Keynote: Homeless to Hero
Only fifteen years ago, Brenda Combs was a homeless crack addict, a petty criminal, a gaunt and hopeless wreck who had been shot, beaten and raped during the seemingly endless years when she lived under a bridge in the worst part of Phoenix. It took hitting rock bottom for Combs to find the strength to turn her life around. You will want to hear her story of inspiration and perseverance.
Dr. Brenda Combs is a symbol of inspiration and perseverance to all who meet her. 20 years ago, she was a homeless crack addict, a petty criminal, a gaunt and hopeless wreck who had been shot, beaten and raped during the endless years when she lived under a bridge in the worst part of Phoenix. It took hitting rock bottom for Combs to find the strength to turn her life around, on a blistering summer day.
As a woman, who at one time could not help herself, Combs now spreads a message of hope wherever she goes. Her journey, which has been called “From Homeless to Hero” by local and national media, has received tremendous coverage, including acknowledgement by “theGrio 100” as one of the most influential African-Americans, an article in Reader’s Digest and interviews on The Today Show and on CNN. She has also appeared on radio talk shows across the country, and accepted invitations to sing and share her message on stages across the globe, including the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
Combs continued to pursue her education at Grand Canyon University (GCU), where she earned a master’s degree in Special Education in 2007. And in May 2011, Brenda earned a doctorate degree in Organizational Leadership with an emphasis in Education after receiving a full scholarship grant presented to her by GCU. Professor Combs is now a full-time member of GCU’s faculty.
Dr. Combs is the founder of Finding My Shoes, a charitable organization that serves the homeless and underserved communities. Additionally, she and her husband run Making Things Better Sober Living, a transitional program for women who have been incarcerated. Her success rate for this program is an astounding 99%. She also serves as an advocate for Domestic Violence Awareness and, in 2009, Combs was named a National Ambassador for the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association's "Power to End Stroke" campaign.