Team Rayceen knows that our greatest resources are the people who take the time to contribute their talents, express their ideas, and support our efforts. With their support, collectively, we can achieve our most ambitious goals together.
Our volunteers are a dedicated group of individuals who are passionate about making positive contributions to the community. Each team member is equipped to share a wide variety of awesome skill sets, coupled with a personal perception uniquely their own.
When presented with the question “What would you walk across hot coals for?”, Rayceen Pendarvis responded “All of the amazing members of Team Rayceen, because I know they would do the same for me.”
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In addition to his work with Team Rayceen, Zar manages social media for several groups and organizations. He is also an adviser and consultant for numerous annual and special events. A longtime fan of Rayceen Pendarvis, Zar became acquainted with Rayceen via Twitter in 2014. After eventually meeting and attending The Ask Rayceen Show early that year, in rapid succession, Zar began helping with social media and promotion, became the show's first Production Director, and created Team Rayceen.
Zar was born and raised in the Washington, DC, area.
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various Team Rayceen events
Curt Mariah is a Washington, DC, based comedian who occasionally works as an emcee, chef and actor.
In 2015, she began volunteering as an announcer for The Ask Rayceen Show, and serves as a special co-host for various Team Rayceen events. Mariah made her debut as a comedian in 2013 and continued to make the rounds in various clubs throughout the metropolitan area. She also starred as Veronica “Ronnie” Clarke in the BlueCentric BCTV webseries Skye's The Limit, which allowed her to explore her acting skills while also exposing her talent to an international audience.
In 2015, Mariah began volunteering as an announcer for The Ask Rayceen Show, and subsequently began serving as a special co-host for various Team Rayceen events. The year 2015 was a banner year for Mariah as she also had the opportunity to play a prominent role in several critically-acclaimed events. In January, she hosted Hot Cocoa (a fundraiser for Honey Groove - a festival spotlighting the talents of queer women of color). The fundraiser sold out one week in advance and Mariah later took part in the result of the campaign - The Honey Groove Queer Music and Arts Festival. In March, she served as special guest and co-host along with fellow comic Chelsea Shorte for the very well received Laughing Color: For Queerky Folks Who Considered the Mic When Comedy Central Wasn't Enuf. She later performed in Ladies & Laughter Comedy Show (part of The Annual Capital Queer Women’s Summit) and ended the year by collaborating with Rayceen Pendarvis to present Saturday Nights @ Artomatic with Rayceen Pendarvis and Curt Mariah. If that's not enough, Mariah also co-starred in the YouTube webseries Curbside Pickup, along with Abraxas Morganna, and was personally selected to participate in an episode of the online podcast Whatever is Whatever. The following year, she made two additional radio appearances on This Light: Sounds for Social Change and Inside Out with Rayceen Pendarvis.
Born in Washington, DC, and primarily raised in Charleston, South Carolina, Mariah comes from a family of extraordinary cooks. As a health conscious foodie, her love of food motivated her to become an aspiring chef who occasionally collaborates with her sister Zachari Curtis. Curtis is a Community Accountable Farmer, Bee Keeper, and Founder/CEO of Good Sense Farm & Apiary. The multi-site urban farm was inspired by the siblings childhood visits to their Great-Grandmother's farm in North Carolina. The enterprise provides a diverse array of local delicacies while also raising healthy bee colonies that produce the finest local honey. Mariah has been known to support the endeavor at local markets throughout Washington, DC.
Today, you can find Mariah continuing to hone her comedic skills in various metropolitan area comedy clubs and striving to live up to her motto "Black, Queer, Funnier than you."
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Monique Diop is a long-time resident of the nation's capital, extremely active community advocate, a creative storyteller, and Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for Ward 8 in Washington, DC. Professionally, Diop enjoys a wonderful career as a Policy and Grant Assessor for a federal government agency. In 2015, she became the East of the River correspondent for The Ask Rayceen Show and continues to volunteer with the show as a monthly contributor.
Born in Newark, NJ, and raised in western Pennsylvania, Diop is a graduate of the Bradford School of Business in Pittsburgh, PA. She has also attended West Virginia State University and the University of the District of Columbia. Diop takes pride in being a team builder who has worked diligently with over 30 agencies throughout the DMV to bring about positive social change within the local community. She also uses her voice to engage the public with upcoming policies of DC Government and advises how the government can serve its people better.
To enhance her public speaking and leadership skills, Diop joined UPO’s Toastmasters International. She states that “I joined Toastmasters because I really want to promote and tell the stories about DC residents in Ward 8. There are some amazing things going on and people need to know!” She also states that “One of the things that I like most about UPO is that they encourage everyone to do their very best.”
Diop is a gifted storyteller who has studied at the Washington Improv Theater - considered to be “the District's premier destination for longform improv.” She has also participated in Story District's monthly storytelling series (named the “gold standard” in storytelling by the Washington Post). Their program is one of the most well-known and respected storytelling organizations in the nation. Diop has striven to live up to this reputation with her performances during Story District's student showcase, as well as their production of Seven Deadly Sins: Stories about pride, greed, envy, wrath, sloth, lust, and gluttony.
Diop has previously volunteered as a Homework Helper, PC Basics Class Instructor, and 8th Grade Technology Instructor. She has a green thumb, enjoys cooking, dancing, and turning up the crowd each month at The Ask Rayceen Show.
The Ask Rayceen Show
The Ask Rayceen Show
Krylios Clarke is a Broadcast Journalism major at Howard University in Washington, DC. He has an intense passion for writing and broadcasting and uses these skills to highlight positive stories within the LGBTQ+ community. In late 2016, he began volunteering with Team Rayceen in hopes of better connecting with DC area residents.
Born in Montego Bay, Jamaica, Clarke (who also goes by "K.D.") attended the prestigious Munro College -
the only all-boys boarding school in Jamaica. The school is reputed to have produced the most Rhode Scholars of any school in the Caribbean. During his tenure there, Clarke was awarded two gold medals and one silver medal in the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s Speech Festival Competition. After graduation, Clarke decided to take a year off from school to tour the Caribbean Islands. During this period, he also began writing his first novel with the hope of becoming a published fiction writer. Although he later received acceptance letters from ten US universities, Clarke ultimately made the conscious decision to attend Howard University, in Washington, DC.
On campus, Clarke has become extremely involved in various radio, newspaper, and video broadcasts. A short list of his activities include, co-hosting the podcast Millennial Match-up on Glasshouse Radio (part of the Howard University Radio Network), serving as a staff writer for The Odyssey Online (a national publication aimed at millennials), and writing for The Hilltop (Howard University's monthly newspaper). Most notably, in 2016, Clarke was selected as a panelist for the US State Department Education USA Panel. Broadcast to every US embassy in the world, the informative discussion aimed to reach out to LGBTQ+ students in foreign countries planning to attend US universities. Clarke has also been actively involved in the Coalition of Activist Students Celebrating the Acceptance of Diversity and Equality (CASCADE), the longest continuously running LGBTQIA organization at any HBCU. Currently, Clarke can be seen co-hosting the talk show Bison View on the Spotlight network.
As a millennial and a Jamaican native, Clarke takes pride in opening the minds of other Caribbean students and friends regarding the unique issues concerning the LGBTQ+ community. On his Blog, he states that he's “very committed to spreading love, tolerance, equality and non-violence.” Undoubtedly, Clarke will continue to be a positive force for change for many years to come.
The Ask Rayceen Show
Jacobs was born in The Bronx – one of the five boroughs of New York City – and grew up in various states along the east coast. Her career as a photographer began in 2014, when she picked up a photography book and her first point-and-shoot camera, then stepped outside and began capturing images of the world around her. What began as a hobby, ultimately developed into a career as a full-time professional photographer. Before long, Jacobs had established Shanelle Jacobs Photography and began working with up-and-coming models, artists, local fashion designers, and documenting a variety of local events. Clients began praising her work and Jacobs responded by developing a great work ethic with the intent to truly earn her reputation. She states that her philosophy is simple, “I look to create great memories [by bringing] out every emotion with each photo that I take. If I haven't done that, then I haven't done my job."
Jacobs is also a very gifted poet who truly shines in this creative endeavor. Her extraordinary original poem, I Speak (My Mouth), literally speaks to the natural beauty within us all. In 2015, she created the online blog Rock Guru Review, which became a dedicated space for her love and passion for music. She says that the site “has been thriving, and has quickly gained a loyal following.” Jacobs also serves as a content provider for The Odyssey and a portfolio of her images may be viewed on EyeEm.
Jacobs writes on her website “I truly am thankful for the support system I have and the people that helped get this business off the ground.” Undoubtedly, with continued determination, coupled with a strong support system, Jacobs will surely continue to grow and thrive.
Vance Matthews is an avid music lover, technology & history buff, world traveler, and all-around good guy. Currently, he is the website coordinator for AskRayceen.com. He also previously oversaw the development and creation of promotional videos for The Ask Rayceen Show and Team Rayceen as well as occasionally handling various desktop publishing tasks, including the formation of the current Team Rayceen logo.
Throughout his lifetime, Matthews has been a long-time resident of Fayetteville, North Carolina (a military town which boasts the slogan “History, Heroes, & A Hometown Feeling) and Jersey City, New Jersey (known as “America's Golden Door). In 1993, while still living in the New York metropolitan area, Matthews made the conscience decision to become more involved in the LGBT community. This ultimately led to him joining the newly created Beyond The 28 Days Committee (a LGBT organization aimed at expanding Black History Month beyond the month of February with a primary emphasis on LGBT activities). Under the leadership and direction of Candice Boyce, the committee's first task was to formally host the very first east coast conference of The National Black Gay & Lesbian Leadership Forum, then headed by Phill Wilson - an HIV/AIDS activist and towering figure in the fight against the growing Aids epidemic. Matthews was selected to co-chair the Hospitality Committee, and was given an award for his diligent service. Attending this event ultimately led to him meeting Rayceen Pendarvis, who he has shared a friendship with ever since.
Over the years, Matthews continued to volunteer for various organizations and has performed work for WFSS FM – NPR News & Jazz, the Airborne & Special Operations Museum, the New York County Lawyers' Association, The Salvation Army, New Generation Church of Deliverance, The Hands That Help Center, The Legal Aid Society and various Fayetteville Neighborhood Resource Centers. Matthews also enjoys utilizing his free time to read non-fiction books (he's a sucker for a good autobiography), watch historical or informative documentaries, as well as view a wide assortment of LGBT YouTube webseries. Yet, his first love is MUSIC! He truly enjoys listening to everything from R&B, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Club/House, Blues, Gospel, and so much more. In 2015, he browsed through his massive personal collection to compile an assortment of popular, rare, and semi-rare songs, stretching from the Harlem Renaissance up to the new millennium. The collection served as his very first online celebration of Black Music Month. Prior to this, he also created a mega-medley tribute to Luther Vandross, in addition to a multi-volume tribute to the family musical legacy of Whitney Houston.
As a graduate of The Center for The Media Arts in New York City, Matthews has always had a strong interest in media related endeavors. While recovering from open-heart surgery in 2013, he began focusing on several personal projects and eventually decided to pitch a couple of ideas to Rayceen Pendarvis. In 2015, during the 4th season of The Ask Rayceen Show, Matthews began working on formally documenting the show's growing legacy as well as focusing on efforts to further expand the show's promotional reach. Proposed projects included creating a modern website with a responsive design as well as promotional videos to compliment the show's print and social media campaigns. Although still currently in development, AskRayceen.com launched in 2017.
On his About.me page, Matthews ended his introductory paragraph with the following words, which equally apply here as well:
As always, YOU MATTER, so do more of what makes you happy today and don’t forget to be ridiculously AWESOME at it. And when you look back, hopefully someone will be in the wings cheering you on…........... I know I will.
Vance Kenneth Matthews