Meet the Team
There are a number of individuals who make Little Miss African American the success that it is each year. Learn a little about the members of our Executive Team below!
**Special Thank You to Tara Covington, Darrell Swann, Regina Brown, and George Evans for all of your help over the years. LMAA is forever grateful**
Lisa Ruffin is a multi-talented award winning performer. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At age sixteen Lisa was awarded a scholarship to The Juilliard School.
Ruffin has a wide range of work from film, television, commercials, music videos, theater and stage. The first video she choreographed, “JoAnna”, won an American Music Award. Her choreography credits include, “Moesha” starring Brandy, and “The Steve Harvey Show”. She also choreographed “The Artist Journey and Funk Blast” for Paul Allen’s $420 million dollar experience music project produced by Digital Domain. Lisa is the youngest African American woman to choreograph a Broadway Stage production, “Up Close and Personal” at the Lunt Fontaine Theatre. Among many other achievements, she has also performed on Broadway, and had 2 Billboard Top 20 R&B hit records. Lisa provided background vocals on numerous road tours. Her acting credits include, “Him and Us”, “Seth”, “The Raven”, and her very memorable role as “Deena” on the long running soap “All My Children”. Lisa has made appearances on The David Letterman Show and Saturday Night Live, and has graced the covers and interiors of respected magazines such as Essence, Ebony and Black Enterprise. She had numerous commercials, including her “Secret” commercial, directed by award winning director, Jessica Yu. Ruffin choreographed and performed with “Tina Turner” for HBO. Lisa has been a national judge & choreographer for the NAACP’s ACT-SO competition. Lisa directed and choreographed a company of “For Colored Girls”, and received glowing reviews for her choreography for “In the Continuum” at The Ensemble Theatre of Santa Barbara.
Ruffin conceptualized and created Little Miss African American, the largest scholarship pageant for young girls. This art educational program is proud to celebrate its 25th year. Lisa’s hope for these young girls is to have the freedom to dream big, believing they can accomplish anything their little hearts desire.
Melva Young- Has been a part of LMAA since 1996. Her daughter Crystal was the Queen in 1997. Born in St. Louis, Mo she moved to Los Angeles area at an early age. She holds a Bachelor of Art in Finance. She has been working in Finance for over 30 years for large corporations as well as Non-profit companies.
As a single parent she is very proud of her only daughter Crystal, who just graduated from USC with her Masters in Social Work. She also loves to mentor young children to help them become successful young adult. In her spare time she loves to enjoy outdoor activities as well as bingo.
She lives by the motto : “Live, Love, & Laugh” Life is too short to be unhappy.
Assistant to Producer
Dianne Shorte, affectionately tagged, “Lady Di” by her friends, personifies the elegance and dignity one would expect from a woman bestowed with such a distinguished title. Dianne is a life coach, professional dancer, marriage mentor, entrepreneur, former model, beauty queen and legal assistant for a prominent law firm. Her seemingly endless talents cover all facets of life. Her stage abilities began to show through in her teen years by way of beauty pageants. She won the coveted John Robert Powers, Teen Model of the Yearaward, and that was only the beginning. Dianne has held various titles including Miss East Palo Alto, Miss Kool KDIA and she represented the City of Los Angeles in the Mrs. California America pageant. As a dancer, she has appeared in videos by such renowned artists as Janet Jackson, Donnie Osmond, Howard Hewitt and Quincy Jones. Through her entertainment company, Simply Samba Entertainment, she has amassed an impressive clientele. Dianne graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree with an emphasis in psychology. She is a soon-to-be author of her first book, entitled “L.O.V.E. Ladies Operating Very Effectively, “The Power In A Woman” and has plans to complete her Doctorate. She is happily married and has three sons and lives in Los Angeles, California.
Paul Jones has participated in Little Miss African American since its inception. He has served as a Presenter, Dancer, Technical Advisor, and is currently Assistant to the Producer. Paul has performed across the Country as a Krump Dancer and deejayed multiple parties and events. Paul has been seen in many television and film projects as well as stage performances. Paul received his BFA in Digital Film Production. An artistic soul, Paul enjoys shooting, and producing short films. Paul recently finished a Gig working on the the hit television show for the game show network IDIOTEST.
Executive Team Assistant
Katisha is an actress and a new addition to the LMAA family. She is originally from Farmville, VA, but currently resides in Los Angeles, CA. She is a graduate of North Carolina State University, class of 2014. At NC State, Katisha received her BS in Marketing, AA in Theater, and AA in French. Katisha graduated in 2016 with her MFA in Acting for Film from New York Film Academy. While Katisha is very passionate about learning new things and constantly bettering herself, one of her passions is working with youth and helping them to find their way. “I love to share my experiences and what I’ve learned with young girls. Not all young girls have someone that they can look up to as a positive role model and that’s what I want to help with.” Katisha is excited to be a part of LMAA and plans to continue to help the young ladies of the future.
Drew Williams is a social media and marketing coordinator who grew up just outside of Los Angeles in Claremont, California. She received her M.A. in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University where she served as the PR Representative for the Black Student Union. She also graduated Cum Laude in just three years with a B.S. in Communications, concentration in Public Relations from East Carolina University with a minor in French. In addition to her studies, Drew played Division 1 soccer at both universities for a total of 5 years. She is very passionate about the arts, beauty, and social justice and is excited to serve as a mentor for the girls of LMAA.
2019 Group Leaders
Redelia Shaw began working professionally in the entertainment field in 2000 as a Development and Production Executive for Point 7 Entertainment while completing post-graduate work in Atlanta. She worked closely with the production and development teams to scout talent, pitch ideas to networks, and develop content and was also responsible for supervising and coordinating the production of original programming in Los Angeles and Atlanta. After relocating to Los Angeles in 2005, she began working as a Talent Coordinator for various independent production companies. Currently, Redelia is a DGA 2nd Assistant Director and has worked on numerous commercial television and film projects, including: The Muppets, The Office, Heroes and Body of Proof. She was awarded a fellowship to Wexner Center of the Arts for her independent documentary “Journey to Africa.”
Dr. Ayana Davis
Group Leader Director
Ayanna E. Davis, a Los Angeles Unified School District Principal, is a dynamic and innovative leader whose early childhood education expertise has provided services for over 3,500 children and families throughout her 18 years as an administrator and 22 years in the field of public education.
During her earlier years as a preschool teacher, she developed a passion for observing socialization and emotional development skills as they relate to school readiness for preschool students, specifically, those children who are living in low socio-economic environments.
Ayanna holds a B.A. in Political Science, USC; M.A. in Education Administration from California State University at Dominguez Hills; and M.A. in Educational Administration Leadership and Policy Studies from California State University at Northridge. Ayanna is a Doctor of Education graduate from the Organizational Change and Leadership program at the University Of Southern California Rossier School Of Education. Ayanna’s dissertation topic is an evaluation study of the knowledge, motivation, and organizational factors that teachers need to support African American boys’ socio-emotional development in public preschool.
Antina Campbell is a highly skilled professional who has a diverse background in nonprofit, entertainment and real estate. Antina has worked as an entertainment manager, as well as a board member for various non-profit organizations. In her day to day goings, Antina manages over 12 non-profit boards for homeowners association and recently became a member of the newly created non-profit Black Design Collective where a group of iconic black designers have forged this new organization to help address issues surrounding inequality in the fashion industry.
Dr. Sarah ShaBazz
Dr. Sarah ShaBazz-Ugwumba received her PhD in Special Education from Walden University January 2019. Sarah is a professional educator and has teaching credentials in both general and special education. Her passion for teaching goes beyond the classroom. She coached the elementary girls basketball team for five years. Sarah is the founder of a mobile tutoring company that provides education support the students of all ages. She also works in the community in programs that supports young women and awards scholarships to high school girls. She is the mother of eleven children: six sons and five daughters.
Kennedy Zimet is a 23 year old actor, tv host & singer. She stars in Only Light, a film about human sex trafficking, Coca Cola's "It's Beautiful" Super Bowl ad campaign, and appears regularly on viral web series with 19 million subscribers, College Kids React. In addition to her passion for entertaining, Kennedy has a love for activism that shows through in her advocacy for adoptees like herself and her work as ambassador to the African Millennium Foundation. She hopes to continue to weave her activism into her work as an actor.