Staff

Aqeela Sherrills, the youngest of 10 children, was raised in the Jordan Downs Housing Projects in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. In 1989, Aqeela lost 13 friends to gang violence, catalyzing his role as a key player in organizing the historic 1992 “Peace Treaty” between the Crips and Bloods in Los Angeles. As a direct result of his effort, Los Angeles is experiencing a 40 year low in homicides and murders, removing the city from the list of the top 15 most violent cities. Aqeela has traveled nationally and internationally brokering ceasefires in some ten cities throughout the U.S. and has consulted with dignitaries in many countries including South Africa, Serbia and Northern Ireland on violence intervention/prevention strategies.

In January 2004, his oldest son Terrell was murdered while home on winter break. This experience inspired a shift in Aqeela’s approach and gave birth to The Reverence Project, a three-fold initiative that is working to shift the current social and philosophical underpinnings of a world culture rooted in violence, shame, guilt and fear into a more balanced worldview rooted in reverence, forgiveness, compassion and truth.

A spirit-centered activist, advocate and social entrepreneur, Aqeela serves on the board of L.A.U.R.A, a community-based organization aimed at creating strength out of tragedy in South Central Los Angeles. He volunteers his time with the Fair Sentencing for Youth Campaign and serves as the LA Chapter-lead for Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice with Californians for Safety and Justice, a statewide initiative aimed at providing smart justice solutions to criminal justice reform. He also co-owns 3 Worlds Café and Loco’l—chef Roy Choi’s revolutionary fast food restaurants.

Aqeela is the subject of multiple documentaries on gang violence prevention/intervention and is currently developing The Reverence Wellness Salon, a comprehensive wellness center taking a holistic approach to support the healing journey of victims of violence in the Watts community in Los Angeles.

 Executive Director

Doreen Minor is the Executive Assistant to the Executive Director at The Reverence Project

in Watts California, she also holds the organizations Fiscal Coordinator position.

In this position Doreen provides administrative assistances to the Executive Director, as well as holding the

Fiscal Coordinator position. As an Administrative Assistant Doreen provides direct support to the Director,

and assists on multiple special projects, such as CURES, Project Faith SAFE, Peace Ambassador Initiative

and NCST where she provides financial, and technical support. As well as all around support to the organization.

  Executive Assistant/Fiscal Coordinator

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Oya L Sherrills is a native of California. Her perspectives are greatly influenced by the environments she traversed as a youth, namely; the Los Angeles and Northern Bay area inner cities and suburbs. Born to young parents in the turmoil of heightened urban violence, Oya grew up on the Mississippi swamp tales of her Great Grandmother. Inspired by the peace activism of her father and the perseverance of her mother, she cultivates her love of community advocacy to give voice to the longings, sufferings and triumphs of survivors of crime in Watts and surrounding areas. Driven by the murder of her brother and personal experiences of domestic/sexual assault and community violence, Oya campaigned for social justice even in her college years at Humboldt State University where Ethnic Studies was her pursuit. Oya lives her healing through writing/poetry, (the work) yoga/meditation (the teachings) and a love of music (the playlist). An organizer and advocate for human rights and empowerment, she lives with her son in Los Angeles where they continue to uplift and grow through community engagement.

 Programs Director

Down to Earth Pillar of the Community

Adults and children alike benefit from Ma’at’s advocacy. Ma’at ‘s heart, passion and joyful approach shows up in her ability to go the extra mile for survivors of violent crimes.

As a mother of 6 Jamie’s story of transformation and triumph inspires and motivates.

Her expertise lies in holistic family education, policy advocacy, community advocacy and innovation support just to name a few.

 CURES Lead Victims Advocate

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Phillip Lester

Phillip Lester is a member of the Anti Recidivism Coalition, he has a math and social science educational background, he is a justice reform advocate and a interventionist specialist.

Phillip Lester  grew up in South Central Los Angeles within the Harvard Park area, at the age of 14 he was the victim of gun violence, inspired by the plight of his community, Phillip Lester embraced the idea of change and becoming the example thereof. Understanding firsthand the challenges of being young in Los Angeles,  Phillip Lester’s motto is “helping the kids that he once was”.

Phillip Lester was recently acknowledged and celebrated by The Reverence Project for his outstanding facilitation of its 2018 summer youth “Gloves Over Guns” program in South Los Angeles.  He was also honored and awarded in the spring of 2018 the certificate of appreciation by LACC administration for his role in establishing and developing its “Break It To Make It” program, an on campus program that accommodate system impacted students with the necessities needed to succeed in school.

Phillip Lester  has dedicated himself to mentoring youth and adults alike with the intent to change the tide of yesterday.  His work and unique experience translates a powerful example of what it means to overcome and be a survivor.  

 Peace Ambassadors Initiative Gang Intervention Specialist

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Catherine (CAT) Perkins

Cat Perkins was raised in Los Angeles, California for most of her life. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Service. During her teen years she was sexually assaulted at gunpoint. Cat did not report it nor was there any available services to assist her back in 1987. This was the beginning of Cat’s life battling trauma. In 2008, her step-son was murdered in a police shooting thus adding to her traumatic life experiences.
Over the next few years, as a result of her failure to deal with the traumatic experiences Cat began to overeat, shut down mentally, emotionally, and spiritually by questioning God and his place in her life. Despite knowing so many people that had experienced violent crimes, she was not able to find any support services to help her figure out how to deal with the trauma she went through. She began to focus on her career goals pushing all of the trauma to the back of her mind. Working for the Los Angeles Marshall’s Department in 1989 as a clerk. In the year, 1991 Cat was promoted to the Los Angeles Municipal Court as a Senior Court Clerk. She continued to work for the Los Angeles County Department 28 years until she began her healing journey.
In 2016, Cat was introduced to Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice Los Angeles Chapter Lead David Guizar. At this point Cats eyes were opened to a world of healing by attending her first CSSJ-Survivors Speaks event. In 2017 Cats journey to healing truly broadened she began to work as a children’s advocate for the Los Angeles Superior Court. She became a licensed evangelist with COTLG.
Catherine continues to advocate for all survivors. She’s a founding member of the Sister Circle which focuses on addressing issues that affect women living in low-social economic communities. Catherine is working in conjunction with her husband and family are working on starting her own non-profit organization (CALI) which focuses on assisting re-entry, children, family, and wives of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated persons. She now holds the position of Project Faith Safe Victims Advocate at the Watts-based “The Reverence Project.” Cat also co-hosts the Survivors Speak Radio Show.

As a result of her own recovery due to self-exploration and self-discovery it became her mission to help others heal in a healthy and whole way. Some of those ways include but are not limited to: prayer, meditation, developing coping skills and processing the trauma.
Healing the community would reduce the violence, hopelessness, depression, lack of self-love and values. It would instill a togetherness among neighbors to where they would be willing to embrace love and interact with one another.

 Project Faith SAFE Victims Advocate