Who is Gwen Simms and Connie Shelton

Gwen Simms

Born in Brooklyn, NY to Lawrence J and Betty C Taylor and raised on Long Island attending Freeport, NY Schools, Gwendolyn B. Simms moved to Richmond upon graduation from Freeport High School. Gwen attended Virginia Union University, where she majored in Elementary Education and was inducted into the Community of Scholars. Gwen met and married her husband Timothy in 1985 and they have three successful adult children, Ashanti, Nia and Ellis.  Gwen’s early beginning in Redevelopment Community Activism Programming (RCAP) began while she lived in NY with her involvement working summers for Operation Alternatives in Freeport.  Gwen moved back to NY briefly between 1983 and 1985 and worked for Jose Rendon at the Long Beach Onward for Excellence program, where she directed after school programs for disadvantaged youth.  Gwen worked with local banks and businesses, to secure funding for an annual Break dance contest, to otherwise stem gang violence by providing a safe haven for kids to work out their differences.  When Gwen’s children were young, she worked as a Girl Scout leader for over 10 years and with the help of such great leaders as Angie Pleasants, Yvonne Marbury, Evelyn Cook and Kitty Kersey and others was able to take the girls on a trip of a lifetime to Disney where the girl’s park admission, hotel accommodations and transportation was free. Gwen also worked on the Henrico County Public Schools Superintendents Advisory Council, The Henrico Education Foundation and was an active PTA volunteer serving in several different positions throughout her children’s Elementary thru High School years.  Gwen served as Community Development Director under the Executive Leadership of Walter Funn with the Community Development Center as an adjunct ministry of Elohim Christian Outreach Center, where she wrote grants for computers in partnership with Capitol One and Montrose Elementary School.  She also authored the L.O.V.E (Learning Opportunities and AdVentures in Excellence) program, a summer and afterschool academic excellence program for students in danger of failing their SOL’s.  Gwen also worked with Capitol One and Montrose to provide a Financial Literacy Program for children and Adults. Gwen has worked as a children’s ministry teacher, Youth Pastoral Leader of Gentlemen for Jesus and Boys Mime Pastoral Leader at her church, MAABC.  Gwen owns her own business and teaches Pharmacy technician classes and works full time as a Business Analyst.  Gwen has always advocated and championed for young people and strongly believes that by empowering our youth of today we will ensure the future for all tomorrow. IAYP has always been a goal of Gwen’s but was birthed from a conversation Gwen had with several of the young men she mentors.  As Kentrell, Tonell, Cedric, JeJuan and Ellis asked her what was her advice for young men of today, she said, “you have to feed your mind, body and soul with the thought of where you want to be in the future. So,  take care of your mind, by feeding it with righteous thoughts of good will and learning, feed you body with the correct nutrients, making sure to get plenty of rest and exercise regularly and feed your soul by maintaining a right relationship with your creator and balancing that with the positive  things you will do in serving mankind.!” IAYP seeks to create a bridge for our young people from “Mess to Success”, understanding that we all make decisions and choices which sometimes takes us off the path to better living, but nothing has to remain that way, there is hope for our youth and its our job as parents, advocates and educators to show them the way!

Connie Shelton

Read about Connie when her bio is posted here soon. 

The Future Belongs to You!