Founder | Executive Director
Girls Advocate. Author. Transformational Speaker. Digital Storyteller. Writer.
La'Keisha Gray-Sewell is a new media relations and strategic communications consultant by trade, and a girls advocate by life assignment. An internationally recognized urban girls advocate, a media literacy expert, and speaker, La'Keisha founded Girls Like Me Project Inc. to train girls in media literacy and empower them to navigate beyond negative media stereotypes to become global legacy builders. Under her leadership, GLMPI has served more than 700 girls through its transformative programs and events.
A native of Chicago, La'Keisha has been honored for her work as a girls' advocate and social entrepreneur. In 2020 she was inducted into the Goldin Institute's Chicago Peace Fellows. She's been featured in syndicated media such as The Steve Harvey TV Show, Ebony Magazine, Moms Rising Radio, MyBrownBaby.com, and a WAOK/CBS to name a few. Named a 2016 Salvation Army Community Hero, Chicago Defender's 40 Under 40 to Watch as well as Trumpet Magazine's Movers and Shakers Under 40, La'Keisha has established herself as a thought leader and girls activist in Chicago and beyond.
During the summer of 2018, La'Keisha released her highly acclaimed book "Move Beyond the Block", a memoir, empowerment, and homage celebration to women's history, adding author to her long list of achievements. As a former producer and host of Voices of Advocacy Radio, La'Keisha currently hosts Move Beyond The Block TV and podcast showcasing leading activists, community servants, and entrepreneurs.
In 2019, she was honored at the She Rocks It Award Ceremony and for her stellar community service by Lambda Kappa Mu Soroity, Inc.
La'Keisha earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications/Radio and Television from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. La'Keisha advocates for girls and is unapologetic about steering the conversation and elevating the bar on raising healthy and liberated black girls.
Theresa Robinson, Ph.D.
Theresa Y. Robinson, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor and Director of Secondary & Middle Grades Education at Elmhurst University. Dr. Robinson earned a B.S. in Biological Sciences and Secondary Education and Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in science and environmental education from Southern Illinois University–Carbondale. She taught grades 9-12 science in Chicago Public Charter Schools. She has dedicated her career to preparing teachers to teach STEM in culturally sustaining ways and providing S.T.E.M professional development to Pk-12 teachers. She is an active member of the National Science Teachers Association, Illinois Science Teachers Association, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, and the Board President of Girls Like Me Inc. a non-profit organization which seeks to liberate urban African American girls through mentoring and self-discovery programming.
Andrea M. Gray is a Social Worker who has dedicated her life to empowering and supporting disadvantaged children, individuals, and families. Andrea was raised in a large and loving family and decided at a young age that she wanted to work as a public servant to assist those who were not so blessed. She earned her B.S. in African-American Studies and her M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from Eastern Illinois University. Andrea's 24-year career as a Foster Care Social Worker has largely been with private agencies of the Department of Children and Family Services. She has held positions in Case Management, Educational Advocacy, Adoptions, and Foster Parent Licensing. Prior to being appointed Board Secretary of Girls Like Me Inc, Andrea was a dedicated volunteer for the organization and is enthused and motivated to engage in our mission of empowering Black girls.
Octavia Daniels is the Operations Manager at Rush University Medical Center. In this role, she provides administration, staff and project management, and budget/financial planning for the Community Behavioral Health team. She is also an Independent Licensed Life & Health Insurance Broker and is committed to educating and providing services within the community to create and build generational wealth. Prior to working in healthcare, Octavia spent 14 years working at leading global financial services firm in various roles, including a Personal Banker, Estate Administrator, and KYC Officer. Beyond her professional aspirations, Octavia feels strongly about creating meaningful change in the community and volunteers regularly.
Octavia is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Learning and Organizational Change. She also holds a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate from the ABA-Approved Paralegal Studies Program at Roosevelt University and previously held certification as an Anti-Money Laundering Specialist.
Octavia loves new experiences and is passionate about living life to the fullest. In her free time, she loves to travel internationally, attend summer festivals, listen to live music (preferably jazz), try new restaurants, and spend time with her family and friends.
Catina Latham, Ph.D
Catina Latham, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of Community Benefit Programs and Evaluation within the Urban Health Initiative at UChicago Medicine (UCM). In this role, she is responsible for developing and executing the UCM’s community benefit strategy to ensure that goals and outcomes are aligned with identified community health needs and achieve regulatory and evaluation mandates. She also manages the staff for the South Side Pediatric Program and Medical Home and Specialty Care Connection Program. Catina joins UChicago Medicine after serving as the Deputy Director of Quality Management and New Initiatives for the Illinois Department of Health and Family Services (HFS). In this role, she leads the Bureau of Quality Management in the collection and evaluation of data on the quality of health care services and care coordination efforts to improve health outcomes for Medicaid beneficiaries. Prior she served as Assistant Director for the Health Care Team in the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) where she led several complex and sensitive studies, including those on Medicaid supplemental payments, children’s access to primary and specialty care in Medicaid, SCHIP, and Indian Health Services. Additionally, she served as a Senior Policy Analyst for the U.S. GAO Office. Catina earned her Ph.D. in Public Administration, with an emphasis in Health Policy and Evaluation and Masters in Health Services Administration both from George Washington University, and her BA from the University of Chicago. She has several publications, awards, and recognitions.
Christina Steed is an award-winning marketing communications expert whose experience includes previously serving as executive vice president of client relations for a boutique agency in Chicago. Her expertise includes business development, client relations, diversity, equity and inclusion, and internal and external marketing communications. Her brand experience includes Cox Communications, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Nielsen, Dow Chemical, Nike Chicago, City of Chicago, and several others in various industries.
Christina’s background includes a mix of journalism, consumer and business-to-business (B2B) public relations and marketing communications, social media, content marketing, stakeholder engagement, trade show marketing, and international communications. She has previously held management positions with Golin; a small B2B mar-com agency focused on global trade show marketing; and an international foodservice packaging manufacturer.
With a lifelong commitment to quality storytelling, she began her career in broadcast journalism after receiving her B.S. in Journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her M.A. in Strategic Communications from the University of Missouri-Columbia’s School of Journalism. Christina enjoys reading, writing, traveling, attending live concerts, yoga, and social media surfing. She is a member of the Publicity Club of Chicago, the Black Public Relations Society/Chicago Chapter, ColorComm, and the National Association of Black Journalists. She currently serves on the board of the South Side Community Art Center and on the Executive Committee for the American Diabetes Association Step Out Walk. She has been recognized as one of PR Week’s 40 under 40 Rising Stars, Ariel Investments, and WVON’s 40 Game Changers in Chicago, and has received numerous awards for her marketing communications campaigns. A native of Chicago’s south suburbs, she is married and currently resides in Chicago and Atlanta.
Venita Griffin possesses 15+ years of experience leading successful advocacy, digital, and multicultural marketing campaigns. She currently serves as digital strategist and campaigner for a national nonprofit that amplifies the political leadership of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC).
In addition to the duties of her full-time role, Venita worked to organize millions of women of color voters during the 2020 election cycle, mobilized low-income workers to call for passage of the HEROES Act, provided digital support in an attempt to defeat the passage of Amendment One in her home state of Louisiana, and served as the lead digital consultant on a national COVID relief project which, among other victories, worked to win a mask mandate in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
She is a 2021-2022 Stanford University Center for Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity practitioner fellow and serves as the founding social media manager of the newly launched Blue Tent, a media outlet that reports on the progressive movement.
Venita’s career experience also includes leading the digital strategy for Legalize Illinois, providing strategic counsel and digital strategy oversight for a national campaign focused on raising awareness around metastatic breast cancer, and working on the team that secured a raise for direct support professionals in a year when similar services were being cut from the Illinois budget.
Her work has been honored with awards from the Association of National Advertisers (Multicultural Excellence Awards), the Association of Women in Communications, the Communicator Awards, and the Publicity Club of Chicago.
Venita is a member of the Chicago Foundation for Women’s South Side Giving Circle and is a co-chair of the foundation's Women of Color United Giving Council.
bOARD OF DIRECTORS