20 years of helping people achieve wellness, empowerment & success
Meet Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy
My mission is to unleash human potential and collectively create a just and sustainable world.
A Blessed Beginning
Although I am American, I was born in Accra, Ghana and started school in Adelaide, Australia. My parents were pioneers in cross-cultural communications, working on five continents for over five decades using academia, theatre, and all forms of media to train leaders and expand minds. My parents knew people like Muhammad Ali, who had a huge influence on my mindset and habits growing up. My mother was also an early proponent of holistic health practices like integrative nutrition, yoga and meditation – so I was groomed for the work I do today.
As a girl, I was a global citizen ready to take on the world.
I achieved so many significant goals at a young age:
- Skipped two grades of school
- Youngest in my class at both Wellesley College and Harvard Business School
- Youngest Research Associate at Harvard Business School
- Creative Consultant for Universal Studios under Lew Wasserman
- Founded VH1 Interactive and VH1@Work Radio
- Youngest Vice President at MTV Networks negotiating multimillion dollar deals and managing partnerships with entities like Microsoft, Yahoo!, AOL and Intel
BUT my approach to work and life was not sustainable and my success came at a cost. My body didn’t like my workaholic lifestyle and kicked in an autoimmune response. I couldn’t hold down food and eventually even liquids.
In 1997, I almost died.
Then, I dove deeply into what made the human body, brain and spirit THRIVE and dedicated my career to helping others transform.
More authentic work and life as a global change agent:
- Founded 1st yoga studio in Harlem, the Ta Yoga House
- Led hundreds of transformational programs
- Selected as World Economic Forum Young Global Leader; participated in Forums in Brazil, China, India, Jordan, Morocco, Mexico, Myanmar, South Africa, Tanzania and Switzerland; Discussion Leader in Davos
- Became protégé for yoga master Tao Porchon-Lynch; co-authored two award-winning books and did 66 events together; featured in 2017 Athleta “Power of She” campaign
- Founded Elder Dignity to advocate for elder rights
- Pioneered cutting-edge programs to help people thrive
- Advised companies in media, tech, retail and non-profit
My successes are more meaningful and joyful.
Award-Winner Across Disciplines
Received over 20 awards as an entrepreneur, advocate and author ranging from Emerging Entrepreneur by the Social Venture Network and National Power Award from the American Heart Association to the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award for her book, Shining Bright.
What do you get when you cross a Harvard MBA, Master Coach, Holistic Health Counselor and Yoga Teacher? Success from the inside out!
Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy, Ph.D., MBA, CHHC, RYT (“Dr. Kennedy” or “Terri”) is President & CEO of Power Living Enterprises, Inc., a suite of brands and initiatives focused on conscious living and spreading good. Her mission is to unleash human potential and collectively create a just and sustainable world. She has been transforming lives and powering up audiences across the globe for over twenty years tapping into her unique multi-disciplinary background and real-world experience as a corporate executive, C-suite advisor, entrepreneur and yoga/meditation teacher. An award-winning author and speaker, she has trained thousands around the world in her “whole-person” approach to wellness, mindfulness, leadership, and authentic success, melding her experience as a Harvard Business School-trained strategist, Master Coach, Yoga Teacher and Certified Holistic Health Counselor with the latest research in neuroscience, positive psychology and human performance. In addition, as a writer/producer, she has used her media experience and global network to feature transformative ideas, initiatives and people. She has contributed to various publications such as The Huffington Post, Pure Inspiration, Essence, The Network Journal, the World Economic Forum blog and the Gates Foundation Impatient Optimists blog. Her work has been covered in a range of media from CNN, NBC, Hallmark TV, Black Enterprise and The New York Times, to Tokyo FM, ARD TV in Germany, Fit N’Style in Lebanon, El Mercurio in Chile and Oprah’s book, Live Your Best Life! Called “smart with a heart,” 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 Forums with CEOs, presidents of countries and leaders in Brazil, China, India, Jordan, Morocco, Mexico, Myanmar, South Africa, Tanzania and Switzerland, including being a Discussion Leader for the “Economics of Happiness” at the Annual Meeting in Davos.
Pioneering Technology & Media Executive
A technology evangelist, Terri founded VH1 Online and VH1@Work Radio at the beginning of the commercial Internet. Starting as a Management Associate, she advised SVP of VH1 Programming, Julie Davidson. Within three months, the president of VH1, Ed Bennett, hired her as a special advisor. As Manager, she evaluated business opportunities, managed large projects and participated in the senior executive meetings. When John Sykes was appointed president of VH1, she was an advisor to him as well. She led the development and roll-out of a new TV studio, and implementation of the channel repositioning resulting in the branding of “VH1: Music First,” as well as award-winning shows such as VH1 Behind the Music and VH1 Storytellers. Promoted to Director, she pitched VH1’s first online business and negotiated a deal with AOL CEO Steve Case which funded the division. She pioneered Internet deal structures generating over $2 million via online advertising, licensing and merchandising (a feat for the early Internet days). She also produced the first integrated broadcast and webcast events with superstar artists such as Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks and Paul McCartney. In addition, she transformed Viewers Services incorporating new technologies and approaches for deeper customer relationships and increased advocacy. With her success at VH1, she was tapped to spearhead the restructuring of MTV and VH1 Online to leverage negotiating power and gain efficiencies, working with pioneering executives Van Toffler and Matt Farber. As Vice President of Business Development & Operations for MTV Networks, she managed a 200-person team, negotiated landmark deals bringing over $30 million to the division and ran one of the only profitable online businesses at the time. She managed partnerships with Intel, Microsoft, AOL, CDNow, Yahoo!, Music Boulevard, and others, and launched “The Suite” of six digital music TV channels including MTV2, MTV “X,” MTV “S,” VH1 Soul, VH1 Country, and VH1 Smooth. In addition, she led due diligence for the SonicNet acquisition and presented strategies to Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone, working closely with MTVN CEO Tom Freston. She also helped create social purpose initiatives including VH1 Save the Music and the MTV Networks Diversity Council.
Before joining Viacom, she worked as Creative Consultant at Universal Studios with their Executive Creative Group and legendary studio head Lew Wasserman. She also was a Creative Consultant and Director at the Now Africa Theatre Company in Nairobi, where she managed a 60-member international cast, organized publicity and directed three productions: Love Conquers All, Oba Waja and The Preacher. In addition, she assisted teaching theatre and communications courses for International Business and MBA students at the United States International University Africa. She started her professional career as a researcher. At 20 years old, she was recruited from Wellesley College by Harvard Business School becoming the youngest on staff as a Research Associate and one of the first non-Ph.Ds to write case studies for the MBA program. She performed predictive analysis and evaluated business strategies of companies working with Production Operations Management expert, W. Bruce Chew and wrote case studies for the second-year Operations Strategy course. She also researched and wrote papers on small businesses with entrepreneurship expert, J. Gregory Dees. While getting her MBA at Harvard, she designed a cable TV start-up plan for Lorne Michaels’ company, Broadway Video. Later, as an adjunct professor, she taught the college-level Consumer Behavior marketing course at Laboratory Institute of Merchandising (LIM) in New York, and advised a range of companies, including a $8.5 billion TV/multiplatform retailer, on business strategy, change management and customer engagement strategies.
Wellness & Transformation Expert
Influenced by her mother, who got into holistic health in the early 1970’s, Terri grew up with holistic practices from juicing wheat grass to making her own yogurt and became a vegetarian in 1984. However, when she was a corporate executive, she left many of her healthy principles behind. She was working too much, sleeping too little, eating processed food, exercising infrequently and not taking time to nurture herself. It was not sustainable. As the youngest Vice President at MTV Networks (still in her twenties), she had reached success by external measures but was not managing herself very well. In 1997, she almost died. She couldn’t hold down food and lost twenty pounds in a two-week period. She spent ten days in the hospital and was finally diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. Her workaholic lifestyle triggered an autoimmune response. With her mother’s help, she went gluten-free decades before it became mainstream. There was no Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s around the corner so they had to cook everything at home. She healed using her own integrated protocol including yoga, meditation, a gluten-free plant-based diet and mindset shift. Then, she dove deeply into what made the human body, brain and spirit thrive and dedicated her career to helping others transform.
Focused on delivering extraordinary experiences and spurring positive social impact, Terri has shared her innovative views on panels and led hundreds of transformational programs around the world to a variety of audiences. She has discussed heart-centered leadership at the Bled Strategic Forum in Slovenia; taught stress management skills to executives at Eileen Fisher and Bloomberg Media in New York; shared mindfulness and resilience practices at The Massachusetts Conference for Women, National Association of Professional Women, and Women In Leadership Development Conference; energized 800 women as the international headliner for Estée Lauder’s Global Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign in Santiago, Chile; and debuted The Gandhi Effect® to a standing-room-only audience at the Newark Peace Education Summit hosted by The Dalai Lama. She has inspired female executives at MetLife’s Global Women’s Leadership Forum, and created a series of webinars and customized videos for MetLife’s Global Women’s Initiative, Developing Women’s Careers Experience (DWCE) Thrive@ Work Series. She has presented on the “Globalization of Chronic Disease” at the Young Global Leader Summit in China, was featured in the Congressional Black Caucus Health Empowerment Tour, and was a keynote in multiple cities for the Cleveland Clinic’s Speaking of Women’s Health Tour. She has also led programs at faith-based organizations, such as Abyssinian Baptist Church, Bethel AME Church, Riverside Church, The Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York, to name a few. In addition, she has moderated over 100 programs, such as for the Integrative Healthcare Symposium and Women’s Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations. A master level coach with thousands of client-hours, she received training from the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (IPEC) and the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN). She is also certified in Lifestyle & Weight Management Counseling, Group Fitness and Personal Training from the American Council on Exercise (ACE). In addition to executive coaching, she has coached people through a range of health issues (with an emphasis on gut and immune health) and incorporates her deep knowledge of the mind-body connection into energy management approaches for leaders in her Embodied Success® coaching program.
In 2007, after losing multiple family members to cardiovascular disease, she started volunteering for the American Heart Association (AHA). She was quickly recommended by Congressional, community and faith leaders to be named a National Spokesperson. She represented AHA in the national media for their Search Your Heart and Power To End Stroke campaigns targeting the African American and Latino communities. She reached thousands through workshops and keynote talks incorporating tailored messages on health, nutrition and physical activity. She also trained leaders to deliver AHA messages in culturally relevant ways, recruited volunteer ambassadors, participated in Lobby Day, and facilitated strategic alliances with other associations such as the National Association of Negro Business & Professional Women. She served on multiple international, national and local committees, including the International Stroke Committee, New York State Stroke Committee, New York State Advocacy Committee, Multicultural Leadership Committee, Harlem Go Red Committee, Social Media Subcommittee, and National Spokesperson Panel. She produced and hosted the first Power New York City Health & Empowerment Symposium for AHA at Columbia University, and lent her voice and expertise to multiple segments of The Daily Dose for WBLS 107.5 FM.
An early proponent of Lifestyles of Health & Sustainability (LOHAS), Terri has done Executive Education on Strategies for Sustainability at Stanford University and has shared her knowledge at the Sustainability Leadership and Inspiration Academy in Slovenia. Sponsored by BMW, the executive education program is housed at the Faculty of Economics–University of Ljubljana. Watch Slovenia: Sustainability in Action, Building Healthy Sustainable Spaces, and Creating a Sustainable Market Economy. Her online course, The Power Living® Detox, provides the latest research on toxins in our environment, food and personal care products, and a roadmap for creating a healthy and sustainable life. A Certified Holistic Health Counselor, she has also been adjunct faculty at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and was the nutrition expert and lead teacher for S.P.I.C.E. (Supporting Pre-Conception Individuals through Cultural, Cooking and Coping Essentials), a program sponsored by the March of Dimes to help reduce disparities in childbirth outcomes through enhancing education and support services that are focused on Caribbean, African American, African and Latino Women in Brooklyn. In addition, she served as Ambassador for HealthCorps, a non-profit co-founded by Dr. Mehmet Oz and his wife, Lisa Oz, to combat the childhood obesity crisis. She moderated for educational events and served as red carpet host for the Green Garden Gala, their annual fundraising gala. She interviewed notables such as legendary producer/musician Quincy Jones, fashion designer Donna Karan, singer/actor L.L. Cool J, music mogul Russell Simmons, Broadway star Ben Vereen, Governor David Paterson, Chef Rocco DiSpirito, Dr. Michael Roizen and Dr. Oz. She also served on the Education Working Group for the Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care (ACCAHC).
A gluten-free vegan, Terri is a seasoned cook and has been featured in the American Heart Association’s Healthy Soul Food cookbook (2009), Case Histories: They Dynamic Future of Nutrition (2007) and Integrative Nutrition: The Future of Nutrition (2006). She has contributed to various publications such as The Huffington Post, the World Economic Forum blog, the Gates Foundation Impatient Optimists blog, SELF, RealSimple, Pure Inspiration, The Network Journal, Real Health, and Essence. For example, read Mindfulness as a Path to Sustainability and What I Learned From the Greatest: Personal Reflections on Muhammad Ali in The Huffington Post and Let Your Body Calm Your Mind in Sisters From AARP. She is the author of five books primarily focused on transformation. This includes 40 Days to Power Living®: Think, Eat & Live On Purpose (2006), The Power Living® Pledge: An Affirmation for a Purposeful & Powerful Life (2007), and Seven-Day PWR Detox: Cleanse Your Body, Mind & Spirit While Living Your Daily Life (2009), and La Promesa de Power Living: Una Afirmación para una Vida Llena de Propósito y Poder (2010). She has also produced the Power Living® Mini Escapes: Relaxation Techniques for Any Situation audio program (2004), and multiple online courses such as Power Up Your Dreams virtual retreat (2020), Yoga Basics: Six-Week Course (2022), A Course in Power Living® (2022), and The Power Living® Detox (2023). In addition, she contributed to The NIA Guide for Black Women Achieving Career Success On Their Own Terms (2004), The Mocha Manual to a Fabulous Pregnancy DVD (2008), and wrote the foreword for What Students Learned In Gym Class: A Qualitative Study of Required Physical Education (2010).
Experienced Yoga & Meditation Teacher
Inspired by her mother, who started practicing yoga and meditation in 1971, Terri began “playing” with yoga at four years old trying to mimic her mom in Shoulder Stand and doing “weird” breathing. From an athletic family, Terri competed in swimming, track and gymnastics and was familiar with many of the yoga stretches. In 2001, she trained as a teacher and has taught yoga, meditation and breathwork for over 20 years. Her initial teacher training was in Hatha Yoga and Extra Gentle Chair Yoga at the Integral Yoga Institute where she participated in one of the last Satsang gatherings with Swami Satchidananda. She has done extensive training with Sri Dharma Mittra at the 200-hour, 500-hour and 700-hour levels, and also studied Vinyasa Krama Yoga with Srivatsa Ramaswami and Yoga Philosophy with Swami Ramananda. She also did training on Yoga for Kids at OM Yoga. In 2002, after leaving her successful corporate career, she founded the first yoga studio in Harlem – the Ta Yoga House. She served six years on the Board of Yoga Alliance, and was their Interim CEO and first African American Chair of the Board. She transformed the Board from being management-focused to governance-focused, released new structures for teaching standards, forged strategic affiliations, grew sponsors for Yoga Day USA, and reached over 20 million through media commentary. She helped initiate the Yoga In America Study conducted by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance, which helped grow the acceptance of yoga in the U.S. She was also one of the first African Americans featured on the cover of Yoga Journal. In addition, she studied Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in the tradition of Jon Kabat-Zinn and started introducing mindfulness in corporate settings long before it became mainstream.
In addition to teaching at her own studio, she has taught yoga and mindfulness across the globe in a variety of settings from corporations and conferences to churches and schools, as well as her own signature retreats. She is adept at modifying the practice to fit the context whether the audience consists of world leaders or the everyday person, from beginners to advanced to mixed level. She has taught Mind PWR™ breathing and meditation techniques to Harvard Business School alumni and was the first to teach yoga at Deloitte Financial Advisory Services, as well as the first to teach yoga and meditation to the World Economic Forum of Young Global Leaders. She has been a headliner for the XYoga Dubai Festival teaching her branded Breathe & Burn® and Blissful Vibrations® programs, and has even taught yoga to global leaders on a private section of The Great Wall of China. With a focus on giving back, she has taught yoga at the Ralph Lauren Cancer Center and was contracted for multiple years to provide free yoga classes to the Harlem community as part of the Shape Up NY program in partnership with the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene and New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Considered a leader in the industry, she has moderated programs at Yoga Journal Conferences across the country with a range of notable yoga 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. She has also led trainings and presented on the mind-body connection for a variety of health-related organizations such as the National Institutes of Health, American Diabetes Association, The Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, AARP New York, Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, National Ayurvedic Medical Association, Yoga Research Society, International Association of Black Yoga Teachers, Association of Black Cardiologists, Mentoring in Medicine, Student National Medical Association, Athletic Center of Excellence & Sports Medicine, and Albany College of Pharmacy & Health Services. She has also led mind-body programs for physicians and staff at hospitals, including Mount Sinai, King’s County Hospital, Harlem Hospital Center and Elmhurst Hospital Center.
Her most profound yoga experience was as biographer and protégé of yoga master Tao Porchon-Lynch. As a social impact initiative, Terri and her mother funded the Tao Brand-Legacy Project which focused on amplifying the brand and legacy of Tao. Tao was living history – she marched with Mahatma Gandhi, was a French Resistance fighter under General Charles de Gaulle, modeled for Chanel, was an early female film producer and distributor, among other things. Terri, her mother and Tao co-authored two award-winning books, Dancing Light: The Spiritual Side of Being Through the Eyes of a Modern Yoga Master (2015) and Shining Bright: Quotes and Images to Inspire Optimism, Gratitude & Belief In Your Unlimited Potential (2017), as well as produced two online courses, Master Yoga Course with Tao Porchon-Lynch (2021) and Stretch & Relax with Tao Porchon-Lynch (2021). Terri spent a decade traveling the globe with Tao curating 66 one-of-a-kind events at places like the United Nations, Core Club in New York, Age of Happiness Festival in Montenegro and World Government Summit in Dubai. She worked with notables such as Sadhguru and Dr. Deepak Chopra, who provided the front-cover endorsement for Dancing Light. The interactive Conversation with a Master program she created was highly-regarded and served to triple Tao’s appearance fee. They were also featured in the Athleta “Power of She” campaign for empowering women and girls. When Tao passed away in 2020 at 101 years old, she had become a global historical icon through Terri’s branding and media management. Watch tribute video.
Humanitarian & Advocate
Terri is committed to using her talents and gifts to serve humanity. In addition to her volunteer work with the American Heart Association and Yoga Alliance, Terri has been involved in numerous social causes particularly related to women’s empowerment and youth development. She founded the Young PWR Brokers program, which taught self-esteem building skills to at-risk youth with a focus on formerly homeless teen and pre-teen girls at the Dorothy Day House and Broadway Housing Communities in Harlem. Inspiring the young African American and Latina girls to reach for their dreams, she shared yoga, meditation, breathwork, dream mapping, food strategies, and other empowerment tools. It is still one of her most personally rewarding contributions to date. In addition, she served as a Braintrust member at the start of A New Way Forward – an initiative for the National CARES Mentoring founded by Susan L. Taylor, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Essence magazine. Terri contributed to the training curriculum and manual, as well as A New Way Forward: Healing What’s Hurting Black America (2010). Based on her experience with the Young PWR Brokers, she also contributed to The Youth Effect: Toolkit for Decision Makers on Engaging with Youth (2010) – an initiative of the Forum of Young Global Leaders. In addition, she has led many youth-oriented mind-body programs for entities such as President Clinton’s Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Figure Skating in Harlem, Frederick Douglass Academy, Future Leaders Institute, The Beacon School, Thurgood Marshall Academy, Young Women’s Leadership Foundation, Children’s Sports & Fitness Expo, and the Harlem Wizards Basketball Camp.
She has used her media experience and global network to feature transformative ideas, initiatives and people. As a sampling, watch:
- Women and Power: Conversation with Omega Global Change Makers
- Women as Peacemakers: Conversation on Sisters Against Violent Extremism
- Women: Slovenia’s Untapped Resource
- The Mumbai Spirit: Surviving In The Shadows
- Tuning In To Peace: Tao Porchon-Lynch at the Newark Peace Education Summit
- Embrace Change with Jennifer Holliday
- Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life – Interview with Dr. Lilian Cheung
- Masood Ali Khan & Sheela Bringi on “Music & the Spirit”
- Claim It, Own It, Live It! 8th Annual Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit
- Nurturing Your Power: WIE Symposium
- On War & Peace: Yoga & Meditation in Afghanistan
In 2016, she created Elder Dignity to advocate for elder justice and reform in the U.S. guardianship system after witnessing her aunt, Dr. Lillie Sykes White, being exploited by a predatory guardianship in Florida. She has spoken widely on guardianship reform, such as at World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in D.C., the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee, the Progressive Forum and the Coalition of 100 Black Women, as well as produced three social impact videos, The Deception of Protection (2019), Silent Torture: Trafficking Through Guardianship (2020) and Let America Be America Again (2022). She has served as moderator for the Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship Summit, #FreeBritney Symposium, and is an advisor for the #FreePeterMax campaign. In 2022, she testified for the New York Senate Guardianship Roundtable, and in 2023, she summited a written statement to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging. She wrote “Is Elder Guardianship A New Form Of Human Trafficking?” for The Huffington Post, and They Took My Aunt, Then Spent Her Money for Sisters From AARP. She has also provided commentary on guardianships in various media such as ABC Action News (FL), Sky News, and Black Enterprise’s Beyond The Hype with Alfred Edmond. She understands the caregiver’s journey. She helped her mother take care of her father for eight years at home when he was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. She was also caregiver for her sister, Sheila Kennedy Bryant, when she was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer.
Award-Winner Across Disciplines
Terri has received over 20 awards across various disciplines. As an entrepreneur and advocate, awards include: Emerging Entrepreneur from the Social Venture Network (2002); Teaching for Diversity Program Award from the Tides Foundation and Kripalu Yoga Teachers Association (2004); The Network Journal’s 40 Under Forty Achievement Award (2004); Emerging Entrepreneur from the INC Magazine and William J. Clinton Foundation Partnership (2006); Women of Brilliant Achievement Award from Charles & Colvard (2008); Sisters Saving Hearts Grant Award from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and General Mills (2008); Women Who Dare To Be Different Award presented by Congressman Edolphus Town’s and The Women’s Caucus (2008); Fellow, Council of Urban Professionals (2009); National Power Award from the American Heart Association (2009); World Economic Forum Young Global Leader (2009); and Sweet Success from Women In Business (2014). Her accomplishments have been added to the U.S. Congressional Record.
As an author and publisher, she received 10 national and international awards for Dancing Light, including: 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY) (Silver Medal) Autobiography/Memoir II (Coming of Age/Family Legacy/Travel); 2016 International Book Award (three categories) Autobiography/Memoirs, Best Cover Design: Non-Fiction, Spirituality: Inspirational; 2016 Best Book Award (three categories) Autobiography/Memoirs, Best Cover Design: Non-Fiction, Spirituality: Inspirational; 2016 Bookvana Award (two categories) Autobiography/Memoirs, Spirituality: Memoir/Personal Journey; 2016 Eric Hoffer Book Award (Honorable Mention) Spiritual. In addition, Shining Bright received the prestigious 2018 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award.
A Historical Family
Although she is American, Terri was born in Ghana, started school in Australia and studied design in Italy. Her parents – the late playwright/professor Dr. James Scott Kennedy and actress/journalist/entrepreneur Janie Sykes-Kennedy – were pioneers in cross-cultural communications and learning through the arts. For more than five decades, they worked on five continents introducing new and positive concepts of people through theatre, television, radio, academia and the pulpit. In the 1950’s, they owned and operated one of the first multicultural theatre companies in New York City. In the early 1960’s, as her father taught at Brooklyn College, her mother operated ID: Inner Dignity in Brooklyn, New York, a learning center focused on promoting self-esteem in girls. In the late 1960’s, they lived in Ghana working at the University of Ghana. They also produced 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 1970’s, they were invited by Prime Minister Gough Whitlam of Australia to live in Adelaide and introduce new concepts of people – African American and African — to that continent. The “Black Kennedys,” as many called them, were the first African American family to live on the continent of Australia. Even though they were brought in to work with White Australians, they inspired the first land rights march by the Aborigines, as well as taught at the first college for Aboriginal leaders. They were also asked to produce for the Papau, New Guinea Independence Arts Festival in 1973. In 2010, her mother was invited by President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal to speak at the Third World Festival of Black Arts in Dakar and give a historical perspective as a cultural pioneer. The entire family was hosted by the President. Watch the video Return to Senegal.
Through her parents’ unique work and status, Terri and her siblings interfaced with many notables – African chiefs, presidents, prime ministers, mayors, political activists, intellectuals, spiritual leaders, cultural elite and celebrities. She was privileged to grow up around icons like Michael Jackson, Muhammad Ali and Smokey Robinson, and have celebrities in her own family including film and TV stars Leon Isaac Kennedy and Jayne Kennedy Overton. Her aunt, Adrienne Kennedy, is the Obie Award winning playwright who was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame and made her Broadway debut at the age of 91 in 2022 with “Ohio State Murders,” directed by Tony winner, Kenny Leon, and starring another Tony winner, Audra McDonald.
Education, public service and a commitment to excellence have been a family tradition which goes back to Terri’s great grandmother, Mary Atkins, who graduated from Knoxville College in the mid-1800’s; her great uncle, James Atkins, was a member of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Black Cabinet,” advising on education; her uncle, Dr. Joseph C. Kennedy, was co-founder and International Director of Africare, and was Peace Corps director in Sierra Leone, deputy director for Africa and regional director for East Asia and the Pacific Region; and her aunt, Dr. Lillian Kennedy Beam, was for 18 years a visionary builder and former Vice Chancellor of the United States International University Africa in Kenya.
A lifelong learner, Terri has degrees in Sociology, Studio Art, Business and World Religions, and has done Executive Education in Global Leadership, Public Policy and Strategies for Sustainability at Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Yale University Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, Stanford University, and Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore. To supplement her world-class education, she learned directly from a master – her father. In addition to being a professor of Theatre Arts, he was a pioneer in Executive Leadership Training. Known as “Mr. Speech,” he started training executives at IBM and other corporations in the 1950’s integrating specialized breathing, vocal and embodiment tools. He was also the vocal coach to notables like tennis great Althea Gibson. He was using terms like “vibration” and “frequency” in relation to subtle energy long before they became a part of popular self-development vernacular. Terri’s empowerment work uses many of his proven principles, frameworks and techniques, along with her own signature style of coaching, inspiration and whole approach to success in business and life. Her writing and media savvy was inspired by her mother, who ran a global marketing consulting firm in the ’80’s and ’90’s and is a highly-respected Columbia University-trained journalist.
Everything Terri does in business, wellness and advocacy leverages her superpower: communication, whether it’s writing, speaking, moderating, teaching or producing. Ready to work with an expert? Discover ways to collaborate and then reach out here.
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Transformative conversations, connections and experiences
What Others Are Saying
“In my 15th Congressional District in New York, Dr. Kennedy has devoted her time to the community with tireless energy. She is respected both locally and nationally as a proponent of health literacy, personal empowerment, and productivity management. She is known for her integrity and vision, as well as hands-on, personable style. I applaud her contributions to our community and nation.”Former Congressman Charles Rangel – 15th District New York
“Terri Kennedy has worked with the Congressional Black Caucus Health Empowerment Tour in my Congressional District in Brooklyn, and her efforts have made a lasting impact on the community.”Former Congressman Edolphus Towns – 10th District New York
“Dr. Kennedy has been a role model for healthy living – a leader of Harlem’s Healthy Living Initiative.”Lloyd A. Williams – President & CEO, The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce
“Terri really understands the issues around Health & Productivity Management. She delivers an engaging and informative message, and she’s a delight to work with.”Rachel Permuth-Levine, Ph.D. – Former Deputy Director, Office of Strategic & Innovative Programs, National Institutes of Health
“Teresa has a keen understanding of the stresses associated with our business, having served as Vice President for MTV and VH1, and this connection resonated with our employees.”Nikole Thomas – CoBEX, Macy’s East Corporate
“Terri is one of our superstar alumni. She has the intelligence and education to examine the best way to affect her community, the United States of America, and touch peoples lives.”Joshua Rosenthal, MScED – Founder and Director, Institute of Integrative Nutrition
“Terri is a positive life-changing force in our community. She is able to effectively communicate with all ages, genders and ethnic groups. She is certainly a world leader for these times.”Patricia Butts – First Lady, Abysinnian Baptist Church & Board of Directors, American Heart Association Founders Affiliate
“It a rare occurrence for our youth to think of their futures in positive, productive ways, and your Young PWR Brokers program was a very special opportunity for them and our agency as a whole.”Michael Loften, Ed,M. – Director Youth and Adult Education, Broadway Housing Communities
“Terri is a bright light. As Chair of Yoga Alliance, she led with integrity and great devotion.”Srivatsa Ramaswami, E-RYT – Yoga Master
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