​Women Helping Women Lead by Example

Building a Better Community for Women

In recent years, women empowerment has advanced by leaps and bounds. However, the work does not end until women of all colors and backgrounds receive equal opportunities in education and career advancement and get recognized for their efforts as well as their success.


Autumn Rise Foundation works toward this goal. Through our programs and initiatives, we seek to promote education, spread awareness, and change the world that women move in. Browse our site to learn more about who we are, what we do, and how you

can help.

How We Started

Our founder Anqesha Murray grew up in the inner areas of Rochester, New York. Despite being born into poverty, she completed her higher education at the University of Rochester, studied abroad in France, and worked in Canada. Recognizing all that she had accomplished, she felt the responsibility to give back to her community.


Growing up, Anqesha felt that there were very few women in the community who accomplished what she sought to accomplish and could provide guidance for her. The lack of mentors, combined with a financially disadvantaged background, left her struggling to find proper support.


Years later, during her later years as an undergraduate at the University of Rochester, she thought about starting the Autumn Rise Foundation. Through networking events, research, and proper documentation, Anqesha found amazing women from the community who could serve on the board and contribute their knowledge and experience to the foundation.


Thus, the Autumn Rise Foundation was established in May 2018.

Mission Statement

The Autumn Rise Foundation is a women-centered and community-based educational and charitable not-for-profit organization created to spread awareness about the daily challenges women face with an emphasis on women from the greater Rochester community. Our purpose is to instill the importance of knowledge and perseverance in women through educational meetings, scholarships, and open discussions on issues that affect women in the community.


We strive to help women RISE above adversity and encourage them to seek opportunities that will improve their socioeconomic status. But what does it mean to RISE?

  • R – Recognize and Reward

  • I – Investigate and Inform

  • S – Service and Strengthen

• E – Enlighten and Engage

Our Board Members

An ongoing series of informational entries

Cherwanda Jackson, Executive Director

March 15, 2018

Cherwanda holds a degree in Human Services obtained from Monroe Community College as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from SUNY Brockport. Her professional career has spanned from overseeing and implementing a wide range of security, safety, and facilities programs and initiatives for a telecommunications provider with over 3000 employees, located throughout numerous states. She has worked within the Customer Service and Retention fields as well along with successfully managing a team. She also maintained experience within the Human Service field giving direct support to the developmentally disabled and individuals with traumatic brain injuries.


Internships have included assistant teaching within the Rochester City School district along with counseling within the Rochester Victim’s assistance program. She has volunteered within the homeless community as well as several causes that are centered towards uplifting woman in our community.


She grew up in the 19th ward of Rochester, New York. Growing up as the only girl with four brothers, she learned at a young age to speak her mind and advocate for herself. She is also a mother of two wonderful young men along with being blessed with two handsome grandsons.


“There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women.” ~Kofi Annan

Michelle Koduah, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) 

March 15, 2018

Michelle holds a bachelor’s degree in Brain and Cognitive Science with a concentration in Neurobiology and Neuropsychology. She currently works in operations for the Success Academy Charter Schools in New York City. Her professional interests include improving access to higher education and increasing inclusivity in challenging fields of study to cover the success of women of color.


She volunteers at Future Professionals Inc. in New York City and plans to pursue a master’s degree in Higher Education Administration with a focus on Student Affairs.

Oushawndra Chavers, Chief Operating Officer (COO) 

March 15, 2018

Oushawndra is a full-time student at Monroe Community College pursuing a degree in Entrepreneurial and Applied Business Studies and set to graduate in 2019. She is also a cosmetologist and received her license from the Rochester Educational Opportunity Center in 2009. Oushawndra is also the CEO of Lucid Beauty Rochester, a company that offers professional hair care products.


Aside from managing her business, she manages group homes and provides educational assistance for individuals with developmental disabilities.

Anqesha Murray, Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

March 15, 2018

Anqesha received her associate’s degree in liberal arts and biology from Monroe Community College in 2014. She then graduated from the University of Rochester with a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Microbiology and Immunology and a minor in American Sign Language and Dance. She then attended Brown University as an NIH Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) Scholar in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology.


She is currently a graduate student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) pursuing her Doctorate of Philosophy in Biology. Her research includes studying microbiology, synthetic biology, and chemical engineering. 

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How We Help the Community