We are here to ensure that our young readers are prepared, informed and enriched. Akiba and her advisors help the nerdy girlz achieve this!
Akiba Thompson, Founder, Director
Akiba Thompson (nee' Dumas) was born in St. Louis MO. where she was raised in the St. Louis City Greater Ville area. She currently resides with husband Jason Thompson and their children in Florissant a second ring suburb in north St. Louis County.
Akiba graduated from Sumner High School in 1994 where her major was Studio Arts. She attended Florissant Valley Community College and also Harris-Stowe State University.
She gained her interest in drawing when she was in the 6th grade. Her many talents as an artist, designer and painter has led her to do several skilled jobs for people.
She's been working in the Dept of Mental Health field for almost 21 years. She is very passionate about working with individuals with developmental disabilities. She worked for Special School District as a Para-Professional for 5 years in an Autistic classroom. There she worked as an ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis Therapist) working with children with developmental issues with grades ranging from Kindergarten to 5th grade.
Akiba has always had a passion and desire to work with people, especially children. She may have followed in the footsteps from both of her parents (mother) Shariba Dumas, who has been working with children in Early Childhood since 1978 to the present and (father) Shahab Dumas, who was a great pillar in the community. As I watched him grow, he became a great role model for the children in our neighborhood.
Working with children comes easy for Akiba, having 8 of her own with ages ranging from 7-21 - 4 boys and 4 girls. Family time is always first in her life because she cherishes family values.
Akiba saw the strong vision that Kennedy had about having her own book club and wanted to share it with others so it would soar to something phenomenal. As mother and daughter they sat down and made a plan, put their ideas together, designed and drew the logo together and made up the name for the book club. The results of it are where we are today - the birth of a great organization called the NerdyGirlz Book Club.
Shonta, a single mom with 2 boys and a girl, is from St. Louis, MO. She attended Sumner High and graduated in 1995. She has an Associate degree in General Studies from Forest Park Community College. Shonta is an automotive worker for General Motors.
She loves spending time with her friends and family, especially her children. Her favorite pastime is baking with her daughter, Savannah. They enjoy finding new things to create together.
Traveling is one of Shonta's favorite things to do other than reading. But what she loves the most about reading is when she is unable to actually visit a new place, she can open a book and go anywhere she wants. Her favorite book is "No Disrespect...by Sister Souljah".
She loves what the NerdyGirlz Book Club has become - what started out as a mustard seed has grown into a tree that has planted strong roots within the community.
Shonta is always that one person whom is supportive of positive things. From the moment Akiba shared her and Kennedy's vision with Shonta, she knew that she had to jump on board with the book club idea because it's something that has no boundaries or limits. She sees not just girls but also boys getting back to the enjoyment of reading. She wants to see children feel as though reading books is not a punishment, but for them to understand that books can take them to the same place their imagination can take them. Far too many children have lost the love of reading but because of Kennedy, who loves reading and has been both a motivator for children to start reading and a trendsetter to show that nerds are cool. Not only did Kennedy discover her own voice but she set the bar for other girls to say they are nerds and enjoy reading.
This endless journey is amazing along with the future of the book club and all of the NGBC Members....I am so proud to be part of this Blessing!!
Leah Nicholson , M.Ed is originally from St. Louis, MO. After graduating from the University of Central Missouri, she obtained her Masters in the Arts of Teaching from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO. Upon completing her degree she began her journey in special education with the St. Louis Public School district..
In 2005, she took a step out on faith and relocated to Austin, TX where she worked for eight years with students who had social, emotional and physical disabilities.
In 2013, she relocated to New Orleans, LA where she, along with six of her colleagues, had the privilege of co-founding Paul Habans Charter School.
In 2014, the Lord placed in her spirit to relocate home to St. Louis to be closer to family and give back to her hometown of St. Louis, MO where she began her new journey with the Special School District.
When she is not working with students, you can find Leah spending time with her daughter, Laela, Additionally, she volunterrs with The Spirit Church and also works out at the gym.
Her purpose in life is to be a great mother and to inspire and encourage people on the love of Jesus.
Leah's favorite book is The Coldest WInter Ever.
Her aspirations for NGBC is to see young girls avidly continue the love and enjoyment of reading. Being able to find a corner in whatever room the child is in because the book they are reading is so enthralling they don't want to put it down. Leah wants to see parents with their children seeking out interesting books and watching this be a preferred activity that is a part of their daily lives.
Kendra Martin, St. Louis native, attended Webster Groves Sr. High, She is a current resident of St. Charles County. Kendra is married to David Martin and has two children, Zackary and Taylor.
Kendra has worked in the financial industry for over 25 years and holds a Bachelors of Arts in Organizational Structures and a Minor in Sales Leadership from Saint Louis University. Kendra also serves on the Grace Hill Women’s Business Center Advisory Board, Rosati-Kain Finance Committee, St. Alphonsus Rock Catholic Church Parish Council and Fund Raising Committee and the Reinvest North County Fund.
Kendra’s role with the NerdyGirlz Book Club has been as a mentor and advisor as well as volunteering where needed. Kendra has identified future book club goals for the short term to gain 501 (c)(3) status to allow for corporate partnerships. Long term goals for the book club should be an expansion into partnerships with other organizations who support youth; for example local boys and girls clubs but not limited to only these types of organizations. To gain partnerships at this level, the club will need to align itself with key stakeholders and other qualified contributors to help build programs and content to sustain the community’s needs. Long term focus should be to build an educational program as a foundation with social aspects to compliment the true goal of educating youth.
Kendra’s hobbies include vacationing with her family and volunteering with organizations that make a difference in the community where we live, work and play.
Kendra’s favorite book is Cane River by Lalita Tademy. The book is about four female generations surviving as slave born individuals in the south. The history provides much insight as to how women and society may think, feel and how black females are interacted with today. All girls and women should understand their history and the challenges our ancestors had to overcome to have what women have today.
Kendra’s hope and dreams for this book club to inspire and support young women in their journey to become successful adults. This book club will introduce to some and support others with expanding their experiences. As a child, exposure to new and different things will support their journey and hopefully lead to their educational goals. Every child should work toward becoming educated with a college degree; as no person, group or organization can remove an educational experience or a degree. Earning their “piece of paper” or degree will grant them access to all things new and greater and to be allowed access to the same platform as others.
Dawn was born and raised in St. Louis, MO and currently lives in a St Louis County suburb.
She is an Instructional Designer at Edward Jones, designing and writing training materials for various financial departments. She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree at Iowa State University in Ames, IA, as an Architectural Designer and previously worked in that field for 8 years. She successfully had some of her design work published iwhile in this career, but because construction can be unsteady, she made the tough decision to change careers and became a computer instructor. She wrote curriculum and taught computer courses such as the Microsoft Office suite, web design, operating systems along with other assorted computer related courses at the University of MO - St. Louis.
Dawn's llove of books is vast and perpetually changing.. She highly prefers non-fiction but indulges in fiction on occasion. She is currently obsessed with finding and reading slave narratives. Understanding from their point of view how life was as a slave is both maddening yet extremely important.
Due to the limitations of getting education that the slaves experienced, the idea of "knowledge is power" has ultimate importance to Dawn. When all else is taken away, knowledge is something is not.
Dawn's desperation to read started at the age of 4. while watching her parents read, thinking she never would learn. That changed greatly in the 3rd grade where she was reading at a 5th grade level. In high school she took advanced literature, reading the classics. In college she utilized her obsession with reading in her creative writing, speech classes and in all of her papers. This is all said to show how reading has been influential and necessary in her life and career.
She wants the NerdyGirlz Book Club to be a haven to enrich girls to not just read but also to engage in new and unorthodox experiences that they may not have garnered on their own. She also hopes that participation in the book club will help the girls transition success into their adult lives. Lastly, as adults, she hopes to hear of the girls talk about how the NerdyGirlz Book Club inspired and motivated their personal and professional aspirations.
Dawn's hobbies are creating games and combating animal abuse globally through stricter legislation and enforcement. She also seeks to enjoy her life by traveling to places yet unseen and doing things most won't try!
Her motto: "Life is short, so live it fun, live it constantly learning, live it with an open mind, and always live it spiritually."
Adrianne is a single mother of 3 from St. Louis, MO, currently residing in Florissant, MO. She graduated from Riverview Gardens High School in 2000 and attended St. Louis Community College, both the Florissant Valley & Forest Park districts with dreams of becoming a Surgical Technician.
However, as she began her studies she realized she had a passion for administrative duties. She also had a desire to help people of all ages and began working with 2 year olds, the elderly, and adolescent people.
In 2008 as a youth advisor is where she was able to apply her joy of working with people along with applying her administrative duties. After working as a youth advisor for a year, she was offered the position of Office Manager for the Older Youth Services Department.
She has been working for Epworth Children & Family Services for 8 years. She has developed everlasting relationships with youth ranging from 11-25! Realizing that being a consistent person that these youth sees brings joy to them and definitely to her! For this reason this motivates her to continue to do the work she does!
Adrianne enjoys traveling, reading, and taking care of her children.
Although she has a list of books she loves, Sweet St. Louis by Omar Tyree is one of her favorites. Her love for reading started at very young age. By encouraging her children at young ages to read, she has seen the power of reading and what it can do for the mind.
She strongly believes that the youth of today are our future. As adults we must commit ourselves to making sure the youth become phenomenal, responsible, conscientious and aware citizens. Reading is one of the most important tools to have in order to become that type of individual. When Akiba told Adrianne about Kennedy’s vision and how she was determined to make it happen Adrianne was overwhelmed with excitement because this ideology is needed for our community! Young people everywhere need to know that reading can be fun and engaging! Furthermore, reading can take you to heights that you never knew existed!
Contributing her abilities and watching this organization continue to reach young girls is a reward in itself for Adrianne. As the journey of the NerdyGirlz Book Club continues, she cannot wait to see the long lasting affects it will have on our youth now and the youth that are to come. The positive environment that promotes reading and positive social interaction among the NerdyGirlz is so amazing! Some of these young ladies have found friends for life thru the joys of reading!
We must always remember that we as females have the ability to become whatever we want to become as long as we are true to ourselves and passionate about what we want to do.
The sky is the limit!