The Beauty and Brillance of Shanita Baraka Akintonde: Empowering Voices, Igniting Change

The Beauty and Brillance of Shanita Baraka Akintonde: Empowering Voices, Igniting Change

Step into the world of Shanita Baraka Akintonde, known to many as ShaniTaDa! A true powerhouse in business, education, storytelling, communication, and content creation. As an educator, entrepreneur, TEDx speaker, author, blogger, newspaper columnist, and podcast host, Shanita weaves mesmerizing prose that resonates deeply with her listeners. Her words can move mountains and uplift spirits, leaving a lasting impact on those fortunate enough to experience one of her stage performances. For over 30 years, Shanita has been amplifying marginalized voices and empowering individuals to ignite positive change through her words. Infusing her business advice with the wisdom inherited from her great-grandmother, she weaves tapestries of humor, music, wit, and common sense that resonate deeply with audiences around the world.   

Shanita has amassed an impressive collection of educational achievements over her prolific career. She earned her BA in Marketing Communication and Media Studies from Columbia College Chicago. She completed a Master of Education in Higher Education, Leadership and Counseling Psychology at Loyola University Chicago, preceded by her MBA from Illinois Institute of Technology, concentrating in Marketing, International Business, and Organizational Behavior. Shanita also holds certifications from institutions including Harvard University, Lake Forest College of Management, and the University of Illinois. She served as a tenured professor for over 20 years at a private liberal arts college in Chicago. With over 30 years of expertise across business, media, diversity, communication, and leadership, Shanita's education has provided a strong foundation for her work empowering voices and igniting change around the world.   

Shanita's path to becoming a prominent speaker was deeply rooted in her childhood and the influence of her maternal great-grandmother. As a young girl, her great-grandmother instilled a powerful belief in her - that she could become anything she aspired to be, "She knew that there was something divinely ordered for me in my future," Shanita says. Although she couldn't comprehend the significance of those words then, they would later manifest as the driving force behind her determination and resilience, "I was always the adventurer," she says.   

Drawing inspiration from the wisdom of her ancestors, Shanita infuses every word with profound meaning and sensory delight. Her gift lies in empowering the voices of the “overlooked, left behind or left out,” giving them the strength to ROARR™ with resounding power. Her journey to becoming a global leader in these fields has been filled with determination, passion, and wisdom from her great-grandmother. With communication in her DNA, marketing as her right arm, and leadership as her left, Shanita has embarked on a journey that is still ongoing, always striving to become the best version of herself.    

The inspiration to start her own global media enterprise stemmed from her desire to be the change she wished to see. Shanita refuses to be a passive observer and instead takes control of the things she can influence. She realized that her unique blend of skills in communication, marketing, and leadership could be used to put her brand on a global map, and she set out to achieve just that.   

In 2002, Shanita embarked on her journey as a professional speaker, taking the first step toward what would later become her thriving global media enterprise, ShanitaSpeaks LLC. With her toe in the water of public speaking, she honed her communication skills and ventured into the world of marketing, branding, and media.   

However, her path took a turn when she shifted her focus to teaching, becoming a tenured professor for 25 years. Her passion for nurturing young minds and guiding them from the classroom to the boardroom left an indelible mark on thousands of students. But life had more in store for Shanita.   

In the midst of the pandemic, as she sat on her couch contemplating life, the spark of rebranding her business ignited. In 2021, she officially unveiled ShanitaSpeaks LLC , a reimagined platform centered on inspiring better leadership, listening, and love, especially for those who may appear different. With her adept blogging and newspaper columns, Shanita continues to amplify her message of leadership, communication, and diversity. However, it is under the umbrella of ShanitaSpeaks LLC that her impact truly comes alive.   

At the heart of ShanitaSpeaks LLC lies an array of services meticulously personalized to cater to individuals and organizations. Shanita's dynamic umbrella encompasses interactive workshops, immersive training programs, and personalized curriculums, fostering growth and tangible change, with a special focus on empowering women and young adults. Embracing the power of tailored approaches, she debunks cookie-cutter solutions and delves into in-depth research for each client, leaving lasting results that reverberate throughout organizations.   

One of Shanita's most powerful offerings is one-on-one coaching, which lies at the heart of her philosophy. Drawing from the wisdom of her great-grandmother, she brings an individualized touch to her coaching, attentively listening not only to what is stated but also to what remains unspoken. This keen ability to connect and empathize helps her clients grow and evolve into the leaders they aspire to be. Shanita firmly believes that communication and active listening are paramount in fostering growth and development for her clients, enabling them to reach their full potential.   

Just as she tailors her one-on-one coaching to individuals, Shanita brings personalized passion and wisdom to her electrifying presentations and keynotes. Shanita's signature style is nothing short of breathtaking and leaves audiences inspired and ready to take action. Each presentation is a unique masterpiece, carefully crafted to ignite change and empower individuals to embrace their true potential. "Selling the Sizzle: How to Become Notable and Quotable™" sets the stage on fire with strategies that help individuals stand out from the crowd and make a lasting impact. "Bringing Home the Bacon and Frying it Too™" serves up a sizzling platter of success, guiding audiences on how to excel in both their personal and professional lives. Her powerful presentation, "Women Who R.O.A.R.R. (Reject Oppression and Reclaim Respect)™" empowers women to unleash their inner lionesses, break barriers, and rewrite the rules of the game. Shanita's dynamic delivery and profound insights make her presentations unforgettable experiences that have the power to inspire and ignite transformation in audiences.   

Demonstrating her dedication to continuous growth and development, Shanita has co-authored several books and contributed to various others. Among her notable works are "Leading from the Heart," where she draws inspiration from her beloved great grandmother, Lucille Jones; "Unleash the Leader Within You"; and "When Leadership Fails." Through these books, Shanita embodies her wisdom, experiences, and passion for nurturing leadership and dismantling stereotypes.   

In her podcast, "Marketing Insights," Shanita creates an engaging and creative platform to share her expertise in marketing and communication. "Podcasting is my playhouse. It's my opportunity to tap into my inner creativity," she says. It's a space where she passionately imparts knowledge and weaves powerful narratives that leave a lasting impact on her listeners.   

Shanita is a passionate advocate for women's empowerment. As a black woman, she has often found herself the "first, only, and different" in many spaces. She recognizes that women still face numerous barriers, and their confidence often diminishes over time. Drawing from her own experiences of closed doors, Shanita feels compelled to illuminate the path for other women. "I am the type of person who really believes in being the change I want to see, and as a woman, there's lots of opportunity for change. I just want to be one of the changemakers," she declares. Her goal is not just to find success for herself but to build a welcoming table for others and help them construct their own castles.   

With a focus on empowering women to break barriers and reach their full potential, Shanita emphasizes the importance of recognizing and embracing one's unique gifts and talents. "You can't compete with me because I want you to win too. I want you to win, and what I want you to do is look in the mirror and recognize that you don't have to worry about anybody else's doing whatever they're doing because you've got your own set of things that are just for you, that are uniquely for you," she urges. She encourages women not to compare themselves to others but to focus on their strengths, for they are unstoppable once they fully harness their potential.   

Shanita not only empowers women to unlock their ability but also guides them through professional challenges and setbacks. When a mentorship relationship unexpectedly ends, it can feel jarring and personal. Shanita advises mentees to take a step back and assess the situation objectively before reacting. Seek insights from trusted colleagues but avoid confrontation. "Document everything and build a community around you so you have resources and don't feel you have to act alone," she suggests. Remaining calm and proactive is key. While one door may close, others are always waiting to open through the power of shared wisdom.   

Shanita’s dedication to making a difference is deeply influenced by her close-knit family, who have been a constant source of support and inspiration.  She has been a devoted wife to her college sweetheart, Jimmy, for an impressive 27 years. Together, they have built a strong foundation of love, support, and growth, embodying the true essence of a powerful couple. With the same love and dedication, Shanita has nurtured her two young adult sons, Jimi, 26 and Anthony, 22, guiding them to become extraordinary individuals. Her unwavering commitment to family is reflected in the strong and compassionate leaders her sons have become.   

As a working mother, she has learned to balance her personal and professional life, honing her emotional intelligence, intuition, and organizational skills. Shanita's family serves as her level setters, reminding her to stay grounded and true to herself, no matter how successful she becomes in her career.   

As Shanita Baraka Akintonde continues to uplift others, she remains a beacon of inspiration and empowerment. Her journey, rooted in self-belief and determination, serves as a testament to the boundless potential of embracing one's true self and empowering others to do the same. With her words and actions, she continues to make a remarkable difference in the world, one life at a time.   

The Editorial Team

The Editorial Team

Hi there, we're the editorial team at WomELLE. We offer resources for business and career success, promote early education and development, and create a supportive environment for women. Our magazine, "WomLEAD," is here to help you thrive both professionally and personally.

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