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Erica Danielle Lanier

Our Founder

Erica Danielle Lanier was born on September 26, 1995, in Atlanta, Georgia, and transitioned on July 26, 2017, following a tragic car accident.  

Erica began her education at Greenforest-McCalep Christian Academic Center when she was three years old.   While there, she developed and cultivated her love of Christ and the understanding of service.  She continued her education at Greenforest, moving from the 3-year-old program to high school graduation.  Erica received several academic awards such as multiple student of the year awards and honor roll.  She was class queen for multiple classes, culminating to the title of Miss  Greenforest 2012-2013. 

As her platform, she chose a major recycling program, which has been fully implemented.  Also, she participated in a mission trip to Florida, where she assisted with painting houses for low-income families.  These experiences helped Erica to navigate through her high-school experience and find her way as a leader.

Erica danced her entire life. She was enrolled at SOAP Stone Performance Arts Center to explore a possible interest in dance.  At the early age of three, she showed a passion for the arts.  After the center closed, she was enrolled at TAZZ School of Dance.  While at TAZZ, she joined the company and honed her skills.  She attended Nationals in New York City and Power Pac in Myrtle Beach, SC.  Later, she joined the competition dance team at Carol Walker School of Dance, where she continued to craft her skills.  Erica won numerous awards as a competition dancer, one being the prestigious Miss Platinum.  During her dance years, Erica was also a member of Steppin’ up Dance Academy, Phusion Performing Arts Alliance, and finished her competition dance career at Studio One.   After Erica graduated, she began teaching and choreographing competition dances at Studio One.  Her choreography pieces won several awards, and she received special awards for her choreography.  Erica later opened the Art of the Heart Dance program for girls who had a passion for dance.

After graduating from Greenforest, Erica attended Spelman College as an education studies major.  While at Spelman College, she was a Dancing Diva on the Mahogany N Motion dance team.  Erica was involved in Girls in Technology, Junior Achievement, and Operation PEACE.  She was also an afterschool teacher at Greenforest Christian Academy.  Erica was passionate about mentoring teenage girls, and as a result, she founded her own organization entitled Gifted Girls of Grace.  She also completed internships with MARTA, Breakthrough Atlanta, and Uncommon in New Jersey.  Most recently, Erica was the Dance Director at Salem High School.  These roles taught her valuable leadership skills and positioned her to relate to teenage girls and what they experienced every day.

Erica wanted to reform the education system in Georgia to benefit the urban communities that are so often left behind.  She had planned to open a private school in an urban community in Atlanta, Georgia, that would challenge the next generation of youth to reach success and achieve a one-hundred percent graduation rate. Being aware of her community’s needs and the world around her was always part of Erica’s life.  Volunteering and remaining active in her community was always important to her.  This taught her the value of giving back and becoming a productive member of society.

Growing up as a teenage girl, Erica realized the difficulty of being a young woman in society.  She recalled how much of an influence the media, her environment, and her peers had on her perception of young womanhood. There was so much pressure every day to conform to the idea of young womanhood that everyone else thought was acceptable. She witnessed many of her friends travel down the wrong path because of their lack of guidance and perspective.  Teenage girls are the most impressionable group, which means that it is rewarding to expose them to positive life experiences during these years. She saw the benefits of being part of a group of young ladies that valued sisterhood, self-empowerment, and the willingness to work toward their goals.

Erica created an organization that valued the teenage girls’ experience and incorporated an environment that promoted sisterhood, etiquette, culture, and self-empowering activity.  She felt that in a society that doesn’t promote these ideas, its’ important to take a stand for young women everywhere and create a new generation of leaders.

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