iSpeak Now Board President
Travis Jackson is the President of iSpeak Now and is from Durham North Carolina. Travis is a 2011 graduate of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, where he obtained his Bachelor of Science Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a concentration in Public Relations. Travis is the CEO and Founder of HBCU Pride Nation (HPN), an engaging online platform that promotes the connectivity, significance and pride of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in an effort to increase their positive awareness and enrollment. Travis was recently honored as one of the “Top 30 Under 30” African-American entrepreneurs in Charlotte by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Black Chamber of Commerce and has received the numerous honors such as the “Emerging Leader of the Year” by the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame.
iSpeak Now Vice President
iSpeak Now Board Secretary
Yolanda Trotman is the Chief Executive Officer and the founder of iSpeak Now. Yolanda graduated from UNC-Charlotte in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts in History and she was a North Carolina Teaching Fellow. Yolanda was a high school history teacher, debate and speech coach, and Mock trial coach for three years at North Mecklenburg High School. In 1999 she attended law school at the University of Pittsburgh and graduated in May 2002 with her Juris Doctor degree. Yolanda began her legal career as an Assistant Public Defender in October 2002 and opened her own law practice, The Law Office of Yolanda M. Trotman, PLLC, in 2004. She was elected as District Court Judge on November 4, 2014 and served as a Judge in the 26th Judicial District where she presided over criminal and civil matters for two years. During this time she received several awards for her service to the community. In January 2016 Yolanda founded iSpeak Now to teach public speaking, critical thinking and related skills to elementary and high school students by utilizing an interactive mock trial model called the Mock Trial Experience in partnership with law enforcement, law and college students and members of the community. Yolanda decided to leave the bench in December 2016 and return to the private sector to re-open her law practice and to pursue the development and expansion of iSpeak Now throughout local schools and to expand to other counties and other states. The first lesson she teaches her students is "your voice has POWER!"
Michelle Pettiford currently serves as Dean of Students within Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. Additionally, Ms. Pettiford holds her National Board Certification in the area of Exceptional Children Birth – Adult. She has 18 years experience as an educator in the area of exceptional children working in a variety of public settings with diverse student populations from kindergarten through high school Michelle holds a Bachelor of Science in Recreational Therapy from Belmont Abbey, a Master of Education in Exceptional Children as well as Curriculum and Supervision from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is currently a doctorial student in Curriculum and Instruction from Gardner Webb University. Her passion for education and empowering the community is instrumental has she is a firm believer of a quote made by Harriet Tubman; “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
Robert Corbett is an attorney in Charlotte and has been an attorney for more than 20 years. He was previously an Assistant District Attorney before ultimately opening his own law firm. Over the past few years, Rob watched the contributions that iSpeak Now has made to our youth and community and knows that his own professional desires and goals are similar. Rob has volunteered to coach teams that were competing in the Advanced Mock Trial Experience. He, like many of our fellow citizens, have seen the challenges that are facing our young people. As a criminal defense attorney, he witnesses first hand the collateral consequences that can affect a young person’s life when they become entangled in the criminal system. Being involved with ISpeak affords him the opportunity to mentor, encourage, or be an example, for a student as they are navigating young adulthood. He believes that if only one person makes better decisions so that they do not appear in court, then he would consider the journey worthwhile.
iSpeak Now Board of Directors
Vonda Johnson is the Board of Directors Secretary. She initially became involved with iSpeak Now as a volunteer in 2016, She received her Bachelor of Arts is Sociology from Hartwick College in New York. Vonda has over five years of work experience in the public sector as a community organizer, fundraiser, and event planner. She has completed two years of doctoral level legal education. Vonda has a strong passion to work with young people and help them reach their full potential. Her favorite mantra is “Don’t be afraid to be great.”
Ohavia Phillps is a successful enteprenuer with a long history of media experience. She had been a follower of iSpeak Now for some time and believes it would be a privilege to contribute to its growth and future successes as a Board Member role. Her strength and passion for creative solutions has been a positive addition to our team and organization's goals. Ohavia enjoys innovation and loves to experiment with different ideas. She is known for inspiring and devising original, thought-provoking concepts. She has cultivated speaking, leadership, and community building skills through diverse experiences. These talents, along her heart for the community, align with the qualities important to iSpeak Now. Ohavia likes to promote a culture of fun, consensus-driven, and high-energy teamwork. Her work with the media teams have fostered an energy and excitement for these fields for our students to pursue in the future.
Kai Stacks is the President of the Board of Directors for iSpeak Now and is a North Carolina native. Kai graduated from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and minor in Women's Studies. After graduating from college, Kai spent a year in Los Angeles working as an AmeriCorps VISTA in three public schools focusing on school and community capacity building. Upon returning to North Carolina, Kai enrolled at Charlotte School of Law to pursue her interest in criminal and education law. Since receiving her J.D. in 2016, Kai has volunteered with iSpeak Now mock trials and mentoring programs. Kai is compassionate about civic engagement, connecting people with local resources, and interacting with youth activism. The mission of iSpeak Now encompasses all the things she enjoys because she can see the impact the programs have on the students and community.
Annetta Watkins-Foard is the immediate past President of the iSpeak Now Board of Directors and the Chair of the iSpeak Now Advisory Committee, She is a native Charlottean and is currently a Program Coordinator for Community Building Initiative. As an employee of CBI, Annetta works to implement a Leaders Under 40 Leadership program, (LU40), for rising leaders in the Charlotte community. Annetta has also implemented a series of historical and interactive bus tours of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community especially in the West End Corridor and Charlotte’s east side. Annetta is very active in the community. For the past 15 years she has served as an effective and successful political Campaign Manager for various local politicians. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Loaves & Fishes. Annetta became involved in iSpeak Now based on her love for the community and developing a new generation of young leaders.
iSpeak Now Chief Executive Officer
LaToya Young the iSpeak Now Treasurer and Volunteer Coordinator. She is a native Charlottean and a mother of two children. As an entrepreneur, her motivation and genuine concern for others shows up in her errands service and company, Errands by LaToya located in Charlotte, NC and surrounding areas. LaToya finds her joy in helping others and giving back to the community. As a parent and former school bus driver for seven years, LaToya is a firm believer that it takes a village to raise a child. LaToya is a valuable part of the iSpeak Now Village and assists where she is needed. She enjoys seeing the students succeed and transform in such a short period of time through iSpeak Now's programs which further encourages her to continue to serve and help empower young people. LaToya is the Volunteer Coordinator for iSpeak Now.
iSpeak Now Treasurer and Volunteer Coordinator
iSpeak Now Advisory Committee Chair
Michael Gray is currently a junior at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte studying Economics and Statistics with a concentration in data science. Having had the opportunity to participate in the iSpeak.Now program during his time in high school, he has have been able to see first hand just how educational a program like this can be for students. This program presented him with valuable first hand experience with the legal system and helped broaden his horizons for potential careers when it comes to the world of criminal justice and law. Michel has long had an interest in the field of law and criminal justice and feels he can excel in performing the needs to help make an already tremendous program even better. His previous experience in not only organizing the program but having participated in the program has been vital to gain perspective on how many of the activities are viewed through the eyes of past participants.