Writer, Producer & Host

As an award-winning writer, producer and host, Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy believes in the power of media to inform and transform with a focus on preserving wisdom and culture, and promoting dignity for all

Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy directing filming of Tao Porchon-Lynch in Sedona, AZ, 2018
Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy directing filming of Tao Porchon-Lynch in Sedona, AZ, 2018

Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy is a multi-platform change agent using writing, film, online learning, and live moderated conversations to inform and transform individual hearts and minds for the greater good. Born into an extraordinary family of communication pioneers, her latest project, The Kennedy Archives™, is focused on capturing and preserving insights and historical commentary on notable African Americans based on her mother’s first-hand experiences. Her previous projects, The Tao-Brand Legacy Project and Elder Dignity, were also focused on amplifying elder wisdom and inspiring societal change. In many ways, Terri is carrying forward her mother’s work as a journalist which, in part, involved interviewing elder Black notables such as political strategist Val Washington, and amplifying Black excellence in her 1980s book series, EXCEL: Excellence in Black Organizations and Black Achievers, which grew to one million in print.

The Kennedy Archives

One family… a treasure trove of history… let’s go inside The Kennedy Archives.” For over five decades, Janie Sykes-Kennedy and her husband, Dr. James Scott Kennedy, used media and poetic interpretation to share the Black Experience and promote cross-cultural understanding throughout the U.S. and around the world.  Through their unique work and status, they were friends with many notables – African chiefs, presidents, prime ministers, congressmen, governors, mayors, political activists, intellectuals, business pioneers, spiritual leaders, cultural elite, and celebrities. They became known as… “The Black Kennedys.” Now, Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy is collaborating with her mother to capture and preserve Janie’s first-hand insights, historical commentary and artifacts related to notable African Americans and Africans (e.g., handwritten notes from Langston Hughes), as well as film her poetic interpretations.

At a time when D.E.I initiatives are under attack and Black books are being taken out of schools, Janie’s expertise and historical perspective on the Black Experience is more important than ever.  In 2010, President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal invited Janie to participate in the Third World Festival of Black Arts & Culture in Dakar given her participation in the first festival in 1966. She spoke to over 5,000 Senegalese before an Akon concert and was covered extensively by their media.  Her insights and reflections are also included in the book, Althea: The Life of Tennis Champion Althea Gibson by Sally H. Jacobs (MacMillan Publishers, 2023). At 88 years old, Janie continues to perform, write and serve as a cultural consultant on creative projects.  Like in the Tao Brand-Legacy Project (below), there is a sense of urgency to capture her wisdom and reflections while she is still active.

Janie Sykes-Kennedy and Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy at virtual Juneteenth program for the Child Center of NY, June 20, 2022

Interview Series

Terri and Janie are in development on The Kennedy Archives™, in which Janie shares personal insights and historical commentary on notable African Americans who were friends such as Langston Hughes, Althea Gibson, Sam Jones and Muhammad Ali, as well as outstanding family members such as Dr. James Atkins (part of President Roosevelt’s “Black Cabinet”) and Obie Award Winning Playwright Adrienne Kennedy. Over 100 notables have been outlined as subjects.

Online Courses

Janie and Terri are producing multiple online courses, and teaching curriculum for schools, related to the Black Experience, including:

  • Behind the Mask, Beyond the Veil: Inside the Black Experience through Poetic Interpretation
  • The Ballad to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • The Poetic Life of Langston Hughes
  • Master Class in Poetic Interpretation

Performance Events

Janie is back on stage performing poetic pieces on the Black Experience and providing context through a conversation moderated by Terri.  Poets include Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, Dr. Sterling Brown, James Weldon Johnson, Dr. James Scott Kennedy, and more.  The programs are perfect as cultural immersion experiences for Black History Month, Juneteenth, and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion events. 

Tao Brand-Legacy Project

When a Yoga Master asks you to work with her, the only answer is Yes!  Tao Porchon-Lynch personally asked Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy and her mother, journalist Janie Sykes-Kennedy, to help her write her life story and that turned into the Tao Brand-Legacy Project – a social impact initiative funded by the Kennedys to share Tao’s inspiration and wisdom with the world and preserve her teachings as a female yoga master and historical icon.

Tao was living history – she marched with Mahatma Gandhi, was a French Resistance fighter under General Charles de Gaulle, modeled for Chanel and other couture legends, was an early female film producer and distributor, among other things. Terri spent a decade traveling the globe with Tao curating 66 one-of-a-kind events at places like the United Nations, Core Club in New York, and the Age of Happiness Festival in Montenegro. They were also featured in the Athleta “Power of She” campaign for empowering women and girls. Terri, Janie and Tao co-wrote two award-winning books, produced two online courses, and worked with notables such as Sadhguru and Dr. Deepak Chopra, who provided the front-cover endorsement for Dancing Light. When Tao passed away in 2020 at 101 years old, she had become a global historical icon through their branding and media management, and her teachings live on in the online courses. Watch tribute video.

Online Courses

Terri, Janie and Tao produced two online courses featuring Tao’s teachings: Master Yoga Course with Tao Porchon-Lynch (2021) and Stretch & Relax with Tao Porchon-Lynch (2021). They also have footage of Tao for an extended Conversation with a Master course and a feature-length documentary.

Moderated Conversations

The interactive Conversation with a Master program Terri created and moderated featuring Tao was highly-regarded and served to triple Tao’s appearance fee. They did the event on stages around the world from Dubai, India and Hong Kong to Maui, Sedona, and San Francisco in the U.S. Tao also loved the program.

For more, go to https://thetaoexperience.com/

Elder Dignity

Families from across the U.S. are being affected by the rising crime of estate and human trafficking through predatory guardianships. In 2016, Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy and her sister Sheila Kennedy Bryant, created Elder Dignity to advocate for elder justice and reform in the U.S. guardianship system after witnessing their aunt, Dr. Lillie Sykes White, being exploited by a predatory guardianship in Florida. The premise of Elder Dignity is simple: “To be an elder is a privilege, not a ‘condition’ causing you to be tossed aside and abused. If we are lucky, each of us will get old. Let’s create a society where we can age with dignity and respect, and ensure that our individual rights and assets are protected.” 

Terri has spoken widely on guardianship reform, such as at World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in D.C., the Progressive Forum and the Coalition of 100 Black Women, as well as produced three social impact videos.  She has served as moderator for the Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship Summit, #FreeBritney Symposium, and is an advisor for the #FreePeterMax campaign. She produced The Deception of Protection as a primer on adult guardianship exploitation in the U.S. The top elder justice advocates in the country break down the anatomy of an involuntary guardianship, including footage from the Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship (AAAPG) Protest at the National Probate Judge Conference in November 2017 in Ponte Vedra, Florida. Terri understands the caregiver’s journey and helped her mother take care of her father for eight years at home when he was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

©2019 Power Living Enterprises, Inc. Written/produced by Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy. Released July 2, 2019, 19:57 min. Categories: Social Impact, Explanatory Reporting.

Social Impact Videos

Shocked at witnessing her aunt’s exploitation via guardianship, Terri produced three social impact videos: The Deception of Protection (2019), Silent Torture: Trafficking Through Guardianship (2020), and Let America Be America Again (2022).  She also has footage and interviews for a future feature-length documentary.

Articles/Commentary

To spark discussion on guardianship reform, Terri wrote “Is Elder Guardianship A New Form Of Human Trafficking?” for The Huffington Post, and They Took My Aunt, Then Spent Her Money for Sisters From AARP. She has also provided commentary on guardianships in various media such as ABC Action News (FL), Sky News, and Black Enterprise’s Beyond The Hype with Alfred Edmond.  

Reform Advocacy

In addition to educating the public about predatory guardianships, Terri has provided commentary on a guardianship bills for the U.S. Senate, as well as for the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee. She also testified for the New York Senate Guardianship Roundtable (2022), and summited a written statement to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging for a 2023 hearing. 

For more, go to https://elderdignity.org/

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