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Into The Light International, Inc. (ITLII) is a non-profit organization focused on helping to build strong, local African-American communities and the African-American community at large.

Our Mission

We believe we can take control of our communities.

Sheldon Brown

Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Sheldon Brown grew up with a desire to make contributions to the community. 

In high school, he joined a future community leaders program and engaged in community charitable work.  He worked in social center programs for at-risk youth, elementary schools that provided lunch programs and competitive sports programs for kids in the African American community on Chicago’s West Side.  It was during this time when Sheldon developed a love for the couples dance style, termed “Chicago Steppin”, and has danced this style for over 40 years.

Sheldon participated in Project Upward Bound at Northwestern University, in Evanston, Illinois.  He learned how kids from differing backgrounds co-mingled and performed outreach to other communities.  This further increased his desire and passion to continue making contributions to the African American community.  

Sheldon always wanted to open a dance club, although he didn’t have the necessary funds for the undertaking.  He developed an interest in television production and learned how to produce, direct, and edit a TV show.  He eventually produced a show called “Steppin With Style”, featuring the Chicago dance style that he has been dancing all his life.  The show was widely acclaimed in Prince George’s County, MD and in the surrounding areas.  


Sheldon started attending the Heritage Ball in Atlanta, which sparked the idea for hosting a similar event in the greater Washington DC Metropolitan area.  The organization from which this event could be promoted had to be affiliated with doing charitable work in the African American community.  So, Sheldon created the non-profit, Into The Light International, dedicated to making a difference in the community.

Sheldon graduated from Devry University with a B.S. in Information Technology and moved to Maryland, where he has lived, with his wife Deborah Simms-Brown, for over 30 years.  He has worked for a number of Federal government agencies, although he is most proud of his civil service at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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Deborah Simms Brown

Deborah Simms Brown, President at Into The Light International, Inc. (ITLII), moved to the Washington, D.C. area in 1983 after traveling the country living in various, diverse communities.  While traveling the country, Deborah developed an interest in multi-cultural relationships. She also grew to love different ethnic foods, dance, and people.

Deborah worked for the Federal government for over 20 years in the acquisition and assistance field.  During her tenure, she served in the civil service and the foreign service, advocating for women and children rights.  She served as a member of the Federal Women’s Program, which promoted confidence for young girls through mentoring and training.  Even while overseas, Deborah continued to fight for women's and children's rights in countries such as Africa, Asia, Central Asia and Latin America.  Her role at Into the Light International gives Deborah the voice needed to continue promoting these rights.

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