"The knowledge that allows an individual to make informed and effective decisions with all of their financial resources".
As Black Business owners we have the power to educate and influence change within our communities. As Business owners, we try to satisfy our most difficult stakeholder which is ourselves. We have all made many bad business decisions or mistakes, but we have learned the do's and don'ts within our various specialties.
The racial wealth disparity in the United States today has increased over many years, and there is no easy solution. While structural change at the highest levels is likely necessary for the most effective remedies, individuals can use financial literacy to improve their daily lives by having a better grasp of how the wealth gap came to be and how it has negatively affected the Black community.
There is a limited amount that can be done on a personal level to help close the racial wealth gap in the United States because it is a complicated problem without a universally applicable remedy. But, increasing financial literacy, supporting education, and giving people a greater knowledge of the factors that have contributed to the widening wealth divide can all make a difference.
African Americans correctly answered 37% of the study's financial literacy questions on average, whereas white Americans correctly answered 55% of the questions, according to the 2022 TIAA Institute-GFLEC Personal Finance Index.
Financial Well being
Dominique Di Prima - Moderator
Dominique DiPrima is currently the host and producer of First Things First with Dominique DiPrima on KBLA Talk 1580 where she is making radio history as the first African American woman to host a commercial drive-time talk radio show in Los Angeles.
Prior to helping to launch Tavis Smiley’s talk radio startup, Dominique was host and producer of the early morning talk show The Front Page with Dominique DiPrima on Stevie Wonder’s Los Angeles radio station KJLH 102.3-FM for 17 years. In addition, Ms. DiPrima acted as
Co-Host and Senior Producer for the syndicated Michael Baisden Show and Co-host and News Director for The Steve Harvey Morning Show. On television Ms. DiPrima hosted Home Turf with Dominique DiPrima for 8 seasons on San Francisco’s NBC affiliate KRON-TV garnering 5 Emmy
Dominique DiPrima has been bridging worlds her whole life. Ms. DiPrima was born in New York City but raised in California. Her mother is Beat poet/feminist Diane DiPrima, her dad, writer Amiri Baraka, is considered the father of the Black Arts Movement. The daughter of two
activists and of two coasts, of an African American father and an Italian American mother, she has a unique perspective. Dominique loves talking to people from all walks of life, it’s a skill she perfected while attending 16 different schools by the time she graduated from twelfth grade. She also loves to listen and that ability has served her well talking to the people of Los Angeles on the air almost every day for over two decades and keeping abreast of current events and
Tunua Thrash-Ntuk is a community development professional whose public service career spans more than two decades leading racial equity initiatives and billion-dollar governmental programs with the goal of building better communities for those in greatest need.
As the Executive Director of Los Angeles Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC LA), she is responsible for helping advance equity and economic inclusion for diverse communities in the region. At the height of the COVID-19 crisis, she oversaw the distribution of more than $130M in grants and loans to micro-entrepreneurs, small businesses, and nonprofits throughout Los Angeles County.
Prior to joining LISC, Tunua also served as Executive Director of West Angeles Community Development Corporation, Director of Innovation for the Green-lining Institute, a national policy institute working for racial and economic justice, and the Director of Green Door Advisors, LLC. Tunua holds an undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Tunua Thrash-Ntuk - Panel Guest
Melissa Kyle Cofer, Alumni of California State University, Long Beach is a business strategist, speaker, entrepreneur, and community leader. After a successful career in the wealth and financial management industry, she eventually transitioned into entrepreneurship full time. Known as a business builder and crusader for entrepreneurship, she shares her vision of wealth creation through ownership when and wherever she can. She was the founder of local award-winning creative media production house and facility Asset Media Group, and is the current founder and Lead Strategist of her professional business strategy agency; Build Digital Management and Marketing, the Executive Director of the Urban Media Foundation, a local youth in STEM and Entrepreneurship organization, and the former President of the Signal Hill Chamber of Commerce. She also serves on several boards such as SCE's Small Business Advisory Board, The Wonder Women Tech Conference, Elevate your G.A.M.E youth mentoring program, Southern California's Economic Policy Impact Center (EPIC) and is an active member of Antioch Church of Long Beach.
Melissa has been recognized by both local and national government agencies for her work in entrepreneurship and the business community. She has been named a local woman of Distinction by Assemblymember Patrick O'donnell, received an Innovation Award from Senator Ricardo Lara, and has received the Business of the Year award for four consecutive years.
Around town she's been jokingly called the 'Olivia Pope of business' due to her knack of business savviness, winning business strategies, and her natural ability to 'level up' a business or brand in an instant. You can find melissa online sharing her journey as a successful mompreneur and business strategist at @missypreneur
Melissa Kyle Guy - Panel Guest
April Parker - Panel Guest
April Parker is a successful business executive and entrepreneur turned nonprofit leader. With
over 20 years of experience as a corporate executive in contract law, she is best known for her
leadership and for creating such well-known brands as EDEN Bodyworks and April Parker
A native of the east coast, April grew up in the port city of Baltimore, Maryland, and witnessed firsthand the consequences of economically disinvested communities. Her dedication to serving others lead her to serve in the U.S. Army. After moving to Long Beach, California, in 2014, April observed socioeconomic disparities similar to those she witnessed growing up. She founded the April Parker Foundation with a passion for problem-solving to address the disparities of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in her community.
Her foundation serves as a vital community resource, ensuring BIPOC and veteran community members obtain equitable access to essential resources and by providing advocacy and culturally engaging services that remove barriers to improve the health, social and economic outcomes of historically disinvested communities.
April has degrees in Business and Law from Rowan University. Leveraging her extensive business background, she works with her community advisory committee to develop meaningful and impactful community programs. APCares provides social case management, rapid rehousing, and emergency financial relief; APWorks provides training, coaching, and technical assistance to Black businesses and other nonprofits; and APHealth provides cultural, gender and disability affirming health education and health navigation. As a decorated and honorably discharged U.S. Army Veteran, April is committed to supporting the veteran community. Her Veterans Emergency Temporary Stay (VETS) program provides critical housing and direct support to veterans transitioning into permanent housing.
Melody Signater - Panel Guest
Robin S. Thorne - Panel Guest
Robin Thorne is a chemical engineer, advocate for women in nontraditional careers and
believer in people pursuing their passions. As someone who has broken through many barriers
to achieve her current level of success, Thorne knows that if a person is committed, believes
they can achieve (have faith) and are willing to do the work, they have a chance at being
In 2009 she started CTI, a firm providing engineering, environmental, safety and construction
management services and currently serves as the chief executive officer. Under her leadership,
CTI has held contracts with the U.S. Department of Forestry, U.S. Department of Justice, Federal
Aviation Administration, nonprofit corporations, utilities, higher ed and Fortune 500
companies. Thorne uses her platform as a business owner to uplift others and loves to speak to
aspiring entrepreneurs about the endless possibilities that exist if they’re willing to push pass
In 2019, after demolishing a federal prison, she started DemoChicks, a nonprofit corporation
that introduces girls to nontraditional careers and empowers the women who are in them.
DemoChicks conducts hands-on workshops for students in K-12, offers scholarships and
mentoring to college students and honors women in the community. Thorne is a firm believer
that ‘if they see it, they can be it’ and believes Demochicks will empower girls to pursue their
passions. She is a native of Philadelphia, mother of one, graduate of Drexel University and currently resides in Long Beach, California.
Melody is a seasoned and integrity-driven Human Resource Director with 20+yrs of extensive experience leading HR teams to provide high-impact human capital development, strategic corporate staffing, and talent recruitment initiatives.
She currently works as a Human Resource Director for Tokio Marine Insurance- Cyber Security Division. She has a reputation for driving employees’ professional development, performance management, and recruitment strategies for delivering positive, and measurable results.
In addition to having a proven record of creating value, empowering people, steering change, and bridging the gap between information system management and HR programs. She thrives off being a strategist, and visionary leader who is adept at implementing change management projects, improving various HR processes having solid business acumen and propelling business success.
Lambert Adouki - Panel Guest
Lambert Adouki is an New York and California, based political and communications consultant and President of Adouki and Associates , which provides political consulting to grassroots campaigns and media relations and crisis communications assistance to companies, groups and individuals.
He has served as a Professional with 25+ years of diverse experience in Government Affairs exceeding in roles such as Former transportation Deputy of the US Congress. He is a member of Juanita Millender-McDonald.
Adouki and Associates was founded in 2000 by Lambert Adouki in order to advocate and promote the needs of future political figures. Adouki and Associates develops political and public relations campaigns aside from offering stellar consultation services.
Jasmine Nelson is the founder and owner of GoBeyondTT, based out of the twin Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago. As the Marketing Developer for Wealth Management Financial Advisors, she was pivotal in putting together the Financial Literacy roundtable. She has 14 years of Sales and Marketing experience working for Red Bull Energy Drink. During her tenure with the company, she held several posts within the fields of Consumer Collecting, Sports, Culture, Marketing, and Sales. She lived and worked in Jamaica for 2 years in the position of Field Marketing and in Colombia for 3.5 years in On-Premise Marketing providing support to the Caribbean, Central America, and Andean regions.
She ended her tenure as Distribution Partner Manager for Trinidad & Tobago, Curacao, Aruba, Suriname, Barbados, and Grenada for the company before moving on to start her own business. During the COVID-19 era and upon leaving Red Bull GmbH, she started a business that supports several small-large businesses within Trinidad, Guyana, Canada, and the US. As a business strategist and content creator, she plays a crucial role in growing and developing strategies for companies in sales, marketing, content creation, apps, and more.
Her life is heavily dedicated to philanthropy, she supports four non-profit organizations in Trinidad and Tobago, the main one being NourishTT, designed to reduce food waste and eliminate hunger in the country. NourishTT has helped over 1500 families; her change in strategy for the company played an integral role in reaching more families and ensuring less good food was destroyed. Additionally, she works closely on creating online platforms, content, and concepts for children with Down syndrome and autism. She has a passion for traveling and has visited 35 countries and counting.
Jasmine Nelson - Co-Host
Marie Deary common-sense advice offers people control over their lives and their futures by showing them how to get control of their finances.
She believes knowing how to manage our money is one of the most important life skills for people at any age and has made it her mission to help simplify money matters while increasing financial literacy both now and for the future.
An expert on everything from personal finances, debt elimination/management, retirement planning and mortgage options, Marie Deary takes the complicated world of personal finance and makes it accessible to all. In doing so, she details a variety of wise and inspiring money management and investment strategies, giving you options no matter how much money you have.
Deary, the senior financial advisor for Wealth Management Financial Advisors, a frequent KJLH Radio contributor and author, is one of the most recognized and liked money experts in the black and brown working minority communities. She offers financial advice that can be absorbed and used to change lives.
Marie Deary - Host
A UCLA MBA graduate, Stanford EE graduate, Certifications in; CDFA, Personal Financial Advisor, Business Financial Advisor, IRS Enrolled Agent, Certified Tax Preparer, Loss Mitigation Counseling Specialist and Author, Smart Money Rules published, Smart Money Rules Budgeting and Financial Wellness e-books, with over 15+ years of experience in the financial service industry. Marie has a track record for saving thousands of homes from foreclosure during the financial crisis of 2008 which makes her an invaluable resource for anyone who wants to raise their financial status. She is also a global avid philanthropist.