Founder: Pearls of Potential
Caribbean Heritage: Jamaica
Mona-lee Belizaire is a 29 year old wife, mother and emerging leader. Hailing from the Caribbean island of Jamaica, Mona-lee moved to the United States in 2001. At the tender age of 16, Mona-lee graduated from high school and entered as a freshman at the University of Florida. In 2006, while a junior in college and only 18 years old, Mona-lee became pregnant with her son. Despite the shame and stigma that she faced, Mona-lee graduated cum laude from the University of Florida with her Bachelor's of Science in Health Education. She then went on complete her Master's in Social Work and Public Health from the University of South Florida and Florida State University, respectively.
Mona-lee's experience as a young mother inspired her to start an organization called Pearls of Potential. Pearls of Potential is a mission driven organization that provides support and services to adolescent mothers in developing countries through capacity building, advocacy and mentoring. Mona-lee envisions a world where adolescent mothers are treated equally, adequately supported in reaching their full academic, professional and economic potential and equipped with the tools to lead successful lives. Pearls of Potential currently works with organizations in Kenya, Jamaica and Uganda.
Mona-lee is passionate about the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls especially in developing countries. She has over 8 years experience in the areas of maternal and child health and sexual and reproductive health, particularly with adolescents. She has worked on the local and national levels in the areas of teen pregnancy prevention, teen parenting and positive youth development. Mona-lee is active in her church and is currently training to be a Stephen Minister where she will be responsible for providing high-quality, confidential, Christ-centered care to people who are hurting.