Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy is a Harvard Business School-trained Strategist, Speaker/Moderator, Success & Wellness Coach, Award-Winning Author and Activist

Called “smart with a heart” in the media, Terri has a multidisciplinary background that helps her innovate and transform businesses and lives. She is an internationally-recognized strategist with over 25 years experience in media, digital, brand management, training and operations. She is as comfortable analyzing data, negotiating deals and forging strategic alliances, as she is coaching executives, leading mindfulness sessions and speaking on stage. She has been described as having “holographic thinking”–able to view things from many different perspectives.  In 2009, she was selected as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader recognizing her “professional accomplishments, commitment to society and potential for shaping the future of the world.” She has participated in exclusive Forum strategy sessions with multinational CEOs, Presidents of countries and leaders in Brazil, China, India, Jordan, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, South Africa, Tanzania and Switzerland, including being a Discussion Leader for the “Economics of Happiness” at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos. Watch videos on her work, background and playtime.

As President of Power Living Enterprises, Inc., she helps companies transform through strategy consulting, empowers executives through training/coaching programs, and inspires the general public through multiplatform content. With a strong background in business development and operations, she has been a C-suite advisor in a range of industries from a film company start-up and a rapidly growing green construction company to a $486 million beauty company and a $8.5 billion TV retailer. She has consulted for a music festival in Cote d’Ivoire and is often called on to provide her perspective on changes in the digital media/music space. She has worked with over 200 organizations such as Bloomberg Media, Deloitte Financial Advisory Services, Eileen Fisher, Macy’s Corporate, PricewaterhouseCoopers, New York City Bar Association, New York City Department of Education, Social Venture Network, and The Harvard Club of NY.

In 2016, she created Elder Dignity to advocate for elder justice, spur reform in the guardianship system nationally, and free her aunt from an involuntary guardianship in Florida. As a champion for human potential, she has shared her views around the world from discussing heart-centered leadership at the Bled Strategic Forum in Slovenia and being the international headliner for Estee Lauder’s Global Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign event for 800 women in Santiago, Chile, to sharing strategy tips at the Black Enterprise Entrepreneur’s Conference and offering insights at the Digital Leaders Summit. She has received many honors such as Sweet Success from Women In Business (2014), National Power Award from the American Heart Association (2009), Women Of Brilliant Achievement Award from Charles & Colvard (2008), Emerging Entrepreneur from INC Magazine and the William J. Clinton Foundation (2006), 40 Under Forty Achievement Award from The Network Journal (2004), and Emerging Entrepreneur from the Social Venture Network (2002). In 2008, as part of the Women Who Dare To Be Different Award from Congressman Edolphus Towns and The Women’s Caucus, her accomplishments were added to the U.S. Congressional Record.

For the past 15 years, she has had a particular interest in the empowerment of women & girls, and integrative wellness doing programs for entities such as Womensphere Global Summits, Young Women’s Leadership Academy and Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine. See speaking/moderating. Her mother–journalist Janie Sykes Kennedy–has been her key inspiration. In the 1960s, she founded Inner Dignity to teach self-esteem skills to girls and, since the late ’60s, was an advocate for holistic health. Terri followed in her footsteps and founded the Young PWR Brokers, which provided empowerment programs for pre-teen and teen girls in Harlem. She also has been a pioneering voice for Lifestyles of Health & Sustainability (LOHAS), and serves as a National Spokesperson for the American Heart Association (AHA). She has been a volunteer leader for AHA since 2007, serving on the International Stroke Committee, New York State Stroke Committee, New York State Advocacy Committee, Multicultural Leadership Committee, Harlem Go Red Committee and Social Media Subcommittee. She also served six years on the Board of Yoga Alliance, including Chair and Interim CEO.

In 2017, Terri was featured in Athleta’s Power of She campaign with her teacher/mentor (now) 101-year-old Tao Porchon-Lynch for their work around the world inspiring women and girls. View video and blog. A decade earlier, in 2007, Terri met Tao in a master class at Integral Yoga Institute in New York. Their eyes locked and there was an instant energetic connection. Since then, Terri has committed herself to capturing the wisdom, building the brand and establishing Tao’s legacy as a female historical icon. In 2011, Tao asked Terri and her mother to help write her autobiography which resulted in Dancing Light: The Spiritual Side of Being Through the Eyes of a Modern Yoga Master (2015). The Hardcover book won 10 international and national awards, and received endorsements from a number of notables such as Rodney Yee, Colleen Saidman Yee, Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum and Agapi Stassinopoulos. Dr. Deepak Chopra called the book “extraordinary” and wrote the front cover endorsement.

In November 2017, the trio released their second book together, Shining Bright: Quotes and Images to Inspire Optimism, Gratitude & Belief In Your Limitless Potential. In 2018, the book won the prestigious IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award. Terri and Janie are producing a feature-length documentary on Tao’s life. Learn more about the Tao & Terri backstory and see highlights from their work together including programs at the Pentagon, United Nations, World Government Summit in Dubai, and other incredible locations around the world.

At 20 years old, Terri was recruited from Wellesley College to write case studies on Fortune 500 companies and perform predictive analysis (precursor to “big data”) for Harvard Business School’s second-year Operations Strategy course. A music lover and Internet evangelist, she founded VH1 Online and the VH1@Work Radio Network in the early 1990s. As Vice President of Business Development & Operations for MTV Networks Interactive, she managed a 200-person team, negotiated landmark content/distribution deals personally bringing over $30 million to the division and ran one of the only profitable online businesses at the time. She planned/launched “The Suite” of six digital music cable TV channels including MTV2, hard rock/heavy metal channel MTV “X,” Latin music channel MTV “S,” R&B channel VH1 Soul, VH1 Country, and jazz/new age channel VH1 Smooth. She also produced some of the first integrated broadcasts and webcasts with superstar artists such as Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks and Paul McCartney. Working directly with the President of VH1, she assisted with development and roll-out of a new TV production studio, and research/planning/implementation of the channel repositioning resulting in the new branding of “VH1: Music First,” as well as award-winning shows such as VH1 Behind the Music and VH1 Storytellers. Before joining Viacom, she worked as Creative Consultant at Universal Studios with their Executive Creative Group and legendary studio head Lew Wasserman.

Always seeking to learn, she has multiple certifications (cable finance, TV production, coaching, yoga, fitness, holistic health counseling, lifestyle & weight management) and a world-class education–Wellesley College, Harvard Business School, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Yale University Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore. Although she is American, she was born in Ghana, started school in Australia and studied design in Italy. She loves traveling the globe with a “real” camera in hand and has been on all continents except for Antarctica.

A writer/producer who is very comfortable in front of the camera, Terri has contributed to multiple media outlets such as CNN, NBC, Fox TV News, ARD TV in Germany, Tokyo FM in Japan, The New York TimesPrevention, SELF and Essence, and has been featured on the cover of Yoga Journal and in Oprah’s book, Live Your Best Life!  She has also written for The Huffington Post and has done coverage for the Gates Foundation’s Impatient Optimists blog and World Economic Forum blog. She is seasoned at writing for academic, business and consumer audiences. See media. Her weekly Dose of Power Living goes out every Monday to thousands of loyal readers, and she operates the empowerment platform www.iampowerliving.com and e-commerce platform www.powerlivingmedia.com.

Terri’s “family business” is communications and she comes from a history of trailblazers. Her family knew people like Duke Ellington, Langston Hughes, Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson, Quincy Jones, Coretta Scott King, Dr. Dorothy Height and Muhammad Ali. In the late 1950s, her parents–Janie Sykes-Kennedy and the late Dr. James Scott Kennedy–operated the Scott Kennedy Players, the first multicultural theatre company in New York City. They worked on five continents for five decades promoting international relations and leadership development via communications. In the late 1960s, they lived in Africa, working at the University of Ghana and producing for the 1966 First World Festival of Negro Arts in Dakar, Senegal, and the First Pan African Cultural Festival in Algiers, Algeria in 1969. In the early 1970s, they were invited as Fulbright scholars by the Prime Minister of Australia to live in Adelaide and introduce “new concepts of people”–African-American and African–via theater and other arts, to that continent. They also produced plays for the Papua, New Guinea Independence Arts Festival.

Her father became Professor at Brooklyn College in 1959 and remained there until his retirement at which time he was named Professor Emeritus of Theatre Arts. Known as “Mr. Speech,” he was a voice and speech coach to celebrities, including Althea Gibson who sang two of his songs on The Ed Sullivan Show. As a celebrated professor at the New School for Social Research, he was asked by the head of IBM to offer Leadership and Communication Training to executives, becoming a pioneer in the new field of Executive Leadership Training. He had also been a Professor at Fordham University at Lincoln Center in New York and the United States International University-Africa in Nairobi and London during the summer months. A pure creative, he was an actor, director, writer, producer, composer, and playwright for stage, television and movies. He produced over 100 plays around the world. Some of his works include the first book ever written on African theatre entitled In Search Of African Theatre (1973, Charles Scribner’s Sons, ISBN: 978-0684130446). Plays and songs include Guard Your Heart, Don’t Say No, So Much To Live ForCommitment to a Dream, The Rivers of the Black Man, The King is Dead, African People Suite, Every Man Is My Brother and Gospel Suite for Dr. Martin Luther King. Before the family moved to Africa in the 1960s, he was involved in the formation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) which was instrumental in the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

Janie Sykes-Kennedy is a 45-year veteran of international media/culture as an actress, journalist and business executive. She studied writing at the New School for Social Research under Don Wolf, has a BA degree from Howard University in Economics and Accounting, MA in African Culture and Theatre at the University of Ghana, and MS degree from the Graduate School of Journalism–Columbia University. She studied screenwriting with Samson Raphaelson who wrote The Jazz Singer, the first talking movie. She also did professional studies with Lee Strasberg Actors Studio and the Herbert Berghof Studio. After spending the 1960s and 1970s working in Africa, Australia and the U.S., in 1982 she joined Muhammad Ali on his trip to the United Arab Emirates for exhibition bouts. It was unusual for a female journalist to be part of the entourage at that time. President of Sykes-Kennedy & Associates, Inc. since 1984, she has served as a consultant and has produced marketing materials, written articles and books, including the EXCEL series of books on excellence in Black achievement which had over one million in print. In 1987, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Commerce invited Mrs. Sykes-Kennedy as one of fourteen delegates to go on the first trade mission of American women to the People’s Republic of China. After that, she received a contract to distribute the journal, Building in China, worldwide. In 2010, the President of Senegal invited her to participate in the Third World Festival of Black Arts & Culture in Dakar, Senegal as an historical thought leader, and she was covered extensively by their media. She co-authored two award-winning books, Dancing Light (2015) and Shining Bright (2017) with her daughter Terri and 100-year-old Tao Porchon-Lynch, and is currently working on various media projects while advocating for the release of her sister from a fraudulent guardianship in Florida.

Terri has a predominance of educators and entertainers in her family. Her uncle, the late Robert “Bobby” Sykes, was a singer and member of The Ink Spots. Her aunt, Dr. Lillie Sykes White (who is now sequestered away from the family), was the supervisor of instruction for the public schools in Montgomery County, Maryland–one of the wealthiest counties in the U.S.  Terri’s aunt, Adrienne Kennedy, is a playwright who won two Obie Awards. Terri’s cousin, Leon Isaac Kennedy, is an actor and producer known for the movies Lone Wolf McQuade (1983), Body and Soul (1981; which included his then wife Jayne Kennedy, as well as Muhammad Ali) and Penitentiary (1979).  Her uncle, Dr. Joseph C. Kennedy, co-founded Africare with C. Payne Lucas in 1970.  He worked closely with Sargent Shriver in the growth and development of the Peace Corps from 1965 through 1971, and was Deputy Regional Director for Africa, Director for Sierra Leone, and Regional Director for East Asia and the Pacific. Her aunt, the late Mary Kennedy Carter, was a teacher who started doing work in Africa in the early 1960s and built schools in Uganda. Her aunt, the late Dr. Lillian Kennedy Beam, became Executive Director of the United States International University-Africa in Kenya in 1984. In 2009, the school’s library and new School of Science and Technology, was renamed the Lillian K. Beam Building in honor of her work. Terri’s great uncle, the late Dr. James A. Atkins, was a member of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Black Cabinet,” advising on education. He authored Human Relations in Colorado (1961, 1968) and The Age of Jim Crow (1964).

Find out about Terri’s speaking/moderating, individual coaching, yoga/mindfulness, VIP Options, and media. Also, check out a sampling of her inspiration, as well as products at www.powerlivingmedia.com. For even more, go to her blog at www.iampowerliving.com. Go to www.elderdignity.org to learn about her elder justice advocacy.

More background specifics:

Strategist & Entrepreneur

  • 25+ years experience as academic, executive and entrepreneur. Described as having “holographic thinking”– able to view problems from different perspectives.
  • Harvard Business School-trained MBA/strategist and researcher. Worked with Production Operations Management expert W. Bruce Chew on “Operations Strategy” course. Consulted with Fortune 500 companies. Performed statistical/predictive analysis. Researched/wrote papers on small businesses with entrepreneurship expert, J. Gregory Dees. Author of multiple Harvard case studies.
  • Taught “Consumer Behavior” marketing courses at Laboratory Institute of Merchandising (LIM).
  • Direct learning from a master – her father, the late Dr. James Scott Kennedy, professor of Communications & Theatre Arts and a pioneer in Executive Leadership Training (pre-cursor to coaching). Called “Mr. Speech” in the 1950s for training executives from IBM and other top companies. He also worked with another pioneer Arthur Lessac, and was the first to bring The Lessac Method of communications to colleges, including Brooklyn College and The New School of Social Research. Over the last 50 years, the method has been taught around the world.
  • Grew up with “mompreneur” Janie Sykes Kennedy, journalist from Columbia School of Journalism who ran a successful marketing consulting company with business around the world.
  • Visionary with hands-on operational experience. Founded VH1 Online and VH1@Work radio network. Negotiated VH1′s first deal with America Online which funded division. Managed VH1 Viewers Services group (i.e. database management, direct marketing, phone, mail and email support), the building of a new television studio, the rebranding of the VH1 TV network, a 200-person digital operations and launch of six digital cable networks for MTV Networks.
  • Skilled at strategic alliances. Negotiated landmark content/distribution deals bringing in over $30 million into the MTVN digital division (a feat for the 1990s). Forged and managed major strategic partnerships such as Intel, Microsoft, Yahoo!, AOL, N2K/CDNOW, Lycos and Excite@Home, and helped acquire SonicNet on behalf of Viacom. As Interim CEO for the national non-profit Yoga Alliance, forged and managed strategic affiliations with entities such as the National Institutes of Health and the Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care.
  • Creative eye for business. Produced some of the first on-air and online events with superstar artists such as Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks and Paul McCartney. Founding member of film company start-up. Consulted for a music festival in Cote d’Ivoire and managed cross-cultural production teams in Kenya. Early career, was Assistant Buyer for fashion merchandising company, Apparel Alliance.
  • C-suite advisor to legendary leaders. Worked as Creative Consultant at Universal Studios with legendary studio head Lew Wasserman and acclaimed head of production Casey Silver. Served as strategy advisor for VH1 TV presidents: cable veteran Ed Bennett and then music industry veteran John Sykes, a member of the original founding team of MTV. As Vice President at MTV Networks, advised on digital strategy for MTV Networks CEO and creative icon Tom Freston (another member of original founding team of MTV) and Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone. Worked with the CFO and COO at MTV Networks and senior business development team at Viacom.
  • As a consultant and coach, advised CEOs in a range of industries from real estate, construction and beauty to television, music and retail, including helping a $8.5 billion TV / multiplatform retailer refine strategic metrics, business intelligence and change management strategy leading to insights on customer measurement, relationship-building and growth strategies.
  • Participant in exclusive World Economic Forum strategy sessions with multinational CEOs and Presidents of countries in Brazil, China, India, Jordan, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, South Africa, and Tanzania, and the Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland. As Member of the Forum of Young Global Leaders, has an extensive global network and privy to the latest thinking around the world.
  • Learn about Terri’s individual coaching services and VIP Options.

Speaker & Moderator

  • 20 years of moderating and speaking around the world from Jamaica, China and Chile to Slovenia, Montenegro and Dubai.
  • Various topics from leadership development, mindfulness, stress management, personal power, empowerment of women and girls, non-violence, yoga, integrative health and sustainability.
  • Discussion leader on “The Economics of Happiness” for the exclusive invite-only World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, with additional presentations on global health and resilience at Forum events in China, Tanzania and India.
  • Expert in Training and Development. Led programs for a range of entities such as Bloomberg Media, Deloitte Financial Advisory Services, Right Management, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Sagicor Jamaica Limited (Jamaica), Eileen Fisher, as well as government groups such as the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs and the New York City Department of Education.
  • Presented for academic audiences such as the Sustainability Leadership and Inspiration Academy at the Faculty of Economics at the University (FELU) of Ljubljana in Slovenia, as well as social change forums such as presenting “The Gandhi Effect” to a standing room only audience at the Newark Peace Education Summit which headlined His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
  • National Spokesperson for the American Heart Association and Advocate for Power (Power To End Stroke). Served on their International Stroke Committee, New York State Advocacy Committee, Multicultural Leadership Committee, Harlem Go Red Committee and Social Media Subcommittee.
  • Long-standing advocate for youth engagement and the empowerment of women & girls. Served on the Young Global Leader Youth Task Force and expert contributor to The Future of Youth Movements Summit in New York. Mother operated ID: Inner Dignity – a program that taught self-esteem building skills to girls in the 1960s in Brooklyn. Terri carried on the tradition with the Young PWR Brokers program which teaches self-esteem skills to pre-teen and teen girls in Harlem.
  • Ambassador for HealthCorps – Dr. Mehmet Oz’s non-profit to fight childhood obesity.  Led youth-oriented health programs for President Clinton’s Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Figure Skating in Harlem, Children’s Sports & Fitness Expo and the Harlem Wizards Basketball Team/Camp.
  • Communications is her “family business,” and social justice advocacy their legacy. Parents were trailblazers in cross-cultural communications and leadership development on five continents for five decades, as well as human/civil rights activists promoting the potential in all people.
  • Learn about Terri’s speaking events and courses/webinars.

Success & Wellness Coach

  • Over 2,500 coaching client-hours with training from the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (IPEC).
  • 40+ years of exploring the mind-body-spirit connection. Mother was proponent of holistic health and New Thought. Started yoga at age four and grew up in a “green” household before it was popular.
  • Transformed from almost dying of Crohn’s Disease to living with vibrant health using a custom anti-inflammatory food and lifestyle protocol for 20 years.
  • Certified Holistic Health Counselor from Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN). Taught multiple modules for program as faculty member, and led training programs for health professionals at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, Albany College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences, Association of Black Cardiologists, New York State Council of Health-system Pharmacists, Student National Medical Association and Mentoring in Medicine, among others.
  • Served as nutrition expert for CAMBA’s S.P.I.C.E. (Supporting Pre-Conception Individuals through Cultural, Cooking and Coping Essentials). As health coach, helped clients with variety of ailments from Adult ADD, Asthma, Anorexia and Diabetes to Hypertension, Obesity, IBS, and Leukemia.
  • Certified Hatha Yoga Teacher from Integral Yoga Institute (IYI) in New York and Yogaville. Participated in one of the last Satsang gatherings with Sri Swami Satchidananda before he transitioned in 2002. Certified in Chair Yoga and studied Yoga for Children.
  • Studied Raja Yoga meditation, Buddhist meditation, and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in the tradition of Jon Kabat-Zinn. advanced studies in World Religions. Additional yoga studies with master teachers Srivatsa Ramaswami, Swami Ramananda, Dharma Mittra and Tao Porchon-Lynch.
  • Founded the Ta Yoga House in 2002 – first yoga studio in Harlem. Mission to make healthy and positive living physically, culturally and financially accessible to underserved urban communities. Served as a gateway to deliver health and sustainability messages.
  • Offered free yoga classes to the Harlem community through Shape Up NYC program sponsored by New York City Departments of Health and Parks & Recreation, and for patients at The Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention.
  • Served six years on the Board of Yoga Alliance – the internationally-recognized non-profit association that sets standards for yoga teaching in the United States with over 90,400 registered yoga teachers and 6,200 registered yoga schools. Interim CEO and first African-American chair of the Board.
  • Presented for a variety of mind-body related organizations/events such as the National Institutes of Health, Integrative Healthcare Symposium, National Ayurvedic Medical Association, Yoga Research Society, AARP, American Diabetes Association, Athletic Center of Excellence & Sports Medicine, among others. Frequent keynote speaker for Cleveland Clinic’s Speaking of Women’s Health.
  • Moderated at Yoga Journal Conferences with leading teachers including Sharon Gannon, Gary Kraftsow, Cyndi Lee, Ana Forrest, Tias Little, Aadil Palkhivala, John Friend, Judith Hanson Lasater, Rod Stryker, Jason Crandell, Pretzel France, and Rogelio Nunez.
  • Infused mindfulness into leadership and business events such as Social Venture Network Conferences, Global Shapers Conference, and Forum of Young Global Leaders.
  • Served on the Education Working Group for the Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care (ACCAHC), now the Academic Collaborative for Integrative Health (ACIH).
  • Works and travels with oldest yoga master in the world, 101-year-old Tao Porchon-Lynch — moderating conversations, assisting in teaching yoga workshops and capturing her wisdom.
  • Contributed to various media outlets such as CNN and The New York Times on topics of yoga, health, sustainability and mindful living including being featured on the cover of Yoga Journal. See media.

Award-Winning Author & Activist

Awards & Honors

Headshots

Headshot of Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy
Headshot of Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy
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