Meet our directors


Shelia LeFridge, President

Shelia LeFridge is an entrepreneur and business owner providing a broad spectrum of financial services. As a community advocate and philanthropist, she has a penchant for social action and working for a cause. She served over 15 years working inside of a foundation, ten years of which she sat in various executive board positions. She is a retired Senior Analyst with over 40 years management and administrative experience from the private sector, the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles City Controller, and the Bureau of Street Lighting in the City of Los Angeles. Her vast experience runs the gamut including store manager, human resources specialist, university faculty, special events coordinator, crime analyst, emergency response worker, and financial professional. Shelia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science and certification in Health Education. She also has a Master of Arts degree in Organizational Management. Over the past 35 years, Shelia has performed community and charitable work for many non-profits, worked on numerous political campaigns, and led several community groups. She brings to the board an exuberance for non-profit work, compassion for the welfare of impacted communities, and vision for the future of the Clarissa Manuel Foundation.

“My vision is for The Clarissa Manuel Foundation to become a highly valued community partner in the City of Long Beach and its neighboring communities, supporting education and programs that positively impact minority families.” 


Clairessa M. Spencer, L.C.S.W., Vice President

Clairessa Spencer is one of the original Founders of The Clarissa Manuel Foundation, currently serving as Board Vice President. She has served as a Board Member multiple separate terms and has remained active in various capacities from its inception. Clairessa brings a wealth of nonprofit and board experience in management, program planning, and fundraising. 

Clairessa Spencer is a proud native of Long Beach. She received her B.A. Degree from U.C. Santa Barbara in Sociology and Black Studies and a Masters Degree in Social Work from California State University, Long Beach. She is a licensed Clinical Social Worker and works for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services as a Supervising Children’s Social Worker. When she’s not working, you can find her spending time with family, mentoring youth and traveling the world.


Gail Johnson, Grant Writing and Oversight

Gail Johnson aims to serve, help and educate. Her grandmother, Ernestine Johnson raised her as an only child in Gardena, California. She graduated from Pius X High School, earned a BA in speech communication (CSULB) and a Multiple Subject Credential (CSUDH). Once she graduated from CSULB she began working as an Americorps Vista for an LAUSD school, and later began teaching for LAUSD. Presently, Gail works as an educator in various capacities. She focuses on working in her community.

Moreover, Gail enthusiastically works to make a difference, empower, motivate and inspire. She enjoys giving and working on projects that to help others. Gail noticed that many women she knew who achieved were members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. In 2001, her observation inspired her to pursue and acquire membership in Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She works to strengthen the DST Long Beach Alumnae Chapter and their community service programs.


Finally, Gail decided to elevate her support and join the Clarissa Manuel Foundation (CMF) in the Fall of 2018. In 2018, Gail began as a Board of Director and worked as the recording secretary. She looks forward to helping CMF continue to grow, thrive and make a difference as the Grant Writing and Oversight Committee Chair.


Sharon Kirkland, Treasurer

Sharon L. Kirkland’s interests include serving the African American community through literature, art, health and wellness. She is a current Executive Board Member of the Clarissa Manuel Foundation, currently serving as the Treasurer. For the past 22 years, she has been a member of Tabahani Book Circle whose mission is increase literacy in the African American community, serving on the Executive Board as the Special Events Coordinator, Summer Youth Reading Program Coordinator and most recently as the Recording Secretary. She is also an Executive Board member of the Daphne Kersee-Belgrave Foundation, Inc. which works to put an end to domestic violence. Her other organization endeavors have included membership on the board of the Leadership Development Association, a chapter of the National Management Association, where she served as the Manager of the Year/Profession of the Year Awards Coordinator. She also served for 12 years as a Troop Co-Leader for the Girl Scouts of America, the water polo Vice President for the Santiago High School Aquatics Booster Club, and as a volunteer for USA Water Polo. Professionally, she worked for 17 years in the City of Orange City Attorney’s Office before moving to the Legal Division of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. She is a mother of two adult children, Ryan and Julia, and currently resides in Corona, California with her husband, Kim.


Liza Jenkins, Publicity and Communications

Liza Jenkins was born in St. Croix, U.S.V.I.,  but raised in Sunny Southern California. She earned her Bachelors of Arts in Applied Mathematics with a Computer Science emphasis from the University of California, Riverside. Liza is currently employed as a Senior Software Engineer at Raytheon Intelligence and Space where she has worked for the past 20 years. Liza has been affiliated with several notable organizations including NSBE, SWE, Black Girls Code, founding member of the Young Engineers and Scientist Network, Tucson Chapter, founding member of the Clarissa Manuel Foundation and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. She has been an avid volunteer in the community and has contributed to multiple charitable organizations for over 25 years. She also volunteers her time abroad at orphanages for children with disabilities. "Monetary donations are absolutely a need and help to organizations that give back, however donating your time and connecting with people leaves a lifetime impact on both you and the people you serve." In her free time she enjoys Netflix with the family at home.


Nyeshia Lewis, Special Events and Programs

Nyeshia Lewis is the Events and Programs Director for the 2019 fiscal year. She currently reside in Long Beach, CA. and have been an active financial member of the Board of Directors for The Clarissa Manuel Foundation since August 2018.

She previously served on two business executive boards prior to working with CMF, and has over 15 years of customers service experience.  She received her Bachelors Degree in 2011 and owns a successful event staffing firm.

"Working with the foundation affords all of us a very fortunate opportunity to impact the community of Long Beach and the surrounding communities. As the Events and Programs Director I will ensure all program initiatives are realized through the events hosted by CMF, and that the foundation grows."


Kia Ross, Scholarship Chair

Kia Ross is a Washington, DC native currently residing in Long Beach, CA. In 2008, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Clark Atlanta University (CAU), a historically black university, located in Atlanta, Ga. With a passion for public policy and an interest in social action and hopes to start a career in the public sector, she obtained a Master’s Degree in Public Policy and Administration (MPA) from California State University, Long Beach in 2015. After obtaining her MPA, she began a career in higher education with the California State University system. Since arriving to the west coast, Ms. Ross has been diligent in making a difference through community involvement. She has volunteered in leadership positions with various community organizations such as the Long Beach Junior Chamber (LBJC). In addition to serving on the board of the Clarissa Manuel Foundation, Ms. Ross currently serves in other various board positions with the CAU Alumna Association – Los Angeles Chapter, the California State University Employee Union (CSUEU) – Chapter 313, Long Beach Branch NAACP, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, Long Beach Alumnae Chapter. While serving in various board positions, Ms. Ross has planned, organized, and facilitated multiple successful cultural events both at her place of work and in the community. She chose CMF to continue her mission of improving community conditions. Ms. Ross currently serves as the Scholarship Chair and leads various other sub-committees.


De'Jarnae Ferrell, Young Cultivated Minds of the Future (YCMF) Chair

De’Jarnae Ferrell is a clinical therapist who hails from Baltimore, MD., moved to Long Beach, CA. in 2018. She graduated in 2014 from Clark Atlanta University (CAU) with her Bachelors Degree in psychology and in 2018 with her Masters Degree in Social Work. 

Bettering her community through acts of service and ongoing involvement has been a big part of DeJarnae’s life since 2009. Throughout her college career, she was a part of several community service based organizations—one organization in which she served as secretary in 2012 and later became president in 2013. De’Jarnae’s professional life and volunteer work included participation in the CAU chapter NAACP, The National Council of Negro Women, The Urban League of Greater Atlanta, The National Association of Social Workers, and other service organizations. 

She recently became a member of the Clarissa Manuel Foundation in June 2019 and is eager work with like minded individuals to be servants to the community!


Michele A. Dobson , Young Cultivated Minds of the Future (YCMF) Co-Chair

After beginning her career as a Criminal Defense Attorney with the Orange County Public Defenders' Office, Ms. Dobson joined a boutique corporate law firm defending Physicians, Acute Hospitals, Nursing Homes, Skilled Nursing Facilities and Their Staffs before starting her own law firm in 2006. Since 2006, as a solo practitioner, Attorney Dobson represents multiple Long Beach and Seal Beach businesses including Restaurants, Bars and Breweries and represents a host of non-profit organizations in the City of Long Beach. Attorney Dobson serves on the Metro Board of the YMCA of Greater Long Beach, on the Long Beach Community Foundation Board, the CSULB Board of Governors, the Tichenor Clinic Board, the Long Beach Day Nursery Board and the Long Beach City College Board of Trustees. Ms. Dobson is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., is a native of the Westside of the Great City of Long Beach and the proud mother of two children.


Rev. Dr. Phyllis Everstine Hayes-Reams, Fund Development

Rev. Dr. Phyllis Everstine Hayes-Reams (MD, MPH, MA) was born and raised in Long Beach, California. She is a graduate of Long Beach Polytechnic High School. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Human Biology from Stanford University and Medical Doctorate from the Drew/UCLA Medical Education Program co-administered by Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science and the UCLA School of Medicine. Dr. Hayes-Reams went on to complete her residency in Internal Medicine at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center. After sub-specialty fellowship training in Geriatric Medicine at UCLA, she completed an additional general medicine fellowship and earned a Masters in Public Health with emphasis in Epidemiology from UCLA. In 1997 she joined the medical staff of the Southern California Permanente Medical Group at the Kaiser Permanente South Bay Medical Center as its first full-time Staff Geriatrician. Dr. Hayes-Reams has board certifications in Geriatric Medicine, and Hospice/Palliative Medicine. She is the Physician-in-Charge of the Department of Geriatrics, Palliative Medicine, Continuing Care, and Social Medicine at Kaiser Permanente Medical South Bay Medical Center. She is the medical center Physician Champion for Family Violence Prevention and Durable Medical Equipment. Dr. Hayes-Reams has a Master of Arts in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary, and is an ordained minister/itinerant elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, currently on the ministerial staff at New Philadelphia A.M.E Church in Long Beach. Her public service affiliations include Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; Rotary International; and the National Council of Negro Women. She is a past chair of the Lakewood YMCA Branch Board of Managers. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the YMCA of Greater Long Beach, and President-Elect for the Rotary Club of Signal Hill. Dr. Hayes-Reams is married to Dr. Lester Reams. They have two children, Phyllisa, a recent graduate from Prairie View A&M University; and Alexander, a junior at Long Beach Poly High School.


Brian L. Bailey Sr., Financial Secretary

Brian L. Bailey Sr. is a father, husband and proud product of Long Beach, California. He graduated from the historic Long Beach Polytechnic High School and California State University Long Beach where he studied history. During his time at CSULB, he joined Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated, Mu Chi chapter in the fall of 2005. After graduation, Brian continued to be active with the Los Angeles chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated – Beta Psi Lambda chapter serving multiple years as chapter chaplain and stepmaster with the mentorship program, Alpha Esquires. He currently pastors Ark Builders Christian Fellowship also located in Long beach. In 2017, he married Long Beach native Shanelle McIntyre. On his birthday September 5, 2018, Brian celebrated his birthday with the arrival of his first- born son Brian L. Bailey II. Brian is a man of family and community. In 2019, Brian was pinned as a member of 100 Black Men of Long Beach. Brian continues to strive to be a positive influence in his family and community both practically through organization affiliations and participation and spiritually through the ministries of Ark Builders Christian Fellowship.