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Meet The Team

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Marrea Walker-Smith

Equity Leader of DEI  in Education and Business


Marrea Walker-Smith is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of CEO Academy for Youth, a full-service youth academic organization she established in 2017 to prepare students for high demand careers in the greater Philadelphia region. She is a human-designer thinker, teacher, and innovator.

Through partnerships with leading medical, legal, government, and technology companies, she creates and delivers specialized training programs, certifications and internship opportunities.  

The Philadelphia Business Journal honored Walker-Smith as a 2018 Woman of Distinction for her professional achievements, dedication to mentorship and community involvement. Main Line Today Magazine named her a 2018 Healthcare Hero. 

As the Equity Leader of Education and Business, she conducts research and creates innovative models to promote DEI in the workplace.  She is a urban culture specialist with expertise in understanding the communication, influences, barriers, and practices of black and brown people in our society.  

Currently, Walker-Smith is working on a Doctorate in Higher Education at Cabrini University. Prior to pursuing her Doctorate in Higher Education, she earned a Six Sigma Green Belt in Healthcare from Villanova University.  While working toward her bachelor’s degree in political science from Delaware State University, she was selected to participate in President Clinton’s pilot program for national service. Walker-Smith holds a master’s degree in English & Publishing from Rosemont College. She also earned a Master of Public Administration degree from Widener University.

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Rhonda Kinard

Equity Leader of DEI Technology and Women in Leadership


As a woman in technology with over twenty years experience in financial software development, best-selling author, speaker, health and fitness influencer, and nationally recognized motivator and leader, Rhonda Kinard empowers individuals and audiences around the world with her strong work ethic, technical and professional prowess, and her unapologetic approach to living a purposeful and powerful life - while serving others with grace and gratitude.

Rhonda is a graduate of Temple University’s Fox School of Business, and the founder of A Life Ignited, an empowerment movement dedicated to helping purpose-driven professional women lead and live with excellence by infusing self-care and fitness into their daily grind.

Rhonda is the author of two empowerment and leadership books, “A Life Ignited - Ignite Your Inner Fuse” and the best-selling anthology, “Women Leaders with Inspiring Stories.” Rhonda’s professional and personal development messages have been published by Thrive Global and Mayshad Magazine. Rhonda is also a contributor to Womelle Leadership Magazine where she serves as the Womelle For a Cause Chairwoman of the Board.

As an Equity Leader for Technoloy and Women in Leadership, Rhonda works to identify opportunities to improve minority and women leadership in technology. 


Cheryl Baffa, Esq. 

Equity Leader of Legal and Business Operations

Cheryl Baffa is a practicing attorney at law with 37 years of experience in personal injury and liability cases for clients. Prior to joining CEO Academy for Youth, she was the owner of Cheryl Baffa Law Offices where she worked with clients throughout Pennsylvania to ensure equity and fair settlements based on their injuries.  Ms. Baffa is well versed in personal injury cases and brings a wealth of legal expertise to the company. 

As the Equity Leader for Legal and Business Operations, Ms. Baffa provides the team with legal support to ensure that programs and practices meet federal guidelines.  She reviews contracts and provides legal advice for our work with clients to ensure compliance, quality, and efficiency in the delivery of services. Cheryl is a graduate of Temple University- James E. Beasley School of Law with a Juris Doctorate Degree. She is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association.  

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Shonda DeShields

Equity Leader of DEI Government and Healthcare


Government and public health professional with 20 years experiences in state and federal programs which impact health outcomes and delivery of services.  She is experienced in managing high performing teams through quantitative and qualitative analysis to improve performance outcomes and efficiency of services. As a research professional, she develops surveys and conducts analysis of workplace cultures to determine equity and belonging for minorities and Women.


She has a Certificate in Human Resource Management from Villanova University, Master of Science in Organization Leadership from Wilmington University, and Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.  As the Equity Leader of DEI for Healthcare and Government, she works with the team to develop surveys, create action plans for businesses, and recommend best practices DEI in the workplace. 

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