel industry, contribute to creating jobs in African-American communities, stimulate the nation's economy, and just as importantly, expose travelers worldwide, to the enormous cultural impact that people of African descent have made in this country.

    After the Herberts' opening remarks, the GFLCVB's Tucker will make a brief presentation to the NPA delegates and assembled guests, after which a discussion period and networking session will follow.

    While the major thrust of this hosted buyer program is business related, NPA attendees will also have the pleasure of attending Jazz in the Gardens festivities on Saturday and Sunday. LL Cool J, Jamie Foxx, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Trey Songz, Kelly Rowland, Mint Condition, Anthony Hamilton, Stanley Clarke, Rachelle Farrell and Boney James round out the popular annual event's lineup, with D. L. Hughley set to host.

    For information about having Black Meetings & Tourism organize a hosted buyer program for your destination or venue, contact project manager Victoria Head at (818) 709-0646 or

  • About Her Book

    Black Meetings & Tourism (BM&T) has partnered with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau (GFLCVB) to bring members of the National Policy Alliance (NPA) to this popular Florida city famous for its beaches, arts and culture for a hosted buyer program. Scheduled for March 13-17 at headquarters hotel Westin Diplomat Fort Lauderdale, about a dozen top association executives and meeting planners from the NPA will descend on Fort Lauderdale from around the nation to participate in a two-part Town Hall Meeting with local elected officials and representatives from the business, religious, hospitality and meetings communities.

  • Biography

    A multiple Emmy-Award winning broadcast and print journalist, producer, motivational speaker and entreprenuer, Julia Yarboughhas has brought viewers nightly news reports, most recently with AL JAZEERA AMERICA and in the anchor chair in the studios of NBC6-WTVJ, in Miami, KCBS2 in Los Angeles, and WSVN, South Florida. Julia also focuses on producing short documentaries for individuals and organizations.

    Julia has received numerous awards, including the N.A.T.A.S. Emmy and The Sunshine State Award from The Society of Professional Journalists.

    Julia launched Julia Yarbough Media Group, LLC following the creation of the hit online pltaform based on her 26 state, cross-country road trip called Highway to a Husband; a journey to find “Mr. Right." The quest to "find Mr. Right" resulted in Julia appearing on NBC's The Today Show, CNN and The Nate Berkus Show allowing Julia to serve as a contributor to the show.

    Highway to a Husband motivates fans to Create Change in their own lives and is the inspiration for the forthcoming Highway to a Husband book, seminars and consultations focused on Creating Change in one’s life, living Authentically, Facing Fears and Being You!

  • Biography

    With more than fifteen years of experience in strategy, operations, management consulting, and executive coaching; Matthew Levy is the Chief Catalyst of Results Management Group, a management consulting and executive coaching firm that supports executives and management teams to achieve new levels of results. 

    As a member of the Highway to a Husband Motivational Team, Levy draws on years of executive coaching expertise to lead individuals toward more fulfilling personal relationships. By applying many of the same techniques he recommends to improve communication and interactions in the workplace, Levy teaches participants how to take unique, actionable steps to enhance, strengthen and Create Change in both their workplace and personal relationships.

    Mr. Levy is an engaging consultant and discussion leader, recognized for his ability to productively support and challenge clients to see past unproductive mental models and communicate in a way that inspires and changes outcomes.

  • Biography

    Silva Harapetian is an award-winning journalist, television personality, author and successful entrepreneur.

    She has launched two successful online businesses that have attracted national and international attention:, and is currently working to launch

    As a television personality she has appeared on NBC's "Today Show" with Kathie Lee & Hoda and been a regular contributor to nationally syndicated talk show, “The Nate Berkus Show.” She has been featured as a relationship expert on television, radio, print and online news programs across the country. Silva specializes in the art of reinvention and has been called upon as a consultant, expert and speaker by private and public organizations.

    “My journey has allowed me the gift to teach and help people how to overcome fear and achieve their goals.”


  • Biography

    President & CEO of MBS Consulting Services Inc., Marcia Barry-Smith is an award-winning and influential South Florida Power Broker with an illustrious career of accomplishments. Serving as a BankAtlantic Senior Vice President with over 25 years in the field of banking and finance, Barry-Smith is a passionate philanthropist and and community leader, creating and leading programs to tackle social issues such as homelessness, creating affordable housing, foster care outreach and women’s safety in the field of domestic violence awareness.
    As part of the Highway to a Husband team, Barry-Smith speaks to women about the often overlooked issue of how the relationship you have with yourself can make or break a solid relationship with your finances.

    For more information on MBS Consulting services and to reach Marcia Barry-Smith:


  • Biography

    The owner of Physical Excellence Coaching, Terrence Thomas has helped thousands of clients, patients and athletes achieve higher levels of health, fitness and physical performance. As a CHECK Practitioner and Holistic Lifestyle Coach, Terrence now coaches his clients in the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of their lives.

    As a member of the Highway to a Husband Motivational Team, Terrence applies his years of experience to assist participants in recognizing the connection between their physical and inner spiritual strength and their ability to build and maintain healthy and positive personal relationships.


  • JASMINE SANDERS is a rare find. In an entertainment world of superficiality and inflated egos, this fabulous, beautiful, down-to-earth diva’s talent is undeniable. Her voice can be heard in over 50 markets across the country as Co-Host of the Nationally Syndicated D.L Hughley. She was also seen weekly in over 20 million households nationwide as Co-Host of Centric TV’s lifestyle show, “Culture List”. 

    With over 15 years of media experience, including a highly rated Midday show at New York’s legendary WBLS, JASMINE has been consistently making a name for herself. This award-winning broadcast talent was co-host of the formally nationally syndicated "Skip Murphy In The Afternoon" and “Afternoon Jam Session” with Brian McKnight and was a staple on radio stations in other major cities. Known for her infectious personality and her knack to make even the most private celebrities feel comfortable, JASMINE has interviewed countless A-listers including Usher, Beyonce, Miguel, Jamie Foxx, Laurence Fishburne, LeBron James and Steve Harvey just to name a few. 

    In her hometown of Nashville, she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism & Political Science. JASMINE has been featured as music expert and pop-culture pundit for Billboard Magazine, WTFV/CBS News Channel 5 and WTVC/ABC News Channel 9.

    JASMINE has been featured in Black Radio Exclusive, Urban Radio Nation, AOL’s Black Voices, BV Black Spin, Sister 2 Sister, Black America Web, The Urban Buzz, Fitness Professionals and various other internet/ print publications. She has been the recipient of various career achievement awards including being named at the top of Girl’s Incorporated’s “Most Influential Women” list. She also received the “Executive to Watch” Award from NABFEME (National Association of Black Female Executives in Music & Entertainment).

  • Biography

    Born and raised in Miami, Florida to Honduran parents, Karina Iglesias’ sound mirrors the diverse musical and cultural influences that have shaped her character and forged her individuality as an artist. With a style equally informed by rhythm & blues, boleros, gospel and hip‐hop Karina delivers her performances with the intimacy of a deep soul crooner and the conviction and drive of a dauntless female singer/songwriter.

    A veteran of the Miami live music scene, Karina began writing songs in earnest during while working extensively with local bands. It soon became apparent that through composing original material, her true artistic identity had emerged. Her emotionally charged and deeply personal lyrics revealed a depth of character and vulnerability that can only be conveyed when a singer truly connects with their song. On “Song For Her”, from her first album, Karina’s classically‐trained voice unveils the nuances of her lyrics and adds layers of meaning and emotion that are more commonly found in operatic vocal performances.

    In 2009, Karina was chosen to be one out of an eight‐person choir/ensemble hired by the Miami Dolphins (Dolphins Voices) through Emilio Estefan to sing the anthem at all home games. In 2011, Karina sang a duet with Sony Latin Recording Artist, Franco de Vita and was featured in his live DVD album, Primera Fila, which won 2 Latin Grammy Awards. She has also performed with Wyclef Jean, has also been featured on Univision’s Mira Quien Baila, and has shared the stage with Latin artists like Beatriz Luengo, Alejandra Guzmán and Gilberto Santa Rosa to name a few.

    In 2013, Karina was selected to be a top contestant on NBC’s #1 TV Show “The Voice”. Her epic performance of “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” turned into a YouTube sensation overnight and every judge has glowing comments after her performances.


  • Biography

    Nancy Ancrum, appointed Editorial Page Editor in December, has been a member of the Miami Herald's Editorial Board since 1990. She has covered and written editorial opinions on municipal government, healthcare, education and other subjects. As a result of the depth of knowledge she gained in covering these areas, she was frequently asked to appear on local radio and television news programs, and called upon to discuss the controversial Elián González story to a combative Bill O'Reilly.

    In addition, she has worked to enhance the editorial board's presence online. 
    She joined The Miami Herald in 1983, as an editor. Before that, she was an editor for the then-new and trendsetting newspaper USA Today, in Roslyn, Va. There, she worked in the Life section, editing stories on health,  dining, entertainment and way too much Michael Jackson.

    A native of New York, Nancy is a graduate of New York University, where she earned a degree in journalism. Upon graduation, she started her career as an editorial assistant at the Baltimore Evening Sun, now closed, before becoming a copyeditor there.

    During her tenure at The Miami Herald, Nancy held several positions before joining the editorial board, including assistant city editor. In addition to her responsibilities on the board, she also has written stories exploring food and culture, including a  biweekly column, The Cultural Kitchen, and has produced stories for WLRN radio.

  • Biography

    Julie Marie Mansfield is a survivor turned soldier in the war against childhood sexual abuse (CSA). She has armed herself with her powerful voice, activism and a new novel, “Maybe God Was Busy,” a memoir hailed by critics as a major work in furthering the dialogue surrounding childhood sexual abuse and incest. “Maybe God Was Busy” chronicles her own journey from victimhood to survivor to heroine. It is a memoir Mansfield hopes will bring much needed awareness to the pervasiveness and ravages of CSA, particularly in her beloved Jamaica. True to Mansfield’s approach to life, the book also finds ways of expressing the reality of growing up behind the tourist veil of Jamaica, detailing rituals, customs and yes humor even amidst the prevailing subject so dark. And to know Mansfield is to accept that she embodies a simple philosophy, often telling you, “I’ve had some rough patches, I’ve had some great stints. Just as no one’s life is all good all the time, no one’s life is all bad all the time.  I’m no exception. I’ve had a horrific start; how my story ends is entirely up to me, and right now I’m living a fabulous life with gratitude as the foundation.”

    Starting at age eight, Julie was the victim of molestation, incest, rape, violence and abuse, primarily at the hands of her uncles. It’s an abuse that started in Jamaica and ended in the United States, almost a decade later. Then, following the death of her grandfather in 2000, Julie decided to return to ground zero, confronting the genesis of a life of abuse.  An alumna of Morant Bay High School in Jamaica, she went on to graduate Top Scholar and Summa Cum Laude from Temple University where she majored in Journalism, Public Relations & Advertising (JPRA). In the work world Mansfield was the Director of FACE/Special Events and Cultural Grants for the City of Miami; Public Information Director for the City of North Miami; and producer of major events including the 2007 Carifta Games in Turks and Caicos.

    She founded Give Me Dignity ( And now, Mansfield uses the book as a catalyst for discussion, and to bring attention to GMD and its dual mission: 1) Child Sex Abuse Abatement and Rehabilitation programs in the Caribbean, and 2) restoring dignity to homeless women by providing feminine hygiene products.

    Julie Marie Mansfield has forged a major weapon in the fight against one of the greatest atrocities known to humankind. The book “Maybe God Was Busy” is an important literary work that will engage the reader and embolden more soldiers in the fight against childhood sex abuse, and in the fight to end violence against women and children.

  • Biography

    A man is as a man does; not says, hopes, or promises. Derrick Jaxn (Jackson), a native of Enterprise, Alabama, found his purpose in his exceptional ability to impact lives by relating to others through the written world. The former student athlete turned author and spoken word poet grew up as the youngest of 5 in a single parent household. Jaxn witnessed his mother overcome life threatening illnesses while working multiple jobs, which would later become the catalyst in his drive to impose a standard of excellence, logic, and originality on a world dictated by blind conformity.

    Derrick Jaxn founded a non-profit teen mentoring organization Team Jaxn, won national and multiple conference football championships in the SIAC as a tight end for Tuskegee University, and beat the Generation Y statistics of being underemployed or not employed at all by garnering a sales position within a Fortune 500 company immediately following graduation. While those who know Derrick all agree that his story is nothing short of inspirational the former Sales and Marketing major obtained his Bachelor of Science Degree from the College of Business and Information Science from one of the most well noted historically black colleges and universities and shortly after penned his first novel "A Cheating Man's Heart". For Derrick the real work has just begun. In less than 60 days his debut novel "A Cheating Man's Heart" maintains a 5-star Amazon rating, has over 300 reader reviews and remains in the top #25 in genre fiction/biographical on Kindle and genre fiction/urban life in paperback books. Over 300 comments from readers are posted sharing how his book has entertained, encouraged and informed about relationships.

    In a short amount of time, Derrick has elevated his personal blog from being a diary of thought and perspective, to a lifestyle platform that has garnered him over 100,000 social media followers and friends. Popular articles such as "12 Things She Wishes You Understood" and "The Wake Up Call, Sincerely Trayvon Martin" have been shared among social network users over 75,000 times each. Derrick Jaxn is an authentic voice with unwavering ambition, and boundless potential to be one of the most influential men among millennials. He is 'one to watch'.


  • About Her Book

    This book reveals the true story of my childhood abuse, shameful secrets, and my strength of survival while living on the streets. It all began at the tender age of five, after watching my mother being viciously attacked as her blood painted the floor and walls.

    A beast within me yearned for revenge, with a promise of killing my mother's assailant. As years went by my little world became revengeful, confused, damaged, and rebellious, which was deeply misunderstood by everyone.

    At a very young age, I've experience the pain of being neglected, rejected and insecure, and was also traumatized from psychological, emotional and sexual abuse.

    In loving memory of my beloved mother-please join me on this long and painful journey of healing, as I slowly remove my mask to face my fears-from a pathway that transformed my life from mommy's little girl to a motherless child.

    As painful as it is to expose my shame to the world, my passion for putting smiles, hope, and wings in the lives of our children worth every pain.

    Did you know that every child comes with a message? But we are just too busy to listen.
    WELL! I was that homeless, lonely, and damage child that nobody cares about, not even to listen to.

    Today I am fighting to make folks listen to our children voices. After all they are people taking baby step towards the adult world.