In 2013, they met as strangers with their own dreams, experiences and talents, with a common heart for serving those in need. From this chance meeting, Classy Living Society was formed. Today, the CLS Founding Sisters are a collective of the four most formidable, innovative and community-focused women you will ever meet. Over the past seven years, they have pooled those passions and talents to serve the world, together. With these ladies at the helm, CLS membership has grown from 10 to more than 500. Along with nearly 250 community partners, they work in sisterhood to serve communities throughout 12 U.S. states and 2 countries, including Croatia and Dubai. Momentum will continue over the next few years with the launch of chapters in New York, Arizona and District of Columbia.

 

Meet CLS Founding Sister, Tarrah Smith-Gales

Advisory Committee

Born in Cleveland, Ohio and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Tarrah Smith-Gales considers herself a Georgia Peach! Tarrah has over 17 years of transactional legal experience working for Fortune 100 & 500 companies and large law firms. She currently works for a publicly-traded company in its Corporate & Securities Practice, where she manages corporate governance and compliance with the company’s insider trading policy.

Inspired by her spirited 93-year old grandfather who instilled in her as a child the values of “service and giving back”, she has continually worked alongside various organizations and charities promoting civic engagement and volunteerism. In her spare time, Tarrah is a lover of books, enjoys vintage & consignment shopping, delights in honing her culinary skills, and appreciates a day at the spa!

Tarrah holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Howard University in Washington, DC and a master’s degree in Public Administration from Strayer University in Atlanta.

What is your WHY?
Purpose is not static. Purpose is dynamic! Purpose continues to be applied throughout your life. My “why” stems from wanting to be of service. As I continue to evolve, I am committed to be a change agent for social good; and my curiosity for a better understanding of cultures around the diaspora fuels my desire to make a difference in the lives of women and girls in underrepresented/underserved communities around the globe.

What do you want your legacy to be?
That I sought to “be the change” I want to see in the world, by making the spaces I occupy while on this planet better and being an example of what it looks like to live your best and most authentic life.

What brings you joy?
Days at home spent with my family doing simple things, such as cooking a big breakfast, binge-watching a new series, taking in a movie or reading a good book. As long as we are together, I feel pure and complete joy in those moments. Self-care, such as yoga, eating well, pampering myself at the spa or just laughing with my girlfriends is also critical to maintaining my joy.

Who has been the most influential person in your life? Why? How so?
My mother. Intellectually, I understand that grieving is the physical, emotional and psychological demonstration of my loss. However, coping with her recent passing has been like climbing a hill at a slow yet steady and intense pace. I know that I must keep going, but sometimes the journey is rough! What I am most remarked by is that she lived her life on her own terms without apology or regret, and that is to be admired. In the 3 months since her passing, I have learned a great deal about the woman who was also my mother. I am in awe of her as a woman. She had beautiful friendships with men and women alike, and they were deep, special and solid. She was beloved by her neighbors and community. She had interests of which I was unaware and some that were surprisingly well suited to her endless curiosity. She touched so many people leaving a legacy of friendship, respect, loyalty and love, as well as the deepest connection to family that I’ve ever witnessed up close. My mother taught me everything a mother should teach her daughter, and she did it with an abundance of love and excitement around being chosen as my mother. She took this God-given assignment seriously, and she made me her life. For this I am eternally grateful. My mother was fiercely protective, while allowing me the independence and space to walk into adolescence and womanhood confidently and assured. She sparked my interest, desires and inquisitiveness with history, travel and culture.

In which areas of your life do you need to be more present? Where can you slow down?
I can slow down with respect to feeling like I must check off so many boxes of “to dos” and do better with being present and in the moment where I find myself. Learning to enjoy and appreciate now is truly a gift and I am working on that. Just being fully in the moment and not wishing I could change the past or worrying about or trying to anticipate the future… simply living fully in the moment.

 


 

Meet CLS Founding Sister, Valérie Alerte Kavanagh, MBA

Valérie has extensive experience in Sales and Marketing. Valérie is passionate about volunteering and using her skill sets to best assist non-profits and organizations in any capacity. She has served on Executive Boards in Georgia in addition to holding committee positions.

Valérie is a Haitian-American, multi-lingual New York native and mother of two beautiful children who are better known and referred to as the (#KavanaghKuties). She loves all things vintage and classy and enjoys giving back to the community.

Valérie transplanted to Georgia in 2012 and brought with her an affinity for hosting annual social events for her friends and family at her home. She finds complete fulfillment and enjoyment in the fellowship which that provides.

Valérie is a philanthropist at heart. Serving alongside fellow like-minded women to make a difference in all lives in the community is a critical part of what makes up the spiritual fabric of who Valérie is as a God-fearing woman. She believes in the adage, “If YOU do your best, HE will do the rest!”

What is your WHY? 

My “why” is to exist in a world where harmony lives and people thrive as a result of working side by side with others who want to make this world a more tranquil and safe place for all, regardless of sex, religion or creed.

What do you want your legacy to be?
A legacy is defined by the story of someone’s life, the things they did, places they went, goals they accomplished, their failures and more. My legacy will be that of a spirited, joyful, beautiful survivor who believes in putting others before herself for the greater good.

What brings you joy?
Unequivocally, I would have to say seeing the smiles which beam across my children’s faces whenever they are most excited about embarking on our many weekend adventures together.

Who has been the most influential person in your life? Why? How so?

This may sound cliché, but my mother is the most influential person in my life. As I grew from a teenager, to a young woman, and finally a mother myself, I came to realize that the very essence of what makes me the person I am in many ways has been directly connected to my mother and the emotional and spiritual bond I have always shared with her. She is the epitome of love, compassion and insurmountable strength. She is and continues to be the person I am most shaped by in this world.

In which areas of your life do you need to be more present? Where can you slow down?
I need to be more present in my relationship with God and take the time to connect more with the spirit within me. Life is busy for all of us, this I know. But I also know that I haven’t given the adequate time I need to connect with my Savior on a level that is most worthy, above all things. I pray, fast and thank Him for all things quickly by rote. I identify that I honestly need to meditate and connect more with Him, to allow me to connect more with me!

 


 

Meet CLS Founding Sister, ShaRhonda Elizabeth Simmons

Born in Harlem, New York and raised in Pikeville, Kentucky, ShaRhonda relocated to Atlanta, Georgia in the 1990’s and began a 20-year career in the customer service industry as a flight attendant, bartender and beauty consultant. As a flight attendant, fifteen years were spent at thirty thousand feet in the air working for domestic and international airlines. ShaRhonda is proud of her tenure “in the air” and boasts providing passengers with outstanding customer service and having the opportunity to serve our troops as they were being transported around the world to protect and serve our country as some of the most fulfilling moments of her experience.

As a “fashionista” and beauty maven, ShaRhonda enjoys helping all women discover their outer beauty and look their best, which allows all women to stand in the fullness of who they are and express their real beauty – what lies in their hearts. ShaRhonda is not only flawless in her personal style, but also in her soul and feels bringing smiles to others is her true passion.

Having traveled the world as a flight attendant, ShaRhonda now stays close to home spending quiet time with two beautiful twin boys, perfecting her new found passion for cooking, watching movies and her favorite show, Scandal; yes, she is a Gladiator!

What is your WHY? 

To leave a mark on the world where positivity, support and fellowship transcends the negativity.

What do you want your legacy to be?

I want my boys to always know that I gave all of myself to anyone I encountered and would gladly give the shirt off my back if it would help someone.

What brings you joy?

There was a time when open time traveling was truly the joy of my life, being a flight attendant traveling to third-world countries and volunteering in Africa. Now my joy truly is in raising and growing with my twin boys. I learn more from them every day, And I’m super grateful for them.

Who has been the most influential person in your life? Why? How so?

My aunt is the most influential person in my life. She stopped using drugs after being on them for over 30 years, then went back to college to accomplish not just undergraduate school but her MBA as well. She gives me hope that no matter what one goes through, you can do anything you want at any age, as long as you do the work and have determination.

In which areas of your life do you need to be more present? Where can you slow down?

I need to be more present with doing what I love, giving back more and spending more time with others, instead of always just living from day to day. I can slow down with working so much and not make that my priority.

 


 

Meet CLS Founding Sister, LaShanda D. Pitts

Founder & CEO

All roads in LaShanda Pitts’ journey have led to the founding of Classy Living Society. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, LaShanda Pitts moved to Atlanta, Georgia in 1994. She brought with her a boundless spirit of originality and free thinking, coupled with experience from a vast professional background acquired through her employment with a number of major U.S. companies.

LaShanda has always had a passion for community service and volunteerism. From an early age, her family participated in ongoing “family adoptions” and she accompanied her parents to numerous charitable events. These experiences helped build the foundation for her strong desire to give back to those in need.

She merged networking skills gained from networking with various professionals, her passion for one-of-a-kind event planning and deep determination to proactively contribute to society and founded Classy Living Society in 2013. LaShanda is proud of CLS, its members, and their many past, present and ongoing personal and professional accomplishments.

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