Board Members

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Dr. Joseph L. Jones- Interim Board President

Dr. Joseph L. Jones is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Clark-Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia. He received his B.A. in Political Science from Philander Smith College and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from Clark-Atlanta University. He was the Founding Executive Director of the Social Justice Institute at Philander Smith College and the 14 th President of Arkansas Baptist College. Dr. Jones held academic fellowships at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University and the Black Panther Party Research Project at Stanford University. Additionally, he received numerous awards and recognitions including the Fannie Lou Hamer Community Service Award from the National Conference of Black Political Scientist in 2012 and the Bobby E. Wright Courageous Award from the National Association of Black Psychologists in 2016 for his work towards social justice. He recently published a book entitled called “The Purgatory of Consciousness: Black Politics in the Age of Obama” and will release another called “Black, Not Historically Black: Towards the Pan-Black College” in the summer of 2022.

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Natasha Williams

Natasha (she/her/hers) is a Ph.D. student at the University of Maryland studying family science. After undergrad at Florida State, she completed her M.S. in Human Development and Family Studies with a specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy at Purdue University Calumet. While at Purdue, Natasha taught courses in statistics, human sexuality, and behavior disorders. Her thesis explored the relationship between childhood disciplinary experiences and adult conflict tactics for African American couples. Natasha’s clinical work and academic research focus on the mental health of LGBT people of color, as well as their access to mental health treatment. In her free time, Natasha enjoys experimenting with global cuisines, visiting with family, and cheering on her Seminoles and Jacksonville Jaguars in football.

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Donovan Shavers

Donovan L. Shavers-Cobb is a Public Health Educator and Community Health Advocate. He's the Founder and Executive Director of The Shavers-Cobb Foundation, a not-for-profit Public Health organization whose work is grounded in health disparities research, education, and community advocacy in the pursuit of achieving health equity. Shavers-Cobb, a native of Pine Bluff, AR, attended both the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, earning a Bachelor of Science in Regulatory Science and a Master of Public Health in Health Policy and Management.

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Elign Davis

Elgin Davis is a creative professional who graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Computer Science. His solo podcast "More Human", currently streaming to listeners in over 20 different countries around the world, focuses on raising awareness of mental and emotional wellness concepts, while also finding creative and innovative ways to help individuals improve how they understand themselves and interact with each other as humans. Elgin is also a strong writer and has pioneered an impactful mental-health-awareness newsletter, as well as penning several related articles and a collection of inspired poetry. He has taught computer literacy, entrepreneurship, and life skills to the youth of South Africa in previous years through the Mamelodi Initiative, and has lived and worked in France, Germany, and the US as a Software Engineer and User Experience Designer. In his free time, he enjoys creating mobile games and apps, digital illustration and character design, and learning new languages for future traveling adventures.

Leadership Team

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Dimika Nelson - Director of Programs & Partnerships

Dimika Nelson is a Virginia native, and United States Airforce Veteran. With a passion for service; she joins L &J Empowerment and The Confess Project by way of AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), as a 2-year Americorps VISTA alumni.

Dimika is an experienced and trauma-informed Human Service Professional with a demonstrated 7 year history of working in the Individual, Child, and Family Services field. Skilled in Prevention, Program Management, Crisis Counseling, Volunteer Management, Staff/Team Development, and Community Organizing.

Dimika is a strong, supportive Community and Social Services Professional with a Master's degree focused in Human Services from Purdue University Global.

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Darnell Rice - Director of Membership & Engagement

Mr. Darnell L. Rice is a Native of St. Louis, Mo. By way of Pine Bluff Arkansas. Mr. Rice is a Proud Alumni of The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Rehabilitation Science and a Master’s Degree in Management and Leadership from Webster University. He has a career centered in Social Services to young people and adults. Mr. Rice is a Member of the 100 Black Men of Little Rock.

Mr. Rice is Adjunct Professor at Shorter College on the 2nd Chance Pell Grant where he empowers and instructs students to become better men and women of society that are incarcerated in the prison system. Mr. Rice is very passionate about social issues and social justice. Mr. Rice is Program Facilitator/ Project Manager for the Confess Project. Impacting the lives of Boys of Color and Black Men to increase mental health awareness.

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Donovan Shavers

Donovan L. Shavers-Cobb is a Public Health Educator and Community Health Advocate. He's the Founder and Executive Director of The Shavers-Cobb Foundation, a not-for-profit Public Health organization whose work is grounded in health disparities research, education, and community advocacy in the pursuit of achieving health equity. Shavers-Cobb, a native of Pine Bluff, AR, attended both the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, earning a Bachelor of Science in Regulatory Science and a Master of Public Health in Health Policy and Management.

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Lorenzo Lewis- Founder

On behalf of the Board of Directors, Board Chairmen Mark Gardener and myself of L&J Empowerment Inc. We welcome you all to become a part of our family here at The Confess Project. In May 2016, we answered the call. Arkansas Ranks 47th in the nation for individuals determined to have high prevalence of Mental Illness, and ranks 44th for poor access to services. This has not been an easy task and in fact, this has been a rollercoaster for us all; the moments of success have been sporadic but kept us all motivated to keep pushing along the journey. The disappointment has allowed us to remain optimistic while staying motivated to show up for our allies when needed. We are glad to call Little Rock home, our deep southern roots have allowed us to be authentic and faith-driven. We are also honored to know that we are the FIRST in the nation that truly addresses the Mental Health Challenges for Boys, Men of Color, and their Families through a grassroots movement. Change is never easy, and taking some of the most world’s critical problems under one mission is just not enough to drive change. The L&J Empowerment Inc. Management Team has contributed blood, sweat, and tears to making a solid difference even when things didn’t add up. We even took on the responsibilities of educating professionals, educators, and frontline support staff when working to improve the life outcomes for Boys, Men of Color, and their Families through a culturally specific lens. We are grateful for those that will continue leading with us in the years to come, The late Dr. Martin Luther King stated “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, Only Light can do that” We must continue to live in the light and through uneven circumstances let our light be the veal that exhibits our inner peace and passion. I have ultimate confidence when speaking power to Building a Culture of Mental Health and that long-term change will be effective. The Confess Project will remain committed to promoting positive mental health while transforming institutions, communities, and systems that will be applicable for men and their loved ones.