Experts & Contributors

Experts & Contributors

Althea Lawton-Thompson 

Health & Wellness Expert & Contributor

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  • Althea Lawton-Thompson graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Business Administration from Florida A&M University. She worked as an Auditor in Chicago at the Sears Headquarter office before being accepted into the Management Development Program (MDP) at General Electric’s Financial Services Corporation. As a graduate of GE’s MDP program, she went on to manage a financial services team in Jacksonville, FL and Cincinnati, OH before becoming the Human Resources Assistant Manager for GE Bank Services. Her last role with GE was as a Regional Credit Manager in the Mid-Atlantic area covering North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, District of Columbia and Pennsylvania. She has certifications in Presentation and Public Speaking, Group Facilitation, Conflict Resolution, Train-the-Trainer and Organizational Interpersonal Skills.

    In 1996, Althea left General Electric to follow her passion for health, fitness and wellness. She started Lifelines Fitness Consulting, a corporate wellness company based in Baltimore, MD. Earning seven certifications in group exercise instruction, personal training, water fitness and Yoga, she went on to become a faculty member for The American Council on Exercise (ACE) and the American Fitness and Aerobics Association (AFAA). In 2000, Lawton-Thompson produced her first exercise video in the Altheatized™ Video series and followed it with 5 more DVDs over the next five years. The first video went on to be a bestseller in Europe and Australia before being highlighted in Essence Magazine, making Althea a popular US fitness personality. In 2002, she began presenting at fitness conferences throughout the US and the Caribbean. In 2003, the Altheatized™ television show appeared as a daily morning program, and Althea became the weekend fitness expert on WBAL’s Channel 11 News in Baltimore. With a weekly NPR radio spot, appearances on commercials for Baltimore’s Sinai Hospital, and regular mentions in newspapers and magazines, Althea quickly became a fitness celebrity.

    In 2003, Lifelines partnered with Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Youth Circle, a program for inner city youth and their families to fight obesity and create healthy lifestyles. Althea continued with the program until 2007, when she and business associate, Yvonne Carroll, incorporated Association of Diverse Fitness Professionals, Inc., a 501c3 company offering free and low-cost health education, medical testing and fun fitness classes to urban communities.

    In 2005, Althea decided to relocate her growing family and business to Atlanta, Georgia and officially changed the name of her company to Aerobics, Yoga & More™ (AYM). Through AYM, Althea ran the Healthy Living Program for all 13 Kaiser Permanente medical locations in the metro Atlanta area until 2008. That year she and Yvonne opened a 3-studio fitness facility in Lilburn, Georgia. Sadly, in 2012, Yvonne lost a 2-year battle with Leukemia and in December 2012, Althea decided to close the AYM doors.

    Today, the energy, fun and fitness partnerships Althea and Yvonne created live on through the AYM corporate wellness program, annual AYM fitness retreats, instructor trainings and workshops. AYM boasts a list of more than 30 certified, insured and trained Zumba, Yoga, Pilates, and fitness instructors. Additionally, the company has degreed and licensed nutritionists, doctors and nurses available for health education workshops and cooking demonstrations. Althea’s published articles have been included in magazines including Best Body, Essence, Parenting, Upscale and Oxygen. She was the cover story for Our Town Magazine, and in 2012, Best Self Magazine voted her one of Atlanta’s Best Yoga Instructors.

    Althea is a wife and mother of two active teenage sons. She can often be found donating her time to lead the warmup at a 5K fundraiser or taking a group of preteens to an athletic event. She has been active with her sorority since 1990 and has held local and international offices within the organization. In her free time, she enjoys trail running, hiking, water sports, international travel and is a student of metaphysical science, spiritual studies and the mind-body connection. She is a self-proclaimed Hip-Hop Historian who loves to dance to all genres of music and has a unique fashion style that is everchanging. If she’s not hiking a nature trail, she is probably sitting on the sidelines of a soccer game, her favorite sport. Althea starts every day with silent meditation, the foundation of each day.

Experts & Contributors

Damaris Solomon, LMFT

Relationship Expert & Contributor

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  • Damaris Solomon Johnson is a Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in individual, couples and family therapy, and maintains a private practice in Atlanta, Georgia called The Walk of Life Counseling Center.

    As a graduate of Mercer University School of Medicine with a Masters degree in Family Therapy, she is currently serving as private practitioner working with a broad spectrum of clients. Among her areas of expertise are anxiety, depression, couples counseling, immigrant and refugee populations.

    Mrs. Johnson is an interactive, solution-focused therapist. Her therapeutic approach is from a holistic perspective as she takes into consideration the physical, mental and spiritual aspects to a person. She provides encouragement and a real world approach to help clients effectively address personal life challenges. She integrates complementary methodologies and techniques to offer a highly personalized approach tailored to each client. With compassion and understanding, she works with each individual to help them build on their strengths and attain the personal growth they are committed to accomplishing.

Experts & Contributors

Adrienne Leigh Hoyt

Plant-based Recipes Contributor

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Alisha J MUA

Alisha “AJ” Blanding 

Master Make-Up Artist & Contributor


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  • Alisha “AJ” Blanding is the owner and master make up artist of Alisha J MUA. She has been doing make up unofficially for over 10 years, but finally decided to go into business as freelance make up artist in 2015. She enjoys not only being able to intensify a woman’s natural beauty but also being able to educate women on skin care and make up tips and tricks.

    She received her formal education from Emory University with a BA in Psychology and a minor in music.

    Alisha is also actively pursuing a career in music and acting. As an artist and singer she has held roles in both stage plays and television broadcasted productions, including the movie “A Cross to Bear” which premiered in 2011 on the Up Network. Recently, she was was afforded the opportunity to minister on Chanel 57’s “Atlanta Live.”

    She is the older sister to Gerard Blanding, Jr. who is currently a Junior at Kennesaw State University pursuing his Bachelor’s Degree in Economics. She is the daughter of Pastors Veta and Gerard Blanding, Sr. of Hopewell North East in Grayson, GA, where she serves as Praise and Worship Leader, the Music and Arts Department Administrator, and as a choreographer for the Emmanuel Dance Ministry .

    Currently she serves as the Project Administrator for the DeKalb Community Service Board and truly enjoys what she does, until she is able to work as a full time artist.