Judith Lahai emigrated from Sierra Leone to the United States in 1975 fresh from high school. When she came to the US, she worked menial jobs at restaurants and convenience stores to support her family. After over 20 years in the US, she started college at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas in 1988 to pursue a degree in Health Care Administration. She attended school year round while raising a family and working full time. Judith was featured in the Who’s Who of College Students in 1990 and graduated from Texas Southern in 1991. She went on to obtain her Master’s in Public Health in International and Family Health from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston.
Judith and her husband co-hosted The Matthew Momoh show for 16 years on KPFT radio in Houston. The show discussed the African diaspora and addressed issues within the immigrant community in the Houston area. When the show ended, Judith and her husband founded and ran the non-profit organization SLAO – Saving Lives through Alternate Options. The organization focused on helping not only the African community but all immigrants needing services and assistance in the Houston area. Judith assisted with grant writing and fund raising activities for local and international projects. She was elected Executive Director in November 1997.
Under her directorship she managed the local and international staff, and managed grant writing and fundraising activities for local and international projects, developed and maintained exchanges between African Universities and government officials with US institutions, and oversaw all local and international business activities on behalf of the agency. Projects granted to the organization include the Smoking Cessation campaign, five HIV/AIDS programs with total budgets of over $3.5 million including: 1) Outreach and admissions, 2) Counseling, 3) Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA), 4) Tenant-Based Rental Assistance, (TBRA), Short-Term Rent, Mortgage and Utility (STRMU). 5) Mayor’s call on HIV/AIDS in the African American community, 6) African American HIV/AIDS project to inner city African Americans in Houston, Texas. Judith co-chaired the Health Research Committee and local HIV/STI CBO Task Force and served as” Cultural Expert “and liaison for national and international Universities and local organizations.
In May of 2011, Judith founded Family Empowerment Services where as CEO her responsibilities include oversight, management and monitoring and evaluation of all local and international programs and services to meet required project standard. Responsible for all staff trainings and development needs to achieve project’s technical objectives. Organize and manage fundraising activities on behalf of agency. Seek out partnership opportunities for agency. Set up programs and implement program activities for successful outcome. Represent agency at national and international levels.
Judith’s passion for helping the immigrant community and the underserved populations in the Houston area make her a valuable resource to those in need both in the United States and abroad. She has been featured and published in several publications regarding her work with HIV/AIDS and was featured on the MSNBC documentary Sex Slaves in the City and Sex Slaves in the Suburbs.