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MONALISA OKOJIE - Executive Director

Monalisa Okojie served as a practicing attorney in her native home of Nigeria prior to becoming a well-renowned jeweler and CEO of Nehita Inc., an exquisite jewelry collection in Los Angeles, California. Her exclusive collection includes exotic stones, conflict-free diamonds, and one-of-a-kind designs inspired by the beauty of African culture. Monalisa’s collection appeals to global buyers, allowing her to connect with others worldwide and share her “superpower” of deeply caring about mankind. Monalisa’s customers are intrigued by her contagious philanthropic spirit and altruistic desire to help improve human welfare. She has influenced many individuals to have an impact on humanity, create a better world, and make a difference in the lives of



Monalisa dedicates her time, utilizes her talents, and networks with other experienced leaders to combat poverty, provide educational opportunities, and increase health awareness for underserved populations. Her tireless efforts to address social, economic, and educational issues have led to exceptional programming for entrepreneurs, women, and youth. Monalisa serves as a board member of several nonprofit organizations, has been invited to speak at engagements, and volunteers at

local charitable events.


Monalisa has received a plethora of awards for her charitable work. She earned the Distinguished Service Award from HYASA, a California-based organization that supports various humanitarian causes, and the Los Angeles Business Journal Honoree for Humanitarian Work. She was bestowed as an Ambassador for Global Prosperity and Peace by GGPI, she received the Platinum Humanitarian Award from Millionaires and Entrepreneurs With A Cause in addition to certificates from local school districts. Monalisa’s philanthropic work has been highlighted by both the President’s Volunteer Service and Lifetime Achievement Awards and recognized by the Beverly Hills Council on multiple occasions. In addition to her work in the U.S., she has been honored for projects in other countries by Hopeworks Ghana and recently received a Citation for women empowerment by 2nd Image International in Ghana.


Born an Ishan Princess from Edo State, Nigeria, Monalisa is grateful for her educational experiences with St. Mary’s Private School, the Federal Government Girls College in Calabar, and Nigerian Law School, before practicing law for eight years. She earned degrees from the prestigious Gemological Institute of America in Carlsbad, California, and holds an MBA and MPH from California Southern University. Monalisa is a proud wife, devoted mother of three, global traveler, and fashionista who is affluent in Yoruba, Ishan, Pidgin, and English. She is passionate about serving as a philanthropist and committed to expanding UAW’s services to help others.

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AINEAKHO OJIOR - Program Development Director

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.


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.



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.

Seye Tesfazgy, a young lady of Eritrean descent, was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She moved to America to live with her aunt in August 1998, just after the Ethiopian/Eritrean border conflict erupted in the same year. After completing high school in New Jersey, she attended a fashion school in New York City. Later on in she moved to Miami, to join her brother and sister. Here she continued her studies in Visual Effects and Motion Graphics. After completion and a short employment experience in Miami in this new field, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her career as a Visual Effects artist. She has worked on big blockbuster movies such as Transformers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mad Max, Ant Man, and many others.She believes in the power of education and giving everyone a chance to get a suitable education. To that effect Seye is involved in different community outreach programs and has been volunteering since her teenage years with the Red Cross and her Church Community. Today she is committed in changing not only her community but reaching beyond that.


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.



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. 



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 is a freshman at Middlebury College, VT and a Posse Scholar. He has been a junior volunteer for UAW for 5 years and had 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 Larchmont Charter High School, Los Angeles. In his roles he proposed and implemented (respectively) initiatives that uplifted the community. 

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