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

Keyonna Keith

Program Director

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.


Jylandria Shelton

Special Assistant to the Executive Director (AmeriCorps VISTA)

Jylandria is a Stockton, CA native with a passion for serving marginalized communities, women empowerment, and social justice. In 2015, she graduated from UC Davis with a degree in Communications. Shortly after, she entered the non-profit world as an AmeriCorps volunteer, where she helped a Federally Qualified Health Center with their Social Media Marketing and outreach.

Currently, Jylandria is working on her MBA with a specialization in Marketing at Pepperdine University. When Jylandria does have spare time, she enjoys hiking, game nights with family and friends, and finding new shows to watch on streaming platforms.

Lauren Zika

Volunteer Coordinator (AmeriCorps VISTA)

In 2018, Lauren earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Humboldt State University in Environmental Studies with minors in German and Theatre Arts. In her undergraduate studies, she hoped to enter the professional world of social justice theatre, STEM-based learning, and sustainability. She is passionate about youth empowerment and accessibility to inclusive education. When searching for positions in her areas of experience and interest, she stumbled upon an AmeriCorps VISTA opportunity at EmpowHer Institute. She immediately fell in love with their mission, values, and programs. This is her second year in an AmeriCorps fellowship that focuses on volunteer coordination and outreach. Utilizing her experience in education and counseling, she hopes to assist in the growth of mentor projects in her organization while expanding her own skill sets along the way.

N’nandii Alexander

EmpowHer Instructor

 N’nandii Alexander recently join the Environmental Charter Middle School- Gardena team as a Para Educator. This is N’nandii’s first year teaching the 7th grade EmpowHer class. N’nandii graduated from Boise State where she obtained her degree in Multi-Disciplinary Studies. She aspires to be a teacher and eventually would like to open and run her own network of Charter Schools because she thoroughly believes the children are our future, and neither race nor class should limit a child’s view of that future.

Read more about N'nandii

As an undergrad, N’nandii was a campus leader, serving as the President of the Black Student Alliance as well as a delegate for the Martin Luther King Living Legacy Committee. These leadership roles illuminated N’nandii’s passion in advocacy for students of oppressed communities. N’nandii’s experience includes five years as an activities coordinator for school-aged children, which also developed her passion for working with kids.

Marivell Caba

EmpowHer Instructor

Marivell Caba has taken on the role of the College Readiness Teacher and EmpowHer Facilitator at Environmental Charter Middle School Inglewood beginning Fall 2018. Previous to this, Marivell has taught for six years in grades 4-6th as a Lead Teacher in various pockets of Los Angeles in charter school environments. Practices she feels strongly connected to have focused on social and emotional learning,  project based learning, building democratic classroom communities, and constructivist based practices. Marivell is drawn to EmpowHer because of the foundational confidence building and safe space the organization provides for young women of the greater Los Angeles community.

Read more about Marivell

Marivell is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles and holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in World Arts and Cultures. She earned her Masters of Arts in Education and teaching credential from the University of California, Berkeley.

During her personal time, she enjoys running trail races and marathons in different states, hanging with her dog Georgia, and hiking national parks. Among books that she finds fascinating, Marivell’s top book choices are Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime and Wade Davis’ The Wayfinders. 

Wendy Fierro

EmpowHer 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. 

Janet Lee-Ortiz

EmpowHer Instructor


Crystal Leon

EmpowHer Instructor

Wintor McNeel

Lead EmpowHer Instructor & EmpowHer Leaders Academy Facilitator

Wintor McNeel is the Counselor at Environmental Charter Middle School Inglewood. Wintor has taught 7th and 8th grade EmpowHer classes. Wintor is currently the Lead EmpowHer Instructor and Facilitator for the EmpowHer Leaders Academy. Wintor’s key areas of expertise in this role include social and emotional counseling, academic intervention, behavioral support and the planning of school-wide events. Wintor has over 10 years of experience in education having worked in the non-profit, private, and public sectors. Previously, she served as a Counselor for St. John Bosco High School and Bright Star Charter School. Wintor believes that education is the gateway to your future and the key to achieving your dreams.

Read more about Wintor

Wintor is a member of the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) and the California Association of School Counselors (CASC). She has extensive years of volunteer experience, which includes working with Upward Bound, Skid Row, Habitat for Humanity, and other notable organizations. She is passionate about contributing to the community, and strongly feels that volunteerism can help you find your passion and purpose in life.

Wintor is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University and holds a BA in Communication Studies and a MA in Counseling. She is a native of Los Angeles, California. During her free time she enjoys writing poetry, reading, attending live music events, and spending time with her family. She is currently writing her first book of poetry to inspire and uplift young women.


Karolay Montoya

EmpowHer Instructor

Karolay Montoya is the College Readiness teacher at Environmental Charter Middle School -Gardena. In addition to teaching College Readiness, Karolay teaches the 8th grade EmpowHer class. Prior to joining ECMS-Gardena, she served as the Community Liaison. During college, Karolay developed and implemented programs for high school youth focused on environmental science, health and awareness. Karolay received her BA in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Barbara.

Antoinette Moody

EmpowHer Instructor

Ainsley Sanchez

EmpowHer Instructor

Monique Valentine

EmpowHer Instructor