Meet Our Founder

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Monique James

Ms. James and the "Don't Count Me Out Team" organized the "Atlanta Father's Day Bailout." She developed a system with the cooperation of the Atlanta Corrections Department, senior member of Atlanta Municipal Court Judge Terrinee L. Gundy, their staff and the Atlanta Public Defenders office, that streamlined the process to bailout fathers jailed on "Quality of Life" charges.  Judge Gundy decided to release the men on signature bond, eliminating the need for bail money.


 Judge Gundy's  decision made provisions so that all fathers could participate in the personal development services. This served as a precursor to new Atlanta legislation and municipal court procedures eliminating bail money. Fourteen men were released at the same time, taken to eat by Pastor Christopher Waller of Butler Street CME Church, and reunited with their families for Father's Day. The qualified participants attended the Don't Count Me Out 3-day and  2-night Survival & Empowerment Retreat. Upon return to Atlanta, the men were provided with employment, transportation and communication services. 


Monique James, a native of Cincinnati, Ohio and currently co-owner of a transportation logistics  company, is our Executive Director. As the founder of Don't Count Me  Out, Inc. Monique is extending her many years of volunteerism and  community service to ensure that the most vulnerable children in our state and their parents get a "seat at the table."


Ms. James began her career in Public Relations & Community Affairs with the American Greetings Corporation in Osceola, AR as a Community Affairs Officer with a staff of two specialists. Four years later, Ms. James was invited back to Cincinnati in 1991 to begin a Public  Relations & Community Affairs company that would target urban community participation and support corporate minority interest. Along with two partners, Ms. James directed projects sponsored by public and private  companies through Gibraltar Public Relations & Community Affairs located in the heart of downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. 


Over the  years, Monique has become well known for creating favorable attitudes among various organizations, special interest groups, and the public through effective communication. She has managed more than 16 staff  specialists on a given project.


Since 2010, Ms. James has consulted with Time Wise Management Systems (TWMS) located in Celebration, Florida  as a Legislative Agent for the executive and legislative branch of  government in the State of Kentucky. Monique was also assigned to build public private partnerships along with serving as the communications and  public relations state director for TWMS.

Secularly, Ms. James is a supply chain logistics and transportation management Co-Owner Operator supporting U.S. Veterans under FedEx Custom Critical. As  Executive Director of the non-profit Don’t Count Me Out, she gets to  fulfill her life long goal of serving children and families.

VP Programming

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Patricia Ann McCollum

 

Ms. Patricia McCollum directs our trauma training and other such programs that support children who have left 'high control groups.'  We  find that many of these children, albeit 2 to 3 generations out suffer  even more trauma than the first generations exiting these high control  groups. In addition to these children, those in foster care have  experienced childhood trauma as well and are in need of life changing  services.
 

As a Graduate from the University of Cincinnati, Ms.  McCollum has received an undergraduate in Human Services and Social Work  (BSSW, LSW), a masters degree in Community Health Planning  Administration (MS), and she has been an early childhood trauma expert  and trainer for twenty-seven years. The team of professionals supporting  Ms. McCollum are subject matter experts in mentoring, public relations,  marketing, police/community relations, diversity awareness and  strategic planning. 

Ms. McCollum has designed mentoring  and advocate programs for birth parents that are in danger of losing  their children to out-of-home care and foster care; all while under  contract with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Job  & Family Services contracts from the years 1996 to 2015. She has  designed state wide protocols for juvenile detention centers in Ohio and  foster care training programs.

Ms. McCollum has a  keen sense of what will produce the best results for children,community  and police relations. She has trained mentors and new police recruits in  regards to dealing with the trauma experienced by high risk youth. Her  expertise is evidenced by her servitude on the board of The Ohio Family  Care Association (OFCA), and of Job & Family Children's Services  committee. In addition to these qualifications she has served at The  University of Cincinnati as an adjunct professor, an MSW social worker  and a certified trainer of the Cincinnati Police on Trauma program.

VP Strategic Planning

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Maurice Sessoms

 Maurice Sessoms has over 18 years with an extraordinary record of  serving state and local government representing, public speaking at  meetings and on committees, local boards and task forces to discuss  issues, resources, programs and procedures, and chair board meetings on  the Local Coordinating Council and the State Coordinating Council and  community development. In addition, he has a strong executive management  background with the following expertise:

-Thorough strategic planning and plan execution

-Develop, implement, and design programs that identify best practice and trends

-Ability to achieve financial solvency and continued financial independence

-Proven methods for program development and growth, agency effectiveness, and success rates

-Community collaboration and partnership building

-Strong budgetary control system

He  is a leader with strong organizational and interpersonal skills—one  that is able to integrate receptive changes in order to realize current  and future goals, the ability to create financial stability, and  enhances your reputation in the community. 

Personal Development Lead Facilitator

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Deborah Brock Blanks

 

Deborah Brock-Blanks is a registered nurse, black belt in Karate and our lead empowerment facilitator. Her holistic, earthy approach to life makes her the best motivator for those who have experienced trauma.

Don't Count Me Out offers a personal development
Empowerment/Survival  retreat called Kaleidoscope to help anyone make a positive lifestyle  change. The project is modeled after a Proctor & Gamble executive  training series and began in 1996. Groups of 10 at a time receive the  personal development services which include a 3-day, 2-night retreat  followed-up by emotional, physical, social, mental, and spiritual  well-being empowerment training over a 6-month period.

Kaleidoscope is a 3-day, 2-night Empowerment/Survival retreat helps the participants  take a hard look at self. It stretches them mentally and physically.  The purpose is to break the cycle of incarceration, help them heal from  the experience and be better and stronger for their children.

It  is increasingly clear that attempts to empower and mentor children  without the cooperation of their parents is nearly impossible.

Under  the guidance of empowerment specialists Deborah Brock-Blanks, the  parents and children we serve will attend our Empowerment/Survival retreats. Ms. Brock-
Blanks is a subject matter expert who currently addresses issues of the a feelings of isolation, self-esteem, and trauma.

Bailout Lead Community Coordinator

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Teresa Watson

Teresa Watson is an owner of TRJ's Transport Lines, Inc. (TRJ), an  Atlanta, Georgia based trucking company whose mission is to become one  of the largest trucking companies servicing the United States.

Teresa's  vision to start her own trucking company began after the untimely death  of her father, TRJ Watson. Mr. Watson had been a truck driver for over  30 years, and always wanted to own his own trucking company. The problem  was he didn't ever have the resources. Since his death, God has placed  the same spirit into Teresa and the new vision of TRJ’s Transport Lines,  Inc.

Teresa's success as a business owner and giving spirit has  led her to give back to the community. She demonstrates her commitment  by volunteering as a Community Coordinator for Don't Count Me Out. She heard  about Don't Count Me Out from founder, Monique James, who also works as  a contractor for FedEx Custom Critical.  The volunteers from the family of Custom Critical is growing. 

Ms. Watson was very  instrumental in the Atlanta Father's Day Bailout created by Monique  James and Judge Terrinee L. Gundy. She helped garner the support of the  court system and public defenders office. She interviewed the fathers  who participated and connected with their families. Later, at the  Empowerment/Survival retreat, Teresa made sure the father's had work and  housing upon returning to the city of Atlanta. The release of these  father's was due in a large part to Teresa's efforts.  Her 12 years of working with the Atlanta municipal court system before she started her trucking business, was an invaluable asset to the bailout project.

As a follow-up, Ms. Watson is a member of the Don't Count Me Out design team to provide a systematic housing and work system for the participants of the Kaleidoscope Empowerment/Survival retreat. 

Lollipop Initiative Lead Community Specialist

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Sharon Tyson

Sharon Tyson, Lead Community Specialist, coordinates the needs based assessments of survivors that are exiting High Control groups. She has been an activist for the past 10 years advocating for the rights of others that have left a variety of High Control groups. She herself was a member of one of these groups for 33 years, but left and found a new life free of trauma. That freedom was met with many challenges such as loss of family support, social restructuring, PTSD and homelessness. 


These personal experiences helped Ms. Tyson to become aware of the social service needs existing among this particular group of people. Thus, she has created many support groups throughout the USA and abroad in order to aid the survivors. 


Ms. Tyson builds awareness among survivors worldwide by translating newsworthy stories into other languages. She has promoted awareness campaigns on this subject matter and has spoken on panels regarding the adverse effects of cult involvement. She views her greatest achievement thus far, as 'the creation of an art program for children that have suffered trauma.'


Through DCMO, Ms. Tyson is organizing volunteers globally in order to provide supportive services for the survivors and their families. To sign up as a volunteer, please go to our "Register to Volunteer" page. Also, keep an eye out for Ms. Tyson's latest blog. 

Register To Volunteer

Consulting Developer

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Louis White

 

Louis White  came to Atlanta, Georgia from Dayton, Ohio in 1981 to attend college at  Morehouse College with the desire to pursue studies in Architecture and  Urban Planning. Upon completion of his studies, he  worked for several  Architectural firms in the Metropolitan Atlanta area.

In  1994, White stepped out on his own to embark upon a career in  establishing his own company in design/build construction. With his  extensive knowledge in the field of architecture, White not only had the  capabilities to design the structure, but to build it as well. He and  his wife Tracy have designed and built projects ranging from commercial  facilities as large as 400,000 S.F., to custom built luxury homes sized  from 9,000 S.F. to 16,000 S.F. and up. Several YDG design’s projects  include a 20,000 S.F. Annex for Flagg Chapel Baptist Church in  Milledgeville, Ga., which is also one of this Country’s oldest churches  founded by former African slaves in the early 1800s. As a team, Mr.  White does the architectural design and construction and his wife Tracy  does the interior design work. Some of their homes have received such  notoriety as appearing in local magazines (Atlanta Tribune), appearing  also on B.E.T. (Black Entertainment Network), PBS featuring Dr. Henry  Gates, African American Heritage, and the national news show “60  Minutes”.

Communities in which Mr. and Mrs. White have  designed and built homes are those of Sandstone Estates(5 units); a  million dollar and up luxury home community in Lithonia, Ga.,  River  walk Estates in Stone Mountain, The Tripp Estate, Lake Oconee ,Ga.,  NelmsCourt community, and various private locations in Atlanta.  Mr.  White is currently the Architect and Builder of record for a new custom  designed and built home in the Atlanta Nationals Golf Community (a  community in which R&B recording artist Akon is currently building  his home) in Alpharetta, Ga., The Palisades at Eden Park, Legacy Estates  Stone Mountain, Belair Estates, The Enclave at Blue Creek, Legacy Hills  Estates, Le Jordan (South Fulton County) and a future development,  Watercrest Estates.  These customize (1million +) communities have  displayed a vast array of his creative talents and quality in  construction expertise.

Mr. White has previously designed  and constructed the Hosea Williams historical home (museum) in Atlanta,  Ga. and is currently Architect of record and builder for various clients  throughout the Atlanta Metropolitan area including River Oaks community  which recently hosted 2007s’ Street of Dreams showcasing custom homes.  Some current projects include: Legacy Estates in Stone Mountain, Ga.,  Complete Renovations at various locations in Inman Park, Custom design  home in Peachtree City, Designs for church in Conyers, Ga., Law office  in Edgewood corridor, Atlanta. In addition YDG currently has partnered  with RHESA HOLDINGS LLC. to perform all architectural re-designs and  upscale renovations on all investment properties.