About Local-Motions


D’Lana O’Neal - Local-Motions FounderD’Lana O’Neal

Founder/Executive Director

My heart is and always has been in the arts. It was my goal to develop an arts training facility that enriches the lives of its participants, their families, their friends, and their community. I believe I’ve done that in the creation of Local-Motions, Inc.

I believe that every man, woman, and child has some personal self-expression to share and it’s often found through the arts.

In the beginning we didn’t have too many fans, many thought that I was foolish. We started right after 911, knowing that most businesses close within 5 years. But we didn’t listen to those voices, we listened to the voices of the youth, asking them what they wanted in a program. And to this day, we provide those supports and resources.  This is a partnership between parents, youth and Local Motions.

From the beginning parents have been involved, volunteering, back stage, fundraising, and on the board of Directors. Everyone that eats in the village should help in sustaining the village. There are no spectators. No matter how big or small your contribution, it’s vitally important.

Many have seen them perform on stage, but few have seen how they make their personal contribution. Whether a Senior Residence facility, Children’s Hospital or at Community Based Organization, each youth share in the driving force of giving back through arts education. This magazine is a platform to recognize the village builders, youth builders who aide in building a stronger foundation for tomorrow.

Board Members

Board Chair – Therese Molina​
Board Treasurer – Ora Thompson
Board Secretary – Yulee Pass


Kim Allen
Judith Alexander
Joe Graber
Bill Moorehead
Antonio O’Neal
D’Lana O’Neal

Fundraising Committee

Chair – Judith Alexander
Co-Chair – Joe Graber

Fundraising Committee Members

Edward Boone
Bill Moorehead
D’Lana O’Neal

Teacher Bios


Nadia Morris
Nadia Morris

Growing up as a little girl on the west side of Chicago,IL I was exposed to an excessive amount of trauma that left me with a bleeding heart at the age of 7. This experience shattered my chances of building self-worth, confidence or courage. Every challenge was faced with fear and at times it paralyzed me and I felt lost. I was either uninterested in growth opportunities like normal girls my age or simply feared the thought of stepping out of my safe shell. Shortly after this horrific experience, my mom encouraged me to take a dance class. Dance opened up a new world for me and I was reintroduced to the little girl who was lost inside. Dance changed the way I felt inside, expressed myself and I liked it. For one of the first times in a long time, I experienced joy and I looked for similar activities to feed my hunger to learn, grow and explore. As I danced my heart began healing through every experience and my safe shell was broken into pieces. My passion for dance grew and continued to develop over time through my high school Pom-pom squad, praise dance team and dance coaching.

While in High School I lived with my God brother who had Down Syndrome. I had the opportunity to work with him and discovered another passion, working with others that have difficulties with their learning process. I developed a tenacity for teaching those who were dismissed due to learning challenges; how to overcome them. I surprised his mother with him singing one Christmas after working with him for a few months. This fueled my passion to teach others that may have disabilities. I believe we all have disabilities in some form and with the right tools, support and resources; we too can overcome the obstacles of learning. This is largely why I began doing the work I do everyday as an educator, helping young people achieve and overcome seemingly impossible challenges and reach seemingly impossible goals. Over the years I have learned to celebrate my uniqueness and that’s what drives me as the Program Director of Local-Motions and it’s spreading.

Iesha Polk
Iesha Polk

I was born and raised on the West Side of Chicago. A few of my childhood years were spent in Greenwood, MS. I was homeschooled for most of my elementary school years, due to the fact that my mother wasn’t pleased with the public school system at the time, and private school was definitely out of the option since I come from a family of 6 brothers and 2 sisters.

When I look back, I’m grateful that I was homeschooled for 8 years of my life. I was given a safe place to grow in my gifts and talents. I was taught that even though I was young, my contribution to the world was important, whether it was through the arts or education. I’m also thankful for my time in the public school system. I was invested in by several organizations, that helped to shape me into the adult that I am today. I had mentors who helped me to make hard decisions, and encouraged me to be the best me that I could possibly be.

Now, as a teacher at MCA and the Creative Director of LM, I’m able to inspire the youth that I work with day in and day out to explore who they are in a safe environment, as well. I seek to help them grow academically, creatively, spiritually, emotionally and mentally, so that they can live a purposeful life and make a positive impact on the world. I’m extremely privileged to work with young people. The warmth and love I receive from them is truly my reward.

I currently reside in the Austin community. Over the years, I’ve lived in several neighborhoods on Chicago’s West Side. There’s so much beauty in the connectedness of the people, yet there is a deep brokenness, as well. My desire is for the community to be whole and prosperous. I continue to make the decision to work, live and worship in urban areas, because I desire to contribute to the growth of these communities.


Milandria Watts
Milandria Watts

As a girl, I was overweight and feared the big voice I have inside to make a bold change. I needed to develop life skills. At age 16 I began to do pageants, it was through this experience that shaped my life with poised and grace. I placed in college at age 19  Miss United Negro College Fund Lane College and Miss Congeniality in the same year. Through pageantry that I developed a tenacity to set goals and push through my fears and that is where I found my voice. I wanted other young girls like me to find their voice and speak their destiny into existence. Today I’ve been afforded that opportunity to empower youth at Local Motions Through developmental opportunities. One of my biggest accomplishments is the creation of Reaping Royalty Girls Mentor Program that is designed to encourage youth development.

I believe that powerful programs that provide growth opportunities will serve our youth well beyond the classroom. While raising my daughter single-handedly, it gave me the determination to continue in this very important work. My favorite Quote is “Be yourself; everyone else is taken” by Oscar Wilde I am truly grateful for the opportunity to serve with Local Motions Performing Arts, Inc. as the Outreach Coordinator.

Local-Motions in the Press

January 14, 2015 - Video about Community-Based learning from Dominican University. Look for Local-Motions at the 1:49 mark.


April 2, 2014 – Building self-esteem through the arts

[PDF version] Building self-esteem through the arts


April 20, 2011 – Local-Motions Turns 10

[PDF version] Local-Motions Turns 10 article

March 28, 2011 – [Video] Out and About in Austin - Local Motions Celebrates 10 Years