Elizabeth Graham grew up in Franklin, Tn with two siblings. She founded the Divas and Dudes in 2015 and since then has worked hard to develop it into the organization it is today. Her younger sister was born with Down syndrome and has been her inspiration to empower the special needs community. With determination to erase any negative stigmas associated with individuals with special needs and 12 years of competitive dance experience, the Dancing Divas and Dudes was formed. Today Elizabeth Graham manages her staff and volunteers by overseeing activities/ performances, choreographing dances, managing accounts, but most importantly ensuring that the Divas and Dudes are seen for their true value.
Caroline grew up in Murfreesboro, Tennessee and attended Middle Tennessee State University where she met her husband. After college, Caroline became a State Farm Agent and moved to Nashville, Tennessee. Caroline has spent over 25 years creating a successful agency. In addition to her success in the work place, she is also the proud mother of 3 children. With the ability to be a successful business owner, Caroline plays an integral role as Vice President. She is able to contribute creative and innovative business ideas to development our program while also ensuring that the Divas have a positive and supportive environment.
Becky is a widow of 43 years, mother of three and a grandmother of five. She loves life as well as spending time with her family! Raised in Indianapolis, IN Becky is a Graduate from IUPUI Dental Hygiene School. Attended Purdue University in Special Education and was Mrs. Tennessee America in 1986. Becky and her husband, David, were Ordained in 2013 and she served on her church’s Elder Board. Becky has been a part of growing the organization since it was founded and has given her all to help it prosper. With a background in special education and her excellent communication abilities, Becky is excellent at being the Secretary on the Board of Directors.
Pat Justis grew up in Kenmore, New York And attained a degree at the University of Buffalo in New York. She has worked for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and is currently employeed as the Internal Audit Manager for Franklin Synergy Bank. She now has two daughters and currently lives in Franklin, Tennessee. She has spent the past several years working with BRAVO arts so she is passionate for the fine arts community. With a heart for the special needs community, an organized personality, and a career in accounting, she is a great attribute as the Board’s Treasurer.
Ellie has known Elizabeth Graham and Natalie for most of her life. She loves Natalie’s spirit, fire, and intelligence. Ellie was impressed that these sisters were on a mission to impact the community so she wanted to be the hands and feet of the organization. She was thrilled to have the opportunity to coach the Divas because she wanted to give back to Natalie and her friends. By coaching such a special group, Ellie believes she promotes the idea that everyone is truly a part of the community. Ellie says that the reason she is so honored to coach these dancers is because "they have passion and spend time simply loving others which is really deep concept that most people spend their lives trying to understand."
Kaitlyn became involved with the Dancing Divas and Dudes in January 2019 after moving from Colorado. She volunteers as an assistant coach at practices and performances with the girls, as well as helps plan extracurricular activities for the team in the community. She says that "seeing the Divas and Dudes is always the highlight of her week. From dancing their way through practices, to shining brightly on stage, there is never a shortage of smiles or hugs at Diva events! It has been such a blessing to be part of a program that encourages inclusion and embraces ability".
Grace Nevin graduated from Purchase college in 2018, where she received a BA in psychology. She works full time at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in the Education department and part time at varies dance studios around Nashville. She is honored to be a coach of the Dancing Divas and Dudes; dancing with the girls is the best part of her week. She loves working with this team because the studio is always full of smiles, joy, and kindness.
Kellee is a classically trained dancer in jazz, ballet, hip hip and tap. She also spent the last four years as a Tennessee Titans Cheerleader and served as a captain her last two seasons. From all of her years dancing, she learned that dance is so much more than learning steps. It makes you feel strong, it gives you confidence, it gives you an incredible group of people to surround yourself with. Dancing brings your heart joy and when you perform you are able to share that joy with others.
She wanted to work with the Divas and Dudes because She knew just how much of an impact dancing has on your life. She has given so much time to training and cheering and wanted to use that knowledge to give back to others. The Divas and Dudes is an incredible part of the Nashville community and a program allows abilities to shine and gives women an outlet to explore their creativity, teamwork skills and have fun!! Dance can change lives, not only does it change the dancer's lives, it changes every person who interacts with them. Breaking down stereotypes one eight count at a time!!
Meagan runs the Tennessee Instagram and Facebook page for The Dancing Divas and Dudes. She edits and sometimes photographs events. She says, “Something I adore about working with the divas is easily the girls. Their outlook on life is outstandingly optimistic and humbling. To see the team grow is something I’m so proud that I can say I am apart of. It’s never a chore volunteering for The Divas and Dudes it’s a an absolute blessing.”
Dylan is the coach of the Dancing Dudes. With years of dance experience he wants to help young men express themselves through dance as he once did. He also runs his own event coordinating business so he helps the Divas plan their events in the community.
Kaelyn Embler is the Vice President of the Alabama chapter of the Dancing Divas and Dudes. She saw first hand how the Divas and Dudes form true relationships between the dancers and coaches. Kaelyn wanted to help found the organization in Alabama so she could reach a new group of individuals and create something more than just a team. Kaelyn believes the team transforms relationships and increases inclusitivioty in the community.
Brett Hall is the Director of Communication Outreach for Dancing Divas and Dudes in Alabama. Brett believes that too many groups and organizations turn away or look down on people with disabilities, as if they’re a burden. However, this is not the case when it comes to the Dancing Divas and Dudes. Our organization sees the amazing gifts and abilities each person with special needs has and we all truly believe that their potential is limitless. Brett promotes the organization on various social media networks. He says “it has been so exciting to see all the people that want to be involved in this organization. I can’t wait to see how far this group goes and the impact it will continue to have for years and years to come.”
Grace Fuller is from Decatur, Alabama and has always had a passion for serving individuals with special needs.
She says that "the dedication and love poured into this program is what makes it so special. The Dancing Divas and Dudes is about developing an experience for these individuals and making it somewhere they can come and feel complete joy and acceptance. This is a great addition to our state and I can’t wait to help create moments that matter for everyone."
Payton Rawson serves as the treasurer of the Alabama Chapter of Dancing Divas and Dudes. She believes The Dancing Divas and Dudes is such an incredible organization and is so honored to be part of it. The says “these girls truly disprove so many stereotypes about having a disability that society has placed on them. Their hard work and dedication to dance and everything else they do truly inspires me and encourages me to approach everything with their same enthusiasm. I am so excited to see the Dancing Divas and Dudes flourish, and hopefully have as much of an impact on others as they have had on me.”
Camryn Shields serves the Dancing Divas and Dudes in any capacity that she is needed, but primarily as the role of the Chairman of Activities. In this role, she will work with Savanna Swanson to create and align activities for individual team members and their buddies, as well as whole group activities— creating the aspect of what a true family is. She is so excited for what is to come in Alabama by bringing even more joy and inclusivity to the community as a result of Dancing Divas and Dudes. Camryn says that "the purpose behind Dancing Divas and Dudes correlates perfectly with two important facets of my life that I hold dear to me: inclusion and joy. I am so excited to work with staff, the Divas and Dudes, and all of those in between who come together to make this year and this organization so great."
Presley Baggett is from Huntsville, Alabama and serves as the Fundraising chairman for the Alabama chapter of the Dancing Divas and Dudes. She is in charge of raising money for events, team clothing, and other finances the organization needs. She has always had a deep love and appreciation for working with kids and adults with special needs. When she heard about the opportunity to be involved in Dancing Divas and Dudes She knew it would be a perfect chance to work with such a great group of people. She says “I am so blessed to be a part of this organization, and I hope to see it grow and prosper for many years to come!”