Kelli is the CEO of The SonRise Project, a safe space for parents of children who struggle with mental illness or addiction challenges. Her podcast SonRise Project Podcast on the OWN Network is dedicated to helping sons and daughters lead mentally healthy lives while providing a safe space to share and support families dealing with mental illness and addiction issues across the country. These calls are meant to be a safe space to gather, share, and learn from experts and other parents who are experiencing mental challenges and addictive behaviors with their sons and daughters. During these calls, listeners are welcome to ask questions, share thoughts or simply listen as our experts cover various topics surrounding the mental wellness of our sons, daughters, and our families as a whole.Kelli Richardson Lawson is an Emmy Award-winning creative visionary and purpose-driven business leader with over 30 years of global experience in brand-building.
She is also the founder and CEO of JOY Collective, a Black and woman-owned marketing and creative agency based in Washington, DC. JOY was named the 6th fastest growing agency of 2019 by AdWeek and recently won the 2020 Global SABRE Award for the Best Campaign for Dove/The CROWN Act (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair).
In 2017, her eldest son entered high school and everything felt normal. He was a 15-year old freshman with straight A’s, a host of friends, and a swimming career that brought him an invitation to attend the Olympic Training Center for a Diversity Camp. What Kelli and her husband didn’t realize is that doctors would soon diagnose their beloved son with severe depression and anxiety in the spring of 2018. Upon hearing those words, a profound sense of shock and sadness reverberated through Kelli and her husband. Unfortunately, the situation and their ability to handle it continued on a “free fall” descent.
When they found out that he had been experimenting with marijuana, they tried all of the parental tactics: they fought against it and declared “no drugs in our house” and the problem persisted. "We punished, removed electronics, and even took the door off of the bedroom, and the problem persisted. We had him transported to a wilderness program in North Carolina followed by a therapeutic facility in Connecticut, but the treatments failed and his issues seemed to worsen. His grades dropped severely and eventually his love of swimming waned".
Throughout it all, Kelli and her husband often felt scared, helpless, and alone, despite the many wonderful therapists they called upon, but over time, they opened up and discovered that other parents in their networks faced similar struggles.
Kelli hosts weekly calls every Sunday morning for parents to share in an environment that allows growth and healing. Kelli is a graduate of Howard University and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.