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Mikki Taylor, BA, MFA

Essence Magazine Editor-at-Large - Founder and President of Mikki Taylor Enterprises, LLC - Roselle, New Jersey

Senior Advisor of Collaboration

Mikki Taylor is the quintessential authority on all matters regarding beauty and style. From A-list celebrities and world-renowned cover models, to women-in-the-know, Mikki influences all types of women with her vision of beauty and style. She has devoted a lifetime to helping women manage their inner and outer beauty and inspiring them to own their lives to the fullest.
For 30 years, Taylor served as ESSENCE Magazine’s groundbreaking Beauty & Cover Director, and is now Editor-at-Large for the publication. In addition, she is the Founder and President of Mikki Taylor Enterprises, LLC, which serves as a holding company for a number of vertical businesses, including Satin Doll Productions, a full-service image building and consulting division, and MT Communications, a strategic communications and branding company.
Taylor has offered beauty and style advice through all types of media, including broadcast, digital and of course, print outlets, which culminated in her wildly successful book, Self-Seduction: Your Ultimate Path to Inner and Outer Beauty (Ballantine Books/One World). This triumph left readers craving more, therefore the sequel, Commander-in-Chic: Every Woman’s Guide to Managing Her Style Like a First Lady (Atria Books/Simon & Schuster), hit store shelves on November 29, 2011.
Taylor has joined forces with AMBI Skincare, a division of Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products Company, as the brand’s newly-appointed national spokesperson in an effort dedicated to empower, inspire, and celebrate women of color. AMBI Skincare’s 45-year heritage as the trusted brand for even-toned, beautiful skin perfectly complements Taylor’s 30-year career as a renowned beauty expert. This alliance will provide women with the tools and resources necessary to feel beautiful inside and out.
Taylor has been featured on many television outlets, including: The Oprah Winfrey Show, The View, TODAY, Weekend Today, The Early Show, NBC Nightly News, EXTRA, Inside Edition, E! Entertainment Television, CNN, TV Guide Channel, VH1, Style Network, Life & Style, WE-TV, CBS 2 Morning News, the Style Network, Pure Oxygen, BET, Mo’Nique’s Fat Chance and TV One. Viewers also received a weekly dose of Taylor’s positive influence on VH1’s highest rated debut series Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School, which premiered to more than five million viewers. Each week, Taylor served as the voice of reason and compassion as she imparted to the women honest, valuable information, insight and tips to help the contestants—and the women who watched the show—live a better, more productive, pride-filled life. She also served as the host of the TV One series Makeover Manor.
One of Taylor’s most treasured experiences was a trip to South Africa, at the special invitation of Oprah Winfrey, where she served as an instructor to 149 girls ages 12-14, at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls as part of its Arts Workshop 2007. Taylor taught a course called Celebrating Your Unique Beauty & Style, a three-part workshop that addressed practical and timeless elements of social graces and the essential basics of inner and outer beauty, and Your Best Shot, a session which taught the skills to insure a phenomenal photograph.
In 2007, the Black Retail Action Group (BRAG) honored Taylor at its 37th annual scholarship and awards dinner, acknowledging those who have penetrated and embraced the world of beauty in a significant way both in front and behind the scenes. She is also a four-time recipient of the CEBA Award, a former industry award acknowledging excellence in African-American media, as well as the winner of the Associated Black Charities Image Makers Award.
Another prized accomplishment of Taylor was organizing an annual beauty event where proceeds from the sale of products benefitted homeless and underprivileged women through the Cosmetic Executive Women’s (CEW) Women In Need, a nonprofit organization that services shelters in and around New York City. Taylor is also a member of the President’s Council of Fashion Group International, Inc., where she previously served as a member of its board of directors.

What happens to a dream


Does it dry up

Like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore--

And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and sugar over--

like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags

like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

 ~ Langston Hughes ~

Intelligence plus character -

that is the goal

of true education.

~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ~


With doubt and dismay

you are smitten

You think there's no chance

for you, (daughter) son?

Why, the best books

haven't been written

The best race hasn't been run,

The best score

hasn't been made yet,

The best song hasn't been sung,

The best tune

hasn't been played yet,

Cheer up, for the world is young!

No chance?

Why the world is just eager

For things that you ought to create

Its store of true wealth is still meagre

Its needs are incessant and great,

It yearns for more power and beauty

More laughter and love and romance,

More loyalty, labor and duty,

No chance--

why there's nothing but chance!

For the best verse

hasn't been rhymed yet,

The best house hasn't been planned,

The highest peak

hasn't been climbed yet,

The mightiest rivers aren't spanned,

Don't worry and fret, faint hearted,

The chances have just begun,

For the Best jobs haven't been started,

The Best work hasn't been done.

~ Berton Braley ~

Courage is more than a daring deed:

It's the breath of life

and a strong woman's creed.

~ Edgar Guest ~

Be the best that you can be

Pursue your goals persistently

Make your fondest dreams come true

and most of all believe in you

~ Author Unknown ~

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches on the soul

And sings the tune without the words

And never stops - at all

~ Emily Dickinson ~

My mission in life is not merely

to survive, but to thrive;

and to do so with some passion,

some compassion, some humor,

and some style.

~ Maya Angelou ~

Mistakes are a fact of life.

It is the response to the error

that counts.

~ Nikki Giovanni ~

With the new day comes

new strength and new thoughts.

~ Eleanor Roosevelt ~

Optimism is the faith that leads

to achievement.

Nothing can be done

without hope and confidence.

~ Helen Keller ~

It always seems impossible

until it's done.

~ Nelson Mandela ~

We delight in the beauty

of the butterfly but rarely admit

the changes it has gone through

to achieve that beauty.”

~ Maya Angelou ~

Believe you can and

you’re halfway there.

~ Theodore Roosevelt ~

​I used to want the words

"She Tried" on my tombstone.

Now I want "She Did It." 

~ Katherine Dunham ~

The question is not whether

we can afford to invest
in every child; it is whether

we can afford not to. 

~ Marian Wright
Edelman ~

Never underestimate the

power of dreams

and the influence

of the human spirit.

We are all the same

in this notion:
The potential for greatness

lives within each of us.
~ Wilma Rudolph ~

Whatever we believe

about ourselves

and our ability

comes true for us. 

~ Susan L. Taylor ~

Never be limited by

other people's limited


~ Dr. Mae Jemison ~


Success is to be measured

not so much by the position

that one has reached in life

as by the obstacles which

he (she)

has overcome

while trying to succeed.

~ Booker T. Washington ~

Hold fast to dreams,

for if dreams die,

life is a broken winged bird

that cannot fly.

~ Langston Hughes ~

Education is the passport

to the future, for tomorrow

belongs to those

who prepare for it today.

~ Malcolm X ~

The time is always right

to do what is right.

~ Dr. Martin Luther King ~

No one can make you feel


without your consent.

~ Eleanor Roosevelt ~

The most common way

people give up their power

is by thinking

they don’t have any.

~ Alice Walker ~

Keep your face

to the sunshine and you

can never see the shadow.

~ Helen Keller ~

Don’t count the days,

make the days count.

~ Muhammad Ali ~One of the lessons that I

grew up with was

to always stay true

to yourself and never let

what somebody else says

distract you from your goals.

~ Michelle Obama ~

Surround yourself

with only people who

are going to lift you higher.

~ Oprah Winfrey ~

Never be limited by

other people’s limited imaginations.

If you adopt their attitudes,

then the possibility won’t exist

because you’ll have already

shut it out…

You can hear other people’s wisdom,

but you’ve got to

re-evaluate the world for yourself.

~ Mae Jemison ~

Every great dream

begins with a dreamer.

Always remember,

you have within you the strength,

the patience, and the passion

to reach for the stars

to change the world.

 ~ Harriet Tubman ~

Marcia Thornton, AA, BA

Human Resource Specialist - Walter Reed Medical Center - Fort Washington, Maryland

Deputy CFO / Director of Recognition

Marcia Thornton is a native of Guyana, South America. She holds professional degrees in both Business Management and Human Resources from the American Inter-Continental University. In 1997, top hospitality companies such as Starwood and Kimpton Hotels recruited Thornton and played an instrumental role in preparing her with a unique level of expertise in Management, Communications, and Data Systems.

Thornton has a diverse professional portfolio which strongly empowers her career and immediately makes her an asset to any advisory team. Currently, she consults as a Program Analyst for the Federal Government at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. In this role, her primary focus is on data collection, statistical analysis, and training for Military personnel.

On a personal level, Marcia Thornton is the loving wife of Marcus Thornton and the mother of two great children - Xavier and Mia. She is the daughter of Wycliffe Leitch and the late Ursula Johnson. Her siblings include one sister, one brother, and three step sisters.

Roni F. Turner, BA, MBA

Entrepreneur - Atlanta, Georgia

Director of Marketing

​Roni F. Turner is a proud graduate of Delaware State University were she received a BA in Public Relations and an MBA in Management. She has 12 years of experience in integrated marketing (public relations, marketing, and advertising), having worked for companies such as Nike, NASCAR, NAACP, Edelman Public Relations Worldwide, and 135th Street Agency before becoming an entrepreneur. In her experience she has worked on campaigns for NEA, Essence Magazine, Def Jam Records,, BET, Vibe Magazine, Radio One, R&B Live, VH1, and Lions Gate - to name a few. Roni has served as public relations assistant to American actor Malik Yoba best known for his roles in television shows Empire and New York Undercover and movies Why Did I Get Married and Cool Runnings.

Former Miss Delaware State University and Miss Black Delaware USA, Roni’s message has always been one that promotes self-love and appreciation among girls and women. She now serves as a relationship blogger and dating consultant targeting single successful women of color and the men who love them.

As Director of Marketing for Sensible Women Initiative, she is excited to lead the charge of branding the organization as it transitions to a national reality!

Naomi K. Wright, BA, MA, SAC

Professional Services Specialist I - L.E.A.P Coordinator - Newark, New Jersey

Vice President of Advancement

Ms. Naomi Wright is a native of Newark, New Jersey. She was reared in private schools and holds a degree in Early Childhood/ Elementary Education.

After completing her Bachelor of Art degree from Kean University, Ms. Wright became Director of a Daycare Center in Jersey City, New Jersey. A year later she received a full presidential scholarship and decided to go back to school to obtain her Masters Degree in Urban Education and Business Administration. Her first professional career was in 1977 where she worked as an Administrative Academic Advisor for the Opportunity Scholarship Program at New Jersey City University. She loved this calling to work in higher education. So for the past 37 years, Naomi has held the following positions at the University: Assistant Director, Evening Coordinator, Summer Dormitory Director, Veteran’s Coordinator, Adjunct Professor, Teacher Internship Supervisor, Student Probationary Coordinator, Student Union Advisor, and President of the Black Administrators, Alumni, Faculty, Student, and Staff organization among other roles and titles.

Ms. Wright is devoted to the field of education. To date she has also secured her Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) and qualifies as a Drug and Substance Abuse Administrator. She has secured three Master Degrees. She considers herself to be a lifelong learner. Her greatest passion is working with people at risk. For several years, she worked as a Supervisor Mentor and taught drug and alcohol classes at Integrity House Inc. in Newark, and worked with male inmates at Mountainview Correctional Facility in New Jersey. She is certified with the Essex County Superior Court where she mediates in the tenant/landlord courts and applies her conciliation training skills with troubled juveniles. 

In her spare time, she has enjoyed working as a Field Representative for the Department of Commerce in New York City. You will always find Ms. Wright reading or singing with the Newark Adult Chorus at nursing homes, hospitals, and prisons. Through the effort of shared cooperation, she started a “Feed the Homeless Program” at the Montclair Church of Christ three years ago which to date has fed nearly 500 individuals.

Ms. Wright is married to her best friend, Brother Ray Wright – Minister of the Montclair Church of Christ.

Avis Yates-Rivers, BBA

CEO of Technology Concepts Group International, LLC. (TCGi) - New York City, New York

Senior Advisor of Longevity

Avis Yates Rivers is the President and CEO of Technology Concepts Group International, LLC. (TCGi), a global asset, expense and procurement management firm.  She possesses more than 35 years of general management experience in the information technology industry and has been a successful tech entrepreneur for over 30 years.

At a young age, Avis demonstrated the unique ability to envision possibilities and recognize opportunities. She credits growing up with five siblings in New York City as an important period in her life that prepared her well for the challenges that lie ahead. Her mother and father were both blue-collar, hard-working parents that instilled the benefits of learning and caring about their community. Avis remembers how her father always took classes to expand his mind and improving his station in life, encouraging and inspiring Avis to do the same. Every family lesson paid off.

Prior to establishing her first company in 1985, Ms. Yates Rivers enjoyed an 11-year career at Exxon Corporation and its subsidiaries. She rose to the rank of Account Executive as a result of successfully marketing a line of early technology products from Exxon Office Systems Company in New York City. When Exxon sold the Office Systems Division, Avis decided to branch out on her own, which led to the founding of her first company.  She went on to found several firms over the years, culminating with Technology Concepts Group International, LLC (TCGi).  With its innovative supply chain solutions, TCGi specializes in reducing the cost of IT Asset Management, IT Procurement Management and Tail Spend Management. Through its Equipment Financing Division, TCGi delivers flexible payment options to its valuable customers.  January 2015 marked her 30th anniversary of business ownership.

A strong believer in the late Shirley Chisholm’s ideal that “service is the rent you pay for the privilege of living on this earth,” Avis subscribes to both the principles and the practice of being “in service.” She is a long-time advocate for the increased utilization of minority and women-owned businesses and has served in many leadership positions in national organizations such as NMSDC and WBENC. She is also a change agent for increasing the meaningful participation of women and people of color in technology as a member of the Board of Directors and “Sit With Me” Spokesperson of the National Center for Women and Information Technology.

Her many accolades include Entrepreneur of the Year, Woman of Distinction, the Shirley Chisholm Award for Business, Top 10 Women in Technology and Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneurs & Business Owners, along with her White House Champion of Change in STEM honor awarded by President Barack Obama.

She is a nationally recognized thought-leader and in-demand global speaker.  Her first book, Necessary Inclusion: Embracing the Changing Faces of Technology, was launched in December 2016.