Vice President

Maria DeLaFuente is a consummate professional. She has an extensive background and a varied career. Born in Germany and reared in Spain, Maria has traveled the globe and spent time savoring the cultures of many countries. Fluent in Spanish, she grew up speaking five languages and these language skills were a perfect fit for her during her career at CNN.

As the Director of International Compensation and the many components of the job scope, Maria was responsible for over 400 expatriates, third country nationals and locals located throughout the world managing their assignments and unique compensation. She is very experienced in international business including human resources and business development. In that capacity, she managed a budget in excess of $25 million.

Ms. DeLaFuente currently works as the Executive Director of the Trumpet Awards Foundation and has been affiliated with the Trumpet Awards since its inception in 1993. Her job utilizes her excellent skills in development, strategic planning and the implementation of the annual Trumpet Awards presentation.

Ms. DeLaFuente is a graduate of Georgia State University, holds a CMP designation and is the mother of 3 children.Her knowledge and skills are invaluable to the YOU Awards International team.

Michelle Ellis


Michelle Ellis is the Founder and President of The YOU Awards International and is also the co-owner of the Ellis Modeling & Talent Agency.

Michelle was born and raised in New Orleans, LA where she studied modeling, acting and broadcast journalism.  She honed her skills in broadcast journalism and business at Xavier University.  After graduation she developed her marketing and sales skills with ABC, CBS, Cox Communications and NBC.

Michelle’s love and passion for others is what keeps her going every day.  She volunteers with varies organizations including the famed Trumpet Awards Foundation.

Her willingness to help others shine gave her the idea to create The YOU Awards International whereby the organization will shine a bright light on extraordinary youth in our various communities.

Michelle once heard a couple of phrases that resonated with her and that she carries with her every day.  It goes like this… “The meaning of life is to find your gift.  The purpose of life is to give it away.”

Michelle believes she has begun to do just this.  She won’t be satisfied until she has touched thousands of lives in the process.

One of her favorite quotes that she also lives by comes from T.D. Jakes who said “Live your life without limits and let history explain how you did it.” This is what she plans to do.

In the midst of all of her accomplishments she has the honor of raising her two beautiful and intelligent young daughters with her extremely supportive husband and strives to be a role model for them.  Michelle knows without a doubt that she is blessed and understands that to those whom much is given much is required.  She also recognizes that it takes a village to make a big impact.  So won’t you join her and The YOU Awards International team and help them champion all that is good with our young people of today!  YOU TOO can make a difference!

Danielle lee

SecretaryDanielle Lee is the owner of Sweet Pea Bookkeeping Services.  She has many years of financial experience under belt with various companies throughout her career.  Her knowledge in this field is extensive.  Thus a wonderful addition to The YOU Awards International team.

Nena Bermudez


Nena Bermudez is a certified school counselor and has worked with children and families in a social service setting for over ten years.  For the past fourteen years she has served as the account manager for Studio Named Bermudez, a multidisciplinary design firm in Atlanta, GA which specializes in graphic design and custom awards.  She has taught catechism to elementary school children for 10 years and her proudest accomplishment is being the first teacher, advocate, cheerleader and mother of her three amazing children. Nena’s expertise with working with kids brings a very high level of greatness to The YOU Awards International team.


Carla Graham

Director of Special Events

Carla Graham is a native of New Orleans born and raised.  She studied Accounting at Dillard University and has worked in the field of Accounting for 14 years.  She currently resides in Houston, TX where she currently works in the Aldine ISD school system in the Special Educations Department as a Diagnostician Secretary.  Carla’s love of education and children say a lot about the person she is.  She is a very warm, giving and loving individual.  When Carla is not working she spends all of her time with her two wonderful kids and husband.Carla’s beautiful spirit and giving heart is a valued asset to The YOU Awards International team. 

Silvia Goodman

Director of Public Affairs

Silvia Goodman is a Senior Account Executive for a Fortune 500 Media Company.   With 22 years of experience, her career has thrived through multiple media venues from broadcast to cable networks and several non-profit organizations ranging from neighborhood civic groups to national organizations such as The American Red Cross and The United Way.  In both her corporate and philanthropic careers through sales, marketing, public relations and fundraising, she specialized in identifying talent, donors and business, training, leading and developing teams, giving moving and inspiring speeches and presentations that often led to generating nontraditional revenue and clients. 

When Silvia’s not selling or volunteering, she enjoys spending time with her husband Sean of 22 years and their 16 year old son, Sean Jr.  She loves TV, commercials, reading, movies, all sports, baking, snowballs and her home town New Orleans and the power of positive thinking. 

 Her life has been energized by the firm belief that she has been blessed and it’s her responsibility to be a blessing to others.  This is why we are very excited to have her as part of The YOU Awards International team.

Katina Johnson

Director of Development

Katina Johnson currently serves as Senior Human Resources Generalist for T.D. Williamson.  Prior to working for T.D. Williamson, Mrs. Johnson served as Regulatory Compliance Manager and Internal Auditor of the AssuranceAmerica Corporation from March 2006 to January 2014 and as the Regulatory Compliance Specialist for the Treasure Chest Casino, a Boyd Gaming Corporation from 1999 to 2006.  Mrs. Johnson also served as a dance instructor for Ballethnic Academy of Dance from August 2006 to May 2014. In addition, Mrs. Johnson managed and owned Rhythms School of Dance in New Orleans, Louisiana for several years.  Mrs. Johnson has over 21 years of experience as a professional dance choreographer and professional dancer.  She earned a BA degree in Business Administration from Dillard University and Paralegal certification from Kennesaw State University. Katina’s experience as a choreographer and entrepreneur brings a lot of support and vision to The YOU Awards International team.  We are blessed beyond measure to have her.