Latoya Hawthorne, Founder, Mentor & Domestic Violence Counselor Advocate
Latoya Hawthorne, a native of Jamaica, moved to the United States with her family in 1993. Many know her as Latti; a nickname given to her by her mother as a child. She spent the rest of her childhood growing up in suburban Westchester County, N.Y. However, shortly after arriving in the United States, Hawthorne was diagnosed with severe arthritis and spent much of her early years on crutches. She eventually overcame adversity and learned to live with chronic pain, and taught herself to walk without assistance.
Hawthorne went on to study mass communication and advertising, and after years of building her confidence to an all-time high, she entered the dating scene. It wasn’t too long before she fell madly in love with a man she believed to be her soul mate-or so she thought.
Her former boyfriend wanted to take care of her, but under his rules: He wanted her to be a stay at home wife. However, Hawthorne, on the other hand, wanted to be a runway model. Although deep down, she knew she was created for a greater purpose, she eventually compromised to be accepted by the only person she believed loved her. After a few years of catering to his wishes, she decided she wanted more. But her former flame was none too pleased by her independent streak…
Hawthorne endured years of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of a man she believed to be her “rock.” Brick by brick, the self-esteem she worked so hard to build began to crumble. She tried to run away from the pain, but fell into a downward spiral of drug abuse, leaving her hopeless and desperate for a way out.
Eventually Hawthorne escaped her troubles and followed her dreams, moving to California to pursue a career in the arts. She instantly began modeling and started shooting with some of Southern California’s finest fashion photographers. But it was when she began to explore the other side of the lens, working as an assistant photographer, that she found her passion for the craft. Her confidence and self-esteem returned with a vengeance, motivating her to push herself to the next level: creating A Walking Virtue.
A Walking Virtue is a collective of young artistic women from Los Angeles, CA, who cultivate healthy relationships through a sisterhood of creativity. Hawthorne speaks on violence prevention in schools. She empowers young women to build healthy relationships with one another through the arts. By sharing her skills and experiences, she hopes to inspire young women as others have inspired her. Latoya obtained her Bachelor of Arts degrees in Communication Studies in 2015. She is now pursuing her Masters degree in Public Relations at California Baptist University. Latoya has hopes to travel and help under-served women launch businesses in countries around the world. She spends her leisure time visiting new restaurants, modeling, sewing and volunteering at performing arts schools with at-risk teens. Latoya is a member of the Art Therapy Association. She still resides in California and is currently writing her memoir on overcoming domestic violence, low self-esteem and drug abuse.
Kerry-Ann Ellington, Co-Founder
Kerry-Ann Ellington is a native of the beautiful island of Jamaica. In search of better opportunities, her family migrated to the U.S. in 1993. Upon graduating from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications, she relocated to California to pursue her true passion, acting. Kerry-Ann’s ability to work in film, theatre, television, commercial, as well as modeling proves her versatility, tenacity and passion for the entertainment industry. She currently resides in Southern, CA with her husband, a 1stSgt in the Marine Corps, their 3 gorgeous boys, and their family dog.
Besides nurturing her own talent as an actress, Kerry-Ann is also a community activist. She lends a hand to various organizations in support of military families. With such a strong presence within the military community, Kerry-Ann was blessed with the opportunity to meet one of her long time idols, Ms. Oprah Winfrey. Along with 29 other hard working and dedicated military spouses, Kerry-Ann was a recipient of “Oprah’s Favorite Things 2012.”
She is also the Co-Founder of “A Walking Virtue,” an organization that promotes self care for women professionals in the non-profit industry. As a board member for S.T.A.R. Foundation, Kerry-Ann also assists with the organization’s goal to provide a foundation of self-respect within young women through mentoring, educating and promoting the importance of living a healthy lifestyle, which incorporates HIV/AIDS & STD prevention.
In her spare time, Kerry-Ann loves doing fun activities with her family and friends. She also enjoys cooking, baking, writing, reading and a sinful obsession with board games.
Veena Michelle, Nutrition Coach – Plant-Based Diet Consultant
Veena believes that diet can have a powerful impact on one’s overall quality of life. When she was 23 years old, her mother was diagnosed with multiple diseases (Lupus, cervical and thyroid cancer, all in one year!) Veena went home to live with her for two years and was determined to help her recover. In that time she saw first hand the incredible effect diet and nutrition had on her and was amazed by how her symptoms rapidly diminished when she was eating nourishing meals three times a day.
Veena decided to put what she learned to work and began coaching and consulting clients to help them on their journey to a healthy and happy life. “I like to think of every client as a new individual who has joined my circle, I take the time to understand not only what you’re eating, but how you are feeling, your social wellbeing and your interaction with the world around you. Usually poor diet is a result of imbalance and misinformation. I take the time to treat both and I believe this has a life long impact on those who I have the pleasure of working with.”