Through Education, Mentoring, Workshops and Volunteering 

We’re building a

Global Movement

Brick by Brick

Inspiring a SUCCESS state of MIND

Contact:

info@empowered-u.org

4458 Augusta Rd Unit 3A

Lexington SC, 29073

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©2018 by Empowered U. Proudly created by The Promotion Lady

MEET OUR TEAM

The team behind Empowered U Youth Organization takes great pride in motivating the youth to become leaders and agents of change. The staff is developed by professional training and backed by an Advisory Board that represents years of experience in the nonprofit and youth mentoring sector and that works with us to keep Empowered U focused and on target.

CEO and Founder 

Lesley Gadson

Certified Life Coach, Mentor and Motivational Speaker is a native of Columbia South Carolina and graduate of Dreher High School. Lesley attended college at Southern Wesleyan University where she was a colligate athlete and graduated with a degree in biology and psychology. She’s currently a Graduate Student of Webster University with a concentration in Counseling. Lesley is the founder and CEO of Empowered U, a youth organization geared towards serving the community through empowering the minds of the youth.

 

The teaching of this organization is focused on letting the youth know that in everything they do, their mindset matters. Lesley has served the population through teaching youth Sunday school for the past 6 years, as well as motivational speaking in many programs and community events including Richland County Sheriff Department Youth Services Empowerment Academy, Camp L.O.T.T (Leading our Troubled Teens) and Juveniles Under Motivated Pressure (J.U.M.P) Program. Not only does she empower the minds of the youth she also volunteer feeding the homeless through a program under this organization.  Changing the lives of the youth is her passion because when you change your mind, you will change your life.  

 

That’s what we teach the youth, mindset matters. At Empowered U we inspire youth to transform their way of thinking; In everything you do the way you think is important. We understand that negative thinking can influence negative actions. Empowered U promotes healthy choices through habits of positive thinking. Our message to the youth is when you decide to change your mind, you will then begin to see your entire life change. “Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life." 

The Development Director primary responsibility is to develop and implement a strategic plan to raise funds and organize annual goals for Empowered U.

 

"Some may ask why did I choose Empowered U? Empowered U chose me.  I say it laughingly, but the organization couldn't have been formed at a better time.  When asked to be a part of this movement, it wasn't something that I had to give any thought to.  I knew from it's inception that I wanted to serve in any capacity necessary.

My goal with this organization is to teach the youth that they possess more power than they realize.  It's my desire for them to understand their purpose already lies within, and each decision they make gets them closer to executing it.  I want them to know that who they are is not defined by where they come from or what labels may have been placed on them by society. 
"

Owner of Midlands Prep Academy

Development Director and Mentor

Ebonee Gadson

"My role with Empowered U is Community Outreach Coordinator, acting as the link between the organization and the people we aim to assist. The reasoning why I do what I do is simply because I am inspired by seeing youth unlock their potential and excel in their lives. I am a witness that your beginning does not have to be your ending. It is not how you start , but it is how you finish. I aim to form positive relationships and make a lasting impact on the lives we come in contact with. 

 

My primary goal with Empowered U is to teach the youth to ignite their potential and create a healthier quality of life. Many young people have the spirit to make things happen, they just need to be given the space to excel. With good community support, love, and guidance; this organization will help the  young people grow, develop and protect that fire within them to ensure they reach their full potential.  "

Owner of Expressions Hair Salon

Community Outreach Coordinator and Mentor

Treva Gadson

 

The Volunteer Coordinator is responsible for organizing, training, and supervising the volunteer staff. "It is important for our youth to understand what they have or do not have should not limit their ability to succeed and strive for greatness. Because these concepts are essential to cultivating a culture of success and progress for our youth, I believe it is necessary to help our youth recognize their potential by changing their thought process. After all, change is not hard like most people have said.

 "It is just a matter of changing your mindset and deciding to make better choices no matter what your situation looks like. Even if those better choice start off small, that is perfectly OK.  Like Nike…Just Do It." 

Author

Volunteer Coordinator and Mentor

Dr. Shameka Mack-Sanders

The Promotion Lady

Business Mentor

Brittany Matthews

"My name is Brittany Matthews, Empowered U Mentor. I am one of the lead branding problem solvers in Columbia, SC with a Bachelor's of Arts Degree from the University of South Carolina. Being passionate about promoting others and giving them the right exposure is my specialty. I currently have over twelve years of experience in web development, graphic design, branding, marketing, and online social management, which qualifies me to be able to lead the youth in their business ventures. 

As an Empowered U youth entrepreneur mentor, I help the youth fulfill their dreams of becoming business owners.  I assist the youth in gaining clients and share tools needed to build lasting professional relationships." 

Dr. Marcia Iszard is a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) employed at Palmetto Health Richland located in Columbia, SC.

 

Marcia was a 1998 graduate of Dreher High School.  She began her nursing career as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) in 2001.  She later earned her Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) from Florence Darlington Technical College in 2005.  Having the desire to advance her career, she obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN) from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).  As a goal oriented individual, she decided she wanted to move into advanced practice to further her career.  She graduated with a Masters of Science in Nurse Anesthesia from MUSC in December 2009 and passed the certification exam to become a CRNA.  Always moving forward and seeking to advance both professionally and academically, she obtained her doctorate degree from MUSC in December 2017.

 

Marcia married Nicholas J. Iszard in 2003 and they have two children, Nicholas Chase (6) and Nora (4).  Marcia and her family reside in Blythewood, SC and enjoy traveling and spending time with each other.

Mentor

Dr. Marcia Iszard

"I am male mentor for Empowered U; my primary role is to encourage change and elicit growth in the young male. I joined this organization because of the vision and mission, my goal is to inspire the youth and help them understand the importance of self-ownership and responsibility. 

 Educating the youth to change their mindset and teaching them that sometimes you have to change your surroundings (friends) in order to be successful. I agree with the message that Empowered U was founded on (mindset matters) and I believe that being part of a community that has the same visions and goals will help spread this message effectively." 

Civil Engineer 

Mentor

Nehemiah Stewart

"My  role with Empowered U is to be a mentor to  and volunteer to the young men as they transition in life.  I believe Empowered U Organization is very meaningful, impactful, heartfelt and real at what they do. I've learn so much since being a part of this organization.  I feel positive and free when I'm working with Empowered U; I’m able to work within my God given purpose.  

 

I have a desire to impact our youth and make a difference in their lives during difficult periods; teaching our young men how to be distinguished gentlemen. I feel I have something to offer our young people especially our young men in helping them grow into their purpose."

Owner of Frontline Barbershop

Mentor

Tyrone Hutchinson

"Mentor, Business Man, Motivational Speaker, Husband and Father; Im Dennis Gadson and male mentor for Empowered U. I’ve always had a passion for the youth; being leader of the youth department at my church has encouraged me to go beyond the four walls and reach the heart of the youth

Coming from a life of unhealthy decisions, let downs, disappointment, fear, failure, loneliness and heart break, STILL I RISE! One day I made a decision; I wanted to change my life!

 

I remember after one of the male mentoring sessions, a young man who was troubled in the home and community came to one of the sessions one way, but left with a total different mindset. He wrote to the organization on how he was impacted and motivated for change after many fail attempts by others. That is the reason I’m with Empowered U! The youth today needs encouragement and presence; being there counts. Talking time is over, it’s about time we stand up , put boots on the ground and speak out. They have a voice and I’m here to listen."

Owner of Noisy Wings Restaurant

Mentor

Dennis Gadson

Qianah Simmons

Mentor

Qianah has been in Columbia, SC since 2004. While attending graduate school, she became a volunteer tutor and mentor at Eau Claire High School. Shortly after, she began working with preschoolers and youth professionally and through church. Through those experiences she has built constructive and lasting relationships with those families.

Currently, Qianah is employed at Blue Cross Blue Shield. In addition to being a god-mother, she finds meaning in spending time with family and friends. They keep her grounded and encourage her commitment of advocacy for children and families.
Her philosophy is summed from a quote by

Frederick Douglas:
It is easier to build a strong child than to repair a broken adult.

Her Life Saying:
Life is not always a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes of playing a poor hand well.
- Robert Louis Stevenson

Crystal Mitchell 

Mentor

Crystal Mitchell graduated from Benedict College in 2014 with a Bachelors Degree in Psychology. As an Empowered U mentor, she believes that in order to have a successful future, we must sow into our youth the tools needed to be successful and confident in who they are. Her main goal in  working with the youth is to inspire them to believe in their worth as an individual. Crystal’s time with Empowered has taught her that when young people are provided a healthy environment to voice their goals and have individuals dedicated to the guidance of these goals, we can watch them transpire and give growth to the next generation.

 

Crystal married Anthony Mitchell in 2014 and they have 2 daughters, Kimmora and Lilly. They enjoy cooking together, traveling the country, and random acts of encouragement to one another.

Bryan Hatcher

Hatcher Studios, LLC

Mentor

As long as I can remember, I have been called an outcast because I am not afraid to venture into unknown territory, challenge the popular voice, and my passion to learn as much as possible. Independently learning branding and media production allowed me to pursue an early freelance graphic design career. With over 7 years of producing media for clients as the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Public School District, Spectrum, Macy’s I knew there was more I could do. While freelancing I earned my degree in Industrial Design and Technology then soon discovered my passion to teach. Teaching 10thgraders the skills I taught myself near their age was the best experience of my life thus far. Since experiencing all walks of life between Cincinnati, OH and Columbia, SC, I've dedicated myself to serve young students as many tools as possible so they too can experience their passion despite their circumstances.

Cari Rice

Cari Rice was born and raised in Michigan, Cari received her Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice from Grand Valley State University. Cari is now studying to obtain her Masters in Social Work while specializing in mental health and trauma. 

Cari is an advocate for helping others realize and discover their full potentials. Cari’s background includes volunteering for police departments, working at schools, and interning at courthouses. 

 

Cari enjoys hiking, fishing, camping, and most other outdoor activities. She also loves to watch football. Go Saints!

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