About Us

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About Founder Valerie Stephens

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Valerie is a performing artist/arts educator with a passion for history. In addition to receiving a 2019 Bro. Thomas Fellowship with an unrestricted award of $15,000, Valerie has received a 2019 Bridge Award in Arts, a 2018 Boston City Council Resolution for creating the annual event PRINCESS DAY: Celebrating Little Girls of Color and her commitment to Nina Simone’s legacy, a 2017 New England Foundation for the Arts Creative City Grant for creating the Elder Storytelling Performance Project, 2016 Get Konnected! Boston Legends & Pioneers Award, the 2011 NAACP Image Award, the 2007 Urban Music Award in Blues and was a nominee for the 2011 Urban Music Award in Jazz as well as Citations of Appreciation from the Cities of  Boston, New Bedford, and Springfield. 


         As a vocalist, Valerie’s CD Potpourri, a mixture of jazz, blues, and spoken word has been very well received. She has created four music series, the first “Women of the Village”, celebrating the common voice of American, South African & Cuban women. The second “Sweet & Salty: Dressed to the Nines”, a tribute to classic Blues Singers and is currently presenting “The Music & Times of Nina Simone” and “FOUR WOMEN: Nina Simone”. Both are tribute concerts are dedicated to the world-renowned musical icon Dr. Nina Simone. Her newest NINA Tribute production is "NINA SIMONE & Hip Hop" has received excellent reviews. The Valerie Stephens Group is a well-known attraction at local venues and festivals.

       As a storyteller, Valerie Stephens has performed throughout New England for three generations of audiences. She has been contracted to research, present, and/or perform historical event productions for the Boston Children’s Museum, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Boston Science Museum, the Springfield Arts Museum, and the Cambridge Cultural Council.

      Valerie toured nationally for nine years, as a lead actor with the award-winning Underground Railway Theater and other touring theater companies. After 15 years, returned to the theater stage in Company One’s controversial production of NEIGHBORS in the character role of Mammy Crow. She created a solo play named The Mammy Diaries. In 2018, Valerie returned to the theatrical stage in the Marblehead Little Theater heart-wrecking production of Letters from War in the lead role as Mae, a 75-year-old woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

      She has created a six-week workshop series, The Elder Storytelling Project, which helps elders to develop their performance skills as Storytellers. Mother & Father Wit: Life Lessons has been celebrated by multi-generational audiences. 

      While working as Director of Cultural Programming and Community Partnerships for the International House of Blues Foundation, Valerie created and directed “The Blues Schoolhouse: History of the Blues”, an in-house educational production for children, which was performed in Boston and Los Angeles. She also created a touring production company for the Boston area. She has served as Artist Consultant to the CitiCenter for the Arts' youth programming, training young artists to be community storytellers and researching the history of Boston's diverse neighborhoods.

      An Arts Educator, Valerie has developed and taught three middle school courses focusing on Boston’s 19th Century Women in Medicine & Public Health Methodology for 'Girls Get Connected", a program affiliated with Simmons College, committed to inspiring girls to choose technical careers. Valerie teaches creative dramatics/ playwriting & improvisational theater technique to learners ages 5 – Adult in schools and organizations throughout  Massachusetts. 

       Valerie has traveled throughout the Caribbean and West Africa and she is a member of the Dorchester Historical Society, Massachusetts Memories Roadshow Advisory Board, the Massachusetts Studies Network, Boston Pan African Forum, and the NAACP.

Valerie also received an official resolution from the City of Boston in City Council
for her work on Princess Day.
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City of Boston in City Council Official Resolution

Be it Resolved, that the Boston City Council extended its Congratulations to: Valerie Stephens In Recognition of: Hosting the 5th Annual Princess Day, inspiring & celebrating girls of color; and on being named “Nina Simone Queen of Soul Diva of Boston,” and Be it further Resolved that the Boston City Council extends its best wishes for continued success; that this Resolution be duly signed by the President of the City Council and attested to and a copy thereof transmitted by the Clerk of the City of Boston.

The Team

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Lydia A. Clapp

Lydia, a member of the Black & Gold Doll Club of New England, has been willing and able to invest in our black children with a variety of talents she has been able to develop and share, as she had been invested in by women in her young life. 

“I have learned that the real princess’s are givers of their heart & best selves to others, hoping to make things better than where you found them.  Learning to love myself & others.  That power from within is what makes a crown worthy person to me.”

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Jasmine Jackson

“ I feel like a princess…when I am intentional about being the best version of myself, and can inspire, encourage, and support others in doing the same”

Jasmine Jackson is a Financial Coach by day with Compass Working Capital, where she passionately works to support the mission of this nonprofit organization by coaching families with low income to build assets and financial capabilities as a pathway to greater economic opportunity.

 

Jasmine, a native Bostonian, is the niece of Valerie Stephens.  She has been a part of Princess Day since its inception, and has also worked alongside Valerie on other projects, including the Elder Storytelling Performance Project. Jasmine enjoys carrying out her aunts’ vision through supporting her in various community initiatives…

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 Tamia Rashima Jordan, M.Ed.

"I feel like a princess when I'm gliding across the water, on a stand-up paddle board, commanding the seas!"

       Tamia is a radical racial & social justice educator who channels her energy into projects that heal the BIPOC (Black & Indigenous & People of Color) community. Currently she serves as the Director of Intercultural Student Affairs at Emerson College located in Boston, Massachusetts. 

       Additionally, Tamia serves on the Community Council of the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence. She supports individuals who are or have been incarcerated. And she also serves on the production team of the Boston Art & Music Soul Festival (BAMS Fest).

​       Originally from Hackensack, New Jersey, Tamia received her BA in Government (American Politics) and African American Studies from the University of Virginia and her M.Ed. in Higher Education Student Affairs Administration from the University of Vermont. 

​       Also important to note, Tamia cannot live without the ocean, all the folx who call her auntie, traveling to countries below the equator, kitty cats, and music.

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Deirdre Hayes

"I feel like a princess when I step into a new pair of shoes and start dancing like no one is watching!"

      Deirdre is a passionate retired athlete who enjoys the fine arts.  While in high school Dee understood the importance of teaching and coaching children the fundamentals of life through field hockey and everyday activities.  Deirdre is a native of Hackensack, New Jersey, and attended Hackensack High school while playing 4 years of Varsity Field Hockey and other sports. She continued her athletic career at East Stroudsburg University where she received her Bachelors of Science in Physical Education Concentration in Sports Management. 

       Continuing her love of sports Deirdre began coaching for Newark Academy in Livingston, New Jersey (Field Hockey), Glen Ridge High school (track and field), and for an Elite Traveling Field Hockey team Quik Sticks. Where she helped developed young athletes with team building and playing skills so that they too can be scouted by collegiate coaches. 

       Development of children and understanding everyday survival skills also lead her to be an Assistant Camp Director with the Fresh Air Fund (Camp Hidden Valley) and a Brownie Girl Scout trooper leader for 7 years.  

       As a Certified Event Rental Specialist, she now focuses her energy on logistics as an event planner and the creation of memories. Deirdre has exceptional attention to detail and compassion.    

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Makeysha Montgomery

“I feel like a princess when I dress up and I perform in front of an audience on stage and I can

feel the audience being moved by my music. I also feel like a princess when I serve others."

Makeysha is the Executive Assistant to the CEO at Whittier Street Health Center where she passionately works to assist the CEO to serve the community and provide equitable healthcare access to all. She is also a community event planner and consultant in Boston.

 

Makeysha is a well-known music vocalist in the church and around Boston. She has also performed as a lead soloist for the Annual Boston Pops Gospel Night and has been an opening act for well-known R&B artists. 

 

Originally from Shreveport, Louisiana, Makeysha is an HBCU graduate of Southern University A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where she received her Bachelor’s of Arts in Public Relations, Communications, and a Master’s of Art in Print Journalism, Communications. In her spare time, Makeysha enjoys singing, dancing, and spending time with family.

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Jillian Follmer

"I feel like a princess when I'm helping others!"

Jillian is a Director at a children's apparel company by day, and a passionate digital marketer by night. After 15+ years in fashion, she went back to school at General Assembly NYC to become fluent in digital marketing.  A natural creative, she loves to design for herself & others.

       Jillian has resided in both Brooklyn & NJ over the years and loves to travel the world to experience new cultures and worlds.

       Also, Jillian cannot live without her passport, kitty & hugs from loved ones.  

Contributors

Photography is by Maria Fonseca

All illustrations on this website are done by artist Ryan Siegmann.

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