Workshop Presenter Bios

Jowharah Sanders

Children’s Advocate, Bullying Prevention Expert, and Founder of nationally recognized bullying and suicide prevention organization, Jowharah Sanders has dedicated the past decade of her life to mentoring children and families impacted by bullying and suicide.


As a bullying survivor herself, Ms. Sanders' vision and drive launched the first of its kind community organization aimed at preventing bullying, suicide and school violence through direct service mentoring and prevention education; National Voices for Equality, Education and Enlightenment (NVEEE). The organization, now in it’s 6th year of operation has supported nearly 20,000 teens and families throughout the United States, has been recognized by the U.S. Congress (repeatedly), and has been featured on segments through national media outlets including “Secret Millionaire”, “Education Nation” and “The Talk”.


As the Executive Director of NVEEE, Ms. Sanders has successfully developed a research-based school-wide bullying prevention program called “Be Upstanding”, whose innovative model of change has student bystanders take a direct role in reducing bullying at their schools. Additionally, NVEEE hosts a summer leadership academy PALS (Peace Ambassador Leadership Summit) where students have a safe space to share their experiences around bullying, self harm or suicide ideation, and in turn learn to become their own advocates and agents of change for others. It’s a successful program that turns bystanders into upstanders.

Yakira Chu

Yakira Chu serves as the Asst. Program Manager for the Mentoring and Peace Ambassador Programs. With a background in Science and Behavioral Forensic Analysis, she has been employed by both Florida State University and Florida International University. She was a case manager for an educational institution for troubled adolescents; held positions as a family intervention specialist serving children infant to age 18 who dealt with serious emotional and behavioral problems; specialized in diverting youth from out-of-home placements such as residential treatment facilities, foster homes, psychiatric residential treatment centers, hospitals or group homes; and successfully reuniting children with their families in communities even when the child has been out of the home for an extended period. The services were tailored to meet each family’s needs, while measuring treatment progress through ongoing assessment and review.  Ms. Chu is currently working on a PhD in International Psychology with a concentration on systems and organizations.


Joshua Caraballo

Mr. Caraballo is a doctoral student at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in their business psychology, consulting program, with a research emphasis on gender variance in the workplace, and the use of communication strategies, such as entertainment-education (E-E), to foster pro-social change.


Joshua Caraballo has been published in local south Florida newspapers, and has been a regular provider of film industry articles for the as a staff reporter.  He has worked in the industry for over a decade, providing media services for small and medium sized companies as a consultant when not running the day-to-day activities of his company.  Mr. Caraballo has also taught digital filmmaking at the college level for five years, winning a student-chosen award for Most Passionate Faculty Member at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale.


Joshua’s strengths for media production and teaching include writing, directing, producing, and acting.  His consultative areas of focus for media companies include training and development, organizational change, video production, communication strategy, and social, organizational, and consulting psychology research.

Juliana Ruiz

A successful entrepreneur and business development expert, with over 15 years of experience in Marketing & Communications in B2B and B2C environments. Juliana has previously conceptualized, executed and sold an award-winning pioneering business in her local market. She has vast experience in concept development, market-entry strategies and communications initiatives, and is seasoned in corporate branding and rebranding across relevant marketing and communications channels. Juliana's first-hand knowledge in effective marketing and communications for small businesses has resulted in top-tier earned media wins for clients on national and international news outlets.


Juliana considers herself a 'serial' entrepreneur, creating business concepts and opportunities on a regular basis. She is passionate when talking business, and enjoys brainstorming and envisioning opportunities for new and existing companies.

Jennifer Benoit

Jennifer Benoit is uniquely qualified in creating sacred space for healing, empowerment, and love. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Life Coach, she has over seven years of experience as a therapist providing services to clients in the community setting as well as the hospital psychiatric unit. Jennifer has also served in the administrative capacity as Associate Director of Resident Services and Program Director of Outpatient Services.


Jennifer has an Undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Miami and a Graduate Degree in Social Services Administration from the University of Chicago. Jennifer has worked with hundreds of children over the span of her career ranging from the age of 4 and up providing individual as well as family therapy. She is well- equipped to assess, diagnose, and provide therapeutic treatment to children across a range of disorders. Moreover, her clinical experience provides her with ample authority to identify appropriate behavioral, emotional, and mental responses of children with reference to their age. Jennifer uses a variety of treatment modalities to work with children according to their developmental stage, individual needs, and mental health diagnoses.

Grisel d'Elena

Grisel d’Elena is a journalist for SIX Media, Inc. She is an FIU post-graduate with an MA in Religious Studies with certification in Women and Gender Studies. She has been a teen mentor for NVEEE since 2013. As the first American and college graduate in her low-income Cuban family and daughter of two felons, she had to overcome much adversity. Resiliently, she managed to complete her graduate education with honors as a single parent and university employee. As a graduate student, Grisel taught World Religions to undergraduates and tutored children ages 6-12.


Grisel has performed fieldwork abroad with ethnic minorities, specifically Southeast Asia, where she began to investigate the Rohingya Muslim ethnic group in Myanmar. As victims of systematic, state-sponsored persecution, she began to question why they faced such discrimination. This question led to the Buddhist 969 Movement in Myanmar, which contributes to the isolation and oppression of the Rohingya. Grisel was able to interview Time Magazine’s “Buddhist Terror” U Ashin Wirathu and provide feedback directly from the source of the violence for her ethnographic work. This became the focus of her Master’s thesis, “The Gender Problem of Buddhist Nationalism in Myanmar: The 969 Movement and Theravada Nuns.” This work has been shared nationally in academic conferences and has become a part of a special lecture series at FIU focused around the stigmas geared toward the practice of Islam. Finally, her fluency in three languages and her travels to Asia, Europe and Cuba have provided a universal set of interpersonal skills and global awareness that aids communication with an array of cultures, personalities and age groups.



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