Dr. Jamila T. Davis is an author, educator, community activist and entrepreneur. Featured on the hit shows “Love and Hip Hop” and VH1’s “My True Crime Story,” the CBS series “Pink Collar,” BET’s “Sister Circle,” Black Enterprise, Forbes, “The Breakfast Club” with Charlamagne tha God as well as The New York Times, USA Today and a myriad other print, digital and broadcast media.
Davis has used her real life experience and story of redemption to create a platform to empower others.
A self-made multi-millionaire at the age of 25, Davis purchased, rehabbed and sold distressed properties in the exclusive and, at the time, overwhelmingly white enclave of Alpine, New Jersey. Her clients included celebrities, rappers and a number of NBA and NFL players.
Sentenced to 12 1⁄2 years in prison for mortgage and bank fraud in the era of “no doc” and “low doc” loans, Davis was “made an example of.” A federal judge pointedly asked her at sentencing: “Why didn’t you stay in your own neighborhoods?”
Admittedly cutting corners, Davis saw the fruits of her labor vanish, and was left behind bars to live with the lessons of her rapid rise to riches – and even quicker fall to ruin.
The Road Back
In prison, she embarked on an intense journey of inner healing and restoration. Fortunately, she took notes. And from her discoveries and self-realizations, Davis developed a self-help curriculum designed to enable incarcerated women to heal, recognize their potential and recapture their dreams. That curriculum was adapted by a number of prison systems throughout the United States.
Her book, Built to Outlast the Storm, also rose from that experience and has itself become the basis for a number of healing, trauma recovery and social and emotional learning platforms. These trnnsformational workshops include the Shani Baraka Women’s Resource Center, an initiative of the Office of Violence Prevention and Trauma Recovery in Newark, New Jersey; and through her VIP Online Academy, as part of the East Orange, New Jersey Stand Strong Against COVID program, its Summer Work Experience Program and the East Orange School District’s summer and after school enrichment program for high school students.
The VIP Online Academy uses an “earn-to-learn” model where students are paid for their participation upon successful completion of the program. Using credible messengers, celebrities and accomplished professionals, the VIP Online Academy teaches social, emotional, vocational and entrepreneurial specific learning as well as social justice and civic engagement.
While incarcerated, Ms. Davis received an Associate Degree in Psychology, a Bachelor’s degree in Christian Education, and a Master’s degree in African American Ministry. Since her release she has earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy with a specialization in Christian Life Coaching from the Newburgh Theological Seminary & College of the Bible.