Karyne Bury: La’Shon was an amazing light, who truly made everyone feel loved and special. One of my many memories of her – I was presenting at my first International Conference as staff back in June last year, which happened to fall on my birthday, June 12. I was so focused, and a bit nervous to open the conference and also focused on preparing a workshop for the next day. Just a bundle of nerves. I got a message from La’Shon on the conference app to join a Zoom meeting. She wanted to take the time to gather folks around to wish me a happy birthday! It was the warmest and kindest surprise and I immediately felt her love, care and attention. To know La’Shon was a beautifully unique experience, treasured, that comes only once in a lifetime. She was not defined by her trauma, and getting dealt a bad hand in life. She lived a life of purpose, fight, love, and hope, for a better life for others. We will continue this fight for her, to create the world that she and Caleb deserved.
Susan Fleurant: A devastating loss. La’Shon was a powerful advocate and so proud of little Caleb. We’ll carry your strength with us as we continue to raise our voices for change, friend.
Crickett Nicovich: This loss hurts like no other. La’Shon’s work as an advocate embodied so much love and hope – and it shone through her. She taught us all so much – her superpower was her openness and vulnerability. La’Shon – you were loved and admired more than you could have known.
Carly Pildis: I am heartbroken to learn of the death of my friend La’Shon. She was a tremendous advocate for change. She was a fighter, a leader, and an incredible parent. She faced poverty, violence, and racism and she told that story in the Halls of Congress as she demanded a better world.
Manilan Houle: La’Shon, an indefatigable advocate. A true voice for results. I count myself blessed to have been able to have had you in my life. The world is just a little darker without your smile.
Ken Patterson: La’Shon came to several of our NC meetings with Congress during the IC. She talked about the challenges of being a single mother, living in a marginal house with mold problems, and trying to ensure that her child would stay safe. Her power and courage were striking. I thought about how so few of us know what it’s like to live as she does, but also how she, in spite of all that she was dealing with, made time to advocate with RESULTS.
Yvonne Wyborny: My fondest memories of La’Shon were of spending time with her and her son, Caleb. She loved her son so much and wanted the best for him. I also loved lobbying with La’Shon. I remember the first time that she met with Senator Debbie Stabenow’s staff. She ended up crying when she was telling her story about the importance of housing. She had a lot of love and joy for “her” other Experts on Poverty. She would get so excited about going to the National RESULTS conference. La’Shon had a lot of enthusiasm for the work of RESULTS. I remember when she was on the January Detroit RESULTS Zoom meeting. She got all fired up and said “we have to get the(se expansions to the) child tax credit passed. What are we going to do?”
Lakeisha McVey: I started managing the Experts on Poverty program in May of 2021. That was the month I met La’Shon for the first time and I was immediately drawn to her because of her willingness to be open, honest and vulnerable. Although I never got to meet La’Shon in person, we talked every month and every conversation started with her saying “Hey beautiful, how are you”. La’Shon has been through so much in her life but no matter what was going on, she always had a smile on her face and always went out of her way to make everyone else smile too. Caleb was a beautiful, chaotic, happy go lucky little boy with a mom that loved him so much. Their relationship was strong and beautiful. My heart is broken at the loss of them. La’Shon is the type of person who stays with you forever, someone who makes an impact no matter how little time you spend with her. One of the more beautiful people I’ve ever met.
Kali: La’Shon was always the life of the conversation. Always had so much energy to contribute to everything she did. Every time we were on a call she would talk with Caleb in the background and his little voice was always so enthusiastic. I loved her personality. Just so bold and warm and blunt. She never held back and always told her story with so much courage. Everything she did was to improve herself and Caleb.
John Fawcett: La’Shon was an eager student, keen to hone her advocacy skills and knowledge to advocate in the halls of Congress. But she was also a teacher, and a damn good one. In the relatively brief time I spent with her, she taught me powerful lessons about what an inclusive, anti-oppressive, anti-racist organization and movement must look like. As a survivor of trauma no person should have to endure, La’Shon spoke powerfully and directly about how much she had to modify and police and contort her own presence, how deeply uncomfortable and vulnerable she had to be to participate in RESULTS events, and how comparatively little she asked for in return. It was profoundly humbling. But her blunt truth lead directly to changes in how we approach our work that continue to unfold. She left an indelible mark on our organization and on many of us, and I will always be grateful.
Yolanda Gordon: I had the honor to recruit La’Shon into EOP [Experts on Poverty]. From the day of our interview she was candid, open, and curious. She embodied everything that we needed in an advocate. La’Shon was caring and her spirit was so bright. Even when she was sad, you could still see the fighter underneath. La’Shon was a strong woman who wanted better for the world, for her darling son. She was unapologetically her and it was her winning combo. I will miss that about my friend. La’Shon would often make a bad day seem so much brighter just by making you feel visible. She cheered everyone on, no matter who it was, she was in your corner and she was your cheerleader. The joy that she brought, the laughter, the smiles, could make the deepest conversation seem trivial. She was a a beautiful soul. I will remember who she was, not how she left us.
Colin Puzo Smith: This week I’ve been scrolling back through messages and emails with La’Shon over the years. They were almost always right to the point, often little more than a subject line and a few words. But every single one of them included two things – some kind of action she was taking, and some word of affection. In one, she was sharing a long, personal reflection on her own life and her dear Caleb. I asked her where she wanted to share it. And her answer, immediately, was “wherever it will make the biggest difference.” She made such a difference, and will be so deeply missed.
Lester Wyborny: LaShon was clearly committed to the best for her and her son Caleb, and continually sought to improve their situation – which is a challenge for anyone living in poverty. I greatly admired her for this. While I learned more-or-less second hand about her personal path, I personally observed LaShon’s lobbying skills concerning domestic poverty. Many individuals starting out lobbying our elected officials are overwhelmed by the prospect of going up against the federal government – not LaShon. She was a fierce advocate for describing life in poverty and for providing pathways for exiting poverty. When I spoke about domestic poverty, I did so speaking second hand, telling stories the best I could. On the other hand, LaShon shared her life, which made her particularly effective for educating our elected officials – she was a true expert on poverty. LaShon was also a particularly articulate speaker and spoke with exceptional passion. These speaking skills engaged our elected officials and they sought to learn from her. While we employed certain rules-of-thumb for our lobbying efforts to avoid “losing interest” by our listening audience, LaShon usually broke those rules, and our listeners responded by listening intently and wanting to learn more. LaShon was indeed our go-to speaker when lobbying about domestic poverty whenever she participated. LaShon was a national treasure and I will miss her greatly.
Alexa Williams: Detroit was built by souls like La’Shon’s. She made our city feel like a place to be proud of – like a place I’d always have a home. La’Shon did that a lot – make a place feel like home. When I was just getting to know her, we went out for a bite to eat on the first night of a DC gathering with a few other EOPs. I was hungry so, naturally, in a very bad mood. I sat through dinner stuffing my face while she made everyone else laugh. On the walk back to the hotel, I was quiet and she walked up right next to me, and though I don’t remember what she said, I remember how it felt. Laughter burst out of every part of my heart, and I knew I had a friend. La’Shon made a few jokes or greeted you with a “Hey beautiful!”, and you just knew you were home. I never met Caleb, but have insisted from that day on that he is the luckiest little one on the planet. His spirit powered her and I know they are holding each other just as fiercely right now. La’Shon planned on creating something exquisite from the first moment she walked in your life. She believed in you and you believed in her. She carried life’s complications with such dignity, and was unafraid to be soft in the face of all that she confronted. To La’Shon: I miss you, beautiful.