"I overcome human trafficking, homelessness, physical and emotional abuse. But that's not my story! It's what happened after these experiences that changed me in ways, I never could have imagined".
Born in the Caribbean and adopted at the age of three. Rhonelle grew up raised by a Canadian family in a small town. Growing up as the “other” she endured bullying and discrimination at school and struggled with social isolation, and anxiety. Unable to find support and hoping to escape her problems, she left home and ended up on the streets of downtown Toronto.
As a homeless teenager and high school dropout, Rhonelle bounced between youth shelters before being lured into the sex industry, working under the control of human traffickers. This life left her exposed to constant threats of physical and sexual violence, which thankfully, she was able to escape. But not long after, became pregnant and struggled to provide for her daughter as a single mother.
Determined not to merely survive but thrive despite her challenging circumstances, Rhonelle returned to school and went on to complete a Master of Science in Health Informatics from the University of Victoria. and an Honours Bachelor of Science in Health Services Administration from New York City College of Technology. After which enjoyed a successful career in te healthcare industry, working as an business analyst and researcher.
Not satisfied with just seeing her own success and wanting to see other vulnerable youth RISE despite their circumstances, in 2018 Rhonelle founded, the RISE Initiative; a grassroots project to help support vulnerable youth, many much like herself, having overcome multiple traumatic experiences. Through RISE, she is able to share her story to help inspire and motivative others but also to help spread awareness and advocate for those who are often overlooked, marginalized and disadvantaged.
As a subject matter expert, Rhonelle provides organizations with insight on issues facing women, youth and those from diverse and racialized backgrounds; specifically, regarding human trafficking, gender-based violence, at-risk youth, and mental health. Most recently contributing to a review of human trafficking in Canada for the United Nations Inter Press Service and participating in a roundtable discussion on empowerment and entrepreneurship with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
In addition to consulting, Rhonelle currently serves on the Board of Directors Massey Centre for Women, the Human Trafficking Advisory Committee, and the Black Students Achievement Community Advisory Committee. And in 2019, Rhonelle was selected as one of Canada's 100 Black Women to Watch.
Rhonelle’s has been featured on/in CBC News, Global News, TVO's The Agenda with Steve Paikin, The Toronto Star, Flare magazine, iHeartRadio, and more.