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Happy International Women’s Day. I want to start by saying WHATS THE WORD (WTW) would not be the company it is today without strong women’s support. Since founding this brand in 2011, there has always been some talented women on our staff. Very few people know that a woman by the name of Paris Griffen co-founded WTW. Paris and I birthed this idea together while we were college students attending Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

Paris brought the structure and organization to the idea; if it wasn’t for her, we probably would have never made it out of year 1. Other amazing women helped build the brand internally and externally through the journey, from our first logo creator, Lynette Morris and scriptwriters, such as Janesha Ford. WTW has had some of the most talented individuals from dope interns and journalists that assisted in making this brand a success.

In this article, I just wanted to highlight the women that are currently helping push this vision forward. As a leader I can’t say that I am always right or that I am the best at everything, but being in the trenches with these amazing people helps make the job easier and fun. Thank you ladies for everything!

Cindy, Director of Content Development & Supervising Editor

Similar to Paris, Cindy provides structure to WHATS THE WORD. Her role as Director of Content Development & Supervising Editor is more than adding structure; she adds something special to the team. We get a lot of good feedback about our content; well, Cindy plays a huge part in developing and releasing things. I love how she managed the Diamond’s Dosage Podcast; she helped take the podcast to a new level. Some of the things that Cindy provides can’t be expressed in words. Working with her one on one the past three years has made me a better leader and creator. I credit a lot of the elevation of WHATS THE WORD to Cindy. Every team needs a Cindy, I’m grateful God blessed us with one.

Cheanell aka The Teeth Jeweler

Cheanell is a special talent, I feel there isn’t anything she can’t do. When she initially joined WHATS THE WORD it was difficult to find her niche, but once she found it, it was a joy to see her blossom. She can be a very camera shy person but is filled with nothing but personality, one of the most entertaining people in Chicago. Cheanell at one time was considered the heart and soul of WHATS THE WORD, as she brought a different energy to the team, something that is irreplaceable. Cheanell is on a new journey right now, but she still makes sure she helps the brand stay on top of trending topics and issues with in the culture.

Corli Jay, Senior Editor/HipPOP News Anchor

Corli Jay, is Corli Jay. You will never find another one like her. I have to be real careful about what I write because she will let me have it if it is not accurate (lol). Corli is an amazing writer and content creator. She really cares about the brand and, since day one, has been all in. Corli is always trying to get better and is open to feedback. She initially joined the team as an intern to do camera work, but grew into an amazing journalist. I enjoy her passion for Chicago culture and activist spirit. Corli Jay will be a force in this industry soon.

Big Chelsea, Creative Assistant

I met Chelsea while she was an intern at Power 92 (one of the hardest working interns I had working under my supervision). I guess it’s something about Chicago State Graduates because, similar to Corli, Chelsea takes advantage of every situation. I admire her hustle. She is very creative, hip to music, and very in tune with what’s going on in the culture. If I had the budget, I would hire Chelsea to be a full-time WHATS THE WORD employee because I see so much potential with-in her. I love the energy and value she has brings to the team.

Ri Jones, Creative Assistant/HipPOP News Anchor

Ri Jones, who is the youngest team member, is a joy to work with. I would classify her as a “Rookie” that enjoys learning and the challenge of getting better. She has such amazing energy and is very optimistic. Ri Jones brings joy to the team, and her growth as a creative will be a joy to watch.

Tiela Sherice, Contributor

An amazing writer and spirit. When Tiela’s pen game is active she develops some dope pieces. She holds the records for the most read articles on WHATS THE WORD. I will always be grateful when Tiela contributes a feature.

Diamond’s Dosage

Probably one of the most interesting personalities in Chicago. Working on Diamond’s Dosage podcast has been an amazing experience. This was the first time I had to learn how to work with others and their brands. In the beginning, it’s up and down, but it ended up being one of the best projects I’ve had the pleasure to work on. Outside of the amazing efforts from Cindy, Diamond’s input was amazing. Diamond’s Dosage has charisma, an amazing character, and I love her commitment; Diamond is a Star. Diamond’s ceiling is past being a Chicago/local social media icon. Diamond is it. Her allowing us to host her podcast was essential to the overall vision of WHATS THE WORD. Thank You, Diamond.

Jay LULU, Marketing Intern

Jalen is a silent assassin. Due to covid-19 she wasn’t able to really lock in how I know she could. As these restrictions ease up it will be time for the world to see more of Jay LuLu. This girl is a force, trust me.

Bree Specific, “Our Cousin”

Bree Specific has always been one of WHATS THE WORD’s biggest supporters. She used to work for the brand as a news anchor. As a radio personality at the biggest radio station in Chicago for Hip-Hop (Power 92.3), she still assists us when needed. Bree Specific is one of the hardest working women in the industry. She has amazing energy and is very genuine. Bree Specific is the future of Chicago radio.


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