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Event Founders: Melba Tolliver - Maitefa Angaza - Anu Prestonia


Melba Tolliver is a distinguished journalist, writer and journalism teacher. In April, 1967, when on-air personnel at the three broadcast networks went on strike, ABC News executives tapped Tolliver to substitute for Marlene Sanders, anchor of “News With The Woman’s Touch.” Thus, Tolliver became the first Black person ever to anchor a network news program.

For nearly three decades, Tolliver reported and/or anchored news at WABC-TV, WNBC-TV, News 12 Long Island and the Food Channel, in addition to writing for USA Today, Good Housekeeping, Black Sports and other magazines and newspapers. Her assignments have included special reporter for the groundbreaking Women’s Conference in Houston, the first breast cancer conference at The White House and the Academy Awards the year Princess Shasheen Little Feather, a native American, stepped up to accept the Oscar for Marlon Brando.

She was also host and reporter for the ABC Network series, “Americans All,” the WABC Eyewitness News series “Profiles,” “People, Places and Things” and “Consciousness Rising,” and writer/producer of “Gordon Parks: Man For All Seasons” for the WABC public affairs program, “Like It Is.” At WNBC, Tolliver created and hosted the public affairs program “Meet The People.”

Tolliver’s contribution to broadcasting includes a morning show, news and entertainment specials, feature and public affairs programs, sports, political conventions, elections, town hall meetings, celebrity and interesting people profiles and documentaries. Her academic work includes writer-in residence at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn; adjunct instructor in journalism at the College of Old Westbury, Long Island, NY; and Howard R. Marsh Visiting Professor of Journalism at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Tolliver holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Empire State College of the State University of New York and a nursing diploma from New York University-Bellevue, NYC.

An honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Molloy College, Long Island, NY; a political reporting award from Lincoln University; a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New York Association of Black Journalists, the John B. Russwurm Award from the New York City Urban League, the Matrix Award from New York Women in Communications, and a National Endowment of the Humanities Fellowship to the University of Michigan are among her many honors.

Tolliver has served on the boards of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in New York, the Empire State College Foundation, and the Institute for Student Achievement advisory board. A longtime resident of Fort Greene, Brooklyn, Tolliver moved to Lower Mt. Bethel Township, PA in 1994 and is currently at work on her memoir, “Accidental Anchorwoman: Chance, Choice and Change.”


For more info on Melba Tolliver visit her site: http://www.melbatolliver.com

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Maitefa Angaza is the editor of African Voices, an acclaimed nationally distributed Black literary and visual arts quarterly magazine. She is the author of “Kwanzaa: From Holiday to Every Day,” (Dafina Books, 2007). It climbed to #1 on the amazon.com “Holiday Books” page a few months after its publication and was profiled in Ebony magazine. She is the proud former executive editor of the award-winning, now defunct newspaper, The City Sun and also worked as an editor at The Daily Challenge, both New York City publications.  

As an independent editor Ms. Angaza has worked on fiction and non-fiction book projects and both print-related and web-based content. Her writing experience includes published and contracted work in publicity, public relations, business, entertainment, health, spirituality, advertising and electoral campaigns.


Many of her profiles, features, investigative news articles and arts reviews have been published in EssenceThe Amsterdam NewsBlack Issues Book ReviewThe Network JournalOur Time PressDance Attitude and other magazines and newspapers. She has been interviewed on cable television and many times on radio.  

As a founder, along with veteran news anchor Melba Tolliver, of the annual program, “Heads Up! A Soulful Celebration of Our HAIRitage,” Ms. Angaza helps people of African ancestry to celebrate their natural beauty. This mission is also at the heart of the upcoming film, “In Our Heads about Our Hair,” for which she serves as co-producer.  

Ms. Angaza sits on the board of the Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival, which showcases the work of women-of-color filmmakers from around the world through an annual weekend conference. She also works closely with the board of African Voices Communications, which offers school-based and other literature-focused programs in New York City throughout the year. African Voices also produces the annual Ellie Charles Artist Awards, which has honored people such as Toni Morrison, Gordon Parks, Nancy Wilson, Sonia Sanchez, Amiri Baraka, Walter Mosley, Herb Boyd and others. 

In addition, Ms. Angaza has provided publicity services, public relations writing and speech-writing to a small roster of clients, including Circle of Sisters Expo, the International African Arts Festival, Arabesque Books and other concerns. She’s done visual arts publicity for the Skylight Gallery and the Nathan Cummings Foundation and for the ARTCURIAN Project gallery launch and history-making exhibition, “Artists Speaking for the Spirits.” She also conceived groundbreaking and highly successful arts-related events programming for ARTCURIAN and sat on its steering committee.  

As a member of the Kalabash Food Coop startup, Ms. Angaza is helping to bring sustainable and affordable organic produce and other health-related items to the Central Brooklyn community. She is also a member of the Park Slope Food Coop’s Diversity and Equality Committee. As a founding member of Sumfriends, Ms. Angaza is dedicated to helping to secure financial support from the community for those facing health-related crises. She also remains a proud founding member of Andsister, a collective befriending and supporting women in memory of remarkable friends who have made their transition.

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Acclaimed beauty-industry innovator Anu Prestonia specializes in Black hair care and helped to popularize artistic natural styling in the United States and abroad. She founded the internationally known Khamit Kinks natural hair-care salon, and is co-producer of an upcoming documentary on the subject. An authority in the trade, Anu taught natural hairstyling techniques at the university level and has instructed and mentored hundreds since entering the trade in 1977.  

A dedicated licensed cosmetologist, Anu was among those who took a stand for the developing of professional standards for the braiding craft. She perfected several braiding techniques and created the names of several styles now worn proudly around the world, including, “Single Braids,” “Swing Braids,” and “Goddess Braids,” “Senegalese Twists,” “Baby Curl Twists,” and textured weaves.

Khamit Kinks has been featured numerous times on the cover and in the pages of Essence magazine. The June 1992 issue, showcasing Anu’s groundbreaking styling, prompted the highest number of information requests ever received by the publication’s Fashion and Beauty department. Anu’s work was also the subject of a New York Times front-page article and Khamit Kinks has been reported on in many national and industry publications. The salon was featured on “The View,” and “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” and on ABC, NY1, CNN, FOX 5 and TV Japan. 

Stevie Wonder, Oprah Winfrey, Angela Bassett, Q-Tip, Terry McMillan, and many others in the public eye have trusted Anu to provide them with picture-perfect hair and she’s helped women and men from all walks of life to look and feel fabulous. She dispenses beauty advice and shares her thoughts on the industry through her “Ask Anu” and “Anu Essentials” blogs and through the eight short instructional videos filmed for About.com. Recently Anu also celebrated the repackaging of her natural hair and body product line under the name of Anu Essentials. It includes hair oils, body butters, soaps and essential oils.  

One of the most gratifying areas of Anu’s work has been the opportunity to impact the lives of women. She has helped many women in the beauty, fashion and accessories industries to gain exposure through shows at Khamit Kinks. Self-esteem and domestic-violence awareness workshops have also been hosted at the salon.

For more info on Anu Prestonia visit her salon's site: http://www.khamitkinks.com

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