Where it all started….

How About H.O.P.E. was started in 2015 by Mikhayla Hughes-Shaw of Rock Island, Illinois. With the help of LOVE Girls Magazine and their partnership with Royal Neighbors, Mikhayla started the campaign with a sticker project.

In 2018, Mikhayla won the title of Miss Iowa under the Miss Iowa Scholarship Program, and used How About H.O.P.E. as her platform of choice. She competed for the title of Miss America 2019. During her year of service, she partnered with local mental health and suicide awareness organizations. Through this, the mission of HOPE expanded throughout the states of Iowa of and Illinois. We are now a 501c3 charitable organization continuously working towards a more competent and understanding society.

HOPE’s Mission:

“How About H.O.P.E.”, which stands for “helping others & providing encouragement”, is a campaign designed to create and sustain conversation surrounding mental health and suicide. Through sharing stories, artistic expression, advocacy, and awareness, we can create a knowledgeable and understanding community. Your voice and your story matter.”

Core Values:

  • Advocacy
  • Awareness
  • Artistic Expression

H.O.P.E. Board of Directors

Mikhayla Hughes-Shaw, Founder and Director

Mikhayla Hughes-Shaw is a mental health and suicide awareness advocate. As someone who previously battled depression and suicidal thoughts, Mikhayla created the campaign “How About H.O.P.E. – Helping Others & Providing Encouragement” to inspire change in our mental health culture through sharing personal stories and encouraging compassion.  She has impacted over 20,000 students and adults with her mission and speaks vulnerably and honestly about dealing with mental health conditions and suicidal thoughts.

She knows the importance of speaking her truth, because “there is something so powerful about sharing your story with the hope of helping someone share theirs.”

She currently works as a television storyteller and host in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Simone Collins, M.S. Ed., tLMHC, LPC, NCC, CTP, CGP, President

Simone Collins, resident of Rock Island, IL and long-time friend of Mikhayla, founder of How About H.O.P.E., has made it her life’s mission to be a mental health advocate, particularly for individuals from minority groups. At the age of 17, she realized that it was her calling to pursue a career in the mental health profession due to her mother’s and her own mental health diagnoses. She was also inspired by her paternal grandparents to advocate for individuals from underrepresented and underserved populations due to the adversities they endured with receiving their education as African American youth throughout the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. 

In May 2016, Simone graduated from Truman State University with her Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Statistical Methods. In May 2021, Simone graduated from Western Illinois University-Quad Cities with her Masters of Science in Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She is currently a temporarily licensed Mental Health Counselor (tLMHC) in Iowa, a temporarily Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), and a National Certified Counselor (NCC). She plans to pursue a doctoral degree in either Social Justice or Ethnic Studies after becoming an independently licensed counselor in both Illinois and Iowa. 

Currently, Simone is an Outpatient Mental Health Counselor at Heart and Solutions, LLC and a  Mental Health Rehabilitation Specialist (PRN) at the Robert Young Center-Community Support Program Group Homes. Simone is certified in Adult Mental Health First Aid. She is also a Certified Trauma Professional (CTP) and a Certified Grief Informed Professional (CGP). She is a member of Chi Sigma Iota, Psi Chi, Black Mental Health Alliance, NAMI Greater Mississippi Valley, and American Counseling Association and its subdivision Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development (AMCD).

Along with her passion for being a mental health advocate, Simone enjoys listening to music, reading, watching television, eating, exercising, going to church, traveling, attending community events, and spending time with her friends, family, and Godchildren.

Brittany Pernell, Advocacy and Community Engagement Director

Brittany Pernell was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. It is her purpose and passion to work with adolescents/teenagers who are at risk of falling into the juvenile or adult justice system. She cares deeply for youth from this kind of background because she understands that society has often given them little to work with and that can have a lasting impact on their success in life but it is not their fault and they deserve the chance to advance just like anyone else.

She is currently a graduate student at Western Illinois University in the Counselor Education program to become a licensed clinical mental health counselor. Right now, she is completing her internship at Youth Services Bureau of Rock Island county. Brittany also works part-time at New Choices, Inc as a direct support professional. She graduated from Iowa State University with her Bachelor’s degree in Child, Adult, and Family Services with a youth emphasis.

Brittany is a proud member of the historically Black sorority, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. She also is a new member of Chi Sigma Iota Professional Counseling Honor Society and is the secretary for the Xi chapter at Western Illinois University, the American Counseling Association, and the Black Mental Health Alliance. Brittany is also certified in Adult Mental Health First Aid and volunteers as a Big Sister for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley.

Some of the things she loves outside of the professional world are spending time with family and friends, Harry Potter, Marvel, Star Wars, watching movies/tv shows, listening to music, and admiring beautiful things (art, photography, jewelry, music, people, etc).

Trameka Woods, Board Member

Trameka Woods was born and raised in Davenport, IA in a single parent household. She obtained a BA in Sociology and Criminology and a MSCJ in Criminal Justice Corrections. She is the Founder of Express N Flow Inc. which is a nonprofit organization that primarily focuses on Youth Enrichment through releasing toxins in the form of writing. She is a single mother to her beloved daughter Jojo. Trameka knows what it’s like to have anxiety and not being fully supported within family and friend relationships due to their lack of awareness on the subject. She has a desire to bring more positive awareness and prevention to the stigmas placed on mental health while helping with a voice of advocacy for those who are apart of the mental health culture. Trameka believes Mental illness can be controlled as long as there is a village willing to take a stand.

Morili Azeez, CADC

Morili is a certified alcohol and drug counselor in the state of Iowa. For me, mental health and addictions go hand in hand. She started her professional career in the mental health field, and it has always been a subject close to my heart. As a professional with anxiety, she has seen the stigma first hand and it is her hope to educate those who hold those views.

Alyssa Gordon, Board Member

Alyssa Gordon, she/her, is a professional dancer, a teacher, freelance artist, choreographer, and entrepreneur based in Moline, Illinois. She holds a BFA in Dance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Whilst achieving her bachelors degree, Alyssa was awarded the Talented Student Tuition Award from the Department of Dance (2013-2017). Alyssa has performed in works by Endalyn Taylor, Jennifer Monson, C. Kemal Nance, and Michelle Gibson. She has trained in ballet, modern, jazz and hip hop, and has been taught by Abby Zbikowski, Elijah Gibson, and others. In addition, Alyssa has studied at the David Dorfman Dance Winter and Summer Intensives (2019), Quad-City Dance Network Annual Fall Workshop (2018), and the American College Dance [Conference] (2014). She has taught ballet as a teaching assistant at Dance at Illinois (2017), and has taught various styles of dance at The Dancer’s Place (Davenport, IA) and Muscatine Academy of Music and Dance (Muscatine, IA) in the past four years. Most recently, Alyssa performed at the annual Rock Island County NAACP #3268 Freedom Fund Banquet & Image Awards & Youth Academic Scholarships event (2022). Alyssa also recently participated in the 4th annual Black Hawk College and United Township High School Talent Show as a judge. She is currently traveling and teaching dance classes and workshops, and performing solo work. Alyssa plans to own a dance studio, start a professional contemporary dance company, and wishes to encourage the next to walk into their purpose and bring healing and unity to her community.

Destiney Hearn, Board Member

Destiney Hearn, born and raised in Rock Island, Illinois, knew at an early age that her purpose in life was to work with youth in some way. She have worked with youth all over Illinois and Iowa since I was 16 years old. Whether it be teaching, mentoring, tutoring, coaching, volunteering, the list goes on. She currently works as the Building Supervisor at Thurgood Marshall Learning Center, and have been with the Rock Island-Milan School District #41 since 2018. 

When her daughter, Zion, began preschool, she served as a Parent Ambassador and IHSA Board of Directors as an advocate and voice for our youth and families in the community. After talking with families, community members, and politicians sher realized a lot of our youth and families have experienced trauma and lacked knowledge of resources available to aid in their success. It was then she realized how much mental health affected our community. She decided to go back to school, and is currently attending Grand Canyon University to obtain her social work degree to be a counselor/ therapist for our youth and families in the community. 

S a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Black Girls in Social Work, Alpha Chi Honor Society, Illinois Department of Human Services Child Care Advisory Council, AFSP Field Advocate. Also I am Certified Youth Mental Health First Aider, Teen Mental Health First Aider, Trauma Informed, QPR Suicide Prevention, and have taken many youth behavioral health courses on a variety of topics. 

While I am an advocate for mental health and using your voice to bring positive change, I do enjoy being a mother to my daughter Zion, baking, cooking, reading, coaching basketball, being a girl scout troop leader, serving on the PTA and many other groups within the community, and spending time with family and friends.

Nichole Velez, Social Media Manager

Nichole Velez is a Rock Island native whose mental health awareness campaign began with her own diagnosis of major depressive disorder in her teens. Years later, in her job as a patient advocate, she saw the need for comprehensive medical reform to help those who are underserved. This grew into a passion for patient advocacy and education. What began as making her friends confront their own mental health turned into a need to start conversations with strangers and convince everyone she knows that therapy is as important as regular health check-ups. Nichole believes deeply in the idea that not talking about our mental health is damaging to not only the community in which we live, but to the individuals struggling daily with mental illness.
Currently, Nichole still works in the medical field and was thrilled to join the H.O.P.E board. Here she is able to combine her love of social media and her desire to reach more people to join in the national conversation around normalizing mental health disorders and the need for comprehensive
mental illness reform.

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