VOE  Board of Advisors

Schinnell Leake

VOE Board of Advisors

Founder/Executive Director

Extra-Ordinary Birthdays

Creating & Providing Birthday Parties for Homeless Children

After learning that more than 2,000 children live in homeless shelters throughout the Washington, D.C. area, it was the “extra special feeling” Schinnell Leake felt a birthday party brought to the ordinary moments in the life of a child that lead her to establish Extra-Ordinary Birthdays in 2010.  As Founder and Executive Director Schinnell heads Extra-Ordinary Birthdays, the only organization of its kind in the capital area that throws personalized birthday parties for homeless children to make them feel recognized and valued.  EOB brings the simple joy of birthday parties to homeless children from babies to teens in shelters in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia each month shining a light on homeless children and honoring them for who they are despite their circumstances.

Schinnell was one of 10 women selected as an honoree from 6,000 women across the country for L’oreal Paris’ Women of Worth Award and became the 2015 National Honoree after receiving a record number of votes.  L’oreal Paris Women of Worth Award recognizes extraordinary women making a difference in their communities which gave Schinnell the platform to create the Extra-Ordinary Moms (EOM) Program, a recognition program for homeless mothers with the purpose of inspiring and motivating their self-worth through positive reinforcement, personal development, and membership in a supportive community. 

Elisa-Ruth Nelson

VOE Board of Advisors

Elisa-Ruth Nelson is passionate about empowering people to be their best selves. Leveraging well-honed leadership, communication, and planning skills gained through a successful career in human resources and management with the federal government, she knows how to affect positive change at both individual and organizational levels.


Growing up in Alaska, often referred to as the “Land of the Midnight Sun,” afforded Ms. Nelson with unique experiences, which included viewing the spectacular aurora borealis, fishing and hunting with her father, enjoying summer midnight bike rides, and taking private music and dance lessons. Alaska’s lack of daylight during the winter months propelled her to seek consistent self-development and learning opportunities throughout her youth and into adulthood.


Her passion for learning and people led Ms. Nelson to a career in public service, starting out with the Department of Justice – Bureau of Prisons and currently serving as an HR Professional for the Department of Army where she facilitates large-scale leadership development programs and leads employee engagement initiatives. In this role, she oversaw the Emerging Enterprise Leader Program in 2017/2018, which provided leadership development opportunities for 64,000 civilians and culminated in 24 commands earning a leadership certification. Recently (October 2018), Ms. Nelson accepted an exceptional opportunity with the Department of Treasury, leading their Human Resources Accountability Program.


Ms. Nelson earned her Bachelor’s degree in Mass Media Communications from Wilberforce University and a Master’s in Organizational Leadership from Southern New Hampshire University. She also completed certification as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) through the HR Certification Institute.


In addition to her work in training & development and her educational credentials, she also volunteers as a mentor for Point of Return, a nonprofit that helps people safely withdraw from addictive medications. Here, she counsels people one-on-one and provides encouragement and motivation to continue on the path to health and wellness. Beginning March 2018, Ms. Nelson sits on the Board of Advisors for Voices of Encouragement, an organization that empowers women to build a brighter future.


Daily, Elisa-Ruth Nelson practices the mantra “Challenge the Status Quo” in both her personal and professional life. She is driven to help others overcome fears and roadblocks and inspire them to meet their goals.

Brittanye Calhoun

VOE Board of Advisors

Brittanye Calhoun serves as a Managing Partner and Chief Creative Officer of ABCD & Company. Calhoun’s eye for detail and demand for originality positions ABCD & Company at the forefront of business innovation. Calhoun is responsible for the execution and delivery of all products and services. Calhoun is also the bearer of the corporate image standard and ensures that all aspects of the company align with set standards. She specializes in project management, corporate branding, and strategic event planning.

Calhoun is a titan in project management and on-site execution. Calhoun served as the Senior Project Manager for the Apollo Theater’s Spring Gala, where she had oversight of the digital production team. Calhoun managed the production and interviewing of prominent figures such as Debra Lee of BET and Dick Parsons, former Chairman of Time Warner and Citigroup. Calhoun has been widely recognized as a brand incubator and travels extensively to provide counsel to C-suite executives on brand strategy.

Calhoun is a proud Howard University Alumna and holds a Master of Business
Administration, with a specialization in Project Management.

Tina Smith

VOE Board of Advisors

Tina Smith, financial coach and President of The Financial T Coaching and Consulting Firm. “Does that make sense?” is one question she asks to make sure the message of financial improvement is getting through. Ms. Smith is passionate about educating employers and employees, motivating them to optimize their financial opportunities. 

She knows why it’s important to have a financial coach and a real financial plan early in a professional career. As a young military person, she experienced financial coaching and still reap the benefits today.  This secured her decision to leave an established firm to serve businesses and their employees. 

Ms. Smith is an investment advisor representative, and a health and life insurance agent for multiple states across the country. Her Occupation Education Bachelors' degree is from Wayland Baptist University, and she is currently pursuing a Certified Financial Planner certification through the American College of Financial Services. 

Ms. Smith continues to be active in the community.  She serves as a deacon in her church, a mentor at a local community college, and a financial volunteer aboard Quantico Marine Corps Base. She shares principles from her book, It’s Your Turn: Walk-In Your Financial Purpose in and around the Washington, D.C. area.  Ms. Smith retired from the Air Force in 2013. She is married to Karshi, and we have one son, Anthony.

Sharon Fitzpatrick

VOE Board of Advisors


Sharon Fitzpatrick founded The Fitzpatrick Group in 2003 with the vision of helping people in organizations grow and develop.   As CEO of The Fitzpatrick Group, LLC., Ms. Fitzpatrick is a valued resource providing training and development programs that are highly interactive grounded in research and proven best practices.

Sharon specializes in Organization Development, Diversity and Inclusion and Employee and Leadership Training.  She brings a broad level of expertise and experience that reflects an understanding of the needs and challenges that businesses face today. The Fitzpatrick Group provides strategic learning and development solutions for organizations, leaders and employees to maximize performance and connect people with their core purpose.

Ms. Fitzpatrick has proven beneficial in helping many organizations to implement and promote organizational development programs; and has personally trained over 30,000 executives, managers and staff level employees. She believes in building long term partnerships with her clients and is committed to providing the appropriate training, development tools and strategies that are aligned with an organization’s mission, vision and overall goals for success.

Ms. Fitzpatrick Graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Clinical Psychology from The Ohio State University and has a Master of Science in Organization Development & Strategic Human Resources from The Johns Hopkins University. In addition to her formal academic education, Sharon holds certifications in EEO Counseling, Diversity and Inclusion, DISC, Executive Leadership (USC), Project Management; and is a Zenger Miller Master Trainer. She was recognized as one of the “50 Women of Influence and Power” in Washington D.C.

Sharon is a member of several professional organizations including the Society for Human Resources Management, Association for Talent Development, International Association of Women and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.  She designed a student mentoring program for “The School Without Walls” in D.C., tutored in Baltimore’s “Reading by Nine” program; and most recently joined “The Timothy Project” In Clarksdale Mississippi focusing on training volunteer mentors to work with High School youth. Sharon serves as a Board Member for The Women’s Round Table of Northern Virginia and works with community services for the homeless and displaced in Northern Virginia and the Washington D.C. metro area.