LITTLE MISS AFRICAN AMERICAN SCHOLARSHIP PAGEANT
501(c)(3) Nonprofit, Tax-Exempt Charitable Organization
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
Ms. LaVondra is a successful real estate broker, investor, and consultant. As an early childhood educator and mentor, she also owns a preschool in the So Cal area. 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.
Mahoganie Berryman is honored to be a part of the Little Miss African American organization. She believes that helping others is a blessing. “The smiles, the stories that are shared, and heartfelt gratitude is priceless. It’s a blessing to serve others in any capacity and that is what impacts my life the most! I look forward to seeing all the girls shine and make their marks in the world!”
Jasmine Yates was born and raised in Pasadena Ca. Since she was little she always wanted to be a teacher. And so she became a preschool teacher. Jasmine believes it is important to encourage confidence, and creativity and promote healthy development in young black girls. This is just what LMAA is all about and Jasmine is so excited to lead the six-year-old group.
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.
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.”
Efeti Egun - 2023 Pageant Assistant
Efeti Egun is an author, grad student, and social media consultant. Efeti was born an and raised here in Los Angeles to Nigerian Immigrant parents. Through her education Efeti graduated with her undergraduate degree in Kinesiology and a minor in Africana Studies, now she is currently in school to obtain her MBA with a concentration in Information Systems. While in school she realized her passion was to help
others grow their businesses through the power of social media. She has worked alongside companies like Loreal, Universal, Disney and many more. Outside working she decided to write a kids book titled ABC-Africa And Me, which is a great children’s book that teaches kids their ABC’s while also teaching them about the different countries and geographic locations of each country throughout Africa.