Lakeesha Atkinson embodies many notable qualities such as being a powerful and effective communicator, an enthusiastic director and coordinator, and many more. Atkinson is able to maintain all of these strong qualities while still being fair, wise, and confident. Born and raised in Portsmouth, Virginia, she was able to learn the ins and outs of her community and adopted a very personal connection to her peers. Despite all the odds against her, she was able to obtain her diploma from Woodrow Wilson High School, also located in Portsmouth. She furthered her education and also graduated from Norfolk State University with a Bachelors in Science, majoring in Criminal Justice, and holding a minor in Sociology.
With a passion for giving back to her community, volunteering and injustice, Atkinson's passion became a movement, and “Believe, Pray, Overcome” was established. The movement grew rapidly via social media. Many people provided positive feedback about the events while stating that the three words were powerful and life-changing. In 2013, she developed believeprayovercome.org with a purpose of organizing philanthropic efforts and a mission of advocacy, education, and spreading awareness about societal issues. Believe Pray Overcome hosts several fundraising events in which the funds are donated to the local community or person or group impacted.
With her “Believe, Pray, Overcome” organization, she also included W.A.A.B., a program focused on prevention of bullying. W.A.A.B. stands for “We Are Against Bullying”. Atkinson is extremely passionate and sensitive about this topic being that bullying correlates with suicide, and those who are LGBTQ are more likely to be bullied. With her motivational character she has been invited to speak at elementary and middle schools in the Hampton Roads area as well as children’s banquets.
Some events that have been established through the “Believe Pray Overcome” organization include, but are not limited to: Haircuts for the Homeless (includes free haircuts from local barbers), Pink GridIron 757 (joined local semi-pro, ex-pro male athletes to raise money for breast cancer), Everybody Eat (providing cooked meals to those in need), and VA to MI, in which Atkinson along with Partners In The Community collected over 2,000 water cases and delivered them in two semi-trucks to Flint, Michigan. The semi-trucks were sponsored by local celebrity rapper Pusha T and Pastor Melvin O Marriner of Grove Baptist Church (Portsmouth,VA). Believe Pray Overcome is also a sponsor of the Heartbeat Gala “Go Red for Women” that happens annually in February.
Atkinson is a board member of the Portsmouth NAACP Chapter and serves on the M.A.N (Men.Alleviating.Negativity) Foundation Board. She was elected to Portsmouth School Board on November 8, 2016, becoming the youngest and first openly LGBTQ member elected.
Atkinson has already created a path for future leaders but has stated, "My work is far from over. Only you can determine your own success, success is incomplete and undefined without "U".
*School Board members are individually elected by a vote of eligible citizens. Individual members have no authority or duties except as may be assigned to them by the School Board as a whole. Information provided in the School Board member biographies is provided by the member and does not necessarily represent the position of Portsmouth Public Schools or the School Board as a whole.