Our mission is to provide educational tools for families that will facilitate meaningful conversations and activities while developing an emerging awareness of diversity, equity, and inclusion with their school-aged children and creating a lasting, positive impact on their communities and the world.


Vera Jones


  • Vera Jones is a motivational speaker, author, and professional development trainer with over 30 years experience in varied disciplines. She offers leadership, communication, resilience, diversity and inclusion, and conflict resolution coaching and consulting. Vera has her master’s degree in television and radio from Syracuse University and is certified in conflict dynamics and workplace conflict. A former ESPN and Big Ten Network basketball analyst, Vera is also featured in a 47-million view Goalcast viral video called “Trust Your Vision”- the inspiring story of her young son overcoming the challenges of a brain tumor and blindness.
  • Vera is a Prince George’s County, MD native, who now resides in Jacksonville, FL.

Marla Smith


  • Marla Smith is a behavioral health coach with Heartland Family Service. In this role, Marla coordinates behavioral health training, providing hands-on coaching to those working with persons with severe mental illness in the habilitation and waiver homes throughout Southwestern Iowa.
  • Licensed in both Nebraska and Iowa as a mental health counselor, Marla has spent nearly 17 years working directly with clients of all ages and has learned over the years that it’s about connecting with those you serve by meeting them where they are at and communicating in a respectful and trauma-informed manner to help facilitate change.
  • Marla has a Master’s Degree in youth and family services from Bellevue University. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and taking long walks in nature.

Lynsie Slachetka

Communications Secretary

  • Lynsie Slachetka is a mom and also owner of aJuxt Media Group. With digital, social, and traditional marketing teams, aJuxt Media Group specializes in finding target audiences and aligning marketing and advertising resources to “juxtapose” brands. Prior to founding aJuxt, Lynsie worked for Hearst in digital advertising sales and in the Florida State Capital in the political news corps.
  • A proud graduate of Dana College in Blair, NE, Lynsie and her hubby have settled in Queens, NY— after 19 relocations — and are raising two fascinating little humans.

Dr. Genae Crump

Education Co-Chair

  • Dr. Genae Crump has been serving her life’s passion in the education arena for approximately 25 years on all levels: state, district and local settings. She is the current Director of the Neglected & Delinquent programs funded under the Title 1, Part D grant for Leon County School district, which is located in Tallahassee, Florida. Additionally, Dr. Crump is serving as the Assistant Principal at the alternative sites for the district working with youth who have been expelled from the school system because of committing crime within the community, as well as with youth who are academically behind by up to two years or more.
  • Dr. Crump’s previous work experience includes serving as the Director of Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) program for Leon County Schools. Her main responsibilities included overseeing the transitional services for youth who found themselves in trouble during their matriculation in the school system and they must serve time in detention, commitment, and/or alternative site settings. Her additional work experience in the school district includes: Directing the Volunteer Program Services, Academic Coordinator for Title 1 schools, an Assistant Principal at a traditional high school, Project Manager of the 21st Century Community Learning Center afterschool programs, and as a 5th Grade teacher at a traditional elementary school. Additionally, Dr. Crump served as the Program Director of Teacher Preparation Programs in the Bureau of Educator Recruitment, Development and Retention for the State of Florida Department of Education, as well as the Director of Education at AMI Kids (formerly Tallahassee Marine Institute), an alternative education program for juvenile offenders aged 12 to 18 years.
  • Dr. Crump received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from the University of Florida, where she was awarded the Presidential Recognition Award. She also received her Master of Science degree in Educational Administration/Leadership from the Florida State University, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Educational Leadership from Florida A&M University. Dr. Crump’s belief that good nutrition has a direct impact on a students’ ability to learn led her to explore policies on school breakfast programs for her dissertation research. Her dissertation included a policy study on school feeding programs to determine the factors that led Florida District School Food Directors to adopt a particular School Breakfast Program over another. Her understanding of how nourishment by the most important meal of the day, that being breakfast, plays an important role in how students prepare to learn each day.
  • Dr. Crump believes in the notion of giving back, and she strives to serve the Tallahassee community through outreach efforts by her involvement in many organizations. Her services range from being an active member of her sorority, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., where she served as the President of the Chi Theta Zeta Graduate Chapter from 2009 to 2013. Under her leadership, the chapter was awarded the sorority’s national service project, ZHOPE (Zetas Helping Other People Excel) Award in 2010, and a collective amount of other awards and grant contracts that impacted the Tallahassee community greatly. She is also an active member of the Leon County Chapter of the Charmettes, Inc. where she currently serves as the Education Committee Chairperson, and serves on the Board of Directors for Tallahassee Urban League, Imani Dance for Youth Development and Whose Got Game, Get Fit, Stay Fit organizations. She has been an active member of the Iota Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International since 2013, a professional women of excellence in education society. Dr. Crump has served on numerous other organizations’ Boards, which includes serving as the Panhandle K-12 Regional Director of the Florida Association of Teacher Educators (FATE) from 2011 to 2013, and serving on Kids Incorporated of the Big Bend, and Leon Pace Center for Girls boards.
  • Dr. Crump is originally from Atlanta, Georgia; but, mainly grew up in Merritt Island, Florida. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling, working out, and spending time with her family and friends, which includes her twin sister, Renae Brown; husband, Attorney Benjamin Crump, and her daughter, Brooklyn Zeta Crump.

Alyssa Brown

Diversity Co-Chair

  • Alyssa Brown is a public relations and government relations executive with more than 17 years of experience in public and nonprofit settings including two statewide trade associations and the Florida Legislature. As vice president of the Greater Gainesville Chamber of Commerce, she builds proactive, collaborative and regional partnerships to create opportunities for business growth and economic opportunity. She leads the Chamber’s equity efforts, including the creation of Crossroads: Exploring Intersections in Race and Business, a series designed to facilitate honest conversations about diversity, inclusion and equity in business, and is a founding partner of the Greater Gainesville Business Coalition for Change. Alyssa is currently a member of the U.S. Chamber’s Transportation Committee and has served on the boards of various organizations throughout her career.
  • A Florida State University graduate and a native of Boston, MA, Alyssa lived in Tallahassee, FL for more than 20 years before moving to her current home, Gainesville, FL. She is married to her husband of 16+ years and has two daughters and a spoiled Bichon Frise.

Francis "Fran" Luisi

Community Liason

  • Fran Luisi is a leader in executive search across industry sectors and multiple geographies, helping organizations build their depth and quality of their Human Capital (HC) and Human Resource (HR) talent and functions globally.
  • Well known in the Human Capital world, Fran has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Fast Company, and HR Executive magazine discussing Human Capital and Human Resource issues. Fran led the HR Practice in the United States for two global executive search firms. He also has founded his own boutique executive search firm that exclusively recruited HC/HR talent globally. Before entering executive search, Fran held multiple assignments at IBM in a number of locations.
  • Fran currently serves on the Board of Trustees at the Center for HR Management within the College of Business at Florida State University. He also served on the Board of Trustees and chaired the HR Committee at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ. He has also been intimately involved with Best Buddies International and Special Olympics in New Jersey and Florida. Fran and his wife, Lauren and their family reside in Winter Park, Florida

Alysia Roehrig

Education Chair

  • Alysia Roehrig is a professor of educational psychology at Florida State University who believes that research can be a powerful way to advocate for social justice and provide service to the community. Her research focuses on effective teaching, especially for underserved and underrepresented populations. She serves as co-director of PURPOSE: Partners United for Research Pathways Oriented to Social Justice in Education, where she mentors fellows from Florida State University and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University on culturally responsive research methods to increase the diversity of those with doctorates in education. She also teaches courses at Florida State University on research methods, learning and cognition, and college teaching to graduate students learning to be psychologists, teachers, counselors, and researchers.
  • Alysia is dedicated to making a difference, starting first in local Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools summer camps, and is thrilled to bring her educational and research expertise to an even wider audience through Colorful Talks. She is a voracious reader who always loved her English classes best and enjoyed playing teacher with her little sister.
  • Alysia grew up in Rochester, NY, and her PhD in developmental psychology from the University of Notre Dame in northern Indiana, and has now lived in sunny Tallahassee, FL for almost 20 years with her husband, two sons, and their rescue hound, Olive.

Shireen Soliman

Diversity Co-Chair

  • Shireen Soliman is an Egyptian-American artist, educator, advocate and mother, living in NYC. Shireen teaches Visual Communication and Fashion Illustration at both Parsons School of Design and Pratt Institute. As a community leader and advocate, she sits on various boards and councils, representing and amplifying the voices and experiences of Muslim-Americans. Through the lens of Fashion and the Arts, Shireen explores topics ranging from Muslim-American Identity, Cultural Diversity and Inclusion, Social Justice, Narrative and Representation.

Carrie Gaudio

Volunteer Coordinator

  • Carrie Gaudio’s professional work includes strategic planning, project management, policy and workflow development, and stakeholder engagement. They served the State of Florida for nearly a decade, most recently at the Agency for Health Care Administration as the Policy Coordinator for Health Information Technology. Carrie also worked creatively in horticulture, with a local art foundation, as well as remodeling historic homes. Carrie has many years of experience working with nonprofits and enjoys participating with organizations focused on education and in support of elders. Carrie helped to establish the SAIL Highschool Foundation and helps to lead a local nonprofit coordinating volunteers to support elders to remain in their homes. Carrie volunteers for events for community organizations like the Grassroots Free School and the John G. Riley Center & Museum for African American History & Culture, as well as designs sets for various youth drama programs. Carrie received a B.S. at Florida State University in Sociology. Carrie lives in Tallahassee, Florida with an incredible partner and their remarkable child.


Each person’s journey with race and diversity education is different. If you or a family member have a topic suggestion or a question you’d like our team to explore, please complete this form.

Feel free to drop us a line here. Be sure to connect with us on social media. ChatUs@ColorfulTalks.org

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