OUR TEAM

Learn more about a Team Member by clicking on their name or photo
Ashleigh Cromer

Ashleigh Cromer

CEO

Ashleigh is the CEO of Be Strong, who left her position as the VP of corporate social responsibility in a marketing agency to save and improve the lives of young people. Throughout her career in entertainment and marketing, specializing in production, digital strategy and brand development, she developed a deep understanding of the need for both corporate and nonprofit partners to bring about transformational and sustainable change while increasing revenue through customer affinity.

Ashleigh has leveraged her business expertise to advance the interest of Be Strong to create lifelong improvement in the lives of young people across North America. In her 5+ years at Be Strong, she has led the organization to a national grassroots footprint of 4,000+ student representatives serving annually, connected young people in crisis with trusted help through positive peer influence, relationships and technology, and developed a brand that is trusted by students, teachers, administrators, guardians, brands and customers, while advancing a comprehensive program with demonstrated impact.

As one who has personally experienced the effects of childhood trauma and navigating mental health, the work of Be Strong is personal for Ashleigh. Her heart is to serve those who, like her when she was a child, are looking for help, hope, resilience, healthy relationships, joy and purpose, while facing adversity.

Joshua Apparicio

Joshua Apparicio

President, Student State Representative Program

My Name is Joshua Apparicio, President of Be Strong’s Student Representative Program.

I am a 16-year-old Honor Roll student with a 4.0 GPA, currently attending Santa Monica Community College to exercise my academic curiosity. My passion is empowering my peers, after experiencing several years of bullying in school.

Being bullied while growing up was a difficult road to traverse, but from it, came my desire to speak to young people, encouraging them to persevere. If I didn’t maintain the mental fortitude I had while attending public school, I don’t believe I would have made it this far. I finally feel I belong in a classroom setting.

At the age of five, I was introduced to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and took it upon myself to make a difference concerning equality for all. My goal is to become a civil rights attorney. I feel that educating myself in this abstract field is the best thing I can do.
I am a Contributing Youth Writer for the Los Angeles Sentinel and have been a published poet since I was seven years old.

“I will continue to invest in myself to ensure a much brighter tomorrow.” – Joshua Apparicio

Please meet Joshua’s fellow student leaders from the United States and Canada.

Keziah Baker

Keziah Baker

Program Support

Keziah was born and raised in South Florida. She’s been developing her life-changing resilience from the age of two, due to a rare skin condition that required her to undergo more than ten surgeries by the time she was thirteen.

Walking to the school bus during her freshman year in high school, Keziah was struck by a car. She sustained a traumatic brain injury and severe bodily damage, resulting in the inability to walk. While in recovery, Keziah experienced bullying and isolation, which led to depression. Determined to be the resilient young woman she was born to be, Keziah transitioned from volunteering with Be Strong to joining the programming team, in order to elevate others’ powerful stories of turning pain into purpose.

Keziah is a lover of dance, music and fashion, and what motivates her most is teaching others that their physical limitations can never stop them from reaching their fullest potential!

ieesha Crawford

ieesha Crawford

Director of Programs

ieesha has been passionate about helping others since she gained her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice in 2004 and began her career as a Dependency Case Manager working with children & families over 17 years ago. In 2007, she realized that it would not only take bachelor’s level education and experience, but additional education to provide quality services and supports to individuals in need. She returned to graduate school and earned a Master of Arts Degree in Social Work in 2009. Throughout the years, she became a licensed clinical social worker and remained in the field of social services working with multiple populations ranging from children up to the elderly, and settings from including community non-profit agencies, hospitals, and a school district. She has worked in the role of a life coach, program director of an employment program, medical social worker/discharge planner, therapist, and school social worker.

Her goal is to always provide services from a non-judgmental, supportive, insightful, and strength-based perspective. She received a limited amount of these types of supports as she navigated through the struggles and challenges of her life from childhood to adulthood. For that reason, she vowed that she would obtain the education and experiences needed to help others throughout their life journey. At Be Strong, she will use her education, skills, and tools that she has gained over the years to contribute to the on-going growth and success of the agency.

Denis Estimon

Denis Estimon

Growth Strategist

Denis Estimon immigrated to the U.S. from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, when he was in the first grade. Not being able to communicate with his classmates, Denis knows what it feels like to be isolated. Now, Denis makes it his life purpose to make sure no kid has to feel the way he felt. During his senior year in high school, Denis and his friends launched We Dine Together for the sole purpose of combating social isolation. The story reached over 20 Million people after CBS featured the story and the work done by the students.

Estimon is stepping into his new role at Be Strong, while currently enrolled at Everglades University, Majoring in Business. We Dine Together aimed to provide a proactive solution to one of the leading top-five safety, health and social issues. While the program began to grow, Estimon realized the work needed structure and a scalable model with sustainable tools. Enter Be Strong. We Dine Together is now part of the fabric of Be Strong’s comprehensive approach.

Denis aims to promote the message of unity, love and inclusion as a speaker, activist, and influencer at Be Strong.

Matt Hayes

Matt Hayes

Director of Operations

Matt joined Be Strong in August 2016 and assumed the position of Program Director in 2018, allowing him to maximize efficiency and productivity for proof of concept and cost within projects and programs in ever-evolving social issues. Leveraging his data management and optimization expertise, coupled with outcome-driven mentality, Matt led the development of Be Strong’s custom, automated software system and management tools that prioritize relationships, while advancing at scale, and meeting long-term operational strategic plans. The implementation of these solutions enabled a lean team to successfully expand and sustain Be Strong’s Student State Representative program and global event participation at a rapid pace and has equipped the organization to meet an ever increasing demand.

Matt is passionate about connecting young people and community members to the sustainable resources available through Be Strong that he, himself, needed as a young person and applies daily.

Now, as Director of Operations, Matt is responsible for Be Strong’s day to day operations, analyzing operational processes and performance, and seeking solutions to improve efficiency and consistency, at the intersection of relationships, technology and innovation.

Jesula “JJ” Jeannot

Jesula “JJ” Jeannot

Program Lead

After a massive earthquake struck her homeland of Haiti, JJ immigrated to the US and began middle school a stranger to both her classmates and the family she came to live with. Her accent, her clothing and her experiences seemed to set her miles apart from her peers, which gave way to teasing and being excluded.

The fire burning inside JJ refused to be put out as she began to use her strengths, voice and presence to help others through service and motivational speaking. She became one of Be Strong’s first Student State Representatives, joining the program in early 2017 as a high school senior.

JJ continued to share the knowledge and resources she acquired at Be Strong throughout her education at Florida State University, while also inspiring others as a speaker on Be Strong’s Speakers Bureau and serving fellow Floridians through an internship at the Congressional Office in Tallahassee.

JJ now brings her enthusiasm for diversity and inclusivity to Be Strong’s programming team, where she continues to be the change this world needs, by equipping the next generation of Be Strong leaders.

Israel “Izzy” Kalman

Israel “Izzy” Kalman

Resident Resilience Expert

Izzy Kalman, a school psychologist and psychotherapist with over four decades of work experience, is a pioneer of the resilience approach to bullying. He has also been the world’s most prolific critic of the conventional, legalistic approach to bullying, correctly predicting that it will only intensify the bullying problem, while raising a generation of emotionally fragile children.

With a pragmatic, more psychologically sound approach, Kalman specializes in equipping people with the wisdom to deal with aggression on their own, using compassion and humor. His techniques exploit the genius of children to help them transcend victimization and recoup their self-confidence, happiness and excitement for life.

Izzy has taught his simple, yet powerful, approach to tens of thousands of mental health professionals, educators and bullying speakers, has produced numerous books and videos for dealing with bullying, and is the lead author of the Be Strong Bullying Prevention and Resilience Program.

Carrie Latimer

Carrie Latimer

Copywriter

Carrie began working with Be Strong in June of 2021. She profiles Be Strong Student State Representatives and alumni, highlighting their journeys and accomplishments to share with Be Strong’s many stakeholders.

Carrie works full time as a copywriter at an international advertising agency, writing social content for clients in food, beverage, and beauty. She enjoys Be Strong as a passion project, working to share the organization’s mission and promote its members through compelling content.

Throughout high school and college, Carrie was highly involved in her school and local communities. From peer tutoring to student council and pre-professional societies, she found a passion for leadership and advocacy.

Carrie also trains and competes as an amateur powerlifter, using her love of the sport to empower women in strength training. As a former cheerleader and dancer, Carrie is passionate about helping women build positive relationships with their bodies and find strength and healing through motion.

Raxon Phoenix

Raxon Phoenix

Growth Strategist

Raxon brings diverse talents and superb skills to Be Strong. She was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, and is a mother of four and advocate for mental health. Raxon earned her AA in Psychology and her Bachelor of Science in Human Services & Social Work.

With over a decade of proven success in planning, advancement, partnerships, and various forms of project management, Raxon is consistently exceeding expectations through outside-the-box thinking. For Raxon, the box doesn’t exist.

Her heart for the work of Be Strong originates from her own personal experience coming to the United States and experiencing social challenges and discrimination. Raxon is applying her talents to improve the country she has grown to love, as a trusted voice at the intersection of corporations and philanthropy.

RonO Polito

RonO Polito

Chief Technology Officer

RonO’s vast experience in technology, production, event management, advertising and digital convergence creates a dynamic combination that has helped him to earn recognition as one of the pioneers of today’s technology revolution.

RonO has advised multimedia production companies on how to incorporate interactive media, future IT strategy, and Dconvergent technology into various media channels, fueling their businesses. Over the years, his creative, technical and management skills have been sought after by countless advertising agencies.

During the 2000 presidential campaign, RonO was entrusted with producing the State of Technology address. Through the use of interactive media, live webcasting and Dconvergent technology, this media event allowed the world to see why the State of Florida had become the leader in utilizing the latest in technology to run state government. Before this, RonO produced a full-scale public relations campaign, along with a national media event, that simultaneously branded and launched MyFlorida.com as the official state portal for Florida’s citizens and state employees to interact with state government.

In addition to serving as Be Strong’s Chief Technology Officer, RonO’s heart and technological expertise also serve America’s first responders, as the co-founder of the Thank You First Responder Organization.

Denise Reed

Denise Reed

Administration & Student Affairs

Denise is a 25-year educational veteran, as well as teacher of the year and an Assistant Principal of the year finalist, during her tenure at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (“MSD”) High School from 2010 to June 2019. While at MSD she developed numerous qualified programs for improving school climate and was an advocate for and change agent in Broward County Schools. Denise earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership. 

She is the proud wife of a U.S. Marine and mother of two daughters, who have both become teachers to be like their mother.

Sharon Rodriguez

Sharon Rodriguez

Program Support

Sharon has been working for Broward County Public Schools for over 22 years.  She was recognized as Employee of The Year at Deerfield Beach High School in 2006, 2012 and 2017. She majored in Early Childhood education in college where she earned an Associates Degree in Child Development.  After directing a pre-school for over 6 years, Sharon decided that working with high school aged children was her passion.  Sharon is currently the office manager of the Beach House at Deerfield Beach High School.

The Beach House offers mental health support and includes a food pantry, hygiene closet, and clothing closet for the students and community of Deerfield Beach. Be Strong is a founding partner and champion of the Beach House, which has allowed Sharon to become close to the work of Be Strong. Driven by her passion to help families across the US, Sharon is now a member of the Be Strong programming team.

Sharon met her first and only love at the age of 18; they are married and have two beautiful daughters. Her love and passion for children, and her will to fight for children and young adults in need, shows each and every day.

Rohan Sharma

Rohan Sharma

Program Support

Rohan is an alumnus of Be Strong’s Student State Representative Program and is thrilled to remain a part of the Be Strong community and help new Representatives! In addition to serving as a State Representative for California, Rohan served as Co-President of his high school’s We Dine Together club and is most proud of the Club’s emphasis on fostering empathy and inclusion across campus. He is entering his first year at UCLA and will major in political science. After graduating he plans to attend law school and become a human rights attorney.

Rohan first learned about Be Strong and We Dine Together after watching the CBS News story and is amazed by how far that simple action led him. He encourages all State Representatives to practice taking seemingly small acts of kindness daily and is excited to see how far that will lead them!

Yes, Rohan’s parents saw Lord of the Rings. No, they did not name him after the Kingdom of Rohan!

Alexia Suarez

Alexia Suarez

Program Support

Alexia has a deep passion for helping others succeed. She spent much of her time in high school learning how to better understand and serve her peers through her involvement with the Psychology club and Best Buddies, while also tending to those with four legs and fur, through the Humane Society club and her work at a pet training and supply store.

Highly skilled in interpersonal communication, Alexia recognizes the value of understanding the viewpoints of others and staying cool during moments of heightened stress. Bringing those skills with her to Be Strong, Alexia is committed to making impactful change through spreading love and support, and connecting those we are honored to serve with the social and emotional resources they need to live happily and successfully.

Cori Todd

Cori Todd

Program Support

Cori began working with Be Strong in 2019, connecting school partners with Be Strong’s LIVE Tour educational events and ongoing resources. Be Strong’s work to strengthen young people’s mental, emotional, and relational health resonates strongly with Cori, as she’s known the impact of mental health challenges, losing her mother to suicide. The devastating loss of her mother at a young age made raising awareness and offering help to those struggling of the utmost importance to Cori.

Cori is a mother of three amazing kids and has been married for 17 years. With children in both middle and high school, she recognizes many of the difficulties students face today. Cori is passionate about connecting children and families with opportunities to become better equipped for the inevitable challenges of life, and to understand they are not alone in those challenges.

Ashleigh Cromer

Ashleigh Cromer

CEO

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Joshua Apparicio

Joshua Apparicio

President, Student State Representative Program

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Keziah Baker

Keziah Baker

Program Support

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ieesha Crawford

ieesha Crawford

Director of Programs

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Denis Estimon

Denis Estimon

Growth Strategist

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Matt Hayes

Matt Hayes

Director of Operations

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Jesula “JJ” Jeannot

Jesula “JJ” Jeannot

Program Lead

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Israel “Izzy” Kalman

Israel “Izzy” Kalman

Resident Resilience Expert

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Carrie Latimer

Carrie Latimer

Copywriter

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Raxon Phoenix

Raxon Phoenix

Growth Strategist

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RonO Polito

RonO Polito

Chief Technology Officer

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Denise Reed

Denise Reed

Administration & Student Affairs

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Sharon Rodriguez

Sharon Rodriguez

Program Support

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Rohan Sharma

Rohan Sharma

Program Support

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Alexia Suarez

Alexia Suarez

Program Support

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Cori Todd

Cori Todd

Program Support

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