Our Team

Mika Marzette

founder/DIRECTOR

Mika has spent over 20 years in the U.S. and abroad in Education, Finance, Capacity Building, and Development. She has dedicated her time to the respective fields of business and education, as she has a sincere concern for the higher-level development of humanity. Recognizing that current systems reinforce an oppressive culture and are not fully Equity-conscious, she started a non-profit to focus on the work of re-educating, by providing equity-conscious essential educational tools and resources. The hope is that we strive to increase awareness and challenge the constant impeding structures we face, and reinforce reminders of how community, and not individualism, will provide safety, unity, and peace.

 She has taught in business schools in France and California and at institutes in several countries. She has organized several community initiatives abroad and at home and will continue providing support where necessary that brings about real structural and policy change for the improvement of those affected disproportionately by these structures. 

She recently obtained her Kemetic Yoga certification and traveled to Egypt to learn more about the origins of yoga and its representation in the hieroglyphs in literature, on temples, and inside pyramids and other structures. The importance of this “way of life” provides a cosmic consciousness and global learning which is lacking in today’s modern systems. Our organization offers these tools passed down by these ancestors, which are threaded into the foundation of the organization’s curriculum and programming. 

Board Members

Dr. Keisha Clark

MAAT Equity & Inclusion Board Member

Dr. Keisha is a native of New Orleans, La, and was evacuated to California in 2005 because of Hurricane Katrina. Dr. Clark’s educational background includes an undergraduate degree at a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in Psychology, a graduate degree in Criminal Justice, and a doctorate degree in Management with a concentration in Organizational Leadership. She leads the Office of Equity in San Diego County. Her priorities are supporting the organization’s efforts to become an antiracist system; tackling racial bias, disproportionality, disparities, inequities, and diversity and inclusion issues involving African American and Immigrant/Refugee families as well as gender and sexual minorities (GSM) affected by mental health and justice systems.

 

Onyeka Tefari

Wellness Director

Onyeka is a holistic healer who uses massage therapy, yoga therapy, and aromatherapy as a means to help my clients heal all aspects of their life. Taking the approach that all aspects of our lives are connected, the journey to health and healing is an ongoing process. Her approach incorporates aspects of both eastern and western massage therapy to heal and strengthen the body. She uses Yoga to further body strength, as well as to help clients connect to their mind and spirit.

 

Jill Minard

Creative Director

3-2-1 Action! A former 10-year tenure Theatre Arts and Speech Communications teacher made a choice of one passion over the other. Jill Minard a true participant of the arts discovered yoga at much-needed time in her life. She has been teaching for over 10 years and will share her ARSTYA Style with us!

Tonia Ferguson

Advocacy & Community Director

Ms. Ferguson is passionate about her work with youth, adults and their families that have been impacted by severe and persistent mental illness. She has worked with both individuals impacted by mental illness in the criminal justice system, substance addiction, trauma, Veterans of the armed forces and as an advocate for victims of abuse and neglect for more than twenty years. She is currently the CEO of Be REAL Blessed, LLC, a mental wellness and professional development staffing agency she founded in 2021. She specializes in leadership training and incorporating psychoeducation to impact workspaces, increase productivity and decrease staff burnout/turnover. She is a literary art and mental health expert, facilitating social emotional learning and cultural art facilitation for corporations, nonprofits and community agencies, including at academic sites and juvenile/adult correctional facilities. She is an adjunct university professor for Azusa Pacific University, University of the People and Salt Lake Community College, teaching psychology courses to undergrad and graduate students. She is passionate about professional mentoring, criminal justice reform, ending the criminalization of mental illness and has been a keynote speaker nationwide for these topics.

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Sharyna Scott

Partner

Sharyna Scott is an attorney with a passion for using the law to help others. She is a licensed member in good standing with the California Bar, and received her J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law and her B.A. in Philosophy from Westmont College. The Law Office of Sharyna Scott was founded in 2016 with the goal of helping others achieve their dreams. Sharyna’s chosen areas of estate planning, business, and immigration law allow her to come alongside others and walk them through complex processes to make those dreams a reality.

Team

Symone Farmer

Program Manager

Symone is originally from the Chicago suburbs but currently lives in Seattle, WA. She has worked in health care for the last three years and is excited to transition to program management. She is passionate about promoting resiliency, accessibility to education, and helping others find their voice. In her free time, she enjoys traveling and going to concerts.

Vrattika Bindal

Program Manager

Vrattika is a Civil Engineer and a graduate in Supply Chain & Logistics, now grown into Program Management roles. She comes from India and has recently moved to the United States. She is generally a curious and emphatic individual who is a firm believer in learning and growing every day. She also loves to dance and travel to new places.

Robert Neblett

Program Manager

Robert Neblett is a Houston native who has over 8 years of experience consulting for public, private, and non-profit organizations. He specializes in process improvement and program management. He has immersed and conducted research on culture, environmental science, and economics in West Africa as well as South and Central America. He is interested in exploring the value of culture and its relation to identity, consciousness, and healing. He leverages these experiences and interest to support growth and bring value to ASCENDtials.

Nigel Zuniga

RESIDENT DRUMMER

Nigel Zuniga, born in San Diego, CA has been around Mandingue drum/dance since his conception in the womb. He started off being mentored by members of his community, who still mentor him today. After spending a few years in San Diego, he relocated to the Georgia where he performed with and studied with various companies. Since returning to San Diego he has continued performing and studying several with well recognized groups in Southern California. He has also continued his studies extensively over the past 10+ years studying drum and dance with renowned world and local artists. Nigel currently performs locally, nationally, and internationally. Nigel not only performs but supports all the local West African Drum/Dance classes regularly. He gives thanks to his mother & all his communities in both San Diego and At, as well as the several artists he’s learned from. It is this village of wonderful people that he credits for his growth thus far. He plays with everybody.

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Aliyah Young

Social Media Marketing Lead/Event Coordinator

Aliyah was born and raised in Yuma, Arizona and is a recent University of California- San Diego Graduate. She majored in Communications at the university after completing two associates degrees at Arizona Western College, in Business and Theater. Her main motivation is her family and to create a better world for them to live in. At ASCENDtials, she plans to gain experience on event coordination and social media output.

Vera Martinoska

Grant researcher/Writer

Vera has over 10 years of experience working in the NGO sector, working on refugees’ rights, children’s rights, and BIPOC rights. She holds LLB in Law, and her professional interests include international law and human rights. She will focus on researching and writing grants for ASCENDtials’ projects. In her spare time, Vera likes to cook, write, spend time with family, and practice yoga.

Jada Alexander

Web Developer

Jada is a Web Developer and working with ASCENDtials to improve her web development skills. She has been teaching herself how to develop websites for three years now and hopes to become a Software Developer after graduating from college next year. Her main motivation is her 3-year-old daughter who is her world!

Meghana Moodagopadi

Web Developer

Meghana is a double master’s graduate in Computer Science. Her passion for full-stack development has motivated her volunteer for ASCENDtials as a Web Developer. At ASCENDtials, she plans to build herself a software development career by developing new web applications/ technologies for us.

Namie Yazaki

Social Media Marketing Lead

Hello! I am Namie from Japan. I am currently living in San Diego as a graduate student. I am Japanese, but I am also half Chinese. Due to my background, I have faced many discriminations as I grew up, so I wanted to help reduce any discrimination. I love exploring new places, and knowing other countries’ cultures. Media is one of the ways to get to know more about the world, and I can connect to new people. That’s why I am interested in media! I will work as a social media marketing lead at ASCENDtials, and I am excited to help this community.

Student Researchers

Corey Moon

Student Researcher

Corey is a rising senior at Georgetown University studying Mathematics and Justice and Peace Studies. She hopes to use her learned skills to aid the BIPOC community in combating issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. She is also on the swim team and loves to travel and hike.

Joel Chu

Student Researcher

My name is Joel, I recently graduated from Berkeley majoring in Economics. I use my knowledge in finance to serve underprivileged communities through ASCENDtials. I work on grants and the resource hub to secure funding for projects and improve financial literacy in low income households.