I’ve always been a lover of the written word.
As a child, I spent most of my time around words–whether it was writing my most intimate thoughts in my journal, creating enchanting characters for my short stories or escaping to a far land with a good book. I was the kid in Sunday School who always had my hand up to read scripture out loud to show off my verbal skills. During Easter, I was always given the hardest speeches to deliver at church. I could never leave the library as a child without at least 10 books. I salivated when teachers gave long writing assignments.
At the age of 10, I discovered the power of the press. On my way to church one Sunday, I read a copy of my parent’s Jet Magazine. I came across an article on Emmett Till, who I had never heard of at the time. As I turned the page to read more, I was immediately confronted by an image of his severely disfigured image lying in a casket. That image changed my life. I immediately knew that I wanted to become a journalist one day. I began reading the newspaper regularly. Before Sunday service, I watched Meet the Press. When I got to high school, I never missed an episode of 20/20, so much so that I would not meet my friends until the show ended. I remember wanting to be like Anderson Cooper and Lisa Ling on Channel One while watching them during homeroom.
Now many years later, I am trying to fulfill my purpose as a writer and journalist while doing good in this world. In my commentary, I not only focus on the problem, but also solutions. When I am not running my business, writing, producing documentaries and web shows or trying to figure out how to “save the world”, I enjoy giving back to my community and spending time with my husband.
DeShuna Spencer, a social entrepreneur, is the Founder/CEO of kweliTV, an interactive video streaming network for the global black consumer.
kweliTV is dedicated to the stories, issues and culture of the global black community. The platform offers a vast selection of on-demand independent films, web shows, news and historical programming, and documentaries specifically of the black experience from the US and across the globe. It will be accessible on smartTVs, internet TV devices (such as Apple TV and Roku), smartphones, game consoles, computers and tablets through a video app. KWELI (KWEH lee) means “TRUTH” IN SWAHILI. In December 2014, Spencer won a $20,000 grant from the NewU/Ford Foundation to develop her new venture, kweliTV, which is currently in beta.
Spencer is the founding publisher of emPowermagazine.com where she launched the emPower Players Awards honoring community activists of color. Spencer is also the producer and radio host of emPower Hour on DC’s 89.3 FM WPFW. Before becoming an entrepreneur, Spencer served as the Director of Communications for EdMarket, a trade association in Silver Spring, MD. In that role, Spencer ran the organization’s communications department and all media properties from its award-winning magazine, e-newsletters, social media efforts, ad sales, video initiatives and annual budget.
Spencer is a serial entrepreneur who founded Liu Karama Productions LLC, a multimedia company that produces socially-conscious content and products for people of color. The first entity launched under her company was emPower magazine. emPower magazine’s mission is to not only discuss social issues (such as education, socio-economics, health disparities, poverty and environmental issues) affecting people of African descent, but also challenge readers to take action through volunteerism and social activism.
In January 2014, Spencer became the radio host/producer of emPower Hour on 89.3 FM WPFW, a weekly radio show that she developed that discusses social justice, human rights issue and community advocacy for people of color. She launched the annual emPower Players Awards in June 2014, which honors everyday heroes making a difference in their communities. Spencer recently completed her first documentary, Mom Interrupted, which features seven moms in DC who lost their children to gun violence. It was an official selection at the Alexandria Film Festival in November 2014.
Since launching her business, DeShuna has been expanding her brand through a number of projects. First, the magazine periodically hosts “emPower Happy Hours” to raise funds for different DC non-profits. To date her magazine has helped 15 organizations. Spencer has launched three web series, The Social Activist, The Great Debate, and First Person. In The Social Activist, Spencer, who serves as host, travels to a different non-profit, volunteers and interviews key staff members. In The Great Debate, a Democrat and Republican, both African American, discuss hot political topics. First Person takes an intimate, personal look at leaders and community activists on their success, community work and philosophy on life. Spencer also periodically does “Do Something Moment” vignettes for We Act Radio 1480 AM where she gives her commentary and tips on how to give back. Most recently, under Spencer’s leadership, the magazine adopted National Collegiate Prep, a charter high school in Southeast Washington DC.
Spencer, a Memphis native, graduated from Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss., where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications, concentrating in Print Journalism. She began her journalism career while in college serving as a staff/obituary writer for the Clarion-Ledger for nearly two years. She briefly worked at the Oakland Tribune, writing feature and crime stories, and for the 101st Airborne’s newspaper, The Fort Campbell Courier, serving as a features editor. She dedicated a year of her life volunteering in a low-income Buffalo, NY community with AmeriCorps*VISTA where she launched two newsletters for the non-profit and held journalism workshops for inner-city youth. Right before launching emPower, she served as an executive editor and director of communications for NSSEA. She has written freelance articles for the Crisis magazine, AOL and The Washington Examiner.
Spencer is an expert on topics such as youth violence, media/publishing, entrepreneurship, women’s empowerment, youth issues, philanthropy/volunteerism and social justice issues affecting people of African descent. In her spare time, she has previously served on the Alexandria Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy and as a board member for Best Kids, a mentorship program for DC foster kids, United Way Regional Council of the National Capital Area (Alexandria Branch) as well as the United Way Emerging Leaders’ Council. She formerly served as a board member for Capital Cause, the Northern Virginia Urban League’s Young Professional’s Network and the City of Alexandria’s Youth Policy Commission and Social Services Advisory Board.
Spencer is an alum of the Chips Quinn Scholars Program, a competitive fellowship program for young journalists of color. Spencer was recently named 40under40 by The Envest Foundation for her entrepreneurial and philanthropic achievements and received the “Who’s Got Next” award by the National Action Network. Spencer recently completed her first documentary, Mom Interrupted, which was an official selection at the Alexandria Film Festival.