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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!

 

A Special Thank You to Tara Covington, Darrell Swann, and George Evans for all of your help over the years. LMAA is forever grateful

Lisa Ruffin

CEO, Founder

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 29th 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.

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Melva Young

Administration

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.

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Erica Austin

Strategic Administrator

Dr. Erica Austin is a visionary social entrepreneur, author, motivational speaker,  philanthropist,  humanitarian, and advocate, who has held a passion for entrepreneurship, leadership, and social issues for over 20 years as the Founder and Executive Director of ECRA Growth & Educational Services- transforming a social innovation initiative into a social enterprise, helping young people reach their highest potential through life skills and leadership development training to empower a new generation to be innovators and leaders who create positive and lasting change.

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Paul Jones

Technical Advisor

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. 

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. 

Regina Brown

Executive Team

Regina Brown  has been on the Executive Staff with Little Miss African American since it's inception (1993). Although she stepped away from LMAA for a couple of years, Regina never stopped loving what it stood for, seeing the girls shine, even lending her time where she could. 

Regina is an AVP for a Financial Securities firm in Downtown Los Angeles. Welcome back Regina, as Ms. Lisa would say "Gina B".

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Katisha Sargeant 

Website Administrator

Katisha is a Los Angeles based actress originally from Farmville, VA. 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. 

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Redelia Shaw

Production Coordinator

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.”

Group Leaders

ShaVon Luckey

ShaVon Luckey is LMAA’s 2012 Queen. She is a student at Tuskegee University studying English and Sociology with a passion for literature and analysis. Little Miss African American holds a dear place in her heart because, as someone who participated in the pageant for six years, she knows the impact that it has on the girls, emotionally, socially, and developmentally.

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LaVondra Luckey

 Ms. LaVondra is passionate about creating a nurturing, welcoming environment for young children and their families. She has been a part of the LMAA family since 2007 as a parent and now proudly as a Group Leader. As a Group Leader, Ms. LaVondra feels honored to give back to our girls of LMAA the encouragement, knowledge, and love that was given to her daughters and nieces over the years. 

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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. 

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Myisha Liu

Myisha Liu is LMAA’s former Queen of 1997. A recipient of LMAA scholarships, Myisha
applied awarded monies towards college. She ultimately graduated from UCLA, earning her B.S.
in Psychology, followed by an M.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Syracuse
University in New York. Myisha is a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist and has practiced
for over 10 years.
Myisha finds joy alongside her husband raising their three sons. She is honored to come full
circle and play a role in uplifting, encouraging, and supporting our young ladies in this journey
we call “life.”

Toni Gloster-Jones

The author Toni Lynn is a native of Pittsburgh, PA. She is a graduate of the University of California, Irvine, with a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Dance, and a Bachelor of Arts in dance from Point Park University, Pittsburgh, PA.

Toni started dancing at the age of 11, and at 12 was awarded a summer scholarship to study dance at the University Of Pittsburgh. She danced with The Pittsburgh Black Theater Dance Ensemble, Barbara Sullivan's Atlanta Dance Theater, and Chester Whitmore's Central Avenue Dance Ensemble, Los Angeles. Toni was the featured dancer for actress Della Reese's 70th birthday party. She is also proud to be an original member of the WNBA Los Angeles Sparks Ole Skool' Dance Crew.

She is presently a itinerant dance teacher for Los Angeles Unified School District.

Toni is the proud mother of two adult sons, DeMarius and Scott

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Chaya Mathews

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Venus Lindo - Education Specialist

Ever since she was a young girl, Venus Lindo always felt that she had a passion for working with children. She went on to embrace that passion and love by becoming an elementary school teacher in the Compton Unified School District. During her nine years at Compton, she successfully raised the level of learning for her students by motivating, inspiring, and building relationships that helped to change the lives of many of her young charges.She took great joy in watching them thrive and grow as individuals. It was also while she was at Compton, dealing with many children who came from broken homes, low income, and living in various stages of poverty that she had an epiphany which made her pursue a path to become a counselor.

Venus earned her B.A. in Child Development and M.S. in Marriage, Family and Child Counseling. She has been a Middle School Counselor for 23 years in LAUSD and recently accepted a BSAP (Black Student Achievement Program) School Counseling Position, which she is very excited about.

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Dianne Shorte -
Production Team Consultant

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.

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Tara Covington - Virtual Administrator/Program Book Designer

Ever since she was a young girl, Venus Lindo always felt that she had a passion for working with children. She went on to embrace that passion and love by becoming an elementary school teacher in the Compton Unified School District. During her nine years at Compton, she successfully raised the level of learning for her students by motivating, inspiring, and building relationships that helped to change the lives of many of her young charges.She took great joy in watching them thrive and grow as individuals. It was also while she was at Compton, dealing with many children who came from broken homes, low income, and living in various stages of poverty that she had an epiphany which made her pursue a path to become a counselor.

Venus earned her B.A. in Child Development and M.S. in Marriage, Family and Child Counseling. She has been a Middle School Counselor for 23 years in LAUSD and recently accepted a BSAP (Black Student Achievement Program) School Counseling Position, which she is very excited about.

Dr. Lisa Fears Hackett -
Education Specialist

Lisa Fears-Hackett is currently an adjunct professor at National university. In December 2018, she was promoted to Regional Clinical Practice Coordinator (RCPC) in the Special Education department for Ontario and Riverside campuses. She teaches the Capstone Project course and is a university support provider for student interns and student teachers in the special education credentialing program. She is also currently the Director of Educational Programs for the National College Recourses Foundation. Dr. Fears-Hackett oversees the site coordinators of “The Movement” programs in Lynwood USD, Pomona USD, Long Beach USD, Moreno Valley USD, Centinela Valley UHSD and the San Diego County Office of Education. She also coordinates the Ivy League/HBCU Tours for high school students.

She earned two master’s degrees, one in special education from National University (NU) and the other in educational administration from California State University Dominguez Hills (CSUDH). She received two teaching credentials from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with an emphasis in handicapped/communications and the other in English as a second language (ESL), Social Sciences, Elementary and Secondary Basic Skills. She holds one administrative credential from CSUDH. She earned her doctorate degree in education with an emphasis in leadership, administration and policy (ELAP) from Pepperdine University, December 2012.

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