top of page


Your Resource for ACES Prevention and Georgia Resiliency
  • Emily Anne Vall

Resilient Georgia Hosts Discussion with Olympian Kenny Selmon on Resilience & Overcoming Hurdles

Updated: Nov 18, 2021

Virtual event moderated by writer and producer Chrishaunda Lee Perez

ATLANTA -- (Sept. 16, 2021) -- To celebrate its collective impact working to create an integrated system for behavioral health care in Georgia, Resilient Georgia is hosting Olympian Kenny Selmon, a decorated American track and field champion, and storyteller Chrishaunda Lee Perez for a virtual celebration Oct. 28, 2021 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Since its inception in 2019, Resilient Georgia has built a statewide coalition of trauma-informed organizations by convening diverse private and public partners to build a stronger, more resilient Georgia. Their statewide coalition currently includes over 700 stakeholders working to prevent adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and support healing through integrated behavioral health resources and services. The organization’s efforts intensified almost immediately after its launch to address statewide needs in mental health, wellness and resilience during the COVID-19 crisis and the country's racial reckoning.

“We set out to build a statewide coalition to support the resilience of children and families across our state,” said Emily Anne Vall, executive director of Resilient Georgia. “This coalition aims to help Georgians from all walks of life, all races and all socioeconomic backgrounds. Kenny Selmon’s inspiring story resonates because he overcame tremendous obstacles and adverse experiences during his rise to competing as an Olympic athlete. His story exemplifies the power of resilience and having a more coordinated network of care to help foster that resilience.”

After injury halted Selmon's dreams in 2019, and the Covid-19 pandemic delayed them even further in 2020, Selmon remained focused on his goal to qualify for the 2020 Olympics Games (2021). In June, after three grueling rounds and a personal best in the final, he qualified for the 2021 U.S. Olympic team in the 400m hurdles.

A former UNC track star, Selmon fell short of advancing to the finals for the 400-meter hurdles event at the Tokyo Olympics held last month. Selmon, who was a four-time All-American while at UNC, placed second in his heat to qualify for the semifinal. He posted the fourth-fastest time in his semifinal run against seven other hurdlers, but his valiant effort (48.58 seconds) ultimately was the tenth-fastest time in the semifinal round of the event.

Mental health took a top role at the recent Tokyo Olympics. Selmons will share his story of resilience and strength, persevering through injury and the pandemic to become an Olympic athlete.

The online event is free. Register in advance at:

Zoom registration is available at:

About Kenny Selmon

Kenny Selmon, an Atlanta native, Pace Academy Alum (2014) and now a 2021 Olympian, represented the United States in the Men's 400M Hurdles in Tokyo, Japan this summer. Selmon, a decorated American Track and Field athlete, became a National Champion when he won the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championship in 2018. Later that summer he represented the United States at the 2018 Athletics World Cup in London, where he won gold in the 400 meters hurdles. Selmon attended college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he competed in indoor and outdoor track and field. While at UNC, Selmon qualified for four NCAA East Preliminary Rounds and five NCAA Championships while collecting five All-America accolades, 10 AII-ACC honors and six spots in the UNC top-five all-time records. His college personal record of 48.12, which he ran at the NCAA Division I Championships in 2018, is the fastest in UNC history. To cap off his illustrious collegiate career on and off the track, UNC honored Selmon with the Patterson Medal, the highest honor UNC gives to any athlete.

About Chrishaunda Lee Perez

Chrishaunda Lee Perez is a writer and producer known for her work as co-writer and co-producer of the short film, “The Forever Tree”, and book, “Share The Dream: Building Noah’s Ark One Prayer at a Time”. Chrishaunda Lee earned her start in entertainment first serving as a fashion publicist, then in front of the camera corresponding on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in 2004, and later on “Entertainment Tonight” in 2005. A long-time animal advocate, Chrishaunda co-hosted the show, “Animal Attractions” for PBS in 2007. Most recently, Chrishaunda Lee released her first novel, “We Come as Girls, We Leave as Women”, about high school senior girls overcoming personal challenges as they head towards graduation. This debut has been praised by Paula Wallace, founder and president of the Savannah College of Art and Design, and endorsed by Oprah Winfrey.


About Resilient Georgia

Resilient Georgia is a statewide coalition of over 700 stakeholders committed to building a stronger, more resilient Georgia. Through a network of public and private partners, Resilient Georgia is creating a pipeline of trauma-informed behavioral health services and resources that support children and families who have experienced adversity. This integrated system includes prevention, early intervention, research, advocacy and policy, and care implementation and coordination. Learn more at

Media Contact:

Patty Gregory | 678-613-2511 |



bottom of page