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OUR
TEAM

A diverse group of passionate individuals united by a common goal to make a difference. From field experts to dedicated volunteers, our team brings a wealth of knowledge, experience, and commitment to driving positive change in communities around the world.

Meet the Team

Monalisa Okojie

Founder/Executive Director

Born as an Ishan Princess in Edo State, Nigeria, Monalisa is deeply grateful for her educational journey, which began at St. Mary’s Private School and continued at the Federal Government Girls College in Calabar. She later pursued her legal studies at the Nigerian Law School. Monalisa's quest for knowledge led her to earn degrees from the prestigious Gemological Institute of America in Carlsbad, California, and she holds an MBA and MPH from California Southern University. A wife and devoted mother of three, Monalisa is a seasoned global traveler and fashion enthusiast. Fluent in multiple languages, including Yoruba, Ishan, Pidgin, and English, she embodies a rich cultural diversity. After eight years of practicing law, Monalisa embarked on a new journey as the CEO of Nehita Inc., an exquisite jewelry collection based in Los Angeles, California. Her exclusive line of jewelry, crafted with exotic stones and conflict-free diamonds, garnered global acclaim for its unique designs inspired by African culture. Driven by her entrepreneurial spirit and global connections, Monalisa has dedicated herself to philanthropy, leveraging her 'superpowers' to make a meaningful impact on communities worldwide. As the current executive director of EXPOSE, she leads initiatives aimed at empowering entrepreneurs, women, youth, and marginalized communities. Her unwavering commitment to combating poverty, expanding educational opportunities, and raising awareness of medical and mental health issues has forged successful partnerships with universities, school districts, and business organizations globally. Monalisa's humanitarian efforts have earned her numerous accolades, including the Distinguished Service Award from HYASA and recognition as a Los Angeles Business Journal Honoree for Humanitarian Work. She was honored as an Ambassador for Global Prosperity and Peace by GGPI and received the Platinum Humanitarian Award from Millionaires and Entrepreneurs with A Cause. Her philanthropic contributions have been acknowledged by the President’s Volunteer Service and Lifetime Achievement Awards, as well as by the Beverly Hills Council on several occasions. Beyond her impact in the United States, Monalisa has been recognized for her initiatives abroad, including her work with Hopeworks Ghana. Most recently, she was honored with a Citation for women empowerment by 2nd Image International in Ghana.

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Aineakho Ojior

Vice President

Aineakho is a technology manager leading data management and analytics for industrial sensors at SoCalGas, the largest gas utility in the nation.  She has over 2 decades of experience in delivering business-critical solutions and leading cross functional teams for Fortune 500 companies and large-scale enterprises within IT, Telecoms and Energy in North America & Africa. Her experience has seen her navigate business and manage partners globally. She joined UAW at its infancy in 2013 and has served in various roles devoting her services to the growth of the organization. She brings her passion for mentoring and empowering people to the role; traits she learnt from watching her parents, through sacrifice, succeed at transforming the outcomes for their immediate and extended families through education. She also lends her experience to the development of process, programing and culture which have impacted the lives of hundreds of young women and children in Africa and the US. Aineakho is intentional about supporting youths that do not have opportunities because of their social-economic background, and encouraging women and black youths to step into STEM. Being a black female engineer, she lives the absence of diversity and is doing her part to impact change; volunteering as a STEM mentor and DE&I advocate for various organizations. She has been recognized for her service to community by the City of Beverly Hills and is a recipient of the YWCAs Phenomenal Woman Award and the Presidents Volunteer Service Award from the Corporation for National & Community Service. Aineakho is a wife and proud mother of 2 boys. She is an avid reader and conversationalist.  She has a Bachelors in Telecommunication Engineering and a Masters in Business Admin. ​ ​

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Seye Tesfazgy

Children Affairs Director

Seye Tesfazgy, a young woman of Eritrean heritage, was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In 1998, amidst the turmoil of the Ethiopian/Eritrean border conflict, she relocated to the United States to live with her aunt. After completing her high school education in New Jersey, she pursued her passion for fashion at a school in New York City. Eventually, she found herself in Miami, where she joined her siblings and delved into studies in Visual Effects and Motion Graphics. Following her education and gaining valuable experience in Miami, she made the move to Los Angeles to pursue her dream career as a Visual Effects artist. Seye has contributed her talents to major blockbuster films, including The Suicide Squad, Raya and the Last Dragon, Aquaman, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mad Max, and Frozen II, among others. In addition to her professional pursuits, Seye is passionately dedicated to leveraging education as a tool for positive change. Since her teenage years, she has actively engaged in community outreach, volunteering with organizations like the Red Cross and her local church community. Committed to making a lasting impact, she endeavors to empower individuals through education and extend her influence beyond her immediate community.

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Norma Dalke 

Member

 Norma Dalke, originally from Seattle, Washington, grew up in a family with strong spiritual and work ethics. Her years of experience as a fundraiser for a number of charities has provided her with an opportunity to incorporate her love of the arts in an environment that brings value to the lives of others. Norma recently came on board with UAW to bring her expertise in marketing and public relations and to expand the organization’s visibility.

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Mesi Ada Usiade

Member

Mesi Ada Usiade is currently an administrator designee at Alef Home Health Palm Desert California. She holds an Associate Degree in Nursing, Bachelor's Degree in Health Administration from the University of Phoenix, Master's degree in Health Care Delivery from Arizona State University. Mesi is currently completing her Doctorate Degree in Business Administration at California Intercontinental University Irvine, California. She is married and blessed with 5 children. Hobbies ~ loves to cook, travel, and spend time with her family. Mesi loves making a difference and adding value in people’s life by giving, sharing, and volunteering.

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Anehita Okojie

Member

Anehita Okojie is a recent graduate from the University of California, Berkeley where she studied Political Science and Global Studies. While at UC Berkeley, Anehita was involved on campus with organizations such as the Black Recruitment and Retention Center, the Associated Students of the University of California, and the Blum Center for Developing Economies. Since graduating, Anehita has decided to pursue a career in Management Consulting. In her free time, Anehita enjoys picnics and trying new restaurants with friends and family.

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Itzly Rosales

Junior Member

Itzly Rosales is currently a 4th year student on track to graduate in the fall 2023 with her Bachelors in Kinesiology specializing in Rehabilitation and Therapeutic Exercise from Cal State University of Los Angeles. Itzly has volunteered at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center for 8 months now in which she helps patients who have suffered from neurological and spinal cord injuries. While volunteering she has obtained an interpreter certification which allows her to assist non-English speaking patients and their family members. Itzly enjoys volunteering with UAW because it  allows her to learn about different cultures while helping the underserved communities in LA.

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Nayeli Rosales

Junior Member

Nayeli Rosales is currently a freshman at Cal State Fullerton. She likes to be of service and help out people in need. She is glad to be a part of the Upward African Woman Organization because it allows her to volunteer, which is something she enjoys doing. Helping people in need helps her remain humble and know to appreciate the little things in life.

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Idanesi Ojior

Junior Team

Idanesi Ojior is a rising sophomore and Posse Scholar at Middlebury College. He has been a junior volunteer for EXPOSE for over 5 years, and has also worked as an assistant coordinator on some of the organization’s projects.

 

Idanesi is an Angeleno that is passionate about social justice and equity. In 2023 he served on the LA City Youth Council and was President of the Black Student Union at his former high school. In his roles, he proposed and implemented (respectively) initiatives that uplifted the community. He plans on graduating in May of 2027 with the intended major of Psychology and potential minor in Black Studies.

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