Young Educated Ladies Leading

Young Educated Ladies Leading

May 13, 2023, 8:30am-2:30pm — Highline College, Bld. 8



Crowning the Queen in You


To empower and motivate our young women of color to excel in academics and to accept nothing less than excellence from self.


  • Critique life, education and careers social norms that inhibit young women of color from being recognized for their success.
  • Highlight the achievements in spite of the obstacles/barriers that they face.
  • Contextualize their self-identity socially, culturally, historically, and politically by giving the women of color a sense of self and value of self.

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8:30 - 9:00 am Registration with Grab & Go Breakfast Available
9:00 - 9:15 am Opening
9:15 - 10:15 am Keynote Address with Q&A: Ruby Ibarra
Who Am I? Cultivating Your Voice and Story

Rapper, spoken word artist, and Scientist Ruby Ibarra shares her personal experiences and journey in her music and STEM career. As a 1st generation Filipina-American, Ruby explores themes such as identity and culture, while highlighting the roles that education and mental health have played in her careers. Additionally, she identifies how she has navigated educational, professional, and artistic spaces as both an immigrant and as a woman. Ruby's mission with her work inside and outside of music stresses the importance of finding your voice and owning your story.

10:30 - 11:45 pm
Dr. Ciera Graham
Ignite You: Cultivating an authentic leadership identity

Black girls and women have been at the forefront of social change, from grassroots, to communities, to Black Lives Matter. They have played an extraordinary role in shaping the moral compass of America, and helping alleviate social and economic problems in society. While Black women and girls have defied traditional forms of leadership, and redefined what it means to show up as your authentic self, we still face backlash, and discrimination for being a leader in our schools, community and society. This workshop will provide you an opportunity to learn about your authentic leadership style, and how your leadership and power can be used to influence local and societal change. You will also walk away with tips and strategies on how to lead during times of distress, change, and racism. Through music, group activities, and self-activities, attendees will walk away feeling empowered to define and continue to cultivate their leadership identity.

Haben Haileslassie
Passion Posters

Passion Posters is an example of a creative protest that exposes students and participants to current events in and outside their local environment. Each participant picks a social justice topic they are passionate about and visually represents why that topic matters to them. Students get the opportunity to express their creativity while also reflecting on issues they care about which might one day inspire them to be a part of that change.

Nitasha Lewis
The Price of Success Is My Smile

This workshop will explore the conversation between Nikki Giovanni and James Baldwin surrounding code-switching in the workplace.

Ashley Kay Smith
Imagine YOUR greatness!

In this workshop you will leave empowered to walk fully in your purpose. We will do this by learning how to believe in ourselves, silencing the negative voices and learning how to become what we imagine our future to look like. Our workshop will be filled with interactive activities, music, and real talk conversations centering your voice.

Alanah M. Dillard
Mental Health and Self Care

What is mental health? Culturally inclusive strategies and practices for healing. Developing mental resiliency and promoting holistic emotional wellbeing for yourself and others.

Samantha Moreno
Learning to lace up my boots and straighten my crown

Entering a male dominated field as a young woman looking to make a difference in her community has its expectations. The expectations were set by not only the community, my new employer, new coworkers, but expectations I had set for myself. Self-doubt definitely made an appearance, and who I thought I was, was challenged. My only option was to lace up boots, straighten my crown and accept the challenge set forth for me. I had to accept that maybe the person who I had told myself I was, is not truly the person that I am. And I needed to accept and embrace the true me. I did not expect to learn so much about myself, the confidence that was instilled, and the self-transformation that occurred. Join me in discussing how my training, my-coworkers, my experiences as an Officer, and those expectations that were set for me in the beginning fostered my journey and self-transformation.

Taimane Tuia'ana
Exploring Indigenous Queer and Trans Identity

Long ago, four extraordinary beings of dual male and female spirit brought the healing arts from Tahiti to Hawaii and imbued their powers in four giant boulders. The stones still stand on Waikiki Beach, but the true story behind them has been hidden. Come explore as we discuss the importance of our Queer and Trans identities through a cultural lens.

Bessie Gordon-Verrett
Gettin’ Messy with Miss Bessie: Real-talk, Real Action

Sistas! It’s okay to color outside the lines. Life can be messy, but that doesn't mean you have to suffer in silence and alone. Join us for a transformative workshop where we'll delve into the challenges we face as Queens of our communities and explore the beauty in our resilience. Our featured speaker will share her inspiring journey of triumph over trauma and how she achieved success in her education and life despite the odds. Together, we'll learn how to embrace the messiness of life as an allegory for growth and self-care. Come join us and discover how to thrive in the midst of chaos!

DarNesha Weary
Living a life of abundance & beating the odds

Deep down you KNOW what your purpose is: to share your own unique gifts with the world so that everyone you touch is empowered in a life-changing way. I’m here to tell you that ease and abundance are yours for the taking. YOU just have to be willing to do the work! If you’re ready to finally start living out your dreams with incredible power and purpose, it’s time to go all-in.

Liz Huizar
Las Cancion Rebelde: Mujer Fuerte! (The Rebellious Songs: Strong Women!)

Young women: you are intelligent, you are brave and above all, you are FUERTE (strong). In a world that wants you to stay quiet, the highest act of rebellion is to find your voice and use it. In this workshop, we will explore the complexities of being a young woman in 2023. By exploring the music of female artists such as Gloria Trevi, Shakira, Karol G and others, you will be inspired to use your own voice no matter the challenges you undergo. Tap into your Mujer Furte Era #period.

12:00 - 1:00 pm Leadership Activity with Monica Cortés Viharo

This interactive workshop is designed to empower women to speak up and be heard! By using verbal and non-verbal communication techniques we can tackle intimidating communication tasks such as presenting, interviewing, networking, and advocating for ourselves and others. Through posture, breathing, vocal, and relaxation exercises, women can combat public speaking anxiety, own their voices, and tell their stories.

1:00 - 1:15 pm Closing
1:15 - 2:30 pm Lunch/Resource Fair


Registration for the 2023 Y.E.L.L. Conference is now closed. Please email us or call (206) 592-3301 if you have any questions.

Frequently asked Questions


Do I need to register for the summit?


When I tried to register, it said that registration had closed. Is there a waitlist I can get on?

Unfortunately, we are unable to have a waitlist for the summit. Registration is capped at our capacity plus 30 percent, which takes into account the substantial number of no-show attendees on the day of the summit.

I forgot to register/registration is closed. Can I just show up to the summit?

Only registered students will be guaranteed admittance to the summit. If an unregistered student shows up on the day of the summit, they will be required to wait in the will call area until all registered students have been processed. In the event that there is still space available after all the registered students have been admitted, unregistered students will be admitted in the order that they arrived. After we have reached capacity, any remaining unregistered students are required to leave the campus for liability purposes.


Why can’t middle school aged students attend?

Although we have allowed 8th grade students to attend in previous years, the summit is now reserved for high school students only for the following reasons:

Maturity level: The planning committee strives to bring presenters and topics to the summit that speak to current events and issues important to young students of color. As many of the topics discussed revolve around the dense and multi-faceted issue of social justice, many middle school students do not have the comprehension level needed to both engage in, and respect, this dialogue.

Behavior: Attending the summit requires students to have the strong personal responsibility and critical listening skills that are more common in older students; we simply do not have the staff or the ability to continuously monitor individuals who need to be reminded consistently to behave appropriately.

How long is the summit?

The summit is an all-day event, from approximately 8:00am to 4:00pm.

What if I arrive late?

We cannot facilitate late arrivals. Our registration and check-in tables open at 8:00 am sharp and close promptly at 9:15 am when the keynote speaker begins. IF YOU ARRIVE AFTER 9:15 AM, EVEN IF YOU HAVE REGISTERED, YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO ATTEND THE SUMMIT.

Cost, Location, and Programming

How much does it cost to attend?

The summit is FREE to attend.

Where is the summit?

The student summit is located in the Student Union Building (Bldg 8) on the Highline College campus, with adult chaperone programming located in Building 7. Individual student workshops are held in various classrooms on campus; students are escorted by summit volunteers to and from these classrooms.

Do I need to bring my own food?

No. Breakfast, lunch, and snacks will be provided for you.

What workshops will I be attending?

Workshops will be assigned as students are processed through the registration table the day of the summit.

I want to see a particular workshop presenter. How can I ensure a seat in her specific workshop?

To ensure equal workshop sizes, students are assigned a workshop. Students are not able to choose their workshops. However, workshop presentations are thoroughly screened by the Y.E.L.L. Planning Committee to ensure each workshop is equally informative, engaging, and impactful.

For Adult Chaperones

I’m an adult chaperone for a school/organization but I don’t know which students I’m bringing yet. Can I just hold some spots?

No. All attendees (both students and adults) must be registered individually to attend. We can NOT hold spots under any circumstances.

I’m a chaperone and some of the registered students I was supposed to bring can’t come. Can I substitute different students in their place?

No. If a student or adult has registered but is unable to attend, they cannot substitute another individual.

As a chaperone, will I stay with my student throughout the day?

No. Adult chaperones/attendees and students are on different activity tracks in different buildings. The summit is for the students and part of the impact of the summit comes from being able to have real, open dialogue. Please respect this space and understand that you will be reconnected with your students at the close of the summit.

I’m a chaperone who is bringing multiple students. Can I send you a list of the students attending instead of registering them all?

We greatly appreciate attendees or adult chaperones registering themselves and/or their students. Having attendees or chaperones directly enter their information increases accuracy, so we politely ask that you register attendees individually.

I want to see a particular workshop presenter. How can I ensure a seat in her specific workshop?

As the summit is geared focused and created for high school aged females, chaperones are not permitted to sit in on these workshops; adult chaperones are able to view the keynote speeches remotely but have a fixed adult chaperone agenda in an adjacent building.

This is a valuable, transformative event that I want to be a part of. How can I get involved?

If you would like to volunteer at this year’s or a future Summit, please contact Rashad Norris or Rickitia Reid.

My students received a t-shirt/lanyard/giveaway item. Do adult chaperones also receive giveaway items?

Unfortunately, adult chaperones are ineligible to receive giveaways. As Highline absorbs the entire cost of the summit, we decided to limit giveaways to students to increase the quality and quantity of items they receive.

Will all my students stay together if I bring a group of students?

One of the values of the summit is to encourage meaningful conversations and create new friendships. In order to facilitate this, students are assigned to workshops by individual rather than by school. Some students in you group may end up in the same workshop by chance, but it is highly unlikely that you student group will stay together for the entirety of the summit.

keynote speaker

Ruby Ibarra

Ruby Ibarra attended the University of California Davis with a major in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Until Spring 2021, she was a full-time Scientist in the quality control department at a Bay Area biotech company, with a focus on testing DNA samples. In 2020, her company and department worked towards projects for the creation of the vaccine. Ruby is also a rapper, spoken word artist, and director from the Bay Area, CA who released her debut album, CIRCA91, at the end of 2017 and has since toured across the United States and the Philippines, including universities, empowerment conferences, music venues, and spaces such as the National Mall in DC, the Getty Center, and the De Young Museum. Ruby has been featured on notable publications such as NPR, Huffington Post, Paper Mag, Vogue Philippines, XXL Magazine, NY Times, LA Times, SF Chronicle, and in a Grammys/MasterCard TV commercial and billboard campaign with R&B singer SZA. In 2022, Ruby was featured in additional billboard campaigns by Amazon Music and Spotify, and was a songwriter for Season 1 and 2 of the FOX Network’s hit TV show, The Cleaning Lady. Ruby’s song, “Us,” is currently featured in the widely popular video game, NBA2K23, and her music is available on all digital platforms and can be heard in several museum exhibits, films, and television features.


Dr. Ciera Graham

Dr. Ciera Graham-Graves serves as an experienced higher education professional, possessing over 13 years of experience. A native of Seattle, a first-generation college student, a visionary, and she has a passion for entrepreneurship. She owns her own Business, Dr.CGraham Consulting in which she provides career and leadership coaching for new to recent college graduates, and entry level professionals. She is also a freelance writer who writes on topics ranging from popular culture, diversity, equity and inclusion, career development, leadership and college and career readiness. Her work has been featured in Business Insider, Career Contessa, Seattle Times, the Everett Herald, CollegeXpress, Medium and more. Dr. Graham received her Bachelor's degree in Sociology and a Master's in Community Counseling from Washington State University, and a PhD in Sociology in August 2015 at the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Graham has been described as tenacious, innovative, forward thinking, a leader who leads with gratitude, and someone empowered to create a win-win situation for everyone she meets. In Feb 2019, Dr. Graham was named the Top 4 Emerging Leaders of Snohomish County, an award given by the Herald.

Haben Haileslassie

Haben Haileslassie is the Project Manager and Youth Director of Grounded: An award-winning nonprofit organization located at Black Coffee Northwest that aims to heal and thrive black and brown youth. She is currently studying Criminal Justice at Shoreline Community College with the intention of working in Victim Advocacy, mainly focusing on Gender and Sexual Based Violence. Haben has been an active member in bringing awareness of injustices from being an officer of the Shorecrest High School Black Student Union to advocating for the Genocide victims in her home state Tigray, Ethiopia. Her goal is to help and heal members of vulnerable populations while creating safe spaces for people to breathe and come together.

Nitasha Lewis

Nitasha Lewis became a mom at the age of 16 and faced every barrier associated with such an occurrence. Later in life, Nitasha turned to education to pursue a better life. She obtained her associates and bachelor’s degree from Peninsula College. Directly after, she obtained a master's degree in management and leadership, all as a single mom. Nitasha enjoys martial arts, journaling, and helping those that could use the scaffolding.

Ashley Kay Smith

Ashley Kay Smith has dedicated her life to working with youth and young adults. Her life mission is to ensure that every young person knows they are wanted, needed and that they matter to our world. Ashley Kay's why is centered around her personal story of being adopted, kicked out of school multiple times, being the first in her family to go to college, failing 19 college level classes but never allowing her life circumstances stop her from her dreams. Ashley Kay recently took the leap from working full time supporting first gen, low income students persist through college to now being a full-time entrepreneur. She is the CEO of Last Forever Images (photography company) and Imagine YOUniversity. In both of these roles, she strives to build the confidence of youth and High School Seniors and empower youth to become their own change agents. In addition, she also hosts Black Women events in Snohomish County where the primary focus is to have Black Women and families build a community of love, trust and support.

Alanah M. Dillard

Alanah M. Dillard is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and owner of Ace Odyssey Counseling Services PLLC. As a Relationship Space maker, she helps individuals and families make room for internal healing and new self-discoveries. Over 15 years of youth/family comprehensive clinician care for life's hardest moments. Multiple award recipient and featured in national magazines and a local podcast. Alanah is also an executive board of her beloved sorority, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., and is an active member of her church. Alanah reminds all of us, “Everywhere you go, you take you with you, be the best you can be!

Samantha Moreno

My name is Samantha Moreno, I moved a lot as a kid but grew up primarily in the Kent area. I am the daughter of a military dependent and of a Mexican immigrant. After high school, I graduated from Highline College with an Associate’s degree and then Bastyr University with a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Exercise Science. After realizing my degree only created opportunities for individualized impacts I wanted to make a more widespread impact on my community. This is when I made the decision to pursue a career in Law Enforcement.

Taimane Tuia'ana

Taimane "Mane" Tuia'ana (she/her) was born and raised on Ancestral lands of the Duwamish people and currently resides on the land of the Puyallup Nation. Taimane is the proud child of Fa'amamata Pisa Lologo hailing from the village of Amouli, Tutuila in American Samoa and Iefata Mane Tuia'ana hailing from the village of Atu'u, Tutuila in American Samoa. Taimane is a proud unapologetic Fa'afafine, Queer, Transwomen of Color. She has been serving her Pacific Islander Community for 13+ years advocating for Pacific Islander youth and now serves UTOPIA Washington as the MANA Program Manager advocating for all QTBIPOC youth in King County/Pierce County.

Bessie Gordon-Verrett

Bessie Gordon, also known as Miss Bessie, is an award-winning community activist, social innovator, nonprofit executive, and a member of the administration of Green River College. Born to loving parents unable to break addictions that led to their long experiences in the justice system, Bessie grew up in the foster care system. She knew early on that education was going to be the only way she could break the cycles of poverty and instability. Today, she uses her lived experience as an asset to the community she serves, helping others navigate complicated systems through real-talk and grassroots action. Bessie is a 2022 graduate of Green River College, where she served as president of the Black Student Union, and is currently pursuing her degree in Human Resources Administration at Western Governors University.

DarNesha Weary

Dar’Nesha Weary is a Seattle native with over twenty years of experience in the nonprofit sector, where her mission has been to serve others, build community, and make a positive impact by challenging racism, promoting acceptance of people from different backgrounds, raising awareness, and using her voice to address hate and to promote kindness.

Monica Cortés Viharo

Dr. Monica Cortés Viharo is the Associate Dean for Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at Seattle Central College, and teaches in the American Ethnic Studies department at the University of Washington. She is also the performance coach for TEDx Youth Seattle and a company member of eSe Teatro, a Seattle-based Latina/Spanish-language theater company. As a communication consultant, she has worked with individuals and organizations throughout Washington state, including the Washington State Trio Association, and Seattle Children’s Hospital. She earned her PhD in Drama and a Certificate in Public Scholarship at the University of Washington. Her scholarship in performance studies and Latina feminism has been published in Theatre Topics, The New England Theatre Journal, the Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism. She has had the honor of teaching at many colleges and universities in the Pacific Northwest as well as at the Art Institute of Chicago and the New College of Florida.

Liz Huizar

Liz Huizar, M.A. is a first-generation Chicana graduate, daughter of immigrant parents from the state of Zacatecas, Mexico. Inspired by the words, Echale Ganas, Liz leads with her heart when working with students and community. Liz currently works at El Centro De La Raza where she leads youth programming for Seattle and Federal Way scholars.

Edwina Fui (Emcee)

Edwina Fui (she/her) is the daughter of Fia’ali’i and Fualaau Fui from the villages of Savaia, Upolu and Tula, Tutuila Samoa. She is a proud first-gen student and alumnus of Rainier Beach High School and UW-Bothell. In June, she will complete her Master of Education at Seattle University. As a community organizer, Edwina planned the first Pacific Islanders Pursuing Education event at the UW-Bothell and discovered her passion to build community while advocating for marginalized communities in academia. She has worked in higher education for the past 8 years and finds joy in supporting students through their educational journey. She currently works as the Director for the Center for Cultural & Inclusive Excellence at Highline College.

Grace Fusu-Bosako (Emcee)

Grace Fusu-Bosako is an international student from Belgium. She came to the United States in December 2021. She graduated from high school in June 2021. She is a Business major and plans to transfer to a university to pursue Entrepreneurship. At Highline College, she is a peer facilitator for the Inter-Cultural Center. Her favorite part about her job is that she gets the chance to meet many students from different backgrounds, and that is something that she loves to do; learn about other people’s cultures and share her own. She loves to spend quality time with her family and friends.

DJ Milo on the Beat

DJ Miloonthebeat is currently a Mobile/ Radio/Club DJ host of RnB Wednesday Show on #1 rated Online Radio Station. Though still quite new to the DJ Industry, DJ Miloonthebeat has managed to foster and grow a strong listening base within the R&B, Hip Hop, and Neo-Soul community. She credits much of her success to her appreciation and commitment toward the underground independent artists. DJ Miloonthebeat got her start during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic via IG & FB starting R&B Wednesday featuring 90s R&B to New Age R&B, Mellow Monday featuring independent, undiscovered Artists, and Flashback Friday featuring 60s to 80s old school classics. On April 1st, 2021, DJ Miloonthebeat took RnB Wednesday to After less than a year, Miloonthebeat’s ratings for RnB Wednesday had earned 2,611 Daily Listeners. Within the past year, DJ Miloonthebeat was a resident Dj at the Bleu Note Restaurant & Lounge in Tacoma Washington.


Highline College is located at:

2400 South 240 Street, Des Moines, WA 98198

All Summit sessions will take place on the first floor of the Highline Sudent Union (Building 8)

View campus map →

Please email us if you have any questions.