Board of Directors
SACC’s Board of Directors come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences that are beneficial in helping to drive our organization’s mission.
Accepting Applications for New Board Members
Join our leadership team at Sista Afya Community Care as a Board member to be a part of a movement to heal and strengthen the mental wellness of Black women in Chicago.
Application Deadline: March 9, 2024.
Executive Board Members
Tandra M. Rutledge
Tandra M. Rutledge is a mental health and suicide prevention educator, advocate, and consultant. She currently serves as the Director of Healthcare Systems Initiatives for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Project 2025, a national initiative to reduce the annual suicide rate in the US by 20 percent by the year 2025. In her role, Tandra influences healthcare systems nationwide to initiate and sustain suicide prevention best practices (in primary care, mental health care, and emergency medicine) that serve the strategic goals and priorities of the project. She mobilizes institutions and organizations across the healthcare community and leads working coalitions among national suicide prevention stakeholders in a collective effort to champion systematic, data-driven, and scalable change. A graduate of Spelman College, Tandra has a master’s degree in clinical community psychology from DePaul University. With over 25 years of clinical, leadership, and business development experience in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors, Tandra has used her platform to advocate for culturally responsive, evidence-informed mental health practices and suicide prevention programs for Black Americans. With special emphasis on youth and women as well as the intersection of faith and mental health, Tandra seeks to dismantle stigma in the Black community and cultivate resilience through a social justice and equity framework. A dynamic and engaging facilitator, Tandra inspires individuals as well as institutions to prioritize mental health care and suicide prevention.
LaCreshia Birts is a community organizer and advocate. LaCreshia currently works as a policy and organizing associate for the Black Remembrance Project. In addition to serving her second term as Vice President of Sista Afya Community Care, LaCreshia volunteers for a Black health collective called Ujimaa Medics (UMedics) and LaCreshia co-founded the Black Remembrance Project. The Black Remembrance Project is a grassroots organization that works to preserve and advance Black American culture. The Black Remembrance launched and successfully completed a campaign to recognize Juneteenth as a holiday in the city of Chicago. LaCreshia studied public policy and minored in African American studies at the University of Illinois Chicago.
Candace is Founder and CTO of Hi Tech Consulting, working with ambitious entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders to implement tech-focused solutions to scale their organization. The firm specializes in helping organizational leaders and their teams use technology to automate their operations processes in order to increase capacity, save time, and effectively utilize resources. Candace is a registered lobbyist and also works as Resource Organizing Director at HEAL Food Alliance. Candace completed her BSc in Computer Science at Troy University in 2019 and now lives in Chicago with her husband and 4 children.
Rayell Grayson, LCPC
Rayell is currently the Executive Director of Head/Heart Therapy, a group therapy practice specializing in holding space for adults and adolescents struggling with trauma, addiction, shame, and many other difficulties of life. Head/Heart Therapy is a practice committed to doing our own work, working from anti-racist and liberation-focused orientations, celebrating the rainbow, and holistic healing. Rayell is a NARM (NeuroAffective Relational Model) therapist, which is a trauma model that supports those who have experienced complex/developmental trauma and centers her work around those who identify as BIPOC. Rayell is a licensed clinical professional counselor and certified addictions counselor who is originally from Kansas City, MO, but graduated from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and a Master of Arts in Clinical Counseling Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.
General Board Members
Sarah Suzuki, LCSW
Sarah is the founder of Chicago Compass Counseling (CCC), a group practice dedicated to serving the family system through inclusive, evidence-based behavior change counseling. CCC connects providers to individuals and organizations seeking values-aligned solutions for self-destructive behavior. Sarah has been a member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT) since 2010 and is a certified MINT trainer. To date, she has worked with more than 50 organizations across the country as a trainer and consultant.
Marilyn is a Blogger, Mental Wellness Advocate, and certified in adult and youth Mental Health First Aid. She is dedicated to encouraging, educating and informing others of the importance of mental health and wellness. She is an author, speaker, and former contributor to inspirational magazines and online content.
Dr. Arielle Smith, LCSW
Dr. Arielle Smith, LCSW is a Mental Wellness Tastemaker and Intervention Designer. She is the owner of Eunoia Wellness Boutique, a wellness company that provides psychotherapy, parent psycho-education, and other culturally curated wellness events and services. She is also the Co-Founder of Goal Digger Academy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving young Black women aging out of foster and residential care. Most of Dr. Arielle’s career has been dedicated to increasing the access of mental healthcare and wellness services to Black Women. Some of her specialties include trauma-informed psychotherapy, social and emotional work with adolescents, as well as speaking and teaching about the importance of personal development and self care. Dr. Arielle attended Southern Illinois University for her undergraduate degree, Chicago State University for her master’s degree, and earned her Doctorate degree from University of Southern California.
Kiesha Williams, LCSW
Kiesha Williams has two Master’s degrees, one in social work and another in educational leadership. She has been a school social worker for over 20 years. Kiesha has worked in various social work settings from a group home, the emergency room, and private practice to employee assistance programs and schools. She also served as a school administrator overseeing special education teams in several schools. Over a decade ago, Kiesha developed an empowerment program for teen girls. She created a community resource expo during parent teacher conferences to showcase community resources to parents. Kiesha has been an advocate for students transitioning from alternative school placements by creating collaborative systems between the school and the alternative placement. She currently adds to her work consulting around racial healing, self-care, adult social-emotional learning, strategic planning, and educational transition planning.
Iris Nichole Patterson, an Englewood native is the CEO of Iris Botanicals, LLC. Iris Botanicals was birthed in the kitchen in 2014 after she suffered a terrible case of tension alopecia months before her wedding because of a careless removal of glued-in hair extensions. The removal left her bald around her hairline. In great distress, Iris decided to do research on different methods to stimulate hair growth. In her research, she discovered many recipes using essential oils along with carrier oils to stimulate her active hair follicles and trigger full growth in just a year's time. Iris formulated a jar of hair food that's packed with 7 powerful essential oils and protein to help strengthen the hair shaft. The Rejuvenating Hair Butter was the first of her many recipes for hair.Later, Iris created her full line of hair essentials and named them Iris Botanicals. Since then Iris’ hair care line can now be found in 5 Whole Foods locations. Iris Botanicals has helped many women restore their hair including both a cancer and kidney patients.
Dana Davenport, Esq.
Dana Michelle Davenport, Esq. is passionate about living life intentionally. In 2015, she divorced and unleashed a new lease on her life. With no formal experience in media, her first radio show aired in 2017, followed by television in 2019. Dana is the producer and host of local television and radio talk shows Dana Being Dana, co-host and co-producer of television show Finding Common Ground and the co-founder and director of The Homecoming Challenge, an alumni giving campaign and nonprofit initiative. A full-time practicing attorney for almost 15 years, Dana is also Senior Counsel at Accenture LLP, a global professional services company with leading capabilities in digital, cloud and security where she currently serves as the lead of the Global Sourcing Team, responsible for global and North American procurement transactions. In March of 2021, Dana was appointed to the Naperville Liquor Commission by Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico. Dana is a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School and Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. She is a daughter, sister and friend to many, but above all else, she is the proud mother of two hilarious kids that keep her grounded.