Iya Oloruntomi is an esteemed daughter, sister and godmother who serves as a conduit for diasporic liberation. With over two decades of combined expertise as a spiritualist, educator and community organizer, she holds a significant wealth of knowledge in personal, interpersonal and institutional development.
She was born Katreina Oloruntomi Saliu on a Wednesday morning as the first and only spirit belonging to the combination of Olabode Saliu and Teresa Stockton. She identifies as an American-born Nigerian woman and is an Atlanta, Georgia native. She is a Spelman College alumna, an initiated priestess in the IFA/Orisa tradition, and the mother of an interdisciplinary corporation that facilitates multi generational healing and humanity restoration for Black women: Soar Higher You Never End, Inc. (SHYNE).
As the first of her mother’s children to graduate from high school, attend and graduate from college, hold a salaried career and operate as an entrepreneur, it goes without saying that Iya Oloruntomi has truly established a unique path in the world. Her bloodline roots trace back to the Yoruba tribe of Southwest Nigeria on her paternal side while her maternal origins remain unknown due to the impact of the Great Ma’afa, also known as the transatlantic slave trade. When asked the question of how her journey towards liberation began, Oloruntomi exclaims: “I AM 100% sure I was sent to earth for this assignment!”.
She goes on to share stories of her childhood growing up with her single mother and two brothers in Bradford Gwinnett Apartments, a low-income community located in Norcross, GA. It was there that she first gained her reputation as an organizer.
“My family was the neighborhood corner store so we’d have all types of foods. I used to invite people to our breezeway to color, draw, choreograph dances, and would even organize bike races down the big hills. My mom sold dinner plates every so often and I would invite other girls to deliver orders with me. I would always have snacks (and sometimes money) to give away as a thank you for participating or prizes for race winners. There were even times I’d invite girls over to pick gifts from my toy collection and I was always ready to share my old clothes with other husky girls. From a very early age, I was well known for curating spaces where Black girls could be free and experience community.”
Oloruntomi acknowledges her life as a miracle, crediting the power of divine love and the resilience of her ancestors as the reason she has made it this far. In second grade, she was placed in anger management while simultaneously testing into the gifted education program. As early as the age of 6, Oloruntomi recalls coming into an awareness of her destiny to bring about generational healing for Black people. "I was in therapy following sexual violation by one of my teenage brothers' friends. I had been asked whether I was afraid when he entered my room. I told her no because he colored the pig in my new coloring book blue and pigs are supposed to be light pink or cream colored so I knew something was wrong in his head."
Oloruntomi shares that by the age of 9, her destiny was made clear to her. This was the year doctors labeled her morbidly obese. It was also the year she first started experiencing the effects of precocious puberty. In sixth grade, she was tipping the scale at 200lbs, had been diagnosed with ADHD, medicated for it and kicked out of the gifted education program due to her “attitude”. This same year, her older brother was sentenced to 10 years in prison. As she matured into her high school years, Olorunotmi was diagnosed and medicated for clinical depression. She started to question everything, began praying and exploring spirituality more and made a commitment that she would one day solve these problems for good. Oloruntomi knew that she was chosen, and that there was a reason her humanity, health and her family had been under attack from such an early point in life.
Morgan, High School Teacher
"Working with Iya Oloruntomi has been an extraordinary experience. I have grown tremendously in my professional, personal, and spiritual journeys, mainly due to Iya Oloruntomi's spirit-centered practice of getting to the root issues that cause the mental blocks of achieving health and well-being. She has provided me the guidance to elevate my consumption through plant-based eating and to reflect honestly so I can take responsibility regarding the triggers and traumas that manifested my reality. I have also developed in vision-based goal setting and so much more. I wholeheartedly believe that my life's trajectory would have taken a different course had I not encountered Iya's wisdom and pedagogy."
"My experience at the SHYNE Retreat on Sapelo Island was one of the most profound, healing spiritual journeys of my life. Iya is an anointed, gifted guide. Her vision and mission to create healing transformative programs for our people is what our souls yearn for, whether we consciously realize it or not. My experience with the Ancestral Relationship Building Development Program was a continuation of the life-changing experience at the retreat. The sisterhood is so needed and real. And the guidance in connecting with our ancestors in ARB, while caring for our own spiritual hygiene through Iya’s insights and doing the work, was a priceless experience."