Dr. Carla Stokes, Ph.D., M.P.H. is an internationally recognized adolescent and girls’ health and behavior expert, girl empowerment specialist, professional speaker, and success coach. She provides health education and personal development programs for young women and girls through her speaking, coaching and consulting practice. A multi-passionate social entrepreneur, Dr. Carla is also the founder of Helping Our Teen Girls In Real Life Situations, Inc. (HOTGIRLS)®, an award-winning 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering underserved young women and girls to develop leadership skills, create positive social change in their communities, and realize their full potential.
Dr. Carla has devoted two decades to health education and youth development programming. She is respected as a leading authority and trailblazer in the fields of women’s and girls’ empowerment, women’s health, adolescent/teen health and sexuality, positive youth development, gender-based violence prevention, and the impact of media on girls’ health, identity and body image.
Through her pioneering research and transformational work, Dr. Carla passionately helps young women and girls fall in love with themselves, make healthy choices and reach their full potential; empowers parents to communicate effectively with their daughters and help them thrive during the turbulent teen and tween years; and prepares educators and girl-serving professionals to uplift the next generation of women leaders.
A sought-after, dynamic, and memorable speaker, Dr. Carla has lectured widely and delivered powerful messages to diverse audiences of women, youth, girls, parents, educators, girl-serving professionals, and concerned adults.
Over the years, Dr. Carla has been recognized for her leadership, achievements and dedication to community service by post-secondary institutions and organizations such as the National Association of University Women, the University of Michigan and Spelman College. In recognition of her leadership and service to the Atlanta community, she is one of ten recipients of the Outstanding Young Atlantans Award in 2012. She was also selected as a member of the American Jewish Committee’s Project Understanding Black-Jewish Young Leadership 2013 class, which provides an opportunity for Black and Jewish leaders to strengthen community relations in Atlanta.
Dr. Carla is available for speaking engagements, media appearances, spokesperson opportunities, in-person and virtual coaching, writing opportunities and consulting projects.
Carla Stokes, Ph.D., M.P.H., affectionately known as “Dr. Carla,” is an internationally recognized women’s and adolescent health and behavior expert, girl empowerment specialist, professional speaker, and success coach. Her personal mission is to help women, teens and girls achieve their personal best in life, make healthy choices, and thrive during their transition to womanhood.
Adolescent and Girls’ Health and Behavior Expert
Dr. Carla’s activism and original research in the areas of women’s and girls’ health, adolescent health, girlhood, and sexuality has been highlighted in academic books, studied in multidisciplinary courses at institutions around the world ranging from Ivy League universities to small liberal arts colleges, and featured in media outlets and popular web sites including The New York Times, Reuters, Heart & Soul Magazine, Daughters, Real Health: The Black Wellness Magazine, The Crisis, American Sexuality magazine, AlterNet and Feministing.com. She has also been interviewed as an expert on morning shows and television networks around the United States such as NBC, CBS and Fox.
Dr. Carla’s pioneering scholarly research on the intersections between adolescent girls’ sexuality, identity and body image with youth culture, hip hop, and social media has appeared in scholarly publications including the international peer-reviewed journal, Culture, Health & Sexuality and the book, Girl Wide Web 2.0: Revisiting Girls, the Internet, and the Negotiation of Identity, edited by Sharon Mazzarella. As an expert on public health, girl empowerment, and teen health and behavior, she has presented her research and community-based work at scientific meetings and national conferences of professional associations including the American Public Health Association, American Anthropological Association, and the National Council for Research on Women.
Dr. Carla graduated cum laude from Spelman College with a Bachelor of Arts degree and departmental honors in Psychology. She earned Doctor of Philosophy (with distinction) and Master of Public Health degrees in Health Behavior and Health Education (with a cognate in Social Work) from the University of Michigan (consistently ranked in the top five schools of public health and #1 school of social work in the U.S.) under the advising of Professors Larry Gant and Marcia Inhorn. Her doctoral dissertation research was funded by a competitive Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation/Johnson & Johnson Dissertation Grant in Women’s Health and won honorable mention in the University of Michigan Distinguished Dissertation Awards competition (selected from more than 660 dissertations).
At the University of Michigan, Dr. Carla’s doctoral training focused on improving the health of women, teens, girls, and communities of color by developing, implementing, and evaluating effective programs and strategies to promote healthy choices and behaviors. She also taught courses on women’s health and representations of women in hip hop and popular culture as an instructor in the Department of Women’s Studies. Dr. Carla investigated racial/ethnic health disparities and health policy issues as a National Institutes of Health Doctoral Trainee at the Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture & Health, W.K. Kellogg Foundation Health Policy Research Fellow, and Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Public Health Fellow.
In October 2012, Dr. Carla Stokes was one of four distinguished doctoral alumni of the University of Michigan’s Department of Health Behavior and Health Education invited to lecture in honor of the Rackham Graduate School’s Centennial celebration, which showcased noteworthy careers and scholarly work of the University’s graduates.
After earning her Ph.D., Dr. Carla completed a two-year post-doctoral research fellowship at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where she conducted research on HIV prevention in communities of color and women’s and adolescent health and sexuality under the mentorship of senior behavioral scientists.
A sought-after, dynamic, and memorable speaker, Dr. Carla has lectured widely at universities and professional conferences around the United States and delivered powerful messages to youth, parents, educators, health care and social service professionals, girl-serving organizations, and concerned adults. She uses her knowledge, insight, creativity, humor, and compassion to address pertinent topics related to women’s and girls’ health, youth development, leadership, academic success, popular culture and media, personal development, relationships, and empowerment through multimedia keynote addresses, breakout sessions, workshops, retreats, teleseminars, webinars, and training programs. Dr. Carla blends her training and research with personal stories of self-discovery to educate, inspire, and encourage her audiences to take responsibility for their actions and choices. Her work has inspired young women and girls to believe in themselves, make healthy choices, and step confidently into their greatness.
Life Coaching & Success Mentoring for Women & Girls
As a certified life and personal development coach, Dr. Carla combines her extensive training as a behavioral scientist with her real-life experience as a health educator, speaker, mentor, and girl empowerment expert to inspire women and girls to become more confident, overcome challenges and achieve their greatest potential. Through private and group coaching sessions, seminars, and workshops in person and by phone/Skype/Internet, she teaches women and girls new ways of thinking about their lives and encourages them to push through limiting beliefs and pressures that hold them back from achieving their goals and dreams.
Dr. Carla’s coaching clients appreciate her nonjudgmental, compassionate, honest, down-to-earth, humorous, and laid back style of communicating, which makes it very easy for women and girls to feel comfortable talking to her about their personal lives, challenges, concerns, and dreams. Through a range of coaching modalities, she helps her clients develop resilience, resist negative influences, build healthy relationships with adults and peers, embrace their authentic selves, maximize their strengths and develop a positive self-image. Her unique coaching approach builds on her work as a nonprofit leader, social entrepreneur, researcher, and health educator and incorporates media literacy education and positive psychology principles.
Life Coaching & Success Mentoring for Girls
Dr. Carla empowers parents and guardians to raise healthy and resilient daughters and shares her expertise, life lessons, and advice with young women and girls on a wide range of topics, including academic achievement, college and career planning, decision-making, healthy behaviors, romantic and family relationships, self-esteem, body image, friendship, entrepreneurship, leadership development and goal setting. Dr. Carla’s approach to coaching girls challenges the common belief that youth need to be controlled by adults. Instead, she values young women and girls as leaders and experts on their own lives and focuses on helping them develop their strengths.
Coaching & Mentoring for Girl-Serving Professionals
Dr. Carla offers teleseminars, webinars, private and group coaching/mentoring programs, workshops, and other professional development training and resources for girl-serving professionals, leaders and entrepreneurs.
Dr. Carla provides program development, evaluation, technical assistance, web development, and social media consulting services to community-based organizations, nonprofits, educational institutions, and private corporations that reach women, youth, girls and people of color.
Girl Empowerment Specialist and Founder of Helping Our Teen Girls In Real Life Situations, Inc. (HOTGIRLS)®
Dr. Carla has mentored and educated youth for two decades and is a trailblazer in the fields of youth development and girl empowerment. As a young woman coming of age in the hip hop generation, she struggled to develop a positive self-image and overcame low self-esteem, unhealthy body image, peer pressure, toxic friendships and unhealthy relationships. These experiences serve as the motivation for Dr. Carla’s life’s work and enable her to relate first hand to many of the challenges faced by today’s young women and girls.
During her freshman year at Spelman College in the 90′s, Dr. Carla tapped into her passion for health education and youth empowerment while volunteering as a peer health educator and mentor to underserved youth at numerous schools and community organizations in Atlanta, Georgia and Washington, D.C. After realizing that the existing sexuality education and violence prevention curricula needed to be adapted in order to effectively reach her peers in the hip hop generation, she developed her own creative lesson plans and materials that utilized popular TV shows, movies, and hip hop/R&B songs and videos to educate urban teens about sexuality, HIV/AIDS, dating violence, and other health and social justice issues. Through these efforts, she recognized the need for youth friendly, age appropriate, and culturally relevant health education programs and decided to pursue graduate studies in public health and social work at the University of Michigan.
After completing her Master of Public Health degree and spending a year working as a health consultant in the Washington, DC area, Dr. Carla answered an urgent call to continue her education and dedicate her life to improving the health and lives of young women and girls. Shortly after returning to the University of Michigan to pursue her Ph.D., she founded Helping Our Teen Girls In Real Life Situations, Inc. (HOTGIRLS)® in November 2001 with only $20 and a passionate vision for educating youth and empowering disadvantaged young women and girls to realize their full potential.
Since its humble beginnings as an HIV/AIDS education initiative for black young women and teen girls delivered in a social networking site, HOTGIRLS has transformed under Dr. Carla’s leadership into an award-winning youth-driven 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization that has positively impacted thousands of youth from diverse backgrounds and concerned adults across the United States. Now celebrating more than 10 years of service, HOTGIRLS is dedicated to improving the health and lives of underserved young women and girls through leadership development, media education, peer health education and youth activism.
Dr. Carla is recognized as a pioneer in the use of hip hop, popular culture and social media to reach, educate and uplift youth and girls and promote positive images of women and girls in the media and society. She is deeply connected to today’s young women and girls and serves as a bridge between youth and those who care about, educate, mentor, and advocate for them. Over the years, she has listened to the concerns of thousands of women, youth, parents, educators, and professionals and is recognized for her ability to effectively engage and connect with people of all ages from diverse racial/ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Dr. Carla is currently writing her first book and creating educational and coaching products and programs devoted to healing, inspiring, uniting and uplifting women and girls.
In her spare time, Dr. Carla enjoys playing with her adopted dog and two cats, sewing, drawing, web design, reading, eating chocolate, web surfing, collecting vintage sewing patterns, and watching Animal Planet and Project Runway. She grew up in the Washington, DC area and lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
If you’d like to know more about Dr. Carla’s interests when she’s not educating and inspiring women and girls, follow her on Pinterest!