2019 Being Brave Gala
Lisa is the Chief Investigative Correspondent for Inside Edition, America’s top-rated syndicated news-magazine show, and has dedicated her career to exposing the truth. Her reporting has shed light on human trafficking, child abuse, and murders. Lisa has helped shape legislation and inspired many with her courageous truth-seeking and award-winning journalism. Her fearless work bringing bad guys to justice inspired her to create the speaker platform "Being Brave." She graciously agreed to host our event and allowed us to use her platform as its namesake to amplify our event!
The Man Stand
Shavar is president of Education Reform Now and Democrats for Education Reform, national advocacy organizations whose purpose is to ensure all American children, particularly low-income students and students of color, have access to quality public schools that enable them to fulfill their limitless potential. An advocate for social justice for 20 years, Shavar is deeply involved in community and board service. He is on the boards of several organizations that focus on developing young people, including the National Mentoring Partnership, New Classrooms, KIPP New Jersey, and Seton Hall Preparatory School, and also sits on the advisory boards for NextWork and One Love. He has served in elected office, serving a term on the Newark Public Schools advisory board, including a term as president, and ran for mayor of Newark, receiving over 46% of the vote, a historic total for a first-time run for municipal office. Shavar has been recognized broadly for his social justice work—to name a few, he’s been honored by the NAACP, the National Bar Association, the Garden State Bar Association, the Congressional Black Caucus, KIPP New Jersey, and the Essex County Family Justice Center, among others. He led the Man Stand in honor of his late mother, who was a victim of domestic violence.
Grammy Award-winning Artist
Monique Walker is an internationally acclaimed Grammy Award-winning Gospel artist who has been ministering for over four decades. At an early age, Monique performed and toured with Broadway’s Gospel At Colonus, which starred Morgan Freeman, and Don’t Get God Started, starring the Winans and Kim and Chip Fields. Evangelist Walker gained international recognition while singing with the Grammy Award-winning Bishop Hezekiah Walker & The Love Fellowship Crusade Choir. After years of evangelizing, Monique was ordained Elder in The Lord’s Church. She attended several Bible schools before graduating summa cum laude from San Diego Christian College with a B.A. in Christian Ministries, and an M.S. in Leadership. Monique Walker has been an encouragement to thousands and continues to touch millions throughout her ministry and career.
Writer, Actor, Podcaster
Dustin Ross is a writer, media personality, actor and dynamic host based in New York City. Dustin is the writer of late-night weekly talk show The Read with Kid Fury & Crissle, airing Friday nights at 11pm on the Fuse network. As one of the hosts of The Friend Zone podcast, his voice reaches an audience of over 200,000 people each week as they encourage listeners to explore all things wellness-related while making them laugh quite frequently along the way. The Friend Zone tours across the United States and internationally, selling out shows in each city. Dustin also recurs as a guest host of the hit podcast Keepin' It Bute with Star Brim, debuting at #1 and remaining on top of the Apple podcasts "Music" chart for five weeks straight. As an actor, Dustin is very excited to share his gift of storytelling with the world, as evidenced by his performances in HBO's hit series Insecure (Season 2), popular SLAY TV/YouTube web series Love at First Night, and in the 2012 indie cult classic The Skinny. Dustin is looking forward to new, authentic opportunities to tell impactful and meaningful stories. Dustin has served as Master of Ceremonies of the 45th Annual NSBE Convention’s 22nd Annual Golden Torch Awards, comedic act and introductions for the talented R&B sensation Syleena Johnson at The Highline Ballroom, Facebook Live host for Samsung Experience Center during the SoundCloud Artist Forum, influencer host for the Cadillac Experience Center, and worked on multiple digital influencer campaigns with brands such as McDonalds, HBO, BET, RocNation, Beats by Dre and D'ussé cognac.
NBC's The Voice, Season 11
Bindi has been singing since she discovered her unique voice as a little girl, singing along to music on the radio. She started taking voice lessons at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center when she was a teenager. She continued to strengthen her craft with private voice lessons and performances at open mics and spoken word events. In 2016 Bindi auditioned for NBC’s The Voice, and after several rounds of auditions, she received the call for the show in Los Angeles. While in L.A., she worked with professional staging and vocal coaches to prepare her for the “blind auditions,” where Adam Levine and Blake Shelton fought to have her on their teams; she selected Adam! While on The Voice, Bindi gained a great deal of experience performing in front of one of network television’s largest audiences. Through her experience on The Voice, Bindi released two singles: "Over You" and "Complicated," in partnership with Universal Republic Records. Those original songs are available now. Bindi works with several programs and charities. She strongly believes in using her popularity as a platform for positivity and awareness. Bindi has performed at a variety of charity events. She supported cancer awareness fundraisers through Black Entertainment Television. She enjoys speaking with youth about standing up for yourself and understanding that "perfect" does
not exist and that individual differences are their best personality traits.
Stellar Award-winning Artist
From early on, Melissa knew she was gifted to sing melodiously. However, it wasn’t until after she gave her heart to the Lord and was filled with His Spirit that she was clearly made aware of her assignment on the earth – to not only sing, but to do so until His Glory filled the atmosphere. Since then, God has opened many doors for her to show forth the wonders of His name. She has been blessed to be a featured vocalist on several albums with Gospel music's finest, such as Bishop Hezekiah Walker, Lance Williams & True Worship, and the Potter’s House of Denver Choir. Melissa also travels with JJ Hairston & Youthful Praise and has been a featured vocalist on five of their albums. God has graced Melissa to share the Gospel through song on great television platforms such as Praise the Lord - TBN, Bobby Jones Gospel, the Word Network, and the Stellar Awards. When she is not traveling the country or on foreign soil declaring the message of God’s love through song and fiery preaching, she can be found serving as the Worship Leader at her home church, Bethel Church of Love & Praise, CKMI (Bloomfield, NJ), where she is completely submitted to the great leadership of Presiding Prelate, Bishop Charles W. Harris, Jr. & Executive Pastor Janet H. Harris. Although many people play a role in the success of her ministry, Melissa is never apt to forget that faithfulness to her church and the leaders that God has placed in her life flows in parallel to the blessings of God upon her ministry. Melissa, who is happily married to Joseph Bethea II, and a joyful mother to her miracle child, Jade, strives to love Jesus and share this Gospel with all who will hear it!
American Repertory Ballet
American Repertory Ballet’s (ARB) mission is to bring the joy, beauty, artistry and discipline of classical and contemporary dance to New Jersey and nationwide audiences, and to dance students through artistic and educational programs. Led by Executive Director Julie Diana Hench, the organization comprises: the preeminent professional classical and contemporary ballet company in the state; Princeton Ballet School, one of the largest and most respected non-profit dance schools in the nation; and ARB’s Access & Enrichment initiatives, including the acclaimed DANCE POWER program, the longest continuously running community and arts partnership in New Jersey.
Ursula Liebowitz is the founder and former executive director of the only state-designated sexual violence prevention center for Essex County, SAVE (Sexual Assault and Family Violence Prevention and Education Center). SAVE is located in Montclair, NJ. Ms. Liebowitz began her career as an advocate and public educator with the Union County Rape Crisis Center. In 2001, she joined Family Service League of Essex County, NJ and three years later started SAVE. Ms. Liebowitz applied for and received the program's first grant from The New Jersey Division on Women in January 2004. By the time she left the center in February 2016, she had procured over one million-plus dollars in grants and gifts for SAVE and Family Service League. The center provides training to Certified Sexual Violence Advocates. Advocates, in turn, answer the center’s 24-hour Rape Crisis Hotline and support victims of sexual violence. Ms. Liebowitz prepared advocates for hotline calls from survivors and families of survivors. Over the next 12 years, Ms. Liebowitz hosted former acting New Jersey Governor Richard Cody in signing the Domestic Violence Bill into law. She has been featured on local radio and cable programs and has also been featured in New Jersey’s Star Ledger for her work in sexual violence prevention. She was recognized for her efforts to stop violence against women with the Eve Ensler “V” Warrior Award. She speaks regularly in the Essex County community and throughout New Jersey on sexual violence awareness and prevention. Ms. Liebowitz was a board member for the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NJCASA) for five years and she was an active program member for 12 years with NJCASA, the state program for sexual assault prevention. Ms. Liebowitz specializes in trauma therapy. She is a certified bereavement facilitator and certified crisis management responder/post-trauma intervention, and she is also certified to be part of the domestic violence response team of Montclair, NJ. Ms. Liebowitz is a licensed social worker in the state of New Jersey. She holds a bachelor's degree in social work from Kean University and an advanced standing master of clinical social work degree from New York University.
Phaidra Knight is a former international athlete, sports media talent, motivational speaker, lawyer and entrepreneur. For nearly 18 years, Phaidra traveled the globe as a professional rugby player, establishing herself as the one of the premier players in the sport. She made three appearances in the Rugby World Cup and was selected as the top player in the world in her position in 2002 and 2006. In 2010, she was named the U.S. Rugby Player of the Decade. In November 2017, she was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame. Phaidra was born and raised in the small, rural town of Irwinton, GA. It was there that she learned the core values of integrity, commitment, respect and discipline that have fueled and guided her career. It was on the field, though, where she learned the indispensable attributes of teamwork, leadership and effective communication. Phaidra earned dual bachelor’s degrees in political science and speech communications at Alabama State University before she went on to study law at University of Wisconsin. In 2010, she became an avid CrossFit competitor, and in 2013, a member of the United States Developmental Bobsled Team. Phaidra recently founded PeaK Unleashed, a nonprofit organization devoted to cultivating youth leadership and development through rugby with an initial emphasis on the incarcerated and sexually exploited populations. She also speaks to many audiences on leadership, resilience, fitness, childhood obesity, and antibullying. During other times, she’s working as a rugby analyst for NBC Sports, ESPN, and FloRugby. She serves as on the USA Rugby Board of Directors and the Board of Trustees for the Women’s Sports Foundation.