Antonia Drew Vann is a nationally Certified Domestic Violence Counselor and CEO and founder of Asha Family Services, Inc. (Asha). Asha is the 3-decade-old culturally specific African American domestic abuse agency in the state of WI, established in 1989. Asha is one of the first of its kind in the country and is an evidence-based, comprehensive domestic and sexual violence intervention and prevention agency located in the city of Milwaukee, WI. Asha’s program methods are recognized nationally and used by programs across the United States. Asha employs methods specific to groups among this population. Asha (a Swahili and Indian word meaning “Life” and “Hope”) is a private, non-profit, spiritually based agency that also works with incarcerated men and women since 1990. Asha operates Sistahs’ Cafe and Deli and Sistahs’ Nail & Hair Salon - These micro-enterprises are both job training and job development sites for program participants to enhance employable skills and to create jobs. Asha’s approach is holistic also holding State license as an outpatient substance abuse treatment clinic that further includes STD and HIV/AIDS education, testing and counseling.
Ms. Vann, an expert on cultural competency with African American populations is a survivor who in 1985 began studying the impact of violence in her life and in the lives of women and children in her community. She began to research and develop Asha’s programming through her life experiences, studies, and most importantly, listening to the authentic experiences of “like” women. Subsequently program development continued through her spiritual convictions, and training under the guidance of an academic Board of Directors while mentored by a host of nationally recognized experts in the field. Working directly with 1000’s of battered and abused women of all racial and socio-economic status, Asha has helped to save and change lives. Ms. Vann developed a comprehensive training manual specifically to train Asha personnel in the provision of culturally competent services. However, she was contracted to redesign it and is used to assist in training Healthy Start project personnel across the country to assess pregnant and post program participants for victimization. Since 1990, Ms. Vann continues to work with female survivors of domestic and sexual violence and trafficking in multiple prison systems as well as continues to provide education to groups of incarcerated men. Ms. Vann actively utilizes multiple social media vehicles to provide information on domestic and sexual violence including human trafficking, health and mental health implications for victims and families.
Shawn Muhammad is anti-violence against women and a community justice activist, a minister and an artist. Having worked in the field of violence prevention for over 20 years, Mr. Muhammad has held the position of Associate Director at The Asha Project, formerly known as Asha Family Services, Inc. (Asha), for the past 9 years. An expert on cultural competency with African American populations, he is also one of the first African American males to co-lead a domestic violence organization in the country.
Known throughout the community as Brother Shawn, Mr. Muhammad is a Desert Storm Veteran. He received his Bachelor’s of Science from Springfield College in Human Services and is presently pursuing his Master’s Degree in Business Administration with a focus on Nonprofit Management. He has worked in the field of Human Services as a Batterer Treatment counselor and program director, Domestic Violence Prevention Advocate and a Substance Abuse Counselor, and as a Crisis Stabilizer. Other involvements include working in the areas of Prison reform and work with prisoners, HIV/AIDS outreach, Anger Management, Sexual Violence & ending Sex Trafficking.
Mr. Muhammad is also a nationally recognized Hip Hop and Spoken Word artist. As an artist/activist he speaks and performs in Universities, Prisons, Churches, Mosques, Elementary, Middle, & High schools, and at Rallies, as well as other community events and gatherings locally and throughout the country.