Reimagine has been hosting candlelight vigils throughout the pandemic in order to break down taboos and hold space for all that we've lost. Tonight's program features Nicole Avant, who served as the 13th U.S. Ambassador to The Bahamas. She will discuss her new book, "Think You'll Be Happy: Moving Through Grief with Grit, Grace, and Gratitude", a spirit-lifting memoir on how to turn pain into purpose, how to live always in gratitude, and how to face down tragedy and turn it into love. Reimagine community collaborator Mariana Bandera leads the honor ceremony and marks the celebration of Día de Los Muertos.
Ambassador Nicole Avant served as the 13th U.S. Ambassador to The Bahamas after being nominated by President Barack Obama and unanimously confirmed by The U.S. Senate, becoming the youngest as well as the first African American woman to hold the position. During her tenure, Avant pursued five key initiatives: Economic & Small Business Development, Education, Women's Empowerment, Alternative Energy, and raising awareness about the challenges facing people with disabilities. Through her many successes and key partnerships, Ambassador Avant was able to further cement and celebrate the relationship between The U.S. and The Bahamas, which earned her a nomination for the Sue M. Cobb Award for Exemplary Diplomatic Service.
In 2019, Ambassador Avant produced the critically acclaimed and award-winning documentary, “The Black Godfather” for Netflix. Directed by Reginald Hudlin, the film charts the exceptional and unlikely rise of her father Clarence Avant, the ultimate, uncensored mentor and behind-the-scenes dealmaker in music, film, TV, and politics. Ambassador Avant pursued the project after collecting stories about her father's influence from dozens of the world's most high profile entertainers, athletes and politicians including Bill Withers, Quincy Jones, Muhammad Ali, Hank Aaron, and Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, to name a few. The film was nominated for the prestigious Grierson Documentary Award, an Emmy Award, two NAACP Image Awards and was named one of the Top 5 Documentaries of 2019 by the National Board of Review. In 2021, Avant executive produced another critically acclaimed and award-winning film, “Trees of Peace” which garnered over 9.3 million hours of viewer time in the first few days of its release. Currently, she is a producer on Tyler Perry’s next film Six-Triple-Eight, the true story of the first all-black female battalion to serve in Europe during WWII.
Throughout her career, Ambassador Avant has also pursued an array of businesses focused on female and minority owned enterprises as well as philanthropic ventures that honor her mother, Jacqueline Avant’s legacy. She recently commemorated the unveiling of the Jacqueline Avant Children and Family Center, formerly the MLK Child and Family Center, for her mother’s lifelong commitment to the community. Ambassador Avant has been an active board member for multinational companies and philanthropic organizations, including Best Buddies International, The Bogart Pediatric Research Center, Revlon, LACMA, Soho House, Universal Music Group, and A Sense of Home. She has also served as an Academic Counselor at the Neighborhood Academic Initiative - a daily mentorship program for high school students sponsored by the University of Southern California.
Ambassador Avant has been recognized with several prestigious awards for her diplomatic and humanitarian work. She was recognized at the 20th Annual Trumpet Awards for her dedication to Public Diplomacy and was also given the Humanitarian Award by BESLA in October 2011. A former board member of Girls Inc., she was honored with their Women of Achievement award in 2014 and recently was awarded the Spirit of Compassion Award by UNICEF in 2018.
Ambassador Avant lives in Los Angeles with her husband Ted Sarandos, Co-CEO of Netflix, their two Labradors, and is the proud stepmother of Tony and Sarah. @nicoleavantofficial
Mariana, an anthropologist and archaeologist, is driven by a deep curiosity about human existence and a strong affinity for global ceremonial traditions that preserve wisdom. She has worked in various locations, protecting sacred lands and focusing on lineage healing, ancestral connection, and her role as a death doula. With a particular interest in Mayan healing practices and curanderismo, Mariana's holistic journey encompasses anthropology, oral wisdom, archaeology, and spiritual modalities in her educational work. Her unique path as a "caminante" and "curandera" reflects her dedication to preserving ancient human wisdom and facilitating meaningful end-of-life transitions. Her event The Flowers of Our Ancestors, hosted on Reimagine's platform, takes place on November 3. https://www.passages.earth/
Reimagine is a nonprofit organization catalyzing a uniquely powerful community–people of different backgrounds, ages, races, and faiths (and no faith) coming together in the hopes of healing ourselves and the world. We specifically support each other in facing adversity, loss, and mortality and – at our own pace – actively channeling life's biggest challenges into meaningful action and growth.