Akiko-Ayalla Cooks left her native California after completing training as a psychiatric technician, settling in Las Vegas, Nevada. She thought that she found her calling as the founder, owner, and operations executive of two large behavioral treatment facilities there until an unexpected wake-up call roused her.
In 2019, photographs of Akiko’s teenaged son, along with eight other Black children, were circulated on social media targeting them for what was called “Columbine Two” by three other students at the school. The school and local law enforcement’s lethargic responses thrust Akiko into action and onto her present trajectory.
Organizing with parents of the other targeted youth, Akiko co-founded NO Racism in Schools #1865, an organization developed to include community voices in ongoing conversations with the school district in an attempt to move more aggressively in addressing long-simmering, systemic racism. Following the sentencing of the three student offenders, she further galvanized the community into maintaining pressure on local government to continue and expand the struggle.
Akiko’s high visibility brought her to the attention of other organizations, several of which solicited her skills in related areas of equity, inclusion, and anti-racism. Jointly, American University and the Southern Poverty Law Center hired her as an administrator for their restorative justice program, based in Washington, D.C.., as part of the Polarization and Extremism Research Innovation Lab (PERIL). When COVID-19 delayed implementation of the program, the PLAN hired her as an organizer where she coordinates bail-out efforts in several states. Mass Liberation Project concomitantly called on her as an organizer for its Las Vegas operations. She continues in both positions while supporting local municipal candidates for public office and working with other parents in effecting structural changes at the school board level. In the recent election, all but one of the slate of jurists for whom she campaigned won.
Akiko and her work were featured in an issue of the social justice magazine, Justice for Learning She is a sought-after speaker on topics of anti-racism, systemic racism, inclusion, and social justice, appearing on panel discussions and on-air with local media with increasing regularity.
As a highly sought-after Business Development Consultant for small to medium sized businesses & former Healthcare Administrator, Jshauntae serves among the top parental advocates and servant leaders in the Las Vegas Valley. With over twelve years in business and relationship development experience, she guides others to their fullest potential by re-patterning unhealthy relationship patterns, establishing goals, implementing accountability, and delivering conflict resolution strategies. Thus, yielding healthier personal and business relationships.
Jai is known for her extensive work within the valley as a mother and Co-Founder of 1865 No Racism in Schools, a parental advocacy group birthed out of the “threatened school shooting” targeting 9 African American students of Arbor View High School in March of 2019 (one of which was her son). Despite her families move to Henderson due to safety concerns, she continued her relentless volunteer work with CCSD Admin, Teachers, Staff, Local Elected Officials, Parents, and Students. School Safety being her focus, she worked to close the gaps in policy, laws, and protocols which governs equity and diversity surrounding children of diverse ethnicities, the developmentally disabled, students of the LGBT, and students of diverse socio-economic backgrounds.
Her advocacy for school safety is unprecedented and proven. Yielding the adoption of the “Critical Response for Hate-Motivated Behavior” protocols by CCSD under the Emergency Response Policy in February of 2020, parental involvement in the culturally inclusive school analysis, and a key partner for eradicating unsafe schools. Known for her “accountability and resolution driven approach” Jai along with the other AV9 moms have made a significant impact on student safety within CCSD. She intends to focus on furthering parental advocacy for students, families, and educators district-wide. While she often notes herself as” just a parent” who stands for change, her presence is well noted throughout the valley.