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Valley Trailblazers

The editorial team has a special attachment to our new series, The Trailblazers: Rewriting the Narrative, because so many of us feel that media portrayals of women have been too one dimensional. Today, women are doing incredible things in all fields – from science and technology to finance, law, business, athletics and more.  With the Trailblazers series, we hope to highlight and celebrate female role models, encourage more equal and just representation in the media, and help foster a more tight-knit community locally helping women find mentors, business partners, friends and more.

Below, you’ll find some incredible trailblazers from in and around the Valley that we hope you will check out, follow and support.

Gracie Enlow

Everyone experiences pain to different degrees. My advice to you that I’ve learned along the way: celebrate every victory you can, big or small! Surround yourself with friends and family who speak hope and encouragement to you—people who can see the positives for you when you can’t. People who cry with you when you need to feel validated or understood. Read more>>

Brittany Brooks

It all started when I was just a little hyper kid, always looking for the road less traveled. LOL, I always did what I wanted to do and not what was popular. To everyone’s surprise, in the 6th grade, I decided I wanted to learn how to play the drums and my parents met me with full support! Read more>>

Oluwatoyin ‘Toyin’ Giwa

As a first generation Nigerian American raised in Chicago, my love for storytelling began at an early age. I loved reading books and watching movies. Growing up with Nigerian parents culture was heavily instilled in our household. We often watched Nollywood films and I would find myself intrigued by the storylines and life lessons. Read more>>

Nyeesha D. Williams and Elijah James Jr.

Today, Elijah & Nyeesha has created a multi-faceted platform where the inspirational stories and experiences of Black and Brown people can be highlighted while cultivating change in their communities. Being as though Elijah has worked law enforcement for such an extended period of time and Nyeesha being a health and wellness advocate for Millenials. Read more>>

Ximena Valentina

I wanted to see my body type represented more, so I figured I should start doing it myself. The Instagram got more traction than I had anticipated, so I kept posting photos and doing shoots with friends and then photographers and eventually, I had companies reaching out and my following grew to what it is today at over 30k. Read more>>

Tara George

I had to do jobs I didn’t like, just so I can continue to live here and do what I love. To the women who come out here trying to do the same my best advice to you is to stay focused. Remember why you came here. There are a lot of distractions out here and people get lost. Find a mentor that will guide you. Read more>>

Emily Yager

I gained experience doing runway shows, shoots for boutiques across the Midwest, and any opportunity I could get my hands on. When I was twenty-one, I was discovered by a photographer on a Sunday in college, who said I had “the look” he had been envisioning for his shoot. This man ended up being the lead photographer for Vera Bradley, a large fashion handbag and luggage company. Read more>>

Jesi Le Rae

I received an email to audition in Los Angeles. A couple of months later, I’m dancing on the main stage to a sea of people. I quit all of my jobs after that experience. No two weeks notice-just send the check. I had no idea what I would do about money, but there were too many people inspired by what I did, I had to make it work. Read more>>

Joe Bernardo, Ryan Carpio, Elaine Dolalas, and Michael Nailat

Imposter syndrome is real. Try to find mentors. They may not look like you. They may not share your background. But in the off chance, you find a mentor who shares a similar background as you, ask questions. Be prepared for feedback, both compliments, and harsh reality checks. Growth is possible at all levels. In the words of the great American icon Oprah, “Failure is another stepping stone to greatness. Read more>>

Chelsea Jordan

I remember riding the bus in grade school and telling kids the gory details of “Scream,” which I had watched the night prior. Definitely inappropriate for that age, but I loved evoking emotions in others. I joined the UIL Storytelling team in 5th grade and I was kind of off to the races after that. Though, it wasn’t until college that I realized this was something I could pursue a living. Read more>>

Jessica Richmond

“My path as an artist and storyteller winds around live events, gaming, performance art, and media production. I am grateful for the opportunity to share stories that act as permission slips and instigators for personal growth – and I believe in the power of entertainment as a tool of expansion. Read more>>

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