Born and raised in St.Thomas, United States Virgin Islands Taiesa Lashley's passion for service were instilled by her parents Theodore Lashley Jr and Cresida Reid. Throughout her high school career at Charlotte Amalie High School Taiesa remained busy competing in local pageants and serving her community by volunteering. Students Promoting Awareness Responsibility Knowledge and Service (S.P.A.R.K.S) played an integral role in elevating Taiesa's love for volunteering during her 4 years as a member.
At age 17, Taiesa left the USVI to at college at Johnson & Wales University in North Miami, Florida. It was here that Taiesa's passion for service, coordination skills and leadership abilities truly flourished. Within a year Taiesa established the 1st chapter of SPARKS outside of the USVI. It quickly grew to become one of the most active and largest organizations on campus. Centered around creating a positive social environment while giving back to the community, S.P.A.R.K.S found creative ways to host events, raise awareness and funds for causes and coordinate volunteer opportunities. By the end of her college career Taiesa walked away with multiple Organizations of the Year, Community Service and Student Leadership Awards. She graduated with a B.S. in Hospitality Management.
Taiesa enlisted in the US Army reserve 2 weeks prior to her graduation. After basic training she was deployed to Afghanistan as a civil affairs specialist. Taiesa is proud a veteran in the United States Army Reserve. She completed a combat tour in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2011 with the 478th Civil Affairs Battalion. Taiesa was able to return home safely and honorably a year later.
After spending six months at home, Taiesa moved to Orlando, Florida to establish a career at Walt Disney World. Working her way up within a couple of years she managed to achieve her first goal: becoming a Catering Guest Services Manager. Since establishing her career at Walt Disney World, Taiesa has been featured in the 2014 May’s edition of G.I. Jobs Magazine, Disney's Eyes and Ears Magazine, received the Disney's Hero Award and spoke as a panelist at Walt Disney World’s Veteran’s Institute where she had the honor of meeting the First Lady of the United State of America – Mrs. Michelle Obama.
Taiesa has the distinct honor of being the first veteran to compete in pageants internationally. Taiesa is former Miss USVI World 2012, Miss Intercontinental USVI 2014 and the reigning Miss Black US Ambassador 2016. Most recently, Taiesa morphed her passion for pageantry and service to create Virgin Islands Pageantry- an organization dedicated to recognizing VI royalty, coordinating service projects and promoting the USVI. Some the projects that VI Pageantry have successfully establish are:
• Belle of the Ball: Provides all expenses paid prom experience for high school seniors (partnership with 4Her Foundation)
• Operation Uplift: Care Packages are sent to deployed soldiers
• Leaders In Heels: Networking Reception for women leaders and professionals
• Project Vision Board: Workshop for middle school students to create and present future goals and aspirations
• Girl Talk: Candid talk with Middle School Students about Issues they face in today's Society
• Project We Care VI: Project that coordinates donation of much needed items to established local organizations in the USVI
Taiesa’s dedication to service and education is also visible through her work with many local organizations, her sorority Delta Sigma Theta Inc. and the Disney Volunteers and Habitat for Humanity.
Taiesa hopes to grow VI Pageantry to a regional and eventually national level for queens and kings to use as platform to make a difference within their communities. You can keep up with VI Pageantry on Facebook at: Virgin Islands Pageantry
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