“In a world where we are told to recycle, let us not forget the most precious thing on earth – the human life.”

Tell your story; let it go; create a new story

In 2011, when Tunette Powell’s father – a recovering drug addict – was at one of his lowest points, she asked him, “Why should anyone care about you?” In a low, nearly hopeless tone, he told her, “We recycle paper, aluminum and old electronics, but why don’t we ever consider recycling the most precious thing on this earth – the human life.” His response changed her life. It would be her father’s words that lead her to be named the nation’s top persuasive speaker in 2012 after winning Interstate Oratory, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious public-speaking contest. Using her father’s words, Powell spoke about our nation’s failed war on drugs and the criminalization of addiction. It was her father’s words that lead her to write and publish two books, The Other Woman and From Daddyless to Destiny: Finding Freedom in Your Story.

From a pipeline to a passport

In 2013, Powell founded Holder and Powell LLC – a leadership development consulting company for educators and students. Having overcome her own educational woes, Powell is now a voice of hope and healing for underserved youth, and has vowed to work with educators and policymakers to help them create an equitable place for youth to be empowered and to see education as a passport out of any situation. Her work to dismantle the preschool to prison pipeline has been chronicled on a host of national media outlets, including CNN and the Washington Post.

The Words I Wish I Had Heard

In May 2015, Powell received an honorary degree from Primrose at La Vista in Nebraska for her leadership development training at the school. Most recently, Powell has partnered with the Minnesota Humanities Center to offer a relationship-based approach to engagement and achievement for teachers and staff in Omaha Public Schools. In addition to this, she offers talks and professional development for educators, nonprofit professionals and youth. Her work focuses on equity in the classroom and in the workplace, building and strengthening relationships and the power of words.

Powell volunteers as a nontraditional teacher and facilitator at alternative schools and serves on various nonprofit boards throughout the country. Most importantly, she is devoted to her family – her husband, Jason, and three sons, JJ, Joah and Jordan.

Her mission is simple: to be the person she wishes she had to speak the words she wishes she had heard.