Who We Are
Where Youth Speak the Truth
…True Star started as one simple journalism program serving 17 students.  

In its first year, students came up with the name True Star, designed the logo, created the editorial philosophy and developed the content for a four-page newsletter. Since that initial program True Star Foundation has grown to eight programs, providing over 500 Chicago youth with after-school and summer apprenticeship programs annually. The media produced has also grown from a newsletter into two quarterly magazines, a blog, a youtube channel and radio show.  But not only do youth create the media, they advise and execute business strategy, develop sponsorship proposals, sell advertising space, develop marketing campaigns, and are the ultimate decision makers of the brand and direction of the organization.

The True Star brand represents the voice and vision of urban youth. It is a platform for youth to inform, inspire, entertain, and educate their peers.  True Star offers an alternative to the negative images of urban youth in today’s media. Through various programming, the organization offers unique opportunities for youth to create and be the center of their own media. With this, they learn skills in advising and executing business strategy, advertising sales, marketing, and the conclusive direction of the brand and media.


True Star Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides a creative outlet in the form of literary, media arts, and professional development programs for predominately minority male and female youth, ages 11-21, in the metropolitan Chicago area.

The True Star Foundation’s mission is to demonstrate healthy transitions for youth coming into early adulthood by exposing them to real world experiences in the workforce through the development of their own media and being an intricate part of the strategic direction and overall business operations of the organization.

True Star puts youth in leadership positions, implements their ideas and essentially lets them run the business; fostering the feelings of hope and independence. True Star goes beyond just telling youth what success looks like – they show them.


To inspire dreams so that young people may find their voice, choose their path, and prepare for life.

DeAnna McLeary-Sherman
Na-Tae’ Thompson
Joi Mitchell
Marketing & On-Line Manager
DeShaun Adams
Special Projects Manager & Promotions Director
Marti Parham
Managing Editor
Angel D’Amico-Bauer
Art Direction & Design
Henry Collins
On-Line Assistant
True Star Journalism
Marti Parham
Nikkita Foston
Cameron Smith
Dion Dawson
True Star Radio
Frederick Hill
LaTeefa Harland
Sharmon Jarmon
True Star Graphic Design
Polina Zionts
True Star Digital Media
Daniel Merrick
True Star Digital Photography
DeShaun Adams
True Star Sales & Marketing
Joi Mitchell
True Star Jr.
Nykeya Woods
True Star Promotions & Ambassador Program
DeShaun Adams
Thomas McLeary - President
CEO, Endow Inc.
Michelle Cohen
Director Innovation & Acceleration, CME Group
Giuseppe Commodaro
Director, Strategy & Execution, CME Group
David Douglas
Founder & CEO, Yolobe, Inc.
Leslie Hariston
Alderman, Fifth Ward
Sean Harden
Independent Non-Profit Consultant
Monique Mayo
Professor, Columbia College Chicago
Sharming Scott-Nathan
Human Resources Director, Fox Television Stations
Mia Nelson
Sr. Analyst, Baxter
David Nichols
Americas Leader, EY
Malcolm Weems
Senior Advisor Public Policy and Regulation, Dentons
LaTonya Wilkens
Director Talent Management, University of Illinois Business School