How I got started

About 10 years ago, I was the reluctant participant at one of my husband’s music ministry outreach events. At the time of booking, the event planner asked my husband to share a brief message in order to encourage the youth in attendance. My darling husband, happily and quickly suggested me for the job instead! His reasoning was that his gifting was only music, but since I was a teacher with a lot of experience with young people, it would be better if I shared my story.  After my initial shock (and a bit of a panic attack!), I realized that my husband saw something in me that I didn’t yet see in myself – a gift for public speaking.

Since that heart-racing, knee-knocking, palm-sweating day, I have spoken at nearly 200 education workshops, women’s empowerment events, youth and community outreaches, professional trainings, business seminars and faith-based conferences and retreats. 

Please scroll on down to review my most popular talks and trainings. Most can be customized for keynotes, workshops, and multi-day events. And several are available for both faith-based and “secular” audiences.

My speaking + training

(It feels really awkward to refer to myself in third person, but this is the place where I’m supposed to give you my “professional” speaker bio. So bear with me!)

A highly sought after international speaker and consultant on women’s leadership and diversity issues, Ilesha “CoCo” Graham impacts audiences around the globe with her humor, transparency, and heart-centered brand of speaking. She has used her gift of powerful and courageous storytelling to impact audience members at conferences, churches, colleges, corporations and community/professional associations alike. With her unique background in education and presentation, Ilesha has the rare skill of both inspiring and educating her audience – which is what ultimately leads to tranformation in thinking and behavior.

Ilesha is the CEO of CoCoSpeaks Empowerment, a personal and professional development company which focuses on empowering and equipping emerging women leaders through workshops, speaking and consulting. She is also the founder of the Women Speakers Academy where she teaches women in leadership how to expand their influence, impact and income through speaking. Ilesha has been featured on CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX40 News, Huffington Post, Yahoo News, TVOne, Mashable and multiple other media outlets.

“I have been fortunate to work alongside Ilesha (CoCo) Graham for many years now. Whenever I have the chance to hear her speak I am encouraged and motivated. She is passionate, thorough, and inspiring. She has an ability to connect with her audience and leave them feeling empowered.” Ashley Boddorf

Lifestyle Blogger + Event Planner, Our Anchored Life

SIGNATURE PROGRAMS

Education and Corporate Talks

Ilesha is a top rated educator, speaker and trainer who has been working in the field since 1996. She is dual credentialed in both general education and special education and has been a teacher and site administrator at all levels. During her time as an elementary principal, she achieved high levels of success in closing the academic achievement gap for her campus’ most at-risk students. She also was recognized for improving school culture, engaging the local community and building sustainable programs.

 

Ilesha is available to provide keynote speeches, as well as, more in depth training on a variety of topics. She has spoken at district trainings, education-focused conferences, site professional development meetings, and fundraising events for education non-profits.

 

One thing to note about diversity training . . . one common mistake that many trainers and organizations make in their diversity efforts is inadvertently creating a win-lose atmosphere. This can translate into creating a more divided team and will certainly prevent any forward progress with inclusion efforts.

 

With that said, more than ever, proper diversity training is critical to our success whether we are running a business or teaching the next generation of world changers. As leaders (and we are all leaders), we must develop the knowledge and skill to effectively work alongside, and communicate with, others.

 

Since 2002, Ilesha has shared her knowledge and inspired her audiences through story telling, practical examples, and experiential exercises. Her ability to tackle tough topics with compassion, sensitivity and humor is what separates her from other diversity speakers.

A partial list of programs is listed below

The Potential is in the SEED

The Potential is in the SEED

Seeking Engagement, Equity and Diversity

Through experiential, interactive exercises and facilitated story telling audience members are guided through a process to better understand issues of diversity, equity and cultural competency. They will also gain strategies for building rapport, creating strong relationships, improving organizational culture and engaging all stakeholders. (This program can be adapted for school and district leaders, business organizations, students and church leadership).

The Power of Education

The Power of Education

The triumphant story of Ilesha’s journey from being a homeless teen to leading one of the top urban schools in her city and the difference educators made in her tale of transformation. Audience members will be inspired and encouraged in their own journey as educators. (This inspirational keynote is perfect for in-service and pre-service meetings, education conferences, and teacher appreciation celebrations)

The Power of Story Telling

The Power of Story Telling

Using stories for connection + collaboration

Storytelling is a critical leadership skill, and not one most of us have learned. Ilesha brings practical examples and frameworks to your organization to teach leaders how to effectively use story to inspire and motivate employees and clients.

The Avengers Experience

The Avengers Experience

Courage, Brain, Integrity + Teamwork

Ilesha uses the iconic Avenger characters as a metaphor for audiences to learn how to lead with courage, integrity, brains, and team work.

Corporate Programs

Ilesha is a sought after provider of customized, client-centered leadership development services. Through well-researched, well-planned presentations and programs, she delivers practical and immediately implementable solutions to meet client needs.   Ilesha can provide keynote and more in depth training on leadership, team cohesion, communication, and creating culturally responsive environments.   One thing to note about diversity training . . . one common mistake that many trainers and organizations make in their diversity efforts is inadvertently creating a win-lose atmosphere. This can translate into creating a more divided team and will certainly prevent any forward progress with inclusion efforts.   With that said, more than ever, proper diversity training is critical to our success whether we are running a business or teaching the next generation of world changers. As leaders (and we are all leaders), we must develop the knowledge and skill to effectively work alongside, and communicate with, others.   Since 2002, Ilesha has shared her knowledge and inspired her audiences through story telling, practical examples, and experiential exercises. Her ability to tackle tough topics with compassion, sensitivity and humor is what separates her from other diversity speakers.

A partial list of programs is listed below

The Potential is in the SEED

The Potential is in the SEED

Seeking Engagement, Equity and Diversity

Through experiential, interactive exercises and facilitated story telling audience members are guided through a process to better understand issues of diversity, equity and cultural competency. They will also gain strategies for building rapport, creating strong relationships, improving organizational culture and engaging all stakeholders.
The Power of Story Telling

The Power of Story Telling

Using stories for connection + collaboration

Storytelling is a critical leadership skill, and not one most of us have learned. Ilesha brings practical examples and frameworks to your organization to teach leaders how to effectively use story to inspire and motivate employees and clients.
The Avengers Experience

The Avengers Experience

Courage, Brain, Integrity + Teamwork

Ilesha uses the iconic Avenger characters as a metaphor for audiences to learn how to lead with courage, integrity, brains, and team work.

Faith + Empowerment Talks

Ilesha is committed to providing highly engaging, well planned presentations, whether one hour messages, half day workshops, or multi-day retreats.

Ilesha is a top rated speaker and trainer who has been speaking in churches and at women's empowerment events since 2008. She shares her knowledge and inspires her audience through story telling, practical examples, and experiential exercises. Her ability to tackle tough topics with compassion, sensitivity and humor is what separates her from other speakers in her field.

A partial list of programs is listed below

Going Deeper

Going Deeper

(Perfect for Brunches, Teas, Conference Sessions + Retreats)

We often hear the phrase “Bloom where you are planted,” but before we can bear fruit, we must go deeper in our relationship with Jesus Christ, the Root. Whether we are dealing with complacent Christianity or are weathering a difficult storm, the solution is the same – Go Deeper.

God's Wonder Woman

God's Wonder Woman

(Perfect for Brunches, Teas + Conference Sessions)

This workshop is for those who have a desire to thrive, and not just survive, in your current assignment. We’ll explore the wonder that you are as God’s precious daughters - perfectly equipped to be more than just a conqueror in Christ.

Balancing Act

Balancing Act

(Perfect for Brunches, Teas, Conference Sessions + Retreats)

As busy 21st Century women, we are often pulled into a million different directions. We spend much of our day trying to balance all the roles that we are so precariously holding onto. With a good dose of humor and practical tips, Ilesha helps busy women to live a life that pleases God by creating healthy balance & boundaries, accomplishing more in less time, eliminating stress, finding joy in all the roles that women play and putting first things first.

There's Purpose In Your Pain

There's Purpose In Your Pain

(Perfect for Brunches, Teas, Conference Sessions + Retreats)

Wouldn’t it be nice if life always went according to our easy and pain-free plans? But that’s not how life is. We encounter hardships, disappointments, loss, and pain. In the midst of those situations, it’s easy to feel that God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11 does not apply to us. Through the Biblical stories of women who experienced heart-wrenching hardships, we see that God is at work even in our painful situations and that there is purpose in everything that we go through.

Looking for a customized talk or presentation for your group?

I’ve got you covered!

I’m happy to discuss your needs and work with you to collaboratively design the perfect presentation for your audience.

In order to provide the best experience for all of us, I prefer to only work in my zones of expertise:

Leadership
Diversity/Inclusion
Women’s Issues
Education
Faith

Use the contact button at the bottom of this page, and let’s get started

Ilesha is a powerful, passionate speaker. Her ability to share her story and inspire and ignite her audience is remarkable. Cheryl Miles

President, Closing the Gap

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