Dawn L. Brown

Executive Director

Dawn L. Brown joined the EmpowHer team in October 2020. She has 20+ years of nonprofit management and consulting experience. She has served as the  Executive Director of three well-respected nonprofit organizations across California. In each role, Dawn successfully launched fundraising and marketing strategies that increased company revenue, improved program delivery, and expanded advocacy and policy efforts for youth of color from economically disadvantaged communities.

As an advocate and strategic thought partner, Dawn has led advocacy initiatives that successfully became California legislation and/or established best practices for eliminating gender bias within the juvenile justice system, decriminalizing sex trafficked girls, implementing community-based gang intervention strategies, and ending the shackling of pregnant women. Dawn has also served on various advisory boards and think tanks focused on issues affecting women & girls of color.

Read more about Dawn

A proud native of Washington, DC, Dawn has spent the past five years returning home to support her family and supporting local and national initiatives that are fighting to ensure racial justice and eliminate gender bias in America.

As a Performing Artist, Dawn created Stiletto Revolution, a podcast that examines fabulous and frustrating issues impacting Black women, through a social justice lens. She has also performed on stage, television, and film. She helped to develop educational theater curriculum for public and private schools in New York City and was an Acting Instructor at Atlantic Theater Company in NYC. Dawn graduated from the prestigious Duke Ellington High School of the Arts in DC, received her BFA in Acting from New York University’s renowned Tisch School of the Arts and a MA in Drama Therapy from New York University’s School of Education.

In her spare time, Dawn enjoys laughing with her godson, advocating for change within the criminal justice system, traveling to new adventures, wine tasting, and shoe shopping. Her favorite color is rose gold and she loves things that sparkle.

Dawn L. Brown

Ana Adalco

Academy Instructor

Ana began studying at Cerritos Community College where she earned her AA in Geography. She later transferred to UC Santa Barbara and earned her BA in Geography in March, 2019. While attending UC Santa Barbara, Ana had access to healthier air quality, freeways and railroads were at a distance, lived nowhere near an industrial site, no brown smog horizon, and lived in a predominantly affluent community. This experience was quite different than her upbringing in Southeast Los Angeles and helped Ana to recognize the disparities marginalized communities endure. Ana realized she wants to use her voice to represent BIPOC in marginalized communities and fight for environmental and social justice. Ana hopes to utilize her passion for environmental and social justice to encourage and empower youth to use their voices to advocate for equity and social change in their communities.

TaShanique Elzie

Academy Instructor

TaSh has a passion for the arts and empowering youth in marginalized communities. During her attendance at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, she served as the youth lead for Lynwood Youth Commission. This experience allowed her to see that she had the ability to make meaningful change. While pursuing her degree at Loyola Marymount University, she volunteered as a math tutor for youth in foster care throughout LAUSD. TaSh became a substitute teacher with Long Beach Unified School District because of her love for children.

TaSh strives to make the youth she meets feel seen and heard. It is her hope that she can inspire our EmpowHer Girls to believe that they can also make meaningful change.


Dr. Dijanna Figueroa

Creative Director, Social Justice STEAM Camp

Dr. Dijanna Figueroa is a Marine Biologist, STEAM Educator, and Social Justice Warrior. She currently serves as the Chair of Innovation and Design where she leads the innovation/STEM team, teacheses kindergarten science, and high school marine biology. She also serves as the Creative Director of the EmpowHer Institute Social Justice STEAM camp. She is an ocean explorer, STEAM educator, science communicator, and advocate for social justice. Her curiosity and enthusiasm for the ocean and all things science are well documented in a variety of films and tv shows including Aliens of the Deep, Discovery Channel’s Mysteries of the Deep, Nickelodeon’s Noggin Knows, and The History Channel’s Ocean Explorers. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology from UCLA and a Ph.D. in Marine Science from UC Santa Barbara. She brings her experience, enthusiasm, knowledge, and love of science into her classroom through hands-on engaging, and innovative experiences. As an advocate for STEAM education- she is committed to adding the arts and design to the science, technology, engineering, and math equation. She has over two decades of classroom teaching experience in grades k-12 and has collaborated with a variety of education non-profit such as the Two Bit Circus Foundation, EmpowHer Institute, Black Girls Dive Foundation, Bridge Builders Foundation, Boys and Girls Club of Los Angeles, National Association of Black Scuba Divers, National Marine Educators Association, and  Makey Makey-Joy Labs. In collaboration with the Two Bit Circus Foundation, she helped to install over 500 makerspace innovation labs in schools throughout the greater Los Angeles area. She believes that learning happens everywhere, radical kindness is transformational, and that passion, curiosity, and creativity make the world a better place. She loves watching this play out in the classroom every day.

Siaira Shawn Harris

Academy Instructor

Siaira Shawn Harris is a youth development and empowerment facilitator & educator, advocate and artist with over 15 years of experience working with youth, artists, educators and organizers across multidisciplinary spaces in the Bay Area, New York and now Los Angeles.

While living in Brooklyn, NY, working for Center for Family Life and in partnership with Planned Parenthood, she led a 10th grade service learning program that focused on sex and reproductive health. That experience showed her that she could combine comprehensive sex education, the arts and civic action to educate and empower youth. Since making Los Angeles home, she has continued her work in civics education and sexual and reproductive health. Training students and teachers in creating democratic classrooms, developing youth voice and guiding youth to take informed action in their schools and communities, while simultaneously educating youth and parents in sexual and reproductive health. She is also an artist and co-runs an independent label and music education hub, Over Everything.

Keyonna Keith

Director of Programs

Keyonna Keith is committed to serving under-served and marginalized youth through mentoring and educational programs. As an undergraduate, Keyonna worked with the UCLA Urban Collaborative P.A.L.S. Program to provide high school students in Watts, California, mentorship and guidance with college preparation. Prior to joining EmpowHer Keyonna has worked in the non-profit sector managing and developing engaging after-school programs that provide tutoring and enrichment activities to students in Inglewood and Compton Unified School Districts.

Keyonna earned a Bachelor of Arts in African-American Studies and Political Science from Loyola Marymount University and a Juris Doctor from UC Hastings College of the Law.


Eric Lane Sr.

Grant Writer

Eric Lane earned his M.A. in Administration from Concordia University and recently graduated with his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from California State University, Fresno in May 2022. Eric has  over a decade of development and fundraising experience, working with a plethora of educational institutions and non-profits, including serving as the Director of Development for California Baptist University, where he worked primarily for with the athletics department, helping to raise over $1,500,000 for the unit. Prior to his time at CBU, Eric served as the Director of Development in the athletics department at Cal State Fullerton, where he oversaw fundraising, cultivated donor relationships, and set up fundraising events.

Eric also has spent time in fundraising and grant writing roles at the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles, The Posse Foundation, Playworks Southern California, Culver-Palms and Westchester Family YMCA, Hoops for Kids International, Voice for Asian Elephants Society, Sarcoma Alliance, Feminist Frequency, and Kids Enjoy Exercise Now. When Eric isn’t working, he enjoys spending quality family time with his wife and three kids. He of course loves to get outside, play basketball, and relive his glory days, as he formally played collegiate basketball at Boise State.

Jazmin Romero

Assistant to the CEO

Jazmin received her Bachelors in Economics from Mills College and her MBA from Mills College, Lorry I. Lokey School of Business. She is a first generation Latina college graduate that is passionate about supporting WOC to achieve their academic and career goals. During her undergraduate studies, she provided mentorship to girls in Oakland Unified School District and Los Angeles Unified School District and college prep and guidance to San Jose’s Downtown College Prep graduates. She has also provided program support to non-profit organizations. During her graduate studies, she consulted with small BIPOC owned businesses to create marketing strategies and business plans. Jazmin hopes to continue supporting women and girls on their educational paths.

Wendy Fierro

EmpowHer School Instructor

Wendy Fierro is the Social Studies Lead teacher at the UCLA Community School, where she has been teaching history for 5 years.  In addition to teaching history, Wendy is the EmpowHer Instructor for 8th grade girls. She graduated from UC Irvine with a degree in Political Science and received her Masters in teaching from UCLA.  Her interests involve traveling and doing outdoor activities such as camping and hiking. She is passionate about empowering youth to be agents of change.