Makella Moore Harris
Founder & Executive Director
I am Makella Moore Harris, Ed.S., a native of Demopolis, Al. I received my Bachelor’s of Science in Music Business from Alabama A&M University, Masters of Arts in Music Education from Alabama State University and most recently, Education Specialist in Instructional Leadership from the University of Montevallo. I’m set to begin my Doctorate of Education in Educational and Organizational Leadership this fall at Samford University. I have been a music educator with Birmingham City Schools for 16 years teaching band and an adjust instructor at Lawson State Community College for twelve years where I currently teach humanities and music appreciation but have also taught music theory and art appreciation in the past. Other aspects of my career consist of musical theater performances and noteworthy performances such as a guest vocalist with Brooklynn College Conservatory Chorus at Carnegie Hall and a vocal performance “The National Anthem” with the United States Army where I was honored to receive a Battalion Coin.
When it comes to Fine Arts Find Life (FAFL), my students are the actual inspiration behind this wild idea as I am always considering ways to pour positivity and purpose into their lives. In my career, I frequently encounter childhood trauma prevalent in children and adults. Traumatic events such as sexual abuse, physical violence be it victim or witness, family or friend passing, car accidents, natural disasters, bullying, etc. are the sources of many impulsive behaviors teachers experience on a daily basis such as cursing, fighting, self-isolation, etc. due to children simply not having the words to describe their emotions or the ability to identify emotions in others causing a lack of empathy. It is extremely difficult to move past trauma and what I have learned, through observation and personal experience, is that fine arts have the ability to ignite imagination, enabling the possibility to learn life beyond those circumstances, especially when they no longer pose a threat. It’s all about finding ways to close the gap for me and I just finally reached a place in my career where I felt comfortable giving something back that has enriched my life and career in so many ways.
Sharifa Wip was born in Huntsville, Alabama and raised in Southern California. She moved back to Alabama for college and has lived here ever since. Sharifa is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) with bachelors degrees in African American Studies and Mass Communications and a masters in Information Engineering Management. Following graduation, Sharifa worked for WBRC before she was recruited to return to UAB to work with the Blazer Male Excellence Network.
Today, Sharifa is the Mentor Coordinator in the office of Student Multicultural and Diversity Programs.
Sharifa is passionate about travel and community service. She is a member of Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Central Alabama Caribbean American Organization, and Junior League of Birmingham.
Tamara DeBolt is a “woman of North, living in the South”. She is originally from Decatur, IN and moved to Indianapolis, IN to attend Butler University, where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics/Education. She taught high school math in Carmel, IN for ten years before returning to school (Purdue University) to get a Mechanical Drafting & Design degree. She worked in the engineering field from that point forward and also spending some time working for a home builder. She has been an actress for over 30 years - professionally, regionally, and right here in Birmingham, AL, where she moved in 1998. Tam has performed, directed, and designed for most of the theatres in our city and in August 2016, she became the Executive Director of Terrific New Theatre (TNT). TNT was founded in 1986 and has a glorious history in Birmingham. Tam has continued to guide the non-profit, community theatre through three successful, growth years, stayed at the helm during the past pandemic year, and is excited to push forward towards its re-opening in the coming months. In addition to being part of FAFL, Tam is also an original member of inTOTO Creative Arts Forum, an arts initiative for homeless guests of The Firehouse Shelter here in Birmingham.
Terralance De Shon Thurman
Terralance De Shon Thurman is an Assistant Vice President and System Support Analyst with Wells Fargo. He is responsible for the management of enterprise-level computer systems supporting the Enterprise Information Technology Distributed Systems operations area within Wells Fargo.
Shon received a bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems from Huron University and a Computer Technician Diploma from Virginia College.
Shon volunteers his time to several charitable organizations including Childcare Resources, Habitat for Humanity, Community Kitchens and the Birmingham Urban League.
Shon is affiliated with several civic and professional organizations, including Virginia Trace Homeowners Association serving as President, Childcare Resources (Past Chairman 2017), The Birmingham Urban League Young Professionals (Past President 2014-15), Birmingham Change Fund and Leadership UAB Class 2010.
Shon is a Chairman of the Birmingham Change Fund a giving circle of emerging African American leaders that pool their individual philanthropic gifts, professional talents and very limited time together for the purpose of making a bigger impact in the community.
In his leisure time, he enjoys many recreational activities and sports. He is member of Sixth Avenue Baptist Church in Birmingham, where he volunteers in various ministries.
Erica Jewel Littleton
Erica Jewel Littleton has earned local and statewide recognition for her lively contributions to the field of education for more than a decade. A 2005 graduate of Samford’s School of Education, Erica Jewel earned her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood, Elementary, and Special Education. In 2009, she became a National Board Certified Teacher as an Exceptional Needs Specialist and renewed her certification in 2019. In 2010, Erica Jewel returned to Samford and earned a master's degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently a doctoral student at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.
The majority of her career has been in Birmingham City Schools. There, Erica Jewel taught general education, special education, and also served as an assistant principal. Later, she became the principal at a local private school. In 2017, Erica became the Turnaround Specialist in Midfield City Schools where she oversaw their $1.5 million School Improvement Grant. After a single year at Rutledge Middle School, Erica Jewel was instrumental in helping the school increase from a 53 on the state report card to a 73.
Erica Jewel founded her company, Learning Little People, in April 2013. There she uses her expertise in professional learning to help Alabama's educators continue their learning in more meaningful and interesting ways. In addition to training educators and school leaders, Learning Little People provided tutoring and enrichment for youth in Birmingham.
In June 2019, Erica Jewel became the Director of Educational Advancement for the City of Birmingham in Mayor Randall Woodfin’s office. In her current position, she convenes individuals and businesses that are interested in providing educational services for the city’s youngest citizens. She assists Birmingham City Schools with special collaborative projects both on the district level and at individual schools.
Erica Jewel volunteers her time as a member of Samford’s Board of Overseers and as a member of the Samford School of Education Dean’s Advisory Board. She has served as president of the Samford Black Alumni Association and as a member of the Samford Presidential Search Committee.
Roy S. Johnson
Respected journalist Roy S. Johnson is a Columnist and Director of Content Development for the Alabama Media Group/AL.com, the largest news and information digital site in Alabama. He writes on issues, people, policies, and trends affecting the lives of Alabamians and Americans nationwide, and is a voice chronicling what’s right and wrong in the state and beyond..
Roy joined the company in April 2014 as Director, Sports, and later served as Editor of Birmingham magazine before becoming a columnist in 2016. His columns regularly appear in AMG’s three print publications--The Birmingham News, Huntsville Times and Mobile Press-Register--and are often published in other Advance Local publications across the country.
Prior to joining AMG, Roy’s journalistic journey spanned magazines, television and newspapers, and reached some of the industry’s highest levels. He served as Editor-in-Chief of three prominent national magazines: Savoy (which he conceived and founded), Men’s Fitness and History Channel. He was also a writer and top editor at Sports Illustrated, Fortune and Money, was a reporter for The New York TImes and sports columnist at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Additionally Roy was Executive Producer of the “Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Search” (NBC) and “Bernie and Ernie” in ESPN’s award-winning 30-for-30 documentary series.
He also co-authored biographies with Earvin (Magic) Johnson, Charles Barkley and Avery Johnson.
Roy is a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma whose family owned a business on Greenwood Ave, the heart of famed “Black Wall Street”. He now lives in Birmingham, Alabama.
Aisha Cooper resides in Montgomery, Al married to Isaac Cooper with children. A native of Forkland, Alabama and graduating high school from Demopolis, Al, her post high school studies began at Alabama State University receiving a Bachelor's degree in Psychology in 2006 and going on to receive her Master's degree in Rehabilitation Counseling at Alabama State University in 2009. Mrs. Cooper is currently working on her doctoral degree in Professional Counseling at Amridge University. Mrs. Cooper is also a licensed counselor in the State of Alabama where she provides counseling services along with her husband, Isaac Cooper, who is also a licensed counselor to the underserved community through their private practice that has been in operation since 2018. She also serves as the Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director of Stevens Home Healthcare Montgomery where personal care services are provided to persons with disabilities. She has been serving in this capacity since 2016. Prior to her current work, she has worked in the mental health and disability field for over 10 years and has also served as chairperson of the Human Rights Committee with Progressive Healthcare from 2016 to 2019.
Tawny Stephens is a life and empowerment coach. Her focus is working with women who have amazing ideas but have anxiety around presenting them. She helps them unlock their confident voice and feel powerful when they stand or speak before a group.
Tawny brings 20+ years of experience in professional theatre. After losing her husband tragically in 2018, she had to put theatre aside and go full time into the world of management. Although she had no business training, she found a way to thrive and lead her store to positive business comps, high connection scores, and low turnover rates - even in the middle of a pandemic.
Recently, she felt a calling into the life coaching world and received her health and life coach certifications from HCI. Currently enrolled in their mastery program (TCM), she has developed a love for encouraging other coaches and entrepreneurs in their early stages. Be it through theatre, management, or now coaching, she has helped women “find their voice” in a variety of ways: Interview skills, talks, video production, monologue prep, and corporate presentations to name a few. She works with clients 1:1 utilizing inner game and outer game techniques [Inner game: tackling their fear in order to grow their confidence. Outer game: using her theatre background to give them applicable tools to immediately improve their public speaking skills].
What does FAFL do?
We collaborate with local organizations who service at risk students to offer expressive arts services. Our sessions consist of layering fine arts modalities and journaling to increase mindfulness.
How can we get involved to support the mission of FAFL?
How can interested adults attend FAFL expressive arts sessions?
Follow us on social media [IG: @fineartsfindlife and FB: Fine Arts Find Life] to receive updates on community events.
How can we receive services from FAFL if we are not involved with a partnering
Be on the lookout for upcoming FAFL events via our website fineartsfindlife.org and social media accounts.
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