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Lorenzo Lewis
Founder and CEO of the Confess Project

As a young man, Lorenzo Lewis spent countless days at his aunt’s salon, watching customers come and go, listening to their conversations. He noticed people often left happier than they arrived, a result he attributed to them being free to talk about life’s problems with their barbers and stylists. This idea stuck with him as a young adult looking to make a positive impact on his community. Eventually, it evolved into a vision for providing communities of color with the tools to succeed—via mental health services, job assistance, healthcare access, and economic mobility—through his mission-driven company, L&J Empowerment, a Southern Bancorp Community Partners (SBCP) business and savings client.

L&J Empowerment is the parent company of three initiatives that realize Lorenzo’s vision. The first, and most well-known of these is The Confess Project, dubbed America’s first mental health barber shop movement. To date, the initiative has trained 300 barbers in 25 cities as mental health advocates. Out of this movement, Lewis saw firsthand the importance of economic mobility to his community, and subsequently launched The Lewis Group, which focuses on finding employment for individuals with disabilities. In serving these clients, Lewis identified yet another barrier to economic mobility for those he served—transportation. And so was born TOG Transit, a company that provides transport services to individuals seeking employment and healthcare services.

To ensure that these services could be found in one central location and not only barber shops, Lewis launched the first “Joy and Wellness Hub” in Little Rock, Ark. as a prototype for reimagining the traditional community health center. His vision is to have these centers located in communities throughout the country, providing opportunities that result in clients leaving happier and healthier than they arrived, just like his aunt’s customers all those years ago. Learn more about his movement at