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Improving the lives of women , infants and families… Healthy Start at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital is a federally-funded initiative to improve the health and well-being of women during their childbearing years. Our goal is to work with women to address risk factors (time between pregnancies, nutrition, substance/alcohol use, stress, family planning) and other issues that impact their health and may affect a future pregnancy. Healthy Start addresses individual needs on a case-by-case basis and is a community entry point for women seeking both prenatal and well-woman care and family planning services.

Personalized services are available for AfricanAmerican/Black women ages 14-45, infants up to age 2 and men who reside in the 33701, 33705, 33711, 33712 and 33713 zip code areas. Healthy Start supports mothers, children and their families before, during and after pregnancy.

Fathers play a very important role in the development of their children. Getting fathers involved early on, even before the baby is born, can have a great influence on a child’s life. That’s why our Father Services Specialist provides assistance and educational resources just for men.

Want to make a difference for families, join our Community Action Network (CAN) group. The CAN strives to involve and empower program participants, community members, and providers to build awareness to help future generations in our community.

For more information, call 727-767-6780, e-mail, or visit



This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number H49MC27805, The Healthy Start Initiative: Eliminating Disparities in Perinatal Health-HRSA-12-112 for the amount of 5.6 million dollars over a 5 year period. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S Government.

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Accelerate Your Business Growth in Pinellas County, Florida “We were able to gross over $1 million last year only due to the SBDC’s direct assistance. I owe much of my company’s success to the hard work and dedication of Pinellas County SBDC.” - Hayes Fountain III, Chief Executive Officer, Widescope Consulting and Contracting Services The Florida Small Business Development Center at Pinellas County Economic Development has personalized business consulting services, a focused curriculum for growing companies and links to financing options, such as SBA loans. We offer you the tools to grow your business smarter, better and faster. Florida Small Business Development Center at Pinellas County Economic Development The EpiCenter, 13805 58th St. N., Suite 1-200, Clearwater, FL 33760 (727) 453-7200 |


From left to right, guest editors for this commemorative women’s edition: Audrey “Pat” McGhee, Nikki GaskinCapehart, Gypsy C. Gallardo, and Deborah Figgs-Sanders.

Dear Readers

I could not have been more pleased that this special women’s edition will be our first of 2018 as we return to the Power Broker’s regular quarterly publishing schedule this year.

I’m left almost speechless and certainly breathless, after reading and writing the profiles of dozens of magnificently gifted women, who depleted my arsenal of adjectives as I attempted to tell their stories. It was a delight to feature women who rarely enjoy a spotlight on the work that they do, like Carolyn King and Nikita Hill, and I must confess to feeling “challenged” to be more fully myself, after digesting the stories of daring sisters such as Marcina DowdellWilliams and Jai Hinson. But my biggest take-aways are from the aerial perspective that can only come from creating page after page of content about 100 women strong. What I noticed in all the bios, media and Q&A we collected to assemble this issue is that nearly all of these sisters share three things in common: one, faith in God and themselves; two, love for and pride in their children as their greatest achievement; and three, a work ethic that just won’t quit. These women work (!) for what they have, and for what they want, for themselves and their

6 | Power Broker magazine

communities and families.

Let it be known that there are hundreds more just like them. Hidden treasures, and unsung heroes all across our community who every-bit deserve to be heard. We simply did not have the time and space to feature them all! Finally, love and gratitude to the women who worked together to produce this historic magazine: guest editors Nikki Gaskin-Capehart, Deborah FiggsSanders and Audrey “Pat” McGhee; young journalist Gabrielle Settles who truly “came through” on this - her debut publishing project in Tampa Bay; Misha Wong, our graphic designer of many years; Briana Hankins, my able research assistant; Toni Gallardo, my daughter and editor of the Latest & Hottest calendar; and of course, the sponsors and advertisers who made this project possible. From my heart to yours,

Gypsy C. Gallardo Publisher The Power Broker magazine

17 Women Who Slayed in 2017 & Other Outstanding Women


A publication of The Power Broker Media Group & a commemorative edition of The Power Broker Magazine

Quarter 1 2018 • [Volume 12 – Edition 1] Advertise or promote your news, events, and opportunities in Tampa Bay’s most read magazine among African Americans. See rates & circulation details at: Gypsy C. Gallardo PUBLISHER


Lonnie Donaldson CO-FOUNDER



REACH US: P.O. Box 15006 St. Petersburg, FL 33733 727-835-6145 SEND YOUR NEWS TO US: reachout@ SEE NEW EVENTS & CAREER OPPORTUNITIES POSTED WEEKLY: SEE or CIRCULATE THIS EDITION DIGITALLY: www.powerbrokermagazine. com/DIGITALmagazine LIKE US OR FRIEND US: PowerBrokerMagazine DISTRIBUTION REQUESTS: To request that your business or office be one of the Power Broker’s 50+ distribution sites: reachout@

SPECIAL THANKS This publication uses photos and re-printed published materials first featured in the Weekly Challenger and via MotherJones. com. We are grateful to these media outlets for their pioneering journalism. Thank you!

Page 12 The Leadership Files – Who’s moving up, who’s moving on Page 20 Five Big New Things in and for the Black Community Page 34 17 Women Who Slayed in 2017 Pages 52 - 90 Women Leading Change – Global to Local Page 93 + The Latest & Hottest Calendar of Events

Our Team for this Special Edition 1 7 W O M E N W H O S L AY E D I N 2 0 1 7

Gypsy C. Gallardo PUBLISHER

Nikki Gaskin-Capehart GUEST EDITOR

Deborah Figgs-Sanders GUEST EDITOR

Gypsy is CEO of the Power Broker Media Group and of Urban Market Analytics, a Florida-based firm that designs, funds and evaluates innovative solutions that move the needle of economic progress for low-income people and communities. She has 26 years of experience consulting to 40 development organizations, across American and overseas, helping to design state, regional and communitywide initiatives in workforce development, economic development, and micro & small business development. Gypsy’s publishing passions include bringing new and innovative research to light.

Appointed by the Mayor, Nikki is the City of St. Petersburg’s Director of Urban Affairs where she works to develop the policy agenda for South St. Petersburg across city departments, and to spur economic development in the South St. Pete Community Redevelopment Area.

Deborah has 25 years of experience in strategic planning, staff and volunteer management, youth programs, and organizational leadership. Until recently, she was the Executive Director of YMCA Resource Centers and a partner in her family business, Supreme Heating & Cooling, Inc. She is currently President of Personal Agenda, LLC, and is completing a term as Co-Chair of the 2020 Plan Taskforce.

Gypsy is also CEO of the 2020 Plan, a collective impact initiative of 100 organizations working together for the historic goal to reduce poverty by 30% in South St. Petersburg by 2020. Gypsy earned a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School, and a BA in English Literature and Liberal Studies from the Whitney Young College of Leadership at Kentucky State.

Her prior positions were as Director of Communications & External Affairs for the Pinellas County Urban League (where she was selected by the National Urban League to the Whitney Young Jr., Emerging Leaders Program), Deputy District Director for Congresswoman Kathy Castor, Executive Director of the Partnership for a Healthier Pinellas, Outreach Director for Congressman Jim Davis, owner of Sanaa’ Systems, and Assistant VP of Community Development Banking for AmSouth Bank. The St. Pete native is a graduate of the University of South Florida, Leadership St. Pete, National Urban Fellows America’s Leaders of Change program, and the Tampa Bay Public Leadership Institute, among other professional development programs.

Deborah’s past community roles include service as president of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Zeta Upsilon Omega Chapter and president of Youth Development Foundation, among others. Current roles include Mayoral appointment to the Citizens Advisory Committee for the South St. Pete CRA, and appointment by Commissioner Ken Welch to the Council for Persons with Disabilities. She holds a BS in Computer Information Science from Florida A&M University and an MBA from the University of Phoenix.

The Photo Shoot Team

Other professionals who led and staged our December 2017 photo shoot: 8 | Power Broker magazine




Rossie Newson

Audrey “Pat” McGhee FASHION EDITOR Pat is CEO of APM Images, an urban couture clothing line designed for women 25 and older who want to blend boldness with feminine beauty. She specializes in designs for women sizes 6 to 24, catering to women in the forgotten sizes (12 to 24) whose off-the-rack options are limited. Previously, Pat had 20 years of experience as a Retail Manager and Make-over Consultant for Colony Shops and as fashion consultant for Malarkey International India. Her professional modeling experiences include Bronner Brothers Hair Shows, TCB/Motions Hair Show, and the Walt Disney Project. Pat has appeared in media such as the “Up Front” show on WTVT-TV, Channel 10 as a guest host, on the cover of the Power Broker Magazine Style Edition, in BLU Magazine, WWWE Magazine, BOSS Magazine, NU YU Magazine, and Lucky Magazine.

Gabrielle Settles CONTRIBUTOR Gabrielle earned her journalism degree in 2017 from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Originally a native Detroiter, Settles has known St. Petersburg as her second home since she was a child, and attended grade school in the area. In high school, Gabrielle chose to be a reporter because she enjoys telling people’s true stories, and she is grateful to have the opportunity to share the interesting stories of powerful Tampa Bay women for this issue.

Yolanda McGill Fintak & Briana McDonald MAKE-UP ARTISTS What would a photo shoot be without a fierce make-up team to make us picture perfect! Yolanda McGill Fintak has been on the fashion scene for years. Since modelling while a student at Florida A&M University to continuing to rip the runways locally during many events. So, when it came time for the “glam squad,” Yolanda was immediately recruited. She is a native of St. Pete, a FAMU graduate, member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and owns a fashion consulting firm while serving as a violence prevention specialist with Pinellas County Schools. Another shining star in the make-up industry is Briana McDonald. When Deborah Figgs-Sanders issued a social media call for make-up artist prospects, Briana rose to the top of her list. She has a gift for matching tones and impeccable highlights and blends, while always wearing a most infectious smile. This University of Florida graduate and St. Pete native, specializes in beauty both inside and out, hers and yours!

When you look through the lens of one of St. Petersburg’s best kept secrets, you can’t help but wonder how Rossie, 58, is able to capture an alluring glimpse into the eyes in each portrait. He discovered photography after leaving Tampa Bay Times in 2009 as an illustrator. Newson devoted most of his time to caring for his father suffering with Alzheimer’s disease. It was then that he cultivated his gift. Today, his firm – Rossie Newson Photography - specializes in family portraits and product shots for corporate clients such as Strickland Vintage Watches. His passion projects include untouched natural images of the homeless, street art and the beautiful sunrises and sunsets of the Tampa Bay area beaches.

Misha Wong CREATIVE DIRECTOR Misha earned a Master’s Degree of graphic design in Camagüey, Cuba, a culturally-rich city in the center of the country. Misha’s colorful, edgy, and dynamic work is influenced greatly by the blend of her African, Taino Indian, Chinese, and German roots. Her passion for design has naturally merged into a love of photography and video editing, making her a triple threat. Misha is a mom to four spoiled, four-legged kids. As an animal lover, she lends her design and photography skills to local humane societies for fund-raisers and adoption events. Misha loves to dance salsa, cook Cuban food for friends and family, and travel to destinations near and far.

We’re working to make this city the envy of all others by supporting our community through the St. Pete Greenhouse and the Grow Smarter Strategy. The Grow Smarter Strategy, a community economic development intiative, targets specific job sectors for growth and development. In these “targets”, competitive advantages exist, prospects for future growth are greatest, and return on investment is likely highest. The St. Petersburg Greenhouse, a partnership between the City of St. Petersburg and the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, is your one-stop facility for starting or growing your local business.

Join our efforts. Visit the sites below to learn how you can get involved.

St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce Grow Smarter Strategy

St. Petersburg Greenhouse

TheLeadership Files (A Power Broker Quarterly Report in 2018)

Who’s moving up & who’s moving on -BY







Artis Named Executive Director Once portrayed as one of the teens in the movie “Lean on Me” starring Morgan Freeman, Judith Artis, is the new Executive Director of PACE Center for Girls’ Pinellas Center. Artis was named to the post in October 2017, bringing over 20 years of experience in youth development to the job. Prior leadership roles for Judith were with organizations in Texas, Georgia and South Carolina. Judith has three adult children and is a national judge for the sport of double dutch jump roping. She is a graduate of Kesler University where she earned a Bachelor’s in Business Management and is currently completing a Master’s in Organizational Psychology.

From Friendship to Atlanta’s Shiloh Baptist Le’Zaire Reese, a St. Pete native, has been named Pastor Elect to lead the Shiloh Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Rev. Reese made a name for himself with his vocal talent. Groomed in gospel at St. Petersburg’s Friendship Missionary Baptist Church under the leadership of Dr. John Evans, Sr., Rev. Reese blesses those within the sound of his gospel melodic and preached messages. Rev. Reese graduated from the Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School. He is also a proud man of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity who studied at Clark Atlanta University.

Sawyer-Hampton Transitions to C-Suite Pattye SawyerHampton has been hired as Chief Program Officer at Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County, Inc., making her part of Habitat’s six-person executive team. Habitat announced the decision this February, noting that Sawyer-Hampton brings more than 20 years of community and nonprofit experience to the post and is expected to continue the organization’s growth and partnership development. Sawyer exited her position as Project Director of Urban Seniors Jobs Program and Guild Liaison last month and started in the new role March 1st.

New Role for Sheeley Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County also announced the hiring of Vito Sheeley as its Program Services Coordinator. Mr. Sheeley is a native of St Petersburg and both a Lakewood High School and St. Petersburg College graduate. During his career, he has served as a senior policy advisor for a Brighter Future Florida; district director and outreach coordinator for US Congressman Charlie Crist; outreach coordinator for US Congresswoman Kathy Castor; and field organizer for Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch’s campaign.

Congratulations to Drake-McMullen, Montgomery & Other New Leaders The St. Petersburg Area Chamber installed what many believe to be the most diverse board in the organization’s history at its 119th Annual Meeting, February 17th. The new leadership cohort included (left to right in the photo above), newly-installed board Chairperson Anne Drake McMullen, Ronnell Montgomery continuing service as a Vice Chair and leader of the Chamber’s Diversity & Inclusion committee, Danielle Findley as Vice Chair for Membership and Martha Boden, Vice Chair for Advocacy. Also featured in the photo are Chamber President & CEO Chris Steinocher (left) and outgoing Chairman Jim Donatelli (right).

lodging-focused private equity funds, RLJ Lodging Fund II, LP and RLJ Real Estate Fund III, LP. The company is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the stock symbol “RLJ.”

Husband Wife Team Launch B.I.G

New Equity Stake in St. Petersburg Robert Johnson, former BET co-founder and president, now effectively owns the famous Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club following the merger of RLJ Lodging Trust with FelCor, which had purchased the Vinoy in 2007. According to its website, RLJ Lodging Trust is a self-advised, publicly traded real estate investment trust focused on acquiring premium-branded, focused-service and compact full-service hotels. The Trust’s portfolio consists of 157 properties with 30,800 rooms located in 26 states and the District of Columbia. RLJ Lodging Trust became publiclytraded in May 2011 after being formed to consolidate and succeed the hotel investment and ownership platform of RLJ Development andits two remaining

completed his doctorate in nuclear chemistry from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Robinson Takes Helm of FAMU Florida A&M University named Larry Robinson, Ph.D., as its 12th president late last year. Dr. Robinson was a professor and researcher in the School of the Environment at FAMU. Previously, he served as the interim president of FAMU from September 2016 to November 2017, from July 2012 to March 2014, and in 2007. He also served as director of FAMU’s Environmental Sciences Institute from 1997 to 2003, as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs from 2003 to 2005, and as vice president for Research in 2009. Robinson attended Lemoyne-Owen College, earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry (summa cum laude) from Memphis State University, and

Husband and wife team Kelly and Kahlya Sims launched their newest venture this past December– called The B.I.G. Entertainment Group, a 501c3 organization dedicated to creating special community events that foster stronger family ties. One of their first events was a Father Daughter Ball held February 24th at Pinellas Technical College. Kelly, a St. Pete native and former professional athlete, says the name of the agency conveys the organization’s key message, “The ‘B’ is for benevolent, the ‘I’ is for being an inspiration, and the ‘G’ is for gregarious, meaning outgoing and confident.” He says the group’s mission is to “party with the purpose of philanthropy.” Upcoming festivities will include the 1st annual Trayvon Bromell Invitational Track Meet honoring the local Olympian and Gibbs graduate in April, and a mother-son dance in August.



cademy Prep Center of St. Petersburg is a rigorous private middle school for students qualifying for need-based scholarships. Every year, one of the school’s major fundraisers is a luncheon honoring Five Fabulous Females, celebrating their contributions in business, community and philanthropy. Each honoree is introduced by a current Academy Prep scholar who has drawn inspiration from their accomplishments. This year’s event, held in January at the TradeWinds Island Grand Resort, honored Anje Bogott, Beth England, Peggy LeClerc, Elithia Stanfield, and The Honorable Irene Sullivan.

Power Broker magazine | 13 Send us your success news:

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TheLeadership Files Who’s moving up & who’s moving on (A Power Broker Quarterly Report in 2018) -BY



Bright Lands Smithsonian Internship



Nattiel selected as Rhodes Scholar

Lorenzo Bright, son of St. Petersburg and child of Lendel and Jeanette Bright, was elated this past fall to learn that he’d been selected to complete an internship at the prestigious Smithsonian African American Museum in Washington, D.C. Bright began the position in January of 2018. This follows his completion of a stint with the U. S. National Park Services Intern program at Civil War to Civil Rights - Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park in Georgia. Bright was recognized there for conducting a series of interviews with local Cobb County residents in order to highlight experiences and connections between the end of the American Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement.

Madeira Beach’s Christian Nattiel is now studying at the University of Oxford after graduating last year from the U.S. Military

Sapp Headlines 32st Annual Breakfast The National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) St. Petersburg Metropolitan Section hosted its 32nd Annual MLK Leadership Awards Breakfast this past



Academy at West Point, with the historic distinction of becoming the first AfricanAmerican Rhodes Scholar in West Point history. Nattiel double majored in mathematical sciences and philosophy while at West Point, and is currently studying public policy at Oxford. Among his many honors, Nattiel served as president of West Point’s

Cultural Affairs Seminar (helping lower performing students to improve their grades), and was recipient of the Superintendent’s Award for Achievement, the Distinguished Cadet Award, and the Black Engineer of the Year Award for Military Leadership. He was also honored here at home, by U.S. Congressman Charlie Crist, last summer.

January. This year’s event featured as keynote (and improvisational performer) award-winning Gospel recording artist Bishop Marvin Sapp and welcomed 1,000 guest. Mistress of Ceremony was Ms. Deiah Riley of ABC Good Morning

Tampa Bay. Guest soloist Michelle Williams raised the audience to its feet in praise.

• In photo: Nattiel with Vice President Pence, at the annual Henry Flipper Dinner in memory of West Point’s first African American graduate.

• In photo: Members of NCNW’s St. Pete Metropolitan Section

Send us your success news:

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St. Pete’s own Will Packer was honored in late fall 2017 as recipient of the national NAACP Image Award for best picture for Girls Trip, which released in July 2017 and grossed $140 million in box offices. The project was the first comedy of 2017 to cross $100 million in gross revenue.

Deborah FiggsSanders Accepts New Director Post After months of support from the sideline, the Callaloo Group LLC, which was awarded a five-year lease to manage the Historic Manhattan Casino, contracted Deborah Figgs-Sanders, president of Personal Agenda LLC, as its event director. Deborah was recruited to ensure that the legacy of the Manhattan Casino would continue to bring the live musical sounds and facility availability for affordable venue space for the community. After many years in business, nonprofit leadership, programming, and extensive community engagement, Deborah will serve as the point person for all events. Personal Agenda LLC, is a for profit business consulting firm offering a variety of services to improve business practices, provide program development, promote organization through creative events and event planning. Before launching Personal Agenda full-time, Deborah was the Executive Director of the YMCA Greater St. Petersburg’s Resource Centers.

Haynes Featured in AT&T Black History Calendar Among other African American civic, business and community leaders, Watson Haynes, II, was featured in AT&T Florida’s African American History Calendar, available online. Haynes’ photo and extended bio marked February 15th in the calendar’s chronology. He is President & CEO of the Pinellas County Urban League, and was selected for the spotlight for his 30-year track record of leadership. Though many in the area are familiar with his history of gubernatorial appointments and other key positions, Haynes’ current responsibilities include service on the board of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, where he was recently appointed to act a liaison between Chamber members with businesses in Southern Pinellas County. He is a member of the Pinellas Education Foundation P4PS Committee (Parents for Pinellas Students) and of the board of AMI (Associated Marine Institute) Kids.

Scruggs-Leftwich Collection Accepted at Howard University Dr. Yvonne Scruggs-Leftwich, well known leader on both the national and local levels, was honored to learn in mid-2017 that her extensive library of research and published books and papers will be permanently housed in the collection of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Dr. ScruggsLeftwich and her assistant have worked to curate her collection over the past year, and in January 2018, she began rolling submissions of portions of her portfolio. The Center also houses the works of luminaries such as John Hope Franklin and Lerone Bennett, Jr. Global Inclusion Post for Butterfield-Jones Valeisha Butterfield Jones has been appointed to a powerhouse position at Google that will allow her to address the tech industry’s diversity issues. According to Black Enterprise, the award-winning community engagement, multicultural marketing and communications strategist has been promoted to global head of women and black community engagement. She will continue advocacy for diversity and inclusion while instituting new systems for an inclusive culture at Google. In her new role, Butterfield Jones will also lead a worldwide recruitment and retention effort dedicated to enhancing equal opportunities for black people and women. Butterfield Jones, 39, has been with Google since 2016. Lance Bottoms Breaks Through Atlanta’s Keisha Lance Bottoms has been sworn in as Atlanta’s 60 mayor. Bottoms took her oath of office during an inauguration ceremony in the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College. Bottoms defeated Mary Norwood in a December 5, 2017 runoff election to succeed Kasim Reed as Atlanta’s mayor. Power Broker magazine | 15

Men Making Moves Erik Smith Installed as Chairman of Pinellas County Urban League of my business sense inception. The Urban League is already stepping out of the box to innovate. I see my role as furthering that.”


his past January, 46year old entrepreneur Erik Smith was installed as Chairman of the 28-member Board of Directors at Pinellas County Urban League. The decidedly upwardly mobile Smith is CEO of Inclusivity, LLC (formerly Carlton Consulting), which specializes in cultural competence, cross cultural marketing and community engagement for corporate and non-profit clients, including the Tampa Bay Rays and Juvenile Welfare Board. Smith served as first vice chairperson of the Urban League board in 2017. He now replaces outgoing Chairman Dr. Frank Biafora, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.   

“Building generational and economic leadership will be my hallmark as Chairman,” says Smith, whose term in the top spot is for 2018 He also intends to bring his trademark philosophy to the board table. “’The Presence of Diversity + The Practice of Inclusion creates the context for Innovation & Community Impact,’” has always been the focus

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Smith is prolific in community leadership since relocating to St. Petersburg seven years ago. He stepped down this February from the board of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber, and remains active on the board of Allegany Franciscan Ministries and as a mentor with the Men in the Making initiative to train St. Petersburg-youth in character and leadership development. Smith’s career path included five years as the Cultural Competence and Inclusion Director at Cox Media Group/Valpak. Current clients of his firm Inclusivity include the Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas County and Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County.

About Erik

Family: Father of Erik A. Smith / Engaged to St. Pete native Delquanda Turner Education: MBA., Case Western Reserve University and BA, Duke University. Hometown: Hartford, Connecticut Hobbies: Family time, cooking, weight lifting and music Community: Erik’s non-profit experience began at age 16 as an artist in residence for a small arts-in-education organization in Connecticut.  Since then he has held roles in various small to large organizations as a Chairperson, Managing Director, Treasurer and Strategic Consultant.  He’s also a graduate of Leadership Pinellas class of 2014 and a proud brother of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

Antonio Gilliam named new assistant chief of police

Newly retired assistant chief Luke Williams passing the baton of leadership to newly-named assistant chief Antonio Gilliam at a February 10th Men in the Making meeting

After 17 years with the St. Petersburg Police Department, Antonio Gilliam was promoted this February to assistant chief of the investigative services bureau, accepting the baton from newly retired Luke Williams as the only African American among the department’s three assistant chiefs. Williams retired at the end of January after 32-years of decorated service on the force. If an unfamiliar face to some in South St. Petersburg (where 80% of the city’s black population resides), it’s because much of Gilliam’s beat has been as an undercover vice and narcotics detective, or, more recently, as the major in charge of District 3, covering St. Petersburg’s western neighborhoods. The 40-year old Gilliam is a husband and father of two raised in Tallahassee’s Rainbow Acres neighborhood on the city’s southside. He began with the St. Petersburg Police Department in 2001 as a patrol officer. Gilliam went on to serve as a detective then commander in the department’s street crimes unit and the vice and narcotics division before promotion to sergeant in 2008, lieutenant in 2010 and major in 2015.

In a video produced by the department, Gilliam says he didn’t always want to be a police officer. Motivated by the deaths of five of his childhood friends by age 25, he earned a criminology degree from Florida State University before joining the force. Gilliam says his goal by the time he retires is “to leave the city safer and to somehow have contributed to a closer bond between citizens and police officers.” Alongside his professional focus, he is a leader and mentor with St. Petersburg’s Men in the Making role modeling initiative for at-risk African American boys.

The 54-year old began in the new job March 1, leading the school district’s police staff of 20 plus contracted school resource officers and deputies from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and several local city governments. During William’s 32-year career with the St. Petersburg Police Department, he’d filled the shoes of patrol officer, detective, sergeant, and major, before becoming assistant chief with the uniform services bureau in 2006. He joins the Pinellas County Schools police force at a time when schoolbased arrests are modestly rising. Arrests were down 42% from 2013 (767 arrests) through 2015 (443 arrests), due to increased use of civil citations in lieu of arrests and other improvement strategies.

ballot for automatic restoration. The item failed to make the ballot in 2016. But with help from the ACLU of Florida, the NAACP, churches, civic and grassroots groups, [they’ve succeeded in getting a] constitutional amendment on the 2018 ballot. Meade has a personal stake in restoring civil rights to the millions of Floridians who lost them because of felony convictions. He’s counted in that number, after serving time for possession of a firearm charge. That conviction, among other things, limit a person’s ability to find good jobs and affordable housing, he said. “It also limits your voice by not being able to vote.”

But the latest data show an 8% uptick in 2016 over the prior year (482 arrests), and a 12% increase in 2017, as of the most recent report by the district (2017 data are through the month of March). Antonio Gilliam (far left, standing) with other leaders of the Men in the Making initiative to train young men as leaders

Luke Williams Selected New Pinellas County Schools Chief

Williams’ track record mentoring youth could help steer new progress in this area. He is a years-long volunteer with programs such as 5000 Role Models and Men in the Making. Williams was also honored this February at the 5th Annual Whitney Young, Jr. Empowerment Luncheon by the Pinellas County Urban League.

Restoring Felons’ Rights Miami Man’s Aim

[Reprinted and excerpted from The Miami Times]


- By Andrea Robinson New Pinellas County Schools police chief Luke Williams hugging boys in the Men in the Making program

If you thought he would exit permanently from the work world, think again. Just two weeks after retiring as assistant chief of the St. Petersburg Police Department this January, Luke Williams accepted the invitation to serve as chief of schools police for Pinellas County Schools.

f ex-felons get an easier path to getting their civil rights restored, they can thank Desmond Meade. The Miami native has taken up the issue as an international cause for more than a decade. Meade, an attorney, is the director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition. For years, he has quietly led a petition drive to get a constitutional amendment on the

Meade also chairs Floridians for a Fair Democracy, the leading support campaign to get Amendment 4 onto the ballot in November 2018; the group is headquarter in Clearwater.

That restriction stopped him from casting a vote in the 2016 presidential and state elections, which meant he couldn’t vote for his wife Sheena, a candidate for the Florida House. While she did not win, “my vote could have helped,” he said. Meade first started his fight for rights restoration in 2006. He went full steam with the broader campaign for a constitutional amendment in 2014.

Power Broker magazine | 17

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Where excitement

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You know René Flowers!

Primary Election August 28th | General Election November 6th ƒ Chair, Pinellas County School Board ƒ Florida School Board Association Advocacy Committee Chair ƒ Pinellas County School Board Legislative Liaison ƒ R’Club/Louise Graham Board Member ƒ Pinellas Community Foundation Board Member ƒ Former President, Florida League of Cities

P.O. Box 14011, St. Petersburg, FL 33733-4011 727-320-2451 | | Political advertisement paid for and approved by René Flowers, Pinellas County School Board, District 7

Girls play house Women build them

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women's group Our Mission: To build an exceptional group of women with a desire to support the mission of Habitat for Humanity through philantropy and volunteering. For more information and to join contact (727) 536-4755 ext 220

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Girls play house, Women build them!

African American

local government leaders make history


- B Y

or the first time ever, African American officials are at the helm of the four largest local government bodies in Pinellas County, and they say, they will work together to create a positive impact for every member of the community. St. Petersburg’s City Council is led by Chairwoman Lisa WheelerBowman, and over the Pinellas County School Board is Chairwoman Rene Flowers. Chairman Kenneth Welch leads the Pinellas Board of County Commissioners, and Senator Darryl Rouson caps the list as chairman of the county’s state legislative delegation. History tells of a period when ethnic minority leadership was considered taboo in Pinellas County. From the 1930s through the late 1960s, there was a great deal of civil unrest between politicians and community leaders. St. Petersburg made the first step for racial representation in 1969, when the city elected African American female attorney C. Bette Wimbish to serve on the City Council. As other black leaders followed in the years to come, St. Petersburg and Pinellas County have worked to balance minority voices in leadership. Today, the work is still in progress. Welch, Wheeler-Bowman, Flowers and Rouson each have plans to impact affordable housing, minority businesses, youth enrichment, and much more.

Chairman Kenneth T. Welch, Board of County Commissioners Making political history is an interwoven part of Commissioner Welch’s family heritage. His father David was instrumental in calming racial tensions among sanitation workers as co-chair of the Community Alliance in the 1960s, and became the

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second black city councilmember for St. Petersburg. Commissioner Welch has worked just as hard for the Pinellas community, as he’s already completed four terms in public office. In what he says will be his fifth and final term on the Commission, Welch and his peers have a number of goals to accomplish. One of those priorities is Penny for Pinellas, a one percent sales tax used to pay for $2 billion in upgrades to roads, bridges, parks, water quality and other infrastructure. In 2017, 83% of voters approved continuance of the small tax for another ten years, and this year the commission is getting plans underway to use the resources. Welch is collaborating on multiple initiatives with Rouson, WheelerBowman, and Flowers. One is to provide better access to government procurement programs for small and minority-owned companies. Another is to work to expand affordable housing availability. A third is to provide opportunities of employment and success for community youth. The chairs are following the example of their predecessors, Welch says, by partnering together to work on community initiatives.

“There’s a focus on community impact, not on ego, and if we’re to move forward in the community, that has to be the model. It doesn’t matter whose idea it is,” Welch says. “If the idea has merit, than we get behind it and work for it.” Chairwoman Lisa WheelerBowman, St. Petersburg City Council In December of 2017, St. Pete’s City Council members elected Wheeler-

Bowman as their chairwoman. As the new year gets underway she’s excited to get the ball rolling on initiatives with her fellow chairs. “It’s time for us to put our resources together, and get it done for the entire city,” the chairwoman says. They’re pushing for the entire city of St. Petersburg to have affordable housing, Wheeler-Bowman says. One program would include the city’s surplus lots. Whenever one is purchased, it would be used to build needed housing. An additional tactic to provide affordable housing has been to allocate money through the Penny for Pinellas program - $82 million, to be exact. Wheeler-Bowman wants to see small minority businesses succeed, too. She mentions that one priority area is providing more access to city contracts. The St. Petersburg native has a heart for the community, especially when it comes to the youth. Wheeler-Bowman speaks at schools, and tries to be an example and mentor. The city councilwoman is an example to her own children, too – her son, Christopher and her grandchildren. Her other son, Cabretti, died ten years ago, and she was instrumental in solving his murder. As chairwoman of the city council, Wheeler-Bowman hopes that the community looks to her and the other chairs’ example of standing up for what is right, and working together. “To think years down the line my grandkids will be able to say, hey, that was my grandma - I never thought that I would be in this place, but it is really history,” she says.

1 2 Chairwoman Rene Flowers, Pinellas County School Board Chairwoman Flowers is a native of St. Petersburg who formerly served as both vice chair and chair on the city council and is up for reelection on the school board this year. Flowers has a big vision for schools and students. Part of this includes closing the achievement gap between minority students and other ethnic groups by having them take and pass AP courses, enroll in four-year universities or trade schools and finding gainful employment afterwards. Another issue is the socioeconomic status of all groups of students. In instances where a student may be considered homeless or from a lowincome background, Flowers says, it’s time to set race issues aside and work together, not separately.

“Everybody should be at the table when a student or a family is in need, because your need doesn’t have a color,” Flowers says. “It’s getting our communities to understand that we cannot continue to operate in silos.” Flowers has partnered with the other chairs on an effort to grow small businesses as a vital employment source. When individuals decide to


Chairwoman Rene Flowers, Pinellas County School Board


Senator Darryl Rouson, Chairman, Pinellas Legislative Delegation

start up a business rather than go to college, our schools can prepare them through technical certification courses, now offered in elementary, middle and high schools. In addition, if some parents are given opportunities to start up businesses, they can provide for their children and show them that there’s more than one way to succeed.


Chairman Kenneth T. Welch, Board of County Commissioners


Chairwoman Lisa Wheeler-Bowman, St. Petersburg City Council

Photo by

healthcare and criminal justice reform. One way to make education successful is to fund high quality public schools, while at the same time support children who attend charter schools by creating more transparency, he says.

“That allows for individuals in an area where there is high poverty concentration to move into more selfsufficiency,” the chairwoman says.

Rouson says he has a keen interest in healthcare, involving topics such as substance abuse. He believes there needs to be awareness and education put into place, and in addition, wants to provide treatment to addicts as opposed to incarceration.

Flowers is honored to be a part of the chairpersons’ milestone. “We’re working on initiatives that affect individuals in the districts that we all serve,” Flowers says, “and supporting each others’ projects. I think it’s absolutely phenomenal.”

In addition, the senator is working on driver’s license suspension reform. Offenses such as writing a bad check, graffiti, truancy, or shoplifting should not be punished with the loss of a license, Rouson says, because none of those are driving related.

Senator Darryl Rouson, Chairman, Pinellas Legislative Delegation

“We know that once your license gets suspended, it’s harder to get back, and sometimes some folks never get it back,” Rouson says. “We need to have smart punishments, not harsh punishments.”

Rouson has a history-making career and a long list of achievements in Tampa Bay that reaches well beyond his time as Florida State Senator. He is currently serving his first term in the Florida Senate, prior to which he spent eight years in the Florida House of Representatives, in addition to being a successful lawyer. Rouson is focused on education,

As one of the four African American chairpersons, Rouson says it pushes him to do more. He sees great opportunity to work with the other leaders. “It challenges us to be more than just seat holders, but it challenges us to be doers for the community. So I’m excited about it if we can get something accomplished,” Rouson says.

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FLORIDA WILL VOTE ON RESTORING VOTING RIGHTS TO 1.5 MILLION EX-FELONS A ballot initiative in November could overturn the state’s felon disenfranchisement law



cross the United States, 6.1 million ex-felons can’t vote. More than a quarter of them live in Florida, including 1 in 5 otherwise eligible African American voters in the state. “Florida disenfranchises more of its citizens than Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee combined,” the Brennan Center for Justice reports. But this November, there will be a constitutional amendment on the ballot to overturn the state’s felon disenfranchisement law. Organizers with the voting rights group Floridians for a Fair Democracy [have] gathered the 766,200 signatures required to put the “Second Chances Voting Restoration Amendment” on the ballot. It would automatically restore the right to vote to ex-felons who have completed their sentences, except those convicted of murder or sexual assault. Sixty percent of voters will have to approve the amendment for it to pass. The ACLU has pledged $5 million [to] the effort.  Florida is one of only four states that bar ex-felons from voting, along with Iowa, Kentucky, and Virginia. 24 | Power Broker magazine

(In Virginia, Gov. Terry McAuliffe has restored voting rights to 168,000 ex-felons on a case-by-case basis.) Other states do not allow felons to vote until they have completed their sentences. Ex-felons in Florida must wait five to seven years before petitioning a clemency board, which includes the governor, to have their rights restored. Republican Gov. Rick Scott had restored voting rights to just over 2,000 former offenders as of October 2016. Felon disenfranchisement was part of the Florida constitution adopted in 1868 that aimed to limit black voting rights. One Republican leader said the provision would prevent the state from becoming “niggerized.” It has long had a discriminatory effect on minority citizens, who are more likely to be jailed in Florida—and nationwide—because of disparate treatment in the criminal justice system. It has also been used to preserve Republican majorities in the state, since minorities (and by extension ex-felons) are more likely to vote for Democrats. In 2000, the state of Florida wrongly labeled 12,000 eligible voters as ex-felons and purged them from the voter rolls. That was twenty-two times George W. Bush’s 537-vote margin of victory over Al Gore. The purge likely cost

Gore the election. If the amendment passes, it has the potential to change the political makeup of the state. Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in Florida by 112,000 votes. African American voters favored Clinton over Trump by a 84-8 margin. Currently, there are 500,000 African Americans disenfranchised in the state.

Quick Facts on FL’s Amendment 4, Voting Rights Restoration for Felons (2018) (Edited & excerpted from and As of January 23, 2018, after years of organized action, Amendment 4 made it onto the ballot for the November 2018 election. Here are quick facts that equip you for civic duty.

What will Amendment 4 change? This constitutional amendment will automatically restore the right to vote of people with prior felony convictions, except murder or felony sex offenses, upon completion of their sentences, including prison, parole and probation.

What is current law? As of 2018, per the state constitution, Florida is 1 of 4 states where convicted felons do not regain the right to vote, unless a state board restores their rights. As of 2018, prior felons never regain the right to vote in Florida, until and unless a state board restores their rights. Convicted felons must wait 5 or 7 years, depending on offense type, after completing sentences to request voting rights restoration.

Who’s leading the charge for “4”?

Pinellas shines bright for “4”

Good Save, Senator Rouson

Pinellas County outperformed its representative share of petitions in the statewide push for threequarters of a million citizen signatures for Amendment 4 to be on the ballot this November.

State Senator Darryl Rouson (District 19) abandoned the constitutional amendment he’d proposed as a “back up,” in case Amendment 4 went down to defeat.

Pinellas is 4.7% of Florida’s population but pulled in 8.1% or 67,910 of 842,737 petitions collected statewide. Hillsborough residents slightly underrepresented their fair share. They are nearly 7% of Florida’s population, and collected 42,864 petitions, 5.1% of the state total. Pinellas’ outsized share is partly owing to the support campaign, Floridians for a Fair Democracy, being headquartered here (Clearwater) and to the activism of backers like the League of Women Voters of St. Pete and Service Employees International Union as local hub for Florida Rights Restoration Coalition.

Ex-felon and activist Desmond Meade, President, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition also chairs Floridians for a Fair Democracy

The small army collecting petitions in St. Pete included John Muhammad, Jabaar Edmonds, Theresa Jones, Carla Bristol, Denise Deja, Bruce “Reno” Moore, Jr., Antonio Brown, Allan Perry, Cesar Garcia, Lisa Perry, and many others.

Rouson, who serves on the 37-member State Constitution Revision Commission, filed a proposal to the Commission last October that would automatically restore voting rights for some exfelons, but fewer than Amendment 4 which excludes only murderers and felony sex offenders. Rouson’s proposal would have also excluded people with felony violent offenses such as robbery and aggravated assault. The Senator withdrew his proposal on February 2, stressing unequivocal support for Amendment 4: “It is critically important that all rally around the citizen-led initiative to help it pass. The time is now to restore rights and complete redemption.”

Impact for black political power

How can you support?

African Americans are already particularly powerful in St. Pete city elections. If local dynamics reflect research that 21% of voting-age black Floridians are ineligible to vote due to felony pasts, Amendment 4’s passage could add 9,900 black voters to the rolls in Pinellas, and 6,200 in St. Pete, even if only two-thirds of newly eligible ex-felons register to vote.

Vote Yes for “4” in November! Now that your fellow citizens have won the battle to get Amendment 4 onto the ballot, it’s all OUR job to ensure it passes with 60% of votes.

Factoring in lower turnout for exfelon voters, Amendment 4 could nevertheless increase the black vote total in this year’s election by 3,600 countywide and 2,400 in St. Pete.

The Floridians for a Fair Democracy committee is leading the support campaign for Amendment 4, and as of February 5th had raised $5 million, including $1.7 million from the American Civil Liberties Union.

Give! Backers of Amendment 4 will have to fight deep-pocket opposition. Give $5. Give $100. Give more. But give! To contribute: Secondchangesfl. org or

Brother Muhammad at one of dozens of events where staff and volunteers drummed up petitions and raised awareness.

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Art by Ya La’Ford on north wall of the Historic Manhattan Casino

Callaloo Group partners with event director Deborah Figgs-Sanders

Callaloo Group Re-Opens

Manhattan Casino

a After what seemed like an unending stream of controversy over the past year or more, St. Pete’s Historic Manhattan Casino is once again open for business following a unanimous vote by City Council last November to approve a five-year lease with the Callaloo Group, a joint venture between three businessmen.

Popular musician Shawn Brown will work closely with Deborah to revive the “live vibe” of entertainment that once filled the hall, while Chef Gary Moran will make sure the menu is pleasing to the palate.

Vincent Jackson, Ramon Hernandez, and Mario Farias plan to open a Pipo’s to Go Restaurant during lunch hours, plus a catering commissary and the Callaloo Restaurant on the facility’s ground floor.  

Callaloo Group Investor

Callaloo has already welcomed a dozen event sponsors to the dance hall on the second floor. Event sponsors such as Leadership Florida, Wealth Management (Raymond James affiliate) and the St. Petersburg Chamber are helping to generate word-of-mouth bookings. Event director Deborah Figgs-Sanders sees her role as not only orchestrating memorable events, but as a bridge between city and community leaders across St. Petersburg. She says, “For those who understand the relevance of the Manhattan Casino, you can feel the spirit of its legacy when you walk into the room. And we will keep that spirit alive by reaching out to host events for groups of all kinds.”

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In-Depth with Vincent Jackson

The Power Broker’s Gypsy Gallardo and the New Image Project’s Bro. John Muhammad had the chance to interview Vincent Jackson, former Tampa Bay Buccaneer and co-owner of Callaloo, shortly before the New Year 2018 grand re-opening of the Manhattan Casino. PB: Vincent, tell us about you, your family, where you grew up, or anything you’d like to share with St. Petersburg readers. Jackson: I think my foundation begins with being a military kid. My father is from Detroit, and in the rough times of the 1970s, he felt that his best opportunity was the military as a vehicle for his family to create a better life. My mother grew up on a farm in a small-town outside of Pittsburgh, not much better off than my father and she joined the Army too, which is where they met. My mom served four years, my dad 21, in the medic field.

It was the hardships they grew up with that made education a very high priority in our family. I graduated with a 4.1 GPA, straight A’s. School was first before everything. PB: Where did you grow up? Jackson: I was born in Louisiana, but the military took us to Arizona, Germany (where I traveled across Europe), then to Colorado. Seeing life on the other side of the world and America’s diversity is what gave me the ability to embrace different cultures. PB: Did you learn German? Jackson: I did. At least enough. I went to an American school on base, but we lived off-base in a small community of 20 townhomes with farm land all around. Sheep ran through our neighborhood every morning (laugh). But I didn’t get to practice or retain much once we returned to the states.

Vincent Jackson is a husband and father of three, a business man, and a former National Football League wide receiver (surrounded above by Bucs teammates). His bay area family expanded two years ago when his parents relocated from Colorado, purchasing a home near their son. PB: What’s one of your fondest childhood memories?

with the area. I knew I would put down roots here.

Jackson: It was in Colorado, seeing my dad at Fort Carson. I’d seen him work his way up from a troubled past to private to first Sargent at one of the biggest military facilities. I couldn’t have been more proud. It was there that I got the chance to spend time with extended family. We moved so much that family had to fly to visit us. But I got to spend my middle and high school years with my cousins in Colorado Springs. That was the best.

PB: The business path is relatively rare for athletes. How did you start there?

PB: For all the young athletes out there, tell us about your path to the NFL. Jackson: My high school wasn’t known as a power house for producing Division I talent, so I didn’t have the FSU’s and Florida’s after me. But my academic strength earned me some scholarship offers. I chose University of Colorado because of its top tier business school. I had a partial football scholarship plus a fluke basketball scholarship in my sophomore and junior years. The basketball coach popped into my dorm room one afternoon and said, “Hey, come down and let’s run a few games.” He like me enough to offer me a little bit of scholarship money to play. I ultimately realized football was a better niche for me. Being 6’5’’ I was a small guy on the basketball court, and so I honed my skills and soon had some agents and scouts come see me. San Diego Chargers drafted me in 2005. I joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012, and fell in love

Jackson: Around my third year with the Chargers I started preparing myself for business. I was receiving invitations to important events and meeting successful people in different fields. I would spend off-season around folks like this, learning about their investments and community philanthropy, which helped me see what life could be like after football. I knew an injury could end my career at any time. So I prepared. I took courses at the Wharton School of Business, and did hands-on learning. PB: How did that lead to the restaurant business? Jackson: Co-owning restaurants seemed like a good fit when I got the opportunity to invest, which may come from my teamwork background. It helped that some of my earliest jobs were in restaurants. One of my first jobs was in a military base kitchen, busing dishes. I’m no stranger to that; ask my wife who’s doing the dishes at home (laugh). I’ve worked as a motel housekeeper and in just about every restaurant job – cashier, host, line cook, you name it. PB: Tell us about your restaurant projects. Jackson: I’m involved with three franchises on the West Coast, one in Las Vegas. In Tampa, I’ve been a part of two - Cask Social Kitchen in

South Tampa and Ferg’s Live, very close to Amalie Arena. This business takes people with a passion for service because it’s all about creating great product and experiences for guests. I’ve been blessed that every restaurant I’ve touched so far is still operating. PB: What are some of the ways the Callaloo team will partner with the community? Jackson: The Manhattan Casino is an amazing place. What really got me engaged was the history. I know what it means to the community and I’m grateful for those who’ve taken time to talk with me about the community’s vision. We plan to really showcase the art and music people used to enjoy there. We are already partnering with groups like the Woodson Museum and plan to work with Pinellas Technical College on training programs. Also, hiring locally is a priority for us, and we plan to do on-the-job training, not just for food prep but in operations. PB: Did you expect a level of pushback when Callaloo was selected to lease the Manhattan? Jackson: I would be naïve not to recognize the stories and history tied to the Manhattan Casino, or to see that politics would be a factor. The City owns the facility. So, I wasn’t surprised. I understand it as a learning process, and have faith that the community will continue to welcome us with an open mind. I come from a career that depended on teamwork. “I’ve learned to listen and embrace guidance from people who know better than me!”

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Happy Workers Children’s Center turns a corner

or at least a decade, Happy Workers Children’s Center struggled to sustain itself, financially and otherwise. Through 2016, the 89-year old campus, situated in the heart of St. Petersburg’s formerly segregated black community, had continued to educate pre-Kindergarten children. But the school’s institutional fabric frayed just as its facilities showed their wear-andtear. The center’s board turned over several times, as did its director, and enrollment often ebbed. As of January, though, the cherished school appears to have turned a corner under the leadership of R’Club Childcare, the $22 million non-profit that officially assumed management of Happy Workers in August 2017. The school broke ground on February 1 for the historic preservation of the Trinity Church, the original home of Happy Workers in 1929. A phased renovation will continue through 2019. Over $720,000 has been raised toward the $850,000 cost of fully renovating the four-building campus. The Pinellas County Commission granted $150,000. State legislators, led by Rep. Wengay Newton and Senators Darryl Rouson and Jeff Brandes, secured $350,000 from the state Division of Historical Resources. The South St. Petersburg CRA funded nearly $30,000 in project costs, while contributions of $210,000 have come from private donors and Florida Blue. A fundraising goal of $1 million will leave about $150,000 to establish a scholarship fund to help low-income families enroll at Happy Workers. In sync with physical improvements, 28 | Power Broker magazine

the center has witnessed a one-eighty in its relationship with licensing authorities. Staff report a 100% compliance rate from its most recent licensing agency visit this January.

R’Club is busy re-trenching educational strategies too. Happy Workers pupils are learning from the same Creative Curriculum used across all R’Club early learning centers. R’Club Executive Director Art O’Hara credited his team for the turn-around in a January email to 420 agency staff, “Happy Workers, because of the highquality staff and your dedication to the children and families, has risen to a new level.” R’Club board member Rene Flowers says teamwork led by O’Hara is a decisive factor too. “Early childhood education is key to academic success for our students, and it became evident that R’Club could be a solution for sustaining Happy Workers. Such a debt of gratitude can be attributed to the center’s founder - Ms. McAdams - and other pioneer educators.” The 17-year Executive Director and St. Pete native called on philanthropists and public officials to rally around new strategies for the school. “We’ve enveloped Happy Workers into the R’Club fold and standards, with comprehensive staff training and development, adherence to evidencebased curriculum, and strong family engagement.” O’Hara is also intent on keeping the tradition of community support for the center. Recent projects included recruiting volunteers from All Children’s Hospital to spruce up the campus for MLK Day of Service, and a black history month ceremony where Happy Workers children helped Mayor

Rick Kriseman raise the Dr. Carter G. Woodson Museum flag over City Hall. O’Hara joined R’Club board member Eddie Pringle and others in honoring Happy Workers founder Mrs. Willie Lee McAdams this February at a ceremony at Greater Mt Zion AME Church. His staff is spearheading outreach to reconnect to as many center alumni as possible. “It’s an honor for R’Club to help steward this legacy,” says O’Hara. “We are truly making a difference and bringing our community closer together.”

Happy Workers’ children honoring Black History Month with St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman

Quick Facts: n Happy Workers is located at 920 19th Street S. in St. Pete. Once renovations are complete, the campus will be licensed to serve 120 children from 8 weeks to 5 years old n Founded in 1929, the center has educated generations of African American leaders, including School Board Member Rene Flowers and retired educator Mozell Davis (both of whom are R’Club board members), former Deputy Mayor Dr. Goliath Davis, former State Rep. Rudy Bradley, State Senator Darryl Rouson, and actress Angela Bassett n Give to Happy Workers or learn more:

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Erik Smith Chairman of the Board 201

Watson L. Haynes, II President & CEO

Decide NOW to improve your financial situation by participating in FREE Pinellas County Urban League Financial Education Sessions. Workshop topics include budgeting, asset building, becoming bankable, home foreclosure prevention, and credit restoration. Sessions available by appointment. For more information: Lisa Kirkland at 727-327-2081, ext. 132


Charlotte Anderson VP of Operations

Linda Ali VP of Administration

Vonda Ford Director of Finance

Michael Boykins, Sr. Director of Youth & Family Services

333 ~ 31st Street North St. Petersburg, FL 33713


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National industry certifications in Customer Service, Warehouse Management, Transportation Management, and Procurement are offered FREE to individuals interested in obtaining professional credentialing. Certifications are offered in partnership with St. Petersburg College. Other Workforce Development Services include employability skills development and job referral and placement. For more information: Marshae Scott at 727-327-2081, ext. 112

YOUTH EMPOWERMENT PROGRAMS Join us in supporting more youth to succeed. Our programs include NULITES (National Urban League Incentives To Excel & Succeed), a character-building and college prep program to address the challenges young adults face as they navigate the teen years; the STYLE program (Summer Training Youth Leadership & Employment), an 8-week employment skill-building program; and more. For information, Michael Boykins at 727-327-2018, ext. 120. Please call Charlotte Anderson at 727-3272081, ext. 103 to learn more about all of the FREE Individual,Youth and Family Empowerment Services at the Pinellas County Urban League where we are Empowering Communities and Changing Lives.

Progress and progressivism make St. Pete shine.

Photo: 2018 St. Petersburg Dais

This past year has been an especially important and inspiring year for women...because of women. The City of St. Petersburg is proud to have many exceptional women in leadership roles throughout our city government; from Deputy Mayor Dr. Kanika Tomalin to our first-ever female City Attorney, Jackie Kovilaritch, to our Assistant City Attorney, Jeannine Williams, to numerous administrators and directors. And we are better for it. In fact, between our council members, our legal team, and our Deputy Mayor, as many as eight women may be sitting on the dais at one time in 2018. Together, they are honoring our past, pursuing our future, and helping Mayor Rick Kriseman create a city of opportunity where the sun shines on all.


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Brigadier General Carrie Nero remains active in community leadership and volunteerism, including service on the advisory board of the Heroes Health Fund established by the International Academy of Detoxification Specialists to provide support for humanitarian projects assisting firefighters, police, EMTs, veterans and others harmed by toxic exposures in the line of duty.

Blazing trails:

Brigadier General Carrie W. Nero

Reprinted with additions from The Weekly Challenger Newspaper December 7, 2017


- B Y K A R I N D AV I S -T H O M P S O N , S TA F F W R I T E R

rom a little girl, Dr. Carrie W. Nero, Brigadier General, ANC, USAR (Retired) wanted to be in the military. “I just loved everything about it,” Nero said. “I loved the way they dressed, the discipline. As a youngster, it was a dream.” But back then, a career in the military wasn’t a real option for women. “My father would tell me ‘girls don’t go to the military,’” Nero quoted.

parallel each other. As a civilian, she attended USF and received several degrees, including bachelor degrees in counseling and behavioral health, a master’s degree in nursing and a doctorate in higher education. As a member of the military, she attended training all over the world, including a year at Army War College in Pennsylvania.

So she graduated from high school, attended community college and became a nurse. Happy in her field and ready to attend the University of South Florida (USF), it seemed her dream had taken a back seat until a recruiter walked into the hospital where she was working.

As both careers began to blossom, Nero found enjoyment in her civilian employment at the Pinellas County Health Department where she served as the Director of Minority Health. During her tenure, the department reviewed data on health disparities in the African American community. She was also able to research and study the sickle cell disease and its prevalence in minority communities.“Working there was very rewarding,” Nero said.

The U.S. Army was looking for nurses with specialties and she just happened to be a surgical nurse. Nero signed up immediately.

Meanwhile, in the U.S. Army she served in Desert Shield/Storm caring for wounded soldiers in Alabama, Tampa and Georgia.

“Since I had a degree, I enlisted as an officer — 1st Lieutenant,” Nero said. “It was exciting and gave me a lot of opportunities.

Then in 2002 came the call that would make her a part of history. Her dedication to her military career and commitment to training earned her the rank of Brigadier General. She is the first African-American nurse in the Army Reserves to achieve this honor.

She started her career with the Army Reserves in 1975 and began pursuing two career lives that would

Nero was recently celebrated for her achievements during the City of St. Petersburg’s annual Veterans Day ceremony. She said she never set out to become a general or to make history. “When you are in your field, you want to improve,” she said. “I just wanted to know how to do it better and get more skills.”

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman honoring Brigadier General Carrie W. Nero at the Veterans Day celebration, November 11, 2017, in Williams Park

After 30 years in the U.S. Army, Nero retired in 2006 but she still works on a variety of projects for veterans including blood pressure checks in the park and co-founding the National Association of American Veterans, Inc. Nero said she’s had a host of opportunities and is amazed at where her career has taken her. “All I can say is I am truly blessed. That’s all I can say.”

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Dr. Tonjua Williams P R E S I D E N T, S T. P E T E R S B U R G C O L L E G E

herself along a path of professional growth that saw her impact more and more students. Her bio proudly features the one-step-at-a-time trek Dr. Williams traveled to preside over 11 campuses that educated more than 30,000 students in 2017. From her earliest days as adjunct faculty, then recruiter to senior accounting clerk and later academic advisor, her career vision gradually took shape. It was 20 years between the time she took her first position at the college in 1986 to the time she assumed her first cabinet-level job as Provost of SPC’s Tarpon Springs campus in 2007. It was a career roadmap that showed her every nook and cranny of campus life that ultimately stationed her in 2013 as second-in-command to predecessor Dr. Bill Law as he steered a wholesale strategy shift. It meant that by the time she occupied the presidential suite, Dr. Williams had helped drive dramatic growth in the number of training and degree programs offered by the school, and in the number of students – and specifically African American and minority students – completing those programs. From 2010 to 2016, 4,291 African Americans graduated from SPC with degrees and career skill credentials. The number graduating from the college annually grew 72% from 2010 to 2015.


edia across America celebrated the fact that last July, Dr. Tonjua Williams was the first African American and first woman chosen to lead St. Petersburg College (SPC) as President in its 90-year history. But few took time to recognize the finer points of that milestone. Yes, her installation was affirmation that glass ceilings are made to be shattered. But even more important is the personal story behind her 30-year journey in higher education, and how that accounts for the epochal potential of her leadership. The presidency was a single step up from her prior post as Senior Vice President of Student Services at SPC (2013 to 2017), but that was after years of pacing 36 | Power Broker magazine

New initiatives included The College Experience program, the Women on the Way program (spearheaded by Dr. Williams herself), Men Achieving eXcellence, the Summer of Success program, and most recently, the PITCH program, tailor-made to help ex-offenders earn credentials and secure career-track jobs. SPC had nearly 5,500 black students enrolled in 2017 across all campuses and programs. Over the past several months, Dr. Williams has worked with the college’s Board of Trustees and staff across the institution to identify three “foundational commitments” for SPC’s strategic plan: Academic Excellence, Economic Mobility and Community Engagement. Combined, these commitments make up the core of William’s vision of the college as a “Community of Care.” “By providing excellence and equity in education in our community, we provide paths to economic mobility for our students that will help us end generational cycles of poverty,” Williams said. “By lifting one another up to reach our highest potential, we create a ‘Community of Care,’ where all individuals are valued and celebrated and have equal opportunities for success.”

What are your success habits? For me, being an authentic, open, and transparent individual is extremely important. I must remain “Tonjua” in my best form and bring my “A” game daily. Learning to be “thick skinned” and not take everything personally is a “must.” Also, invest in yourself! Strategize. Prepare yourself for success. Don’t just accept anything that comes your way. Don’t let what you “could have” done become what you “should have” done.

What do you see as your three biggest accomplishments?

Dr. Tonjua Williams presiding over her first fall graduation ceremony as president of St. Petersburg College.

Advice from Dr. Williams When did you realize your purpose and position to really make a difference?


s a long-time SPC employee who has held several positions in higher education, my interest in leadership evolved over the years. In 2007, I was promoted to the Provost position at the Tarpon Springs campus. We had strong faculty and staff and a student body that was ready to learn. The community was engaging and welcomed new partnerships. The chance to work collaboratively with others to meet the needs of students, community and employees was exciting. It was then that I realized my interest in pursuing a college presidency and the opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others that such a position would bring.

How do you push through the worst of times? Celebrate the best of times? My faith is always my refuge in challenging times. In addition, I am surrounded by a small, yet strong network of supporters – Derrick Williams, my beloved husband of almost 28 years, my family and friends. They are my confidantes and cheerleaders, and also the ones never afraid to offer me constructive criticism and “tell me like it is.” I am eager to celebrate the accomplishments of others because I realize that my success is a result of the investments others made in my life on many occasions. Celebrating one another may be as simple as a few kind words, or a larger gesture. The important part is letting people know they are valued.

1. Overcoming the odds - being the first in my family to earn a college degree. I was raised by a mother of three who wanted nothing more for her kids than to be self-sufficient. She worked hard to make sure our needs were met, and it was not easy. We experienced many setbacks, but we were taught to persevere and never give up on our dreams. 2. Community involvement - investing in the lives of our youth and young adults and “giving back” because I, too, was a recipient of the same support. Over the last 30 years, I’ve made the time to invest in others throughout our county to help them achieve their dreams. I’m still “standing in the gap” for others and am grateful that others do the same for me. 3. Professional goal attainment - becoming the seventh President of St. Petersburg College! This is a dream come true, especially being a native of St. Petersburg. I attended Happy Workers, Maximo Elementary, Tyrone Middle School and Boca Ciega High School. Who knew? Achieving this goal verifies that there are no limits to what one can accomplish.

Petite bio:

On July 3rd, 2017, Tonjua Williams, Ph.D., became the seventh president of St. Petersburg College, which holds the distinction of being Florida’s first two-year college and the first to offer bachelor’s degrees, offering more than 20 bachelor’s degrees and 100 degree and certificate programs in all. A St. Petersburg native, Dr. Williams began her tenure with the college in 1986. Prior to becoming President, Dr. Williams was Senior Vice President for Student Services from 2013 to 2017. She has served in nearly every area of the college: as Provost, Associate Provost, Director of Special Programs, Program Coordinator, Academic Advisor, Recruiter, Senior Accounting Clerk and Adjunct Faculty. Dr. Williams earned a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from Barry University, a master’s degree in Counselor Education from the University of South Florida, and bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration and Humanities from Clearwater Christian College. In 2016, Dr. Williams was awarded the prestigious Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence, making her part of the inaugural class of the Aspen Presidential Fellows. She is a graduate of Leadership Tampa Bay, Leadership St. Pete, the Chancellor’s Leadership Program and the Executive Leadership Program at the University of Florida, and has served in a number of community leadership capacities.

Dr. Kanika Tomalin DEPUTY MAYOR & CITY ADMINISTRATOR, CITY OF ST. PETERSBURG – former Deputy Mayor Dr. Goliath Davis (Kanika’s eldest first cousin), fighting for her chief opponent and former Mayor Rick Baker.

and liaising between the City’s Administrative arm and its legislative arm, City Council.

But Dr. Tomalin didn’t fold. Instead, she went deep and did what Dr. Tomalin has always done. She rose to the moment. On election day 2017, her boss – incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman - came out on top with a barely comfortable three-point lead in part because his deputy pushed herself to her personal “next level” during the brutal final three months of a race where team Kriseman had consistently trailed.


roving her indomitable spirit yet again last year, St. Petersburg’s first African American female Deputy Mayor rose to the challenge of perhaps her second toughest year yet. After burying Terry, her soul mate of 20 years, in 2016, the ensuing 18 months stretched 42-year old Dr. Kanika Tomalin to preternatural limit. She faced a 2017 election cycle now infamous for its “ugly,” whilst simultaneously acclimating to the role of single mom for the first time, and performing with grace in her citywide purview as second-in-charge of Florida’s fifth largest city. It was a juggernaut that would’ve made most people fold. Especially since her re-election battle royale pit her team against her own flesh and blood 38 | Power Broker magazine

In late July of last year, Dr. Tomalin returned from a three-week family sojourn to the Continent as though she’d found reserves and revelation in the sprawling savanna of Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. She become a force majeure of fresh campaign energy, revving up her schedule of campaign work after-hours, and tapping into her unique tool kit in key areas such as communications. The victory sealed a second four-year term in City Hall where she and her boss and team have already trailblazed an economic transformation out of the fallow ground they inherited in 2013. New this time is another historic milestone: Mayor Kriseman announced on January 12 that Dr. Tomalin will serve the dual role of City Administrator, replacing retiring Dr. Gary Cornwell. In addition to her continued partnership with Mayor Kriseman to strategically advance St. Pete toward its vision and goals, Dr. Tomalin’s dual role maintains her responsibility for strategy, long-term planning and budgeting and adds oversight of the City’s nearly 3,500 team members. Dr. Tomalin now assumes leadership of all operations, policy implementation

Victory! Dr. Tomalin on election night, November 2017

Advice from Dr. Tomalin When did you realize your purpose and position to really make a difference? I can’t remember a time that I didn’t understand that I can make a difference. I think I’ve always known that because I believe we are all in a position to make a significant difference for ourselves and the world in which we live. Regardless of our position, perceived power or influence, every person is endowed with an ability to affect meaningful change that reflects the divinity within them. Further, I believe we have an obligation to reciprocate the opportunity and access afforded to us by giving back and making a difference as often as the circumstances of our lives allow.

How do you push through the worst of times? Celebrate during the best of times? In challenging times I call on my core beliefs and focus on my spiritual source of peace and serenity. I am fortunate to also have a strong circle of family and

friends that offer unyielding support. During great times, these same friends and family are my partners in celebration.

What are your success habits?

Women in Government LEADERSHIP

Gratitude, giving back and practicing the four agreements: 1. Always do your very best; 2. Never make assumptions; 3. Be impeccable with your words; and 4. Don’t take anything personally.

What do you consider your 3 biggest accomplishments? 1. Guiding healthy, happy children 2. Being appointed St. Petersburg’s first AfricanAmerican, female Deputy Mayor 3. Earning a Doctoral degree

Petite bio:

As deputy mayor and City Administrator, Dr. Tomalin’s citywide purview ranges from operations to strategy and serves to extend the mayor’s reach. Prior to being appointed deputy mayor, Dr. Tomalin served as a healthcare executive in various senior leadership capacities for Health Management Associates’ 23-hospital Florida Group and the five-county Bayfront Health Network. She has also worked as a marketeer and journalist. Dr. Tomalin earned a B.S. in broadcast journalism from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University, an MBA from the University of Miami, and a Doctorate from Northeastern University. She is the fifth generation of her family to call St. Petersburg home. She was married to well-known adventurer Terry Tomalin and they have two children, Kai and Nia. Dr. Tomalin has received numerous awards and appointments and is committed to many causes, namely improving the health of the community she serves.

earning her B.A. from the University of Michigan, in Political Science, and a Juris Doctorate from Boston University.

Dr. Cynthia Johnson Dr. Johnson is Director of the Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Pinellas County Economic Development, as well as a project manager and certified facilitator for NxLevel Business Training and Kauffman Foundation’s FastTrac and TechVenture programs. She is also an adjunct instructor of public administration, educational leadership and operations management at the University of South Florida and Barry University. Before transitioning to senior manager roles in government, Johnson was an assistant principal with Pinellas County Schools. She has served as an officer with over a dozen organizations and is the recipient of many awards for innovation and service.

Attorney Jeannine Williams Attorney Williams is a graduate of Florida A & M University with a B.S. in Business Economics and of the University of Florida College of Law. In addition to her role as Assistant City Attorney for St. Petersburg, she is a member of the American Bar Association, a 2004 graduate of Leadership St. Pete, and has held several leadership roles with the St. Petersburg Bar, including as Treasurer, Secretary, co-chair of the Diversity Committee, and Scholarship Chair for the Young Lawyers Section. She is also a past president of the Fred G. Minnis Bar Association and of the Community Law Program board, where she continues to volunteer.

Theresa Jones

Leah Mcrae, Esq. Ms. Mcrae is the Mayor’s Director of Education & Community Engagement in St. Petersburg. In this role, she acts an advocate for schools, students, families, and faculty, and as a liaison with the School Board and other institutions that influence school performance. Ms. McRae also leads the Mayor’s service learning initiative by engaging students in community service projects. She is an attorney who began her career focused on public interest law and criminal justice, as well as an experienced community organizer who worked on a number of political and issue campaigns. after

Theresa recently returned to the City of St. Petersburg after retiring in 2012 with 34 years of service, this time as Veterans, Homeless and Social Services Manager. Her prior roles with the City included Minority Business Enterprise Coordinator, and Manager of Business Assistance, responsible for operations of the Business Development Center (now known as the Greenhouse). In 2002, she became the first and only woman to be appointed as the City Community Affairs Director, where she led enforcement of local, state and federal antidiscrimination laws and provided oversight for the Committee to Advocate for Persons with Impairments, the Civilian Police Review Committee, and the Summer Youth Intern program.



arolyn King is the third Executive Director in the history of the Pinellas Opportunity Council (POC), which was founded in 1968 as one among a network of 1,100 Community Action Agencies created under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 to combat poverty across America. She has worked for POC for 42 of its 50 years, initially in the finance department for 36 years, then as chief executive since 2012. Over those years, POC was a conduit for millions of dollars in federal and state funding into the local economy, which the agency has used to help thousands of county residents improve their economic standing. The past five years have seen an even greater service, as Ms. King and her team created five new programs to help more poor families to exit poverty, along with record-setting gains in youth employment, and expanded elderly services. Ms. King looks forward to another growth year as POC undertakes two new poverty-reduction initiatives funded by the City of St. Petersburg. When asked about the source of her passion for service, she says, 40 | Power Broker magazine

“I’ve walked in the shoes of some of the people we serve. I know what it means to have someone believe in you and point you to the right resources.” Ms. King also acknowledges her mother’s influence as a woman of God. “She inspired my brother and me to excel beyond what we grew up with.” Those who know her best – as a poet and motivational speaker – can look to her poems – such as Beautiful Black Child of Mine – to see her love for children as another source of inspiration. Ms. King says the poem conveys “how children must strive to succeed and pass on to their children the love given to them.”

Advice from Ms. King When did you realize your purpose and position to really make a difference? For 36 years in POC’s finance department, I viewed the agency from a financial perspective with limited exposure to our programs throughout the community. Once I was blessed to become Executive Director, I gained a clearer perspective of how vital our services are. This confirmed my belief that I was created for the purpose of improving the lives of others.

How do you push through the worst of times? Celebrate the best of times? I push through the worst knowing that all things work together for good because I love the Lord and am called according to His purpose. I celebrate the best of times with humility and

gratitude, bearing in mind that I am but one piece of the larger picture.

What are your success habits? First, in all my ways to trust the Lord with all my heart, which allows Him to direct my path. I use my Godgiven talents to perform my daily tasks. I also work hard to apply my formal training to make sure I’m well prepared.

What do you see as your 3 biggest accomplishments? 1. Raising three children, instilling Godly character and self-worth into them and being blessed to see them impart those values to their children 2. Returning to college to earn a Master’s Degree, while working fulltime and caring for an ailing family member 3. Having the privilege to work closely with the staff and board of POC to further the legacy Petite bio:Carolyn earned a Bachelor’s

in Business Administration from the University of South Florida and a Master’s in Business Administration from Strayer University. Her community roles include service on the boards of CareerSource Pinellas, Florida Association of Community Action (which honored her with the 2017 Community Action Network Hero of Excellence award), and the 2020 Plan Taskforce. Carolyn was married to Min. Sam Earl King, Jr. for 31 years before his passing. Together they have three children, one of whom is former Tampa Bay Bucs quarterback Shaun King, and seven grandchildren. She teaches Sunday School and leads the intercessory prayer ministry at Tampa’s Peace Progressive MB Church.


all her a “kitchen chemist” turned entrepreneur. Renee Edward’s journey to self-employment started from her unsuccessful quest to find skincare products to help her daughter overcome hyper-pigmentation that caused extreme darkening of her knees and ankles. After countless hours and hundreds of dollars experimenting with body makeup, lotions and creams, Renee began “tinkering” with her own homemade remedies.

monthly by December 2017, growing from one part-time employee to five part-time with Skin Kandii sold at seven retail locations.

“Then is when my career as a ‘kitchen chemist’ began,” says Renee. My background is in clinical research, so I put that experience to use to conduct informal trials of products I developed.”

“My vision grows with each success and through all the encouragement and help of the BBIC, Chamber, City staff, 2020, and so many family and friends.”

The mother of three recalls, “I’m sure most mothers can relate that it truly breaks your heart to see your children suffer, and that is just what I watched as my daughter spent most of her school years troubled with hyper-pigmentation as a result of how her skin reacted to the combination of jeans and hot Florida weather.” Two years into Renee’s home-based brewing, Skin Kandii was born as a purveyor of all-natural body scrubs and skincare products. But it would be another stretch of time before the business took off. In the fall of 2016, Renee enrolled in the CATCH Program by the Tampa Bay Black Business Investment Corporation, BBIC, to help grow the idea. Since then, Skin Kandii has grown from an average $800 in monthly sales when Renee enrolled in CATCH, to $8,000

It’s a point of pride for Renee that hers was the first African Americanmanufactured product to be featured at the St. Pete Store, which is housed at the St. Petersburg Area Chamber through a partnership with the City of St. Petersburg. She recently submitted her line to HSN to compete for a chance to sell her products on TV.

Advice from Renee When did you realize your purpose and position to really make a difference? I realized I was in a position to make a difference when I saw that my products were alleviating itchy skin and dryness. They say “necessity is the mother of invention.” Never was this old proverb truer than with the birth of my Skin Kandii line. My confidence has grown as I’ve seen my concepts come to light. Being featured by local media outlets made me even more excited. And sales continue to grow. This will help me “make a difference” for others.

How do you push through the worst of times? Celebrate the best of times? I push through the worst of times by considering how far I have come. I

celebrate the best of times by sipping wine and reading “The Secret.” In my opinion that book is so uplifting.

What are your success habits? The top success habit is my strong listening skills.

What do you see as your 3 biggest accomplishments? My three biggest accomplishments are my daughter and her business First Class Adventures; being the first African American entrepreneur to have products featured in the St. Pete Store; and creating a partnership with a local disabilities training group to help me manufacture my product.

Petite bio: In addition to being CEO of Skin Kandii, Renee is a Clinical Research Coordinator at Hilltop Research in St. Petersburg. Her prior career positions have included Customer Service Director for Viable Marketing, and Human Resources Director of Leeward Marketing. Renee is a proud mother of three. She remains active with several community causes including the St. Petersburg Chamber, the St. Petersburg Business League, and as a volunteer for Feed the Homeless Pinellas. Over the past year, Renee has been honored to be featured by Bay News 9 and Action News 10. She was crowned winner of the Small Business Award, at the 2017 Bay Area Community Awards and took second place in the Tampa Bay Area “Shark Tank” by Elite Visions.

This photo, from October 2017, is of Renee (center) celebrating the launch of her products in The St. Pete Store, flanked by St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Chamber President Chris Steinocher (right), BBIC CEO Albert Lee (back right), and the Chamber’s Kelly Sims and City Urban Affairs Director Nikki Capehart (left).

Nayyirah Tivica Muhammad Sister Student Captain, Nation of Islam


he is a trailblazer and trainer at the cross section of two of America’s most controversial movements (to some) – as the Local M.G.T-G.C.C. Sister Student Captain at the Nation of Islam Muhammad’s Mosque # 95 in St. Petersburg, and as the Nation of Islam’s first superpower CLEAR sister (a distinction in the Dianetics practice). Sister Nayyirah teaches and trains as a life coach and motivational speaker in communities across Florida and nationwide. Her most frequent roles include counseling youth at high schools and girls’ homes, and contributing to interfaith dialogues as a keynote speaker and panelist. She’s also proud to have hosted women’s conferences with guest speakers and national figures such as Sister Donna Farrakhan, Sister Student Minister Ava Muhammad, and The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan himself. Sister Nayyirah carries her messages via the radio waves too. Her monthly radio show on the Hereafter is Now network spotlights special guests and discussion topics. Above all, she says her primary role and first love is to “make heaven on earth for my husband of 18 years, Brother Dawud Muhammad, and my beautiful children and grandchildren,” whose photos she frequently posts to Facebook as proud grandmother.

42 | Power Broker magazine

Advice from Nayyirah When did you realize your purpose and position to really make a difference?

I realized my purpose when I joined the Nation of Islam. In about my fourth year, I knew that I was born for the struggle to help liberate our people. I knew that a greater calling on my life was ordained to help women to know and understand their value and role to really help bring in a New Civilization, built on “the family.” I was blessed twice to sit at the table of The Honorable Minister Farrakhan to receive my personal divine assignment. How do you push through the worst of times? Celebrate the best of times? I push through the worst times by seeking refuge in the most-high God. I listen to gospel music, spend time with my family, and go to the beach. I also find that helping others helps me to work through my worst times. I celebrate my best times by entertaining friends and family, traveling to see new sites, spending time with my husband, and honoring my mother for giving me life. 

What are your success habits? My successful habits include writing down my creative thoughts, seeking counsel from my elders, and applying my gift for diverse thinking. I also consider it key that I stay faithful to my way of life, that I spread love to inspire unity, and that I ask God to guide and order my steps.  

What do you consider your three biggest accomplishments? 1. Traveling around the country to deliver seminars in the transformative “Repair of the Black Family” training series, which is now nationally and internationally known 2. Raising and sustaining a beautiful and successful family, happily and faithfully married for 18 years with five successful children and five beautiful grandchildren 3. Authoring a book that will be finished this year

Petite bio:

Prior to her current community service roles, Sister Nayyirah Tivica Muhammad was a four-year president of the NAACP Youth Council, a board member of Youth on the Move, a volunteer and advocate with a prison reform ministry, and a member of the National Council of Negro Women. She is currently the Nation of Islam’s 7th Region Auditor Department Coordinator and recently received the designation of the first Superpower completion in the Nation of Islam. Sister Nayyirah’s training includes earning the Dianetics Gold Seal H.D.A. Auditor distinction. She is the recipient of numerous awards for volunteerism and leadership, including a President’s Volunteer God Service Award, the Amanda Ambrose Soldier of the Heart Award, a 2020 Plan Taskforce Spokesperson Award, a Teen Mom Award, and an NAACP Parent Award.

Marcina DowdellWilliams

Owner Loving My Hair Natural Studio & Executive Producer, the Natural Hair, Health & Beauty Expo

of Marcina’s management style, but her foundation, she says, comes from 30 years in the beauty industry, as a “master stylist, professional braider, educator and business owner.” Her own coiffed hairdos purposefully market the newest braid styles and natural hair techniques, which she sees as not only good for marketing purposes, but as a personalized symbol of her own self-awareness and acceptance of her natural hair’s beauty.


arcina Dowdell-Williams is following in the

footsteps of the famous Madam C.J. Walker, one of the first African American women to become a selfmade millionaire.

Self-described as high-energy, Marcina is intent on building not just “a business,” but an “empire” which is already emerging through her tour company – called Skyway Tours – along with her entertainment company – Y2K Productions – and her part ownership of The Burger Grill takeout restaurant. All of which is in addition to her dayto-day occupation as owner-operator of Loving My Hair Natural Hair Studio on US 19 north, and as Executive Producer of the Natural Hair, Health & Beauty Expo, celebrating its fifth anniversary this March on the campus of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. A non-stop work ethic is a hallmark

“The love of providing chemical-free services has always been a constant motivator,” says Marcina, which is part and parcel of her reasons for building her brand in the growing natural hair field. Her March 24th expo will not only convene trade professionals from across the country, Marcina emphasizes “it was designed to be a cultural celebration, as well as a showcase for local beauty professionals to shine.” It was important to her to help open the door of opportunity for younger entrepreneurs as well. The 8-hour expo offers scholarships for young ladies interested in the natural hair industry, through apprenticeships and mentoring. “As we prepare for what we expect to be our largest attendance to date, it is still exciting and a labor of love to share my passion and showcase my creativity,” the stylist says. “I stand on the shoulders of some amazing pioneers in this industry who’ve used their talent to not only open the door, but to knock it down.”

Advice from Marcina When did you realize your purpose and position to really make a difference? I think I realized my purpose about 20 years ago when I saw that being a stylist was more than doing hair. Sometimes it was being a confidant, a supporter, a realist, and often a shoulder to cry on. It is a personal relationship, often with a spiritual connection unlike any other relationship most women have. So when you are able to cultivate a relationship like that, it is easy to make a difference.

How do you push through the worst of times? Celebrate the best of times? Prayer, like the acronym P.U.S.H suggests: Pray Until Something Happens! I celebrate the best of times with more prayer and shopping.

What are your success habits?

Trying not to procrastinate.

What do you see as your 3 biggest accomplishments? I actually have five, and they call me mom.

Petite bio:

Marcina is a 48-year old entrepreneur with a growing family of companies that she owns and co-owns. She has over 30 years of experience in the beauty industry, and was dubbed “Natural Hair Queen” in 2014 for her founding of the Natural Hair, Health & Beauty Expo in St. Petersburg, which is now entering its fifth year and billed to be the biggest yet, with live entertainment and celebrity guests. Marcina is a graduate of Florida A&M University. Her life motto is borrowed from noted civil rights activist and poet Audre Lorde: “When I dare to be powerful – to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” Power Broker magazine | 43

DR. LADONNA BUTLER Founder, The Well for Life

According to one etymology source, the name Ladonna represents an intuitive, imaginative woman who breathes charm, vivacity, femininity and sensitivity. That very much describes the newly-christened Dr. Ladonna Butler when it comes to her quest to expand trauma-informed mental health counseling to more St. Petersburg residents. Last year was one of her most fruitful yet. Dr. Butler completed her Doctoral degree in Counselor Education and Supervision at Argosy University, shortly after founding her own counseling firm – The Well for Life, LLC, “to connect, engage, and empower individuals and families to live their best lives.” That was after 16 years honing her expertise in communal and culturally relevant strategies for special populations, working for mental health agencies such as Suncoast and OperationPAR. African Americans are a large part of Dr. Butler’s counseling base. Women are too. And from her years of case management for behavioral health programs, Dr. Butler says she’s learned the vital role of counselors in nurturing the interconnectivity between spiritual and community aspects of life. She says, “It is through the influence of strong, black, women and an unwavering faith in God, that I live, move and have my being.” Dr. Butler has cultivated her unique niche through partnerships with the University of South Florida Family Study Center and at Pinellas County 44 | Power Broker magazine

Urban League, where, in 2016, she created a Clergy Roundtable, convening faith leaders and mental health professionals “to begin the conversation about the roadblocks we will need to remove to reach more of their congregants and clients.” She was recently accepted to a Post-Doctoral fellowship at Tulane University’s Center for Natural Connections to further her groundbreaking research on spirituality, community connectivity, and persistence.

Advice from Dr. Butler When did you realize your purpose and position to really make a difference? I knew from an early age that I would impact lives through meaningful connection. This was further developed through a series of lifeshaping events, allowing me to experience the trials and triumph of survival. Speaking at schools, youth camps, and support groups allowed me to understand the power of voice. I was blessed with the gift of vulnerability, which is my secret weapon to defeat shame.

How do you push through the worst of times? Celebrate the best of times? I learned that through and in community, I am able to push through the worst of times and celebrate the best. I learned that asking for help and being an available vessel of service supports my and our advancement. Most of all, I learned

that I, just as anyone else, deserve my love and attention.

What are your success habits? Acknowledge God in all and through all; see the brilliance and interconnection of the human experience; LEARN, taking time to read, listen, evaluate, observe, and receive critical feedback; and be gracious (express appreciation for those who invest in me, apologize quickly when I offend, and forgive even more quickly when offended).

What do you see as your 3 biggest accomplishments? 1. I have a family that loves and serves. I am honored to be the wife of Minister Ulas Butler and the mother of Imari, Kira, Mason, Oren, and Quinci. 2. This year, I completed my Doctoral degree. 3. I am a new business owner.

Petite bio:

Dr. Butler holds a Doctoral degree in Counseler Education & Supervision, a Master’s in Human Services with a specialty in Mental Health Counseling, and state certification as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and as a Certified Addictions Professional. She recently became CEO of The Well for Life, with offices on 22nd Street South in St. Petersburg. Among her many professional credits, Dr. Butler has served on two U.S. Department of Labor committees for the development of best practices in vocational training programs.

School Board Member


FLOWERS Chairwoman, Pinellas County School Board


oted Chair of the Pinellas County School Board. Credited as an MVP of the campaign to re-elect St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman. Honored for progress in her second-to-last semester of a Master’s in Public Administration degree program. These are but three of the things Rene Flowers accomplished in 2017, before kicking-off her re-election campaign in January 2018. The word “unstoppable” comes to mind. And Ms. Flowers prides herself on applying the same energy to her work on the school board, which is evident in the rapid-fire list of positive progress she cites when asked to reflect on how she’s impacted black student achievement. Topping her list, “The graduation rate for African Americans is up 3.8% to 69.3% last year, the overall graduation rate is up 2.8% to 82.9%, and we’ve had significant movement in three South St. Petersburg elementary schools.” Ms. Flowers says other points-ofprogress are equally important. New strategies like instilling Restorative Justice practices in schools and giving more parents wrap-around support to strengthen their home life, as well as expanding technical trades programs and capital improvements projects, such as new construction of Melrose Elementary. She notes personnel gains as well, including growth in the number of African American principals and an increase in the starting salary for teachers.

Advice from Rene When did you realize your purpose and position to really make a difference? At the age of 7. I grew up in Jordan Park with loving parents and surrounded in a community filled with such rich history. There was no way that I could do anything else but succeed. My parents believed strongly in education, respect for others and a love for my heritage. Even today, I make decisions as though my parents are here, applauding when I’m moving in the right direction and scolding me when I am not.

How do you push through the worst of times? Celebrate the best of times? During the worst of times I simply call on this familiar scripture, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13. In politics, I know that every day won’t be sunny. But when I think back on a day that I can call my worst, I rejoice yet again in His goodness, and forge ahead. During the best of times, I simply say, “But God.”

What are your success habits? My first habit for success is to pray before and during decisionmaking to be guided in the right direction, not only hearing what is being said, but also what is not openly communicated. Second, I like time to plan to not make rushed

decisions, to slow the process down and truly evaluate where I am. Finally, I remain humble, thankful and appreciative, remembering to acknowledge and uplift others.

What do you see as your 3 biggest accomplishments? 1. First, becoming a mother to three wonderful children who reverberate the Word of God and show respect for me and their elders 2. Second, serving as an elected official, representing constituents locally while serving on boards on the state and national levels, which is a spark for so many girls to be reminded that ‘You Can Do It Too!’ 3. Third, the role I’ve played in leading and supporting policies that are making a difference in public education

Petite bio:

Pinellas County Schools Chairperson Rene Flowers is a native of St. Petersburg, and graduate of Eckerd College. She is a former St. Petersburg City Councilmember where she served as Vice-Chair (1999 and 2006) and as Chair (2000-2002), and former President of the Florida League of Cities (200607), among many other community leadership roles. Ms. Flowers is active in her church; and, has three adult children and two grandchildren. She has received two dozen awards for her leadership.

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Siobhan Monique Roland



xotic, sexy and gifted with a voice that conjures remembrance of jazz greats of old, Siobhan Monique is that rare talent who not only knows what she wants and how to get it, but who is certain that she should have it. The 28-year old’s confidence comes from her family line. Heavily influenced by her uncle, Buster Cooper, a 10-year member of the famed Duke Ellington band, and fiercely supported by the extended Cooper family, Siobhan was raised to believe in her innate beauty. Whether on stage or in studio, her petite frame fills the lens with “presence,” which she says comes from a lifetime of performing, a deep love for music, and classical training that began in her youth. “I was first introduced to classical arias and American folk and traditional music at John Hopkins Middle School, under the direction of Music teacher, Stanley Butts.” From there, Siobhan studied at the Gibbs High School Pinellas County Center for the Arts and later at the University of South Florida, under the direction of Dr. Warren Jaworski. As of 2015, singing and songwriter are her primary occupation. With “backstage” help from make-up artist and stylist Beatrice Flournoy and others, Siobhan performs as lead singer of her band Siobhan 46 | Power Broker magazine

Monique and as lead for the The Negro Ninjas. She is the current lead in the musical Freedom’s Song, playing the role of Sara, while maintaining a calendar of local singing engagements. Siobhan is enchanting audiences along the way. In the words of Weekly Challenger contributor Allen Buchanan, when writing about a concert headlined by the starlet, “An ebony, swan necked song bird oozed out the hypnotic melodies of Billy Holiday, Erika Badu and Lauren Hill...An ordinary Sunday evening lifted everyone soulfully out of their seats just as the clubs of the Harlem Renaissance did during the days of Lady Day and Louis Armstrong.” One branch of Siobhan’s multifaceted career is the recent launch of her business, Siobhan Monique, Inc., where she uses music as a healing therapy for individuals facing life threatening illness.

Advice from Siobhan When did you realize your purpose and position to really make a difference? When I started my own music therapy business. I saw how music can make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. We take life and health for granted on so many levels. It wasn’t until I sang at my first nursing home that things were put into perspective for me. I realized that music and love connect us all.

How do you push through the worst of times? Celebrate the best of times? Prayer and perseverance carry me through the worst of times. Celebrating with friends and family is what I do in the best of times.

What are your success habits? Preparation and execution!

What do you see as your 3 biggest accomplishments? 1. Self-discovery 2. Finding and fulfilling my purpose with the gift God has given me  3. Developing the habit to love unconditionally

Petite bio:

Siobhan has been dancing and singing since age three, first to jazz, then gospel at Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church. Early career accolades included being named a finalist in the Walker Rising Stars Scholarship Program and being a featured soloist at the National Holocaust Remembrance project in Washington, D.C., before earning a degree in Classical Voice from the University of South Florida in Tampa. Siobhan has appeared in the 1940 Radio Hour as Geneva Lee Brown, in Platinum Theaters Bella Voce, as Bess in Porgy and Bess, in New York’s Cranky Cabaret, and in her own one-woman show at New York’s famous Duplex Theater, Siobhan Monique and More.  Stage credits include parts as lead vocalist for Duke Ellington alumni and jazz and funk band,

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Jai Hinson

or 27 years, this Newark, New Jersey, native has dazzled audiences with her tutelage of thousands of Tampa Bay area youth in the art of native African dance.

Founder, ARTS 4 LIFE Academy

Summer Camp, and “Be True To You” program for girls are all her creations, as is the revered Dundu Dole Urban African Ballet troupe.

How do you push through the worst of times? Celebrate the best of times?

Jai’s latest inspiration is The Family Blessing community production, which took the place of her traditional Nutcracker presentation at Christmas time.

I push through the worst of times by praying and persevering and remembering positive affirmations. I celebrate in the best of times by praising and thanking God for blessings, taking long rides and singing my favorite songs.

She is perhaps best known throughout the region as Director and Choreographer of the Chocolate Nutcracker and Nutcracker Twist productions, which she annually staged at St. Petersburg’s Mahaffey Theater for 16 years during the holiday season.

The 2017 show featured cancer care advocate Paul Anthony (of the Grammy-award winning group Full Force) who is a member of Moffitt Cancer Center’s National Board of Advisors. He and Jai share a common experience as cancer survivors, which blossomed into a new theme.

But she is no doubt best loved by former pupils who went on to grace stages worldwide. That, Jai contends, is her biggest achievement, “It has been a great pleasure to be used to make a difference in children’s lives.”

Last December, the starring role was that of a 10-year old confronted with cancer (played by Pharyn McCrae), accompanied by 150 dancers of all ages. The show continued its fanfavorite tradition of blending ballet, hip hop, jazz, tap, African, Salsa, Mexican Folklorico, Brazilian and Bollywood dance.

Jai herself was trained in Senegal, Gambia, and Guinea, after graduating beyond her childhood studies at Thompson Dance Studio and receiving a scholarship at 14 to study at the prestigious Dance Theater of Harlem. She considers herself a “vessel” for offering the same caliber of instruction through her Life Force/ARTZ 4 LIFE Academy, a 501c3 agency founded in 1991 with a mission to “reinforce resilience to life’s challenges by enhancing education, promoting diversity and developing life skills through cultural and performing arts.” Through partnerships with schools and theatres, Jai has designed a dozen enriching programs. The Academic & Cultural Enrichment Afterschool program, the Explore The Arts 48 | Power Broker magazine

Advice from Jai When did you realize your purpose and position to really make a difference? In 1991, the moment I accepted a position as Center Director for Girls Incorporated. Having the ability to inspire young ladies and help them expand their personal horizons, this gave me an excitement, happiness and love that still lasts to this very day. I’ve seen these young ladies grow up, develop their professional careers, graduate from college, start their own businesses, get married, have children, and travel the world.

What are your success habits? Plan, organize, be diligent and keep trying, despite obstacles.

What do you see as your 3 biggest accomplishments? 1. The joy of my daughters and granddaughter

2. Developing a personal relationship with God

3. Providing a safe place for our children to develop artistically

Petite bio:

Jai Hinson began her study of ballet, modern, jazz and ethnic dance at age 9 and has since studied under the direction of choreography greats such as Eleo Palmeri, Fred Benjamin, Arthur Mitchell, Ballet Master Karl Shook, Pepsi Bethel, and Alvin Ailey. Her African Dance studies and performances include Thelate Ladji Camara (Guinea Ballet), Moustapha Bangoura and Mouminatou Camara (Les Ballet African de Guinea), and Marie Basse (Senebalese Ballet). Jai is a recipient of many honors including Bank of America’s Local Hero Award. Her film works include John Singleton’s “Rosewood,” Brunori, Silver and Sterrett’s “Immortal Island,” and a first place win in the national James Brown Video Competition. She holds a Master’s in Human Services Administration from Springfield College.



ome would say she’s reached the pinnacle of her field, but according to Martina Sykes, she’s just getting started.

Born and raised in St. Petersburg, the 30-year old singer completed the journey from “starving artist” to Broadway performer in 2016 in what she considers a perfect debut. Martina considers it a privilege to have played no less than four vocal parts in the smash hit Motown the Musical, the true story of Motown records founder Berry Gordy. In addition to singing in many of the 66 Motown hits featured in the sweeping show, Martina starred as Gwen Gordy, Berry Gordy’s sister, as Mary Wells, singing My Guy, and as Cindy Birdsong of The Supremes. This January, the budding soloist was cast in an Atlanta return engagement of Disney’s The Lion King, and she continues to cultivate roles on the road while calling New York home. The recent string of successes wasn’t always her reality. Martina recalls, “I was broke, auditioning in New York but no doors were opening. But after taking the opportunity to volunteer at a homeless shelter called the Covenant House, I decided I needed to get out of my slump. Nothing humbles you faster than seeing someone less fortunate than you who is still happy with what they have.” Martina used that humility to redouble her focus, which is clearly paying

dividends to her diverse career interests. Martina’s recent appearances in St. Pete were tied to her love of community service. During the 2016 holiday season, she headlined the Holiday heART event at Bethel Community Baptist Church, where her father, Dr. Manuel Sykes, is Senior Pastor. The event fed and clothed 80 homeless youth and families.

Advice from Martina When did you realize your purpose and position to really make a difference? I learned that I was in a position to help people during a low point in my life, but I believe I am still realizing my purpose. It becomes clearer as time goes on, though I haven’t realized my potential to the full extent. At the core, I believe my purpose is to share my story and struggles so that people can see God’s grace and possibly take a faster route to victory.

How do you push through the worst of times? Celebrate the best of times? I push through the worst of times by having faith, a strong relationship with God, and a strong support system with advice from elders, especially my grandmother’s words, “Keep on living. Take it 10 minutes at time.” I also change my perspective by changing my surroundings, when needed. I buy flowers for myself and redecorated my room for positive energy. I made a “Tina” corner, so I could journal and meditate.

I celebrate the best of times with family and friends, going out to dinner or buying my favorite snack.

What are your success habits? I follow my dad’s advice to “get better at something every day.” I was not a strong dancer, so I worked on that using videos and with my cast mates who were trained dancers. I continue to press toward greatness. 

What do you see as your 3 biggest accomplishments? 1. Graduating from the University Of Florida. Go Gators! 2. Performing on Broadway 3. Creating The heArt Mission, a nonprofit organization to help feed and clothe the homeless

Petite bio:

Martina started singing in church at the age of five and later graduated from the musical theater program at The Pinellas Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School. She then graduated from the University of Florida with a BA in Public Relations. Martina made her first appearance in the American premiere of Raindogs, a rock musical based on Lanford Wilson’s Balm in Gilead. She has since recorded and been featured on a CD with Tituss Burgess, while filling singing and dancing roles in productions like Hairspray, Rent, and Little Shop of Horrors. Martina has released several songs as a solo recording artist, including Stand Back. Power Broker magazine | 49




s tenacious as she is elegant, Terri Lipsey Scott has secured a place in St. Petersburg history as director and chief champion of the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum. It’s by dent of sheer determination that she and her board of directors have sustained the 12-year old institution, but Lipsey Scott considers the journey well worth the effort. The museum, nestled in the heart of the city’s African American community, has become a standard-bearer for not only historical exhibits, but for the types of events that evoke the spirit of its namesake – Dr. Carter G. Woodson himself. Events such as the airing of Ava DuVernay’s 2016 critically acclaimed documentary, the DiversiTea women’s networking event and the Sunlit Festival’s film screening and dialogue about the life of Zora Neal Hurston. More and more, the museum is garnering recognition for its volunteerled work. The institution was honored with recent kudos such as a “Good Burger” award from the St. Petersburg Area Chamber and a “Best of the Bay” nod from Creative Loafing newspaper. A 2010 City Beautiful Award heralded the aesthetic of the museum’s Legacy Garden, which hosts special events of all kinds, thanks to a project spearheaded by Lipsey Scott in 2008, before joining the museum board. She and her Leadership St. Pete classmates funded end-to-end landscaping of the acreage.

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But Lipsey Scott is proudest of the work her team does with youth. She is credited for projects such as The Silver Spoon Tea Party, welcoming young ladies into a day of spa treatment and a “debutante” style showcase, piano lessons for children who too often lack the opportunity for enrichment, and the Woodson Warriors group for young men. She says, “It has been critical for me that we are part of the community that surrounds us, especially for the elders of the Jordan Park community, who sacrificed the space we now occupy.”

Advice from Terri When did you realize your purpose and position to really make a difference? My purpose was realized in 1987 when I was the first African American hired in the office of the Mayor of St. Petersburg. It was there that I realized my responsibility to ensure that the concerns of disenfranchised citizens were being met with the same respect and efficiency as all others.

How do you push through the worst of times? Celebrate the best of times? Prayer is always the compass that navigates me through the toughest times. I rejoice, knowing that I am a child of the most-high God during the best of times.

What are your success habits? Daily devotion and meditation, followed by the practice of the Daily Word and sharing resources with others.

What do you see as your 3 biggest accomplishments? 1. Accepting Christ as my personal Savior 2. Defeating the enemy throughout a 37-year long marriage for which I celebrate the lives of my two children and two grandchildren 3. Overcoming “what people might say” about my desire to make a difference for others

Petite bio:

Terri is a retired City of St. Petersburg administrator who served the Office of the Mayor and City Council from 1987-2014. Terri’s civic engagement has included memberships in the Junior League, Women of the Word, St. Petersburg Chapter of the Links, St. Petersburg Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and St. Petersburg College Women on the Way program. Terri has served on local boards that include Aids Services Association of Pinellas, St. Petersburg Branch of the NAACP, and the Community Alliance (as Co-Chair). She is an alumna of Savannah State University and Eckerd College. Among her many honors, Terri is recipient of the Studio @ 620 Studio Honors Award, the Woman of Distinction Award by The Gathering of Women, and the Weekly Challenger IMPACT AWARD. She was featured in 2018 in the AT&T Florida inaugural Black History Month Calendar.

Auteurs, Griots & Ambassadors to the creative black experience in America There have been prominent men in this space. But this happens to be a singularly feminine sphere. Perhaps reflecting the mother-like role of nurturing cultural values through the generations, it’s been mostly women who anchor St. Petersburg’s black art, history and culture community. Here are three of our most creative.

Carla’s artistry and activism have been spotlighted in the media. She was a guest speaker for CreativeMornings in October 2017, and appeared on CNN in December 2016 representing small business owners. Her honors also include an award for Most Iconic Style from Local Shops 1 in 2016, an Arts, Culture and Heritage award in 2015, Small Business of the Year Award in 2015, and a third place win in the Tampa Bay Business Journal Readers’ Choice Awards. Carla proudly serves on board of The Studio @620 and the Pinellas County Historical Commission.

130 years of black history, told via 19 markers bearing plaques that detail facets of the life and times of the area. Gwen says she is proud to have shepherded the dream to physical manifestation, but wants more African Americans to take advantage of the experience (most visitors are white).

“If you don’t know your history, then whatever is told to you about you, you will believe. More of us need to know the contributions of African Americans to our city.” Gwen’s newest project is The Timbuktu School of African American History, a Saturday school for children, which she and a partner will open at the Weldon Library branch this April.

Carla Bristol, Artist & Owner Gallerie 909 Carla is the Owner and Creative Strategist behind Gallerie 909 and her private label clutch and clothing line, Jamii, as well as founder of the Annual Black Arts and Film Festival. Born in Guyana and raised in New York, this mother of two enjoys strengthening her community through art and culture.  Carla opened Gallerie 909 in 2014 in the heart of the Midtown area on the historic Deuces corridor. In 2017, she relocated her space to St. Petersburg’s Skyway Marina Mall, presenting works by established and emerging artists of the African diaspora. Since opening, 909 has featured over 60 local, national and international artists in mediums that include painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography, jewelry, home furnishings, and clothing. 

Gwendolyn Reese, Founder African American Heritage Association of St. Pete Florida It was 2011 when Gwen first gathered a group of volunteers at the request of former Mayor Bill Foster, who had the idea to create a brochure spotlighting South St. Petersburg’s historical sites. Under her leadership, and that of writer Jon Wilson, the concept soon morphed into a committee with a vision to create a heritage trail. Thanks to a $50,000 grant from the state, two African American heritage trails became a reality in 2014, annually welcoming hundreds of visitors to tours along 9th Avenue and 22nd Street. Designed for walking tours, the trails cover a dozen city blocks and roughly

Ya La’Ford, Artist Thirty-nine year old Ya La’Ford is a professor, visual painter, installation artist and muralist who creates from studios in St. Petersburg and her hometown of Bronx, New York. Her local work includes “The Golden Wave” mural on the back wall of the Morean Center, the “SUNnel” mural gracing a tunnel connected to the Tropicana Field stadium, and “The King’s Dream Unite,” a two-story mural on the northern wall of the historic Manhattan Casino. • See our feature on Ya’s growing national portfolio in the next edition of the Power Broker magazine. Power Broker magazine | 51



f you believe in the unbroken line of generational ethos, Attorney Jacqueline Hubbard embodies that almostforgotten cultural institution known as “The Talented Tenth,” a term popularized by W.E.B. Dubois in an essay by that name in 1903. Her grandfather was a practicing physician whose legacy lived through Jacqueline’s mother, an English teacher, and her father, a chemistry professor. It was their example that gave Jacqueline the foundation to become a pioneering attorney, who now passes the torch to her daughter, Ladee Hubbard, celebrated novelist and professor. It was befitting then that Jackie (as she prefers to be called) would be catalyst and co-founder of the St. Petersburg branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH ), the 103year old organization founded by Dr. Carter G. Woodson to disseminate information about black life, history and culture to the global community.

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Under Dr. Woodson’s leadership, the Association created research and publication outlets for black scholars with the establishment of the Journal of Negro History (1916) and the Negro History Bulletin (1937). This is Jackie’s mission now, following a decorated career. She spent 30 years practicing law before retiring to St. Petersburg in 2013. Before then, her career spanned from California, where she became the first African American public defender in Oakland, to the U.S. Virgin Islands, as a Managing Attorney for the United States Defender Office in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and on to St. Petersburg, as Trial Counsel for Johnson, Blakeley, Bokor, Ruppell, and Burns, and as a one-time Assistant City Attorney in St. Petersburg. Jackie’s final posts, before retiring, were as City Attorney for the City of Fort Myers (the first African American women to hold a city attorney position in the state of Florida), and as Litigation Section Chief for the Collier County Attorney’s Office.

Today, it’s primarily ASALH that keeps Jackie busy, hosting lectures, screening documentaries, and leading book talks, all as part of her quest to keep African American history alive as an active force in our futures. Some of ASALH’s most recent convenings discussed Lynching in America, including the untold history of the terror in Pinellas County, and Veterans of Color, a panel featuring Brigadier General Carrie Nero, Colonel Ronalda Hobson, Lt. Colonel Ashby Hobson, and Imam Askia Muhammad Aquil, with members of ASALH’s Manasota branch.

Advice from Jackie When did you realize your purpose and position to really make a difference? I realized during my senior year at Bryn Mawr College, after working for SNCC (the Student Non-Violence Coordinating Committee), that the best use of my talent was to attend law school and become a Criminal

Defense Attorney. I knew the criminal justice system was the most obvious example of institutionalized racism in the United States. I wanted to do all I could to stop or hinder this. Once I became the first African American woman to join the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office for Berkeley/Oakland, California, I set about trying my best to win all my cases. I did not win all of them, but I won a great deal of them. Each win represented the freedom of another person.

How do you push through the worst of times? Celebrate the best of times? Hard work, faith in God, my family, and my own determination carried me through. I celebrated each “not guilty” verdict with my clients, their families, and my friends, those who understood what I was doing, especially my daughter, who made sacrifices with me.

What are your success habits? Hard, long, diligent work is my advice on the question: “How to Succeed.” There is no substitute.

What do you see as your 3 biggest accomplishments? I can think of two. It’s a toss up between saving every one of my clients charged with the death penalty, and becoming the first African-American woman to become a City Attorney in the State of Florida.

Petite bio: Jacqueline was born in

North Carolina, and graduated from high school in St. Petersburg before earning an undergraduate degree from Bryn Mawr College (where she was president of Friends of the Student Non-Violence Coordinating Committee) and a law degree from the Boston University College of Law (as the school’s first recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Fellowship). Jacqueline has been admitted to practice law in Massachusetts, California, Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands, where she was the founder of the African American Bar Association. She remains active in community leadership, as a member of the Fred Minnis Bar Association, and as President of ASALH.



adee Hubbard was born in Massachusetts and partly raised in St. Petersburg, Florida, and the U.S. Virginia Islands. She currently lives in New Orleans with her husband Dr. Christopher Dunn, a Full Professor at Tulane University. The couple has three children. Ladee earned a BA from Princeton University (where she was mentored by Nobel prize winning author Toni Morrison), as well as two Master of Fine Arts degrees, one in dramatic writing from New York University and the other in creative writing from the University of Wisconsin. She earned a Ph.D. from the University of California and has received fellowships from the Hambidge Center, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and the Hurston/Wright Foundation Ladee’s published works include short fiction in the Beloit Fiction Journal and Crab Orchard Review, among other scholarly publications, and stories and poems in such publications as Prick of the Spindle, Rhino, and GUD magazine. Her debut novel – The Talented Ribkins – won her the 2017 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. Ladee is also a recipient of a 2016 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award, annually given to six women writers who demonstrate excellence and promise in the

early stages of their careers, and of the Faulkner-Wisdom Short Story Award. She is a professor of African Studies at Tulane University. Ladee’s most recent visit to St. Petersburg was for a February 16th event, as keynote speaker for ASALH’s fourth annual Black History Month celebration. The dinner was preceded by a cocktail reception in her honor.

Her debut novel – The Talented Ribkins - was published by Melville House to much acclaim, including praise from Toni Morrison, Nobel Prize-winning author of The Bluest Eye, Beloved, and Song of Solomon. Morris wrote of the book, “For sheer reading pleasure Ladee Hubbard’s original and wildly inventive novel is in a class by itself.” Power Broker magazine | 00


he pose and flower pedal ring convey a lot about Tahisia’s personality as one of St. Petersburg’s most prolific business development consultants. After 15 years in the banking sector (most recently as Assistant VP of Business Banking for Fifth Third), the St. Pete native and mother of three struck out on her own, as both a licensed realtor and Independent Business Consultant whose daily client is the Tampa Bay Black Business Investment Corporation. There, Tahisia helped create the acclaimed CATCH Program, an intensive business development training and coaching series that is changing lives, according to many of the 44 participants who’ve graduated from the program so far. Her secret sauce is her own hardwon experience as an entrepreneur, combined with her ability to help business owners package business plans. The latter comes from her days as a banker. At Fifth Third and Wachovia (now Wells Fargo), Tahisia was responsible for loan generation and helping clients restructure debt for personal and commercial real estate transactions. She also developed skills in underwriting and forecasting. “That helps me work with entrepreneurs at every stage to help them vision for their future, through strategic planning and achieving revenue goals,” says Tahisia. It also helps her stay on track with goals for her own firm, Crossroad Consulting. And when it comes to working with entrepreneurs who don’t have business backgrounds or role models, Tahisia’s formative years come in handy.

“I didn’t grow up in a family that prepared me for college and career, so I know what it means to discover a path and seek help to succeed.”

Advice from Tahisia When did you realize your purpose or position to really make a difference? Becoming a business consultant, I realized that the knowledge and resources that I learned were tools that could be used in the creation of the CATCH entrepreneurial training program. I was able to tap into my toolbox to help design a powerful and impactful small business program that’s truly changing the black-owned business landscape, 10 graduates at a time.

How do you push through the worst of times? Celebrate the best of times? During bad times, I surround myself with positive affirmations to redirect my focus and find “the silver lining.” I celebrate the best milestones by rewarding myself with a new pair of shoes!

graduate with a Bachelor’s degree from University of Florida 3. Being an inspirational part of the development of the CATCH program

Petite bio:

Tahisia received her Bachelor of Science from St. Petersburg College and recently graduated from the University of West Florida with her Master’s of Administration and a Master’s Certificate in Non-Profit Administration. She is currently working toward certification as a Business Advisor through the University of Toledo. As a consultant now working with the Tampa Bay Black Business Investment Corporation (BBIC), Tahisia oversees the business development program called CATCH and the BBIC Incubator. She is also a Certified Short Sale, Foreclosure & REO Real Estate Agent. She has over 20 years of experience in commercial & retail banking and customer service. Tahisia’s community leadership includes service as a past board president for Clearwater’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Neighborhood Family Center, and as an advisory board member for Habitat for Humanity.

What are your success habits? Planning my day prior to starting it, holding myself accountable for my actions, taking responsibility for my successes or failures, and always projecting and praying.

What do you see as your 3 biggest accomplishments? 1. Graduating with my Master’s in Administration 2. Breaking generational curses in education. My son was the first person in our family to go off to college and

Tahisia Scantling Independent Business Consultant, Crossroad Consulting, LLC

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f this magazine were to feature an “Under 18” category, Shenyah Ruth would no doubt be one of the young women topping that list.

keyboard include having played for renowned pianist Valentina Lasitsa, and earning scores of Superior Plus and Superior Minor in two judged Guild National Piano Award competitions.

She credits her parents for all she has achieved in the short span of 17 years of life, but Shenyah surely deserves kudos for her impressive resume of community leadership.

How does Shenyah juggle her uberbusy schedule? She says “God, my parents, my support system, and my friends all keep me going.”

The St. Petersburg native is a junior in the Academy of Finance at Northeast High School and is dually enrolled to earn her Associate’s degree from St. Petersburg College, all while sustaining a full plate of officer positions with school and community organizations. Among her past roles, Shenyah was President of her freshman class, District Vice President of Future Business Leaders of America, and president of the Spanish Honor Society, as well as a student representative for the Northeast High School Advisory Council. Shenyah is currently president of the Pinellas County Urban League’s NULITES and National Council of Negro Women’s Black Pearls, while working toward her Gold Award as an Ambassador for the Girl Scouts (she is already pinned with Bronze and Silver awards). Outside of school and community obligations, the young diva is an accomplished pianist – an instrument she’s studied since age six. Her proudest moments at the

Advice from Shenyah When did you realize your purpose and position to really make a difference? I never really realized my purpose, per se. My parents led me to this path from a young age, and that has shaped me into the person I am today. I guess you could say I didn’t choose my purpose; it chose me.

How do you push through the worst of times? Celebrate the best of times? In everything I do, I make sure to give God the glory, because I realize what an impact He has on my life and how without Him, I wouldn’t be in the position that I am in.

What are your success habits? I make sure to study hard, keep a calendar, remember the outcome, and remember that in the end, someone else may be impacted by what I’m doing.

What do you see as your 3 biggest accomplishments? I have a lot of accomplishments, but my three biggest would be:

1. Staying on honor roll from elementary school all the way up until now in High School 2. Being the first student from my school to graduate with their Associate’s degree 3. Making it into the Power Broker’s line-up of 17 women who slayed in 2017.

Petite bio:

Shenyah is the daughter of John and Stephanie Ruth. She is a high school honor roll student and a member of St. Petersburg College’s National Achievers Society, as well as a past or current officer with a number of community organizations. Outside of her studies, Shenyah attends Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church, where she is part of the Mission Team and Leadership Team. Her hobbies include playing volleyball, playing the piano, volunteering, fellowship with friends, and being “a normal teenager.” Shenyah has received many awards for commitment to academics and community service. She was crowned Junior Princess for a Northeast High School Homecoming and fourth runner-up in a Miss NEHI pageant. Shenyah has also received awards from National Council of Negro Women, Future Business Leaders of America, and St. Petersburg College’s Brain Bowl program. After graduating high school, she plans to attend Florida A&M University or Clark Atlanta University. Power Broker magazine | 55

African American women in ministry have worked hard for their communities, even if it’s taken a long time for them to be recognized by their counterparts. While diversity in leadership has made strides, some might say there’s still a long way to go. Historically, black women have made up a large part of church congregations, and that’s held true in recent years. According to Pew Research Center, 59 percent of African Americans who attend a historically black church are women, and within the community of black Mainline Protestants – in other words, those who consider themselves Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, Episcopal, part of the United Church of Christ or of the Disciples of Christ – 64 percent are women. The acceptance of black women in leadership began in the early 1800s when Jarena Lee became the first woman minister in the African Methodist Episcopal church denomination, although it was a struggle. At the time, the AME church’s highest ranking bishop, Richard Allen, did not publicly ordain her. Since then, the pace has moved up and down. According to a study published by the Atlanta University Center, the United Methodist and the Episcopal churches have both gained female leadership in scores, while the AME church only elected its first woman to the office of bishop in 2000. It isn’t just the numbers that are important; it’s the work that these female leaders do for their ministries that shows. Several women shared their stories with the Power Broker.

56 | Power Broker magazine

Sister Shepherds:

Spotlight on Women in Faith Leadership -By Gabrielle Settles

Darrin was director for the chapter. At the time, she was working for the Pinellas County School Board and teaching at a local arts center when he asked her to come help him.

Director Julia Rogers Julia Rogers and husband Darrin Rogers (photo courtesy of the Weekly Challenger) In St. Petersburg, Julia Rogers is the director of the Suncoast Chapter of Child Evangelism Fellowship, a global ministry that provides gospel outreach for children year-round. During the school year, the ministry holds Good News Clubs, an afterschool program where kids spend one hour learning Bible stories, memory verses, and songs. Rogers oversees 25 of these clubs across Pinellas and Pasco counties, and the number is growing. Rogers says her job is to reach as many children with the message of the Gospel as possible who may have never heard it before. For her, God’s word is just as powerful for children as it is for adults. “It gives an opportunity for adults to become active in the community with what they believe in to help children excel spiritually,” Rogers says. Rogers became a missionary six years ago, when her husband

Before she knew it, Rogers says, she was studying at Children’s Ministry Institute in Missouri, CEF’s headquarters. After she graduated, Rogers worked side-byside with her husband as the office manager and bookkeeper until 2016, when Darrin passed away from cancer. Briefly, there was no one at the helm until Rogers was asked by the local board and the state director to take on the role. When it came time for the board to vote on it, they gave a unanimous answer to install her. Rogers is now among African American female directors across the country. At CEF, Rogers says, there’s a field of diverse people who work to reach all children. She says her ethnic background helps her in the surrounding community of St. Petersburg. Rogers has observed how women can enforce leadership. Historically, male leadership has been predominant in ministry, and the role of the woman was to support. But, she says, when women come forth as leaders, they’re able to do it in other ways than their male counterparts. “God has given women the heart of a mother, even those who may not have had children of their own,” the director says.

Elder Joyce Moore

who is well prepared to do the job.” For Moore, it’s taken work, commitment, sacrifice and being well prepared by mentors who guided her. “I’m truly humbled that God has blessed me to break through some barriers, and to hold these positions. So I don’t take it lightly,” she says.

Presiding Elder Moore speaking at St. Petersburg’s Bethel AME Church this January at its “I Love Bethel” Prayer Breakfast honoring women in and with ministries (photo courtesy of Bethel AME)

Moore makes sure to reach back and pull up young ladies – and men – who have the zeal to fill ministry positions. “I’m reaching back and I’m mentoring them,” Moore says.

Pastor Ayakao Watkins

“Men have realized that we come prepared,” Moore says. “They’re no longer looking at gender. They’re looking at who’s been called to do the job … and

Watkins kept refusing, because although she knew she was supposed to be in ministry, being a senior pastor of a church didn’t seem right. Watkins says God pressed on her heart that this was what she was meant to do.

But today, things have evolved in the Tampa Bay area and Watkins wants to make sure that other African American women who want to answer the call to ministry have a support system. In 2018, she plans to kick off a training and support group for women evangelists.

Moore says she’s broken through several other gender walls in her 20plus year pastoral career. She was the first female pastor for three churches across the state of Florida and the first woman delegate to serve at the General Conference in Nashville, where delegates elect the denomination’s top leaders - bishops and general officers.

Moore says having so many firsts means a great deal for her sisters in the ministry. It reflects that they can accomplish and achieve the same thing, and that there is a shift in the A.M.E. church, an historically male-led denomination.

“A young lady that was a dear, dear friend had a church, and for two and a half years, she wanted to walk away from the church. And so she kept saying, “I believe you’re supposed to be the pastor,” Watkins says.

A day in work life for Watkins includes counseling, Bible studies, prayer and preparing sermons. Her background as a woman certainly plays a factor in her ministry. Just 27 years ago, she wouldn’t have even been allowed to preach from the pulpit. She would have had to give her sermon from the floor.

Reverend Joyce Moore was elected as the first female presiding elder for the A.M.E church west coast conference in 2014. Under the current bishop, she oversees 16 churches in Tarpon Springs, St. Petersburg, Bradenton, Palmetto and Sarasota.

Moore also was elected as the first woman chair of Ministerial Institute, a board of examiners that trains new ministers, and as the first woman to be conference secretary of the Central Annual Conference, a role she held for five years.

Watkins has served as senior pastor for the church since 2010, and at first, she was hesitant to take the role. She was a leader at a different local church, when a friend had a big request for her.

Pastor Watkins out and about in the community at a 2016 ministry event (photo courtesy of The Weekly Challenger) Mentorship plays a big role not just for those who learn from the leaders, but for the leaders themselves. That’s been one key to success for Ayakao Watkins, senior pastor of Kingdom Bible Christian Church in Largo, Florida. Watkins says her husband Michael, who serves alongside her as executive pastor at Kingdom Bible, is one in a group of others in ministry that she turns to for guidance. “I have a tribe of ministry leaders, male and female, that when I’m down I go to,” Watkins says.

“I just would encourage women, African American women, to make sure that they are a part of something that really supports them,” Watkins says, “just like any other profession.” Watkins, Moore and Rogers each share tidbits of advice for their fellow women. Make sure you’re prepared – spiritually and academically, and remember that you are a role model.

“In any type of ministry work, it can be a little daunting. But you have to look at the work as kingdom building,” Rogers says. “He (God) will open up the doors and open up the windows to help you get even better, and make the road straight for you as you clear the path for Him.” Power Broker magazine | 57

Left to right, Sorority chapter presidents Andrea Yvette Allen, Cassandra Williams, Ruby Griffin, and Lisa Wilson

Local sororities build up St. Petersburg



or over 60 years, the St. Petersburg chapters of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., have worked hard to make a lasting impact. Each has creative ways of tackling community issues. Local chapter presidents share just how it’s done, and what to expect for 2018.

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. St. Petersburg Alumnae Chapter This local chapter was founded in 1961, and has 124 members today. In her second two-year term, President Ruby Griffin says the primary goal for 2018 is to support the community with a strong interest in youth. The Deltas have two programs for girls: The Dr. Jeanne L. Noble Delta GEMS Institute for high school girls and the Dr. Betty Shabazz Delta Academy for middle schoolers. The academy augments middle school girls’ achievement in math, science and technology. The GEMS gives high school girls the same opportunities, in addition to helping them plan for their futures in college and careers. The sorority even awards them college scholarships.

58 | Power Broker magazine

The programs also help young ladies build self-esteem and develop their outlooks on life, including community service. Girls volunteer at multiple Delta events, such the Christmas time Breakfast with Santa for low income children. They help clean up US-19, which the Deltas took on in the Adopt-A-Highway program, and they take part in a cancer walk, among other projects. But the sorority doesn’t just focus on young women. Empowering Males to Build Opportunities for Developing Independence, or EMBODI, is a multifaceted mentoring program for young men, 11 to 18. Afterwards, high school juniors and seniors can be inducted into the Beautillion Militaire, a three-month program where the Deltas and male mentors “teach them how to move from teenagers to becoming a man,” Griffin says. In 2016, the Deltas initiated their first Beautillion Militaire Scholarship Gala Alpha Class, and late last year about 25 young men were inducted into the Beta class. They will continue the work in the new year, including educational sessions, developing teamwork and leadership skills, and college planning. Young men in the program will also be awarded scholarships. President Griffin says it’s embedded into the women of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority to help others along their roads. “We don’t want to live in a shell. We are on fire to give back to help others along the way,” Griffin says.

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Zeta Upsilon Omega Chapter Since 1955, Zeta Upsilon Omega Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority has worked diligently for their community. President Cassandra Williams, who is serving a two-year term, oversees approximately 100 members who work on positive initiatives. Some of these include a program to hand out one million backpacks to students in need and homeless adults, a partnership with the American Heart Association, and the sorority’s Money Sense program, where youth and their families learn how to handle finances properly. Williams says community service is ingrained into the sorority’s mission statement. “Since 1908, that has been a part of what Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority stands for. We are helping others, giving back and making an impact, whether it be for youth, families or individuals.” The sorority’s signature program is the AKAdemy (pronounced academy), a youth development program that helps South Pinellas young people with positive mentoring. With a grant from the Pinellas County Juvenile Welfare Board, the AKAdemy reaches 250 students, ages 11 to 17. The women of Alpha Kappa Alpha partnered with the men of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity in order to mentor girls and boys in the program in two groups: the young ladies are called the Exquisite GEMS, and the young men are called Pathfinders. In order to effectively give the students skills that positively impact their lives and futures, both groups spend time in talk sessions on a wide array of topics, from how to cook a healthy meal, to finances, to being careful on social media. Students have a chance to explore beyond their community on a Florida college tour. Each year, the chapter takes students to four colleges and this year, they’ll be headed to north Florida. Williams says it’s great to see how the students succeed and “give back” long after they graduate from the AKAdemy. “When they return home from college, they’ll pop in and help with the AKAdemy workshops,” she says. “They even contribute money for scholarships.”

Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. Epsilon Beta Sigma Chapter The Epsilon Beta Sigma Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho was founded in St. Petersburg in 1978, and they’ve continued to follow the mission statement of their national headquarters: “Greater Service, Greater Progress.” Chapter President Andrea Yvette Allen has lead the chapter of 30-plus members for four years. She says they believe in community service in and around their immediate area. They’ve already started this year off with a bang. During the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, the sorority and their young volunteers served breakfast for families at Ronald McDonald House, brought in a local chef to teach children how to make healthy meals, and sponsored a local Zumba instructor that taught high energy exercises. The chapter imparts the importance of higher education, too.

The Rosebuds, Rhoers and Philo Affiliates are three groups for young girls in elementary school all the way to women with their bachelor’s degree. The local chapter builds on these ladies’ education in varying ways – from improving reading literacy to providing scholarships. In fact, improving reading literacy for African American youth in St. Petersburg is the big target for this year, Allen shares. The chapter will participate in the 2018 James Weldon Johnson Branch Library Literacy Festival by giving away free books and having a Readers Theater, and sponsoring the library’s “Summer Bee Series” in spelling, math and geography too. The community responds positively to Epsilon Beta Sigma’s initiatives, and Allen says the work is very rewarding. “It makes you feel like, hey, I’m doing something positive in the community, and these are the things that should be recognized more than negative things,” Allen says. “It just gives you a feeling of doing the right thing and trying to encourage others to be involved.”

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Zeta Gamma Zeta Chapter The Zeta Gamma Zeta chapter was founded in 1955 and hasn’t stopped working since. Currently, the group is made up of 30 to 40 members, and is lead by President Lisa Wilson, who is in a two-year term. Their signature programs fall under their sorority’s national umbrella, called Z-HOPE, or Zetas Helping Other People Excel. Some of those include the Prematurity Awareness program, which distributes information on causes of premature births, their Adopt-a-School Program which gives assistance to lowperforming schools, and an elder care program. The Zetas are on track to their centennial, just two years away in 2020. As it approaches, Wilson says they’re working on a national goal to recognize a bevy of phenomenal women. In St. Petersburg, the chapter has an additional goal to expand all of their community programs with more outreach. One of those is the Zeta Youth Academy, which aids young girls ages 4 to 18. “Our program teaches young ladies leadership skills,” Wilson says. “We do activities to enhance their scholarship and their leadership goals.” There are currently 20 girls in the program. As they get older, they move up through three groups according to their ages. Some of their activities this year have included a literacy workshop and a trip to a state leadership conference, where they met with other girls and participated in oratorical, STEM and African American Jeopardy contests. As a native of St. Petersburg, Wilson is excited to see the work her chapter does for the community she calls home. For instance, some of the girls in the academy have been there since they were little, and she’s even seen their former youth return with their children to the program. “We impact the mother, the mother brings the kids back and now we’re mentoring a second generation. So it’s awesome,” Wilson says. Power Broker magazine | 59

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are still too few in number. A National Association for Law report in 2017 noted that the number of black women law firm associates dropped every year between 2010 and 2015, and in 2016, black women made up only 0.6 percent of law firm partners and 2.3 percent of associates. As for sitting on the bench, women of color make up only eight percent of state court judges in the country according to The Gavel Gap, a report by the American Constitution Society. Here at home, black women attorneys say their numbers are growing.

working for the state attorney’s office in Pinellas County, and then moved on to partner with another lawyer before going out on her own. For a period, she became general counsel and vice president for one of her clients before returning to private practice with an additional law degree in real estate development under her belt. Felton-Howard says her advice to other black women who want to pursue a law career is to only do it if you truly have a desire and a passion for it. “Never do anything just because you think you’re going to make a lot of money doing it. This is a competitive profession,” she says. Felton-Howard is encouraged by the growing number of black women she sees in the profession. When she first would go to the criminal courthouse, more often than not, she was one of a couple, or the only black woman. But times are changing.

“Now there are just so many, and a lot of them are in private practice and really making a difference in our community. It’s really great to see that,” Felton-Howard says.


efore 1872, there was no such thing as an African American female lawyer or judge in the United States. Charlotte E. Ray changed that when she graduated that year from the Howard University School of Law, leading other trailblazing women to follow in the decades to come. One such trailblazer is the late attorney and activist C. Bette Wimbish, the first black woman lawyer in Pinellas County. Among many notable achievements, including fighting for desegregation in schools, Wimbish was the first black person ever elected to St. Petersburg’s City Council and the city’s first black vice mayor.

C. Bette Wimbush during her first campaign for public office in Pinellas The attorney passed away in 2009, and was honored posthumously when highway I-375 was renamed after her in 2017, thanks to the advocacy of State Senator Darryl Rouson. Despite noteworthy achievements, African American women in the law 62 | Power Broker magazine

Petite bio:

Attorney Tamara Felton-Howard As the first African American to graduate with a Juris Doctor and MBA from Stetson University, FeltonHoward knows about hard work. The attorney, who practices in family, probate and real estate development law, now has 19 years of experience in the field. She started her own private practice in 2016. The Miami native has called St. Petersburg home since she was a teen, and says the law attracted her at an early age. Felton-Howard became interested in civil rights, and since Thurgood Marshall was one of her favorite role models, she aspired to be an attorney. Felton-Howard began her career by

Tamara Felton-Howard is President of Felton-Howard Law, P.A. in St. Petersburg. She is a cum laude graduate of Florida A&M University School of Business & Industry, Stetson University College of Law (with MBA and Juris Doctorate degrees) and University of Miami (with a Master of Law in Real Property Development Law). Ms. FeltonHoward began her career as a manager with NationsBank of Florida and after law school served three years as an Assistant State Attorney before becoming a partner in the law firm of Rouson & Dudley, P.A. in 2001, representing clients in real estate, business formation and contract law, family and criminal law. She went on to become general counsel for Urban Development Solutions, an awardwinning real estate development firm. In 2016, Ms. Felton-Howard founded FeltonHoward Law. Her community work includes an appointment by Governor Jeb Bush as a Commissioner with the Sixth Judicial Circuit Nominating Committee and

serving on the Board of Governors of All Children’s Hospital, among other organizations. She is a past president of Fred G. Minnis Bar Association and a member and former officer of the Zeta Upsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

In addition, Ligon serves as a Senior Associate Attorney at the Porter Law Firm, and leads the non-profit Legacy Entertainment & Arts Foundation, Inc., which she founded in law school ten years ago. The group hosts events to raise awareness for causes that focus on entertainment, the arts and sports. Ligon keeps busy, and says she gets it all done by creating a good workplace balance and going virtual, utilizing her computer and phone. “When I first started my firm, I wasn’t enjoying the things I loved to do, I

wasn’t doing a lot of entertainment and sports and branding deals,” Ligon says. “I remember one of my mentors, she told me our generation was going to have to learn how to run out of a backpack, and that’s

essentially how I kind of microcosm-ed my business.”

Attorney Shannon Ligon


s founder and managing member of Ligon Law Group, LLC, St. Petersburg native Shannon Ligon is realizing her goal of becoming a leader in entertainment law and consulting. The vision sprang from having booked a dream job at a recording studio early in her career, when a certain judge gave her some advice. “At the time, Judge Mathis from T.V. was living next door to us, so I got a little pressure from him and my parents to continue my education,” Ligon says. After earning her Juris Doctorate from Florida A&M University College of Law, Ligon earned certification in Television & Radio Broadcasting and Production from the CSB School of Broadcasting in 2004. Four years later, she began her law firm and later branched into her marketing company, PrettySMART & Co.

The attorney says technology has helped her to market and network effectively. Her philosophy is applied in the PrettySMART name. “It’s actually an acronym I’ve used for goal setting and business development,” Ligon says. “It stands for (S) specific, (M) measurable, (A) attainable, (R) realistic and (T) time balance.” Ligon says she wondered how to break into an industry largely populated by white men, but she shares a tidbit for other African American women who aspire to be lawyers - why not use your adversities as your biggest assets? “We still have to fight for those highpowered positions in the workplace and in the corporate sector so that glass ceiling, while I think it’s been cracked, we need to shatter it completely so that we all continue to have seats at the table,” Ligon says.

Petite bio: Shannon Ligon is founder

of Ligon Law Group, LLC and PrettySMART & Co., specializing in business, entertainment and media law and consulting. She is also senior associate with Porter Law Firm where her practice areas include personal injury, wrongful death, discrimination and business litigation. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Florida State University, a Juris Doctor degree from Florida A&M University College of Law, and has studied international business at the Universidad de Valencia in Spain.

Attorney Ligon’s prior experience includes working at the prestigious firm of Gary, Williams and Parenti et al. specializing in civil litigation, and working with Integrated Sports Management (formerly TriStar Sports & Entertainment). She also served as Senior Attorney at the Women’s Trial Group which handles personal injury and wrongful death cases, and is active in a number of professional organizations including the American Bar Association Entertainment & Sports Lawyers Division, the Recording Academy of the Grammy, the National Bar Association and the Black Entertainment & Sports Lawyers Association.

AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN JUDGES In 2009 there were eight black female judges seated in Tampa Bay judicial circuits, according to the Power Broker Who’s Who edition. Today, we count 12. Thanks to those who helped us with this list: Judge Patrice Moore, State Senator Darryl Rouson, and the George Edgecomb Bar Association. Judge Myra Scott McNary, Sixth Circuit Judge Kemba Johnson Lewis, Sixth Circuit Judge Patrice Moore, Sixth Circuit Judge Debra Roberts, Sixth Circuit Judge Rochelle Curly, Twelfth Circuit Judge Barbara Twine Thomas, Thirteenth Circuit Judge Lisa D. Campbell, Thirteenth Circuit Judge Cheryl K. Thomas, Thirteenth Circuit Judge Marva Crenshaw, Second District Court of Appeal Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell, United States District, Middle District of Florida Judge Mary S. Scriven, United States District, Middle District of Florida Judge Marcia Cooke, United States District, Southern Power Broker magazine | 63 District of Florida

amp a B a T u o Y k n a h T

y fo r

r o p p u S f o s r a 25 Ye


Coming Early Spring

Women of Color Leading Change - BY GABRIELLE SETTLES


f you were to envision a woman as the key leader for an organization or a business, what would she look like?

Some may wonder if that question matters. YWCA USA would certainly argue that it does, especially for women of color. The organization posted several web facts about the underrepresentation of women in this category when it comes to positions of leadership. Only four percent of the nation’s elected officials are women of color, and you’d have to search within the Fortune 500 companies for the 0.40 percent of Asian or black female CEOs. YWCA Tampa Bay intended to do much more than just write about the problem. In 2017, the organization kicked off the tenth year of its Stand Against Racism campaign with a new theme: Women of Color Leading Change. Across the nation, YWCA chapters invited panels of local female leaders to discuss the gap in leadership, and how they broke through. 66 | Power Broker magazine

Tampa Bay’s chapter got in on the mission, too. In October 2017, the chapter brought together a group of its own leaders for a panel discussion that raised the 300-person audience to its feet several times during the hour-long dialogue. They were Assistant Statewide Prosecutor Jessica Goodwin Costello; philanthropist and retired professor Dr. Liana Fernandez-Fox; Liz Gutierrez, founder of Enterprising Latinas; Major Cheryl Johnson of the St. Petersburg Police Department; and Katie McGill, Executive Director of the program Dress for Success. The event kicked off with a keynote by St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Dr. Kanika Tomalin. The panel was moderated by Power Broker publisher Gypsy Gallardo. Rebecca Watson, the Women of Color Program Committee chair, helped lead development of the event with former YWCA Executive Director Yvonne Ulmer and the YWCA’s Fundraising Committee (Chaired by Tammy Charles). Watson says the event was so successful the board is considering a series, “We heard from so many

attendees that the panel inspired and affirmed their own experiences; this led us to consider other ways we can help build the bond between leading women of color.” With their diverse professional backgrounds, panelists shared their stories of overcoming boundaries and gave advice to women following in their footsteps. So, how do women of color break through? Here is some of what panelists shared.

Have a Sounding Board Not only is it important to do the work it takes to get you to your career goal; it is vital to connect with others who can help you. That’s a strategy Jessica Goodwin Costello uses to shape her fast-track career. The assistant statewide prosecutor has indeed worked hard to get where she is today. At the start of her career, a big obstacle she faced was being taken seriously as a trial lawyer who wanted to handle big cases like homicides, high level drug trafficking and gang crimes. “I overcame that obstacle by doing the

small things well, gaining the respect of my colleagues and superiors and clearly articulating what my goals were when I had the opportunities to do so,” she says. At the panel, Goodwin Costello gave a tidbit of advice.“I shared the importance of having a group of professionals you trust and who are supportive as a sounding board for difficulties faced during your career,” Goodwin Costello says. It’s a good idea to connect with other professionals outside of your career, too, she says. “Both are great places to glean perspective as your career progresses.”

Prepare Who’s Next in Line Other panelists discussed methods to close the gap – get more women ready to assume roles of leadership. A couple of the panelists, including, Major Johnson, shared stories of how they coached, trained and mentored other women. “They saw something in them, and wanted to cultivate that,” Watson says. “It was really inspiring because there was no formal pipelining process. They, in effect, created a pipeline through their mentoring and coaching and support work while they were in their leadership roles.” Johnson, who’s worked in law enforcement for 32 years, recalls the start of her career. It was a time when many male officers didn’t want a woman on the job, much less an African American. In addition, she had to deal with being the “new female” on the scene, where some women already stood. “I had no idea what the chain of command meant and no other females offered any support or assistance in helping me,” the major says. “Therefore I made a promise to myself that I would always reach out to newer officers, male or female, and offer any kind of assistance to them.” Johnson made good on her word, and today she uses her role to reach back. “Those of us in leadership roles must empower other women that leadership is for them now,” she says. “As major, I take time to encourage women about the endless opportunities for women in law enforcement. I advise them to decide which path they wish to take, whether it is being transferred to a specialized unit, promoted to sergeant or lieutenant or becoming a training officer.”

Pay it Forward Dr. Fernandez-Fox had a different career path, but much like Johnson, she used it to influence other women. She was a math professor for 33 years at Hillsborough Community College and the University of South Florida, and is a lifetime member and endowed scholarship donor to USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy.

Fernandez-Fox was an active mentor for many of her students who were the first in their families to go to college. “There was a lot for them to learn – not just about algebra but about the whole college process!” Today, the philanthropist advises college faculty to find opportunities to grow, and she finds ways for them to do it financially. “I try to help them find ways to do that through sponsorships, grants or scholarships. One of the most life-changing years for me was when I was selected for Class XIV of Leadership Florida. I applied for a partial scholarship and paid the rest myself,” Fernandez-Fox says. “One of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

Continuing the Change Tampa Bay’s YWCA chapter will keep the Women of Color Leading Change conversation going. In 2018, the chapter will create a series of events as a followup to Women of Color Leading Change. In addition to hearing from the first panelists, there will be new voices from female professionals added. “I mean, we don’t have a table long enough,” Watson says. “And they (the panelists) said that too, like ‘We know 20 other women who could be up here in our places … and have more to share, more to say.’”

Women Leading the Event • Women of Color Leading Change Program Committee Rebecca Watson, Chairperson (see bio next page) Members: Sheron Brown, Arieal Calhoun, Tammy Charles, Shannon Halstead-Lofton, Major Cheryl Johnson, Julia Neely (non-board member), Jessica Rivelli (now former board member), Tabrisha Ruby (non-board member). • Women of Color Fundraising Committee Tammy Charles, Chairperson (see bio next page) Members: Kristine Kirstein, Tabrisha Ruby, Rebecca Watson, Brandi Williams, Judy Wood (non-board member) • Watson also thanks YWCA board member Dr. Delphinia Davis for help with the forum. Dr. Davis is Chief Operating Officer for James B Sanderlin Family Service Center and an Adjunct Professor with Southern New Hampshire University. She is currently Chairman of the Board of Commissioners for St. Petersburg Housing Authority and an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., among other organizations.

Power Broker magazine | 67

Women of Color Leading Change (Continued)

5 13 4 2 1



Rebecca Watson, YWCA Board Member

Dr. Liana Fernandez-Fox, Leader & Philanthropist

Rebecca is an expert facilitator with 17 years of experience in education reform and executive leadership. She is Founder & CEO of Limitless Leader, Inc., a transformative life and leadership development firm that provides coaching, mentoring and training to women leaders in education and the marketplace. From her passion for eradicating inequity in schools, Rebecca facilitates professional development for educators in the areas of data-driven instruction, literacy, and success practices for African American male students. She recently published her first book, Mastering Your Career Journey. Her prior career roles include serving as a national consultant for Knowledge Delivery Systems, now PCG, and as a Chicago Public Schools principal.

Liana received her Ph.D. from the University of South Florida. She recently retired after 33 years as Professor of Mathematics for Hillsborough Community College and University of South Florida. Liana’s many leadership roles include service as National President of USF Alumni Association, President of the League of Women Voters of Hillsborough, and service on the boards of NCCJ, TampaHillsborough Urban League, Ybor City Museum Society, and other organizations. She currently serves on the board of United Way Suncoast and United Way of Florida and is an endowed scholarship donor to USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy.

Jessica Costello, Assistant Statewide Prosecutor, Florida Attorney General’s Office

Jessica is an Assistant Statewide Prosecutor working with federal and state law enforcement to investigate and prosecute multijurisdictional organized crime, primarily related to gangs, human trafficking and fraud. She has been named Florida’s Gang Prosecutor of the Year, Top Government Attorney by Florida Trend, and as recipient of George Edgecomb Bar Association’s Outstanding Young Lawyer award. Outside her practice, she has served as Programming Chair of the Hillsborough County Bar Association, and as a Florida Bar Standing Committee on Diversity and Inclusion member, and currently sits on the board of the FSU College of Law Alumni Association. 68 | Power Broker magazine



instructor with St. Petersburg College. She began her career with the SPPD in 1985 and has worked as patrol officer, School Resource Officer and Field Training Officer before being promoted to sergeant and then to major in 2010. She holds a Bachelor’s in Interdisciplinary Social Science from University of South Florida, a Master’s in Management and Leadership from Webster University, and is a graduate of Boston’s Senior Management Institute for Police. Honors for her service include NCCJ’s Silver Medallion Humanitarian award.

Liz Gutierrez Founder, Enterprising Latinas

Liz is a community development professional with extensive experience organizing communities around a vision for change. She holds a Master’s in Community Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University. Through Enterprising Latinas, Inc., which she founded in 2009, Liz is improving the quality of life of the Tampa Bay region by promoting the economic prosperity of low-income women, particularly Latinas. Among her many endeavors, Liz is transforming big community challenges like lack of childcare and limited public transportation into new economic opportunities for women.

Major Cheryl Johnson St. Petersburg Police Department

Cheryl is a major with St. Petersburg Police Department and adjunct

Katie McGill Executive Director, Dress for Success

Katie has dedicated much of her adult life to helping people better themselves through workforce development programs. She developed the Success Strategies program for the Centre for Women, where she worked for 10 years providing intensive employment services to unemployed and underemployed women. After devoted volunteerism with Dress for Success Tampa Bay, she was recruited by its founder and retired executive director to fill her shoes. Ms. McGill is also a 9-year volunteer with Hillsborough County Women’s Correctional facilities, and a 20-year volunteer for the Crisis Center of Tampa.


Making a Positive Impact

in St. Petersburg EXPERTS IN GRADUATION RECOVERY MYcroSchool Pinellas is a tuition-free public charter high school that helps disengaged youth get back on-track to graduation. Students set goals for future education, workforce, and life outcomes. MYcroSchool Pinellas has transformed more than 215 at-risk dropouts into successful graduates since the school opened in 2012.

Get involved today! Learn how you can be a mentor, donate, or volunteer at MYcroSchool, a nonprofit organization.

Call (727) 825-3710 or visit email us at

Pinellas MYcroSchool is part of the Pinellas County School system. Power Broker magazine Pinellas MYcroSchool | 840 3rd Avenue South |St. Petersburg, FL 33701 | Webb’s Plaza near Tropicana Field | 69

Corporate Leader Spotlight

Bridgette Heller Doubly Promoted in 2017 St. Pete native works globally, but remains grounded

In July 2016, St. Petersburg native Bridgette Heller was named Executive Vice President of the Early Life division of Danone, the international $30 billion consumer products company that brings you well known products such as Activia and Oikos yogurts. As if that didn’t have her busy enough, Heller was named to the dual role of Executive Vice President of Danone’s Advanced Medical Nutrition division in mid-2017, responsible for leading consolidation of the two divisions, which transition her to a yet newer role as President of the division now called Nutricia. In that post, Heller leads an organization of 15,000 employees providing infant nutrition and advanced medical nutrition for patients with chronic health needs. The promotions made Heller the only African American on the food titan’s sixmember Executive Committee, but that doesn’t keep her from continuing to sow into her roots here at home. Though headquartered in the Netherlands, Heller remains anchored in St. Petersburg, not only through a large extended family, but through the Shirley Proctor Puller Foundation, a 501c3 Heller founded in honor of her late mother, a lifelong Pinellas county educator “dedicated to inspiring underserved children to increase their reading skills to grade level and above.” Heller and a local board of directors, led

by Bill Puller (her mother’s husband at the time of her passing), provide funding and fundraising support for an annual 10-week summer camp which served 57 girls in its flagship year, thanks to a $50,000 contribution by Heller herself. The foundation’s 2017 camp welcomed boys and girls for its M.A.S.T.R. Kids curriculum, incorporating Math, Art, Science, Technology and Reading. In a passionate letter on the foundation website, Heller emphasized the group’s on-going commitment “to the eradication of reading, math and science illiteracy in South St. Petersburg.” The 57-year old global executive reminds one of the mighty oak trees that flourish in St. Pete, in the way she describes her successes. Heller credits the seeds of her family’s influence generations back, while heaping gratitude on a dozen of her local kin for keeping the foundation torch lit with year-round programming in the community. “I also owe a lot to my greatgrandmother Louise,” Heller told a reporter for “From a very early place in life, she ensured my confidence. At a time when the American South was still ravaged by segregation, she always made it clear that I was never ‘less than’ nor ‘better than’ anyone else. She taught me to always hold my head high and never sell myself short. That foundational golden rule of ‘treat everyone the way you wanna be treated’ was instilled by her and it was the core of my humanism.”

Heller’s latest professional move will allow her to globally apply her “servant leader” philosophy. In October 2017, atop her new executive roles, Heller was given responsibility for Danone Communities, based in France as the company’s charitable arm. There, she will lead investments in clean drinking water and health programs for children worldwide.

About Bridgette Age: 57

Education: MBA, J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University and B.A., Northwestern University. Local Service: Heller sits on the board of TechData Corporation here in Pinellas and continues to lead the SPP Foundation. Career: Heller started her career at Kraft Foods in 1985, spending 17 years there, including as Executive Vice President and General Manager for the North American Coffee portfolio. In 2005, Heller joined Johnson & Johnson as Global President for the Baby Global Business Unit. She transitioned in 2010 to Executive Vice President & President, Consumer Care, for Merck & Co. Support her Foundation: To support Heller’s vision for her mother’s legacy of education, visit

Non-Profit Leader Spotlight

Dr. Sandra Braham Sets New Goals for Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services About Sandra Age: 52 She is the head of one of the largest non-profit organizations in Pinellas County, and has spent the past two years mastering her newest executive role, while creating roots and relationships in the county she now calls home. Dr. Sandra Braham has been in our midst since the spring of 2015 when she relocated from Texas after being selected through a national search for a new CEO, by Clearwater-based Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services. That put her in charge of the agency’s $34.4 million budget and 500+ staff across 67 programs serving 37 Florida counties. The agency serves 30,000 individuals annually through programs that serve abused and neglected children, help newly arrived refugees resettle, and assist the unemployed with jobs and life skills, plus a continuum of services for the elderly and disabled. According to its website, Gulf Coast also offers internationally recognized models of community-based medical and psychiatric care, along with holistic services to the Jewish community. The agency’s Holocaust Survivor Program provides care for Holocaust survivors throughout West Central Florida. Dr. Braham spends much of her time on the road, connecting with staff and clients at Gulf Coast’s offices across the state, which she says is

one of her most vital roles. “As I travel the Tampa Bay region, it is clear that the greatest opportunity for Gulf Coast JFCS is increased awareness through branding and outreach. People simply do not know about our vast impact and diverse programs,” she says. “We must do a better job of telling our story throughout the region.” To that end, Dr. Braham supports the agency’s offices in Pasco, Hillsborough, Polk, Orange, Osceola, Broward, Miami-Dade, Sarasota, Lee, and Alachua counties. She says “Strategic alignment of all program services and related policies and procedures” is her top priority. “We have very talented staff whose efforts have been focused primarily in silos. Our focus is working to realize our capacity for collective impact across all areas of Gulf Coast JFCS operations, to have a larger regional impact.” A recent success was the fall 2017 completion of a comprehensive demographic survey of the Jewish community in Pinellas and Pasco counties, a feat not done for at least the past two decades. The project was a true collaboration, says Dr. Braham. Partners included the Jewish Federation of Pasco & Pinellas Counties and The Tampa Orlando Pinellas (TOP) Foundation, who will use the survey’s findings to guide collective efforts to better meet the needs of Jewish families in the region.

Family: Sandra is a married mother

of three, whose personal story involves overcoming barriers after spending a portion of her childhood in foster care.

Education: M.Ed., Educational

Leadership and Ed.D., Educational Leadership and Foundations, from the University of Texas at El Paso, and a B.S. in Biology from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Local Service: Sandra sits on the

Board of Directors of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber, and is a volunteer and mentor with St. Petersburg College’s Women on the Way program. She is a member of the Rotary Club of St. Petersburg and the Greater Tampa Chamber where she is Co-Chair of the Women of Influence Committee’s Operation Partnership with MacDill Air Force Base.

Career before Gulf Coast:

Sandra’s most recent previous role was as the 10-year CEO of the YWCA El Paso del Norte Region, the nation’s largest YWCA, where she led 450 employees and managed an annual budget of $30 million. Prior posts included service as Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies and Assistant Vice President for Outreach Programs at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP).

Support Gulf Coast JFCS: To learn more or support the work of Gulf Coast, visit gulfcoastjewishfamilyand

Leading in Service embrace the mission set by the national office, “to lead, develop and advocate for women of African descent as they strive to support their families.” The ladies do this through year-round programs including health awareness, youth mentoring, college scholarships and sponsorships to community programs such as Child’s Park YMCA’s Neighbor-to-Neighbor Christmas Gift Program.

Thelma Bruce President of the St. Petersburg Metropolitan Section of the National Council of Negro Women Mrs. Bruce has a well-deserved reputation as a woman with a big heart for service. She was elected president of the St. Petersburg Metropolitan Section of NCNW in May of 2016, but her record of community work dates back five decades. She became a founding member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority chapter at her alma mater Florida State University before graduating with her master’s degree in social work and a 34-year career as a social worker for agencies such as the Juvenile Welfare Board, the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (specializing in sexual abuse investigations), and in the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court’s Psychological Services Program. Mrs. Bruce is also a spiritual leader, teaching Sunday School and Vacation Bible School staff at her home church, First Baptist Institutional, while attending early morning service at Greater Mt. Zion AME. With NCNW, she says her goal is to

NCNW held its 32nd Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Awards Breakfast this past January, honoring Brigadier General Dr. Carrie Nero and educator Arthurene Williams, with a keynote by singer Marvin Sapp. Three graduating high school seniors were awarded Educational Incentive Stipends to continue their education: Arianna Bell and Alec’a Ash of Boca Ciega High and Rolando Sims of Lakewood High. Mrs. Bruce counts as an honor that membership has nearly doubled during her tenure. She says, “We are blessed to be a blessing.”

About NCNW The National Council of Negro Women was founded in 1935 by renowned activist and educator Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune to empower black women and help African American communities flourish. The NCNW St. Petersburg Metropolitan Section (SPMS) was founded in 1942 by Mrs. Fannye Ayer Ponder, a close friend of the national founder. Today, the Fannye A. Ponder Council House, where she established the section, is still active. The SPMS is one of 240 sections throughout 32 States with 25,000 members combined. Over the past year, NCNW projects included the inaugural Hatitude Tea & Fashion Show fundraiser for scholarships, the Greater Mt. Zion AME Cross and Anvil Back-to-School Supply Giveaway Program; a Lunch & Learn with Grace Nelson (wife of U.S. Senator Bill Nelson), sponsored by Pinellas County School Board Member/ NCNW member Rene Flowers; and the recent Black Pearls Youth Council 5th Annual Tea and talent showcase.

Dr. Cynthia JolliffJohnson President of the St. Petersburg Chapter of The Links, Incorporated Dr. Jolliff-Johnson received her bachelor and master’s degrees from the University of South Florida and went on to Nova Southeastern University to earn a doctorate in higher education administration while charting a distinguished career as St. Petersburg College (SPC). Her roles there included service as Associate Provost of SPC’s Midtown campus, Director of My SPC Answer Place and Director of Student Success, which included supervising the Counseling and Advising Office and the Career Development Center at SPC’s Gibbs Campus. In 2014, Dr. Jolliff-Johnson retired, but didn’t stop working to empower others to lead

through involvement in initiatives like the Chancellor’s Leadership Seminar and the Higher Education Executive Leadership Forum, and as a past president of the St. Petersburg Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Outside of teaching, jazz is Richardson-Hardy’s favorite pastime – both enjoying and writing about it for several jazz magazines, including interviews with greats such as Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, and Dee Dee Bridgewater.

About The Links

Gathering of Women is the third service organization founded by Richardson-Hardy. In New York, she was a driving force in the creation of a senior citizen dinner program and a youth program.

Founded in 1946, the Links is one of the country’s oldest and largest volunteer organizations. It is made up of women committed to purposeful and transformational community service, as well as “promoting the ideals of friendship.” The Links has 14,000 women members in 285 chapters, located in 41 of the United States and the Bahamas. Chapters globally support service to youth, arts and health programs. In 1987, the St. Petersburg Chapter of the Links was formed by “the vision, tenacity and hard work of 22 women.” Today, the chapter has 23 active members and 14 alumnae members who have partnered with a dozen community organizations to support local programs. Members work with the Academy Prep Center of St. Petersburg to operate the Rosebud Leadership Academy, to nurture girls’ selfconfidence and build self-esteem, and they volunteer with St. Petersburg College’s Women on the Way program. The chapter has raised thousands of dollars for local charities. Keep an eye out for their next fundraising soiree, “Mardi Gras in May” (May 5th at the Kozuba & Sons Distillery, 4 to 8 pm).

About Gathering of Women

Samantha RichardsonHardy Founder of the Gathering of Women When Samantha Richardson-Hardy moved to St. Petersburg from New York, she not only found love and married her husband Curtis Hardy. She quickly found another golden opportunity for leadership. Richardson-Hardy founded The Gathering of Women, Inc. in 2005 as a vehicle for promoting crosscultural alliances for women from all walks of life. She has a rich cultural background herself. The Brooklyn native is a graduate of New York University with a bachelor’s degree in education and a dual master’s degree in education and English literature. She went on to become a graduate-level instructor at NYU for 20 years.

Since its founding 13 years ago, members of this organization have worked to transform the conditions of the community through support projects for education, safety and health. Their goal is “building a city where women, families and communities thrive through shared power that cultivates continual personal growth.” The organization has several initiatives, including the annual Roger & Renee Education Scholarship Awards to high school students excelling in their academic, artistic and athletic abilities, along with Miss Jo’s Garden, a collaborative effort with Pinellas Technical College to give garden-grown fruits and vegetables to people lacking access to adequate healthy food. The organization creates a Christmas Wonderland party that hosts about 400 children and youth annually, ages 1 to 16, for a full-day of fun and games, food, face painting, and Santa giving toys to each young one present. Like its founder, The Gathering of Women is involved in the culture of music. They share it with their boys’ group, Boys of Man, and their girls’ club Flower Girls, named after Pinellas County School Board Chair Rene Flowers. Both groups meet each Saturday at the historic Royal Theatre.

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philosophy she’s already applying to generate wins for Edible Peace Patch, including a new grant from the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg for the Jordan Park Garden Initiative. But Loretta credits her vision for service to her family. The mother of three says her father’s advice is always back of mind, “Preparation is never wasted time.”

About Edible Peace Patch Project

Loretta Monroe Calvin Executive Director, Edible Peace Patch Project She is president and chief strategist of Monroe Strategic Business Solutions in St. Petersburg, a boutique consulting practice in human resources, diversity, and business strategy. Loretta also recently accepted the post of executive director of the Edible Peace Patch Project.

The mission of EPPP is to eliminate poverty as a factor in educational success and diet-related health issues by cultivating healthy minds and bodies. To accomplish its mission, EPPP provides education through hands-on learning, in organic garden beds. The organization operates six schoolyard gardens in south Pinellas County, at Campbell Park Elementary, Fairmount Park Elementary, Lakewood Elementary, Maximo Elementary, Lealman Avenue Elementary, and Gulfport Elementary Sanderlin IB World School.

Loretta’s expertise comes from her 20 years with Tech Data Corporation, a $30 billion global computer distributor, where Loretta held several leadership positions in Sales, Operations, Information Technology and Human Resources. She also led the company’s inaugural diversity and inclusion strategic initiative. Loretta says she’s passionate about her professional career because she can help others maximize greatness. She does that as a public speaker and trainer, and by lending volunteer executive leadership to groups like Dress for Success, Pinellas County Urban League, and the 2020 Plan’s IMPACT St. Pete project, where she chairs an effort to recruit corporations to target hiring and contracting opportunities to community workers and business owners. “Relationships are critical to success at all levels,” Loretta says. It’s a

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Quanette Feazell is honored to be one of the small team who organized the city’s MLK Day commemoration, in her role as Chair of Advantage Village Academy, a non-profit founded by businessman Toriano Parker in 2009, which entered an agreement with the City of St. Petersburg in 2016 to lead the famed parade. Nearly 65,000 spectators gathered for this year’s events, according to AVA, partly due to the all-star line up of six historically black college bands participating, including the legendary FAMU Marching 100 and the Talladega College band. Quanette sees this latest milestone as the product of patience. She began working with AVA as the organization’s treasurer, and was elected president in 2013, before becoming Chair of the AVA board. This is in addition to her role on the City of St. Petersburg Community Police Review Board and her professional post as a concierge officer with USF Federal Credit Union.

“I find great joy and amazing solace giving back to the community. After two brain surgeries, I’ve learned to live life to the fullest and enjoy each day as if it was my last!” she says.

About Quanette and AVA

Quanette Feazell Chairperson, Advantage Village Academy If you visited downtown St. Petersburg on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2019 for the MLK Dream Big Parade and Family Fun Day, you saw the fanfare and creativity on display. But do you know the people behind it?

Quanette holds a BA in Business from the University of South Florida. Apart from her work with AVA, she is a former Chairperson of the TD Cassaway Cancer Awareness 5K Walk by the Winky Wright Foundation. With AVA – which has a mission to “educate, empower and enhance the quality of life for individuals that will promote self-sufficiency, financial stability and economic development” – Quanette has helped forge several firsts for the South St. Petersburg community, including establishing the first youth wrestling team in the Midtown area. Annual events by AVA include a Cancer Awareness Gala to celebrate the lives of those affected by various cancers and a yearly Back-ToSchool event.

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Better options


to change the grade

he community was devastated when the news broke in 2015 of epidemic student failure rates at five South St. Petersburg elementary schools. Since then, students at three of the schools have achieved positive progress. The Power Broker had the opportunity to speak with two of the principals leading the charge. Principals Nikita Reed and Kathleen Young-Parker share their secrets of success and strategies to continue the trends.

Principal Nikita Reed, Melrose Elementary


pushed her to become the principal at a Memphis school that had been failing.

the year they will graduate high school above the classroom door.

With her background as a First Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force and a heart to connect with the community, she worked hard to help the school succeed.

Reed makes sure to give teachers the tools and support they need to succeed as well. She’s added a Teacher of the Month award to the school’s culture, meets frequently with teachers for faceto-face support and appreciation.

Reed came to Melrose after seeing the bleak news of student failure at the five troubled South St. Pete schools. She came down to talk with the superintendent and deputy superintendent, and after two interviews, was hired as a principal, but didn’t yet know which school she would be helping. “It ended up to be Melrose,” Reed says, recalling that when she arrived in 2016, students didn’t have a mindset of coming to school to learn. In fact, many students did prioritize coming to school at all. In addition to poor grades, attendance and behavior problems were prevalent.

With all that she does, Reed shows up early in the morning and stays late after the school day is over. Her motivation? “I just want our children to understand who they are, and believe in themselves. To know that they can do it.”

Principal Kathleen YoungParker, Campbell Park Elementary

“You have to have systems and operations in place for scholars to embrace, and you have to be consistent with that,” Reed says.

Three years ago, Melrose was the worst performing school in the state. Out of the entire student population, 160 children took the state’s standardized exam in 2014. Only six passed both reading and math. Test scores, behavior and attendance have vastly improved since then. The school is at a “C” grade and on pace to earn a “B” by the end of this school year. Principal Reed is a driving force behind the changes. From Memphis, Tennessee, Reed was part of an executive leadership program that 76 | Power Broker magazine

She attacked the non-academic issues first by meeting with parents, teachers and community members, establishing relationships and asking what they wanted the school year to look like. With their answers on sticky notes, she created a shared vision for the culture of Melrose. Today, the school functions as a pathway to success. Use of the word scholars instead of students is because “a scholar is always working,” Reed says. “They’re always presentable, they speak clearly, they have a goal.” The scholars take pride in the new environment, Reed says. She even renamed the cafeteria University Hall. All the teachers have a college wall in their classroom, and their pupils have

As she works through her first year as principal of Campbell Park Elementary, Young-Parker’s goal is to sustain the success the school has already achieved, while helping to accelerate results. With her fourteen years of experience, it won’t be unfamiliar territory. As a St. Petersburg native, YoungParker’s background in education was built in her home community. When she was a teacher, her principal encouraged her to get on the road to take on leadership, and it paid off.

In 2003, Young-Parker took the helm as Lakewood Elementary’s principal. Within her five years there, she and her staff raised the school from an “F” to a “B” grade from the Florida Department of Education. Young-Parker continued to work in several elementary schools until she was asked last year by Pinellas County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Grego to take on Campbell Park. “My first assistant principal job was here at Campbell Park. I actually opened this new building,” Young-Parker says. “So being able to come back to a school that I was very familiar with, I jumped at the opportunity.” When Young-Parker arrived, she found she needed to start from the ground-up. Like her, most of the staff was new. She worked with both them and the veteran staff as a team to redefine their discipline and academic plans. At the start of the year, some students’ test scores were low. But, Young-Parker says, they’ve seen tremendous growth since then, and hope to sustain the hard work of the students. A couple of years ago, only eight or nine percent of their students were proficient. But last year, they doubled that. The staff found that students work best in smaller settings, so in addition to standard classroom learning, they’ve implemented small groups of four or five children. Plus, the school’s reading and math coaches have been a great asset to the teachers and students. Young-Parker’s biggest goals at the end of this school year are to maintain or move up the school’s “C” grade, and to make sure that students feel supported and safe when they attend each day. “It is critical that they are able to succeed in elementary school, middle school, and high school,” she says.

Disston Academy as a True Alternative

Principal Tamika D. Hughes-Leeks, Disston Academy


here are students in Pinellas County with unique needs and circumstances. Different needs call for innovative approaches, and Principal Tamika Hughes-Leeks says they can find that at Disston Academy. Still a fairly new school, the academy opened three years ago with the intent to serve students from eighth grade to senior year, targeting those who are off track by at least two years from where they ought to be, due to attendance issues, which Hughes-Leek says can happen for surprising reasons. Some students have critical medical needs that impact their attendance. Others are caregivers for their parents, or dealing with a transient situation or foster care. Still others may be living through family homelessness. The academy gives students a safe and smaller environment than a traditional school with a flexible schedule for the school year, and staff trained in triage and trauma care for students with special needs or crisis circumstances. Students can get back on track to graduate on time with their academic class through a blend of digital, project based and direct instruction.

teachers and the school from succeeding. She found her passion in leadership when she became a Florida Turnaround Leader under the Southern Education Regional Board. She and several others trained throughout the region in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and other states. “I love a school that has students that need something different, and that is what really drew me to apply for this position. It’s a brand new school, and the district has been really supportive in allowing me to build what they need versus a top-down delivery model,” Hughes-Leeks says. The school’s grade standing shows the hard work Hughes-Leeks and her staff have achieved. The scores are unlike others for traditional schools. Disston Academy has held a standing of “maintaining,” which means they’re improving students’ overall scores and assessments, as well as meeting graduation markers. One goal is to increase the number of students who attend Disston by getting the word out there, Hughes-Leeks says. “We want more kids to come, and to know they have an option.”

“One of the reasons we had to change our school name to Disston Academy is because of the connotation attached to an ESC Center. That labeling implies we’re designed to deal with behavioral challenges exclusively. We are not. Disston is a true alternative center,” Hughes-Leeks says. Hughes-Leeks had been preparing for this type of role for a long time. Early in her career, she taught in South Pinellas at schools that had significant challenges. She later became a staff developer at Gibbs High School to research data and solve problems that blocked students, Power Broker magazine | 00

The Power Broker Media Group and Urban Market Analytics are proud to honor Women’s History Month 2018 with tribute to women who serve, innovate, lead and excel.

The SILK Awards 78 | Power Broker magazine

About: Women’s History Month is an annual celebration of the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. It is celebrated during March in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, corresponding with International Women’s Day on March 8. In the United States, Women’s History Month traces its beginnings back to the first International Women’s Day in 1911.

Timeline of Progress: § In February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued a presidential proclamation declaring National Women’s History Week beginning March 8th. § In 1987, petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress designated the month of March as Women’s History Month. § Since 1988, U.S. presidents have issued annual proclamations designating the month of March as Women’s History Month. § In March 2011, the Barack Obama administration released a report, Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being, tracing the status of women over decades. It was the first comprehensive federal report on women since a 1963 report by the Commission on the Status of Women in 1963.

We present…

2018 SILK Honorees Women who exemplify Service, Innovation, Leadership & extraordinary Kindness

Lounell Britt

Jessie Boyce

Pinellas County Schools Outstanding Educator of the Year (& mathematics teacher at Tyrone Middle)

Dr. Valerie Brimm

Director, Office of Strategic Partnerships/Family and Community Relations Pinellas County Schools

Lisa Brody, Esq.

Lottie Cuthbertson, RN Community Health Nurse Coordinator, Veterans Administration

Director of Professional & Community Outreach, Empath Health

Sandra Gibson

Dr. Deborah Green

Dr. Linda Hogans

Dr. Mendee Ligon

Jo Ann Nesbitt

Angela Rouson

Franca Sheehy

Juanita Suber

Executive Director, Mt. Zion Human Services

Principal, Mt. Zion Christian Academy

Donna Welch

Ann Sherman-White

Arthurene Williams

Executive Director, James B. Sanderlin Family Service Center

Principal Engineer and Director Lean Six Sigma, Jabil

President, Jo Ann Nesbitt Consulting

Program Coordinator, Faith Based Literacy Programs, Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County

Team Leader, Bay Area Legal Services

President & CEO, Earth Mission Ministries, Inc.

Professor, Pinellas Technical College

Retired Executive Director of Retention Administration St. Petersburg College

Retired Educator & Owner, Kidz World Preschool

Karen Davis Pritchett

Dentist, Ligon & Ligon, DDS, PA

Executive Director, Golden Generations

Sara Young

Scholar, University of Central Florida (& Academy Prep Valedictorian)

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TRANSFORMING COMMUNITIES ONE DEGREE AT A TIME Phyllis C. Brown, EdD Assistant Dean/Campus Director Springfield College, School of Professional and Continuing Studies Tampa Bay, Florida Campus


hyllis C. Brown firmly believes activist educators transform communities one degree at a time. Dr. Brown walks her talk, investing more than 30 years working in education and Tampa Bay communities ensuring diversity, inclusion and social justice. She has delivered numerous seminars in cultural competence like, “Managing a Diversity Force and Managing with Emotional Intelligence.” Her leadership naturally mobilizes a call to action with a resilient promise to eliminate educational disparities, and ensure equal access to higher degrees, while advocating for economic and social justice.

At Springfield College, you will not find Dr. Brown in her office. You will find her in the classroom, or the hallway meeting one on one with Springfield’s graduate and undergraduate students.

“Assisting adult learners to realize their academic potential through completing their college education is the most fulfilling part of my job,” said Dr. Brown. She remains committed to ensuring every student gets a high-quality education from Springfield faculty with lived experience and expertise in their fields of study. Dr. Brown’s passion for diverse and inclusive education is practiced by her stewardship in community, purposely connecting stakeholders and expanding internship and corporate fieldwork placement opportunities for Springfield students.

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When asked about sources of inspiration, Dr. Brown says “The job I do is not just a profession. It is my Buddha nature to do this great work.” To further that philosophy, Dr. Brown recently joined the Board of Directors for Turnaround Life, Inc. a Tampa-based nonprofit organization formed to continuously turn problems, deficits, and barriers around within human service systems that serve people living with disease, conflict, addiction, disability, or educational hardship.

Education & Experience Dr. Brown is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island (BA), the Heller School at Brandeis University (MMHS), and the University of Massachusetts Amherst (Ed.D.). During her early years in higher education, she worked with student leadership development as Assistant Dean of Students and diversity/inclusion as the Director of the Intercultural Center at Brandeis University. After receiving her doctorate, Dr. Brown served as assistant professor in curriculum and instruction and technology and education in the School of Education of Lesley University. Dr. Brown also served as the program director of elementary education at Keiser University in Sarasota, Florida, and as director of Undergraduate Studies for Goddard College. Prior to accepting her position with Springfield College, Dr. Brown served as a consultant for Sarasota Government in Sarasota, Florida.

The Moment

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Fa m i l y Po r t ra i t s

Left to right, Linda Marcelli, Attorney Keisha Bell, Cheri Wright Jones and Delquanda Turner. Watch for our spotlight on Linda in the next edition of the Power Broker, for her leadership in education as a social entrepreneur and philanthropist.

Leading in Philanthropy for Social Change “Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.” - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


or three centuries, black women have been at the forefront of philanthropy movements in America. They sowed the financial seeds that created “the black church” as an instrument of social uplift. They funded and staffed many of the country’s first “black schools.” And the wealthy among them gave of their fortunes to feed and house the poor. But it is recent that African American women have accumulated any critical mass in the professional ranks of the mainstream philanthropy community. Nationally, elites like Oprah Winfrey wow us with examples of their largesse. But that tends to gloss over the fact that still too few women (and men) of color are in philanthropic decision-making roles. At least not according to reports by the D5 coalition - an initiative backed by some of the world’s largest foundations

to advance philanthropy’s diversity, equity, and inclusion. D5 data show that after five years of effort, the share of foundation CEOs of color remained unchanged at 8% (from 2011 to 2016), and that still only 1% of foundation grant dollars went to identifiably-black causes and organizations in 2016. Here in Tampa Bay, the Power Broker’s analysis of seven funding organizations shows that only about 7% of their board members are black. None have African American CEOs. And yet…there is progress in the past decade. Black women have at least penetrated the executive ranks of several local funder organizations, while the number of African American board members has nearly doubled, and the amount of grant dollars targeting St. Pete’s black community has grown. Here are some of the women on the forefront of local trends.

Florida; M.S. in Environmental Sciences, Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University; and courses and exams completed toward a Master of Public Health at the University of South Florida.

Cheri Wright Jones A consummate professional and collaborationists, Cheri is one of three Regional Vice Presidents who shepherd the grantmaking and community engagement activities of Allegany Franciscan Ministries, which has granted nearly $88 million to 1,500 organizations serving those most in need, since 1998. Cheri’s purview is Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, as well as leadership of Allegany’s placebased Common Good initiative in Wimauma. Across this territory, she practices her calling to foster physical and mental health, by applying her craft of building the capacity of local communities for change. Cheri also contributes to capacity growth in herself and her peers through speaking engagements and training in professional circles. She has served as a panelist and speaker for the Florida Philanthropic Network, the Southeastern Conference of Foundations, and the Florida Association of Free & Charitable Clinics Conference, among other collaborative platforms.

Vision for Impact “My philosophy is to be of service by making strategic funding recommendations that will impact the lives of marginalized populations, and by creating mechanisms that encourage collaboration, trust, and transparent communication to produce positive health outcomes” About Cheri Education: B.A. in Chemistry and Psychology, University of South

Innovation: Cheri is a PLACES Fellow with the Funders Network for Smart Growth & Livable Communities, a year-long fellowship offering training and best practices to enhance funder grantmaking to be responsive to the needs and assets of low-income communities. She is a recipient of Florida Diversity Council’s Most Powerful & Influential Woman award. Career: Prior to joining Allegany in 2011, Cheri was Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative for six years, and a Project Manager at the Lawton and Rhea Chiles Center, among other policy and systems change leadership roles. Community: Cheri has served as a member and officer with the Moffitt Cancer Center Community Advisory Board, Tampa Metropolitan Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (as Charter Member), Greater Tampa Chapter of Jack & Jill of America (serving in three officer roles), and the Blue Ridge Institute for Community Service Executives. She is an Usher Board Secretary and active member at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church.

Delquanda Turner Convening, listening and leveraging relationships are among the gifts Delquanda brings to Pinellas County’s funder community, through her strategic role as a “connector,” between funders with vast resources, and people who lead communitybased organizations.

Her employer has changed of late, but her philosophy for impact remains the same. Delquanda currently serves as Community Program Officer for the Foundation for a Healthy St. Pete, where she maintains the Foundation’s diverse external relationships, and manages a grant portfolio, in addition to contributing as a thought partner for innovation.

Vision for Impact “My vision is to help achieve equity, which vitally depends on a community that believes in the possibilities, as well as stronger relationships across diverse groups, to generate and share innovative ideas, and use data to articulate needs. I consider myself part of a collaborative of change agents working to eliminate racial and other health disparities.” About Delquanda Hometown & Family: Lifelong St. Pete resident with a “large, proud, supportive” family. Education: Doctoral student, Educational Leadership & Policy program, University of South Florida; and Master’s in Business Administration and Bachelor’s in International Business from Eckerd College. Innovation: Delquanda is a cofounder of the Wrap Around Services (WAS) Collaborative, which reached 100 organizations, at its peak, and relaunched in 2018 after a brief hiatus. Career: Delquanda served as a Community Planning Manager for the Juvenile Welfare Board for nine years, where she grew Community Councils membership and trained and developed tools for non-profits across the county. Prior to that, she worked in corporate management roles. Community: Delquanda is a Take Stock in Children mentor. She serves on the boards of the Leadership St. Pete Alumni Association and Greater Tampa Bay Area Black Child Development Institute, and is a member of the St. Petersburg Chamber Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Board, the Allegany Power Broker magazine | 85

Franciscan Ministries Tampa Bay Grants Committee, and COQEBS’ School Readiness Committee.

University of Central Florida (Psychology) and of Florida State University College of Law. Innovation: Keisha penned and published a youth book on forgiveness, and contributes to the advancement of diversity among funding and policy decision-makers. Career: Prior to her current fulltime caseload, Keisha has worked for the State’s Office of Attorney General, as well as, as private counsel.

Keisha Bell Attorney Bell says it was the diversity of her professional background that led to her appointment to the Foundation for a Healthy St. Pete board in 2016. Her career includes service as a Legal Aide attorney selected to direct a Family Law Project covering five Florida counties, creation of a youth program that hosted 100 school-based conferences, and management of the federally-funded FAB Families program to reduce childhood obesity and diabetes.

Community: Keisha offers pro bono legal services, mentors a student, and volunteers with her church. She is a member of the St. Petersburg Chamber, the Community Planning and Preservation Commission, the Florida Association of Women Lawyers, and the Fred G. Minnis Sr. Bar Association, among other groups. Past community roles included service as Vice President of the Midtown Rotary Club, on the board of the Sanderlin Center, and as a member of the Florida Bar Diversity & Inclusion Committee.

About Keisha Hometown & Family: St. Petersburg, where she has a large connected family. Education: Graduate of the 86 | Power Broker magazine

Vision for Impact “There is a privilege inherent in controlling resources earmarked for communities with limited resources. We must be good stewards, supporting leadership within communities, and following the people’s voices and other research to guide us to where funding is needed. We must keep our focus on equity, not just equality, while continually examining the role of race, gender, and class bias, in institutions and ourselves. Together, we can fight the structural racism at the heart of the physical, mental, and economic health of our communities.” About Katurah Hometown & Family: Born in St. Petersburg as 7th of 11 siblings; mother of two. Education: The first college graduate of her family and first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. from the University of South Florida in 1984.

She is on hiatus from the Foundation board as she prosecutes a campaign for elected office (in the District 70 Florida House race), but Keisha remains active in the community, as a columnist for The Weekly Challenger and active member of civic and business organizations.

Vision for Impact “My vision for making real, sustaining impact in the funding world means proactively promoting and supporting diversity at funding tables, which helps to expand discussions and considerations for diligent monetary allocations.”

& Educators (GRACE) and President of Legacy-56, two nonprofits she initiated to give back to the community after retiring in 2016.

Katurah Jenkins-Hall Her appointment to the board of the Foundation for a Healthy St. Pete (and subsequent election as Vice Chair) was a new facet of Dr. Jenkins-Hall’s decorated career in clinical psychology that included gubernatorial appointment to the Florida Board of Psychology (serving as its chair for eight years), and 30 years as a University of South Florida professor of psychology. Dr. Jenkins-Hall is also CEO of Greater Reach Alliance of Christian Counselors

Innovation: She was the impetus for bringing the Beyond Diversity training to the region, initially as part of the Foundation’s Courageous Conversation about Race series. She recently launched the Legacy-56 Sankofa series, featuring Tony Award-winning director, Kenny Leon. Career: In addition to work with GRACE, expanding culturally and spiritually appropriate mental health services to underserved communities, she is Executive Pastor of New Dawn Restoration Center. Community: Since retiring, she has volunteered as a consultant with the Pinellas County Urban League, and as a guest speaker and trainer.

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Business development program boosts black-owned businesses inTampa Bay

-By Gabrielle Settles

If you live in Tampa Bay and are a black entrepreneur, you might have heard of a small business program that’s too good to pass up. CATCH is a business development program that operates at the Tampa Bay Black Business Investment Corporation (BBIC), and within its first two years the program has helped 44 business owners to graduate with a plan to boost their firms. When they complete the program, participants are given a $2,500 stipend to invest in their business. The concept was developed by BBIC President and CEO, Albert Lee, along with some of their board members. Lee says putting together the program was an answer to a call to create more intensive training for entrepreneurs. But it was missing something. “We wanted to come up with a name, something that we thought represented all of the things people needed to have to participate in the program,” Lee says. Tahisia Scantling, an Independent Business Consultant with BBIC, says the acronym CATCH was developed to mean 88 | Power Broker magazine

Coachable, Action Oriented, Timely, Collaboration and Help. These words would describe the entrepreneurs the BBIC wanted to reach. “With the knowledge and experience we had from meeting with entrepreneurs, we researched curriculum that would help us build a program,” Scantling says.

first group of the stipend until midway through the semester. It came as a welcomed surprise. Renee Edwards was in that first group, and was so committed to her training development that she made an impactful choice for a loved one.

Scantling’s duties include recruiting participants and facilitating the program, which runs over the course of 15 weeks. In weekly classes, participants have direct access to industry experts who teach the courses, such as an attorney or a certified public accountant.

On one class night, Edwards gave Scantling a call that her mother had been admitted to the hospital. Keeping in mind the rule that participants are allowed two absences, Scantling told Edwards to go care for her mother. But Scantling recalls Edwards’ surprising response:

Scantling, says one of the best things about CATCH is the entrepreneurs who are keen to collaborate and learn. In fact, they’re so enthusiastic that they stay behind long after class has ended to keep working together.

“’No, I’m coming to class,’ she said, ‘because if my mom is in the hospital, all I can do is be there with her. But if I’m in class learning, then I can be in a better situation to be able to help take care of my mom.’”

“I literally would have to tell these people that they needed to go home!” Scantling says, laughing.

Edwards remembers that night. The class was covering a subject that helped to improve her skincare business, which wasn’t making revenue before she started with CATCH.

CATCH’s $2,500 stipend is an added bonus. To make sure that entrepreneurs were truly committed to coming to class, Scantling says they chose not to tell the

“I know if this business continues to grow, my mom won’t have to

work. So she won’t have to be sick,” Edwards says. “My goal is to retire her within the next two years. So I needed to be in that class.” Edwards’ mother is doing much better now, and so is her firm. Skin Kandii is an all-natural skincare line with lip-balms, sugar scrubs and more. The company now has five employees. Tiffany Moore is another CATCH graduate, whose company Moore Eventful, LLC, specializes in creating events like birthday parties, corporate career fairs and anniversaries. Moore found out about the program when she initially went into the BBIC office to inquire about business loans. She signed up as soon as program applications became available and was accepted. “It was a classroom setting, but it didn’t make you feel like you were in school,” Moore says. “Every class you learned something different.” Moore gained plenty of experience from her teachers and others in the program. Through networking with program partners, she met influential people who hired her to design their events. Today, Moore books two events a month, and her customer base is growing. “Before I started CATCH, I was already an LLC. But that was just stuff that I researched online,” Moore says. “You need to take some sort of background education, because though you’re reading it, you might not understand it.” CATCH graduate Jamara Forbes used what she learned to specialize in professional event photography and videography. Her business, JAMARA FORBES MEDIA, documents the day of an event, like a wedding, as it progresses. Forbes made the decision to apply for the CATCH program when a friend passed along the information. “There’s really no way to learn everything there is to know, so we have to continuously be involved in training, and it’s up to us to put that knowledge to work,” Forbes says. After she graduated, Forbes networked on social media, and

there’s been a large response for her work. BBIC President Lee says he takes part in as many classes he can, whether it’s to teach or just to chime in. “It exceeded my expectations with regards to the reaction and the excitement from the participants themselves. That part has gone extremely well,” Lee says. Both Lee and Scantling are excited for 2018. This year, the BBIC will get CATCH into Pinellas Technical College as a standard class. Another initiative includes partnering with the 2020 Plan Taskforce and Personal Agenda, LLC, to create an eight-week entrepreneur program for people aged 17-24.

In the Photo SEATED

• Jamara Forbes, JAMARA FORBES MEDIA - Forbes offeres quality event photography and videography. • Renee Edwards, Skin Kandii & More - Edwards and her team produce an all-natural skin care line, including sugar scrubs, lotion bars and more for all skin types. • Tracy Jordan-Dancil, Urban Agency Staffing Consulting, LLC – Dancil and her staff of experienced Human Resource professionals provide staffing services for small firms. • Tenisha Mitchell, Cakes By Tenisha LLC - Mitchell’s desserts are described as made with love, integrity, and “Homemade Goodness!” • Latosha Williams, Sasha’s Boutique - As owner and entrepreneur, Williams provides the latest in fashionable footwear, jewelry and accessories. Notary services also available onsite.

• Delores Givens, Butterfly Village Kids College - As President and Director, Givens goal for Butterfly is to give every child a proper education through this home school program.

• Kenyatta Killins, Meraki Beauti - Killins’ salon specializes in natural and relaxed hair services, and creates a “unique and memorable salon experience with love, creativity and soul.”

• Tahisia Scantling, Director of CATCH – In addition to leading CATCH, Scantling works hands-on with BBIC clients, providing technical assistance, and helping them to obtain capital.

• Erin McFarley, Nature Industries, LLC - This company raises awareness about the benefits of using natural products; it sells products like naturallybased deodorant, clay powder and toothpaste.

• Tiffany Moore, Moore Eventful Moore’s event design company provides a “backdrop to memorable events,” such as birthday parties, corporate events, anniversaries, baby and bridal showers, graduations and other occasions. • Karima Mobley, Kay’s Seafood and More – Mobley’s company prepares a wide variety of fresh made-to-order seafood entrees that are “sure to satisfy your appetite.” • Annie Tyrell, Annie’s Beauty Supply – Always customer friendly in service, Annie’s stocks population, high-demand products to enhance “inner and outer beauty.”

STANDING • Lorielle Holloway, Cultured Books Co. - Holloway’s children’s bookstore gives kids an experience with art, music and picture books.

• Chernique Williams, Finer Fragrances By Chernique – As CEO of this fragrance line, Williams creates sophisticated and styled scents for men and women. • Brittanee Harris, Mia Girl Magic Through her company, Harris provides customized apparel designed to empower and motivate young girls. • Loretta Monroe, Calvin Monroe Strategic Business Solutions – Monroe heads this company as president and chief strategist, consulting in the areas of Diversity & Inclusion and Human Capital for corporate and non-profit clients. • Nicole Gordon, Pretty Faces by Nicky - A freelance makeup artist, Gordon styles her customers with a variety of beauty services such as mink eyelashes, eyebrow highlighting and more. Power Broker magazine | 89

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Businesses Thrive Here!

We are here to support your goals! The Business & Industry Training team at Pinellas Technical College offers the following resources to all business and industry partners in Pinellas County: • • •

Professional training delivered by credentialed instructors and subject matter experts. Flexible and efficient training delivery to meet your operating schedule and location requirements. Training may be scheduled at your location or on our campuses. Cost effective pricing for your training investment.

Contact a Business and Industry Team member to start the process of improvement for your company. We will be glad to explain the many ways Pinellas Technical College’s Business and Industry Training team can support your company or organization through our training solutions. Clearwater Campus: Kyesha Robinson - 727-538-7167 ext. 2002 St. Petersburg Campus: Amy Preston – 727 893-2500 ext. 2623

Life Enrichment

Professional Development       

Microsoft Office Suite QuickBooks CPR/First Aide Electronics Phlebotomy Private Security Officer – Class “D” Childcare Training/Credentialing

     

Home Maintenance – Electrical Home Maintenance - Plumbing Jewelry Making and Repair Photography Urban Agriculture – Composting Urban Agriculture - Gardening

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CITY OF MIAMI GARDENS WOMEN’S IMPACT LUNCHEON Friday, March 16, 2018 11:00AM to 2:00PM Florida International University Biscayne Bay Campus, 3000 NE 151st Street North Miami, FL 33181


Back by popular demand, in honor of Women’s History Month, and in conjunction with the Jazz in the Gardens music festival, the City of Miami Gardens presents the Women’s Impact Luncheon as an inspirational experience designed to inspire women to live centered, active, fulfilled and balanced lives. And men are welcome and celebrated too. Visit www. for more info.

Thursday, March 15, 2018 8:00AM to 5:00PM Florida International University Biscayne Bay Campus, 3000 NE 151st Street North Miami, FL 33181 The 13th Annual Jazz in The Gardens presents FMAC - Film, Music, Art and Culture - providing professional development and networking opportunities for those passionate about art and culture, to include artists, musicians, poets, filmmakers, artist management, community and economic development professionals, students, educators, and others working in the arts and cultural space. Visit www. for more info. 

REGGAE RISE UP MUSIC FESTIVAL Friday, March 16, 2018 at 12:00PM To: Sunday, March 18, 2018 at 8:00PM Vinoy Park, 701 Bayshore Drive NE St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • $90 Visit for more info. 


JAZZ IN THE GARDENS OPENING NIGHT PARTY Friday, March 16, 2018 8:00PM to 1:00AM Hard Rock Stadium Hyundai Club, 347 Don Shula Dr, Miami Gardens, FL 33056 The Official Jazz in the Gardens Opening Night Party Featuring the S.O.S. Band will take place at the luxurious Hyundai Club located inside Hard Rock Stadium. Visit www. for more info. 

Friday, March 16, 2018 6:00PM to 11:00PM Albert Whitted Park, 480 Bayshore Dr SE, St. Petersburg, 33701 Event features include Free Admission, Adult Beverages Available for Purchase, and more. Knocker Ball Tampa Bay will be onsite ($5/5min) with beautiful waterfront seating, picnic chairs and blankets welcomed. Children’s playground on site.

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2018 JAZZ IN THE GARDENS Saturday, March 17, 2018 7:00PM to 10:00PM Sunday, March 18, 2018 2:00PM to 8:00PM Hard Rock Stadium 347 Don Shula Drive, Miami Gardens, FL 33056 CELEBRATE 20 YEARS OF SOBRIETY FOR DARRYL ROUSON Saturday, March 17, 2018 1:00PM to 5:00PM Palladium Theater, 253 5th Ave N, St. Petersburg, FL 33701

2018 Jazz In The Gardens features Anita Baker, Chaka Khan, Smokey Robinson, Fantasia, Joe and more. Visit www. for more info.

AKA AKADEMY GREAT DEBATE Tuesday, March 20, 2018 7:00PM to 9:00PM Palladium Theater, 253 5th Avenue North, St. Petersburg, FL 33701 The AKA AKAdemy will host its inaugural Great Debate program for middle and high school students in Pinellas County.  

Celebrating 20 years of Sobriety for Darryl Rouson and others on this journey “One day at a time!” You don’t want to miss this afternoon concert featuring Cleo Heart, Siobhan Monique and the phenomenal Shawn Brown! Tickets available at Galleria 909, Mt. Zion Human Services, Parker Financial Services (833 22nd St S) and on Eventbrite.

THE BAY AREA GOSPEL MUSIC FESTIVAL Saturday, March 24, 2018 12:00PM to 6:00PM Perry Harvey Sr. Park, 1000 E Harrison St, Tampa, FL 33602 SPRING INTO QUEENING: MOTHER & DAUGHTER EDITION BONFIRE BRAINSTORMING, ROUND 2 Saturday, March 17, 2018 5:30PM to 8:30PM 10780 64th Ave N, Seminole, FL 33772 By Popular Demand! The Bonfire Brainstorming event is back for round 2. Come on out and enjoy yourself with other entrepreneurs as we network and brainstorm. Round 1 of this event was spectacular and those in attendance want to do it again.

Sunday, March 18, 2018 3:30PM to 5:30PM 6827 1st Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33707

Enjoy a beautiful Saturday afternoon enjoying some praise and worship with Gospel royalty Vicki Winans as your Host. You will be treated to Choirs, Comedians, Performers & other entertainment acts. Visit for more info.

Enjoy a fun-filled as well as inspiring Mother & Daughter team building/bonding event! This event will include motivational speakers, team building activities, goal board extravaganza, food, FREE giveaways, entertainment and much more! Brought to you by the Rising Phoenix Firm, where helping other rise to the greatest level of confidence is in our DNA! Visit www. for more info.  5TH ANNUAL NATURAL HAIR, HEALTH & BEAUTY EXPO Saturday, March 24, 2018 12:00PM to 8:00PM USF University Center, 200 6th Ave South, St. Petersburg, FL

Prepare for a cultural celebration of beauty and get ready as we welcome the community to come out again and celebrate a family fun filled day of educational classes and workshops, live entertainment, and expert Q & A’s, natural hair tutorials. Then experience the Beautifully Textured Hair & Fashion event of the Spring. Visit www.naturalhairexpostpete. com for more info. 

SOUTHEAST REGIONAL BLACK CHAMBER OF COMMERCE CONFERENCE (SERBCC) Thursday, April 12, 2018 at 6:00PM Saturday, April 14, 2018 at 1:00PM Port of Tampa, 651 Channelside Drive, Tampa, FL 33602 SERBCC will bring together business owners of all levels to engage in a high-level networking and educational conference. This conference is hosted by the State of Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana and will attract participates from across the United States. Local host Manasota Black Chamber of Commerce Young Black Professionals will bring you an engaging networking mixer on Thursday, April 12th and Saturday, April 14th will be an exclusive Match Making event hosted by the Port of Tampa. For more info visit

2018 BLACK WRITERS ON TOUR Saturday, April 21, 2018 9:00AM to 6:00PM Carson Community Center 801 E. Carson Street Carson, CA 90746 The purpose of this Tour is to promote literacy awareness, to give exposure to African-American authors, writers, and to motivate, and develop aspiring new writers and authors. To showcase Black Businesses, provide exposure and to increase their sales. For more info contact Black Writers on Tour (323)750-3592 or www. 

ANNIE’S BEAUTY SUPPLY’S 5TH ANNUAL STORE ANNIVERSARY Sunday, March 25, 2018 12:00PM to 6:00PM Annie’s Beauty Supply, 920 22nd St. S., St. Petersburg, FL 33712 Let the countdown begin... The big 5 is on its way!! Enjoy the Music, Discounts, Networking, 3 Mins of Fame, Vending (Space Limited) *Must bring own table. Gift Bag Sponsors Wanted. 

2018 TAMPA BAY CARIBBEAN CARNIVAL AMERICAN STAGE GALA UNDER THE STARS Friday, April 20, 2018 6:00PM to 9:00PM Demens Landing Park, Bayshore Dr. & 2nd Ave. S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701 American Stage’s Gala Under the Stars is one of the Tampa Bay area’s most memorable annual events. The evening features gourmet dinner and wine, lively and exciting auctions and the openingnight performance of the American Stage in the Park production. To book now or become an American Stage in the Park sponsor, visit GALA, or (727) 823-1600 Ext. 207, or

TLC AT BUSCH GARDENS FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL 2018 Sunday, April 8, 2018 8:00PM to 11:00PM Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, 10165 N McKinley Dr, Tampa, FL 33612 TLC Performs Live. Visit for more info. 

Saturday, April 21, 2018 10:00AM to 7:00PM Florida State Fairgrounds 4800 U.S. 301, Tampa, FL 33610 Vending info: (917) 916-2094 or (813) 325-5584 Email: Tampa Bay Caribbean Carnival 2018 features The Parade, top artists, Dj’s from the Caribbean, great food and family fun! Visit www. tampabaycaribbeancarnival. com for more info.  AFRIKIN® 2018 ART • CULTURE • COMMUNITY Saturday, May 19, 2018 6:00PM to 11:00PM AFRIKIN® 2018 is coming, and will hopefully do for you, and the world beyond, what it has done for the community that produced it: leave it more beautiful than when we inherited it. AFRIKIN® (pronounced ah-free-kin) is a platform that curates the arts and culture of people of color, as we advance our ingenuity and promise across the Diaspora. Visit for more info.

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S t. p e t e r s b u r g C o l l e g e

building brighter futures For more than 90 years, St. Petersburg College has inspired students to make their dreams a reality through education. Today, we continue that mission by offering 100+ industry-based programs that lead to a brighter future through highwage, in-demand jobs.

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Power Broker Women's History Month 2018  

Honoring Women’s History Month 2018, this commemorative edition of the Power Broker magazine features “17 Women Who Slayed in 2017 & other o...

Power Broker Women's History Month 2018  

Honoring Women’s History Month 2018, this commemorative edition of the Power Broker magazine features “17 Women Who Slayed in 2017 & other o...