Making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice

Speaker Bios

MC: Curtis Wilson, Richland County Sherriff’s Department

DJ Jeremiah, D2Jay Productions

Chris Suggs
Chris J. Suggs is the 17-year-old Founder & CEO of Kinston Teens, an internationally-acclaimed nonprofit focused on empowering youth through service, leadership and civic engagement. Chris is also the Founder and Board Chairman of Black Youth Network, a national nonprofit organization with the mission of connecting and empowering young African-American leaders to amplify their contributions to society. Chris is a freshman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he will begin studying Political Science and Public Policy this fall. Because of his passion for youth leadership, Chris has worked with and been recognized by a variety of major platforms, including: Facebook, Nickelodeon, First Lady Michelle Obama, ABC News 20/20, Teen Vogue and more.
Vivian Anderson
Vivian Anderson is a healer-activist dedicated to building a world where all Black girls thrive. Since 1996, Vivian’s work has been rooted in youth, teen, family and community health/well-being, and racial and social justice. Since 2014, she has been a member of BlackLivesMatter NYC. In 2015, she created the #EveryBlackGirl campaign, which focuses on creating the radical systemic change that is needed to have a world worthy of the genius and heart of Every Black Girl.
Christina Cody
Christina lives in Gaffney, South Carolina with her husband and two sons, CJ and Bryce. She has been teaching science for fifteen years at Gaffney High School and advises a student-led group called fit2getherCCSD, which has been adopted as the school district’s wellness initiative. Christina loves promoting health and wellness in her school district and volunteering with her local Eat Smart, Move More.
Zakiya Esper
Zakiya Esper is a former juvenile probation officer who was disturbed by the mismanagement of youth who came into contact with the criminal justice system. In 2013 Zakiya founded Sowing Seeds into the Midlands, a nonprofit organization that provides support services for Midlands teens. Zakiya served on the Future National Leadership Council in 2016 for Generation Progress, a Gun Violence Prevention and Criminal Justice Reform Network. Zakiya spends a significant amount of time at town halls and roundtables advocating on behalf of youth and teens in the Midlands and more recently nationally.
  Phillip Ford
A native of Orangeburg, Phillip Ford is the Grant Coordinator for the Regional Medical Center. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from The Citadel. He believes politics are a way to effect change in communities and has worked for political campaigns and elected officials across the country. With more than 10 years of experience in politics and community organization, he believes that changes are made “One idea, one person, one community at a time. We are all in this together.”
Megan Hicks
Megan Hicks is the Executive Director for the South Carolina Tobacco-Free Collaborative (SCTFC), the state’s tobacco coalition. She previously served as the SCTFC State Program Director for five years. Prior to moving to South Carolina, she worked in tobacco control for nearly three years in her home state of Iowa. Megan has a B.A. in Communications Studies and a Certificate in Public Health from the University of Iowa. She is enrolled at the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health’s Master of Public Health program. She currently resides in Lexington.
  Ashley Merrick
Ashley Merrick is the program specialist for MADD South Carolina underage drinking prevention programs, where she shares valuable information with youth on the effects of underage drinking and encourages them to be alcohol free under 21. Ashley earned a B.A of Psychology and Masters of Social Work from the University of South Carolina. Ashley is passionate about seeing young people succeed and making good decisions.
Tyler Norris
Tyler Norris is a rising junior at Gaffney High School in Spartanburg County. He is very active in his community with his involvement with fit2getherCCSD.  He recently was selected to join Fuel Up To Play 60’s National Youth Council.  He also participates in the NFL’s GENYOUth program.
Patrick Patterson, MSW, MPH
Patrick J. Patterson is an award-winning speaker, advocate and influencer of change for fathers, men, boys, and families nationally and internationally. He has a powerful testimony of humble beginnings, challenges and triumphs with his own father, faith, and forgiveness. His journey also includes his inspirational transformation from graduating high school with a 1.3 GPA to earning a Bachelors Degree with honors and two Masters Degrees, all on full scholarship, which motivates students at all levels. Patrick has been a featured speaker in 45 states and 6 countries, and he is a consultant with the NFL Players Association.
The Very Special Individuals (VSI)
The Very Special Individuals are a passionate group of poets, writers, activists, community leaders, athletes, entrepreneurs, Edutainers, innovators, speakers and performers who deliver substantial, quality messages, education and entertainment through spoken word. They are:Shomari Carey, also known as “Six Sense,” or Mari and S. (SDot) to his close friends has managed a young but experienced 28 years of life. Shomari grew up in Prince Georges County, MD, and moved to Columbia to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications at Benedict College. He was also a member of the Benedict College Mens Basketball team. His high energy, thirst for knowledge and his passion for people has culminated into the creation of Very Special Individuals LLC.Mischa Pugh is a native of Oakland, CA. She has been an advocate for free speech at an early age. Ms. Pugh has participated in poetry slams given by Sonia Sanchez and Nikki Giovanni, Obama’s voters registration project, and D.U.S.T.Y, which was an after-school program founded by professor Glynda Hull and Oakland filmmaker, Michelangelo James for promoting self-awareness through poetry, rap, digital stories and music. She has sat on many panels, and orchestrated community events to help underprivileged youth. 2015 Graduate of the illustrious Benedict College, she is now pursuing Masters Degree.Jeffrey Guillaume (aka Mr. Emotional The Poet) is a native of Newark, New Jersey. Guillaume discovered his love for the performing arts at Benedict College, where he received a Bachelor of Science in public health. Since his graduation, Guillaume has quickly become one of South Carolina’s most celebrated poets, winning poetry slams and performing all over the nation. With the love he has for young people, poetry is his unique way of giving back and connecting
with youth by showing them alternative methods of self-expression. In 2013, Guillaume discovered a literacy program entitled, “Write Yourself Free”.
Moses Washington
Moses Washington is a native of Denmark, South Carolina. He is a graduate of Denmark-Olar High School and currently a rising Junior, Political Science major at Morehouse College. In 2015, Moses was selected as one of 11 recipients in the state of South Carolina, and one of 1,000 nationwide recipients of the Gates Millennium Scholarship, a full-ride scholarship by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He is a member of the Morehouse College Board of Trustees where he currently serves on the Student Affairs, Educational Policy, and Development committees. He is also the Vice President-Elect of the Morehouse College Gates Millennium Scholars. Moses has an immense passion for public service, which recently stimulated him to start his own non-profit, called the Washington Foundation. The Washington Foundation aims to positively impact the lives of children and families in low-income areas, and provide resources to neglected rural schools in South Carolina.
Traci Wolfe
Traci Wolfe moved from Hickory North Carolina over 28 years ago, to Columbia South Carolina. She currently works full time as a Paralegal at Burnette Shutt & McDaniels PA in Columbia and attends Perdue University online at night, in which she will receive her Associates in Arts, in Legal Studies in May of 2019. Passionate about teen driving safety, and after the loss of her 18-year old son in a vehicle collision in 2007, Traci and her Husband Kenneth of 28 years founded the Kenny Wolfe Foundation. The Foundation focuses providing donors the opportunity to invest in providing teen driving safety through education and advocacy while walking alongside families who have lost a teen in a vehicle collision helping them to maintain and sustain their new way of life. In her free time, Traci loves to spend time with her family and volunteering at her church as the administrative assistant. Traci and Ken currently reside in Chapin with their two dogs, Bailey and Dakota.
DJ Jeremiah
Music has been a part of Jeremiah’s life since birth. Since the age of 8, Jeremiah has been producing music and DJ’ing parties. All of this parties are equipped with lighting equipment, some that were custom made. In 2014, Jeremiah established D2Jay productions – his lighting, DJ’ing and music business. Jeremiah produces and engineers all of his tracks.. One day he hopes to expand his business to photography and videography. Jeremiah enjoys listening and sampling music from various eras. His hobbies include robotics, videography and creating electronics from spare parts. Jeremiah is pursuing a career in music and will continue to do so after he graduates high school this June.


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