About Us

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.”
Maya Angelou
Poet | Activist

Our Vision

This organization has a personal passion to provide extraordinary leadership opportunities for young people who have experienced Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and only saw themselves as ordinary and broken.

Provide young people with a platform to share their stories in safe spaces, while on a journey to promote healing for themselves and others.

Creating strategic partnerships with like-minded and mission driven organizations.

The advocacy work shall address a life transformation in young people.

Providing assistance in releasing possible mental shame that young people may carry from the ill-behaviors of some adults in their lives, that doesn’t belong to them.

Our Mission

The terms SILENT and LISTEN contain the same letters, yet have a vastly different impact. 

Breaking the SILENCE into a transformation of LISTENING to young people, providing support in building a bridge to a deeper, more passionate and persistent foundation for lifelong leadership, while supporting their healing of brokenness, despite the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).

My Story

From the desk of Founder & Director Crystal Sanford Brown

From the age of 2, I had a serious speech impediment. Once I began first grade, I received out of class support services through a Title I program at my elementary school.

By the time I was in the fourth grade, my parents would learn that I also had poor visual acuity, which played a major role in how I saw and heard spoken words. After receiving glasses, seemingly, on the next day of school, I was given course work for high achievers.
For years, I questioned if perhaps at least one of my school teachers recognized why I was frightened when I was called upon. I fear it was a result of being groomed to be SILENT.
At the midpoint of my fifth grade, school administrators suggested that I be double-promoted to the seventh grade. My parents took into consideration how my older sister would handle me being double-promoted and refused the offer.
A photo of me when I was 5-6 years old, hiding shame behind those bright, brown eyes.
My sister (left) and I on our way to the Oprah Winfrey Show in Chicago!
I continued on my academic journey, becoming one of the first graduates of Renaissance High School, Detroit, MI in 1981. After completing seven higher education credentials, I would learn that I was allowing education to have me believe that I was hiding behind the cut places within my head and heart.

Remaining SILENT, at age 19 I married someone who would repeat the cycle in which he was reared; domestic abuse. My oldest son was born visually impaired due to first-trimester abuse and now has two life-long visual conditions as a result.
If only I would have left my former husband the very first time he told me “If you’d only listen to me, then I wouldn’t have to beat you. And if you tell any of our friends; NO ONE WILL BELIEVE YOU!”
Between 2014 and 2017, my previously beloved work environment became increasingly toxic. I had a supervisor who had selected me as her target and began verbally, physically (body shaming), sexually, racially, and religiously harassing me daily! She too would say, “You need to stop telling on me because NO ONE WILL BELIEVE YOU!”
Did you know that the number “8” is the symbol of harmony and represents the ability to make decisions and new beginnings?
In 201”8”, at the age of 55, during a presentation to the attendees at the Annual Oakland County Child Care Council Providers Appreciation Brunch, I received nothing but the power of God as I would for the very first time, publicly share, that I had been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
My PTSD stemmed from being molested as a child by relatives, domestic abuse in a marital relationship, several unhealthy relationships, and working in an extremely toxic environment. While I continually achieved educationally over the years, I held deep dark secrets that I allowed to hold me hostage in shame. I would learn through therapy that one of my triggers to the onset of PTSD occurs when I hear the words, “IF YOU TELL, NO ONE WILL BELIEVE YOU.”
In June of 201″8″, I reached a major milestone in my life and started my four-year term serving as the Vice-President of the Governing Board for the National Association for the Education of Young Children (naeyc.org).
A picture of me advocating for marginalized young women in Detroit.
A photo of me presenting to over 17,000 attendees at the Early Childhood Conference in Hangzhou, China (with the help of a fantastic translator!)
In December of 201″8″, this brown-eyed little girl from Detroit, who previously stuttered and carried the shame and secrets of adults, had a life-altering experience; on the behalf of NAEYC, I traveled to Hangzhou, China to present two seminars at the largest annual Early Childhood Conference with over 17,000 attendees.
With the assistance of phenomenal translators that shared my messages in Mandarin, both of my seminars were well-received.
After forgiving the ill behavior of relatives who instead of praying for me, preyed upon me, I gave my vow to God.
I vowed to God that I would devote the remainder of my life, intentionally advocating in prayer to cease the number of young people who are impacted by Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).
In 2019, that vow became a reality when I started Emerging Young Leadership Inc. To date, we have supported hundreds of students, families, and loved ones to bring out the leaders in themselves that are buried under ACEs.

Board of Directors

Crystal Sanford Brown


Lance O. Brown


Julian Sanford

Vice President

Bianca Rawls

Chairperson of Fund Raising and Philanthropy

Josephine Sanford


Pamela Glaspie


Nicole Bentley

Chair of Social Engagement

Betsy Spiker

Governing Board Trustee and Trainer

Ashley J. Hutchings


Join Us

We’re on a mission to support young people in building a deeper,
more passionate and persistent foundation for lifelong leadership.
Are you ready?