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Community leaders for change


TEDx Crenshaw has been putting the spotlight on successful Black community leaders as they open up their businesses, attain accolades, and change the perception of how South Central residents are viewed in the media.

The women highlighted for their achievements and community work at last week’s event included Nicole Walker, Nyleve Henry and India Willaims.

Walker currently works as the environmental compliance manager for the Ontario International Airport Authority, one of the fastest-growing airports in the nation. She is also the vice president of the I am Project for Literacy. The I Am Project is dedicated to advocating for literacy, entrepreneurship, and self-accountability by inspiring the youth to aim high and respect intelligence along with themselves.

Walker also has the pleasure of serving as the Southern California political director for the California Democratic Party’s Black Caucus and chair for the Los Angeles Urban League Young Professionals. Her son and the community as a whole, both serve as her inspiration to become more involved in social justice and politics.

Henry has extensive experience in CPG (consumer packaged goods) supply chain operations, executive project management, avant-garde fashion design, and grassroots content campaigns.

Passionate about sustainability in the fashion and food industries, Henry is now the CEO of a fashion/tech startup (Looks For Lease) with a mission to significantly reduce toxic landfill waste within the fashion industry through innovative circular inventory management strategies.

In her TED talk, Henry highlighted how humans create an average of 1.13 to 2.24 million metric tons of waste that is leaked into oceans and the environment every year. She urges the community to eliminate plastic or find ways to reuse the same plastic before throwing it away.

Williams has recently started her foundation ScaleLA, which aims to aid youth by inspiring purpose in community members by leveraging entrepreneurial thinking to solve society’s challenges. Williams started her nonprofit company after graduating college and realizing her love for philanthropic work while volunteering at a local Inglewood school.

During Williams’s time volunteering, she was able to oversee and help students learn about business in their social-level business class, this helped Williams see how big and creative the kids were.

“While I visited the class, the students were taught what a B-corp was and how a sneaker brand used its profits to build trees.” she said. “I watched as kids joined groups to brainstorm their business ideas and were tasked with using resources around them to make shoes. I saw a kid take foil he meant to throw away and cut it up into a design to match his friend’s Jordan sneakers. I could not believe how fast and creative he was able to create a business concept for himself.”

Shortly after Williams’s experience in the classroom, the school shut down, but that didn’t stop her from realizing how she could help local youth.

“I started ScaleInspire with a flagship program called mentor to mentor,” Williams said. “We combine innovation, mentoring, and entrepreneurship to create an opportunity for youth and others.”

Williams explained that her program has already led to one student being able to create an app called Ohana, a communication pathway that gamifies relationship building while fostering more effective and direct communication around challenging topics.

TEDx Crenshaw will soon transform into Tedx South Central, a name change which will demonstrate its expansion and plan to cover more of the area’s Black community.

Our Weekly coverage of local news in Los Angeles County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support minority-owned-and-operated community newspapers across California.