The Normal Anomaly Initiative is excited to announce the first cohort of Project Liberate. The Normal Anomaly Initiative, Inc., a Houston-based nonprofit dedicated to centering Black, queer plus people to overcome barriers and end stigma and problematic narratives, announced the launch of their latest initiative, Project Liberate. Project Liberate is a 6-month community development project supported through the ViiV Accelerate Initiative.

The project will launch, relaunch and build up to 20 brands, organizations, and businesses in the Black, queer plus space in and around Houston. It will begin with three-month intensive capacity-building workshops where cohorts will learn the foundational elements of businesses and nonprofits, financial planning, pitching, and relationship building. Participants will work towards a capstone project in the final three months where they launch or relaunch their organizations amongst the community, family, and the city of Houston in May 2022.

Leading the Project Liberate Non-Profit Cohort is Jacqueline Coleman, BA, MED, MSM, CPC, CLC.

Jacqueline Coleman is Visionary Leader and Owner of Vision Que! LLC, a boutique consulting company licensed in Washington, DC since 2002. Coleman leads with extensive experience as an entrepreneurial consultant, senior program manager, and administrator. Described by colleagues as “riveting, dynamic, effective, and driven,” Jacqueline implements Manifesting 24K Gold, a business portfolio where she guides transformative life and executive coaching to leaders, stakeholders, and organizations. She is a Certified Professional Coach with the internationally recognized John Maxwell Leadership Team.

She leads the cohort of Liberators below:


Barbee Edwards is a progressive thinker that has successfully sustained a 15+ year career in fashion and retail management, entrepreneurship, and community service. Barbee is a respected well-known name amongst the LGBTQIA+ Black and Brown community. She is the sole owner of University Couture, a consulting company; and Barbee Dream Kitchen, an event planning and catering company. She currently serves as a consultant and adviser to Wonderland University; a prestigious learning program with a focus on Science, Technology, and Agriculture. 

Derek Baugh is a native of Atlanta & a graduate of Georgia State University. He is a staunch advocate for many disenfranchised communities, most notably the transgender community as well as those affected by HIV. Derek works to increase knowledge and visibility for the trans community by advocating for the inclusion of Black trans men especially in conversations & spaces where healthcare is a topic. He also works to create unique programming and opportunities that serve to elevate the voices and increase the visibility of transmen. In addition to serving as executive director of Ubuntu Incorporated, he also consults for both local and national organizations.  

Jayla L. Sylvester is a Community Optimist that works with the LGBTQ+ community in Houston, Texas to foster positive mental, physical, spiritual, and sexual health. 

Jayla believes that no matter what adversity the communities she serves endure, they have the innate ability to heal and make new decisions. She says, “While some things we have faced cannot be undone, the choices we make today and how we choose to move forward makes all the difference.” 

As of 2021, Jayla has dedicated 14+ years to building healthy communities for LGBTQ+ individuals. Her passion for community work has led her to assist many marginalized groups that have encountered housing and food insecurity, mental and physical health challenges, and unique struggles related to gender and race. 

After 20 years in communications, marketing, and banking Jovaun P. Hicks is focusing his passion for people in the world of Public Health. Jovaun serves as the Senior Clinic Coordinator for AIDS Foundation Houston in our newly developed clinical services division as we fight to uphold the mission of Ending the HIV epidemic in the Greater Houston Area

In 2014 Jovaun founded Heavy Hitters, Inc. now known as The HH Movement Inc. due to a lack of representation of the Man of Size community in media, public-health advertisements, and Pride celebrations. Instead of forcing his way into these spaces, Hicks took what he had learned from various groups for Men of Size and enhanced the experience by co-creating Heavy Hitters Pride in 2015. Amazingly, in 2021 The HH Movement Inc. was recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization.  

Rhys Caraway is a Houston native and graduate of Jack Yates High School and attended Prairie View A&M University. Rhys started his career in HIV outreach and sexual health education with the Houston Health Department before entering the non-profit sector and formally served as the inaugural Director of Advocacy for Impulse Group Houston. In addition to his professional work, Rhys is a community organizer, activist, and advocate. He has done work within the movement for Black Lives, commonly referred to as the Black Lives Matter movement, specifically having done work in Waller County around the Sandra Bland case as well as worked alongside BLMHTX, a collective of activists, artists, and educators. He is also the founder and curator of the Black Queer Magic Empowerment brunch, an annual event held to honor and empower members of Houston’s Black LGBTQIA+ community. Rhys has been featured by Outsmart Magazine as one of the Top Black LGBTQ leaders of 2017 and is currently featured in the “Declaration of Independence ” exhibit in the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington D.C. 

Malcolm Wagner (he/him) is a thirty-year-old native of La Porte, TX. Malcolm is an advocate for affordable housing for individuals experiencing housing insecurity on a local, state, and national level. He currently serves as the President of the La Porte Community Civic Club. Malcolm also serves as the Chief Executive officer for S.O.A.R (Serving Others Achieving Results). S.O.A.R. is a Community Service Organization that provides resources and services to low-income individuals and families. Malcolm believes that in order to build successful and prosperous communities, we must empower individuals for success by providing them with the resources necessary for success. The ultimate goal is to have a more equitable society. Malcolm has accepted the challenge to pursue this calling in his life, one person and one community at a time. 

Rounding out this year’s non-profit cohort is Kelle Martin!

Leading the Project Liberate Entrepreneur Cohort is John Nicklos II.

John Nicklos II, a native Houstonian, is a graduate of the University of Houston Bauer College of Business, where he received degrees in Entrepreneurship and Marketing through The Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship. In addition to his achievements at the University of Houston, John studied Electrical Engineering at Prairie View A&M University where he worked in project management, project controls and quality assurance for Bechtel and Boeing. He has a colorful background that includes 20 years of experience in business, leadership, sales, and operations, broadcasting in television and radio, and curriculum and instruction. He currently uses these skills and experience as the Business Program Coordinator for the Emancipation Economic Development Council managing the Third Ward Small Business Training Program. In addition to furthering the aims of the EEDC to protect, preserve, and revitalize the Historic Third Ward, John manages his own portfolio of good businesses that do good work which includes LEAD360, My Degree is Black, and RECESS. He has a heart for the community and endeavors to see Black people winning in every area of our lives.

He leads the cohort of Liberators below:

Christopher Wyatt is a Houston native who learned my love of the art of hair from my grandmother.  My grandmother stood by my side from childhood all the way through my Cosmetology License and High School Diploma from Barbara Jordan High School for Careers.  In 2011 I became a Network Educator with Bumble & Bumble where I developed a passion for fashion-forward hair styling.  Soon after I began working with local photographers, stylists, and models to develop the skills needed for backstage hair.  In 2013 I became a gold key educator with Kevin Murphy, and have taken the skill work I mastered to educate salons around Texas about Kevin Murphy’s product knowledge and styling trends. As of 2016, I am certified in Brazilian Blowout, Keratin Complex, and Hot Heads. I was also accepted as a Cutting Key with the Kevin Murphy lovemark/brand.  I have had the great opportunity to work in several top salons in Houston, but with the support of my clients and a leap of faith, I have branched out and started my own salon to continue preserving the integrity of hair and delivering top-notch service to all clients.  I am currently part of many dynamic organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign Diversity Committee, Fresh Start Community Haven, and others that exist to improve the well-being of our global economy. Green Circle Salon and Wyatt Christopher Salon have partnered together to recycle all waste in the salon. My career thus far has empowered me to give back all that I received with hopes of empowering others to do more. Long-term, my professional career goals are to graduate from the Keller Graduate School of Management online with my MBA, build a successful book of clientele, become a leader in my community through philanthropy, and become an Editorial Hair Stylist.  

Jacques M Bourgeois (he/him/his/LGM) has been a leader in the Houston LGBTQIA+ scene for more than a decade from founding nonprofit organizations like Houston Gaymers (2009) & fighting for equal rights with the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance “HERO” (2014-15). He is only the third black male-identifying (& current reigning 2021) Grand Marshal of Pride Houston in its 43 years. He currently sits on the boards of Mayor Turner’s LGBTQ Advisory Board (Chair), Out Professionals – Houston (Vice President), and Bunnies on the Bayou (Secretary). Jacques has a passion for bringing his community together and hopes to continue to do so with the help of Project Liberate.  

Jonathan Cole is a barber. I work in my own suite on Westheimer, in Houston, Tx. I’ve been cutting hair for about 14 years and would like to turn my small business into a larger one that benefits more people. I come from the Hiram Clarke community on the south side of Houston. I graduated from Madison in 2009 and soon after, pursued my hair care professional license. I am proudly someone’s brother, uncle, father, husband, and friend. And my desire to benefit all of my people is the driving force behind my motivation to create workplace opportunities.  


Jotina Buck by birth but her friends call her Jo. You can call her Jo because she is your friend!
She lovingly & joyfully practices as a school-based mental health practitioner in primary and secondary schools. Her heart beats for educators, black mamas, and black & brown children.
Her function is to be a guiding healer & support with:
* The whole child
* The whole parent/family
* The whole educator
Jotina is birthing a new baby, Root & Yoke Wellness. Jotina desires to guide people to connect with the fullness of humanity through intentional mental and holistic health services.Root& Yoke Wellness offers mental health therapy, yoga, meditation, breathwork, ritual gatherings, and e-courses to further unite you to your divine self and to sacred community. Jotina believes that Justice in the world starts with Justice in the body. Check out
Of all of Jotina’s many accomplishments and accolades; mama is the greatest.

Titan Capri is an HIV Advocate, Author, Entertainer, Father, Photographer, and host of a popular Live Broadcast called The Thought2Ponder #T2P on FB & YouTube every Monday @ 7 pm. After working in corporate for 11 years. He decided to move away from his job and pursue his love of photography and storytelling via his website

 He had no idea the route he would take after being diagnosed with AIDS 16 years ago. It was a horrible experience and took him down a path of unhealthy behavior.  About two years into his diagnosis, he decided to take some time to work on being positive (Mentally, Emotionally, Spiritually) and healthy! He kept this secret due to HIV stigma at the forefront until March of 2019, when he made a bold and intentional move to come out about his HIV+ status! This truth came with a great sense of freedom. He is gracefully aging with HIV while being a Black, Gay male living and thriving in Houston. Over the last two years, he has become an HIV advocate believing that everyone deserves to have their story heard!

Titan’s motto and mantra are “We Can No Longer Be Silent”!

Anthony Gardner is a Houston native. In his spare time, Anthony likes to let his creative juices flow with singing, writing, and bringing body positivity to larger bodies. In2017 Anthony launched Think Big Style as a way to bring awareness to the belief that all human beings should have a positive body image, in doing so it challenges the ways in which society presents and views the physical body. Anthony is currently working on a new project that will be launched very soon. You can follow him on Instagram; @thinkbigstyle to stay informed on his latest endeavors.


My name is Mimi Bateast.  I love crafting & making unique jewelry. I started my jewelry business called Goddess Essence in July of 2020. I’m goal with my company is to become a household name & desired jewelry line. Career-wise, I have never done anything related to crafts. I sold cars & did paralegal work for years. Although I have no previous experience running a business or doing anything in the field I’m in now, I can honestly say I love it & can’t wait to see where it takes me. Since I have started my business, it has been both great & a struggle at the same time because it’s hard to get sales at times. I have had a lot of love & support from people in my hometown that motivates me to keep pushing. I want to take my business to the next level but I struggle with what is next, & the steps it takes to expand. My experience in the entrepreneur world has humbled me & taught me that patience & consistency is a must.

Rounding out this year’s entrepreneur cohort is Silvester RobinsonDenita Forges, and Nick Davis.

Our Principal Mentor is Paul Kristopher.

Paul Kristofer is the Chief Executive Officer of Life Mission Project Network, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit social service agency whose mission is to build great lives one person at a time. He discovered his initial passion for social service in 2001 as a part-time community youth worker while studying Business Administration at Texas Southern University. In 2014 he began a series of small community projects serving marginalized communities which evolved into an established organization in 2019 serving Aging Adults 55+, Children and Adults with Disabilities, Life Mission Project Network.

We want to thank the Viiv Accelerate Initiative for the generous funding to support this program. Congratulations to the first-ever Project Liberate. Please look out for these organizations, brands, and businesses. Soon, you will be able to see what they do live and in person! If you are looking at how we innovate, just look to Project Liberate!