Meet Our Team
Who We Are
Founder & CEO
Olivia Lynch is the Black Baton Twirlers Network’s president and co-founder. Olivia has won many state, regional, and national titles. She has performed with the U.S. All-Stars at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Showtime at the Apollo, and the World Performing Arts Championships. She was the first African American to wind the Congressional Cup Invitational. She is the co-head coach for Howard University Dazzlin Diamonds. Olivia is the 2023 HBCU Baton Twirling Coach of the Year. Olivia has a background in higher education and project management. She has a passion for creating a positive impact for future generations.
BBTN Vice President
John Baton Mitchell, BBTN, Vice President, is the sarcastically stylish twirling legend. He is the exception to the rule. He is a game changer, trendsetter, and a history-maker. As a nationally accomplished twirler, John has national, world open, and collegiate championship titles, and was the first African American and male feature twirler for the Penn State University Marching Blue Band. John has entertained millions with his energetic and athletic twirling style. He has made appearances on America’s Got Talent, the movie, “Soul Plane," Showtime at the Apollo, and the Clipper and LA Lakers’ halftime shows. John is also an international NBTA & AAU judge and coach. He serves as the President of Twirling to Fight Cancer. He is currently stationed in Las Vegas, NV.
Carol Lites is the co-founder and director of S.T.A.T. (Sheer Talent And Technique) of Illinois baton, flag, dance, and poms. She founded S.T.A.T. along with co-founders Kanisha Lites and Carmen Young in 2011. Her passion to serve youth in underserved communities has produced many state and Junior Olympic champions. She began her twirling career at six years old and started assisting others at twelve, which led to coaching color guard, baton, and dance at the high school level for many years. Her compassionate work is evident through her nursing career of forty years, which guides her excellence in meeting students' holistic needs. With her endless efforts through S.T.A.T. she inspires students to reach their greatest potential in the sport, of which three have become ambassadors . In 1994, Carol was part of a national award winning parade corp. In 2018, Carol and S.T.A.T. of Illinois were the recipients of the Heroes in the Hood award acknowledging their commitment to providing a positive program to underserved youth.
Ashley Sneed was a competitive baton twirler for over 15 years. She competed in both USTA and NBTA events, winning several state, regional, and national titles. Ashley also competed in the Miss America organization for 5 years winning several talent awards and placing in the semi-finals. Ashley aspires to become a USTA and NBTA judge and coach in the near future.
Elaine Jones has coached baton twirling and related arts for over 48 years. She earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago, a graduate certificate from the University of Illinois at Springfield, and has over 25 years of corporate experience. She competed in NBTA and USTA, becoming advanced and winning several state and regional titles. Her students have won state, regional, and national titles. She is currently a judge for AAU, NBTA, USTA, and WTA.
Kanisha Lites Sheer Talent and Technique (S.T.A.T.) of Illinois in Chicago was founded by Carmen Young, Carol Lites, and Kanisha Lites in 2011 with the purpose of coaching and promoting baton twirling for all ages. Kanisha has dedicated her life to the advancement of baton twirling by competing in state and national competitions, reaching the Junior Olympics for the sport for several years, obtaining many gold medals. She has continued working tirelessly through S.T.A.T. to encourage her students to become leaders in their communities and achieve the highest levels of success in the sport. In September 2022, Kanisha was the recipient of the Aurora Tights Amplify Scholarship, recognizing her dedication, inclusivity, and compassion to individuals in the baton twirling community. Throughout the years, three of her students have become ambassadors, promoting the sport in other communities across the country.
Melaneice Gibbs is a creative director, choreographer, dancer, and baton twirler. Her technical background includes, ballet, jazz, contemporary, and West African dance. As a HBCU performer/twirler with Jackson State University Sonic Boom of the South, she is best known for creating forward-thinking concepts within the realm of HBCU dance. Melaneice has over 10 years of experience coaching, creating opportunities, and bridging gaps of diversity for majorette dancers. Currently, Melaneice works for the Grammy award winning Tennessee State University Aristocrat Essence magazine and the Tennessean newspaper. She has given many performances, including those for the Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, and the Tennessee Titans. She sits on a diversity committee with NFL coaches and choreographers and has created organizational partnerships with the Memphis Grizzlies “Grizz Girls," Atlanta Falcons cheerleaders, and Tennessee Titans Cheerleaders. Melaneice is the owner of the 5th Quarter Auxiliary Training Center where she continues to cultivate the next generation of HBCU and professional dancers, empowering them to feel confident through dance.
“Everyone can become successful, and I will make that happen.” Katherine Callahan started dancing as a child in Atlanta, Georgia. Her professional dance and choreography career began with her dedication to Georgia Youth on Parade, Flying Tiger Track Team, Culture Shock Atlanta Dance Troupe, and dance studios. In addition, she attended Morris Brown College, where she receive her Bachelor’s degree in Community Health Education. Katherine’s professional dance and choreography career highlights include the opening ceremonies of the 1996 Summer Olympic games and the 20th Century Fox movie Drumline. In addition, she judges national dance competitions, and has choreographed numerous half-time shows at professional sporting events, and has served as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor at Atlanta’s Naval Air Station. In 2010 Kat was awarded “Best of Atlanta” in the Fitness Trainer category by the Atlanta Tribune. She is actively involved in several charitable programs. She is currently the Bubbling Brown Sugar Alumni President, Executive Member of the HBCU National Auxiliary and Dance Directors Association and coach of the Tri-Cities High School Creme de la Creme Dance Team.