Meet our Staff
Mashari Grissom, Program Coordinator
Christian-based Community Leader from Harlem, NY, Mashari Grissom has a demonstrated history of mentoring children, working in creative arts, digital marketing, and community engagement. She takes pride in her role at The Traron Center, where she strategizes ways to equip gun violence survivors through the arts while promoting community health and solidarity as Program Coordinator.
At Harlem Hospital Dance Leadership Program, Grissom was a Dance Instructor and Mentor for children ages 4-16 in New York City. ”I made my dance classes fun and interactive while boosting their confidence through theatrical performances. It’s important for children to always have a creative outlet where they can be comfortable, have fun, and be mentored at the same time.”
Grissom’s past work with non-profit organizations includes: Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (Publicity Chair/Member); Catholic Charities NY (Finance Assistant); Riverbank State Park Summer Camp (Senior Counselor); Greater Harlem Nursing Home (Activity Specialist); and United Negro College Fund (Communications Manager).
Today, as a community leader, Grissom seeks ways for effective change to combat gun violence, poor education, lack of organic markets, and mass incarceration specifically for the African American and Latinx communities. Grissom uses her background in marketing, writing, and event management to inform the public about social justice, mental health, healthy eating, African American music history, and Black entrepreneurship.
Mashari’s writing can be found in various media outlets such as Karencivil, Rapfest, Kazi Magazine, Harlem Times, Good Ears Only, and more. At the first HBCU, she obtained a Bachelor of Science (BS) focused in Mass Communications with a minor in Black Studies from Lincoln University, PA. Grissom is also a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the National Council of Negro Women.
Ulonda Kearney-Youngblood, Site Coordinator
Ulonda Kearney-Youngblood was born and raised in Washington DC. She started her early years growing up in SE, D.C., where she lived with both parents and her older brother. She attended Anita J. Turner Elementary School until the 5th grade. During the family years in SE, her family joined & attended A.P. Shaw UMC. After her 5th grade school year, her dad decided to move the family to NW, DC. Although, her family moved out of the neighborhood, she continued to stay connected to Ward 8 through ministry.
Ulonda served as Youth Team Leader at the formally known A.P. Shaw UMC now Brighter Day Ministries for 8 years, under the leadership of Ernest D. Lyles Sr. She organized activities for the youth, youth lock-in nights, bible study and youth catch-up nights; over a meal with conversation. Within that 8 years, she also accompanied 40-60 youth to Ocean City, MD annually for the ROCK Christian Youth Retreat. Where she witnessed youth ages 11-18 choosing to give their life to Christ for the first time.
In the beginning there were times when she found working hands on with children & youth with a large percentage of those youth exposed to trauma within the home was very challenging. But for her to witness some of those same youth today as productive young adults, college graduates, entrepreneurs and some giving back in the same community which gave to them, she realized her work was not in vain.
Ulonda is a Psychology major with a concentration in Counseling at Liberty University. She desires to further her education in Theology. She is experienced in Crisis Prevention & Intervention as well as First aid/CPR. Ulonda is an entrepreneur at heart. She grew up learning about money at a early age with her parents being small business owners for 40 years in NW, DC. Ulonda partnered a successful Commercial Janitorial service with her late husband Wendell in March 2013. That was until his sudden death to the city’s gun violence in August 2019, abruptly ending her 15 year marriage. Ulonda spends her free time enjoying family, close friends, traveling and growing her new e-com business.
With her energetic personality she tends to be a magnet to the children & youth. Although, she is not a biological mother, she is and has been a mother to many and enjoys every minute of it as long as she can return them. Today, she continues to serve the youth as a Minister at New Life Ministries DC located in Ward 8. Her passion for the youth comes from her own youth experiences and how she at times felt misunderstood. So she’s adamant about building the youth self-esteem instead of criticizing them. Ulonda has answered the call because she understands her assignment and that’s to be present in developing our future into strong, confident young men & women who’s sure of their true identity.
Jakiyah “Khy” Anderson, Expressive Art Therapist
A native of Washington D.C., Jakiyah “Khy” Anderson is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Lincoln University with her degree in visual arts. Khy is a multidisciplinary artist that specializes in drawing, graphic design, painting, performance, songwriting, step, and poetry. She uses art as a force to inform, educate and unify the African American Community, and to reveal the reality of social issues that affect the African American community. She is known for her project BODIES where she paints participants in body paint and writes words and quotes about her feelings towards issues faced in the African American community on their bare bodies. She then walks through the streets of DC with the participants to inform and encourage her audience.
Growing up in the Kenilworth Courts neighborhood led to quick exposure to gun violence. Khy vividly remembers walking home from school and walking into shootouts, watching her brother struggle on the pavement with gunshot wounds, and the numerous times when her friends and neighbors did not recover and lost their lives to gun violence. Khy was inspired, at a very young age, by her late aunt Kimi Gray to effect change in her neighborhood. She wanted to merge her two worlds of art and outreach so she became an expressive therapist. She has encouraged and inspired those in her community to take the steps towards safer streets through her art, art teachings, and outreach. She has also worked directly with inner city youth in ward 7 and, currently ward 8, encouraging them to use art as an outlet for expression to ensure they are able to function as their higher self. She also teaches them about their history and culture to ensure they know where they come and understand that there are no limits to who they can be in the future.
Jessica Jones, Site Coordinator
Jessica Jones, Washington D.C. raised, realized from an early age her passion for children coming from a large family. As a teen, caring for her siblings and cousins awakened a joy that persuaded her to explore the Child Development field. In addition, the birth of her daughter in 2017 fueled a stronger passion to foster an environment for other children to thrive through skill-building and creativity.
Through indoor and outdoor activities, Jones brings a light of compassion to the Traron Kids while developing special bonds and unique relationships. Jones shares The TraRon Center’s vision of uplifting at-risk youth to become the change they wish to see in the world.
Tyler “Kenzie” Murray, Art Therapist
Tyler McKenzie Murray is a passionate, creative, and results driven expressive therapist from Prince Georges County Maryland. Her passion for helping others stemmed from her relationship her own mental health struggles and turning her pain into her power. She understands that by working with the youth, she is empowering a new generation of emotionally intelligent children that wont have to learn the “hard way” when it comes to healing and riding the waves of life.
Tyler has also experienced various encounters with gun violence from old friends, and even an uncle who committed suicide by way of handgun. She found her passion for art when it was the only thing that could bring her out of her own darkness. In times of strife, tribulations, and the inevitable changes of life- she found a free place to be completely whoever I wanted to be and truly express herself. Being a therapist gives her the opportunity to pay the experience forward.With a mutual love for psychology and various forms of artistry , expressive therapy is where passion meets purpose for Tyler “Miss Kenzie”. Her purpose aligned with her passion when she came in contact with the Traron Center. Helping the children have a safe place to be heard, seen, felt and understood was something she has always wanted as a child and now she gets to be what she always needed.
Tyler earned her bachelors of science in Psychology and Human Services at Lincoln University of PA, and currently pursuing her Masters in Cognitive Psychology at the Chicago school of professional Psychology.