MISSION

Briana's Neighborhood "Dare to Dream" Foundation Inc. is a nonprofit organization serving youth with multi-cultural backgrounds who “dare to dream” and achieve success. We provide positive workshops, and encourage awareness and professional development. We also serve as a resource for the African-American and Latino youth communities at large.

The “Dare to Dream” Foundation’s purpose is to provide literacy components which include: mechanisms and innovative programs, such as book readings, writing workshops, forums, and seminars that assist in the personal growth of minority youth. We also provide leadership opportunities that will focus on their growth and community involvement. In addition, Dare to Dream is organized exclusively to perform charitable, educational endeavors, green initiatives/awareness and to promote health/wellness in the communities.


HISTORY

For its first year in 2009, the foundation is based in Atlanta, GA. Founder, Sahar Simmons created a foundation based off of her book series, Briana’s Neighborhood. Her motto, “Dare to Dream” is about empowering youth to accomplish their goals and dream big! There are ultimately no limitations to personal success, only the vision to accomplish them. Simmons wants her books series and foundation to be a tool of encouragement to work hard and believe in yourself.


BOARD OF DIRECTORS

CHAIRMAN & FOUNDER
Sahar Simmons | Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Sahar is creator and founder of the Briana’s Neighborhood series and the Dare to Dream Foundation. Following the on-going success of Simmon’s children’s book series, “Briana’s Neighborhood”, she knew that her dream could not stop there. Her mission to promote the importance of literacy and self empowerment led her to the creation of the Dare to Dream Foundation. A nonprofit organization serving young girls with multi-cultural backgrounds who “dare to dream” and achieve success.

Simmons’ professional background has also added to the success of her creative character. A Hampton University grad, she started with a background in music and performing arts. Simmons started creating at a very young age poems, songs and scripts. She has over eight-years of professional writing experience in the sports industry working for the NBA, NFL and later worked on three major Hollywood films which have earned her Associate Producing credits. Writing has always been a true passion and talent of Sahar Simmons.

Simmons also dedicates her time to giving back to kids, her true inspiration and vision for Briana. She spends time volunteering at the children’s libraries for reading day, speaks at local elementary schools promoting literacy and school events.

Sahar is a member of the National Association of Black Sports Professionals (NABSP).

In 2009, Sahar Simmons was honored and recognized as one of Atlanta's 25 Most Influential Women Achievers. Her hard work and dedication shares the spotlight with other honorees...Jovita Moore (WSBTV), President Dr. Beverly Tatum (Spelman College) and Judge Penny Brown Reynolds.



BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Nia Cash | Nia is a transplant from Brooklyn, New York currently residing in Raleigh, North Carolina. She is an alumnus of both Spelman College and Georgia Institute of Technology. She has been volunteering with various youth organizations for over thirteen years and has three years’ experience as an executive board member of a CITE-NC. Academics and athletics came easily to Nia, but making time for other things did not. Working with the youth has taught her the joy of achieving great things with great effort – a joy that she is delighted to have experienced, but even more delighted to share with others. Sharing the thrill of confidence, self-esteem and conquering fears keeps Nia working with organizations with a purpose year after year.

Nia is currently a stay at home mother of two. After working as a Network Engineer with Verizon for ten years, she left to raise her family.

“I absolutely enjoy every moment I spend with the kids, hoping to inspire them just like many role models have inspired me."



Astor Chambers | Astor Chambers is widely recognized as an accomplished marketer and sales executive with a proficient understanding of the mindset of today's trendsetters and influencers. Mr. Chambers is currently the Footwear Business Director for the Jordan Brand. Mr. Chambers is responsible for setting the strategy and long term vision for the Jordan Brand footwear business by leading the category and driving ideation and new concepts to go to market. Prior to this Mr. Chambers was the Global Footwear Product Director of Urban/Indie/Urbano for NIKE where he was responsible for developing global strategic footwear plans across all functions and regions while managing a team of four managers. His business unit generated the largest amount of revenue for the Sportswear division within NIKE, Inc.

Mr. Chambers has worked on some of the most notable marketing initiatives within the footwear industry (25th Year Anniversary of the NIKE Air Force One, 25th Year Anniversary of the Jordan Brand, launch of Billionaire Boys Club, etc.) and played instrumental roles within each.



Derek Webber | Webber who has over 12 years of experience in sports and entertainment marketing, launched Webber Marketing & Consulting in 2009 which includes responsibilities for strategic marketing, advertising, event management, sponsorship development and public relations. Webber’s background includes advertising agency account work with McDonald’s at Fahlgren Advertising, Urban Sports & Entertainment Group, NASCAR, Street & Smith’s, HBCU properties such as the CIAA conference, American Black Film Festival, Drumline, MEAC conference, Honda Battle of The Bands, SoCon Conference and ESPN televised sporting events.

Over the last 12 years Webber has managed over 2,500 events inclusive of some of the largest annual collegiate sports properties in the country. He has built long lasting relationships and have demonstrated expertise in sponsorship development, event operations, media marketing, television production, contract negotiation, premium licensing, and logo merchandising since 1999. He also has experience with multiple new product launches, as well as familiarity with multicultural and cause related initiatives, including extensive work with Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

A former athlete, Derek earned a B.A. in organizational communications from Hampton University. Derek currently serves on the Men’s fellowship board at United Church of Christ, a Board of advisors member for the Dowd YMCA of Charlotte, Romare Bearden Society member with the Mint Museum, Board of Directors with the Dare to Dream Foundation and volunteer for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools mentor program.



Marcus Williams | Marcus D. Williams’ 15-year career in telecommunications and finance has included general management, consulting, sales leadership and entrepreneurial experience with a premier accounting and consulting firm and one of the leading telecommunications corporations in the world. Marcus currently serves as Area Vice President of Sales for Southern California Area within Verizon Business, where he leads over 300 sales, engineering and service professionals. Currently, he manages over 500 customers primarily in the Fortune 1000 space representing over $300 million in annual revenue.

Marcus serves as the chairperson for Verizon Business Diversity Council and he is an active member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. He also serves on the Board of Directors for Urban Access Media Group, Inc. and Worldwide Advisory Group, LLC.



Naima Stevenson | Naima has served in the position of Assistant General Counsel for the NCAA since May of 2006. Her responsibilities include working with NCAA’s infractions process, particularly the Enforcement staff, in addition to providing counsel to other areas of the National Office and the NCAA Eligibility Center. Prior to joining the NCAA, she was a Corporate and Securities Associate with the law firm of Arnold & Porter in Washington DC. While at Arnold & Porter, Naima advised a variety of corporations on the ever changing landscape in Securities regulations, assisted clients with raising equity in private equity transactions, and advised clients in various merger and acquisition transactions. She was also a member of the firm’s Pro Bono and Professional Development Committee’s.

Naima is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park and she received her law degree from Harvard Law School. She is originally from Brooklyn New York.



Rodney Lewis | Rodney R. Lewis-Creative consultant for corporate brands, sports and entertainment industry, 15 yrs expertise with long tenure of clients. Also, a Transportation Specialist for various projects in and around the Atlanta area.



Sheri Barros | Sheri V. Barros is a native of Atlanta, GA. She received a Bachelors Degree in Psychology from Florida State University, and a Master's Degree in Kinesiology with a concentration in Sport Management from University of North Texas. Sheri has worked for such organizations as the PGA of America, Major League Baseball's Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves, the NFL's Atlanta Falcons and Oakland Raiders, and now the NBA's San Antonio Spurs. Ms. Barros is responsible for the marketing, branding, advertising, and promotion of the Spurs' revenue-generating programs and its non-profit foundation.

In addition to her day-to-day responsibilities, Ms. Barros also founded SVB Group, LLC and consults under the SVB Group entity in the areas of sports marketing and creative development. In 2009 and 2010, SVB Group handled the marketing and communications for the OMBI Group "Giving Gracefully" awards in Atlanta, GA. The awards honored retired athletes for their work in the community. Honorees have included Julius Erving and Reggie Howard of the United Athletes Foundation, Brian Jordan, Ryan O'Neil, and CJ Stewart. SVB Group is currently working with OMBI Group on "The Community Playbook" program: philanthropy seminars for pro-athletes. In 2009, Sheri also served as the Vice President of the Atlanta Chapter's Black Sports Professionals organization.



Terry Vann | Terry Vann, 33, has a B.A degree in Psychology, and a B.S. degree in Accounting, along with seven years of accounting experience. This experience includes working for the Arc of Durham County, not-for-profit organization as the bookkeeper and one of the Big Four public accounting firms, PricewaterhouseCoopers. She is currently a Senior SEC Financial Reporting Analyst of SPX, Inc, a multi-industrial manufacturing firm. Prior to this role, Ms. Vann served for two years as a Senior Internal Auditor at Lowe's Home Improvement, monitoring the application of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles by the Corporate Accounting Department, along with identifying process inefficiencies and control breakdowns at the Corporate Headquarters that impact operations.



Tari Linnear | Training and Development Manager, Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta

Tari Linnear, Training and Development Manager for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta (FHLBank Atlanta), received her B.A. in Political Science from Hampton University, and is currently pursuing her Masters in Organizational Leadership at Mercer University. She is a long standing member of both the national and local chapters of The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM).

In 2005, Tari joined the human resources team at FHLBank Atlanta to assist with their efforts in training, career planning and professional development. Tari frequently works with executive level staff at the Bank to design and implement a variety of leadership, coaching and management development programs. In addition to her human resources responsibilities, Tari volunteers regularly through the Bank’s philanthropic arm, the Community Involvement Committee. During the past 6 years, Tari has worked with numerous non-profit organizations and addressed a variety of corporate crowds on behalf of FHLBank Atlanta. She currently holds seats on the board of directors for the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy and the Museum of Contemporary Art Geogria.

Prior to Tari’s employment at the Bank, she served as a training and development manager for MarketSource, a leading staffing agency in the Atlanta market. Tari has also held numerous positions with telecommunications giant, MCI, including academic trainer, program manager and quality ambassador.

In her spare time, Tari enjoys traveling, spending time with her family and friends and running her own small business where she features and sells luxury automobiles.



Autumn Burton, Ph.D | Dr. Autumn Burton is a results-focused professional with a demonstrated track record of value-added accomplishments, leadership abilities and business savvy. She has experience in various areas including financial analysis, corporate training and coaching, however, possesses a deep passion for youth career development, non-profit volunteer management and non-profit program awareness. Throughout her career, she has exemplified this passion through her involvement with various civic and community organizations.

Dr. Burton is the Co-Chair of the Chick-fil-A Bowl Football Feud as well as a member of the American Diabetes Association- Atlanta Chapter Communications Board. Dr. Burton also serves as a member of the Milton High School Business and Marketing Advisory Committee alongside other Alpharetta business community members. As a devoted believer in volunteerism, Dr. Burton has volunteered for the Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation, Jim Mora Count on Me Family Foundation, Hines Ward Helping Hands Foundation, Junior Achievement of Georgia, Make a Whish Foundation, and Warrick Dunn Family Foundation.

In addition to possessing a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting and a MBA in Human Resource Management, she also holds a Ph.D. in Public Service Leadership with a specialization in Management of Nonprofit Agencies. She has held leadership positions at Nortel Networks, Lucent Technologies as well as Cox Communications. She currently is the Executive Director at ESC, a nonprofit consulting and management organization. ESC work in partnership with philanthropic foundations and nonprofit organizations to assess community needs, develop effective programs, align organizational strategies, and evaluate impact. ESC has worked with organizations like Roddy White “Keep the Faith” Foundation, Greg Street We Need 2 Read Foundation, Terance Mathis Educational Institute, and AT&T oxyGEN Young Professionals.

Dr. Burton also enjoys playing tennis, golf, and traveling.



Ian Ford | Ian Ford has been in the marketing and branding industries for the past 9 years; with a focus on youth, urban, interactive and event marketing. His client roster includes the likes of Diageo, the American Legacy Foundation, Nissan, Sprite and the National Black Arts Festival, among other brands. Primarily focused on creative experiential events and youth & urban sub-cultures, Ian has spanned the country connecting brands, cultures, people and ideas.

Ian is based in Atlanta, GA... where he is a recognized thought-leader and key taste-maker, and currently curating various projects. Currently, Ian is developing a full service agency (HERO) with focus on interactive, brand marketing, social media management and lifestyle consulting.



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