By Mykeisha Ross
Who is Mykeisha Ross?
I am an activist, author, artist and creative solutionist. My purpose as a creative visionary is to help save the next generation and giving people the opportunity to unify.
I am a gift, filled with desire, hunger, love, passion, for this city. I have centered my life on my passion, purpose and my “why” in life. I’m determine to build unity in this community. To establish a betterment.
I was born in Augusta and we transitioned from Hartwell to Elberton and then arrived in Athens when I was in the second grade. I say I’m a native because I’ve been here since I was eight. I attended Whitehead Elementary School, Burney-Harris-Lyons Middle School, and graduated from Clarke Central High School. I was student body president in both middle and high school, where I played a lot of basketball, which was my first love. I love the game, it’s really the game of life to me. Just looking at the structure, the strategies, and the input and output of the people surrounding you. To this day, I structure my life around the game of basketball and also the game of chess.
Later on, I got a scholarship to Clemson to run track and several other colleges, but I tore my ACL in my senior year of high school and ended up walking on at Middle Georgia College, where I studied Business Management, but switched to Sports Management. During that time, I got pregnant with my son in 2007 and ended up coming home to Athens where after a while I became homeless. My son and I stayed in my white Jeep Cherokee for about 2 months, then we started couch-hopping at different friends and relative’s houses. I then became pregnant with my daughter. Now I have two beautiful children and they have help mold me. They keep me on my toes, but they are my backbone. At this point in my life, I was no stranger to overcoming difficult situations, and I had to make a choice: continue to be a victim or change my story.
The internal motivation that fueled me through the homeless situation was knowing people wanted to see me fail. Affirming to myself that I am capable of overcoming all things that come my way. I knew I could not let my kids down.
Let me be honest and transparent. Growing up, I was abused, for 11 years. My family was just like a lot of families in our culture, stuck in generational curse and poverty. At first, I didn’t understand how I survived. However, when looking back, I realized I survived because of my inner strength and became my own superhero. I had to become something/someone else in order to survive the abuse. I knew I had to be the one to break the generational curses. I had to stop blaming my family and abusers and learn to forgive, and overcome my situation.
Knowing that my breakthrough was promised and would only come after I broke my silence, I decided to use my voice as a weapon/power in the war of generational curses. At the age of 30, I released the first edition of my book “Family Secrets Lead to Generational Curses -- Caged to Uncaged.” I had to create a solution/formula, -- “write your vision and make a plan” -- to overcome poverty. Every year I make a vision board- even to this year. It helps me to place my order with the universe. You have to always visualize and imagine those things you want and go after them.
Looking back on the years, when I started my activist’s journey, learning my rights and advocating for those individuals that couldn’t use their voice or were afraid to speak. I started hitting the ground running. Giving has always been a part of my calling. I have been serving this community since I was a senior in high school. But I knew I had to reach out to those who had also been tangled in the nasty web of generational curses. So, I created Youth is Life, a safe haven for at-risk children and families to prevent generational poverty, focusing on building your own brand and breaking systemic biases. Since 2015, Youth is Life has assisted over 3,000 families and children with housing, food, clothing, hygiene supplies, job placement, school supplies, and a 90-day structure plan to overcome poverty. Classes and afterschool sessions have been provided for youths, encouraging them to be and know themselves, writing plans, achieving their goals, and providing entrepreneur advice.
While serving in the community and running my consulting business, “From Broken to Boss with Mykeisha Ross,” (specializing in goal-setting and mindset shifting), I have set up a system that allows people to evolve. Providing resources and strategic plans through my 90-day program. I also serve as the Community Outreach specialist for The Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office. Every day I am striving to bring unity into the community because there is no none. Unity is key for me. I previously served as one of 17 Prosperity Leaders for two years, allowing me to work very closely with the Mayor and Commissioners. It opened my eyes through the pandemic to how much I was contributing and working 24 hours some days, never having a day off because there was always a need in the community, whether it was a lack of food, evictions, homelessness, childcare, unemployment, DFCS cases, addressing the elders, or coming up with a solution for youths.
Addressing the community violence and gang-violence, I was here for all of it. But as I looked around, I was doing the job of the mayor and commissioners. They were nowhere to be found. The city was crying and hurting and I had to address every insecurity that our community had. I could not do it alone. It takes a village. I needed partners and to collaborate to make a bigger impact. So, I teamed up with several stakeholders, and local grass-root organizations who are out here doing the real on the ground work. Together we made a difference, but I knew nothing would change completely with the leadership that is currently in place. We can’t have lack in leadership and expect positive change. The leadership we have now, our youths could never call role models. We need people in leadership positions that are willing to take risks, willing to stand for something, willing to fight for betterment of the entire community and not just for a certain demographic. We need people in leadership who do not have their own personal agenda. In politics, it can’t be about the money, It has to be for the betterment of the community.
The reason I am running for Mayor of Athens-Clarke County is the hope of making the city more affordable and bringing true change through unity, community, and collaboration. My specialty is to bring unity, connect, create, and share resources to help bring solutions. Sharing my creative solutions to build a solid foundation with all local resources available in the community. Being able to connect all the local government organizations and community organizations together is my everyday goal.
Important Issues I will address:
Clarke County School District: As Mayor, I will propose for the Unified Government to partner with the School District, for upward mobility. We have to implement a collaborative impact model throughout the city starting with the school system. To end the school-to-prison pipeline. I have researched several models and communities with populations similar to that of Athens-Clarke County that have implemented the collaborative impact model. Mayors are allowed to make a proposal to replace an elected board of education as well as an appointed superintendent. Addressing the underpaid, overworked faculty members and the staffing shortage by offering an increase in wages, as well as implanting local community organizations as a part of the school curriculum, and stop limiting our kids’ education.
Homelessness: As Mayor, addressing the high Athens poverty rate of 37% will be my top priority. From the lack of resources that really are there and available, but people are not aware of them. It’s more to poverty than the homeless population. We have to address the families and youths that live in households where no parent works full-time or are unemployed. During the Covid-19 pandemic, evictions stacked up, companies lost employees, mental health issues arose and the use of drugs increased. We must also address those issues with a collaborative impact model with wrap-around services, with sustainability and treatment plans.My opinion on the government-sanctioned homeless encampment has been one of the biggest questions. As Mayor, I would propose, as I already did propose to several commissioners and the current Mayor, as well as the Homeless Coalition Committee, to make available Tiny Homes and two boarding houses that would have gotten people off the streets and into a safe, secure environment, where they could adapt to change. It would also provide wrap-around services, partnering with Athens Area Habit for Humanity, Athens Land Trust, and the resources of the homeless. If Athens is the resource hub for the homeless, we need to have more room at facilities that are already providing services. This would help address the eviction rate as well and also assist families that lost their homes due to the pandemic.
After reviewing the budget and funding that Athens-Clarke County has received to address the issues of our community, in the amount of $60-plus million, as Mayor I will propose to appoint a new city manager with a vision and Interest for all the people in Athens-Clarke County. It is important to implement a Community Feedback Coalition.
Allocating the funds to where there is a lack of funding and has impacted our community: starting with the $11 million for affordable housing: Contracting local or in-state companies to build affordable housing that connects to the buildings of resources that’s needed. (Please see The Wimberley Center in Winder, a perfect model for our community).
Addressing the $7 million for Youth Development and Violence Prevention, work with the local organization that has the capacity and champion programs. (Instead of allowing other organizations to take the ideas that other people came up with); $5 million for homelessness (we need tiny homes); $4 million for business development and the workforce -- pay people what they are worth. Increase wages and not taxes.
Allocating $4 million for behavior health -- we need more workers in the department, a follow-up process, an intake e process, and an additional facility.
What matters to me most is that I, Mykeisha Reshonda Ross, be the change I wish to see in this world.