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Meet Keyonna Monroe of Pretty2Me Foundation

Today we’d like to introduce you to Keyonna Monroe.

Keyonna Monroe is the CEO & Executive Director of Pretty2Me.org, a nonprofit organization that teaches mental and emotional health in the form of self-love to young girls. She is also the Founder of LYF Matters Globally, an online mental and emotional wellness community for adults. Keyonna Monroe is a survivor of child trafficking and often speaks about preventing/Identifying/Healing in terms of overall wholeness.

An alum of both Spelman College and USC, Keyonna worked in marketing & advertising before making her way to major television networks as an editor and journalist. Keyonna has been recognized as a woman with a high level of positive influence by United States Congressman Lowenthall, Black Business Leadership Hall of Fame, LA5 Rotary, DCFS and others. She is passionate about supporting the next generation of young women and is honored to teach, guide, support and assist them with the use of her personal and professional advice as they embark on their future careers. Currently working with schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District, Keyonna has seen the change she has made in the lives of many girls. She has spoken on empowerment panels and worked with the Los Angeles & Long Beach Police Department, and more than several schools across the country. In addition, Keyonna is a mother, certified Neuro-Linguistic Programming & Cognitive Behavior therapist, as well as a published children’s book author. She has worked with countless organizations such as Black Business Women Rock, the YMCA, YWCA, Boys & Girls Club, USC, Power Play NYC, Circle of Change, Hispanic Business Society, Job Corps DTLA, 100 Black Men, 100 Black Women. Good Shepard Shelter, St. Anne’s School, Obama Foundation and the Cultural Arts Leadership Exchange.

I was raised in South Central Los Angeles to teenage parents. My mother is Cuban and my dad is black. I had a very rough upbringing as I grew up in a very gang/drug infested neighborhood. This is one of the reasons why I work so hard to give back to the community now that I have become successful.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
When I left NBC Universal to start my nonprofit I had no idea what I was doing. I did a lot of footwork just to build credibility and I almost went bankrupt. I had to invest my own money in my dreams because I didn’t get much support in the early stages. I was an answer to a problem nobody wanted to solve yet. I had to become a certified therapist so that I was more educated as well as relatable.

Please tell us about Pretty2Me Foundation.
Love is a prominent concept in the work that Keyonna does. Her programs encourage and promote self-love, but what is also important and sadly missing in some’s concept of love, is the awareness and expression of appropriate love. She’s worked to educate adults and children alike on the difference between appropriate behavior, affection, and love.

As a certified CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapist) with a background in NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming), Ms. Monroe works with girls helping them to explore their feelings, past experiences, present situations, and hopes for the future. She opened up a space for students to feel emotionally safe to explore and unpack their trauma, sadness, grief, frustrations, fears, and feelings of stagnation or “being stuck” and supports them in finding and discovering their authentic self and dreams.

Her aim is to help them develop a greater sense of awareness and control over their current situation, issues moving through depression, and examining problematic behaviors. Sometimes it requires looking at unhealthy relationships with self/friends/family, or developing new and better coping strategies for dealing with day-to-day stressors, and managing life transitions.

What makes me unique in what I do is that I have relatable experience. I’ve suffered, endured and survived a lot of trauma and hardship, which is why I can speak on how the healing aspects impact your success.

In our current cultural climate where women are becoming more emboldened and empowered to find and use their voice, embrace their inherent beauty and power as women, and to passionately protect the value of their bodies, it remains an uphill battle. Sex trafficking, sexual abuse, suicide, bullying, self-harm, and self-hatred are occurring at alarming rates, and for many, the idea of anything different and better for themselves seems unattainable.

Pulling from her own personal experiences battling low self-esteem, bullies, and the negative effects of peer pressure, Keyonna recognized the importance of creating a space where young girls could find their voice and an environment that encourages positive self-expression and exploration. At a time where young girls are very susceptible, being bombarded with influential imagery that dictates what it means to be a girl, woman, female, pretty, smart, successful, etc., can be very confusing, especially when operating from a place of low self-esteem and self-awareness. In many cases, where young girls are in environments where negativity is being poured into them, they have no alternative to counter the toxicity they take in.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Empathy, compassion, patience and mental/emotional stability.

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