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Who is JoWanda?

JoWanda Rollins-Fells, Ph.D., is a Virginia resident who is passionate about empowering the lives of others. She taught elementary school and served in several leadership capacities in the public school system for 15 years before transitioning into business and politics.

JoWanda has been instrumental in converting failing systems into thriving ecosystems by integrating her training, natural instincts, love for people and passion for learning. She has been an aha! Process certified trainer since 2003 and has worked with K–12 education, Head Start, community organizations, business workforce development initiatives, and the local and state departments of social services and juvenile justice.

Whether it is working to support education as a school board member or advocating for small businesses as a senior consultant, JoWanda can be found serving and leading.


  • Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Education: Curriculum and Instruction
  • Master’s Degree in Teaching
  • Bachelor’s of Art Degrees in Psychology and Education (Dual Major) with a Counseling Strand
  • National Certified Teacher
  • Certificate in Educational Leadership
  • Certificate in Change Management

Work history

  • Elementary Educator
  • Inclusion Specialist
  • Lead Teacher
  • School Board Official
  • Business Management Senior Consultant
  • Owner of Spirit of Excellence

JoWanda’s passions

JoWanda’s passion is supporting the Divas with Promise and Men of Valor mentoring programs with her husband and mother. The trio chartered the groups to work directly with middle and high schools students in their rural hometown in Virginia. They focus on three key concepts: encouragement, exposure, and empowerment. Monthly classes, field trips, volunteer opportunities, and “Real Talk” sessions keep students engaged. JoWanda loves the opportunity to give back to her community and share what she has learned to encourage the next generation.

JoWanda’s aha! moment

When JoWanda made the transition into the business sector, she noticed many issues with how agencies were interfacing with people. She reached out to Ruby Payne’s office to see if there was any information translating the application of the principles from the original A Framework for Understanding Poverty to entities outside of education. To her delight, there are several books anchored in the Framework text. She quickly ordered the books and attended trainings on a full suite of applications. Bridges Out of Poverty, Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World, Boys in Crisis, and Emotional Poverty are a few of the other tools JoWanda has integrated into her toolbox to be able to work with several different audiences.

What does JoWanda do for fun?

JoWanda enjoys going bowling, cooking, and trying out new restaurants. She is very family oriented and often has a house full of laughter and music. JoWanda also enjoys curling up with a good book and a glass of sweet iced tea.

What are people saying about JoWanda?

“JoWanda has the ability to connect with an audience in a way that is authentic and just pulls you in.”

“JoWanda’s passion is evident and her energy is contagious.”

“JoWanda’s understanding and application of what she is training is real!”

“What an enjoyable training about real stuff in real time! The paradigm shift was strategic and intentional. I literally felt several aha! moments, and I could hardly contain my emotions.”

“JoWanda has been in the trenches in education, business, and community relations. Her diverse and rich perspective was able to provide a continuum of understanding across different settings.”

“Impressive. Passionate. Insightful. Transformative. Empowering. Impactful.”