Best Selling Author Lauren Polly is Today’s Honoree

Lauren Polly, MEd. CCC-SLP, CFMW, RYT, is a multi-award-winning and internationally best-selling author, transformational speaker, executive life coach and medical Speech-Language Pathologist. She earned her Master’s degree from the University of Virginia in Communication Disorders with a focus in Speech and Language Pathology in 2005 and has worked in America’s top hospitals since that time.

Lauren interweaves her communication therapy skills with her yoga, meditation and energy transformation training to provide cutting-edge content focused on developing self-awareness, communication and empowerment.

In her book, The Other Side of Bipolar, Lauren shares her own personal journey of receiving a bipolar diagnosis and how we can change other mental illness labels into empowering gifts for people who are diagnosed, their families, and the professionals who support them.

Her mission in life is to help others thrive beyond their labels, reclaim their innate gifts and blaze a unique trail in the world.

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Inspirational Speaker Laurel Hilbert is Today’s Honoree

Laurel Hilbert is an inspiration, and perhaps the best feel-good story of 2019. He’s a Syrian refugee who went from being homeless in San Francisco to the CEO of his own non-profit, and an aspiring politician interning on Capitol Hill. He’s also blind.

Laurel’s unbelievable journey from war-torn country, to homelessness, to Capitol Hill embodies and transcends the American dream. And a big part of his perseverance and ability to succeed involves Guide Dogs of America (GDA) at and Laurel’s loyal guide dog, Aero.

Blind since birth, Laurel came to the U.S. at the age of 17.  He spoke little English but enrolled in High School and began working with a orientation and mobility instructor.  His white cane far surpassed the walking stick he used in Syria, often broken by inattentive passersby.  His instructor suggested he get a guide dog – a hard sell, given that Laurel was afraid of dogs!  Three years later, Laurel applied to GDA, met his guide dog Aero, and the team has been full-steam ahead ever since!  

He’s now 23-years-old and interning in the D.C. office of Senator Diane Feinstein.  Laurel and Aero are well known on Capitol Hill, where even Aero dresses the part and wears a tie.  Laurel’s talent, drive and perseverance makes him a valued member of the congressional team, and Senator Feinstein visits Aero daily.  He balances his intern duties with the responsibilities of serving as CEO of A Dignified Home, his non-profit that recruits, trains, and certifies people who want to become foster parents, and also provides housing for people ages 12 to 24 who are homeless. He even raised money for his organization by running the San Francisco Marathon with Aero by his side.

There is no limit to Laurel’s resiliency, ability, and what he can accomplish with his highly skilled guide dog by his side.   He’s already planning to run for Senate when he is 33 years old. His story beautifully illustrates the transformative effect of a trained guide dog in the life of someone who is blind or visually impaired. 

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Baby So Right CEO/Founder Donald Todd is Today’s Honoree

Baby So Right is a patented pacifier protection system created with baby safety and parent convenience in mind.

What makes Baby So Right unique is that it is the world’s first retracting pacifier holder that safely pulls dropped pacifiers into a holder before they ever touch the ground.  It prevents contamination from germs and lost pacifiers .

Baby So Right was founded by a Veteran with the goal of helping military spouses with small children, manage a busy family schedule and prevent lost pacifiers.

The founder partnered with fellow Veterans that were dedicated to owning and operating their own business. This Veteran owned business highlights the qualities and skills that service members possess, such as leadership, courage, and commitment to serving.

Baby So Right saves parents from the hassle of constantly having to stop what they’re doing to pick up and clean dropped pacifiers.  Stop the drop with Baby So Right auto-retracting pacifier holders.

“Our mission is to create cutting-edge technological products that are safe and functional for making an impact in the quality of life of babies and  small children.”

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Author Kenneth Joyner is Today’s Honoree

About the Book:

While it’s hard to fathom, an estimated 27.4 million children are growing up without their biological father. This leads to an increased risk of suicide, substance abuse, and potential criminal activity. As shocking as this may be, there are some things that young men and their families can do to stop this vicious cycle and live a successful and fulfilling life.

Without a Father is able to show young men, single mothers, and community leaders and mentors how to help young men navigate their way through a world that sometimes seems to be working against them. More so, author Kenny Joyner shows all men that they have value and that their presence in a child’s life matters more than they may understand.

Whether you’re a fatherless son looking for inspiration from a man who walked in your shoes, a single mother trying to get a peek inside your son’s head and heart, or an absentee father working to cultivate a relationship with their child, Without a Father can give you the necessary tools and guidance you need. In the book, you’ll discover how to take real-life experiences and use them to overcome obstacles and better your life while also learning key principles to help you become the success you’re destined to be. Finally, Joyner teaches you how faith works with you and in you to combat fears, insecurities, and shortcomings that may be holding you back.

About the Author:

Kenneth Joyner is a husband and father who is passionate about helping others reach their full potential. He is also the co-founder of the non-profit organization Boys With A Purpose, which mentors young boys through an after-school program.

This former educator who failed his Praxis test 6 times before becoming a teacher, ironically, is now a leadership development strategist who travels the country training teachers on how to develop better relationships with their students. He attributes his perseverance to his mother, who raised four children on her own. While she is proud of him for “surpassing any and all expectations” she had for him, Kenny knows it was her strength that gave him the courage to pursue his dreams and, inevitably, write his first book.

Having grown up without his father and enduring the hardships that came with that journey, he wrote Without A Father as a guide to help others use their experiences; to move them from a life of fear to one of faith. He is taking his experiences and bridging the gap for other young men who have gone through similar struggles. His hope is to build strong young men for the future and place them on the path of success.

Order his book now on Amazon at



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Author and Podcast Host Dr. Dennis Gregory is Today’s Honoree

Dr. Gregory, first and foremost, is a man of FAITH. In that light, he has dedicated his life to articulating an entirely new vision for the future of urban education grounded in the Word of God.

The General Gregory Podcast is a doctoral level breakdown on what is truly wrong with urban education and WHY we need something very different. Dr. Gregory believes that the current model of urban education is completely under the control of the elites does not serve the interests of African Americans or people of color. This podcast explains why that is. It is not easy listening.

In the end, Dr. Gregory sees urban education as fertile grounds to develop it into a ‘beacon of light’ to show society a better way forward. He proposes, after several episodes of thinking the environment through, that urban education become a fully integrated unit of a commercial bank. That bank will be called the Tolton Bank; named after father Augustus Tolton, the first black priest in the United States.

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Mental Health Advocate and Author Achea Redd is Today’s Honoree

In early 2016, Achea Redd was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. After hiding her condition out of fear and shame, Achea quickly realized it was only getting worse, affecting her physically to the point of a nervous breakdown. It wasn’t until she acknowledged the situation with her loved ones, seeking out treatment from her therapist and doctor, that things started to get better.

As a form of self-expression and healing, Achea Redd created her own blog, sharing her feelings about mental health and authenticity. The flow of support she received from the community compelled her to create Real Girls F.A.R.T.—a space to empower and equip women with the necessary tools to use their voices and become their best, most authentic selves.

Achea uses her life experience and mental health disorder to help women find their voice and let it out. Those goals are central to  her  new book  Be Free. Be You.

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Author and Journalist Iris Dorbian is Today’s Honoree

Leah is a sweet, sensitive 15-year-old girl who loves Taylor Swift, binge-watching reality TV and just wants to get through the rest of junior high without any trouble. At least that was the plan. When the school bully pushes Leah too far, she snaps. And her world turns upside down.

Arrested for assault and battery, Leah is deemed a juvenile offender and sentenced to an unusual form of rehabilitation: a Shakespeare workshop where she has to memorize scenes with other teen offenders and perform on a big stage for an audience.

Sentenced to Shakespeare is a contemporary young adult novel from prolific journalist Iris Dorbian. Loosely inspired by the real-life Shakespeare in the Courts program in Massachusetts, Sentenced follows Leah’s transformative journey as she grapples with the idea of being punished for defending herself after the bully’s behavior had gone widely ignored by school officials. She hates the bully, but she also hates what the bully drove her to do.

Not wanting to disappoint her parents even more than she already has, Leah immerses herself in the Shakespeare workshop, where she finds comfort and solidarity with the other juvenile offenders, relating to this group of strangers more than she anticipated.

Leah even encounters something she’s never experienced before — love. But when a new “friend” throws her under the bus, Leah is forced to confront her choices and stop blaming her bullies, or else risk losing the opportunity she’s been given to make a new life for herself.

Author Iris Dorbian is a professional business and arts journalist whose credits include Forbes, Wall Street Journal, Venture Capital Journal, Buyouts, Investopedia, DMNews, Jerusalem Report, the Forward, Playbill, Backstage, Theatermania, Live Design, Media Industry Newsletter and PR News. She is the former editor-in-chief of Stage Directions magazine and author of Great Producers: Visionaries of the American Theater, which was published by Allworth Press/Skyhorse Publishing in August 2008. Her personal essays have been published in Blue Lyra Review, B O D Y, Embodied Effigies, Jewish Literary Journal, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Adanna Literary Journal,, Skirt! and Gothesque Magazine. A New Jersey native, Iris has a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.

To learn more, please visit, or connect with her on LinkedIn at Iris Dorbian; on Twitter at @IrisDorbian; on Facebook at Iris Dorbian; and on Instagram at irisdorbian.

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