2017 MLK Award Winners
LEADERSHIP AWARD (ALUMNI)
Rhonda Denise Rogers
Rhonda Denise Rogers is a strong advocate for high quality educational services for vulnerable populations. She is a member and the new president of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, West Palm Beach Chapter, a class ambassador for the Class of 2011 with Leadership Palm Beach County, as well as a board member and the second vice-president of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Palm Beach County. She is financial secretary and a proud member of the South Palm Beach County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She is also president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council of Palm Beach County and has a strong commitment to its numerous community outreach efforts. Most recently, she co-founded the EmpowHER Leadership Academy for Girls, a mentoring program for high school juniors and seniors that focuses on leadership, advocacy and community service.
She is in her eighth year at Prime Time Palm Beach County, Inc., where she serves as the director of community engagement & supports. As such, she is committed to Prime Time’s mission, which is “to foster high quality in out-of-school time programs, which provide opportunities for children and youth to succeed.” Prime Time’s mission provides the opportunity for Rogers to fulfill her passion to serve the community in her professional capacity, which is a perfect complement to her extensive volunteer work. She specializes in developing and overseeing new and innovative programs, which provide a wide variety of expanded learning opportunity offerings for over 25,000 children and youth annually to creatively enhance both their academic and social skills. Her commitment to families, children and youth and to high quality out-of-school time programs spans more than two decades.
She received an Associate in Arts degree from Palm Beach State College and a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Management (Cum Laude) with a concentration in Human Resource Management from Palm Beach Atlantic University. She earned her Certified Program Planner (CPP) certification from the LERN Institute.
LEADERSHIP AWARD (STUDENT)
Originally from Bangladesh, Tanzina Chowdhury started college in 2015, immediately after immigrating to the United States. A former Dr. Floyd F. Koch Honors College student, she graduated from Palm Beach State last December with her Associate in Arts degree. She is taking additional classes at Palm Beach State with plans to transfer to a university in the fall to pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer science.
Along with her academic achievements, she enjoys volunteering for organizations, including El Sol – Jupiter’s Neighborhood Resource Center. During her time at PBSC, she has volunteered in the Disability Support Services office and currently serves as a math tutor. She is president of the “Dream It, Do It” student club and previously served as vice president of the Honors Student Advisory Council, an officer for the Student Government Association and as an active member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
She was awarded a Palm Beach Gardens campus Academic and Service Award and named to the PBSC President’s List. She also was awarded multiple institutional and foundation scholarships. She was named a semifinalist for the highly coveted Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship that provides community college students nationwide up to $40,000 per year for up to three years to complete their bachelor’s degree.
In addition to community service, she loves traveling, cooking and singing.
LEADERSHIP AWARD (INDIVIDUAL)
Rev. Kevin Jones
The Rev. Kevin L. Jones currently serves as assistant pastor at Tabernacle Baptist Church under the leadership of the Rev. Gerald D. Kisner. As a church leader for 10 years, including previously as minister of youth and young adults, he has helped establish numerous programs and initiatives to serve the community. They include: Cub Scout Pack #116, the Adopt A School Program with U.B. Kinsey/Palmview Elementary, as well as the Rosemary Village Afterschool Program. The afterschool program is the result of a partnership with Palm Beach Atlantic University through which PBA students provide tutorial and social activities to elementary aged children in the community. During his time at Tabernacle, the church also established a Social Justice Ministry that has been involved in foreclosure workshops, restoration of rights workshops and voter registration drives.
He also serves as coordinator of community initiatives in the Office of Mayor Jeri Muoio in the city of West Palm Beach. One of his responsibilities is the coordination of the Mayor’s Village Initiative, established to improve the outcomes of young black men in targeted areas of the city. This initiative consists of dialogues between black males and police, a workforce development program, and monthly walks called the “Peace in the Streets Movement” that was developed after a rash of homicides during the summer of 2015.
He is past co-president of P.E.A.C.E., a congregation based organization charged with the mission of fighting injustice in the communities of Palm Beach County. Under his leadership, P.E.A.C.E. was able to win important issues in the areas of wage theft, jobs and unemployment in the Glades, youth crime, and out-of-school suspensions. These victories provided much needed opportunities for the least of these in our communities. Jones is involved in several community boards.
He is married to Michelle T. Jones and the father of three sons: Nicholas, Brandon and Darrin. He is a native of Rustburg, Va. and the youngest son of Dwight and Gladys Jones.
Jones received a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Radford University in 1996, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Ministry from Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2007 and a Master of Divinity degree from The Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta in 2012.
LEADERSHIP AWARD (FACULTY/STAFF)
Professor Kanathy Haney
Professor Kanathy Haney is an advocate for the underserved and vulnerable population of those afflicted by the crime of human trafficking. She is chair of the Palm Beach State College Human Trafficking Coalition, a member of the Human Trafficking Coalition of the Palm Beaches and a member of Rescue Upstream, the anti-human trafficking initiative of Journey Church. She is a humanitarian striving to address the issues of slavery that exist locally.
She has been instrumental in bringing together multiple community partners to address human trafficking through awareness, prevention and service campaigns. She developed an exercise program for human trafficking victims experiencing PTSD, anxiety and depressive symptoms at Hepzibah House, a Palm Beach County facility for those emancipated from trafficking and sexual exploitation.
Each month, she volunteers at a call center with Rescue Upstream in partnership with Life of Freedom Center based in Miami that reaches out to potential sex trafficking victims and those appearing to be on the missing children’s list. Efforts focus on assisting victims with receiving medical care, getting in contact with their family members, calling in law enforcement and rescue initiatives.
To truly empower human trafficking survivors, she has set up a scholarship program in conjunction with CareerSource Palm Beach County to allow these individuals to obtain an education and find employment among identified areas of need in the county.
The Human Trafficking Coalition of Palm Beach State College in collaboration with numerous community partners holds several events each semester including documentary screenings, prevention trainings and awareness events to shed light on the dark subject of human trafficking. One of Haney’s goals is to reach all students, faculty, staff and community members to aspire to come together to fight slavery.
She has created a service learning course in human trafficking to train aspiring abolitionists or those interested in learning more about the issues of human trafficking, increasing awareness, developing prevention programs and providing services out in the community.
A crusader for social justice and empowerment, Haney believes everyone must fight toward abolishing modern day slavery while emancipating human souls.
LEADERSHIP AWARD (ORGANIZATION)
Paul’s Place is an after-school program for underprivileged children located at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in southwest Delray Beach. It began in the fall of 2000 after neighborhood children flocked to the church looking for a safe haven and homework help. Without the program, most would go home to an empty house in the afternoon.
Paul’s Place strives to provide not only a safe haven for the children, but also to feed, tutor and enrich their lives. During the hours of 2-7 p.m., the students do their schoolwork, work on remedial skills with tutors and complete other projects in small groups as part of the Paul’s Place curriculum. They also participate in supervised recreation, music, art, gardening and an “earned” Friday field trip. The children are fed a snack and nutritious “family-style” meal every evening. All of this is provided at no cost.
Since opening, Paul’s Place has served more than 145 elementary, middle and high school age children, providing an environment filled with caring mentors. The goal is to give the students the tools and support they need to stay in school, graduate high school and go on to college or viable jobs. Of those who have been in the program long enough, 95 percent have graduated from high school and have either gone on to college or are employed.
The Paul’s Place Scholarship Fund was established in 2014. Support for the Scholarship Fund comes from many individual donations. The scholarship provides support for items that the limited, traditional scholarship funds and financial aid cannot cover, such as SAT/ACT tutoring, college tours, college application fees, personal clothing, technology needs and transportation, and some assistance paying for classes.
Volunteers are immensely important to Paul’s Place. Caring individuals help in a variety of ways: cook a meal, drive on a field trip, tutor, read to a child, gardening, art projects or share a talent. The amazing and dedicated core of volunteers have made a positive impact on the future of these children’s lives.