When one thinks of the desert three things are sure to come to mind... dryness, lots of brown hues and a lack of life. However, the desert of the United States known as Phoenix, Arizona has challenged that logic and proven to be a place of growth and endless opportunity!
Just last year, Phoenix regained its top five city by population ranking with one of the fastest rates of population growth. Amongst those who are moving to Arizona are fearless, opportunity seeking young professionals of color by the dozens. With a large number of transplants who are privy to living in spaces that are filled with its own solid culture (like DC, Houston, and Atlanta), Phoenix can sometimes disappoint in its less diverse offerings. But here is a chance to either see the glass half empty or half full. As Arizona continues to define what it has to offer as a state (outside of its breathtaking views), there is a unique opportunity for creators to create the culture they wish to see!
There is a vibrant community of straight GAME CHANGERS, all working respectively in their lanes helping to advance the culture through the arts, leadership, activism and social influence. While there are hundreds of professionals in the city, these trailblazers have respectfully earned their keep on this list of young melanated professionals you absolutely want to connect with. Read below to find out more about how their contributions are shaping the culture in Phoenix!
*Meet Josephine Jackson, Brand Ambassador, Fashion & Lifestyle Blogger of Hello Silhouette
From Alabama, nine years in Phoenix
Millennials love their social influencers and this is one you MUST follow according to the Phoenix New Times. In 2017, Josie Jackson of Hello Silhouette was named one of the Top 10 Fashion Bloggers You Must Follow. Hello Silhouette is a two year old fashion and lifestyle blog that Josie created to share her love for creating amazing ensembles on a budget. A huge thrifter who stays ahead of the trends, you are certain to be inspired by her tips and tricks that are sprinkled with her southern charm! She's taken her blogging influence beyond the computer and in 2017 hosted three signature events (Mighty Fine Galantines, Cinco De Bloggo, and Blogsgiving) that helped bloggers create content and connect with one another!
Josie has worked with numerous brands, boutiques and major retailers to include Shea Moisture and TJ Maxx. When Josie is not posing for the camera, you can find her hosting events with the Bumble Local Bees of the Bumble app, which is helping locals to find their next best friend and/or soul mate!
Follow the Hello Silhouette journey with Josie to see how she keeps it classy in the desert!
Facebook: Hello Silhouette
*Meet Qosmic Qadence, Authorpreneur, Poet and Creator of Poetic Soul AZ
From Washington, DC. , six years in Phoenix
Who says there is no soul in Phoenix? Each and every Wednesday, you get the opportunity to experience the arts at the cultural love fest known as Poetic Soul Phoenix. In 2016, the vision was born by the multitalented Qosmic 'Q' Qadence and on any given Wednesday you can catch hundreds of people signing up for this open mic experience, but not without singing the weekly crowd favorite, "Weak" by SWV along with host Ken Kong. In just two years, the Poetic Soul movement has expanded beyond Phoenix and stretched to Phoenix's second largest city Tucson and LA!
Qosmic Qadence, LLC is a business and he has made quite the mark in the city. He currently serves as a board member to Desert Soul Media, Inc. 501(c) (3) and the Black American Dad Foundation. For his great involvement in the city in political activism, community development, and entrepreneurship empowerment, he has been awarded a number of awards, including his latest Black Excellence recognition from II Black IV Society. Q is also the author of seven published books and can be seen from time to time actually performing original songs or poetry around Arizona and surrounding states!
Follow Q to view your Poetic Soul featured pictures and for his ever flowing inspiration on how to keep your magic activated!
*Meet Sasha Simmons, Empowerment Speaker and President of GPhxULYP
From Florida, three years in Phoenix
In almost lightening speed, Sasha Simmons has become one of the cities most respected young professional leaders. In 2016, she stepped into leadership as President of the Greater Phoenix Urban League Young Professionals. Under her leadership, YP has earned National Urban League award recognition, created a number of innovative events that cater towards the advancement of its members and the surrounding Phoenix communities, and has grown its membership to 100+ members! Sasha's vision for expanding the organization that gave her a family away from home is thriving and has become one of the premiere organizations to get involved with!
Sasha is also the owner of Speak Life LLC, an empowerment organization that seeks to inspire and encourage everyone listening to establish their own greatness! Sasha speaks all the over the country and has committed to helping others improve their public speaking with her new monthly workshop titled, "Create Your Life: Speak Like You Mean It". Need some major keys on how this Florida girl overcame the odds set against her? You'll find 20 in her online ebook, "20 Major Keys to Establish Your Own Greatness".
Be sure to follow Sasha to get your entire life and be the first to know about her next project titled, "731: A Journey of Healing" coming soon!
*Meet M. Ali Nervis, Activist and Co-Organizer of Archwood Exchange
From Alabama, ten years in Phoenix
Whenever there is a need for social action, M. Ali Nervis is not just there- he helps organizes the event and has solutions to ensure that progress is made! He is perhaps one of the hardest working community activists in the city and has organized everything from conversations on how to save black businesses to rallies focused on ending modern day slavery in Libya.
As the chair of Economic Development for the Phoenix Local Organizing Committee, he has helped lead the powerful Ca$h Mob series that exposes customers to local black owned business with an intentional day of spending at a highlighted business. As if the Cash Mob was not enough, he also created alongside Henry Dickerson Archwood Exchange, Phoenix's first Buy Black Marketplace hosted monthly at Parsons Wellness Center in Downtown Phoenix. This growing event has provided a new sales platform for local businesses to gain exposure while also allowing customers a unique opportunity to patronize black owned businesses they may not have found otherwise- a HUGE WIN for the community.
Ali is also a respected writer and just when we need it, will write a piece for the world to know it's time to WAKE UP! Follow him to be the first to know what we can do to make real change.
*Meet Deanna S. Reid, Chief Creative Officer and Photographer of TheSocialPhotog
From Virginia, five years in Phoenix
In today's very picture perfect world, very few can say they match the talent and professionalism of local photograph extraordinaire DeAnna Reid aka The SocialPhotog. Everybody wants to be shot with Deanna- her work is unique, fresh, and is in a league of its own. The SocialPhotog has a special interest in curating quality creative content for small brands and businesses and can assist in everything from beautiful photos to web site management and brand marketing!
Deanna's portfolio is expansive and includes large marketing campaigns such as #AZCurves and has even been featured on Afropunk.com. There is NOTHING this creative can not accomplish. Speaking of building brands, she is also the Chief Creative Officer at Black Girl Thrive (formerly Black Girl Magic Phoenix), which was created to provide inclusive spaces for Black Women in the Phoenix area and beyond! You can also catch her original content exploring local arts via The Neo Phoenix, full of interviews showcasing the best of the best that this city has to offer!
Looking to give your brand a proper boost? Follow Deanna to see her beautiful works and hire her for your newest headshots and your out-of-the-box shoot ideas!
Be sure to connect with these game changers and be on the lookout for the more lists on young melanated professionals doing great things for the culture all over the world!