Creating Change from the Ground Up:… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Creating Change from the Ground Up: How Black Women Are Leading the Way to Health Equity

Aired March 8, 2023

For decades, the tobacco industry has targeted Black communities with marketing for menthol cigarettes, with devastating impact on Black health and lives. As a result, tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death among Black Americans, claiming 45,000 Black lives each year, and Black Americans have a harder time quitting smoking and are more likely to die from tobacco-related diseases like lung cancer, heart disease and stroke. The tobacco industry has also deliberately targeted women and girls, luring and addicting millions, and the resulting harmful consequences for women’s health occur at every stage of life. Now, for the first time ever, women who smoke are as likely as men to die from many of the diseases caused by smoking.

In this installment of our Campaign for the Culture conversation series, we discussed the strategies, tools and policies to reverse these tobacco-related health disparities – and the work being done by advocates to put those policies in place. We heard from those who have always been at the forefront championing this issue: Black women.

Featured Speakers

Ja'Leasa Nicole Bolden
Communications Director, Moss Point School District
Moss Point, MS

Ja’Leasa is the Communications Director for Moss Point School District in Moss Point, MS. As Communications Director, Ja’Leasa is responsible for generating in the community at large a climate of understanding of the district’s efforts, programs, and campaigns to provide each student with the best education in an increasingly complex and sophisticated world. Ja’Leasa is also an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. And she is a graduate of the historic Tougaloo College.

Channel Powe
Chief Executive Officer, Powe Power LLC
Tempe, AZ

Channel Powe has been a champion for communities, public schools, families and children for over a decade. She served seven and a half years on the Balsz Elementary School District Governing Board. In 2015, the Arizona School Board Association named her Advocate of the Year. Currently, Ms. Powe is a K-12 education, governance and public affairs consultant. She's a fierce advocate for the Flavors Hook Kids Tempe campaign, a lead trainer for the Progressive Governance Academy, and a member of the Desert Botanical Garden Monarch Council.

D’Jillisser Kelly
Lead Project Coordinator, No Menthol Movement ATL
Atlanta, GA

D’Jillisser Kelly, MPH, CP, is the current Project Coordinator for the H.E.A.R.T (Health Education Awareness and Research on Tobacco) Coalition and leads the No Menthol Movement ATL Coalition. She’s a public health enthusiast, a Certified Prevention Specialist, and one of Georgia’s 2022 Power Women. D’Jillisser is a community organizer who promotes health literacy and environmental policies. She educates the public and policymakers on tobacco issues and collaborates with community groups to advance health equity, increase mental and behavioral health, and reduce substance abuse and food insecurity throughout the state of Georgia.

Dr. Monica Wilson
PAVe – Regional Director, California Chapter

Dr. Monica Wilson is a nationally recognized leader and consultant in the fields of organizational leadership, collaborative training, and curriculum design. She is the Academic Program Director and Associate Professor at National University in the Department of Psychology. She is also the Governor Appointee and former Chair of the California Behavioral Health Planning Council for the State of California, and the Chair of The Behavioral Health Commission for the County of San Bernardino. In addition to these roles, she works as the Regional Director for the California chapter of Parents Against Vaping E-cigarettes (PAVe). She is a staunch advocate for youth tobacco prevention, education, and policy reform.

Stefanie Brown James
Co-Founder and Senior Advisor, The Collective
Cleveland, OH

An experienced social entrepreneur and civic engagement strategist, Stefanie Brown James is the Cofounder and Senior Advisor of The Collective, a network of five affiliated organizations dedicated to supporting and funding Black candidates to win elections on the local, state and federal levels and the engagement of Black voters in the political process. Stefanie is a member of the National Board of Directors and Co-Chair of the National Social Action Commission for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and is a former member of the Board of Trustees at her alma mater – Howard University – in Washington, D.C.

Tambra Raye Stevenson
Writer; Founder of WANDA
Washington, D.C.

Tambra Raye Stevenson is an award-winning nutrition advocate, author and food policymaker. She has devoted her career to championing an inclusive food system and preserving the nutrition and food of the African diaspora. Tambra is the founder of WANDA, Women Advancing Nutrition Dietetics and Agriculture, a pipeline and platform for women and girls as "food sheroes" in Africa and the diaspora to lead in building better food systems for healthier communities. She is passionate about expanding access to healthy food and nutrition services and serves on several committees and boards working toward comprehensive nutrition policy reform.

Kiana Maria Sears
President, East Valley NAACP

Kiana Maria Sears is a public administrator that advocates for children, the future leaders of our community. She serves as an elected Governing Board Member in Mesa, Arizona, and as the President of East Valley NAACP. Kiana is a former public administrator at the Arizona Corporation Commission where she wrote the “Solar Rules'' policy that allows a pathway for affordable solar energy in Arizona. She is also a board member of the Arizona Lung Association and chair of the fundraising committee LungForce, raising money for a medically supervised summer camp named “Camp Not a Wheeze” for children who live with severe asthma.