BROWN GIRLS LEAD is a leadership development organization focused on building a strong pipeline of Black women leaders dedicated to creating positive changes in the community. BGL was created to help break the glass ceiling of leadership for Black women in their personal, professional and public lives.
Meet Our Founder, Stefanie Brown James
A passionate leader, Stefanie Brown James is a master of making the political, personal. She has dedicated her life to empowering people to organize and advocate for justice and equality in their communities. Stefanie is the CEO and Founding Partner of Vestige Strategies, LLC; a Washington, DC-based public affairs firm that specializes in grassroots community and civic engagement strategies. Through her role at Vestige, Stefanie works with domestic and international clients to help build and sustain strategic relationships while empowering the community in the process.
This Bedford Heights, Ohio-native, honed her skills while working concurrently as the National Field Director and National Director of the Youth & College Division for the NAACP. In the process of overseeing the organization’s 2,200 adult branches and representing the 23,000 under-25 youth, Stefanie helped NAACP units identify their pressing issues and crafted creative solutions that turned citizens into stakeholders, and non-traditional partners into allies.
In fact, her reputation precedes her, which is why it only made sense that President Obama would bring her onboard to work as his campaign’s National African American Vote Director for the 2012 election cycle. She didn’t just convince a record breaking 66.2% of eligible Black voters to cast ballots, she also empowered a massive volunteer force to engage their friends, family and neighbors, by bypassing the tired tactics of political insiders and getting to know who they are and what they need to be their most successful selves.
It’s a strategy that the 2004 Howard University grad and member of the university's Board of Trustees also employs as the Founder and Executive Director of Brown Girls Lead, a leadership development organization focused on helping collegiate and professional women cultivate the skills they need to effect positive social change on their campuses and in their communities.
Yet even with her many accolades - like being recognized as one of the 50 most influential people changing the way we think about campaigns by Campaigns & Election Magazine, in The Grio 100, The Root 100 and by Essence and Ebony Magazines - Stefanie is most proud of the wonderful union she shares with her husband Quentin James. As a couple who plays hard and works harder together, they share co-ownership of their company Vestige Strategies.
Meet the Brown Girls Lead Planning Team
SHELISE DANDRIDGE-WHITTED started her career as an Information Technology (IT) Consultant in September 2005. As an Information Technology Consultant, Shelise has worked in the Banking, Commercial and Government industries during the course of her career. She currently is an Independent IT Consultant contracting with the US Army. She is a team player and has held multiple IT consultancy positions to include: Data Lead, Support Lead, Project Manager and IT Trainer. Prior to working in IT, she worked in Mortgage Finance and Internal Audit. Shelise received a B.B.A. in International Finance from Howard University in May 2002. She later received her M.B.A. with a concentration in International Finance from DePaul University Kellstadt Graduate School of Business in June 2005.
RUSSELL L. DAVIS-ROGERS works at the U.S. Department of Education serving as a Special Assistant with Strategic Partnerships in the Office of the Secretary. There she works on special projects including President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative. Previously, she served as Chief of Staff for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans and a Confidential Assistant in the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education. Prior to joining the department, Russella served as a Center Aide Coordinator for Higher Achievement’s Afterschool Academy and the metro-Detroit Regional Field Director for Organizing for America where she led a multi-tiered volunteer organization implementing President Obama’s national agenda. A native Detroiter, Russella has received the “Spirit of Detroit” award, which is the highest honor awarded to a resident for her commitment in service to the citizens of Detroit. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from Howard University and a Master of Liberal Arts from Johns Hopkins University.