DJ EKIN (FOUNDER)With an impressive resume that encompasses everything from on-air personality, acting, writing and producing, to CEO, there is no mistaking why DJ Ekin is widely known as “Tampa’s Most Connected DJ.”
A determined professional completely dedicated to taking on every task with ease; it is no surprise that his days are often nonstop from the studio to the club while touching everything in between. As DJ Ekin likes to call it …a day in the life of a “mogul in the making.”
Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, Ekin is known as one of the most hardworking and reliable DJs in the business. This has allowed him the opportunity to work with the likes of Jay-Z, Diddy, Beyoncé, Lil Wayne, Justin Timberlake and many more of the industry’s top names.
Currently DJ Ekin can be heard on Tampa Bay’s WPOI HOT 101.5 (and on iHeart Radio) every evening from 7p – 12a hosting the “Pre-Game” and every morning for the “HOT Morning Mix” at 6 am, 7am, and 8am. He can also be heard in the mix nightly (10p) on NY’s WBLI 106.1 FM with the “BLI Mini Mix” and evenings on Milwaukee’s WNRG ENERGY 106.9 with the “HIT Mix” (6p and 10p). His mix show work at HOT 101.5 serves as the model for Cox Media Group’s new 24-hour all mix channel, “HOT Remixed” which was launched in May 2013 at HotRemixed.com and on the Tune-In Radio app for mobile devices.
He is the driving force behind i Care About Me. Ekin realizes that it all starts with the community; he states, “My job is not only entertainment but rather I carry a much greater responsibility which consists of giving back and showing the youth that they matter on every level.” Stay tuned because the movement is far from over!
RHIANNON CAPLING (EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR)Rhiannon Capling joins i Care About Me with over eight years experience and leadership in the television and entertainment industries. Before joining iCAM Rhiannon worked for both the WB and NBC network affiliate, specializing in grant and nonprofit program development while also starting a marketing and consulting company. Throughout her career Rhiannon has worked with celebrities, community leaders and government officials to create non-traditional outreach campaigns directed toward the growth and development of our youth.
Rhiannon’s desire to help others and make an impact came from her mother Marcia’s determination and driven attitude. From an early age, Rhiannon’s mother taught her the value of helping others in need while finding a passion and going after it no matter what. The mantra of you can be anything, do anything, and achieve anything as long as you try became her mindset early on. The loss of her mother fueled this passion and now she dedicates her life to empowering youth and adults alike to see that they too have the potential to reach their dreams; but first they must go after them. ”Come dream with me. If you don’t try who will?”
JERRY MEANS (VICE CHAIRMAN)Jerry Means leads JMB Entertainment & Sports Group, with clients in professional and college sports, motorsports, boxing, fashion and entertainment. He oversees the consulting, licensing and brand development for their clients. As a member of the iCAM Board of Directors, Mr. Means will play a pivotal role in helping shape the organization’s strategic initiatives.
Mr. Means attended the University of North Florida, receiving a B.S. in Marketing where he served as President of the Student Government and later graduated from Stetson School of Law receiving a Jurist Doctorate.
TONI LOWE (PROGRAM DIRECTOR)Toni Lowe joins the i Care About Me team with over ten plus years as a Human Resources Leader specializing in diversity and inclusion, training and development, employee relations, and corporate project management.
She has an extreme passion for career development for minorities and bridging the gap for today’s youth to ensure they are better prepared to transition into corporate America post-college. She is also an active national member of SHRM, and Board of NAAAHR-Tampa Bay, Progressive Greek, and was the past Chair of Education for the Tampa Bay Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta’s Dr. Betty Shabazz Delta Academy and Delta G.E.M.S. Programs.
Toni spends much of her free time mentoring, and speaking at various college universities teaching personal and professional life skills. With a background in Human Resources and Communications she has a passion to help people develop their short-term goals into their long-term dreams.
As a first generation college graduate Toni understands how a positive self esteem, the right mentors, and supportive programs can change the trajectory of any kid’s life. She lives by the philosophy, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” -MLK
JACOB JACKSON (BOARD MEMBER)Mr. Jackson was born in Macon, Georgia and raised in Florida. He is a graduate of King Sr. High School. He received both his Undergraduate Degree in Public Relations and his Law Degree from the University of Florida. Mr. Jackson is a former Commissioner for the North Broward Hospital District in Broward County.
Mr. Jackson was sworn in as a member of the North Broward Hospital District Board of Commissioners on November 16, 2005 and concluded his term on July 1, 2007. A member of the Florida Bar, he worked as an Assistant State Attorney for Orange County, a corporate attorney for Darden Restaurants, Inc., a real estate attorney with Altman, Kritzer & Levick in Atlanta and an associate attorney for Bristol West Insurance Company. Mr. Jackson also had his own practice in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Mr. Jackson also served as the Regional Legal Counsel for the Southeast Region (Broward and Palm Beach Counties) for the State of Florida Department of Children and Families and is a former member of the board of the Mount Olive Development Corporation and Onyx Treatment Group. He now has his own practice, the Law Offices of Jacob C. Jackson, P.A.
ALYSSA BEDARD (CO-CHAIR iCAMYAC | TREASURER)Growing up Alyssa experienced unforgettable hardships of addiction, neglect and abuse. Her story, like many others led her down regretful roads and painful memories. At only 15, she became pregnant with her daughter, and choosing life, she decided to no longer allow her negative experiences to overpower her desire to achieve greatness, pushing her closer to her dreams. Her diligence and determination is limitless and assists her well as she shares her story with at risk youth through motivational speaking. Alyssa’s positive attitude and enthusiasm to change the lives of others is admirable. Recently graduating from the University of South Florida with her Bachelors in Public Health, Alyssa works in research, and engages in several health related initiatives within the community. She truly represents the message of choosing to care about yourself and allowing yourself to accept nothing but the highest goals in which you have set. She believes that failure is never the end, but rather the necessary foundations needed to keep you motivated.
The Jugganauts: Verse Simmonds & Sham ‘Sak Pase’ JosephWhen Verse Simmonds and Sham “Sak Pase” Joseph first met in a Fort Lauderdale, Florida call center, never in their wildest dreams, did they imagine what they could become. Ten years later, the production duo known as The Jugganauts, have been nominated for two Grammy Awards (Album of the Year for Rihanna’s “Loud” and Best Rap Album for Jay-z & Kanye West’s “Watch The Throne”). Verse, who has also been recognized for his stand out as an artist, with the hit singles “Buy You A Round” and “Boo Thang,” which features former Destiny Child member Kelly Rowland, is Def Jam Record’s latest signee. The Jugganauts credit their unique sound to their Caribbean Roots. The duo has not only worked with the likes of Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Rihanna, but other notable artists such as Akon, R. Kelly, Chris Brown, Busta Rhymes, Ashanti, and Diggy Simmons, to name a few.
Maino“From the moment that he and I met, I could see that this dude was genuine and secure with who he was and far from jaded by this business of music; and when he spoke to the kids, they saw that too,” says DJ Ekin. “I’m not coming from the perspective of a dude trying to come out of the street, I’m out,” says Maino, whose true-to-life debut album If Tomorrow Comes… follows an ex-con gone legit. “When we actually start living these dreams out, you have different kinds of issues. It’s pressure from everywhere; your family, loved ones, relationships. Just the pressure to maintain.”
Maino (real name Jermaine Coleman) hasn’t always been so comfortable resisting duress. Born into the slums of Bedford-Stuyvesant, the older of two boys was literally parented by the vicious Crack Era. His father, an electrician, became addicted to the epidemic drug while mom waged her own battles between working odd jobs. Hip-Hop was always there though, to soundtrack the troubles, triumphs, frustrations and growing pains. Yet it wasn’t until the increasingly rebellious Maino found himself crouching in the darkness of prison’s solitary confinement that he began rhyming his own words. “You’d be in the box for 23 hours a day; it was under these conditions that I started rapping,” says the father of one, who remembers gravitating towards Run DMC, LL Cool J, N.W.A. and Rakim as a kid. “I would come up with songs and concepts and think about it, like, I should go home and try this sh*t.”
Once released from his 10-year stint, Maino swapped the streets for the studio. After a mutual friend introduced him to DJ Kay Slay, Maino slowly infiltrated the mixtape circuit, politicking with local DJs to get his name and music buzzing. “I knew that the industry wasn’t going to come to me,” says Maino, who won hardcore rap heads via street-tailored tracks like the eyebrow-raising “Rumors.” While a 2005 deal with Universal led only to a shelved first project (Death Before Dishonor), the rapper persevered and was signed along with his own Hustle Hard imprint to Atlantic Records in 2007. He made his mark quickly on his rookie album If Tomorrow Comes… spearheaded by the hood favorite “Hi Hater,” an ultra-catchy ode to naysayers that quickly became a fixture in hip-hop vernacular and even inspired it’s own T-shirts. Yet it’s the million- selling, Just Blaze-produced “All of the Above,” featuring T-Pain, that launched Maino into the mainstream consciousness. “‘Hi Hater’ felt big because it hit the culture, but ‘All of the Above’ crossed over for me. That’s the hit that changed my life,” he says. “I know what it felt like to get a platinum plaque, to have a record playing all over the world. I want that again.”
Maino’s contribution to i Care About Me goes far beyond talk; he’s an example to the next generation that no matter what the obstacle, if you focus and stay positive, there’s a chance that you can make it out.
Tom G.Tampa is widely known for its palm trees, beautiful weather and pristine beaches; however, in what can only be described as a different world within the same city, is Florida’s most successful independent hip-hop artist, Tom G. As the son of a Tampa DJ, music was always a part of Tom’s life. Seeking solace in music rather than the streets of Palm River, a crime-infested neighborhood in Tampa, Tom began writing rhymes at only six years old. Continually gaining notoriety for his lyrical ability, Tom G.’s name is synonymous with Florida underground hip-hop.
As the face of Team Fetti, Inc., Tom G. has achieved both underground mixtape and commercial success. Throughout his career, Tom has released more than 10 mixtapes, most notably his “Skroll Muzik” mixtape series. In addition to a successful mixtape career, Tom has achieved commercial success with his club hits “City Boy” and “10 Wings and Fries.” Tom has shared stages with such stars as T-Pain and Young Jeezy and has recorded tracks with several other hip hop heavyweights. On America’s number one urban morning radio talk show, hip hop heavyweight Killer Mike mentioned Tom G.’s influence as a rapper not only in Tampa, but throughout the whole state of Florida.
Tom’s partnership with the i Care About Me campaign seemed only fitting according to ConnXions founder DJ Ekin. “He speaks for the very neighborhood kids that we’re looking to reach; he’s an example of hard work, positivity, and a focused dream paying off.”
Winky WrightiCAM Ambassador Winky Wright was born in Washington, D.C. He’s the former Undisputed Light Middleweight World Champion and a current Middleweight Contender. Although he’s considered among many to be one of the top pound-for-pound boxers in the world, Winky’s acclaim goes far beyond the boxing ring. A favorite in the pop culture community, Winky has appeared in music videos for artists such as 50 Cent, Jay-Z, and Busta Rhymes. As a business executive, Winky’s ventures and endorsements include Reebok and Vitamin Water. In 2008, Winky launched the Winky Wright Foundation to support wellness and scholarship programs for youth. The foundation’s mission is to strengthen communities by promoting healthy living and fighting disease through advocacy, education, and service. Currently, the foundation is raising money for children displaced as a result of the earthquake in Haiti, who are now living in the Tampa Bay area. He’s also a member of the advisory board for ConnXions and has supported the movement from day one of its inception by not only lending his name and likeness, but also his time.
the youth are society’s most valuable leaders of today (& tomorrow).
They will take the message, make it their own, and inspire and rally others to join the movement. This is a campaign designed ultimately to impact them and we will continually enlist their collaboration on all elements. Get to know our Youth Advisory Council!
Ariel L.I attend Pivot Charter School. I like figure skating, Taylor Swift, and photography. I plan to live life to the fullest and I want to be a figure skater in the Disney On Ice shows more than anything as well as start a business and do something that has to do photography. I believe that if you are in a higher position than someone else and you have the power to do something that can help them, why not?!
Angela P.I attend Spoto High School. I love Taylor Swift, figure skating, and interviewing celebrities. When I grow up I would really love to be anywhere in the TV production environment. I really want to have my own talk shown on TV and if not the radio. I want to make a difference because I think its important for people to know how to work together and understand that they should make the best out of what ever you have. You should just to live the life you were given to live correctly and to your ABSOLUTE fullest. In the end everything will be okay and if it’s not …Well then it’s not the end.
Jazmyn S.I attend Southwest Middle School. I am a selfie queen, I read fan fictions, and I love being in my television production class at school. I am interested in being a model or an actress. I want to make a difference because i want kids to understand that we are all equal, and we are all important. Just because you may act, look, or may be different doesn’t mean you should be treated differently.
Kiyon J.I attend Rodgers Middle School. I like music, skateboarding, and dancing. When I grow up I would like to be a professional singer. I want to make a difference so that I can help people understand how important it is to care about themselves.
Briana B.I go to Howard W. Blake High School. I like to cook, I like fashion, and I LOVE to perform. When I grow up I don’t want to be defined by just one thing. I want to accomplish many things. Such as, I would love to be a performer, have my own restaurant (Carlice Cuisine), design my own clothing line, and have my own TV show. I want to make a difference because I understand first hand how it feels to be bullied, to not know my self worth, and to be isolated. I want to encourage others to be confident and to stand up for themselves. Ghandi said it best, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I want to be that change.