The Norfolk Division has selected Ms. Veronica McMillian to receive the Director's Community Leadership Award.
Ms. McMillian has over 20 years of experience in education, training, community outreach, program development, and counseling. Her expertise is working with low-income individuals throughout the Hampton Roads area of Virginia.
Ms. McMillian is the founder of a community-based, nonprofit organization called Let's Talk, Inc. This organization provides educational training, violence prevention initiatives, job training, and role models for young men and women.
Under her organization, Ms. McMillian launched the Dream Girls Program for teen girls in the community in 2006. This pregnancy prevention program provides activities for girls and offers strategies for dealing with conflicts and violence. Over a period of two years, none of the 30 girls that participated in this program became pregnant.
In 2007, Ms. McMillian created the Nutrition, Education, and Dance (N.E.D.) program for teens in the rural areas of Suffolk and Franklin. More than 160 teens have been influenced by this program, which addresses anger, self-esteem, and school issues. Students in this program reported fewer problems with family and friends and the ability to manage conflicts. The program became so popular that it was later funded by a two-year grant from the Obici Healthcare Foundation.
Most recently, Ms. McMillian launched the Boys to Men Program for African-American boys ages 12 to 18, an initiative that has helped to keep young men from gangs and violence. Many of the boys who have participated in this program are now drug free and college bound. Ms. McMillian has been asked to implement the program in local schools as a result of its success.