Location: Convention Center
900 Convention Center Boulevard, New Orleans, LA 70130
Al Sharpton is founder/president of the National Action Network, one of the most active social justice organizations. He hosts Politics Nation on MSNBC and the nationally syndicated radio show Keeping It Real.
Actor/producer Ameer Baraka has achieved acclaim in HBO’s “Treme,” set in his native New Orleans and alongside Academy Award-Winner Forrest Whitaker in “My Own Love Song.” His incredible story of ascendancy from juvenile delinquency to prominence has inspired Oprah Winfrey to feature him on her
Andrea "Drea" Kelly is the proud mother of three. Creator of the I AM DREA KELLY brand, founder of AKDT (Andre Kelly Dance Theater) and Le Pink Kitty Cabaret (dance companies), Kelly is also a dancer/choreographer, fashion designer and actress.
Even before the release of their Billboard-charting self-titled debut, Anthony Brown & group therAPy were the best-known ‘new’ artists to hit the gospel scene.
Lester Love serves as the Pastor of The City of Love in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Bishop of Protocol for the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International. He travels across the country and abroad, presenting leadership sessions for ministries and corporations.
For nearly forty years, Bishop Noel Jones, Pastor of The City of Refuge in Gardena, CA, has challenged many with his unconventional thoughts about the Word of God. Labeled “eclectic; a maverick, a preacher’s preacher,” he inspires us to think beyond traditional views of God and spirituality.
C. Nicole Mason, Ph.D. is Executive Director of the Center for Research and Policy in the Public Interest (CR2PI) and an Ascend Fellow at the Aspen Institute.
Carol Bebelle is a native New Orleanian. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Loyola University and a Master’s degree in Education Administration from Tulane University. She has a 20-year career in the public sector as an administrator and planner of human service programs.
Chanté Moore’s career has included several hits that topped Billboard R&B and Pop charts such as "Love's Taken Over," "It's Alright," and "I'm What You Need." Revered in the industry for her four-octave vocal range, the award-winning singer has worked with Boys II Men, Kenny G and
Roblé Ali has become one of the most recognizable chefs as the star of Bravo's Chef Roblé & Co. He’s worked for Abigail Kirsch, alongside Chef Chris Santos on the opening of Stanton Social and Beauty & Essex, and also served as the Executive Chef at Avenue
Cheryl Quirk Landrieu is the First Lady of New Orleans. Married to Mayor Mitch Landrieu for 26 years, Cheryl and Mitch are the parents of five children. Cheryl currently serves as Clerk of Court for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Veteran television journalist Cheryl Wills is an anchor for Time Warner Cable’s flagship network New York 1 News.
Church Friends consists of singers and musicians who all met through a number of music and church affiliations. "One day, I realized that we always ended up together, either performing, supporting each other, or simply as friends.
The 2013 Festival is excited to have Congressman John Lewis join us for the ESSENCE® Empowerment Experience. Stay tuned for more information on latest news and happenings with Congressman Lewis.
Cory A. Booker is the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, the largest city in the State of New Jersey. Mayor Booker received his B. A. and M. A. from Stanford University, a B. A. in Modern History from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and a law degree from Yale University.
Cymphonique Miller is an actress, singer, dancer and writer and the star of the hit TV show "How To Rock." Cymphonique built a diverse R&B, Pop and Hip Hop fan base before taking her acting and music career mainstream.
Dr. Denese Shervington is president/CEO of The Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies, a community-based public health institute in New Orleans. She is also a clinical professor of psychiatry at Tulane University Medical Center. Dr.
Denise Warren of Body By Denise (BBD) may have not intended to win the 2010 Hoodie Award for Best Community Leader, but it is her goal to erase obesity in her community by helping individuals to live a healthier lifestyle.
DeVon Franklin is a Senior Vice President of Production at Columbia Pictures, where he spearheads some of the studio's most successful films including Karate Kid, Jumping the Broom and the latest Sparkle.
Sophistication meets crunk! That best describes DJ Bambam Belongé, New Orleans native and veteran of its radio and entertainment scene.
DJ Soul Sister is the host of the longest-running rare groove radio show in the U.S. (WWOZ FM), and her vinyl-only live DJ sets are highly regarded both in her hometown and around the globe.
Three-time Grammy winner, Donnie McClurkin, has proven that he is more than a gospel singer. McClurkin appears as a judge on BET's gospel singing competition show, Sunday Best, and can be seen on weekly broadcast of Perfecting Your Faith(The Word Network).
Dr. Aletha Maybank is a highly respected physician whose mission is to blend health and personal empowerment in cutting-edge ways. Her main expertise includes preventive medicine, public health, and health inequities.
Dr. Debra B. Morton is the Senior Pastor of Greater St. Stephen Full Gospel Baptist Church, New Orleans, Louisiana. She is married to Bishop Paul S.
President Emerita of Bennett College for Women, Dr. Julianne Malveaux is an economist, author, and commentator.
Since 2004, Dr Michael Lomax has been president/CEO of UNCF, the nation’s largest and most successful minority education organization. Previously, Lomax was president of Dillard University in New Orleans and a literature professor at UNCF member institutions Morehouse and Spelman Colleges.
As a practicing family doctor and sexologist, Dr. Rachael Ross has reached critical acclaim for her honest discussions regarding sex, health, love, and life issues.
Dr. Steve Perry is founder and principal of Capital Preparatory Magnet School, which has sent 100 percent of its students to four-year colleges since its inception.
Dr. Thelma Baxter is a nationally recognized educational consultant on school reform and literacy. She is the retired Harlem school superintendent and principal of Theodore Roosevelt High School in the Bronx, NY.
Valerie Montgomery-Rice, M.D., renowned infertility specialist and researcher, is the Dean and Executive Vice President for Morehouse School of Medicine.
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton was elected in 1990 and is now in her twelfth term as the Congresswoman for the District of Columbia.
Isaac Carree is an award-winning artist who first gained acclaim as part of the contemporary gospel group Men of Standard. Since embarking on a solo career in 2011 with a #1 gospel album, Uncommon Me, Isaac’s star has continued to rise.
Issa Rae is the creative genius behind the widely successful webseries The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl (ABG).
Iyanla Vanzant, host of Iyanla: Fix My Life on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, is the acclaimed spiritual life coach, Emmy Award-winner and best-selling author whose focus on faith, empowerment and relationships has inspired audiences around the world.
Jonshell Johnson is a rising junior at Benjamin Franklin High School in New Orleans, Louisiana and is an active member of the Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association (VAYLA), where she serves as a youth organizer and community leader addressing educational equity issues.
Karen Carter Peterson represents New Orleans in the Louisiana State Senate. In 2012, she assumed the Chair position of the Louisiana Democratic Party, the first woman and only second African-American in Louisiana history to do so.
Karran Harper Royal works as an education advocate in New Orleans as the Assistant Director of Pyramid Community Parent Resource Center. She conducts workshops and supports parents of children with disabilities.
Kenya Moore, star of Real Housewives of Atlanta, has beauty, brains, and talent. Recognized for being crowned Miss USA sustained her in the entertainment business.
With a dynamic voice that carries the power to encourage people everywhere, Kim Burrell is a Dove and Stellar Award-winning artist with a true passion for ministry.
For over two decades, Kurt Carr has created modern day hymns that are staples in the household of faith.
Born and raised in Washington, DC, Laz Alonso always knew he wanted to be an actor.
Lexi is a Malaco “inspirational” recording artist, host of “The Lexi Show” on The Word Network and a weekly entertainment correspondent on Radio One’s nationally-syndicated Yolanda Adams Morning Show.
As president of the National Urban League since 2003, Marc H. Morial has been the primary catalyst for an era of change – a transformation for the century-old civil rights organization.
Percy Miller also known as “Master P” was born in New Orleans, LA. Raised in the poverty of Calliope Housing Projects, motivated and determined to reach his goals and dreams, led him to become a successful entrepreneur.
Honorable William A. Bell, Sr. is the 33rd Mayor of the City of Birmingham, Alabama. Mayor Bell was previously a Jefferson County Commissioner and a City Councilman for District 5, where he was elected as the first African-American President of the Birmingham City Council.
Mayte Garcia, star of VH1’s "Hollywood Exes" (formally married to Prince), is a talented entertainer and triple threat who can act, sing and dance.
Michele Clark Jenkins, co-founder of Sisters in Faith, is the Senior Director of the Public Policy Consulting Group for Griffin & Strong, P.C. and also specializes in entertainment contracts and business development.
Michelle Williams is a multi-award winning international singer, songwriter, and actress.
ESSENCE Editor-at-Large and author Mikki Taylor has devoted a lifetime to helping women manage their inner and outer beauty and inspiring them to own their lives to the fullest.
Mitchell J. Landrieu was sworn in as the 61st Mayor of New Orleans on May 3, 2010, with a clear mandate to usher in a new era of peace and prosperity for the people of New Orleans.
After signing with Heavy D, Monifah’s first solo album, Moods...Moments, gave her immediate success with the radio hit "I Miss You (Come Back Home)." She followed with double-platinum CD Mo'Hogany featuring "Touch It," which peaked at #1 for four consecutive weeks on the Bi
Monique Greenwood, owner and CEO of Akwaaba Bed & Breakfast Inns, a collection of upscale B&Bs in Brooklyn, NY, Washington, DC, Cape May, NJ, and now a boutique resort and spa in Pennsylvania’s mountains, is passionate about economically empowering our communities.
Myrlie Evers-Williams has long been a pioneer in the struggles for racial justice and women's equality.
Nathan Owens hails from the Bay Area of San Francisco. On camera, Nathan played the love interest to Rihanna in "California King Bed," and Nicki Minaj in "Va Va Voom." He has also been featured in many commercial and print campaigns for GAP, Ralph Lauren Polo, IZOD, and Sperry.
Nicole Murphy started modeling at age 13 in commercials, print and on the runway for top design houses Valentino, Yves St. Laurent, Chanel, Ungaro and many more. Nicole has since launched a jewelry line, FLP by Nicole Murphy, which is currently available online and in Los Angeles boutiques.
Niecy Nash is an Emmy Award-winning producer, actress and book author. Her credits include Reno 911, Clean House and The Insider.
Patrina Peters, activist, mother and Mardi Gras Indian, has converted several hardships into a platform for peace and love.
Redaric Williams joined the cast of "The Young and the Restless" in November 2012 as Tyler Michaelson. Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Williams attended the University of North Texas as a student athlete playing football. Williams has worked internationally as both an actor and model.
Journalism veteran Robin D. Stone founded HealthJones (www.healthjones.com) nutrition counseling practice to help clients improve their lives through diet and lifestyle changes.
Roland Martin currently serves as TV One’s political editor, senior analyst of the "Tom Joyner Morning Show," and host of "Washington Watch with Roland Martin" on TV One.
Percy Romeo Miller, Jr., known as Romeo, is an American entertainer, actor, entrepreneur and philanthropist. Has sold over 10 million records as a multi-platinum music artist. He has been awarded an American Music Award and a Grammy.
Shameeka Ayers birthed her alter ego, blog and brand, The Broke Socialite™, in 2006. She successfully leveraged social media and the relationships therewithin to produce a roving series of highly curated dessert festivals (Sugar Coma Events™).
One of the world's most well known basketball wives, executive producer Shaunie O'Neal is a force to be reckoned with.
Named "America's Best Interior Designer" by CNN and Time magazine, Sheila Bridges has designed residences and offices for prominent clients including the Harlem offices for former President Bill Clinton and his staff. She is the author of two books.
Shirley Sherrod is a lifelong community activist and advocate for economic and social improvement for Southwest Georgia. A recipient of a three-year Kellogg Foundation Fellowship, she holds a BA in Sociology and a Master's in Community Development.
A native Chicagoan, Shirley Strawberry is one of the most recognizable names and voices in radio today.
Stephanie Perry Moore is the co-founder of Sisters in Faith and the General Editor for several Bible products, including the Women of Color Devotional Bible and Real Biblezine.
Steve Harvey began doing stand-up comedy in the mid-1980s.
Tamika D. Mallory is the National Executive Director of National Action Network (NAN), one of the nation’s leading civil rights organizations founded by renowned preacher and social justice leader Reverend Al Sharpton. Just 33 years old, Ms.
Toi Monroe will be entering the eleventh grade at McMain High School and aspires to be an actress, model and psychologist. She participates in Urban League College Track, a college readiness program for under-resourced youth in New Orleans.
Tonya Lewis Lee is a writer and producer. She has written children’s books, novels and screenplays and is Co-President of Tonik Productions. Lewis Lee is also a dedicated advocate for women’s health having worked with the U.S.
Traci Renee Braxton is a talented actress, writer, singer and philanthropist, who can be seen on WEtv’s Thursday evening hit show Braxton Family Values with sisters Toni, Towanda, Trina, Tamar, and brother Michael.
Lady Tramaine Hawkins is the California Bay Area native whose voice we came to know and love in the late 60's. She was part of the Gospel Music Revolution via the recording, "O Happy Day," and later became a trendsetter with featured vocals on the classic Love Alive series.
Trina E. Braxton evolved from singing in an R&B girl group with her sisters to a multifaceted entertainer and astute businesswoman. Best known for her bluntness and energy, Trina is a fan favorite on WEtv’s top-rated reality show, Braxton Family Values.
Twenty-six years of giving God the praise and the glory are a few words to describe Tyronne G. Foster and the Arc Singers. This community choir has traveled throughout the country and internationally spreading the the good news through singing gospel music.
Victoria Rowell starred in eight seasons of Diagnosis Murder and 14 years of her unforgettable Emmy-nominated portrayal of the iconic Drucilla Winters on The Young and the Restless.
Yolanda Adams triumphantly carries the torch for contemporary gospel & inspirational music. With 13 releases, Yolanda has earned a host of accolades including four Grammy Awards.