Woman To Woman With Joanne The Magazine 2022 Special Edition

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March/April 2022 Special Edition





more inside…






March/April 2022 Special Edition

IN THIS ISSUE 05 Joanne’s Desk 12 Shower Power

Publisher & Editor Joanne Bell

15 The Value Of A Thank You Note 17 Willie Jones

Assistant Editor Dr. Brenda Wilder

19 Funmi Franklin 20 Pauline Rogers

Layout Design Ahmed Alauddin Staff Writers Dr. Brenda Wilder Kaitlyn Anderson Staff Photographers Mya Bell

21 Dr. Lucille Green Dr. Flonzie Brown Wright

Features 22

22 Dr. Flonzie Brown Wright 27 Kolean Sanders

Dr. Flonzie Brown Wright

30 Donna Ladd 32 Eva Jones

Virtual Assistant Christine Davis

34 Olympia Smith 36 Nicole Edwards

Website womantowomanwithjoanne.com

38 Latisha Holmes

Subscribe bit.ly/joannebellmag

40 Shan Anderson 42 LaJessica Gatlin 44 Andrea Washington

All rights reserved. No portion of Woman to Woman with Joanne may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher. The management of Woman to Woman with Joanne is not responsible for opinions expressed by its writers. Woman to Woman with Joanne maintains the unrestricted right to edit or refuse all submitted material. All advertisements are subject to approval by the publisher. The production of Woman to Woman is funded by advertising and sponsorship.

45 Stephanie Minor Olympia Smith

46 Lynette Suttlar 47 Toni Jenkins 48 Earlandrius Parker

Latisha Holmes

Lynette Suttlar

622 Duling Avenue Jackson MS 39216

Toni Jenkins

COTACT WITH US 601-398-6733 woman2woman.joanne@yahoo.com

Joanne’s Desk


Hello my beautiful people. It is my honor to share our special edition, honoring our Mississippi Legends and our Mississippi Women Veterans. All have fought in some form or fashion for our freedom and liberty and we are so grateful. It is our pleasure to share their accomplishments with you and to give them their flowers while they live.

And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman? Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, “intellect”] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Below, I share the poem/speech Ain’t I A Woman by Sojourner Truth with you because it shows our resilience and strength. But it also gives way to us being able to show our weaknesses. We all long to be seen and heard, to be loved and valued. Take a minute to read the words below: Ain’t I A Woman? Sojourner Truth (1851) Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about? That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well!

Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ‘cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him. If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them. Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say. You are amazing and you are valued. Love ya much! Joanne


Dr. Brenda Wilder Assistant Editor

Dr. Amanda Lucas Staff Writer

Christine Davis Virtual Assistant

Kaitlyn Anderson Staff Writer

Mya Bell Staff Photographer



architectural • commercial • events • nature • pets • photojournalism • portraits • wildlife






In This Issue Special Edition 2022

Woman To Woman With Joanne Presents The Mississippi Legends Ball



In This Issue Special Edition 2022

Woman To Woman With Joanne Presents The Mississippi Legends Ball





Congratulations To

Woman To Woman With Joanne on your many achievements.

• Robert L. Gibbs

• Jamie D. Travis

• Omar L. Nelson

• Shunda Baldwin

• Justis R. Gibbs, II

• Tommy E. Brown

• Monique Anderson 201 East Capitol St. Suite 1801 Jackson, MS 39201 601-487-2631 www.gibbstravis.com



Power of a shower Flowood Realtor converts food truck to mobile shower unit for homeless

Source: Wilton Jackson, Mississippi Clarion Ledger, Dec. 26, 2019

Teresa Renkenberger opens the doors in back of what used to be a mobile food truck. Instead of sandwiches, two separate shower stalls come into view. Known as the Shower Power Mobile Shower Unit, the vehicle, complete with a new paint job of blue bubbles, includes a privacy door, hot and cold water, body soap, shampoo, sink and mirror. The Flowood Realtor has started making the unit available to those who are homeless, offering free hot showers. At the present time, Renkenberger makes her weekly stop at Smith Park in downtown Jackson on Mondays, but she hopes to increase the frequency and travel to other areas. “They are honestly just like us but they got down on their luck,” says the 51-year-old Renkenberger. “A lot of them don’t wake up and say they want to be homeless. It makes you think it could be me or you but, by the grace of God, it is not.”

divorced. “If were not for those people, I am 100 percent sure we would have been in a shelter or homeless,” Renkenberger said. “That’s why I never look down on anyone and I am always humble. I cannot save the world but I can cast a stone and make many ripples.” Renkenberger said her role as a Realtor allows her to better understand those who are homeless. “It does not matter the what size house you buy, I get on everybody’s level because I’ve been in everybody’s role. I’ve been almost homeless, I’ve been where I could not afford anything. So I think I’ve done well in getting the homeless to trust me, because I can relate to where they are in their life right now.” Renkenberger has never been

Galloway United Methodist Church’s Grace Place serves the downtown Jackson homeless population on a regular basis. It estimates the city’s downtown sheltered homeless population to be between 800-900 people. Renkenberger herself recalls that as a child, she and her mother, a waitress, lived with friends for a long period of time after her parents



involved in any kind of organized effort to help the homeless before getting the mobile shower off the ground. “I’ve kind of always did my own thing,” she said. “I’ve always offered them something to eat and a bottle of water if I see any them at a stop sign. If I don’t have a bottle of water or food, better believe I am going to give them some money. I just can’t imagine them sitting there with nobody.” A visit with Benny Flowers, a man who is homeless, was the inspiration for the mobile shower. Roughly two years ago in the freezing cold, Renkenberger and her family were driving down Lakeland Drive where they spotted Flowers pushing a wheelchair. They pulled over at a store and waited for Flowers to get there to give him a bag of warm things and snacks. Then, a year later, Renkenberger and Flowers met for a second time while she was driving down Lakeland Drive. “He remembered me. I asked him had he eaten and he said no. So, I went and got him McDonald’s and we’ve built a friendship. So, anytime I am near Lakeland Drive, I pick him up some lunch and take it to him.” Renkenberger describes it this way on Shower Power’s website: “After spending a lot of time with a homeless person who became my friend, I asked: ‘Benny, how long has it been since you’ve had a shower?’ His response: ‘A year, Ms. Teresa.’ When I left Benny that

day, my mind was racing. Walking up the steps to our house, the idea hit me of the need for a mobile shower unit, so the process started right away. “I went back few days later to visit Benny and told him my idea. He was so happy. He said, ‘more than food, I need a shower.’” She adds that visits to shelters don’t always mean access to a shower. “Everything was quick,” Renkenberger explains. “I had the idea, bought a used truck and needed someone to build the showers.” Kevin Poe, of Florence, stepped up to do just that. “Whatever she needs, I have been extremely grateful to help,” the 46-year-old said. When Renkenberger brings her mobile shower unit to Smith Park, she also provides towels and hygiene items. She offers hugs, but doesn’t pry. “I don’t want them to be scared,” Renkenberger said. Showers are limited to 15 minutes if there is a line; otherwise, there is no time limit. “When you first see them, they look embarrassed,” Renkenberger said. “When they get out the shower, they are totally different from when they got in.” Shellie Pickering, 47, of Jackson, was one the first to use the mobile shower. She battled depression and anxiety and relied on friends for an opportunity to take a shower. “When you get to a place where you don’t have a roof over your head, you get to a place where you don’t trust anyone. So, meeting Teresa and getting a bath was an experience like day and night,” she said. The shower, she adds, came just after she had received a Thanksgiving meal. “Knowing that you need one is a little embarrassing and it is a pride issue,” Pickering said. “But, her vibe, her hugs, the smile on her face when she meets you, it’s like a bonding experience. A lot of people would be standoffish but she treats you like a friend,” Pickering said of Renkenberger. “She gives you hope

and reminds you that some people still have a heart in this world.” Renkenberger understands. She recalls one particular man who wouldn’t make eye contact. “He looked straight down, he was dirty, gloomy and I did not get to welcome him how I wanted to,” Renkenberger said. The man showered for 40 minutes. When he got out, he was totally different, she said. “His eyes were bright, he was smiling and he was like, ‘I cannot tell you how good I feel,’” Renkenberger said, holding back tears. “We gave him clothes and it’s moments like these that remind you, this is why I did this. It was very humbling.” Renkenberger also recalls a woman who had been employed for 32 years as a cashier at a convenience store. “She always knew she was a couple of paychecks away if something happened and she would not know what to do if she became homeless,” Renkenberger said.After she took a shower, Renkenberger said, she began to open up more about her struggles. While Renkenberger doesn’t pry, she also wants to be able to assist in other ways. “We don’t want to just give them a shower and say bye,” Renkenberger said. She’s learned of one other key need. “They all said laundry,” Renkenberger said. In addition to trying to get another truck with washers and dryers, there are plans in the works for haircuts. “We want to have people who can direct them to where they need to be to get on with their life,” Renkenberger said. “We need to do what we can to help them and not turn our backs.” Shower Power is a 501c(3) tax-exempt organization and has local sponsors. To learn more about assisting or donating, visit showerpower.ms.



"Fear was my Friend" addresses the disappointments in life that creates fear in our spirit. Readers will identify with the author's experiences and be encouraged to disown the fear that hinders us from accomplishing our best." Brenda Wilder 14


THE VALUE OF A WELL-WRITTEN THANK-YOU NOTE By Jill Griffin, founder of Jill Griffin Executive Learning Growing up in the South in the ‘60s, I was taught from an early age that sending a handwritten thank-you note expressing appreciation for a kindness was something you just did. Early on, my mom bought my sister and me our own boxes of stationery and instructed us in the art and value of saying thank you. (Name the kindness expressed to you, how it made you feel, and why it mattered.) It turns out she was right. A recent New York Times story cites some well-heeled academic research that confirms it. It quotes Amit Kumar, a University of Texas professor who studies well-being. He says that most of us underestimate the impact of sending an actual note rather than an electronic text or email. He says that after receiving thank-you notes and filling out questionnaires about how it felt to get them, many said they were “ecstatic,” scoring the happiness rating a 4 out of 5. To be clear — the notes in question were not your typical “thanks for the Amazon gift card.” Rather, the 100 or so participants in each of the four experiments were asked to write a short “gratitude letter” to a person who had affected them in some way. Sample letters included notes of appreciation to fellow students and friends who offered guidance through the college admissions process, job searches and tough times. In lab experiments, Dr. Kumar observed that it took most subjects less than five minutes to write the letters. Just

five minutes to make another person feel ‘ecstatic’! It’s easy to use the excuse of being busy, but even very busy and successful leaders find time to pen these kinds of notes. When Doug Conant became CEO of Campbell’s Soup, the company was struggling. It had lost half of its market value, and sales were in decline. Morale was at an all-time low. Conant inproved that by doing some very simple and straightforward things that are probably not being taught in

any MBA class. For one thing, he put on a pedometer and set out to walk the Camden, New Jersey, facility and speak to everyone who worked there. Everyone! Not a casual “how are you?” exchange, but a sit down visit to find out how they really felt about their work, the facilities, etc. He accomplished that gargantuan task, getting to know and gain the confidence of his people turned the company around in every way. Conant also wrote over 30,000 personal notes to employees and

others he crossed paths with on his ten year journey, both inside the company and out. That alone is remarkable given that Campbell’s had around 20,000 employees at the time. People were touched, and the workforce became more and more engaged in the Campbell’s mission and their particular part of accomplishing it. When Conant retired a decade or so later, Campbell’s was a healthy and thriving organization. It’s hard not to ask how he did it. After all, he was the CEO, and I’m guessing that he had a few other things to do besides writing thank you notes. He did it because it mattered to him, and he knew the impact each one would have, so he made time for it. I can tell you that notes like these are always well-received. I will only add this: Getting the note to the receiver in a timely manner is as important as sending it in the first place. I recall reading that the late Princess Diana was known to write a note as soon as she returned home from an event, and it was posted promptly. Princess Diana, Doug Conant, and Professor Kumar’s results prove my mother’s admonition that an expression of kindness in this crazy world still makes a difference. Thanks, Mom! Source: https://www.forbes.com/ sites/jillgriffin/2018/08/07/thevalue-of-a-well-written-thank-younote/?sh=7131ef186500



Community. Activism. Education. Women for Progress aims to raise awareness, educate and connect individuals to activism on a wide range of issues including Political Participation, Economic Development, Education and Cultural Awareness.

Congratulations Willie Jones, President Women For Progress, MS Woman To Woman With Joanne Presents The 4th Annual Mississippi Legends Ball Honoree

Women for Progress of Mississippi, Inc. was chartered on May 11, 1978 as a non-profit, non-partisan community improvement organization of actionoriented, influential, and talented individuals. Under the leadership of Mrs. Dorothy T. Stewart, founder and first president, Women For Progress' mission was to become a catalyst for change through Awareness, Advocacy & Action.

Women for Progress Radio Network womenforprogressradio.com www.womenforprogress.net 16



Dependable Source Corp. Center for Community & Workforce Development provides workforce solutions to the transportation industry by providing a set of interconnected solutions to meet the workforce needs of Mississippians. DSC works to provide workers with the skills necessary for higher wages and a sustained workforce. It includes education and skills development, as well as addressing the hiring demands of employers. Our commitment is to create good career opportunities and help companies maintain an adequate supply of qualified employees. Willie Jones has been a leader in the transportation and staffing industries, supplying experienced, professional and DOT certified commercial drivers to manufacturers, distributors and motor carriers throughout the South. Since 1995, she has been known as a respected leader in the transportation industry. Her organization was recognized in 2016 as one of the Largest Minority Owned Businesses in Mississippi by the Mississippi Business Journal and its president, Top 50 Women in Business 2013. DSC has established a brand in the transportation industry, forming DSC Training Academy in 2000, a Commercial Truck Driver Training School

with locations in Greenville, Tupelo and Jackson, MS. Willie Jones became the first African American women in Mississippi to establish a truck driver training school. It now operates its sole location at its workforce development center at 3906 I-55 South Frontage Road, Jackson, MS. For over eight years (2011-2019), Mrs. Jones provided quality in-home care to seniors and other clients who needed help with the activities of daily living. Through these efforts her agency enriched the lives of clients as they enabled them to maintain the highest possible level of independent living in their own home for as long as possible, in addition to providing jobs for women in Mississippi.In 2018, Mrs. Jones was selected as one of Mississippi’s Top CEOs by MS Business Journal. Mrs. Jones believes good workforce development that leads to better paying jobs and a highly skilled workforce uplifts people, families, communities and the Mississippi economy. Willie Jones is married to Harold Tyree Jones (Retired USDA, Deceased July 2020). Together, they are the parents of two children and five grandchildren. Jones is an avid golfer, traveler and community advocate.



2018 - Selected as one of Mississippi Top CEOs MS Business Journal 2013 - 50 Leading Businesswomen in Mississippi (Top 10 Finalist) 2016 - Largest Minority Owned Businesses List MS Business Journal Leadership Greater Jackson Graduate, 2012-2013 Member, Leadership Greater Jackson Alumni Association Member/Graduate, Leadership Mississippi 2014 Former Chair, Jackson Greater Chamber Vision 2022, Core City Small Business Committee Board Member, Margaret Walker Center, Jackson State University State Team Member, National Skills Coalition, Support Services Academy Director, Mississippi Coding Academies, Jackson, MS Board of Directors, Mississippi Coding Academies 2019 Businesswoman of the Year, Our Mississippi Magazine Member, Jackson Rotary Club International Board Member, Jackson Arts Council Hinds County Economic Development Authority, Board Member, At Large Women’s Foundation of MS, 2018 Women of Vision Award 2019 EPWA Businesswoman Honoree 2019 Dr. Jessie Bryant Mosley Peacemaker Visionary Award 2020 Candace Award for Economic Development,

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The National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. (Central MS Chapter) Graduate, Millsaps College, Public Management Draughon’s Business School - Office Administration Santa Monica College - Accounting Graduate, SEDI – State Executive Development Institute –Stennis Institute, MS State University President (2010 - Present), Women for Progress of Mississippi, a community service organization founded in1978, www.womenforprogress.net. Creator & Co-Host of Women for Progress Radio Network (Radio Programming & Podcasts) Mission: To be a catalyst for change in Mississippi by informing and educating Mississippi communities on the policies that affect our city and state. Creator & Host, The Working Woman Report, radio programming to highlight the work of women throughout the state of Mississippi and part of the Women for Progress Radio Network. Through the WFP organization, launched Lunch& Learn. The Women for Progress Lunch & Learn was created to generate an open structure for information flow. Whether the topic is politics, education, economic development or cultural advancement these gatherings result in motivating, inspiring and engaging participants for needed, valued and successful community improvement. The goal is to inform, network, exchange ideas and strengthen communities. Member, Anderson United Methodist Church

3906 I-55 SOUTH FRONTAGE ROAD • JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI 39212 (601) 351-5858 info@drivingyourfuturems.com • www.drivingyourfuturems.com



FUNMI FRANKLIN Funmi “Queen” Franklin is a spiritualist, healer, love ambassador, wedding officiant and even a notary public. Her spiritual consultations, Queen Sessions, assists her clients with identifying and navigating their individual paths to their higher selves. She is the owner of Queen Franklin’s Closet, a one stop shop for spiritual goodies. She’s the Founder/Principal for HATHOR, LLC, the parent company to Thick And Proud SistersTAPS - a plus size women’s empowerment and liberation organization; Black Women: Unfiltered- a collective of women monologists/poets/speakers; and founder of SoulShine Spiritual Wellness Conference which just had it’s inaugural event this year in January. Queen serves on the steering committee for Mississippi Black Pages and is also co-owner of The Kundi Collective with her husband, Brad Franklin. She’s committed to

freedom, liberation, healing and living out loud for all, especially black women. Hathor, Incorporated is a company started out of a necessity to promote and advocate for women’s rights and to build sisterhood within our community. Through the nonprofit leg, Sisters Increasing Positive Progression, Inc, we stand to educate women on life skills and to promote and encourage self-sufficiency as it relates to progression. Through the second leg of this company, Thick And Proud Sisters (TAPS) we will focus on brining plus size women to the forefront of society. The TAPS team, hand picked by Queen, is a group of experts who teach full framed women how to walk the runway and encourage them to find the most beautiful place within them so that the world no longer sees their size but their substance.



PAULINE ROGERS leading to appearances on CBN-the 700 Club, The Link, The Word Network, and TBN-Trinity Broadcast Network, as well as acknowledgment from numerous universities, magazines, and local newspapers.

For more than 35 years, Pauline Rogers has been a noteworthy leader in the Criminal and Social Justice space. While providing mentoring for the incarcerated population, she also facilitates reentry housing and services upon release from prison.

Pauline was recently honored as one of the Top 6 Remarkable Women in America and named winner of the Mississippi 2021 Remarkable Woman award by Nexstar Television.

Pauline is a giant, not simply for the nearly 6 feet of physical height, but because her very life is one of rock-hard resilience. Having overcome sexual abuse as a child, she further witnessed the killing of her father at the hands of her mother, in a desperate act of self-defense. Still a child herself, amidst unspeakable tragedy, Pauline became mired in a place of mental and physical trauma in the coming years. As the oldest of 11 siblings, Pauline, urged by her grandmother, shouldered responsibility for the younger children. Taking this burden seriously, her young brain worked overtime, spinning creative scenarios for how to keep the family going. She pored through local newspapers seeking the nearest funerals, and then gathered the little ones. This was not to grieve for the newly departed but to feed her siblings from the heaping tables of food at the funeral repast. Pauline’s desire to help herself and her siblings inevitably led to a lifestyle of stealing, which ultimately landed her in prison for shoplifting. It was in the cages behind steel walls that her mission and life’s work would unfold. She became assistant to the prison


Chaplain, evolving as the go-to person in prison for helping other incarcerated individuals. This drive still lived within Pauline after her prison sentence ended. Now, 35 years later, she continues to provide services and resources to those facing life after prison, including housing for newly released women. Her work also encompasses care for children with an incarcerated parent, providing camps, school supplies, direct services to caregivers, and establishing support systems within their communities. Pauline is a walking gentle giant in the daily lives of those in her care, seeing value in each individual regardless of background, race or nationality. This passion birthed and continues to drive the Reaching & Educating for Community Hope (RECH) Foundation,


With an impressive decades-long dedication to advocating for criminal justice transformation, Pauline and her husband Frederick proudly hold the only zero percent recidivism rate by ex-offenders transitioning through their programs. This comes from a unique perspective, with both being formerly incarcerated and knowing firsthand the challenges, barriers and needs facing a person coming out of the Mississippi prison system. With that insight, the couple customizes the necessary support for each person to successfully transition through the rigors of reestablishing a positive, productive lifestyle after the trauma of incarceration. A self-described Solutionist, and Justice General Pauline Rogers knows that she alone is not the ultimate solution for problems – but is instead a committed “ingredient” in every problem that comes her way. She uses the hashtags #solutionist and #iamaningredient, and #justicegeneral influenced by her passion and belief.

DR. LUCILLE GREEN Dr. Green received her Doctorate of Philosophy Degree from Jackson State University. Dr. Green also received her Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Business from Jackson State University. Dr. Green completed her Elementary and Secondary education from Hinds and Madison Counties School Districts. Dr. Green recently completed certification in Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” Dr. Green served as a Board Member of (NAAAS) National Association of African American Studies and Affiliates. She has presented in more than a dozen Educational Conferences. Dr. Green is a professor and public speaker. She is called upon to participate in various groups and civic organizations. Dr. Green’s peers refer to her as a lifelong learner. Upon completion of her doctorate; she accepted an offer to travel to Monrovia, Liberia in September, 2011. Dr. Green spent ten months in West Africa where she served as an Assistant Professor at Cuttington University and an Educational Specialist at one of the Rural School District in Monrovia, Liberia. Dr. Green is a published author and continues to seek ways to improve her skills and abilities. Her most recent accomplishment was the receipt of The Master of Arts Degree in Theology Wesley Biblical Seminary May 2, 2020. Dr. Green believes to be effective in Ministry, one must be prepared. She

believes II Timothy 2:15; “Study to show thyself approved of God, a Workman who need not to be ashamed; rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” Dr. Green is presently employed at Jackson State University as an Adjunct Professor in the School of Lifelong Learning/Interdisciplinary Studies. Dr. Green’s most rewarding experience of her entire working career was that of working as Seniors College’s Coordinator. This allowed her to interact with the senior population 55 years and older through enrichment, educational and engaging activities. Dr. Green is committed to educating the whole individual (Mind, Body and Spirit). Her “Motto” is: “If I can Help Somebody as I Pass Along, If I can Cheer Somebody with a Word or Song, If I can show somebody, he/she is traveling wrong; then her Living Shall not Be in Vain.” Dr. Green’ hobbies are: Cooking, Quilting, Crocheting and Canning. Dr. Green is the proud mother of four adult children: Chakita R. Jackson, Willie Jerome Green, Karl Michael Green and Dwayne V. Green. She has three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Dr. Green believes that learning is the key to success, and that it stops at the grave. She is a thinker, a planner and servant. Most of all, she loves the Lord and seeks to please Him.



DR. FLONZIE BROWN WRIGHT Dr. Flonzie Brown Wright is the daughter of Mr. Frank and Mrs. Littie Dawson Brown and was born in Farmhaven, MS. Both siblings, Sydney and Frank, Jr., are deceased. She is the mother of three children, Cynthia. Edward, Jr., and Lloyd. Her son Edward is also deceased. She is best known as a civil rights activist, educator, author, and longtime humanitarian who worked with many national humanitarians including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the March Against Fear in 1966, among many other accomplishments.

Civil rights activist, educator, and author Dr. Flonzie Brown Wright

Dr. Flonzie Brown-Wright has been a voice for civil rights for 59 years. A native of Mississippi, she has served her state and the country in many leadership roles over the years and has worked alongside several humanitarian leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ambassador Andrew Young, Marian Wright Edelman, Constance Slaughter Harvey, Alice Walker, and Judge Reuben Anderson. Dr. Brown-Wright joined the civil rights movement in 1963, after the assignation of Medgar Evers and was appointed the branch manager of the Canton, Miss., NAACP office, y his brother Charles Evers. In that role she helped to register thousands of African Americans to vote and testified before a congressional subcommittee on enforcement of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. After James Meredith was shot during the March Against Fear in 1966, Dr. Brown-Wright worked with Dr. King to keep the three-week march going and arranged accommodations for 3,000 marchers in Canton. Miss. Two years later, Dr. Brown-Wright was elected election commissioner of Canton, Miss.

served as the first Student Affairs Scholar in Residence at Miami University in Middletown, Ohio, where she co-wrote a new curriculum, “Black Issues in Higher Education.” Brown-Wright serves the Mississippi Humanities Council as a lecturer. She is a founding member of Women of Progress, Inc. She also gave voice to the creation of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, which opened in 2017. Dr. Brown-Wright remains quite busy as a member of the National Association of Female Executives, NAACP, SCLC, NCNW, and Women for Progress, Inc., among other organizations. She is also president and CEO of FBW & Associates, Inc., a marketing consulting firm, where she is the founder of the Flonzie B. Wright Scholarship Foundation, which has distributed more than $45,000 in scholarship dollars and other enhancements to students

She was the first African-American woman elected to public office in the bi-racial town. As election commissioner, Dr. Wright registered hundreds of potential voters, monitored elections, trained poll workers, and supervised registrars, and later sued the Elections Board on five occasions for discriminating against black candidates and poll workers. She won each lawsuit. Between 1969 and 1973, Brown Wright served as vice president of the Institute of Politics at Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss. From 1974 to 1989, she worked for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She also



Supporters of the 1966 March Against Fear, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife (center), approach Jackson, Miss. The march covered 270 miles over three weeks, with assistance from numerous student and political organizations. Among the organizers was Dr. Flonzie Brown Wright, who worked as an aide to King. The march aimed to counter continuing racism in the Mississippi Delta after passage of federal civil rights legislation in the previous two years and to encourage African Americans in the state to register to vote.

Activist Flonzie Brown Wright, left, and John Lewis, right (holding ladder), listen as Annie Devine, known as the “Mother of the Movement,” stands on the ladder addressing a crowd of marchers from across the country in Canton, Miss., in support of James Meredith’s 1966 March Against Fear. (Photo courtesy Alabama Department of Archives and History)

Awards, Honors, and More •

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Dr. Brown-Wright is the recipient of more than 500 national, state, church, and community service awards, including the Director’s Community Leadership Award presented to her by former FBI Director James Comey in 2017. That same year, the Flonzie Brown Goodloe Courtroom in Canton City Hall was named in her honor. She is the recipient of Special Honors from LaMoyne College in Syracuse, N.Y., and most recently, The Doctor of Humane Letters Degree from Tougaloo College at Tougaloo, MS., in 2018. Dr. Wright gave the keynote speech in Dayton, Ohio, the night Candidate Barack Obama accepted the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2008. She is featured in the award-winning documentary “Standing on My Sisters’ Shoulders” alongside many other women who were involved in the Southern civil rights movement, including Annie Devine, Unita Blackwell, and Joan Trumpauer Mulholland. They

• •

were honored for this work at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. She is also featured in the documentary. “Stand Up” which chronicles the life of Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer. She appears in the film documentary “Walk Against Fear”, which tells of the struggles and triumphs of Mr. James Meredith as he attempted to register at the University of Mississippi. She appears in the recently filmed documentary which shares the life of her friend and classmate, Sister Thea Bowman. The film will air on ABC later this year. She is also featured in the film documentary of the life of Medgar Evers, produced by Joy Reid of MSNBC set to air in 2023. Brown-Wright’s bestselling book, “Looking Back to Move Ahead,” chronicles her childhood in rural Mississippi. In 2018, the Mississippi Legislature passed a House Resolution to “honor and celebrate the legacy civil rights trailblazer Flonzie Goodloe Brown-Wright for her many historic accomplishments.



Recognizing the parents and siblings of Dr. Flonzie Brown Wright who are no longer with us but who were incredibly proud of the daughter and sister that lived among them. Daddy Frank, Sr., Mother Littie, and Brothers Sydney and Frank, Jr., supported Flonzie in her God given calling to make this world a better place!



Congratulations to our mother, Dr. Flonzie Brown Wright on being recognized as a 2022 Mississippi Civil Rights Legend by Woman To Woman With Joanne! We honor and cherish you all the days of your life! You have truly been the ‘’WIND BENEATH OUR WINGS” You are far more precious than jewels, Proverbs 31;10 Love, Cynthia, Darrell and Edward, Jr., (deceased)



Community. Activism. Education. Women for Progress aims to raise awareness, educate and connect individuals to activism on a wide range of issues including Political Participation, Economic Development, Education and Cultural Awareness.


Pauline Rogers

Dr. Flonzie Brown Wright

Dr. Lucille Green

Women for Progress of Mississippi, Inc. was chartered on May 11, 1978 as a non-profit, non-partisan community improvement organization of actionoriented, influential, and talented individuals. Under the leadership of Mrs. Dorothy T. Stewart, founder and first president, Women For Progress' mission was to become a catalyst for change through Awareness, Advocacy & Action.

Women for Progress Radio Network womenforprogressradio.com www.womenforprogress.net 26


KOLEAN W. SANDERS Kolean Sanders has worked hard and has become very successful in business as a double minority, which is an African American, and female. She has been the first in many business categories. And as a government contractor, she has been awarded many times by the Small Business Administration, not only for nine years of success, but also for mentoring other small businesses in SBA programs. Kolean retired from the insurance industry after fifteen productive years. She then started the first black female-owned security company in the Southeastern US. Her documented success has been recognized by the Mississippi Black Chamber of Commerce as well as the National Black Chamber. She currently has multiple business holdings, domestically and in other countries. •

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Ms. Sanders’ company was the first minoritywoman owned business to be awarded the government food service contract for Camp Shelby serving over 110,200 meals in a two-week period, with more than 450 employees on one contract.

But Kolean Sanders was an unlikely candidate for the attributes she now receives. As a youth, the oldest sister of nine other siblings, she was quite poor. Her mother passed when Kolean was very young, and Kolean was

Ms. Sanders retired from over 15 years of successful insurance sales in 1999. In March of 2000, she came out of retirement to open and cofound SanJo Security Services. She was the first minority/woman-owned ADT Authorized Dealership for the states of Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana. As a government contractor, Ms. Kolean Sanders was the first minority to provide security guard services for the Army Corp of Engineers in Mississippi, Louisiana, and regions throughout the State of Arkansas. She is the first minority to provide guard services in Seagoville, TX, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). First Minority Woman- Owned Business to provide lawn care services at the Meridian Mississippi Naval Air Station.



left to raise and care for the younger children, a promise she made to her mother as she was dying. However, absent the protection of her mother, the doorknob turned many times as predators intruded and took advantage of Kolean’s vulnerability. Although relatives, neighbors, church members knew, no one intervened or came to her rescue. She felt hopeless, lost and alone. God gave her a visitation one night after an unsuccessful suicide attempt. Her life was changed. She endured, learned to survive, and now thrives, due to God’s favor and grace as well as from the wisdom of her mother who poured strong moral character into Kolean. Kolean understood she had a choice in how she lived her life after the hardship. She decided to follow her mother’s advice and to “take the road less traveled by.” In order to succeed she would make a commitment to take the high road. So, instead of making excuses, she made it happen. Through all the turmoil of her past, she glows gracefully, harboring no bitterness. Kolean Sanders is now a Christian evangelist, speaker, author, and songwriter. She is the founder of Geneva Foundation, Incorporated, named after her mother, the


late Geneva Williams. Through the Geneva Foundation, she has led many women and girls out of their painful dark past experiences, and into the light. The classes she administers focus on the nine main types of abuse. The testimonies pour in of females who once suffered from their fearful memories and shame, who now are healed and able to talk about their ordeals. Kolean’s book, “The Legacy of Geneva – The Gift of a Mother’s Wisdom,” is comprised of the nuggets of wisdom shared with Kolean by Mrs. Williams. Its popularity is sweeping North America and is in other countries. Her second book, “Life After Abuse”, is a book of encouragement which highlights the many business exploits and strategic partnerships in which she plays a role. Ms. Sanders is co-host of New Beginnings, weekly broadcast which allows survivors to share their testimonies with a worldwide audience using the Stellar Award-winning AEG Radio platform. Kolean Sanders always subscribes to the philosophy of her mother, which is “planting seeds today for a better tomorrow.”


DONNA LADD Donna Ladd is an award-winning journalist from Philadelphia, Mississippi. After leaving the state the day after she graduated from Mississippi State in 1983, vowing she’d never live here again, she returned 18 years later with a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia Journalism School. She cofounded the Jackson Free Press newspaper in 2002 in order to bring a smart and indepth news source to the state that would not shy away from historic effects of structural, institutional and systemic racism—how the past connects to the present—in a way no other media outlet had done in Mississippi. In March 2020, she co-founded the statewide, nonprofit Mississippi Free Press with Kimberly Griffin and edits both publications, which shares a name with the Civil Rights Movementera newspaper in Jackson that Medgar Evers, Rev. R.L.T. Smith and others started to defy white supremacy. Ladd, the daughter of illiterate parents, has won many awards for columns, political columns, editorials,


feature writing and investigative work, and has shared in a number of publicservice journalism awards for her work in Mississippi, from helping put an old Klansman, James Ford Seale, in prison for the kidnapping and murder of two Black teenagers in 1964, to deep systemic work on the causes and solutions of crime and violence now in the capital city and the embedded racism in the criminal-justice system since the time of slavery. In 2001, Ladd received a Packard Future of Children fellowship to study the discriminatory application of school discipline on children of color and the cradle-tojail pipeline. More recently, she was a three-year W.K. Kellogg Foundation leadership fellow, deep diving into systemic inequity and pathways to “truth, racial healing and transformation” in her home state. The fellowship led to her efforts to change the narrative about race through the Mississippi Youth Media Project, which she started


to give voices and media tools (jxnpulse.com and youthmediaproject.com and jxnpulse.com) to mostly young people of color to challenge the media narrative about them and their communities. YMP, on hiatus until the pandemic weakens, is now part of the nonprofit that runs the Mississippi Free Press. Donna has had two fellowships to study racism in the criminal-justice system, through John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Penn Law School’s Quattrone Center, and two grants from the Solutions Journalism Network for the same work, which brought multiple awards. She enjoyed a Logan Fellowship at the Carey Institute for Global Good, where she did a five-week writing residency in update New York in 2018, which is where she decided to move ahead with the nonprofit Mississippi Free Press when she returned home. Ladd has published multiple long-form features in The Guardian related to racism, whiteness and criminal justice. Other freelance clients have included NBC News Think, Village Voice, The Guardian, Salon, Columbia Journalism Review, Working Woman, Oxford American and many others. She and her journalism work have been covered in Glamour and Reason magazines, CNN, NPR, CBC, CBS Radio, the BBC, al Jazeera, among other outlets.

In 2011, Ladd was honored with a Fannie Lou Hamer Humanitarian Award, a Dress for Success Women of Strength Award in 2009 and the 2009 Angel Award from the Center for Violence Prevention for her work against domestic abuse. After surviving a recent bout with breast cancer, Ladd was the 2020 Survivor of the Year for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Jackson on April 25, 2020. She also received an alumni award from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism in 2021. In 2005, Ladd was named one of Mississippi’s 50 Leading Businesswomen by the Mississippi Business Journal, and she is the recipient of the 2006 Friendship Award, along with then-Mississippi NAACP President Derrick Johnson, from Jackson 2000/Dialogue Jackson, a racialreconciliation organization. Ladd lives in Jackson with her long-term life partner Todd Stauffer and their stump-tail cat Capp Bob, tailed cat Roberto aka Lil Rob and nephew-pup Gizmo. During the pandemic, Donna and Todd are trying to road trip to each of the 82 counties in Mississippi to explore conditions and study little-known history including lynching and segregation. She blogs now and then at donnaladd.com.



EVA JONES Eva Jones has been a servant leader for most of her adult life. She began in her church organizing health fairs, women empowerment sessions, teen summits, and domestic abuse conferences that focused on raising awareness and ending dating and sexual assault violence in the Metro Jackson community. After raising her three sons, Eva returned to college as an adult learner and earned a B.S. in Criminal Justice and Sociology from Mississippi College to enhance her knowledge in order to help women, men, and children who are victims and survivors of abuse and violence. In 2010, Eva founded Butterflies by Grace Defined by Faith, an organization that strives to educate, empower, and advocate awareness to change the hearts of people to protect victims and survivors of sexual assault, human trafficking, and domestic violence. She created this missionary driven organization because she saw the need to change perceptions on a subject that had been reduced to hush tones and whispers among the community. Seeing that there


was a lack of support and speaking out about domestic violence, she had a conversation with God and started her organization to educate and bring awareness to the issue that needs to be addressed. She and other like-minded individuals among her knew a battle cry needed to be reverberated throughout the state to raise awareness against violence. Butterflies is an organization supported by volunteers, private donors, local community leaders. Butterflies aid the community by providing emotional support, creating platforms, and giving a voice to the voiceless. Eva began speaking out against domestic violence and facilitating workshops with leading state organizations. She also volunteers in communities across the state to give rise to awareness to these issues and shine light on cultural norms that promotes safe and healthy living. Eva has dedicated her life to empowering survivors, teens and women about self-esteem and self-respect to fight against domestic abuse.


Eva has had the privilege to serve and volunteer on various boards and organizations such as the American Medical Technologist, Sickle Cell Foundation, SIDS, Diabetes Foundation, Mississippi Coalition Against Sexual Assault, the Susan Komen Breast Cancer and many more. She has been honored by many civic organizations and most recently Black Girls Rock, AMT Distinguished Achievement Award, for her work on Sexual Assault, she received the National Visionary Award, Dress For Success Honoree Hero of the year Award and Top Ten Nominee for Women of Progress. Eva has been married to William “Bill” Jones since 1981 and they have three sons and nine grandchildren. She attends Redeemer Presbyterian Church. She retired from GI Associates in 2021. Eva ‘s life- long desire has been to empower, enlightened and encourage women and teens to be change agents in their community’s. Eva is dedicated to breaking the cycle of domestic violence and passionate about providing workshops to women and teens to empower a rising voice in the community and the children live free from violence. Eva’s trust and strong faith is what sustains and motivates each and everyday. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3: 23-24.



Honoring our women Vererans

OLYMPIA SMITH NAVY/ARMY Olympia Smith’s branches of service include the Navy from 1995 – 2003 and the Army from 2005 – 2016. Her last rank in the Army before retiring was Captain. Smith served in many stateside locations, including Oakland, CA; San Francisco, CA; Coronada, CA; and San Antonio, TX. She was deployed to Hong Kong, Singapore, Jebel Ali, Dubai, Japan, Kuwait, Germany, and Afghanistan. In the Navy Smith was a Personnelman and then became a Hospital Corpsman. In the Army she was a Nuclear Medic and a Human Resources Manager (Chief) in the Medical Service Corps. She was motivated to join the military because she wanted to see the world and learn more about herself. Her first days in the service were six weeks of boot camp at Great Lakes, Illinois, which was a difficult experience at age 17. She was scared and allowed only a 3-minute phone conversation with her mom, just long enough to express her love and say that she was ok. In the Naval boot camp she had to wear a blue jogging suit and was called a “smurf.” During her time in bootcamp, she


learned how to endure hard work and show strength and courage when being challenged. She became a leader, entering the honors division and graduating bootcamp with honors. Smith was a cadence singer, which was called the Assistant Recruit Chief Petty Officer (AROC). She sang every time the division moved to class, to eat, to run, and to sleep. It was most challenging to arise at 3 OCLOCK in the morning, get people in line, and prepare them for class. She learned to run 1.5 miles in eleven minutes, a great achievement for her. Smith has seen combat in Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan, serving as a medical reporter for the intelligence center in Kuwait and a Platoon Leader in Iraq. Her most memorable experiences include learning how to complete her first IV as a combat medic. Learning to shoot an M9 and a M16, assembling and disassembling them in less than 3 minutes, helped discover her strengths


and weaknesses while discovering who she was. After boot camp Smith could call home once a week. While on active duty she was able to call every day and update her parents on her adventures. Her mother originally was hesitant about her leaving for service, but her father wanted her to do what brought her happiness. She’s grateful to have had support from home throughout her career. Smith said she always had plenty of supplies while deployed. Once back in the states, she could usually get anything she wanted. Being a woman in the military is stressful, but being a single mother also added to her stress. Time on leave allowed Smith to relax, so it was always good. Before age 21, Smith had traveled to 11 different countries, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Africa, Dubai, Jebel Ali, and more! In 2003, Smith left the Navy and in 2016 left the Army. She stayed in the HR field after leaving the military but experienced depression. Adjusting to life after the military was difficult, since she felt everything she learned and devoted herself to was gone. She had to reinvent herself again, causing depression. She experienced PTSD and with the help of a therapist, she made remarkable progress in maintaining composure and dealing with triggers. Meditating and prayer helped her gain strength. Smith was an overachiever and at times, that didn’t sit well with many men in the military. She had to learn the military game of balancing femininity and masculinity within herself. Smith was born in Houston, Texas, and raised in Jackson, MS. She now resides in Brandon, MS with her husband, Rodrick Smith, three children (Jacolby, Jalani, Jadyn), and one bonus daughter, Valencia. Her advice to other young women who want to serve their country is to assure she has a strong support system, which makes a huge difference. Obtain a degree first with a specialty focus on a career of longevity. Take risks, and make the military work for her future. Go for it, and reach the highest potential.



NICOLE EDWARDS US AIR FORCE Nicole Edwards served in the US Air Force as a Master Sargent (MSgt). Her job included working in Material Management, and she served at RAF Lakenheath (19911993), Travis AFB, Ca (1993-2000), Guam (1999), Randolph AFB, TX (2000-2004), Osan AB, ROK (2004-2005), and Langley AFB, VA (2005-2014). Edwards was motivated to join the Air Force by the opportunity to travel and receive an education. Her first few days were stressful with lots of training. Basic Training included early mornings and long nights for 6 weeks while


training for the Air Force life. They were told to forget everything they thought they knew and adopt this new way of thinking. Being from the inner city, it was difficult for her, but she adjusted.


Edwards saw combat in Afghanistan Sept 2006-March 2007 and in Iraq March 2010-Sept 2010.

Most military people suffer from some form of PTSD and Edward’s started before she joined the military. Counseling has helped her cope with life, and she has found help through The Veterans Administration Hospital.

She stayed in contact with family through phone calls, Skype, and emails. Her sons missed their mom greatly but they understood what she had to do and were a strong support system. The Air Force provided a nice life for the family. There was always stress while serving in the military, because it’s the nature of the job dealing with different personalities and cultures. Edwards never felt pressured to do anything that she didn’t want to do or that was illegal/unethical. Leave was just like taking PTO days, time away to go home or other places. The Air Force sent Edwards to England. Germany, Guam and Africa. She retired from the Air Force in October 2014 and is doing the exact same job as a civilian that she did when on active duty. The Air Force provided Edwards a great life, teaching her much about being an adult and developing lifelong friends.

Sexism seems to have always been in the military. It has gotten better in recent years, but there were times when Edwards encountered a male that didn’t want to take orders from a woman. She realized it’s their issue, and they have to learn to adjust. Edwards was born and raised in Compton, CA and lived in Mississippi during her younger years. She currently resides in Virginia and is a divorced mother of 3 sons, ages 25, 20 and 15. In addition she takes care of her elderly mother, who has lived with her for 20 years. For women interested in joining the military, Edwards advises to examine their reasons for joining. Examine the pros and cons of what Air Force life can/will be like. “The military isn’t for everyone and that’s okay…people just need to understand that,” says Edwards.




Latisha Holmes retired from 20+ years of Military Service, where she served in the chaplaincy and as a Career Advisor. She is the Founder of Combat Boots 2 Red Bottoms and the Combat Boots 2 Red Bottoms Global Networking Community for Military Women, Owner of VLS Business Solutions, Director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation for Warrior Empowered, Producer & Veteran Business Correspondent for Veterans N Transitions Television Show, a member of the Advisory Board of the ARM Foundation, an International Speaker, Master Trainer and Consultant. She enjoys assisting her clients in accomplishing their goals and maintaining success Holmes has experience in marketing, professional development, motivational speaking, talent management, career planning, recruiting, event planning and promotional products. Her specialties are marketing, business solutions, team building, quality of life improvement and inspiring others to go beyond their imagined limits to excel. She has overcome many challenges in life, but through all she has accomplished, she never lost sight of God and his promises. She says, “He didn’t say the weapon wouldn’t form against you, he said



it wouldn’t prosper! So challenging times will come, but with God, you can get through anything!” Her passion is serving and inspiring others to achieve GREATNESS!

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Being a native of Mississippi, Holmes holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and is currently working toward her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy. She strives to be an example of a virtuous woman, one who is yielded to God in every area of life and encourages others to stretch beyond their limits to unleash their inner greatness.

The Grants for Greatness Program sponsored by Combat Boots 2 Red Bottoms awards funds to recipients in support of starting and/or maintaining businesses. This program honors a “Never Quit” spirit and encourages others to be a positive impact on the world, support each other’s dreams, and remind applicants they are not alone in their journey. Applicants do not need to be a member of Combat Boots 2 Red Bottoms, since the program is open to the public.

From Combat Boots to Red Bottoms is a female Veteran owned company that celebrates the accomplishments of women warriors and is located in Clinton, MS. They empower and celebrate Military Women, past and present, through apparel, networking and various services. They encourage all women who serve to not just elevate their status, but “create their qwn status.” This mission is accomplished through four avenues: an online store, membership, programs, and services. The organization provides access to Brand Apparel and other products that evoke pride in service to others. From fashion to safety, they have it. Online purchases make it possible for Combat Boots 2 Red Bottoms to provide resources, services, and opportunities to support their members’ ventures and the communities they serve. They provide a private, safe, and welcoming membership-based community where women service members and veterans can ask questions, share ideas, laugh, host various events to assist with increasing quality of life, find a work-life balance, and promote wellness. It’s a place of sisterhood. Resources are provided through in-house and via partnerships to assist members and supports

success in business and life. Resources include action-focused training (courses, workshops, boot camps & retreats), marketing, advertising, mentorship, and more. The organization is available to help with starting a business, publishing a book, relieving stress, supporting accountability, or shifting a mindset. There is a directory to support members, where one can find an excellent selection of businesses, crafters, non-profits, and more. Whether searching to

Programs are supported with Preferred Partners, who make a direct commitment to Combat Boots 2 Red Bottoms in support of their programs, events, and members. They are an important part of the community, and the organization in return supports those who support them. Combat Boots to Red Bottoms is more than just another company that supports veterans. They are a lifeline to success and peace of mind. They don’t just encourage, they make it happen! Partners include VLS Business Solutions, Outback Steakhouse, Emily’s Foods, New York Life, Bye Bye Bras, Inspired Resources, and Byrd’s Blessed Retail. Featured businesses include Bellame Beauty, Carla’s Sugar, Krysus, Mary Kay by Sweet Signatures, Nataleigh S. Custom Designs, Neora by Grisel, The Piggybank Tax Notary LLC, Pure Romance by Elaina, Regina Innovative Beauty, Skin Luxe MediSpa, T.O.S.O.T. Ministries, YJ Empowerment Solutions, Blissful Timeless Moments Birthing Services, Author Leslie Dillard, and Author Simone Daniels.



SHAN ANDERSON, ARMY RESERVES Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Shan Anderson served in the Army Reserves, enlisting in the Mississippi Army National Guard on January 15, 1998, at the age of 17. Since she was under the age of 18, her parents’ approval was required to join. She is currently serving in the Army Reserves at Joint Base McGuires Dix Lakehurst in New Jersey. Anderson began as an administrative clerk in 1998 and was reclassified to Military Police in 2000. Upon obtaining her bachelor’s degree in 2003, she was commissioned as an Intelligence Officer, where she served as Platoon Leader, Rear Detachment Commander (after 9/11), MI Company Commander, Battalion S-2, Assistant Brigade S-2, Operational Security Officer, Intelligence Analyst for Europe/ Africa for Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Unit

Victim Advocate, Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, Anti-Terrorism Officer, and Battalion Master Fitness Trainer. Her mother’s encouragement and having access to money for college motivated Anderson to join the military. Her mother was an Air Force Officer, so Anderson’s goal was to be even better than her mom. At age 17, most minds aren’t developed enough to make life altering decisions. At that time, she didn’t grasp the concept that two planes colliding with the world trade center would alter and shape her entire civilian/military career. This decision was one she would never regret. Basic training for Anderson was in May 1998 in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, during the summer between her Junior and Senior year of high school. This was her first experience away from home, but she was always independent. Even so, nothing prepared her for nine weeks of intense training, learning survival skills. The weeks were broken down into 3 phases (red, white, and blue). Each phase provided a different level of training, ranging from live fire exercises to a 12-mile road march after staying days in the field (sleeping in the woods). After Basic Training, she arrived home just in time for her Senior year of high school. A week after graduating high school, she was off to Army Administration School, a 5-week course in clerical work at Fort Jackson. Anderson deployed to Camp Taji in Taji, Iraq with the 155 Brigade Special Troops Battalion (BSTB) from May, 2009 until March, 2010 as a Company Commander and Battalion S-2. She deployed to Camp Phoenix in Kabul, Afghanistan with the 226 Maneuver Enhancement Brigade (MEB) from May, 2013 until Mar, 2014 as the Assistant Brigade S-2 and Unit Victim Advocate. Some of Anderson’s memorable experiences include the day she was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant (2LT) and the day she was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel (LTC). When commissioned as a 2LT, the speaker was Mississippi Federal Court Justice, General William Waller. While Anderson’s grandmother was randomly talking to Waller, he offered Anderson a paid internship at the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office. This was very memorable because Anderson’s grandmother was



her last living grandparent. She came to almost every special event for Anderson, only missing one promotion because her husband was sick. Anderson stayed in touch with family by calling her parents or my grandparents often. Being deployed was easier since she wasn’t married and did not have children. Anderson felt she had everything she needed, plus more. She received care packages often and had access to online shopping. Her family and friends sent anything extra that was needed.

Anderson has never been diagnosed with PTSD but is sure she has some PTSD effects after two deployments. Being a black woman has taught her to cope with many difficult situations. She has wisely accepted therapy in recent years and discovered it’s a great stress reliever.

Even though there was pressure and stress while serving, Anderson says success depends on how one deals with them. As a 23-year veteran in the armed forces, Anderson had mixed experiences with male counterparts in a male dominated field. There have been times when men treated her as fragile or not smart enough, but for the most part, she has been accepted for her knowledge, experience and hard work. As a black female officer, she wanted to be as good as or better than her male counterparts. She had to work harder to accomplish this goal. There was little time to let her guard down because someone was always watching. While deployed, Anderson never took leave until the end of her tour. Her world travels took her to Taji, Iraq; Baghdad, Iraq; Kabul, Afghanistan; Bagram, Afghanistan; and Ali Al Saleem Air Base, Kuwait. She is currently a reservist and employed with the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C. Joining the military at an early age shaped her life and career. As a veteran, she was able to work for the federal government at age 26.

Being born in Sands, Michigan at KI Sawyer Air Force Base, Anderson was raised in Brandon, Mississippi and currently works in Washington, D.C. She is single, never married, no children, but does have a Pomeranian fur baby named Bishop. Her parents and grandparents have been instrumental in her civilian/military career. Walter (deceased) and Jannie Fair of Hazlehurst, MS are maternal grandparents. LeeOtha Anderson (deceased) of Jackson, MS is paternal grandmother, and Edward and Irma Anderson of Brandon, MS are her parents. Anderson’s advice for women who want to serve their country is to examine both the good and bad aspects of serving. Be well informed. There are currently many support groups for black female officers and enlisted women, including different levels of military training that were not available when she enlisted 23 years ago. A woman who wants to achieve officer ranks should realize the importance of the job she chooses and how to take advantage of promotions and educational opportunities. The military can be a stepping stone to a serious career opportunity. Joining the military will prevent attending all family or life events, so that must be a consideration.



LAJESSICA GATLIN I am currently enlisted in the ARMY National Guard and I am a Sergeant First Class. I have been in Mississippi for the entirety of my service with an exception of two deployments, Afghanistan in 2013 and Horn of Africa in 2019. I was initially a Human Resource Specialist (42A) for the first 10 years of my career, but in March of 2018 I obtained a new MOS as a Contract Specialist (51 C). I became a teenage mom at the age of 15 with very little to no family support. At age 16, I began working two part-time jobs in addition to attending school and caring for my 1-year-old. I was either missing school to sleep in or going to school and sleeping until 3rd or 4th period. I missed too many days of my junior year and did not want to repeat. I withdrew from school April 30th 2007 and enrolled in CO-LIN’s GED program the same day. I attended one mandatory class and tested the following week. I received my GED Diploma by Class of 2007’s graduation day. My first days were a bit scary. I didn’t know what to expect. The only reference that I had of the military were from movies that slightly over exaggerated what it was truly like. It was my first time out of small-town Natchez, MS and my first time on a plane. It was definitely an experience! It tested my limits both mentally and physically. It was hard being away from my baby for such an extended period of time and the early mornings really got me. I am not a morning person. It has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I met new people and learned new things, so I didn’t have a single complaint.

combat zone. I did experience the mortar rounds and explosions on the base that I was living on. On the same token, I was never personally shot at nor have I had to shoot anyone. In basic, we had certain times that we could call home using calling cards. The main form of communication was letters! I didn’t realize how long ago that was and I’m young. Times have changed so much. In Afghanistan, we had iPhones and different apps to video call home. Horn of Africa, was the easiest as far as communication. Technology is amazing. Serving has always been pretty strenuous on my children. It doesn’t really get easier but I think the older they get the more they understand. My kids are truly amazing because they try so hard to be strong for me and act like they aren’t really bothered in order to keep me from being sad. My kids and I are extremely close so any major time away from each other sucks. In basic, I had everything that I needed. In Afghanistan, due to me being on a smaller base, I received a lot of care packages. Horn of Africa had just about everything I needed and I could also order from Walmart.com and Amazon. I really didn’t face any pressure, aside from the fact that when I joined, I had a daughter to raise. The military is like any other 9-5. There are good days and bad days.

During my tour in Afghanistan, I was in a



Some days require so much that you aren’t sure where you’ll find the energy to complete it all and then go home to be a mother, and other days are full of enjoyment. Additionally, my current MOS (job) required me to obtain a Bachelor’s degree prior to deploying to Horn Of Africa and I really wanted the opportunity. So, for two semesters straight, I took 8 classes (24 hrs) and graduated from Jackson State in December 2018. While in Afghanistan, I didn’t have an opportunity for leave due to the deployment only being 9 months. In Horn Of Africa, I planned to take leave but didn’t have the opportunity to due to a travel restriction. I have traveled to Mauritius and Seychelles, both island countries off the coast of Africa. Both truly beautiful countries. My service and experience helped me become more structured and disciplined. I believe that my service has afforded me the opportunity to be a better mother and example for my children. Had I not joined, I don’t think my life choices prior to my enlistment would have made me as great of a mother as I am today. Leaving Afghanistan, I did suffer mild PTSD. Time and at one point a therapist has helped me recover. There are

still a few triggers here and there but nothing close to what I experienced when I first returned home. It wasn’t hard finding the help I needed, I always had access to and utilized Military OneSouce. As a woman in the military, I was received very well and I haven’t had any negative experiences that I can recall. Leadership has always respected me and my input. On my Horn Of Africa deployment, I was the only female in the office of 9 soldiers, airmen, marines, and naval officers. I was born and raised in Natchez, MS and I bought a house in Byram in July 2021. I am not currently married but I have a significant other, his name is Cedric. I have four extremely beautiful and amazing children, Derrielle (Dee, 16), Jayla (12), Mason (9), and Cidney (6mos). I would advise anyone considering a career in the military to do your research. Evaluate your life and goals. Everyone’s experience is different so don’t let others deter you or pressure you. Speak to a recruiter as well as others who have served or are serving. Gather as much info as possible prior to making a decision. It was the best decision I could’ve ever made.



ANDREA WASHINGTON: WARRIOR OF THE SKY AND SEA Andrea Washington has seen it all - quite literally. She is currently an expert helmsman for the Military Sealift Command (MSC) and a traveling evangelist. Before her time with the MSC, she spent over 20 years as a flight attendant. Andrea has spent thousands of hours in the sky and at sea, visiting state upon state and continent upon continent. From Australia to Djibouti, Andrea Washington has truly seen it all. Born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, Andrea became a hard worker at an early age. She was employed by the age of seven, helping run her family’s business for several years in the north Jackson area. Her mother was the neighborhood beautician while her father was an educator and political advisor. Business and leadership qualities were instilled in Washington at an early age, helping set the course to get to where she is now. Andrea would eventually move to the east coast after attending Jackson State University. From there, she took to the skies as a flight attendant for more than 21 years. During her career as a flight attendant, Washington accumulated over 85 flight hours a month, traveling both domestically and abroad. Andrea’s work ethic and her poise in high-stress situations lead to her securing a vice president role for the Atlanta Chapter Flight Attendant Union, all while working full-time as a flight attendant. In her VP role, she served as a liaison between the union and airline management, negotiating to gain improvements in the workplace. Seeing the entire world from the skies was not enough for Washington. In 2015, she began traveling the globe by ship. For the last six years, Washington has been an expert helmsman for the Military Sealift Command, which provides ocean transportation for the Department of Defense. The MSC operates approximately 125 civilian-crewed ships tasked with replenishing valuable supplies to the United States Navy, such as weapons and other resources. The MSC’s fleets complete specialized missions, often establishing combat cargo caches at sea for depleted warships as well as transporting military cargo and supplies used by United States forces and their coalition partners.


Washington’s duty as the ship’s helmsman is to steer and navigate her ship on various missions that span the entire globe. A master helmsman like herself applies her vast technical expertise and knowledge to maneuver through unpredictable oceanic conditions, as well as maintaining the safety of her crew and ensuring a stayed course, no matter the scenario. She has steered ships through the Strait of Gibraltar, the Malacca Strait, the Pacific Ocean and countless other locations around the planet. Her most rewarding mission, in her eyes, was when she navigated her ship through the Suez Canal as a supporting role for the MSC and the United States Navy. Aside from being a master helmsman for the Military Sealift Command, Andrea is a motivational speaker, a life & health coach and an exhorter - serving as an evangelist to her church. She also oversees Women of Royal Distinction, a religious group that empowers women to live by the word of God. The group had its first conference in 2000 and has been going strong ever since, with yearly conferences and numerous women’s gatherings under their belt. As an evangelist, Washington has preached sermons on Revival in seven countries. Church and ministry have been a part of Andrea’s life for as long as she can remember, as she recalls fond memories of preaching bible passages to her brother at the age of five as well as attending Sunday school with her mother and father. Andrea considers herself a naturalist and enjoys spending time with her family, including her only biological son Reggie and her granddaughter Ava Violet, whom she refers to as her “Duchess”. Andrea also has two step-children, Chenique and Juba who have given her 13 “bonus” grandchildren to love and cherish. She is “forever a daddy’s girl at heart” and loves her big brother and mother to pieces. A true warrior by nature, Washington’s motto is, “Fear is a sickness, and it cripples the soul.” Her poise, fearlessness and hard-working nature have been instrumental in getting her where she wants to be in life. Her upcoming book, In the Middle of the Ocean: Riches, Rags and the Anointing will launch in the spring of 2022.


STEPHANIE MINOR, US ARMY RESERVES Stephanie Minor serves in the US Army Reserves at the rank of Major. She currently serves in the 5TH Medical Brigade as a Medical Operations Officer and also served in Iraq in 2018. Minor was motivated by her cousin, the late MAJ Juanita Catching, to join the Army after she was laid off from work twice. It was a new opportunity for her to try something different. The first days in service for Minor created anxiety and fear, but once she met a few people, she began to feel relaxed. Her first training was Basic Officer Leadership Course (BOLC) in San Antonio, TX for 9 weeks. It was a great experience, having fun with all the training activities. First was classroom training, then they spent 3 weeks in the woods sleeping in tents. The last part of the training was in the classroom. During her career, Minor has not experienced combat. Her most memorable experience was deploying to Iraq in 2018, since she met people from all over the world. Minor stayed in touch with family through Facebook and WhatsApp. Her brother missed her deeply and was somewhat worried, but keeping in touch helped him. Minor had plenty of supplies, thanks to the job she was assigned. In addition she received care packages every month. Minor experienced pressure and stress while serving because she was the Intel Officer. She was required to stay alert and up to date with the news and information that would help protect the troops in her unit. Her job was to make sure they were safe before, during, and after the missions.

United States from California to New York. When Minor returned from Iraq, it was hard to readjust to normal life in the States. Everything seemed to be going so fast, and people were different from those she was with for 9 months. She experienced anxiety and stress when returning to a civilian job, and she had to learn some tasks all over again. Minor went to counseling for 6 months, which helped her, along with prayer, journaling, and reading the Bible. Sometimes it was difficult to find the exact help needed. She is still serving as a Staff Accountant as a civilian. Having been a laid-back person, Minor was received very well by men in the military. They assured she was taken care of and helped her when needed. They were respectful, although there were times when she had to get a few men in check, but she could handle them. They knew when she meant business. Being born and raised in Crystal Springs, Minor now lives back at home. She is single with no children. She would advise women interested in joining the military to speak to other women in the military before making a decision. Explore different jobs that are offered, and do not settle for what the recruiters say. Read all the documents and make sure to understand what is being assigned. Joining the military was not on Minor’s original dreams and goals list, but God had a different plan for her. She is grateful for the military experience and considers it an honor to serve with the soldiers she has met on her amazing journey.

Internationally Minor has traveled to Kuwait and Iraq. She also has traveled across the



LYNETTE M. SUTTLAR Lynette M. Suttlar is a 15-year Veteran of the US Army and US Army Reserves. She achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant during her time in service. She entered Active Duty in the US Army where she was stationed at Ft. Hood, Texas. Lynette served in the administrative field during her military career. During her time in service, Lynette traveled extensively out of the country to complete the mission of the US military abroad. One of Lynette’s last duty stations was in Kuwait (Southeast Asia,2003) during “Operation Iraqi Freedom” after the 9/11 terrorists attack on the World Trade Center. She considers it one of her highest honors to have served and protected the freedom of the citizens of the United States of America.



TONI JENKINS, UNITED STATES ARMY Toni Jenkins served as a Sergeant First Class in the United States Army and has worked in the areas of Human Resources, Chaplaincy, Transportation, Legal, Inspector General, and Lodging & Housing. She has been stationed at Ft. Bliss, TX; Mannheim, Germany; Ft. Bragg, NC; Ft. Polk, LA; Camp Shelby, MS; and MSARNG HQ, Jackson, MS. The opportunity for traveling and education motivated Jenkins to join the Army. She had many unknowns in the beginning, even though she researched and talked with people, it was nothing compared to experiencing the military in person. Her first boot camp wasn’t challenging because they were trained as a team. If someone on the team was not pulling their weight, then the entire team would be required to repeat the training until everyone was on board. Our backgrounds were different because all were reared in different circumstances by our parents. The army’s requirements helped build team trust.

Resources. It was challenging to adapt to the civilian world after serving over 30 years in the military. Jenkins suffered from PTSD, and counseling and therapy helped her recover. There’s professional help if needed, but each person must take the first steps toward recovery. When women first entered the military, they were generally not accepted and were told that the military was not the place for them. In recent years women are more easily accepted. Being born and raised in Vicksburg, MS, Jenkins now lives in Madison, MS and has a son. Her immediate family still lives in Vicksburg, MS. Jenkins advises women who want to enter the military to search their hearts and ponder the reason why they want to serve the country. Talk to God, seek HIS face concerning the matter, pray, fast, and seek wise counseling regarding what is best for her life.

Jenkins went twice into combat zones. She loved the fact that several Drill Sergeants taught them life and survival skills, such as how to use several types of weapons and how to maintain their living quarters. Jenkins could call her family only on Sundays but could receive letters and care packages daily. The army helped her be stronger and appreciate family members even more. The military assured that Jenkins had everything needed to do her job well. She did feel pressure to do the right thing and take care of the people assigned to her leadership. Leave was normally for a week, so driving would require more time than flying and make the leave seem shorter. While in the army, Jenkins traveled to Germany, Kosovo, Russia, and numerous US States. She left the army in October 2019 and began working as a civilian in Human



EARLANDRIUS PARKER, US ARMY Earlandrius Parker has served in the US ARMY as a Sargeant First Class for ten years. She is a Human Resource Specialist, responsible for performing personnel and administrative functions. She provides human resources support to all military members, regardless of rank or classification, to ensure the readiness, health and welfare of all soldiers. Parker was motivated to join the Army at age 19. She didn’t want to be a burden to her family, and joining the Army provided financial stability and the opportunity to travel the world with her daughter while earning a free education. After almost 11 years, she still considers it the best decision she ever made. The first days in service, Parker thought to herself, “What did I just


get myself into?” Bible study was offered by one of the Reception Drill Sergeants ( a Preacher outside of the Army) that helped her prepare for whatever the future held. Parker looks back on her boot camp training as not being that bad. She had to have her mind in the game, beginning with the mentality that she had left her daughter behind to enter the service, so she wanted to achieve her very best. That goal was accomplished. Being one the smallest trainees in her platoon, she reminded herself that yelling was a part of the Drill Sergeant’s job, and physically he couldn’t harm her. It took some adjustment, but eventually it became part of who she was. Parker did not see combat while stationed in Kuwait. Some of her most memorable experiences included being in cultural shock and wanting to stare at the Kuwait


people. The women’s sense of style was impressive. Not all women wore the abaya. Those who didn’t were still fully covered, but made it fashionable. She enjoyed learning their traditions and emerging herself in their cultural so she wouldn’t offend anyone. A most memorable experience was spending Thanksgiving there. The food and events were completely different from customs in the US. She enjoyed talking to the Kuwait people, learning about challenges they faced and about their families, morals, and beliefs. The military had internet cards for FaceTime, and Parker used Facebook to stay in touch with family. She worked in a secured building and couldn’t have any Bluetooth capable electronics. Serving in the military initially scared her family, because they knew she

would be subjected to combat and war. Parker felt pressured to succeed and didn’t want to retire until she had made a positive impact in the military. She has set goals to accomplish before hanging up the boots and plans to serve at least 10 more years. Taking leave is always good for Parker, because it’s an opportunity to recharge and reconnect with family. In addition to traveling internationally to Kuwait, she has lived stateside in Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, and Texas. She has earned a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies, plans to achieve her Master’s Degree soon, and one day complete a Doctorate in Counseling, specializing in Child and Adolescent Development. There are people from all walks of life that serve in the military. Navigating that fact poses a few challenges because people from various areas of the world handle issues differently, and some views are different. The Army taught Parker resiliency when facing

adversity and contributed greatly to her mental and physical toughness. Fortunately, Parker has not suffered from PTSD during her career. In recent years, the Army has focused more on mental health. For many years, PTSD was considered a sign of mental weakness, and no one wanted to be viewed as weak or needing mental assistance. Getting professional help to navigate PTSD is now being promoted and accepted throughout the ranks. There are now necessary conversations about how PTSD affects Soldiers and their families, communities, and the organization. By the time Parker joined the army, women in the Army were commonplace. Even though it wasn’t new, some jobs take adjustment. As an example, Parker was a Drill Sergeant and trained Combat Engineers. This job, like other combat arms jobs, weren’t accessible to women years ago. Now that women are allowed to have combat jobs, men are having to adjust how they operate and how the logistics of working with women

are different, ex. Field sanitation. Parker was born in Jackson, MS and lived in Canton, MS most of her life. Currently she resides in Arlington, TX and provides HR support to a Civil Affairs battalion in Grand Prairie, TX. Parker has one daughter whom she absolutely adores. Her child has been on Parker’s journey since the age of five and has the ability to adapt and overcome. It’s because of her that Parker is the Soldier and person she is today. For young women interested in a military career, Parker suggests finding an interesting job before joining and not allow recruiters to bamboozle them into some crazy job for a bonus. Be proud to serve and do the job to the best of their ability. Never stop learning and always set yourself apart from your peers! Attend school, take on some additional duties, and set goals! In the end, they will earn a seat at the table and realize that no one gave them anything free. That’s a fact of which to be proud!