Houston, TX — April X, 2024 — The Normal Anomaly Initiative, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to centering Black, Queer+ people to overcome barriers and end stigma, is thrilled to announce the successful graduation of its third-year cohort from Project Liberate. Project Liberate, an annual entrepreneurial program, aims to foster sustainability for Black, Queer+ small businesses and nonprofits by providing mentorship, technical tools, resources, and a supportive community.


Supported through the ViiV Accelerate Initiative, Project Liberate serves as a beacon of empowerment for Black, Queer+ entrepreneurs who far too often find themselves overlooked in traditional entrepreneurial programs. 


The graduation marks the culmination of intensive coaching from industry leaders and capacity-building workshops where cohorts learned foundational elements of leading businesses and nonprofits, financial planning, pitching, relationship building, and engaging in capstone projects. This year’s cohort, based in Texas, comprises of 17 visionary leaders committed to creating businesses and nonprofits that address the needs of their communities and serve on a grand scale. This year’s class of Liberators included: 

DeCarmen Burleson (Small business cohort)

Princess Caraway-Swan (Small Business cohort)

Ashley Carter (Small Business cohort)

Kay Crayton (Nonprofit cohort)

Darrien Dyrell (Small Business cohort)

Latreva Herndon Washington (Nonprofit cohort)

Edward Hitch (Small Business Cohort)

Shola Jackson (Nonprofit Cohort)

Vondola Vanessa Joseph (Nonprofit Cohort)

Martell Lacey (Small Business Cohort)

Mikayla Poche (Small Business Cohort)

Shadorian Rhodes (Small Business Cohort)

Kimberly Tezeno (Small Business Cohort)

James Thompson (Nonprofit Cohort)

Marquita Toliver (Small Business Cohort)

Shelley Washington (Small Business Cohort)

DaQuante’ Williams (Small Business Cohort)


“To witness the liberators (as well like to call the cohort participants) not only build their individual businesses, but also collectively build community with each other has truly been the highlight for me.”  says Joelle Espeut, Program Director of The Normal Anomaly Initiative, Inc.  


Looking ahead, Normal Anomaly aims to expand next year’s cohort to serve Black, Queer+ leaders throughout the South, further advancing its mission of fostering inclusivity, empowerment, and generational wealth creation for all communities.


“Project Liberate is community empowerment in action. If we can create a system that centers us, we can eradicate many of the issues we face. Nothing for us, without us,” says Ian L. Haddock, Founder and Executive Director of The Normal Anomaly Initiative, Inc.