Our Story

Bethany and ChiChi met while working what they thought were their dream jobs, but the experience was marred by pervasive workplace inequity and harassment.

 

Through this firsthand experience, we learned three key lessons:
 

  • The “open secret” of workplace harassment and trauma is a rarely researched problem, with a pernicious effect on the American workforce;

  • There is no singular organization to turn to when one has experienced workplace trauma;

  • There is a lack of tangible interventions for employers and organizations aiming to proactively prevent and counteract structural workplace inequity and abuse.

Because of this, we created Enlightened Solutions, a 501(c)(3) social enterprise and social advocacy think tank. 

 

Enlightened Solutions is committed to cultivating change within challenging spaces.  We complete independent research, support marginalized individuals navigating complete systems, and create strategies to help both nonprofit and corporate spheres create inclusive organizations.

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

Co-Founder

Managing Director

Bethany holds her Bachelors in Social Work, Masters in Social Administration, and is a recently barred Juris Doctor. Bethany has over 10 years in community change experience, serving in a leadership role of highly visible social and research-based advocacy movements.

 

In addition, Bethany has worked with a variety of diverse populations through direct experience, including survivors of domestic violence and families experiencing poverty. She is an accomplished fundraiser, government relations professional, community strategist, former lobbyist, researcher and policy analysis expert.

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Chinenye Nkemere

Co-Founder

Director of Strategy

Chinenye (ChiChi) is a strategic thinker. She has over 10 years of experience in community engagement, asset building and advocacy. She holds a Bachelors 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.

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Larisa DaSilva

Project Manager

Larisa is a content producer who works on building strong relationships between organizations and their intended audiences. She received a B.A. in Communications with a concentration in Advertising and Public Relations, as well as a double minor in Graphic Design and Spanish from DePaul University.

 

As the proud daughter of first-generation immigrants, Larisa understands the value of equity in all spaces; she works to inspire genuine change and support for underrepresented communities through visual and creative communication. Her professional background is specialized in brand strategy, social media, identity design, photography, web design, and illustration. 

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Serena Draper Hendershot

Director of Stark County

Serena 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 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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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.

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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.

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Akilah Porter

Board of Directors
Member

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

Member

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.

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Courtney Ottrix

Board of Directors

Member

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
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Da'na Langford

Board of Directors
Member

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.

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Ellie Turan

Board of Directors

Member

Eliana Turan is a local writer and activist whose work focuses on building equality and understanding. During her time in uniform, she served for six years in the U.S. Army during the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” era. 

She came out publicly in 2018 while testifying at Cuyahoga County’s Ordinance 9 hearings, which extended equal protections to the entire county – a precedent for the State of Ohio. Her motivation for coming out as a professional was to protest the re-installment of the military ban against transgender service members.

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Fallon Peterson

Board of Directors

Member

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.

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Kathleen Brennan

Board of Directors
Member

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.

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Maryann Mathai

Board of Directors

Member

Maryann is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in private practice specializing in trauma-focused therapy. She holds her Bachelors in Psychology and Master’s in Counseling for Mental Health and Wellness. She is passionate about the mental health of marginalized populations and has served as an advocate, counselor, and coordinator of clinical services at nonprofits across NY. She is dedicated to holding space for open conversations & removing stigma around  mental health. 

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Nichole Collins

Board of Directors

Member

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.

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Sara Carnicom

Board of Directors
Member

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

Member

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. 

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Taneisha Fair

Board of Directors

Member

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.