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Our Story

Bethany and ChiChi met while working at what was supposed to be their dream job, but the experience was marred by widespread injustice and harassment.


Through this first-hand experience, they learned important lessons. First, there is an open secret of workplace conflict and trauma that is rarely researched or openly discussed. Second, there is a lack of helpful interventions for employers and organizations wanting to make authentic and genuine change.

They founded Enlightened Solutions, a 501(c)3 think tank to focus on the problem of systemic injustice. 


They are committed to advocating for marginalized peoples and facilitating change in the most challenging environments. They conduct research, develop change management strategies and help marginalized people make informed choices within systems. 

Meet Our Staff

Enlightened Solutions implements a flattened hierarchy organizational structure.  We are proudly co-led by co-founders and democratize all decisions through this process. 


Successful employee investment begins through decentralized decision-making, creating a culture of resiliency, flexibility and intersectional participation.  We bring this customized and wide lens approach to each individual, each client and throughout our research.

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Bethany Studenic


Managing Director

Bethany (she/her) is a Master's level Social Worker and Attorney. Bethany has over a decade of experience in community change initiatives and has served as a leader in prominent social and research-based advocacy movements.


Additionally, Bethany has worked in direct practice with diverse groups, including survivors of domestic violence, community police reform movements, and families experiencing poverty


Chinenye Nkemere


Director of Strategy

Chinenye (ChiChi) (she/her) is a strategic thinker. She has over 10 years of experience in community engagement, asset building and advocacy. She holds a Bachelor in Political Science and African Studies and African American Studies from The Ohio State University, with a focus on race and electoral politics.


She continued advocacy work as a Teach for America educator in Houston, Texas serving Title 1 middle school students and their families. In addition, ChiChi broadened her professional experience, consulting in the sphere of public safety. She remains dedicated to progressive and radically inclusive equity in all spaces and for all peoples.


Jessica Yox


Jessica (she/her) is a Cleveland-based, travel-loving entrepreneur with a decade of experience in consulting, education, and accounting. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the State University of New York at Buffalo before accepting a position with PwC as a Federal Human Capital Consultant in McLean, Virginia.


Jessica is a Teach for America-Cleveland alum and obtained a Masters of Accountancy from Cleveland State University (CSU). Currently, Jessica provides business planning and accounting services, as well as tax preparation and tax planning services to small businesses and non-profit organizations with a specialization in streamlining accounting system processes. 

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Serena Draper Hendershot

Director of Stark County

Serena (she/her) is the current Outreach Director of The Martin Center/3rd Street Community Church where she provides resources for vulnerable populations in Stark County. She graduated from Walsh University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science & History and has been serving in the Ohio Army National Guard since 2015 as a Human Resource Specialist.


Serena is skilled in working with survivors of sexual and emotional abuse and is a vibrant advocate for workforce development and racial justice in Ohio. 

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Gelise Thomas

Board Development Consultant

Gelise (she/her) is an unrelenting advocate for equity in biomedical research and healthcare. Attorney by trade and storyteller by nature, her ability to mesh strategy, innovation, and coalition-building frame her curiosity-laden, relationship-first approach to solving some of society’s most urgent problems.


Gelise earned a J.D. from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University, M.S. in Health Sciences from Cleveland State University, and a B.A. in Political Science from The Ohio State University and has over a decade of experience in government relations, law, economics, community development, healthcare/research, and communications.


Lastly, she is a recent Crain’s Cleveland Business 40 Under Forty honoree.


Twyla Turner

Fundraising Consultant

Twyla (she/her) is a Cleveland native with over 15 years of creating profitable growth and impact opportunities in the region. She brings extraordinary energy, organization, and attention to detail to each project.


Turner earned an Associate Degree in Advertising and Marketing Communications from the Fashion Institute of Technology, a Bachelor's Degree in Apparel Merchandising and Product Development, and an Executive MBA from Bowling Green State University.


Turner centers her professional pursuits on the advancement of women and communities - including positions at Saks Fifth Avenue, YWCA of Greater Cleveland, JumpStart Inc., Family Promise of Greater Cleveland, The Soul of Philanthropy Cleveland, and the Cleveland Public Library.


She is a wife, mother, line-dancer, world traveler and life member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc.


Kiliyah Mair

Communications & Data Analyst

Kiliyah Mair is a rising senior at Baldwin Wallace University majoring in Psychology with a minor in Diversity Studies. As a member of the Psi Chi International Honors Society, she aspires to publish research centering the experiences and conditions of marginalized populations.

By utilizing her research experience with fat phobic discrimination, misogynoir, and structural inequities, Kiliyah intends to acquire her Ph.D. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling to combat the long-term psychological and physiological consequences of oppression.


Tait Manning

Research Asscociate

Tait Manning is a rising sophomore at Howard University majoring in Journalism. She initially joined Enlightened Solutions two years ago as a summer intern through the Future Connections program at University Circle Inc., and has continued her work as a research associate in the time since. Tait is passionate about social advocacy and hopes to shift dominant societal perspectives in favor of underrepresented marginalized voices.

Tait has assisted in various projects since Summer 2020, including asset mapping of environmental justice organizations, providing key insight to the 2020 Presidential Debate held in Cleveland, Ohio, and engaging in research and audio editing for Project Noir.


Akilah Porter

Board of Directors
VIce President

Akilah has more than a decade of experience in communications, specifically in marketing and journalism. She holds her Bachelor's Degree in Educational Studies from Kent State University.  Akilah is passionate about using her research, interviewing, innovative and interpersonal skills to establish and sustain an enlightened community.

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April Walker

Board of Directors


April is a non-profit and foundation consultant, equity champion, and writer. Her decade-long career in philanthropy spans fundraising, consulting, and grant making. She currently serves as Founder & CEO of Philanthropy for the People, an equity-centered consulting firm focused on partnering with nonprofits, donors, and foundations seeking to challenge racial biases, confront power imbalances, and advance philanthropy that centers people with lived experience.


Courtney Ottrix

Board of Directors


Courtney Ottrix is a full-time blogger, content creator and renaissance Millennial woman who has loved Cleveland for as long as she can remember. She has extensive communications experience, previously as the Communications Director of Global Cleveland. In addition, she is a freelance Production Assistant for ESPN and ABC and has the pleasure of working the 2022 NBA Playoffs and various other entertainment and sporting events over the past 10 years.

Meet Our Board

Da'na Langford

Board of Directors

Da'na Langford is a certified nurse midwife with 13+ years' experience in hospital systems. She co-founded Village of Healing, a community development organization focused on healing and empowering the village to eliminate social determinants of health and decrease disparities. Additionally, she serves as a founding consultant Da’na M. Langford Consulting which is focused on uplifting communities and addressing systemic injustices through education, executive coaching, and advocacy.


Fallon Peterson

Board of Directors


Fallon Peterson is a Program Officer for Health and Social Services at the Nord Family Foundation. In addition, she is a Board of Director for Health Policy Institute of Ohio, member of the Lorain County Racial Equity Center, the Lorain County Homeless System Strategic Planning Group, and other organizations. She is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) and was an Exponent Philanthropy 2020 Next Gen Fellow as well as a Rockwood Virtual Art of Leadership for Philanthropic Leaders Fellow.


Kathleen Brennan

Board of Directors

Kathleen is currently a Program Officer for Education at the Cleveland Foundation. Katie holds her Bachelor’s in Sociology and Master’s in Conflict Transformation and Social Justice. Katie is continuing advocate for social justice. She has worked on policing and legal issues, education, mentoring, and community issues.


Nichole Collins

Board of Directors


Nichole Collins is an experienced fund development strategist with almost two decades of experience working with mid to large nonprofit organizations. She is passionate about using her expertise to help BIPOC organizations advance their missions through the creation of infrastructure, program design, and leadership coaching. 

To her core, she believes anyone doing good work is a philanthropist.


Sara Carnicom

Board of Directors

Sara is currently a Custom Survey Analyst for IRI, an international market research firm. Sara holds a Master’s in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and a Post-Master's Certificate in Higher Education Leadership, Management, and Policy. She also has experience working in higher education institutions and is an accomplished data analyst, leader of program evaluation, and designer of best practices.

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Rep. Shayla L. Davis

Board of Directors


Shayla Davis currently serves in the Ohio House legislature as the District 11 Ohio House Representative. With more than 24 years of experience in government and non-profits, her various roles in the civic and public sector shows her dedication to fighting for social and racial equity. She has worked on crucial social service programs such as, affordable housing and homelessness, community-based social work, police accountability, social determinants of health, criminal justice reform and public policy. 


Taneisha Fair

Board of Directors


Taneisha Fair is passionate about community advocacy and empowerment.  She has committed to using her skills in research, interpersonal communication, and emotional intelligence in the nonprofit field. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Interpersonal Communication, with a minor in Nonprofit Management, and is currently pursuing a dual Juris Doctor/Master of Public Administration degree. 

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