Where were you born and raised?
Born: Chanute, Kansas. Raised: primarily in Kansas City.
What is your occupation?
Executive director of Youth Ambassadors.
What is your favorite childhood memory?
I come from an era when playing (and sleeping) outside were considered relatively safe. My favorite childhood memory is "camping" outside in the backyard with my cousins.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month means a dedicated time to reflect on the many contributions Black people make to society. I think, not only in past tense but in the very real, current, tangible contributions Black people make to better the lives of our community. It is the one time we can be unapologetically BLACK without abandon.
What do you believe is the most important issue currently facing the Black community?
Equity. Valuing Black lives can be summed up in the word equity. Access to affordable housing, jobs, justice, healthcare, mental health, and supportive family structures - all of it can be summed up in equity issues.
When did you realize you were Black in America and what has that meant for your life?
I realized I was Black in America when I was singled out in a corporate training class to explain the origin of my first name. No one else in the class (Jessicas, Jennifers, Brians, Amandas, etc.) were asked to explain the origin of their names. I knew then and committed to ensuring that my children's ethnicity or race would be concealed on paper to give them a fighting chance at gainful employment. My children are named Kristen, Nicholas, Jazmin, and Xavier. You will figure out they are Black in the interview and by then it will be too late, their powerful presence will win you over and they will AT LEAST be considered for the job before being eliminated because their name is Teesha.
Who or what is your biggest inspiration to push for change?
BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) children are my biggest inspiration to push for change. There has to be an advocate to help prepare a pathway and secure a future for those who are unable (at this stage) to fully advocate for themselves.
How have you supported or contributed to the local Black community?
I work feverishly to provide equity, access, inclusion, and community to people who may not otherwise enjoy the privilege based on their socio-economic demographic.