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Meet The Team.

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Kimberly Bankston-Lee

Founder & Senior Program Director

888-774-7685, ext. 200

Ms. Bankston-Lee has been working in tobacco control since 1996, planning, developing and implementing tobacco control programs for non-profits, county government and health care services such as the Gold Country Regional Tobacco Control Coalition, the African American Tobacco Education Partnership, Smoking Cessation Counselor for Sutter Medical Centers, and the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services.

Pleshette Robertson

Community Engagement Coordinator

888-774-7685, ext. 300

Ms. Robertson is a passionate leader with a vision for African Americans to thrive through improved social determinants of health; which includes security, great mental health and well-being. Ms. Robertson developed her passion for tobacco prevention and public policy initiatives in 2006 when she partnered with The African American Tobacco Education Partnership (AATEP) in developing grassroots community outreach and education media campaigns.  After learning about the predatory marketing practices of the Tobacco Industry, she began serving as a volunteer for community outreach initiatives, focus groups, and advisory committee participation. She then became a subcontractor to train and prepare youth advocates in activities such as giving testimony at city council meetings.


Seventeen years later, in her new position as the Community Engagement Coordinator at Saving Our Legacy, African Americans for Smoke Free Safe Places – The SOL Project, she is responsible for organizing collaborative partnerships with community-based organizations, faith-based leadership and residents to further education, advocacy, and policy efforts. 

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Twlia Laster 

Founder & Project Director

888-774-7685 ext. 100

Ms. Twlia Laster has been working in tobacco control specifically serving African American and African Immigrant populations since 1997. Her experience includes administration, grant coordination, program development, coordination, management, cessation and focus group facilitation on each African American priority population contract for the California Tobacco Control Program (CTCP) funded grant programs since 1996. 

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Valarie Scruggs

Project Director

888-774-7685, ext. 400

Ms. Scruggs is a compassionate healthcare professional who believes that everyone deserves access to education, resources, and opportunities to create their best life. She is a resident of Sacramento, and has extensive experience working with nonprofits, health centers, and county and state governments. Her areas of expertise include program planning, grant management, marketing, and implementing effective public health campaigns to reduce health disparities.


Valarie's work in tobacco prevention began early in her career, completing retail surveys. Since then, she has engaged with campaigns and coalitions to support tobacco cessation and prevent tobacco addiction and premature loss of life.  From 2013-2016, she served as the Saving Our Legacy, African Americans for Smoke Free Safe Places (The SOL Project) Community Advocate Consultant. In this role, she established a collaborative focused on addressing social determinants of health to improve health outcomes for African Americans related to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The collaborative work resulted in the development and implementation of The SOL Project “Strategies to Improve Health Equity Where African Americans Live, Work, Learn, Worship & Play Community Action Plan.”

Valarie is known for her communication and partnership building skills. She has conducted presentations, community engagement initiatives, marketing, and technical assistance in Sacramento and San Joaquin counties. Her passion for helping people and improving their health appears in all the work she has done and continues to do with the SOL Project.

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