Skip to the main content

PBSC will be closed on Monday, July 4, 2022, in observance of Independence Day.

The 23rd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

Past MLK, Jr. Leadership Award Winners

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Awards were established by Palm Beach State College to honor individuals and organizations that have made major innovative contributions toward improving the lives of others, particularly the underserved, through leadership, service and/or programs. These contributions can be in the areas of education, diversity, race relations, health care, social justice and economic empowerment.

Leadership Award - Alumni

Alberto R. Leal, J.D.

From humble beginnings to successful attorney, Alberto R. Leal is the son of two immigrant parents from Latin America and prides himself on the work ethic he was taught from an early age. A native of South Florida, Leal is well aware of the legal challenges facing our community and strives to correct injustices at every opportunity. Specifically, Leal is immensely proud of his vital role in bridging the internet and technology gap facing the visually impaired community through his advocacy work in prosecuting civil rights injustices under the Americans with Disabilities Act while also providing affordable representation in family law cases to low-income clients.

While Leal believes strongly in the difference his work makes, he is most proud of his philanthropic efforts, namely the founding of The Leal Scholars Program at his alma mater (A.A. ’11), Palm Beach State College, to help low-income students afford a higher education. The Leal Scholars Program has assisted multiple students in covering the costs of tuition and essential materials during their respective programs of study at PBSC. Leal is also a proud member of the Paradise Club at Florida Atlantic University, which collects donations to assist student athletes during their time at FAU. He has also donated his time to assist elementary school students with the Village of Wellington after-school tutoring program in recent years, and he has volunteered time to assist with operations at Feeding South Florida while also making monthly donations to the organization. The donations have been used to help bridge the nutritional gap faced by many in our community during the current coronavirus pandemic.

Aside from his professional and philanthropic works, Leal takes pride in being a devout family man and Christian. He and his wife, Christina, are members of the local Christ Fellowship church and when unwinding at home, the Leal family enjoys spending time with their dog, Papo, while preparing for the arrival of their first baby, who is due in August of 2021.

He is president and owner of The Leal Law Firm. In addition to his Associate in Arts degree from PBSC, Leal holds a bachelor’s degree from Florida Atlantic University and a Juris Doctor degree from the Shepard Broad College of Law at Nova Southeastern University.

Leadership Award - Student

Michelle Aldas

Chronic illness has been a part of Michelle Aldas’ life since she was about eight. She was told many times as a child that she was just being lazy and making it up. The pain she felt as a child and then later as a college student was never acknowledged and then a diagnosis of stage 4 cancer came in 2011.

In the past years, her health continued to decline, and she became lost in the translation of being “normal” to being disabled. Since her cancer diagnosis, her body continued to break down and she admitted defeat in 2017. She hit rock bottom emotionally, mentally and financially, which led to losing courage and voice for some time and letting the pain and disease take over. In May 2018, she declared her independence from all the negativity brought on from being sick and decided to act. She founded The Invisible Me Warriors-Chronic Illness Advocates of Palm Beach County. A voice that had been muted, that felt defeated, and had been hidden for seven years is now fighting for others. That voice is strong and a warrior. That voice is her own voice, and she says no one or nothing will ever take it away again. Aldas has traveled to D.C. for the Advocacy Summit benefiting the Arthritis Foundation. Even in a flare-up, she made sure her voice was heard.

Aldas has learned to be proud of the struggle she has survived so far as it has made her a courageous warrior. She is thankful to the people who saw past her disability and illness and pushed her to keep going as a warrior, woman, daughter, friend, lover, and advocate. She’s used her newfound strength to help others seek resources and become a strong voice to advocate for access to care. Now, using mobility aides to get around, she is completing her Associate in Science and Associate in Arts degrees at PBSC and shaping a new career as a graphic designer and multimedia artist. She wants to empower others with her story because once someone helped her do that, her life took a positive sharp turn.

Leadership Award - Faculty/Staff

Robin Johnson-Blake

Robin Johnson-Blake has dedicated 31 years in community services outreach, dual enrollment, and recruitment at Palm Beach State College. In 2018, she became the first director of Community Relations for the College.

In her current role, she provides leadership within the organization and the community, publicly representing the College, identifying, developing, cultivating and maintaining partnerships and relationships with external agencies and businesses to enhance the College’s brand.

During her tenure at PBSC, Johnson-Blake has:

• managed and led community forums that relate to the needs and concerns of the communities that the College serves

• coordinated and worked in partnership on special events and projects liaising between the College and the community

• worked with various socioeconomic diverse populations throughout communities, middle and high schools in Florida, and

• directed, budgeted and managed nine local, private, state, and federal grant programs.

Prior to her employment at PBSC, she was employed at Florida Atlantic University as the first assistant director for Minority Recruitment (the position created to recruit diverse populations) and as an admissions counselor. In Alabama, she was an intern for the East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission where she surveyed residents in rural areas for economic development improvements.

Throughout her professional career, she believes in strengthening communities for the future educational and economic development of Palm Beach County citizens.

She is actively involved and serves on committees with the Town of Lake Park Diversity Council, Achieve Palm Beach County Parents & Family Engagement Team, Action Alliance for Mental Health, Homeless and Housing Alliance, Boynton Beach Tourism Task Force, Behavioral Health Workforce Pipeline, Refugee Task Force, Teen Leadership Roundtable, St. John Missionary Baptist Church Outreach ministries and other chamber and civil organizations.

Johnson-Blake received her Master of Science in Counseling and Guidance from Jacksonville State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Rehabilitation for the Deaf from Talladega College.

She is the wife of Charles Blake, the mother of Alexis and Evan Johnson, and a proud grandmother of two granddaughters, Ciara and Legaci.

Leadership Award - Individual

Elvin J. Dowling

Elvin J. Dowling is an award-winning author, activist and “architect of change” who is a proud native of West Palm Beach. A staunch advocate of educating future generations of leaders by equipping them with the resources and skills they need to be productive members of society, he has worked to elevate the lives of the “least of these” with unassailable results. In 2014 and, again in 2015, he was successful in securing two separate grants for $1 million each to conduct mentoring activities for 2,200 at-risk youths in 30 cities as a part of President Barack Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper Initiative.”

As chairman of the Board for the Palm Beach Harvest Food Bank, Dowling continues to demonstrate his commitment to South Florida children and families through leadership by example. Just as importantly, as an acclaimed public speaker, mentor and America’s leading advocate for “achieving greatness by embracing change,” Dowling’s book, “License to Live,” has been featured on national and international media outlets, including CNN and National Public Radio, and has been lauded as “an eye-opening and heart-stirring message that sheds light on the truth that your past does not dictate your future.”

Dowling has been recognized on the local, state and national levels for his commitment to advocacy and action, including the Distinguished Alumni Award (Education Foundation of Palm Beach County), Ebony Magazine’s Thirty Leaders of the Future Award, and the Pathfinders Award for Community Service, presented by the Palm Beach Post newspaper. In January 2020, he released his second book, "Still Invisible? Examining America's Black Male Crisis,” a gripping nonfiction narrative on the challenges facing Black men today. Since its release, “Still Invisible” has become an Amazon Bestseller and was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Additionally, the book has been nominated for the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction and U.S. History, the American Book Award, the Carter G. Woodson Book Award, the Florida Book Award, the PEN Open Book Award and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association Book Award for General Nonfiction among others.

Leadership Award - Organization

EJS Project

The Emanuel Jackson Sr. Project is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to build and empower future leaders. The organization was founded in 2016 by Emanuel “Dupree'' Jackson, Jr. His desire to make a difference in his community inspired him to create an organization that gave power back to the youth.

Jackson dedicated the organization to his late father and honored him by naming the organization after him. The EJS Project’s mission is rooted in its desire to see every teen succeed, regardless of their zip code. Coming from the very same vulnerable footprint of Delray Beach, Jackson pushed past all the obstacles life brought forth to achieve his goals. The EJS Project believes that if it focuses on youth’s strengths and power this helps them write their own narrative. It also believes that teens deserve equity of opportunity and that strong supportive relationships promote change in individuals, organizations and systems. The EJS Project acknowledges racial discrimination and the barriers it has created in communities of color. It is dedicated to teaching truth, challenging systems, and fighting for its youth’s access to opportunity. It aims to surround youth with as many positive and forward-thinking adults as possible.

Leadership Award - Alumni

Denise Cotman Albritton

Denise Cotman Albritton was born and raised in West Palm Beach. She graduated from North Shore High School and obtained an Associate in Arts degree in Marketing from Palm Beach State College and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from Hodges College in Naples, Florida.

Albritton is the president and CFO of Bus One LLC, a charter bus company established in 2010 in Palm Beach County with the mission of being the premier transportation company providing excellence in customer service, a professional staff, safe and efficient equipment and luxury accommodations. It is the largest African American and woman-owned charter bus company in South Florida and the second largest overall in the county.

As the owner of a company in the community in which she was raised, Albritton understands the importance of giving back through leadership, sponsorship and service. She also is the CEO of LaDanez One LLC, an organization whose mission is to assist women in discovering and revamping their personal and professional style through closet cleansing/auditing, personal fashion and image consulting and providing personal shopping services.

Albritton is the immediate past president and a member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. West Palm Beach Chapter. She served four years as president of this organization of progressive women of color that advocates on behalf of women and girls of color in the areas of health, education, leadership and economic empowerment.

Albritton is also a past chair and current member of the Board of Directors for the Women’s Chamber Foundation and past president of the Board of Directors for the Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Palm Beach County, Inc.

She currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors for the YWCA of Palm Beach County as secretary and chair of the Advocacy Committee and has served as a mentor for five years with the Women of Tomorrow Program. Additionally, Albritton serves on the Advisory Committee for the Office of Equal Business Opportunity for Palm Beach County.

Leadership Award - Student

Rocio Montero-Mask

Rocio Montero-Mask is the definition of a servant leader. She is a mobilizer, motivator, energizer and an inspiration to her peer. Montero-Mask is the past president of the Student Government Association on the Lake Worth campus, where she advocated for change on campus and in Tallahassee at the state Capitol.

She completed her Associate in Arts degree from PBSC in fall 2019 with a 4.0 GPA. She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in political science at the University of Miami in hopes of one day running for public office. While many students her age are still searching for their passion and career goals, she is laser focused and driven.

She has volunteered her time in the past to assist with an arts and crafts class for special needs adults held by the Arc of Palm Beach County. She is also the content creator of Princesses Against Cancer, a small organization that was nominated for nonprofit of the year and received funding from Palm Beach County Philanthropy Tank. She has organized donations, distributes groceries and cooks and serves meals at a local soup kitchen.

Montero-Mask has a keen eye for seeing gaps within her community and using her resources to find solutions to fill those gaps.  She organized the College’s first Trunk or Treat because she recalled her mother driving her and her siblings “miles away to neighborhoods that were safe” so they could enjoy a ‘normal’ Halloween experience. The event saw over 200 neighborhood children from the surrounding communities, not counting students and the children of faculty and staff.

She served as an intern in the office of State Sen. Lori Berman.

Leadership Award - Faculty/Staff

Dr. Chandra (Sankaranarayana Chandramohan)

Dr. Chandra (Sankaranarayana Chandramohan), professor of Anatomy and Physiology at Palm Beach State College, is a scholar, educator and community leader. His leadership approach is based on motivation, inspiration, collegiality, inclusivity, spirituality and happiness.  Since 2008, he has taught 7,000-plus students, and has led and significantly impacted the quality of instruction, STEM outreach (STEM Saturdays, STEAM Fests) and volunteering in the Division of Math and Science, College and the community as validated by the many awards (NISOD Teaching Excellence, BRAVO, STEM Champion, Volunteering Excellence) bestowed on him by PBSC and the community.

Dr. Chandra’s mom, brothers, teachers and friends instilled in him the values of self-care, confidence, hard work, compassion, and service to others. He attributes his overall success and development to his family members, students and many peers at the College, including Professor Bijayita Thapa, Associate Dean Carlos Ramos and Dr. Charudattan, his mentor. He earned a Ph.D. from University of Florida and master’s degrees from Belgium and India. Multicultural, multilingual and widely traveled, Dr. Chandra has authored a U.S. patent and 13 publications and has given many presentations at state, national and international conferences. These influences and experiences have positively impacted his outlook on teaching and professional development with a focus on engagement, inclusivity and work/life balance.

Dr. Chandra is a leading proponent of textbook and college affordability. He has personally counseled and helped students in financial/emotional distress by donating a personal vehicle, time, resources and job leads. He also spearheads many professional development activities (Development Day  sessions and CTLE Talks, taking students and faculty to conferences, adjunct development, alumni engagement), creates comfortable active learning spaces (weekend study sessions, weekday homework labs, collaborating with SLC, study hall volunteer program), and mentors peer faculty (both adjunct and full-time) and staff. As a result, he has inspired and built his team of dedicated faculty, staff and students with the sole purpose of increasing college affordability, engagement and overall student success.

Leadership Award - Individual

Frank Hayden

From Detroit to Palm Beach County, Frank Hayden has spent his entire professional career creating opportunities for people who sought an equal opportunity to compete.

As director of the new Office of Equal Opportunity, Hayden continues to create programs designed to ensure equality and fair business practices within the city of West Palm Beach. His department is responsible for coordinating programs that foster workforce development, business development and professional education and training.

Prior to this position, Hayden was the procurement director for the city of West Palm Beach. He was responsible for the team that managed purchasing for goods and services, commodities, construction and professional services. He led the growth of the city’s Small Business Enterprise (SBE) program. Under his guidance, the city adopted the recommendations of a Disparity Study, which included the creation of a Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprise program that launched in April 2019.

Hayden began his career with the city of Detroit, where he worked for 35 years. Twenty of those years were spent with the Detroit Water and Sewage Department as the head of Contracts and Grants. In this position, he created and oversaw the Minority- & Woman-Owned Business program.

After his retirement from Detroit, he worked with the South Florida Water Management District as director of procurement, where he helped develop a Small Business Program, increasing SBE participation on District contracts by 15% in three years.

Hayden volunteers as the board chairman of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Palm Beach and Martin Counties, on the Palm Beach County School Board’s Area Boundaries Committee, as basileus (president) of the Kappa Upsilon Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated, and as the president of the Black Chamber of Commerce of Palm Beach County.

He is married to Marcia Hayden, and they have one daughter, three sons and five grandchildren.

Leadership Award - Organization

Youth Speak Out International (YSO INT)

Youth Speak Out International (YSO INT) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to giving children and youth a voice through collaborative media production. As a result of its innovative, hands-on curricula, children develop media literacy, learn to manage their screen time, strengthen their communication skills, and discover their life’s purpose.

Founded in 2008 by CEO/Executive Director William King, YSO INT was created to address the need for media education for youth and families impacted by media messages. YSO INT operates at the community level, working with afterschool programs, schools, families and youth to foster lasting change. Our trained facilitators have educated more than 9,000 multicultural students in South Florida, Belize, Jamaica and Costa Rica, giving priority to afterschool programs serving low-income families and underserved youth.

By helping youth think critically about media content, YSO INT promotes tolerance, safety and respect for others. This forms the groundwork for youth to create new media content aimed at producing positive change in their local and global communities. Youth learn script writing, storyboarding and filming techniques to create videos that educate the public.

Our programs promote self-exploration, public speaking and other life skills essential for job readiness. YSO INT’s most recent initiative, Unplug to Connect™, helps children develop skills to manage their use of screen devices, knowing when and how to put them down and communicate face-to-face. By teaching youth creative uses of screen technologies and, at the same time, encouraging parents to become media mentors, Unplug to Connect improves how screen technologies impact children and families.

YSO INT’s unique approach combining media literacy with media production empowers youth to share their voices and form stronger, face-to-face connections with others. In addition to inspiring positive change in their communities, these opportunities to discover and share their voice have changed the lives of thousands of youth.

Leadership Award - Alumni

Justin Kunzelman

Justin Kunzelman is a Palm Beach County native and the co-Founder/CEO of Rebel Recovery.  He is an alumnus of Palm Beach State College, holding an Associate in Science degree in Human Services and earning membership into Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

As CEO of Rebel Recovery, Kunzelman has led the charge to drastically reform local policy affecting people who use drugs. He has led community organizing around Syringe Access Programs (SAP), Naloxone Distribution, Recovery Peer Supportive Services, and ending patient brokering. To date Rebel Recovery remains the first and only peer led (or otherwise) Harm Reduction agency in South Florida.

Kunzelman’s passion for revolution and change is highlighted by not only his paid work, but in the various voluntary roles in which he serves. He is a member of the Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition, Palm Beach County Re-entry Taskforce, Palm Beach State College Human Services Business Advisory Council, the State’s Attorney Sober Homes Task Force, and Palm Beach County Heroin Task Force.

For all the professional accomplishments, it is his home life that provides joy and a sense of pride.  Kunzelman is a devout family man. He credits his success to his wife Allegra for her undying support, encouragement, and love. Allegra and Justin share in their love for their children, Kaleo Lawless and Nakoa Vandal.

Leadership Award - Student

Joseph Morel

Joseph Morel is not the average student. After serving his country in the United States Marines Corps, he found himself striving to expand his academic knowledge to help others. While pursuing his first degree, an Associate in Arts, he was able to serve Palm Beach State College as the student trustee. In the role, he was able to listen to and advocate for the 49,000 students that call Palm Beach State College home. He is currently working on his second degree, an Associate in Science, from Palm Beach State and is on the prestigious President’s list. His current area of study is Electrical Power Technology with a focus on alternative energy, his inspirations stemming from the worldwide issue of a lack of clean water.

In 2013, he began his journey of advocating for the needs of people with Cystic Fibrosis by stand-up paddling 90 nautical miles from Bimini in the Bahamas to West Palm Beach. His never-give-up-attitude has translated into many community outreach endeavors from mentoring high school students through Palm Beach State’s Summer Best Academy to working with government organizations in creating new ways of therapy for veterans to become active and mobile again. He currently serves as a member of the C.L. Brumback Primary Care Clinics District Clinic Holdings, Inc. Board of Directors, where he continues to serve the community. The C. L. Brumback Primary Care Clinics, owned and operated by the Health Care District of Palm Beach County, provide medical, dental, behavioral health and pharmacy services for adults and children with or without insurance at locations throughout the county.

Striving to achieve a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University or Howard University, he plans to use his knowledge to start a 501c3 organization that focuses on urban areas with high-risk youths.  His humble upbringing has taught him to not only look for the good in people but to strive to bring out the good in others. He lives by the motto, “Don’t judge a man by the clothes he wears, but rather by the actions that emulate the essence of what that man is made of.”

He is currently employed at Palm Beach County Water Utilities and plans to learn the fundamentals of water treatment to build a NGO that focuses on desalinization, which will bring fresh water to parts of the world crippled from extreme temperatures and drought.

Leadership Award - Faculty/Staff

Dr. Irving Berkowitz

Dr. Irving Berkowitz, dean of Academic Affairs at the Palm Beach State College Lake Worth campus, has dedicated over 42 years to academia, advocating for underserved groups, improving race relations, raising awareness of social injustice and championing diversity. He is widely respected and acknowledged by those who have worked with him locally, nationally and internationally for his contributions to improving the life of underserved groups.

He has spent most of his personal and professional life volunteering his time and expertise to nonprofit organizations in the areas of human services, civil rights, poverty and social justice, arts and culture, environmental, animal welfare and education. Berkowitz’s pursuit of social justice for underserved groups has no geographic boundaries. He has provided counsel to several foreign governments, including the formerly Communist governments of Romania, Albania and Slovakia.

As the son of Holocaust survivors, he has been passionately engaged in issues and causes related to social justice, prejudice and equal opportunity. He is the proud recipient of numerous awards and recognition from civil rights organizations such as the Urban League, the North American Indian Association and the New Mexico Holocaust and Intolerance Museum. In 1993, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights honored him for Distinguished Contributions to Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights. In 2013, he was honored as the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial speaker at an Urban League event in Grand Rapids, Mich. In 2015, the Republic of Albania recognized and honored Berkowitz for his 24 years of work with the government and named him the “Founding Dean” of the Faculty of Social Sciences. The following year, he was awarded a fellowship to the prestigious International School for Holocaust Studies in Jerusalem. In 2018, he completed a fellowship as a Scholar-in-Residence at Oxford University’s Institute for the Study of Global Anti-Semitism and Policy. Berkowitz’s personal mission is to promote and protect human rights; to preserve human dignity; to contribute to human development and to improve the human condition.

Prior to joining the PBSC administration in 2013, he worked as the executive vice president of Academic and Student Affairs at Bermuda College, the only institution of higher education on the island nation of Bermuda. Berkowitz, a former distinguished university professor, was selected as one of Ohio University’s Distinguished Alumni. He has served in executive leadership roles at Lassen Community College, Central New Mexico Community College, and John F. Kennedy University in California.

Leadership Award - Individual

Vera Rolle Farrington

Vera Rolle Farrington was born in West Palm Beach. After the death of her father, she moved to Delray Beach with her mother and sister in the 1930’s. She attended the public schools of Palm Beach County and graduated from George Washington Carver Jr./Sr. High School in 1947. She received a bachelor’s degree in 1949 from Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and a master’s degree in education from Florida Atlantic University in 1980. Farrington taught in the Palm Beach County School System for 34 years and retired as assistant principal of Boca Raton High School in 1992.

After retirement, she co-founded a nonprofit organization called Expanding and Preserving Our Cultural Heritage, Inc. (EPOCH) in 1995. The mission of EPOCH is to preserve and share the black history of Delray Beach through preservation and education. In furtherance of their mission, the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum was established in 2001.

She has received numerous awards and recognitions for her work, including Ken Ellingsworth Community Service Award from the Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce; African American Achievers: Arts & Culture Award from JM Family Enterprises, Inc.; Fannie James Pioneer Award from the Historical Society of Palm Beach County; Woman Volunteer of the Year Award from the Junior League of Boca Raton; Publisher’s Community Service Shining Star Award from the Sun-Sentinel and the Woman of Distinction from the Palm Beach County chapter of the March of Dimes. In addition to her nonprofit, she has served on the Board of Directors of the Storm of ’28 Memorial Coalition, Palm Beach County Historical Society, Delray Beach Historic Preservation and the Delray Beach Historical Society.

Farrington currently resides in Delray Beach and is still a strong advocate for civil rights, education and preservation.

Leadership Award - Organization

Dress for Success Palm Beaches

Dress for Success Palm Beaches is the local affiliate of the global nonprofit that was founded in Manhattan in 1997 by Nancy Lublin. With a $5,000 inheritance and help from two nuns, she opened a boutique where women in need could find appropriate attire to make that all-important impression on a job interview. Today, the organization is about more than clothing the individual. It’s genuinely about the empowerment of women – offering the kind of coaching and development tools to help them find the job that’s right for them, grow and progress in that position, and ultimately achieve economic independence. It’s an especially critical need in Palm Beach County where the poverty rate for women is about 15 percent and even higher among the demographics Dress for Success serves, which is mostly single moms and African Americans.

Since opening the doors to the Palm Beaches chapter in 2010, Dress for Success has assisted nearly 5,000 women – many who face issues such as homelessness, poverty, addiction, recovery, domestic abuse, and mental or physical disabilities. In the job readiness courses that Dress for Success has been offering for only the past four to five years, the success rate is notable. More than 200 women age 26 years and older have completed New Directions, a free 10-week course, with 65 percent obtaining jobs as a result. Among the more than 100 women who’ve experienced the organization’s Next Step program for 18-to-25-year-olds, 60 percent have gone on to earn jobs. More importantly, these women – as well as the countless others who go through the Lantana-based boutique and meet with a career coach – gain a newfound self-awareness, self-confidence and mega-boost in their self-esteem. It’s an unparalleled head-to-toe, inside-out transformation.


Lynne Wideline Gassant

Lynne Wideline Gassant

Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote a book in 1996, “It takes a Village to Raise a Child,” that’s based on an African Proverb. The proverb conveys the sentiment that we—our society and communities—have a responsibility to provide guidance, instruction and vision to our youth. Lynne Wideline Gassant lives this mantra in her everyday life by improving the lives of underserved students in South Florida.

As a first-generation college student, Gassant had to learn the American educational system on her own. She often struggled with English-language learning because Haitian Creole was her first language. She sought help and found a wonderful mentor to help her navigate the rigors of the educational system. It is these early experiences with American schools that helped her understand the many roadblocks for non-native speakers. Therefore, while still in her 20s, she founded the Scholar Career Coaching in 2012 so that other students, much like her, could excel in their academics too. Subsequently, these students would have a head start on a more stable future afforded by educational opportunities, like college, and have the potential to earn higher future income.

Scholar Career Coaching is a nonprofit educational organization that assists South Florida high school students, particularly ESL students in Title 1 schools, with college readiness, career planning, financial literacy and life skills through its after school mentoring services. To date, the organization has served more than 100 students and awarded 15 scholarships. In August 2017, Gassant’s work with Scholar Career Coaching was rewarded with the Volunteer Florida Champion of Service Award. Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet presented the award to Gassant in Tallahassee.

Gassant is an exemplary role model in affording youth opportunities to succeed. In her effort to fill a need, she has found a purpose much bigger—being a mentor that models the “keys to success.”

She holds a bachelor’s degree in public management from FAU and master’s degree in human resources management from FIU. She leads the human resources office for a Boca Raton-based private company. She’s also a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority.



Christian Allen

Christian Allen

Christian Allen is in his last year at PBSC studying computer science and plans to specialize in cybersecurity. He has excelled academically making the Dean’s List while maintaining a part-time job. Upon completion of his associate degree, he plans to attend Georgia Institute of Technology or the University of California, Berkeley to complete his studies.

He is the former president of Future Leaders United for Change, a youth council that serves as the voice of today’s Palm Beach County youth and sets the stage for change. He has served for two years as the male representative on the Birth to 22: United for Brighter Futures Steering Committee. Birth to 22 is a collaborative effort between several government entities and stakeholders within Palm Beach County whose focus is to improve the lives of youth from birth to 22 years old. As a representative on the Steering Committee, Allen uses the voice of the Future Leaders to develop strategic plans for youth across Palm Beach County.

In the summers of 2016 and 2017, he was employed as a summer food monitor with the Palm Beach County Youth Services Department. He ensured that the children and youth in the western communities of Palm Beach County had access to adequate food during the summer months, so that no youth within the county went hungry.

Allen is invested in the community. He has volunteered at the C.L. Brumback Health Department in Belle Glade, organizing supplies and assisting at the food bank. As an active member of the American Red Cross, Allen has been instrumental in helping families in the western communities during the historic floods with distribution of food, shelter and water. At the Greater Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, he has served as a member of the youth choir and usher board, and he participated in Sunday school and Vacation Bible School. As the first president of Future Leaders United for Change, he was instrumental in developing the first budget for the council, establishing bylaws and several community projects.

He is currently employed with the School District of Palm Beach County as a substitute teacher, and serves as a mentor at Elbridge Gale Elementary, helping students with their homework and extracurricular activities.



Dr. Louise Aurélien

Dr. Louise Aurélien

Dr. Louise Aurélien is director of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at PBSC and has been instrumental in the growth of the program designed for registered nurses with an associate degree or diploma. Prior to her promotion, she was a tenured member of the nursing faculty for 12 years. She remains active as a family nurse practitioner, practicing on a part-time basis, as well as volunteering at several community health fairs throughout the year.

 She has been a part of the nursing profession for over 25 years. Her areas of practice include primary care, long-term care, medical-surgical, maternal/child health, pediatrics and school health centers. She volunteers as an international/visiting nursing faculty in the baccalaureate and master’s degree programs at the Faculté des Sciences Infirmières de Léogane in Haiti. She was instrumental in the formation/training of the first-ever graduating class of family nurse practitioners in Haiti in November 2017.

 She is the co-editor for the Haitian American Nurses Association’s biannual newsletter. She co-chairs the National Black Nurses Association Women’s Health Committee, and together they published a position paper related to the shackling of incarcerated women of color during the labor/delivery period. She is one of the South Region leads for the Florida Action Coalition, with whom she is working on a project aimed at training and empowering nurses in Florida. She is also a national and international speaker on topics related to nursing education and nursing workforce diversity.

She serves on the Board of Directors for FoundCare, Inc., a federally qualified health center in West Palm Beach, where she chairs the continuous quality improvement committee and is a member of the finance committee. She is the immediate past president for Palm Beach County Black Nurses Association and is active in many other local and regional nursing and non-nursing organizations and serves on the board of regional corporations/organizations.

 She holds a doctorate in education from the University of Florida, a Master of Science with a primary care nursing focus from Northeastern University in Massachusetts, and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Massachusetts.



James Green

James Green

James Green is currently director of the Palm Beach County Community Services Department where he leads the county’s efforts in an array of programs for senior citizens, veterans, low-income residents and the farmworker population. He recently engaged leaders from various sectors to begin developing a comprehensive plan to end homelessness and reduce poverty in Palm Beach County.

In 2015, he served as director of the Outreach and Community Programming (OCP) division of the Palm Beach County Youth Services Department. As director of OCP, he served as a lead

strategist in the development of a cradle-to-career countywide youth master plan called Birth to 22: United for Brighter Futures. He also led the My Brother’s Keeper Network in the implementation of a local action plan that outlined strategies to recruit mentors, review internal policies and create economic opportunities for boys and young men of color. In February of 2017, James worked with community leaders to host a Racial Equity conference to address racial disparities within the county’s healthcare, criminal justice, education and employment systems.

He is the former program director for the Palm Beach County Community Action Agency. In 2014, CAA received the Florida Association for Community Action, Inc. Agency of the Year Award for assisting the greatest number of families and individuals to achieve economic independence and self-sufficiency. This award also recognized local advocacy efforts, community participation, partnerships and collaborations formed by the agency to assist low-income citizens in their journey to economic security and self-sufficiency as well as the agency’s efforts to achieve organizational excellence and represent the best practices within the network.

He received his B.A. degree from Auburn University and his M.S. degree from Palm Beach Atlantic University and is currently a doctoral student at Florida Atlantic University. He is a devoted husband and father of two daughters. Green is an active member of Omega Psi Phi, Fraternity, Inc. where he serves as chair of the Social Action Committee and mentors African American boys in the Omega Lamplighters Program. He has consistently stayed involved with various boards and civic groups throughout the community.



League of Women Voters of Palm Beach County

League of Women Voters of Palm Beach County logo

The U.S. League was founded in 1920 by Carrie Chapman Catt to help newly enfranchised women become politically educated and responsible voting citizens. In 1953, a league was founded in West Palm Beach and eventually grew into a county league, which is now the third largest league in the United States. For almost 100 years, the LWV has fought to improve systems of government and has worked tirelessly to ensure that people have a free role in making democracy work. It is committed to reflecting the diversity and pluralism of the county by promoting inclusion in leadership, membership and participation in all league activities and programs.

During the general elections, the LWV contacted nine Palm Beach County high schools and registered over 450 graduating students. League members attended Senior Check Out Day at six schools. All schools were selected based on diversity and Title I status. Before the election, members texted each student it had registered three different times to remind them when early voting started, remind them when early voting was about to end, and to remind them to vote on Election Day. Of the 450 students, LWV had an 87% success rate of them voting. We also worked at the local university and college campuses to register voters.

In 2017, the organization worked with the High School Government Bee competition and doubled the number of schools who competed.

In each election period, the League holds public forums to explain the pros and cons of ballot issues and publishes and makes available online a Voters Guide which explains ballot issues and contains interviews of county and state candidates. Over 90,000 copies are distributed free of charge to voters.

The League encourages all citizens to be active in our democracy.


Rhonda Denise Rogers

AlumniRhonda 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.  


Tanzina Chowdhury

StudentOriginally 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.


Rev. Kevin Jones

IndividualThe 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.


Professor Kanathy Haney

Faculty/StaffProfessor 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.


Paul's Place

OrganizationPaul’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.


Ashley T. Tripp

AlumniAshley Tripp lives by the proverb, “A generous person will prosper; and by refreshing others will in turn be refreshed.” She is a leader who has fully vested her time and talents in shaping the prosperity of her native Glades communities of Palm Beach County. In conjunction with successfully growing the family business, Tripp Electric Motors, she also was instrumental in establishing the nonprofit organization, Lake Okeechobee Regional Economic (LORE) Alliance of Palm Beach County, in response to the need for a local economic entity. Under her tenacious leadership, she helped foster relationships with multiple private partners, governmental entities and elected officials which have strengthened collaboration efforts needed to develop and improve economic opportunities in the Glades. The LORE Alliance and its highly esteemed partner, the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County, have refreshed the Glades’ economic climate and its citizens by successfully attracting new businesses to the region that have created over 400 new jobs.

Tripp leads with Christian values that continuously build bridges and grow opportunities. She is renowned for her hospitality and creative thinking and has effectively used these gifts in hosting numerous forums and familiarization tours that revealed the valuable people and environmental assets of the Glades to broader audiences. As a result, there has been a remarkable increase of cooperation with communal leaders in enhancing the quality of life in the Glades.

Incorporating the youth of her community in acts of service is a high priority for Tripp. She has coordinated many youth organizations in beautification events such as the Great American Clean-up and tree plantings at community parks and Lake Okeechobee’s Torry Island. She frequently shares her knowledge and life experiences with youth to motivate them into achieving greatness and serving others.

She currently serves as board member of LORE and the Palm Beach State College Foundation. She is an alternate member on the South Florida Water Management District Water Resource Advisory Council, and a trustee for South Florida PBS. She has been nominated for the Women’s Chamber of Commerce Giraffe Award and the Executive Women of the Palm Beaches Women in Leadership Award. She is a U.S. Army Reserve veteran and received her Associate in Arts degree from Palm Beach State.


Rebecca Stremel

StudentIn her spare time, Rebecca Stremel enjoys working with kids of all ages and supporting and encouraging them in life. Asides from volunteering in several outreach programs in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields, aiding students from elementary to high school with hands-on science lab experiments, she has spent time helping the less fortunate. As part of her church group, Stremel volunteered for an event that gave homeless individuals a place to watch the Super Bowl and get free food, a haircut and clothes. That opportunity allowed her to engage in conversations and walk in someone else’s shoes for a day. Not only did Rebecca get to motivate and encourage the homeless, but she also was motivated and touched by their life struggles. The experience inspired her to look at the world with a different set of eyes. During Thanksgiving week, she also prepared meals through the Big Heart Brigade to distribute to families in need. Stremel has donated toys for Christmas to those who otherwise would not have gotten anything. She has done outreach and volunteer work because of her love to help those in need, and she says that it gives her a great sense of pleasure to give back to the community and impact people’s lives.

As a student in the Biotechnology program at PBSC, she has volunteered at several high schools in the county, working with students on several different experiments to perfect their lab skills. She has encouraged students to be a part of something greater in life to make an impact in the science community. She also has worked with elementary students, aiming to sculpt them to be their best, whether it is in the science field or simply in life. Through the outreach programs at PBSC, Stremel has provided students with knowledge and skills, enabling them to do something great in life. She says the greatest feeling is being there to teach them something new and seeing the look and smiles on their faces as they take on the task.


Judge Rand Hoch

IndividualRand Hoch has worked tirelessly as a volunteer advocate, activist and organizer to secure equal rights for minorities and women.

Growing up in Massachusetts in the 1960s, he was perplexed that the young men sent to fight in Vietnam had been denied the right to vote. As a key organizer in the voting rights movement, Hoch, at the time a high school student, was one of only a handful of people invited to the State House by Governor Francis Sargent to witness the bill lowering the voting age signed into law.

Throughout his college and law school years, he remained immersed in political causes. When he moved to Palm Beach County in the 1980s, his law practice centered on representing workers and unions.

In 1988, Hoch founded the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, an all-volunteer nonprofit organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Under his leadership, the Council has been successful in having civil rights laws enacted which secure protected status for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals in private and public employment, housing and public accommodations.

In the mid-1990s, Hoch took a hiatus from his activism while he served as Florida’s first openly gay judge. During his judicial tenure, he served as president of Florida’s Conference of Judges of Compensation Claims and as vice president of the International Association of Lesbian and Gay Judges.

After he left the bench, he returned to advocacy. He was instrumental in having the Palm Beach County School District adopt a comprehensive policy protecting public school students from harassment and bullying. More recently, in an effort to address the problem of “shopping while Black,” Hoch convinced both the Palm Beach County Commission and the West Palm Beach City Commission to amend their civil rights laws, greatly expanding the definition of places of public accommodation to include not only retail stores, but also virtually every place of business in Palm Beach County.

Over the years, Hoch has been responsible for the enactment of more than 100 laws and policies extending equal rights and benefits to the LGBT Floridians.


Shona Castillo

Faculty/StaffShona Castillo has worked to address and raise awareness of community issues and to cultivate an appreciation for volunteerism among her students.

One of the first partnerships she made after becoming a volunteer program specialist at PBSC five years ago was with CROS Ministries. When the Lake Worth organization identified transporting food from the storage facility to the Riviera Beach pantry as one of its greatest challenges, Castillo sought and completed training to drive the College shuttles. Since then, she has taken many students to volunteer at the pantry and warehouse and became a trusted partner to the agency. CROS Ministries eventually provided her with a set of keys so she could go there after hours to stock shelves, sort food and deliver pallets to the pantries with student volunteers. Always one to lead by example, it was quite common to find her sweating, lifting and moving boxes of food alongside her students.

When she was asked to join the Lake Worth campus’ Human Trafficking Awareness Committee, she agreed to assist as needed but not lead the initiative. However, as she learned more about human trafficking occurring in her own community, she wanted to do more to help. She volunteered to post flyers, table events, coordinate speakers for workshops and presentations, and recruit student leaders to join the cause.

After learning that many of her student volunteers did not have transportation to and from volunteering events, Castillo partnered with the Athletics department to gain access to their vehicles to transport students. She quickly took on the additional role of “bus driver” to transport volunteers to service sites as well as overnight conferences. Castillo has driven her students to serve throughout Florida and as far as Biloxi, Miss. to participate in an alternative spring break with United Way.

She also serves on boards and committees in the county. She served in the volunteer position of logistics chair for the American Cancer Society Making Strides against Breast Cancer in 2011. She currently serves on the Diamond View Elementary School Advisory Committee, Team Work USA Scholarship Committee and as SunFest vice-chair of finance.

Castillo received the 2015 Advisor of the Year Award by United Way Worldwide and the Advocate Award for her program work for homeless students.


CROS Ministries

OrganizationCROS Ministries’ mission is to serve the hungry in Palm Beach and Martin counties through community collaborations. In 1978, a group of United Methodist Churches located in Palm Beach County came together to form Christians Reaching Out to Society Inc. (CROS Ministries).

They realized that together they could make more of a difference assisting the community’s unmet needs. Over time, CROS Ministries became both ecumenical and interfaith, partnering with other denominations and faiths. The programs are designed to provide food to their clients so that they can use their limited resources on other basic needs, such as medicine and housing. They include: six community food pantries throughout Palm Beach County (Delray Beach, Lake Worth, West Palm Beach, Riviera Beach, Jupiter and Belle Glade) and one in Martin County (Indiantown); The Caring Kitchen, a hot meal and social services program (Delray Beach); summer camps (Boynton Beach and Lake Worth); an afterschool snack program (Delray Beach and West Palm Beach); a weekend food program for children (Delray Beach and Jupiter); and Gleaning, a food recovery program. All services are offered without regard to race, religion, national origin, marital status, gender, disability, sexual orientation or age.


Dr. Delsa R. Bush

AlumniDr. Delsa R. Bush created many firsts during her 28-year career with the West Palm Beach Police Department.  She became the first African-American female officer, sergeant and lieutenant. She continued moving up the ranks, becoming the first female captain and assistant chief.  In 2004, then Mayor Lois Frankel appointed her police chief, making her the first African-American and female to hold the position.

Her most significant contribution as police chief was crime reduction. When she took the helm, the crime index and crime rate were among the highest in the nation per capita. The city consistently ranked in the top ten as one of the most violent cities, based on Uniform Crime Report data.  When she retired in 2011, the crime rate and index were reduced by more than half and the city was no longer ranked as one of America’s most violent.

She developed three major components of a strategic plan to revitalize CityPlace, Downtown, and the Northwood Road entertainment districts.  Retail businesses were in severe decline due to mass juvenile disobedience. She initiated juvenile curfew for CityPlace and Downtown and an extensive partnership with private security and community service aides to complement law enforcement efforts. She also implemented a separate and distinct Entertainment District Unit of police officers.

Under her leadership, the department attained accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies for the first time since the 1980s, while retaining its state accreditation. The Dispatch Operations Center also earned CALEA accreditation. The department implemented several technological advances, including a paperless report writing system and a citywide remote controlled camera surveillance system.

Bush holds an A.S. degree from Palm Beach Junior College, a B.A. degree from Florida Atlantic University and an M.S. degree and Ph.D. from Lynn University.  She continues to serve on the boards of professional and civic organizations and volunteer for youth causes and as a motivational speaker at community events.


David G. Cruz

StudentDavid G. Cruz serves the community through organizations on and off campus. He is vice president of the Student Government Association on the Palm Beach Gardens campus and a college caucus representative for the Florida College System Student Government Association, which represents and advocates for more than one million students. Through the campus SGA, he has worked with programs such as Habitat for Humanity, which provides homes for the needy, and Hannah’s Home, which provides shelter and support to at-risk pregnant women and their babies.

As a lay health advisor for the Community Voice Program implemented by the Sickle Cell Foundation of Palm Beach County & Treasure Coast, he goes into the community to raise awareness about infant mortality and provide information on preventive measures to decrease the rate. Cruz is a former volunteer with the Palm Beach County Library System where he tutored low-income children in reading. He is currently a prekindergarten teacher for Children of the Future Christian Academy that serves low income families and gets them to become actively involved in their children’s education through collaborations with Family Central, Early Learning Coalition and the Children’s Services Council.

As a part-time Walgreens employee he has helped coordinate and organize the company’s participation in such charities as Susan G. Komen, Toys for Tots and Ronald McDonald House.

Cruz said his interest in helping youth get a solid foundation stems partly from his own background. Born in the Bronx, he was a foster child before being adopted. But after losing his adoptive father and later his adoptive mother, he said working with children is like gaining a family.

He holds an Associate in Science degree in Early Childhood Education from Palm Beach State and is currently completing his Associate in Arts degree. He plans to pursue bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in early childhood education.


Denny Abbott

IndividualDenny Abbott risked his own life to improve the lives of helpless children. He was a youth probation officer in Montgomery during the civil rights movement when he felt a conviction to correct wrongdoing by the state of Alabama.

He filed a federal lawsuit in 1969 to stop institutional abuse of black children in the Alabama court system. Instead of being reformed, the children were housed in deplorable conditions in a state correctional facility, used as slave laborers on prison farms and abused. In 1972, he filed another federal lawsuit to stop the unfair treatment of orphaned black children who were being housed in juvenile detention facilities instead of foster care facilities.

Eventually, Abbott was fired for filing the lawsuits and faced death threats from the Ku Klux Klan, but his actions led to major reforms in the state. The correctional facility “farms” were disbanded and every staffer was fired. Then vocational rehabilitation and social services were instituted.  When Florida began taking over the detention centers in 1973, Abbott became the regional detention director for Palm Beach County, Orlando and Fort Pierce.

Abbott, author of “They Had No Voice: My Fight for Alabama’s Forgotten Children,” continued his work in Florida to make a difference. He helped John Walsh start the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 1984 and served as national director of the Adam Walsh Child Resource Center from 1981 to 1989.  In 1990, he became coordinator for victim services in Palm Beach County. He also wrote victims’ rights legislation, which became Florida law in the mid-1990s. He has served as an expert source for major media outlets and Congress.

Abbott holds a master’s degree in criminology and corrections from Florida State University and has served as an adjunct professor at two community colleges and four universities.


Florida Immigrant Coalition

OrganizationFlorida Immigrant Coalition is a statewide coalition of nearly 50 member organizations and 100 allies. It is led by its membership, which includes organizations, farm workers, youth, lawyers, unions and others. Since 1998, FLIC’s mission is to amplify the power of immigrant communities to impact the root causes of inequality, defending and protecting basic human rights, including the right to live without fear. Over the past four years alone, FLIC has effectively organized and mobilized for economic and immigrant justice at the local and state levels resulting in 11 important victories related to protections against wage theft and the criminalization of undocumented immigrants in Florida, among others. Its most recent legislative victory was the passing of a law that allows eligible undocumented students to qualify for in-state tuition rates at Florida colleges and universities. FLIC works at the intersections of race, gender, age and class, allowing the organization to engage in multi-issue and multi-generational efforts to achieve important victories for the immigrant rights movement. It accomplishes its mission through statewide campaigns and programs in the following key areas:

  • Civic Engagement and Citizenship: Provides support to immigrant youth and adults to become naturalized citizens and engaged voters.

  • Wage Theft Protection: Supports Florida’s growing wage theft movement by defending established ordinances and programs in four counties and bolstering efforts to implement regulations against wage theft for low-income and immigrant workers across Florida.

  • Criminalization and Enforcement: Reduces rates of immigrant incarceration and prison profiteering, acts as a liaison between detainees and service providers, and provides community oversight to eliminate the need for immigrant detention centers.

  • Organizational Capacity Building: Strengthens the ability of member organizations to effectively organize and support their local community and constituents, including youth, farmworkers, workers and families.


Dr. Dennis P. Gallon

Dr. GallonWhen Dr. Dennis P. Gallon became Palm Beach State’s fourth president in 1997, he immediately encouraged and embraced a culture of diversity. He created the assistant to the president for equity programs position, and diversity was one of the priorities of the first five-year Strategic Plan developed under his leadership.

From the Strategic Plan, the College created its first ever Diversity Plan, which called for more programs and initiatives to enhance diversity among faculty, staff, administration, students and programs. Essentially, Gallon wanted to go beyond the mandates of the Florida Educational Equity Act and more visibly recognize the College’s rich diversity.

Other initiatives that resulted from the plan were mandatory diversity training for all employees, a Minority and Small Business Enterprise Program to broaden participation in the procurement process, a District Diversity Committee, as well as celebrations recognizing the contributions of people of all backgrounds, including the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Breakfast.

Gallon worked to preserve the history of Roosevelt Junior College, an all-black junior college that merged with Palm Beach Junior College in 1965. As part of this effort, the College held a community event marking the 40th anniversary of the closing of RJC, rededicated the Social Science building on the Lake Worth campus in honor of RJC President Britton Sayles, and established an RJC oral history project and archive of memorabilia.

In the community, Gallon launched the Glades Initiative Partnership Council to involve education, community and civic leaders in planning and supporting educational programs and services at the Belle Glade campus. He also has been involved in the Black, Brown & College Bound annual statewide conference to boost student persistence, retention and graduation among African-American and Latino males.

The efforts to embrace diversity were and continue to be crucial to a community and region that has become increasingly diverse since Gallon’s arrival. With a 25 percent Hispanic enrollment, the College recently received a Hispanic Serving Institution grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Overall, the College serves students from 165 countries. Gallon is retiring at the end of June after 18 years at the College.


George Gentile

AlumniGeorge G. Gentile has practiced as a landscape architect and planner in Palm Beach County for over 35 years. He has worked on numerous public and private projects that have contributed to the quality of life of all the residents of Palm Beach County and south Florida. His planning, site planning and landscape architectural design work has included such projects as the Resource Recovery Facility of Palm Beach County, the Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Training Facility, Okeeheelee Park, the Max Planck Florida Institute in Jupiter, Florida, the New Haven Community in Abacoa and the Public Safety Training Center at Palm Beach State College to name a few. His peers recognized him for his professional dedication and contributions; he was named a  Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects in 1996 and chosen as the Landscape Architect of the Year by the Palm Beach Chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 2007.

During his extensive career he has also contributed to the community by his participation in numerous organizations and charities. He was co-founder and the first president of the Juvenile Diabetes Association of Palm Beach County. He is chairman of the Board of the Jupiter Tequesta Juno Beach Chamber of Commerce where he has served as a board member for over 17 years. He is also currently member and director of the Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County and a member of the Palm Beach County Planning Congress, the Economic Council of Palm Beach County, the PGA Corridor Association, the Economic Forum of Palm Beach County and the Palm Beach State College Foundation board. Over the past 10 years Gentile has volunteered as a member of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. He has served as Flotilla Commander and has been the operations officer over the last eight years for the Flotilla 52 in Jupiter, providing assistance underway to Station Lake Worth Florida in observation and search and rescue activities for the general boaters throughout Palm Beach County. He has been awarded two Letters of Commendation from the Commander of Sector Miami, USCG for rendering assistance to injured boaters in two separate incidences.

Gentile is president and founder of Gentile Glas Holloway O'Mahoney & Associates, Inc., a full service landscape architecture, planning and environmental consulting firm, which was established in 1988 in Jupiter and is dedicated to sustainable and environmentally sensitive planning and design. He has served as president of the Florida Chapter and Trustee on the National Board of the American Society of Landscape Architects. He holds registration to practice his profession in Florida, Ohio, Mississippi, Tennessee and North Carolina. He is currently a commissioner of the Jupiter Inlet District of which he has been elected by the residents of northern Palm Beach County and is serving his 4th term on the Commission. He graduated from Palm Beach Community College in 1973 with an Associate in Arts degree in Architecture and from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree in 1977. He has been happily married to his wife Jeanette for over 40 years and has three sons and four grandchildren, all of whom reside in Palm Beach County.


Estella Pyfrom

IndividualIn 2013, Estella Pyfrom was invited to the White House (twice), appeared in Essence magazine on the same pages as Oprah Winfrey and was featured in a two-minute segment on "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams."

This also was the year she became a Top 10 CNN Hero, receiving worldwide acclaim for creating and funding a unique way to educate children in low-income neighborhoods. She took $950,000 from her retirement fund and bought a customized state-of-the-art Wi-Fi bus with satellite dish.  Pyfrom takes "Estella's Brilliant Bus" into areas where families often do not have computers or Internet access.

She began life as the daughter of a Belle Glade migrant worker, who grew up in a barn. She picked vegetables for 19 years. She and everyone she knew was told through her entire childhood, she would never amount to anything and would pick beans for the rest of her life. (She's seen at age 10 with her father, in a traveling Smithsonian exhibit, similar to the images in "Harvest of Shame.")

Pyfrom became a local educator, summer school principal and ran group homes for people with disabilities. At night she sold insurance and did other jobs.

These days Estella offers lessons ranging from how to do research on the Internet to job and life skills and pre-natal care. About a third of the children she helps do not have Internet access at home, and Pyfrom makes sure they get it. (She also distributes food to the poor.)

Because Pyfrom experienced true hardship —her father had to build beds out of kindling the first night at each farm they worked— she is a real inspiration to the families she helps.  She tells her charges, "Be honest. Work hard."

Besides the CNN and NBC broadcasts, last summer, the President and First Lady gave Pyfrom special recognition at a White House reception for Points of Light.

More recently, the Washington Post featured Estella in its conference "Bridging the Digital Divide."  She has appeared on WPTV News Channel 5, WPEC News Channel 12 and in Jet, Essence, the Palm Beach Post, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Florida Times Union, Florida Courier and a host of other publications. Last fall, L'Oreal declared her a Top 10 "L'Oreal Woman of Worth."  The Annenberg Foundation (Annenberg Alchemy) will fly her and a board member to Los Angeles for a five-day training session on how to manage nonprofits.  A fellow CNN Hero donated an additional $10,000 to Estella's Brilliant Bus.

Pyfrom is a client at Palm Beach State College's Small Business Development Center where she created her "Brilliant Bus" brand and received guidance in fundraising, publicity and other nonprofit issues.


Nephtalie Jean

StudentNephtalie Jean's journey in community service and volunteerism began as a young child through her church youth group, so it was no surprise that it grew to become an important part of her student life. On her very first day at Palm Beach State College, she entered the Student Activities office in search of opportunities to serve. Having previously attended the Student United Way Leadership retreat in Alexandria, Va. she was able to explore the importance of service in the areas of education, income and health. Inspired by the passion of the presentations of other student attendees, she wholeheartedly took on the leadership role of vice president of the Palm Beach State student chapter of Student United Way in order to make a difference on her campus as well as her community. Well equipped with a list of experiences at nonprofit agencies in Palm Beach County, she assumed a leadership role within the Palm Beach State College Volunteer Program and began coordinating opportunities and events for students that would pique their interest, ignite their passion for service and provide them with valuable learning outcomes.

She forged strong new working relationships with nonprofit agencies that include: The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Locks of Love, Animal Care & Control, and Seagull Industries. She coordinated student club members to volunteer for September's Back to School Bash. Her passion and dedication were also highly instrumental in Palm Beach State College Lake Worth campus' receipt of the 2013 Excellence in Service Student United Way award and she has almost 200 community service hours to her credit, which she served at John I. Leonard High school and various agencies including The Homeless Coalition and Oasis Compassion Center.

Currently enrolled at Palm Beach State, she is studying to become a veterinarian. She is currently enrolled in the Floyd F. Koch Honors College, serves as parliamentarian of ASPIRA, is an active Phi Beta Lambda member and is an engaged and active citizen.



OrganizationPEACE stands for People Engaged in Active Community Efforts.  Founded in 1991, it is a justice ministry organization made up of 26 different congregations from throughout Palm Beach County.  Recognizing that to do justice requires power, PEACE brings together large numbers of people to hold political and economic systems accountable around serious issues of injustice affecting low income and marginalized populations throughout the county.

PEACE is different from other kinds of organizations in that it is not a direct service agency; rather it is a direct action organization.  PEACE organizes efforts which go to the root cause of problems in our community.  A few successes include:

  • In 2010, PEACE succeeded in getting the Board of County Commissioners to allocate a little over a million dollars to the affordable housing trust fund and to commit to a dedicated stream of funding starting in October of 2014.

  • In 2012, PEACE succeeded in getting the city of West Palm Beach to establish a Neighborhood Accountability Board, a program of Restorative Justice to serve 50-75 youthful offenders per year.

  • In 2013, PEACE succeeded in getting the Board of County Commissioners to allocate funding to Legal Aid Society to pursue claims of wage theft. In addition, the 15th Circuit set up a special Wage Theft docket by which these claims can be heard in an efficient manner.

All of this has been possible because PEACE continues to build significant people power.  The focus of this power is the annual Nehemiah Action Assembly, where PEACE gathers large numbers and asks the public officials to make specific serious commitments around our issues.  In 2007, PEACE turned out approximately 700 people to the Nehemiah Action.  In 2013, just 5 years later, this turnout had doubled to just over 1,400.

This year, the goal is to turn out 2,000 people to address unemployment in the Glades, out-of-school suspensions in our schools, and a new issue currently being researched which will have to do with something in the arena of criminal justice.  The Nehemiah Actin is scheduled to be held on Monday, March 31, at 7 pm at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.


Joseph B. (Jay) Shearouse, III

AlumniJoseph B. Shearouse, III, a leader in Palm Beach County's financial community for more than 30 years, has been actively involved in bringing quality health care and other services to local residents. He was an advocate and helped raise funds for the new Lakeside Medical Center in Belle Glade to provide better service to the western communities.  A third generation Floridian, he is the chairman of the board of directors for the United Way of Palm Beach County and has had a 10-year affiliation with the organization. He also serves on the board of trustees of the Palm Healthcare Foundation and the board of directors of the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County.

Shearouse is president and chief executive officer of First Bank of the Palm Beaches.  He previously served for two years as president of National City for Southeast Florida, and prior to that, he was executive vice president for Fidelity Federal Bank & Trust, where he had worked for over 28 years.  He has served on the board of directors of the Florida Bankers Association and America's Community Bankers. He was named "Florida Banker of the Year" in 2006 by the Florida Bankers Association.  In many of his banking roles, he has been in a position to support local charities and organizations serving the community through both fundraising efforts and personal philanthropic commitment.

He holds an A.A. degree from Palm Beach Junior College and a bachelor's degree from Florida State University. He lives in Tequesta with his wife, Michelle, and their children Joseph IV and Eric.


Aileen Josephs, Esq.

IndividualAileen Josephs has been an immigration attorney in Palm Beach County for 20 years. She worked for the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society in New York City and at Florida Rural Legal Services as an immigration attorney before opening her private immigration practice in 1995. She has worked tirelessly to protect and safeguard the human and civil rights of immigrants. She received widespread attention for her work in defending the civil and human rights of a Guatemalan girl, a victim of gender persecution, who was charged with first-degree murder as an adult in the death of her premature newborn.  Attorney Josephs shepherded a complaint filed with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice related to the lack of language access during this case, which resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding with the Lake Worth police.

She also has dedicated much time advocating for sensible immigration reform. In 2010, she helped found Florida Voices for Immigration Reform and serves as co-chair of this mainstream coalition that advocates for bipartisan immigration reform. She has given countless hours working on rallies and press conferences, filed complaints with the Office of Civil Rights and Liberties of the Department of Homeland Security and built coalitions to advance this cause.

In 2007, she was named Honorary Consul of Guatemala in West Palm Beach by the Guatemalan Government. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Florida Bar Pro Bono award for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit in 2005 for her working that included helping immigrant children file dependency petitions in juvenile court and obtain permanent legal resident status. She has served on many boards, including the American Jewish Committee in Palm Beach County, the Latino and Latin American Institute of the American Jewish Committee and many others.  With the Center for International Migration and Integration (C.I.M.I.), she is promoting transnational projects for development with the South Florida Guatemalan Diaspora.

Born and raised in Mexico City, she earned a bachelor's degree cum laude with honors from Brandeis University and received her juris doctor degree from Boston College Law School.


John Calderaio

studentJohn Calderaio overcame drug and alcohol addictions to become an honors student at Palm Beach State College.

Since achieving sobriety six years ago, he has been on a mission of constant self-improvement and the desire to make the community in which he lives a better place.

In addition to his academic pursuits as a member of the Dr. Floyd F. Koch Honors College, the aspiring chemical engineer has been an enthusiastic participant of the math team, and he has served as a volunteer math, chemistry and physics tutor for the Student Learning Center. He also currently serves as vice president of the Student Government Association at the Palm Beach Gardens campus and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa honors society and the Engineering Club. He served last fall on the Engineering Club's NASA Antigravity Project team. Calderaio will lead the campus SGA delegation to this year's Rally in Tally in which student government leaders go to Tallahassee to lobby state legislators for the benefit of students at Florida's community colleges.

He has given back to the local community by serving as a guest speaker for the Palm Beach County school district on the hazards and consequences of teen alcohol and drug addiction; his direct experience allowed him to relate to students who abused substances. He was member of a volunteer crew that helped maintain the cleanliness and safety of Palm Beach County youth skate parks. In addition, he has prepared and delivered boxed meals to South Florida's migrant worker community in collaboration with St. Paul of the Cross Catholic Church.


Comprehensive AIDS Program of Palm Beach County, Inc. (CAP)

organizationComprehensive AIDS Program of Palm Beach County, Inc. (CAP) is the oldest and largest, minority-based non-profit organization dedicated to serving people living with HIV/AIDS. Founded in 1985 by a group of concerned friends and family members of people living with AIDS, the agency has grown to serve all areas of Palm Beach County through three service centers staffed by more than 100 professionals and volunteers.

Each year CAP provides food, housing, case management, transportation assistance, linkage to medical care, substance abuse treatment, mental health counseling, and other essential services to more than 2,000 people living with HIV/AIDS and their families. CAP focuses its efforts on identifying and linking people living with HIV/AIDS to medical care. Medical case managers help individuals enroll in health insurance programs, including Medicaid/Medicare and Palm Beach County Health Care District so that they can see a doctor regularly. Further, the medical case managers help individuals access medications through various pharmacy and drug assistance programs. Evidence has shown that when people living with HIV are enrolled in medical care and regularly take their prescribed medications, they not only have better health outcomes, but they are also less likely to transmit HIV to other individuals.

CAP also offers HIV prevention and testing services reaching more than 10,000 people each year, with an emphasis on raising awareness about HIV and helping people learn their HIV status. During 2012, CAP staff provided HIV prevention outreach and education to 16,993 African American women and their male sex partners (ages 18-44) with a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  During the same time, CAP staff and volunteers also reached 21,763 individuals in Palm Beach County's Hispanic communities with HIV prevention messages and conducted the Street Smart program, an 11-session educational curriculum for 199 minority youth (ages 14-21).

CAP continues to reach Palm Beach County's diverse populations with appropriate HIV/AIDS prevention messages. The agency's innovative "Learn. Know. Connect." program helps people learn about HIV, know their HIV status through testing, and connect to care as appropriate. CAP established a toll-free phone number that works throughout the county that any resident can call to schedule a free, confidential rapid HIV antibody test. The test takes about ½ hour and is painless. The toll-free number is 888-41-RAPID (888-417-2743).


Mark Hansen
mark hansenWhen he was 7 years old, Mark Hansen was hit by a car while riding his bicycle. The accident left him in a coma for eight days, paralyzed the left side of his body and caused seizures for the next nine years. He had to learn to walk and talk again. His mother was told by a psychologist that he would never be college material, and his doctor said he would never be able to drive a car.  He was on medication for nine years and often was teased by students. Hansen says it was that experience that makes him relate to teens' struggles in adolescence. It also is the driving force behind his commitment to helping and empowering youth.

Hansen has been an active member of the community. He served two terms on the School Board of Palm Beach County from 2002 to 2008. He is a board member of the Youth Empowerment Committee of Palm Beach County, chairman of the Board for the American Association of Caregiving Youth and a board member of Communities in Schools of Palm Beach County. He also has served as a past board member of the American Cancer Society and the Florida Atlantic University Alumni Association board and is a member of the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce.

After his mother died of cancer in 2006, he established the Lucille Hansen Education and Cancer Research Fund through the National Christian Community Foundation of South Florida. Through that fund, he has provided for the past three years support for First Generation in College Scholarships for students at Palm Beach State College.

He has authored three books to help youth -  "An Ark for Learning,"  "Success 101 for Teens: 7 Traits for a Winning Life," and "Success 101 for Teens: Dollars and Sense for a Winning Financial Life," which will be released nationally in March by Paragon House.

Hansen, who received his A.A. degree from then Palm Beach Community College in 1991 and his B.A. degree from FAU in 1993, has been a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker for 17 years, specializing in the oceanfront luxury condominium market in Boca Raton. He has been consistently recognized nationally in the top three percent in sales with Coldwell Banker Previews International.


Carlton "Ricky" Wade
ricky wadeRicky Wade has always embodied an entrepreneurial spirit and a sense of giving. At 14, he formed his first business to conduct/ host special events and parties. While attending Excelsior College in his native Jamaica, he started a landscape firm to earn money for tuition.  Upon graduation, he returned to the U.S. to pursue a career, landing a job as an assistant manager for a McDonald's in Miami. 

Nearly 20 years later, Wade's latest enterprise, "B"ing the Best, is the franchise for 11 McDonald's restaurants in Palm Beach County. Wade's business presence and personal involvement enriches the community.  Committed to reinforcing positive lifestyle habits, he works closely with organizations such as Junior Achievement to help underprivileged and inner-city youth. He credits his mother for teaching him the value of helping others. "My mother instilled in me the importance of being involved and giving back to my community because that is the true definition of success," he said.

Wade has also worked with the School District of Palm Beach County in reinforcing the need for kids to have an active lifestyle by participating in programs such as the Kid's Festival conducted annually by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission and the Kids-K run that proceeds the Palm Beach Marathon.

He currently serves as the vice president of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of South Florida and is an advisor to The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Palm Beach County. He is a board member of the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches, United Way of Palm Beach County, The Arc of Palm Beach County, ASPIRA of Florida, Palm Beach State College Foundation, Urban League of Palm Beach County, The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Foundation and Boy Scouts of America/Gulf Stream Council Executive Board. He is the vice-president of the National Black McDonald's Operators Association East Division and treasurer of the Palm Beach McDonald's Marketing Association.

For his volunteer efforts, Wade was honored in 2007 with an invitation to the White House to celebrate African American History Month. Later that year he also received the African American Diaspora History Maker of Tomorrow Award. In 2009 he was the recipient of the Community Giant Award from the Inner City Youth Golfers' Inc. and the Large Business Leader Award from the Black Chamber of Commerce of Palm Beach County. He is married to Lissette and has three children.


D'atra Franklin
d'atra franklinD'atra Franklin's mother died when she was a young child, requiring her to take care of herself from an early age.  Moving from relative to relative and friend to friend forced her to become self-sufficient to survive and eventually go into foster care as a teen.

After aging out of foster care at 18, she found out about an organization called Florida Youth Shine (FYS), a statewide, youth-led organization that meets regularly to identify the challenges and successes of life within the child welfare system.  Florida Youth Shine members also work to educate the public on the issues pertaining to foster youth and often give voice to a voiceless population.  At Franklin's first meeting, she had so many ideas on how to change the foster care system that she became empowered by the prospect of being able to bring about positive change.

Through efforts with her peers, FYS has successfully advocated on behalf of several Florida foster care bills that have been signed into law.  Just a few years ago, FYS played a big role in the passing of two bills that provided foster youth their right to access their educational records and speed up the school enrollment process.  Over the past year, Franklin has played an active role in FYS's drive to support the redesign of the state's Independent Living program that works to support all former foster youth from the age of 18 to 23 years old. In Palm Beach County,  she works to create a community for other teens and young adults to come together to share their experiences, learn life skills, and become leaders in their own right.  FYS Palm Beach meets once a month to discuss issues like education and normalcy and to learn about upcoming bills that directly affect those growing up in foster care.   As a chapter representative, she travels the state sharing the stories of her peers in Palm Beach County, and is often asked to speak with the media and appear on television and in newspaper articles.

Florida's Children First (the parent organization of FYS) honored her at its 2010 Palm Beach Advocacy Awards reception. She has also volunteered with the Adopt a Family organization and continues to advocate for foster children as well as all disadvantaged youth. She completed her Associate in Arts degree in the fall from Palm Beach State and is now enrolled at Florida Atlantic University to pursue a bachelor's degree in education. Her goal is to become a high school history teacher and eventually a guidance counselor.


El Sol - Jupiter's Neighborhood Resource Center
el solPrior to the creation of El Sol in 2006, there were no services for immigrants in the town of Jupiter and no health or social services for low income people in northern Palm Beach County. There also was much misunderstanding and some hatred directed toward the growing immigrant population.

El Sol was created to address issues stemming from the presence of large numbers of workers congregating on Center Street to seek work in an "open air labor market," but it quickly became a center for various services for low income people in Jupiter.  In its five years of existence, El Sol has contributed to solving the local problem by creating a safe space for workers and employers to connect.

It also has integrated immigrants into the community by providing English and literacy classes as well as training in code issues and financial literacy. It coordinates health services, provides vocational training programs for workers and hosts an annual community service program that tie into the values that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. firmly stood for during his life: "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?" El Sol tries to answer this question by action every day.

El Sol provides a place for the food pantry of C.R.O.S. Ministries, and it offers its members breakfast and lunch seven days a week, 360 days a year. It also provides free legal assistance and an art program that ends with an Annual Art Fest, where artists, many from the immigrant community, are able to showcase their talents. It has offered a film series and other cultural programs. Most of this work is done through volunteers. Their interaction with the immigrant community has led to a new understanding of and interest in one community by another.  

El Sol workers have given back to the community through participation as volunteers for community projects with partners such as Habitat for Humanity, Paint Your Heart Out and Rebuilding Together of the Palm Beaches as well as a 2010 United Way project to assist the Thelma Pittman School in Jupiter with building repairs.


Devin Robinson X
robinsonDevin Robinson X has made educating youth and adults about HIV and AIDS part of his life's mission. Through AIDS Awareness Poets, Inc., a nonprofit company he established in 2006, he gets his messages across through his original poetry and monologues. He has performed at colleges and universities and other venues in South Florida and around the world. From Johannesburg (South Africa), Qatar (Middle East) to several parts of the Caribbean, his talent is enjoyed worldwide.

After losing his mother at the age of 12 and being abandoned by his father, Robinson X began down a dangerous path of trouble. He made a complete turnaround, however, and began channeling his grief and anger into a positive passion to improve others. He credits the turnaround to his sister, Chastity. At 18, she raised him and guided him on a positive path.

Robinson X enrolled in Palm Beach State in 2003, where he was active in the Student Government Association, Black Student Association, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Christian Leadership Association and the Florida African American Student Association (FAASA). Through his involvement he discovered his passions for black history and educating people about HIV/AIDS.

As Region V Coordinator of FAASA, he was charged with presenting a workshop about HIV/AIDS at a state conference in 2004. He attended an HIV conference to gather ideas. Unimpressed with the delivery of the message to the younger generations, he decided to do something about it. His passion to educate the public and help eradicate the spread of HIV/AIDS grew from there. He began writing poetry and monologues about HIV/AIDs. At Palm Beach State's Boca Raton campus, he founded the AIDS Awareness Poets in 2004, which became one of the most popular student clubs on campus. In the first year, the group held 43 events, tested 200 people for HIV and was listed on the Centers for Disease Control website.

After graduating from college, Robinson, who holds an Associate in Arts degree from Palm Beach State and a Bachelor of Arts in theater from Florida Atlantic University, made the club a nonprofit and expanded nationally. One of his most popular one-man shows, "God Did Not Give me HIV," has been well received by audiences. He does not get bogged down with figures, saying that one case of HIV/AIDS is too many. For his work, he has appeared on Apollo twice, Black Entertainment Television's "106 & Park", MTV, UPN, NBC, National Public Radio and on a BET special, "Pos or Not?" He also has been featured in Seventeen magazine, HIV Plus Magazine, POZ magazine, the New York Daily News and in Madison's Who's Who of business executives and professionals. He has shared stages with Magic Johnson, Anthony Hamilton, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and Sister Souljah. 


Albert Moore
mooreAt the age of 12, Albert Moore was administered a standard IQ test in his sixth-grade class. He scored 12 points. Scoring 70 or less is considered low intelligence. The administrator called Moore into her office and stated, "You scored 12 points on your IQ test, which basically indicates you are mentally retarded. You will never function normally in society." Those very words haunted Moore all his adult life yet fueled his passion for education and becoming an active citizen in his community.

After high school, he served as a specialist first class in the U.S. Army from 1977 to 1981 and a reservist for the U.S. National Guard from 1981 to 1983 and 1995 to 2007. He started his career at the Florida Department of Corrections in Belle Glade in 1981 and moved on to work for the Broward County Sheriff's Office as a detention deputy in 1997 until his retirement in 2007. Earning a college degree was always a dream of Moore's, so he enrolled at Palm Beach Community College (now Palm Beach State College) and earned his associate degree in criminal justice in 2009. He is an active member of Save Our Sons (SOS), a group whose mission is to increase the retention, participation and graduation rate of black and Hispanic males who attend Palm Beach State. He is also a student advocate and volunteers as a mentor for students.

He is well known by many students, faculty and staff at the College as an active volunteer, always willing to take a lead in initiatives to help other students and the community. Among his numerous accomplishments, he served as the lead contact for the Haiti Relief Students in Crisis Office established at the College after a deadly earthquake ravaged the nation last year. He also helped raised over $1,250 for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Walk and over $1,000 for United Way in 2009 as well over $1,084 for Relay for Life in 2010. He has helped coordinate campus-wide volunteer efforts including food donations for the Lake Worth Food Pantry, toy donations for The Children's Coalition, Palm Beach County Coastal Cleanup, Solid Waste Authority Adopt- a-Spot and Paint Your Heart Out.

He served as the Student Government Association chief justice from 2009-2010 and 2008-2009, Student Government Association sergeant-at- arms in 2007-2008 and Inter-Club Council Chair in 2009. Albert was awarded the Academic/Service Excellence Student of the Year Award in 2009. He has accomplished all of this while maintaining at least a 3.2 GPA. He is a proud member of the Delta Omicron Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the Honor Society at the Lake Worth campus. He is currently in his last year of the Bachelor of Applied Science program majoring in public safety management.

In addition to being a highly dedicated student, he is active in a variety of civic and cultural organizations including Eckerd Family Youth Alternatives, Big Brothers Big Sisters, United Way and the Free Mason Society.


Edith C. Bush
bushService, community activism and a commitment to social justice and peace are reflected in the full life of Edith C. Bush. Her journey began in segregated Alabama, when her father was a community activist and president of the NAACP. As a child, she experienced injustice and knew it was wrong. From those experiences, she became a catalyst for change over the years.

In 1981, Bush helped officially establish the Martin Luther King, Jr. Coordinating Committee in West Palm Beach, which has been the conduit for much of her work in the community. As executive director of the nonprofit organization, she works tirelessly on the committee's efforts to disseminate information, educate the public and promote awareness and understanding of the works, accomplishments and ideals of Dr. King. Under her leadership, the MLKCC expanded its programs commemorating the civil right leader's birthday to one week in January, including a scholarship breakfast as well as an essay competition and performing arts, oratorical and arts contests to promote cultural awareness for youth and educate citizens about the importance of African-American history.

The MLKCC also holds year round programs, including a summer peace camp that provides tours, arts and crafts and cultural and educational experiences for low-income children; the I Have a Dream Health and Safety Fair in February and a Remember the Dreamer Fashion Show in April. In addition, the MLKCC also established the Martin Luther King Caregivers to provide food and clothing to needy senior citizens. Bush's steadfast work helped lead to the construction of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Landmark Memorial located on the Intracoastal Waterway in West Palm Beach, which was completed in 2004.

An educator in Palm Beach County for 32 years before retiring in 1987, she served as vice president of the Area Agency on Aging, and she currently serves as a board member of the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beaches and as president of the Progressive Northwest Neighborhood Association.

Some of her awards include: Women's International League for Peace and Freedom- Woman of the Year Award; Bethune-Cookman University- Alumni of the Year Award; Fellowship of Reconciliation-MLKCCAward; Urban League- MLK Community Service Award; Sun-Sentinel Community Service Award; Super-Superior Award- FPL Florida Council on Aging; Neighborhood Service Award-City of West Palm Beach and the Community Service Award-Alliance of Retired Americans (Palm Beach County).

She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Bethune-Cookman University and her Master of Education degree from Florida Atlantic University. She completed post-graduate studies at the University of Miami and New York University.


Urban League of Palm Beach County
urban leagueThe Urban League of Palm Beach County (ULPBC) was founded more than 37 years ago by a group of dedicated and concerned citizens with a passion for helping underserved African Americans and other minorities achieve social and economic equality in our community. The ULPBC is one of over 100 affiliates in 35 states and the District of Columbia and is part of the National Urban League, which celebrated its centennial in 2010.

The ULPBC served more than 15,000 people in 2009-10 through youth and education, comprehensive housing counseling and community development programs. In a time of great recession, the ULPBC responded to the growing and critical need for services in the community by expanding its efforts to include workforce development for youth and adults and a new High School Credit Recovery Drop Out Prevention Program. The ULPBC also expanded its youth and education department and served more than 400 families facing foreclosure. The ULPBC and its subsidiary, New Urban Community Development Corporation, opened a $2.5 million, 11-unit townhome development in downtown West Palm Beach. The Henrietta Homebuyer Incubator program, which received the National Urban League Centennial Award for Innovation, will help families prepare for homeownership through intensive one-on-one counseling with ULPBC housing counselors certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Palm Beach County Chapter of the National Urban League Incentive to Excel and Succeed (NULITES) program was recognized in 2010 with all three national honors including NULITER (Tamesha Chambers), Caring Adult (Gloria Scott, Program Coordinator) and Chapter of the Year, cementing it as the leading youth community service and leadership program in the Urban League Movement.

The ULPBC, along with other affiliates, helped launch the Movement's platform and agenda for the second century of the civil rights movement called "I Am Empowered." At the core, is a four-part pledge for education, jobs, health care and fair housing for all Americans by 2025. Since its establishment nearly four decades ago, ULPBC has helped thousands realize their dream of social and economic equality by serving as a leading provider of comprehensive family services.


Wilson G. Bradshaw, Ph.D.
dr. bradshaw
Growing up in segregated West Palm Beach, Dr. Wilson G. Bradshaw learned early the value of hard work and education. He got his first job as a seventh grader delivering prescriptions for Frederick’s Pharmacy, the city’s only black pharmacy. He never imagined, however, that he would impact the education of tens of thousands of students.

Bradshaw, one of five children raised by his mother, graduated from Palm Beach High School in 1967 and attended Palm Beach Community College for two years, earning his Associate in Arts degree. He transferred to Florida Atlantic University and worked campus jobs to pay for tuition. He earned both bachelor's and master's degrees in psychology from FAU. Like many others who start at a community college, he was the first college graduate in the family. He went on to earn a doctorate in psychobiology at the University of Pittsburgh.

Bradshaw returned to Florida in 1981 as an assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology in FAMU’s College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. In 1984 he joined the faculty at FAU as an associate professor of psychology and began rising through the rank of higher education. He was dean of graduate studies when he left FAU to become vice president and dean for graduate studies and research at Georgia Southern University and then provost and vice president for academic affairs at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. He was president of Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minn. for seven years before being named the third president of Florida Gulf Coast University in 2007.

Bradshaw leads FGCU at a time of significant enrollment and campus growth. Since opening its doors in 1997, the university’s enrollment has surged from 2,500 to more than 11,000 students today. The introduction of new academic programs also is on the rise, with currently more than 80 programs leading to bachelor’s, master’s and other advanced graduate degrees. The academic programs are supported by a campus of 70 buildings as well as more than 1,000 faculty and staff. Environmental sustainability and civic engagement are hallmarks of the institution’s mission.

Bradshaw is active in civic, educational, and philanthropic initiatives in FGCU’s Southwest Florida region and beyond. He also has always dedicated time to serve as a mentor to others. He is chair of the Alliance of Educational Leaders Board of Directors and is a member of the following: Naples Botanical Gardens Board of Directors, Lee County Education Foundation; Searching for Solutions Institute, Inc. Board of Directors; Campus Compact’s national Board of Directors, and American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) Board of Directors.

He has received numerous awards including the Florida Campus Compact Founder’s Award and 2009 Man of the Year by Gulfshore Life. Bradshaw and his wife, Jo Anna, have three adult sons.


Erin Hayes
erin hayesErin Hayes is dedicated to improving the lives of the underserved in the community. Her work with the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society has allowed her to explore different needs in the community and organize ways to help the cause.

Haye's journey with Phi Theta Kappa began in 2008 when she participated in activities such as beach cleanups, toy drives and the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. She attended a weeklong intensive exploration of the honors study topic "The Paradox of Affluence: Choices, Challenges and Consequences" at San Francisco State University. Witnessing the disparities between those of extreme poverty and extreme wealth within the city, Hayes knew that something had to be done. The knowledge that she gained from this experience influenced her to run for the position of Phi Theta Kappa-Delta Omicron chapter president, and she was elected.

In 2009, Hayes introduced the Cause of the Month, in which PTK would give an entire month to researching and raising awareness and funds to support a specific cause. September's Fight Against Hunger brought in over 250 nonperishable food items that were donated to The Lord's Place in West Palm Beach and $118 to Heifer International, an organization that provides livestock to a family in a third world country. November's Poverty Awareness allowed 28 students to volunteer at The Lord's Place, serving hot meals to the homeless men and women in Palm Beach County. Erin also arranged for the chapter to make several visits to a local nursing home during the holidays, help build a home with Habitat for Humanity and clean up a highway with Palm Beach County's Adopt a Highway program. Hayes, along with 500 other members of Phi Theta Kappa, traveled to Grapevine, Texas to restore a public park back to its original condition in a project called "Keep Grapevine Beautiful."

Hayes received her Associates in Arts degree in 2009 and graduated with academic distinction. She is currently enrolled in PBCC's Bachelor of Applied Science degree in public safety administration with plans to pursue a career in public administration. She currently works as a part-time police dispatcher for the Palm Springs Police Department and plans to continue working toward the betterment of the community throughout her lifetime.


Sharon Gill
sharon gill
Seven years ago, Sharon Gill walked away from a high-paying job as chief executive officer of a successful law firm she established with her attorney husband to launch and manage a food and clothing pantry inside a small church room. She never looked back.

From that modest beginning, she envisioned a larger, more inclusive center to help individuals and families in need. She created Oasis Compassion Agency, a nonprofit community-based agency that assesses client’s bigger needs, such as job skills training, a plan for moving toward economic stability and job placement. Since its establishment in 2003, Oasis Compassion Agency in Greenacres has served over 4,200 families, representing over 12,000 women, men and children.

As president and CEO, Gill has dedicated herself to the agency’s mission. From the moment people volunteer at Oasis, they know what is expected because Gill communicates and demonstrates by her own actions that everyone who comes in the door is to be treated with respect and dignity. When Oasis was about to run out of money in 2006, she didn’t give up. She resolved to get into the community and speak to someone new at least once a week, sometimes once a day. This plan resulted in several speaking engagements at area businesses, churches and foundations many of which began supporting Oasis financially. This also expanded the organization’s number of volunteers to about 100.

Her vision for Oasis is always expanding as she builds on the Agency’s experience and refines the process for managing clients. For example, she added client accountability for attending agreed upon training classes, assessed the services the Agency needed to provide (enlarging a series of PC-skills classes and adding an English Language/American Cultural Norms class so Spanish-speaking clients can function in the community) and expanded her relationships with Palm Beach County through speaking engagements and joining the Lantana Chamber of Commerce.

She has personally processed client applications, from the homeless living in John Prince Park to the elderly, fixed income men and women who needed extra food. She has picked up donations of food and clothing in her own vehicle among other things.

Gill also is active in the community, serving on the board of the Crossroads program at Palm Beach Community College, the Greenacres Business Council, Palms West Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Regional Minority Business Council.

She has received several awards including the 2007 Good Samaritan Award finalist (American Red Cross); 2008 Giraffe Award Winner (Women’s Chamber of Commerce Palm Beach) and the 2009 Local Heroes Award Winner (Bank of America).


Faith*Hope*Love*Charity, Inc. - Stand Down House

organization winnerFaith*Hope*Love*Charity, Inc. is a nonprofit organization founded in 1994 by Roy J. Foster and the late Don Reed. The organization provides family support services to active-duty military personnel and veterans, including emergency monetary assistance, legal service referrals and family counseling.

In May 2000, the doors of Stand Down House were opened. Stand Down House provides a multi-tiered program with emergency/ transitional housing and supportive services to assist homeless veterans struggling with alcohol/drug addictions, lingering effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mental and physical limitations. Currently, the Stand Down House provides housing for 45 veterans.

Roy Foster's motivation for opening Stand Down House is clear: after a six-year hitch in the Army, where he first began drinking and experimenting with drugs, he spent the better part of a decade living on the streets battling his demons. He found that as he struggled to get clean, there were no programs that helped veterans with their recovery and aid their assimilation back into society. As Foster settled into a life of sobriety, eventually becoming a substance abuse counselor, he laid the groundwork for a program tailored specifically to help his brothers-in-arms break the cycle of hopelessness.

Named for the military command that gives soldiers time to rest after combat, Stand Down House has aided more than 900 veterans with life-changing help. The results of the program are extraordinary: 93 percent of its residents found employment and 84 percent are now living on their own.

In 2009, Faith*Hope*Love*Charity, Inc. expanded its services to include community-based outreach through "First Stop - Veterans' Resource Center," serving veterans that are at risk, returning Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom, veterans and families of active duty armed forces that are in the at-risk population for homeless or other risk factors.

The program focuses on offering veterans specific services at no charge through referrals to community resources for substance abuse treatment, housing, medical, PTSD, on-site basic computer skills, job search / vocational training, referral to employment counselors, agencies and other related services. In addition, information concerning Social Security Benefits SSI & SSDI, State Medicaid and Veterans Benefits are provided and referred to the appropriate agencies.

Faith*Hope*Love*Charity, Inc. recognizes the needs of the veterans' community and will continue to serve as the need arises.


LaToya G. Ricketts
latoya rickettsLaToya G. Ricketts has been giving back to the community since she was 13 years old. Too young to get a job, she began volunteering with the Play Pal program at St. Mary’s Medical Center. Her love for helping others grew from there.

Through the years, the Jamaica, WI native has been instrumental in advocating for the civic, social and educational needs of the community. She has worked in numerous volunteer capacities with various community organizations in which she serves on boards and committees. They include the Urban League of Palm Beach County’s Young Professionals (Community & Education Chairperson), the National Urban League Incentives to Excel and Succeed (NULITES) program, Riviera Beach Weed & Seed Board, American Cancer Society Relay for Life Committee, Girls II Women Program Board, Genesis Community Outreach Inc. Advisory Board and the City of Riviera Beach Charter Review Board.

She also has worked on many community service projects, including the Solid Waste Authority Adopt-A-Spot, Keep Palm Beach County Beautiful projects, No Child Left Behind Educational Forum, First Day of School Book Bag-Give-Away, and a Scripps Research Institute Panel Forum. Ms. Ricketts is also an active member of the West Palm Beach Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. In addition to holding numerous leadership roles, she plays a vital role in her church, Bibleway Missionary Baptist Church.

When tragedy struck six years ago, Ricketts stepped up to give back on a personal level by raising her 13-year-old niece who had lost both parents. Her niece is now a thriving college student at Prairie View A&M University in Texas.

Ricketts has excelled professionally as well. As a planner II for the Palm Beach County Office of Community Revitalization, she successfully created and implemented three series of the Resident to Action Program (REAP)’s America’s Next Top Neighborhood Grant program, for which she earned a County Administrator’s Golden Palm Award.

She holds a master’s degree in public administration from Nova Southeastern University, a Bachelor of Science degree in social work from Florida Atlantic University and an Associate in Science degree in human Services from Palm Beach Community College. She currently is pursuing a graduate certificate in urban & regional planning at FAU.

Ricketts has attributed her noble achievement to her strong spiritual base, which held the greatest influence in her life both personally and professionally.


C. Ron Allen
c. ron allenA highly respected reporter for the Sun-Sentinel for nearly 20 years, who has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and inducted into the Black Journalists Hall of Fame, C. Ron Allen decided in 1991 to make a difference above and beyond his professional contributions to the community. Allen started a one-man recruitment campaign and brought together several men who had the ability and desire to serve as inspirational role models for boys ages seven to 17 in Palm Beach and Broward counties. The result was the creation of the nonprofit organization, The Knights of Pythagoras Mentoring Network, designed to foster leadership, confidence, academic success, and community involvement in all of its young members. It has been going strong ever since. To date, more than 185 boys have participated in the program. Fourteen of them are in or have graduated from college, three are athletic coaches in area schools, two are serving in the Job Corps and one is working as a local mortician. In January 2007, the organization sponsored Raising Our Self Esteem (ROSE) Mentoring Network, the female component.

Allen’s vision for a permanent site for the program became closer to reality in August 2007 when the KOPMN partnered with Delray Full Service Center and launched an after-school mentoring program for area children. Local business and nonprofit partners conduct seminars and sessions on topics including martial arts, conflict resolution and etiquette training. In August of this year, KOPMN launched Moon Chasers, a mentoring component that emphasizes character for preschoolers ages 3 to 6.

Allen also has been a member of the Navy Reserve since 1984. In the early 1990s, he led members of his unit to adopt an elementary school and childcare center in Miami-Dade County. Since then, they have developed various mentoring programs at the school and donated a trailer, which they later transformed into a literacy center.

He was twice a finalist for the Jefferson Award for Community Service, was named the 2006 JM Family Enterprise Community Service recipient and Governor Jeb Bush, in November 2006, named him a Points of Light. He was recently named one of Bank of America’s five "Local Heroes" and is a 2007 recipient of the Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce’s Ken Ellingsworth Community Service Award. Allen, of Delray Beach, also gives a four-year $500 college scholarship to a deserving high school senior every year.

Allen’s other community service contributions are impressive as well. He is a two-time past president of the Rotary Club of Delray Beach, Sunrise and a founding member of the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County and 100 Black Men of Palm Beach County. A past board member of a local chapter of Habitat for Humanity as well, his community contributions have been generous, significant, and meaningful. Perhaps his personal philosophy on giving back is best expressed through his own words: “Our lives should not be valued by what we take, but by what we give."


West Palm Beach Alumnae Chapter
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
delta crestWith a vision of serving the greater West Palm Beach community with the founding principles of their national organization, six dynamic women came together on Feb. 17, 1948 for the chartering of the Gamma Pi Sigma (now West Palm Beach Alumnae) Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Clad in radiant red for the installation were the chartering members: Alberta Drayton, Lillie Drayton, and the late Mille G. Brown, Fannie Cousins, Altamese Jenkins and Lillian Nixon. Maxine Bright-Davies, a charter member of the Beta Zeta Sigma Chapter (now Miami Alumnae) was present to assist in the installation ceremony.

From the difficult pre-civil rights era of the 1940’s to the new millennium, the West Palm Beach Alumnae Chapter has been in the forefront of serving the community. The chapter has been dedicated to addressing the social and political ills since the beginning.

Through the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. national Five Point Programmatic Thrust —Economic Development, Educational Development, International Awareness and Involvement, Physical and Mental Health and Political Awareness and Involvement —the West Palm Beach Alumnae Chapter strives to initiate programs, projects and initiatives that address the needs of the community. From its annual (35 year) presentation of Ebony Fashion Fair to raise funds for scholarships to aid young people pursuing a college education, to its partnership with Habitat for Humanity to build affordable housing for the community, to its myriad educational programs for youth, Delta Sigma Theta has endeavored to be committed to public service. Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. is a sisterhood embodying love, involvement, and unity. These fundamental principles are translated into meaningful actions by the over 200 members of the West Palm Beach Alumnae Chapter.

Freddie Stebbins Jefferson

February 1, 1936 – October 27, 2007

freddie jeffersonFreddie Stebbins Jefferson, an educator and weekly columnist for The Palm Beach Post, was a writer intent on ending racism and bigotry. She believed historically these twin horrors are the seminal roots of many of our nation’s problems. She addressed issues of racism and bigotry in her writing and community work, often discussing how such prejudices, both conscious and unconscious, affect all people.

Born in Arcadia, Fla., Jefferson received a bachelor’s degree from Florida A&M University, a master’s degree from Stetson University and a specialist in English education degree from Florida State University.

She taught for 13 years in the Palm Beach County school system before joining the faculty at PBCC. She worked at PBCC for 20 years as an English professor and later chair of the Humanities Division before retiring in 1992. She began writing a column for the Opinion section of The Palm Beach Post in 1989, and served on the Editorial Board of The Palm Beach Post from 1992 to 1995. Her column ran locally on Saturdays from 1989 until 2007 and were sometimes reprinted in newspapers throughout the United States and internationally.

Jefferson was active in her community throughout her life. She was a member of the Las Novias Society and the West Palm Beach Chapter of The Links, Inc.; a Golden Life member of the West Palm Beach Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority; a life member of the Florida A&M Alumni Association; a member of the Quettes of the Palm Beaches; a life member of NAACP; and a member of St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church. She also was involved with the Palm Beach County Minority Arts Consortium; Executive Women of the Palm Beaches; Toward a More Perfect Union; Community Foundation of Palm Beach and Martin Counties; and Hospice of Palm Beach County.

Timothy J. Henderson

tim hendersonTimothy Henderson’s dedication and service over the past 15 years have resulted in numerous health care and social programs that have improved the lives of local children and adults.

As director of research and planning for the Palm Beach County Health Care District from 1995 to 1997, Henderson led initiatives that put nurses in every school and that brought the Healthy Kids insurance program to the county. As vice president for programs at the Quantum Foundation, he led the Foundation’s grant-making efforts from 1997 to 2006, including developing new projects promoting access to health care for the underserved. Some of the projects he helped develop at the Quantum Foundation include Project Access, a Palm Beach County Medical Society program in which 350 volunteer physicians, eight hospitals and other health care providers donate medical care to low-income, uninsured residents. Other programs include the H.O.P. E. Project, a mobile mammography unit that serves 2,000 uninsured women annually, and the Brown Orthodonture Program that provides services to underserved children for a nominal fee. He also led efforts to establish the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative, a program providing behavioral health services in elementary schools in low income neighborhoods and the Community Health Alliance, an agency that coordinates health services for the underserved in Palm Beach County.

Henderson’s dedication to serving those in need extends beyond Palm Beach County. As a volunteer for the United Way of Palm Beach County, he made five trips to the gulf area to assist with recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina.

He has served on numerous state, local and regional boards, including the Robert Wood Johnson Hurricane Katrina Fund Advisory Committee; the Boundless Playground Foundation Roundtable, an initiative that helped establish a Boundless Playground at John Prince Park for children with and without disabilities; Grantmakers in Aging, a national organization comprised of foundations that fund programs for seniors; the Quantum House board and the School Health Advisory Steering Committee.

Henderson is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Florida where he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in geography.

Molly G. Johnson

molly johnsonMolly Gallimore Johnson is dedicated to promoting opportunities for the betterment of children and their families. When students at the Beacon Center at South Grade Elementary School in Lake Worth needed assistance with school uniforms last August, she organized a uniform donation drive that benefited more than 50 children.

Johnson has volunteered her services for a variety of organizations through the years. She has facilitated toy drives, served as a volunteer basketball coach for the YMCA of South Palm Beach County and conducted etiquette and personal hygiene classes for girls. She has served on the School Advisory Council for the Alexander D. Henderson University School and Florida Atlantic University High School. She is on the Board of Directors for Step Up!, a Missouri-based organization that addresses the educational and health needs of survivors of the Rwanda genocide.

A licensed school psychologist and former special education teacher for severely emotionally disturbed students, Johnson has worked for 20 years with the Miami- Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County school districts. She has been commended for conducting numerous training sessions and workshops for parents and school personnel on topics of conflict resolution, problem solving and effective behavioral training.

A firm believer in continuing education, Johnson holds a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Miami, a master of special education from Nova University and a specialist of education degree in school psychology from Florida International University.

She is pursuing an associate in science degree in nursing at Palm Beach Community College, a career path she chose after seeing her father fight and ultimately lose his battle to cancer. She is a member of the National Student Nurses’ Association and a student member of the Evaluation and Strategic Planning Committee for the PBCC’s Nursing department.

A devoted wife of 21 years and mother of three girls, she is most proud of the love and support provided by her family. She aspires to be a positive role model to children and a positive influence on those whose path she may cross.

Compass, Inc.

compass logoTwenty years ago, a group of volunteers came together to educate the community about HIV. From their commitment and passion, Compass was born. Through the years, Compass has evolved into a community center that is the largest of its kind in the southeast United States and one of the most respected gay and lesbian community centers in the country. Through the center, Compass serves more than 20,000 people a year, providing quality health-related services, youth and family services, HIV prevention, education and case management and a safe space for social and support meetings. The center also serves as a referral agency to other nonprofits and government agencies, with more than 20 calls an hour every day. Compass serves anyone who walks through the door seeking help.

Compass partners with more than 250 nonprofits, community organizations, businesses and government agencies to ensure the dignity of all individuals in the county. It collaborates with organizations to support racial and ethnic equality, religious freedom, women’s rights, the concerns of seniors and economic justice. As stated by one of the nominators, Compass does not discriminate against an opportunity to do a good deed.

Recently, Compass negotiated a 20-year, low-rent lease with the city of Lake Worth to operate from a city-owned facility on Dixie Highway. The partnership will allow Compass to expand its services and assist the city with social services and recreational needs available to the city’s population.

Honorees from left are: Lt. Beverly Elliott Morrison, Reginale Durandisse, Roma Kapadia and Edith Bush, executive director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Coordinating Committee, who accepted the award for the group.

Reginale Durandisse

With $250, a dream and a handful of supporters, Reginale Durandisse founded For the Children, Inc. eight years ago to fulfill a need for after-school care in Lake Worth. The nonprofit organization began in 1999 serving 25 elementary school children. Today, it provides tutoring, homework assistance, music, dance, computer training, conflict resolution, field trips and other services to more than 320 children ages 5 to 18 at four sites in Lake Worth, Lantana and Boynton Beach.

For the Children, largely funded by the Children’s Services Council, operates a morning tutorial program at Maddock Park in Lantana for middle school students and an after-school program at Osborne Community Center for middle and high school students. It also operates after-school programs at the old Osborne School and at Barton Elementary School (temporarily housed at the old Congress Middle School).

Durandisse, chief executive officer of For the Children, developed the vision for the organization in 1998 when her previous nonprofit employer, which had provided some after-school services, dissolved. She was determined to continue providing structured after-school activities to keep youths off the streets, out of trouble and from failing school. In addition to her work at For the Children, Durandisse, a native of Haiti, founded the Haitian Citizens United Task Force in 2002 to empower Haitian Americans and immigrants through naturalization, voter registration, get-out-the-vote efforts and public forums with elected local, state and federal public officials.

She currently serves as the president of the task force’s board of directors. In 2003, she also funded Tribune, a one-hour Saturday afternoon radio program to educate the community in areas including childrearing and family issues, immigration and the law. Guests are interviewed in English, Creole and Spanish. Durandisse holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Florida Atlantic University. She has received several awards for her work, including the Giraffe Award from the Women’s Chamber of Commerce.

Roma Kapadia

Roma Kapadia has a deep interest in shaping the community in a positive way. She has spent numerous hours volunteering and serving in leadership roles in various organizations despite having to care for her mother who suffered a stroke in 2004 and her ailing father who died last year of leukemia, eight months before Kapadia also lost her maternal grandmother. She moved to the U.S. from India in 1997 with her family when she was 14 years old. After a year of middle school, she attended Palm Beach Lakes Community High School where she graduated in 2002. While never missing a day of school, she excelled and was chosen the most outstanding student in math, English and science.

She has volunteered in the Social Work Department at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the Azalea Court Nursing Home, Okeeheelee Nature Center at Okeeheelee Park, the Palm Beach County Library and for the American Heart Association. Since enrolling at PBCC, she has continued her academic excellence. She is currently treasurer of Phi Theta Kappa honor society at the Palm Beach Gardens campus where she served as secretary in 2005-2006. She also is first vice president of service for the Dream It, Do It Club and works as a math tutor in the Student Learning Center, which allows her to encourage other students whose first language is not English. She is pursuing an associate in arts degree. She hopes to become a pharmacist and continue serving the community and making a difference.

Lt. Beverly Elliott Morrison

Lt. Beverly Elliott Morrison is a woman of extraordinary energy. She has done exemplary work in the area of community service and for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, where she has arranged tours of the correctional facilities for over 20,000 youths in hopes of deterring them from the pitfalls of crime. She graciously gives of her time in many organizations and community projects. She often canvasses the streets of West Palm Beach, Riviera Beach and Boynton Beach, encouraging at-risk youth to get an education and make better choices. She has volunteered to feed the less fortunate, helped Habitat for Humanity construct homes and taught a Junior Achievement class.

For eight years, she has helped sponsor underprivileged youths travel to the National Conference on Preventing Crime in the Black Community. She also implemented a teen listening summit at the conference to give the youths an opportunity to express themselves and seek guidance from the influential achievers invited to participate. Her extensive list of community involvement includes president of the Minority Law Enforcement Council of Palm Beach County, charter board member of Central Palm Beach County Kiwanis Club and board member for the Urban League of Palm Beach County. She is a member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, charter member of the Stop the Violence Coalition, board member of Knights of Pythagoras, board member of Raising Our Self Esteem (ROSE) and former president of the Bob Mitchell Sr. Little League, Inc., among many others.

She was appointed by former Attorney General Bob Butterworth to the advisory committee for the National Conference on Preventing Crime in the Black Community, a collaborative effort sponsored by the attorney generals for Georgia and Florida. Morrison has received several awards and special recognitions, including African American Achiever for 2000 by JM Family Enterprises, Kiwanis Club’s Outstanding and Devoted Service Award, Minority Law Enforcement Council Presidents Award for Outstanding Community Service, Outstanding Community Service Award from the Imperial Men & Women’s Club of Palm Beach County and the William Boone Darden Memorial Award for Outstanding Community Service. She holds certificates in law enforcement and corrections from PBCC.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Coordinating Committee

The principles that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. taught are being passed on to future generations in Palm Beach County by the work of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Coordinating Committee. For decades, the committee has been on a mission to disseminate information, educate the public and promote awareness and understanding of the works, accomplishments and ideals of Dr. King.

The committee formed in 1971 as the Black Educators Caucus with a focus on sponsoring a remedial tutorial program in cooperation with the Minority Mental Health Association. The group changed its name in 1981 to reflect its expanded programs and its new focus: the annual January weeklong birthday celebration of Dr. King. The event includes essay, art, performing arts and photography competitions open to all K-12 children in public, private, charter and parochial schools. In addition to the competitions, the week includes interfaith religious services, tennis and basketball tournaments, a gospel fest and candlelight services. The week culminates with a scholarship breakfast attended by more than 700 people.

The committee’s work goes beyond the week-long activities. It provides a year-round program for inner city, low income youth to learn ways to build self-esteem, create peace in their lives and develop a respect for a diverse community. In 1995, the committee established the Martin Luther King Care Givers Program, which began with a two-year startup grant from the Robert Woods Johnson and the Community Foundation. The project provides care giving to people 55 and older. The group led the effort to establish the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Landmark Memorial at Currie Park in West Palm Beach, which has become a gathering place for numerous events and a popular site for tourists and visitors. The idea was to create a place that commemorates Dr. King’s legacy by continuing to tell his story, keep his dream alive and remind the public of how Dr. King worked to ensure the civil and human rights entitled to everyone.

2006 mlk winners

From left are Bishop Harold Calvin Ray; Marie L. Pun, whose husband, Delray Beach Police Officer Jean-Albert "Johnny" Pun, was honored posthumously; Palm Beach County Sheriff's Deputy Lillian "Lee" Sutterfield and PBCC at Belle Glade student Javier Rodriguez.

Bishop Harold Calvin Ray

Bishop Harold Calvin Ray is the founder and senior pastor of Redemptive Life Fellowship Church of West Palm Beach as well as the founder of Redemptive Life Urban Initiatives Corp. (RLUIC) and the National Center for Faith-Based Initiative.

A native of Joliet, Ill, he grew up in the Church of God and was ordained in the ministry in 1983.  After graduating from law school, Ray established a successful practice in Dallas, Texas. In 1990, he moved to West Palm Beach to partner with attorney Willie Gary.  However, in 1991, in obedience to God’s call to “stop making a living and start giving life, he established Redemptive Life Fellowship.  Ray has held true to the church’s motto of “Building a Community to Impact the World.

As founder and CEO of RLUIC, Ray has been intimately involved in economic community development in the county.  As part of the Homes of Coleman Park initiative, RLUIC, in collaboration with the city of West Palm Beach, has developed and constructed 22 of the 145 homes planned for low-income residents in the highest impoverished demographic area in West Palm Beach.  A similar housing initiative is being planned in Belle Glade.

Through his efforts, the Give-A-Gift-Save-A-Life program provides over 500 needy children and families each year with new clothing, food, toys and a myriad of personal care items totaling over a half million dollars.  The annual health fair provides health awareness and other critical health services to hundreds of needy children and families within greater Palm Beach County.

RLUIC has provided more than $400,000 in disaster relief to South Floridians during the last two hurricane seasons. Last November, West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel presented Ray with a key to the city for his outstanding service to the community.

Ray holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Oral Roberts University and a juris doctorate from the University of Notre Dame Law School.  He and his wife, Brenda, are the proud parents of two children, Christopher and Whitney, and they have one grandson, Jahrell.

Officer Jean-Albert “Johnny Pun

Officer Jean-Albert “Johnny Pun touched many lives. He spent his life as a helper, reaching out to people whether they needed a lifeline, help with a flat tire or just a smile.  What he became was a leader: an inspirer of men. His 14-year career at the Delray Beach Police Department was defined by his two driving philosophies: to be of service and to make things better. During his law enforcement career, he worked as a field training officer, a facilitator of cultural diversity workshops and helped to form the first Haitian Citizens Police Academy for the Delray Beach Police Department.  In addition, as an instructor for both D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) and G.R.E.A.T. (Gang Resistance Education and Training), Pun helped teach youth how to make better choices and how to steer away from bad ones.

Throughout his years of service, Pun collected over 80 commendations and awards, including The Jefferson Award in April 2002, which recognizes individuals who make a difference; the 2002 Distinguished Law Officer of the Year granted by the Palm Beach Post; the Rocky Pomerance Award in 2003 from the International Association of Chiefs of Police and over 30 division/departmental commendations from the police department.

Still, he was most proud of his work with troubled youth. His concern for these youth led him to help establish the Delray Youth Vocational Charter School   (DYVCS) which gives at-risk youth a second chance by providing training in automotive repairs and helping them to obtain a GED. Originally opened in donated space at Borton Volvo in August 2002, the school secured a permanent home last year. It enrolled 74 students last August. Through this program, Pun, who was killed in an off-duty motorcycle accident Sept. 10, 2005, became the driving force in the lives of countless youth who society had given up on. He was a mentor, brother, teacher and a role model. His legacy will live on through the lives that the DYVSC helps to rescue.

Deputy Lillian “Lee" Sutterfield

Deputy Lillian “Lee Sutterfield has been employed by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office since 1993 and is the senior advisor and coordinator of Explorer Post 611, which operates in the western communities of Palm Beach County.

Sutterfield works with the young people in the Glades community, providing leadership, guidance and unmatched compassion for these children. She provides help with finding jobs and college funding, gives homework assistance and provides transportation when none is available. Deputy Sutterfield promotes life skills by providing training, counseling for family problems and issues and crisis therapy. She helps students obtain their GEDs and provides financial assistance. She spends many long hours throughout the year, especially during the holiday season, helping less fortunate families. She collects donated gifts and food items, which she distributes throughout the year to families in need. A large portion of her interaction with the youth of the community is done during her off- duty time.

In addition to Sutterfield’s duties as the Explorer advisor, she also participates each year in Shop with a Cop, Food for Families, and the “Harmony in the Streets youth camps. She serves on several Florida Sheriff’s Explorer Association Committees and is a board member of the Criminal Justice Academy at Glades Central High School.

Sutterfield earned a certificate for completing the police academy at Palm Beach Community College. She is currently enrolled at the College, working towards her associate in arts degree, and at The University of Phoenix, working on her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

Javier Rodriguez

Javier Rodriguez has been involved in community service in the Glades since he and his family moved there from Mexico six years ago.

While learning English and getting acclimated in school, he also became involved in the Sheriff’s Office Explorer Program, which involves youth in many community service projects, including volunteering for the Red Cross, delivering food to those in need and cleaning up. It was in the Explorer Program that he learned the value of service and giving back to the community. Now, it’s in his blood. “I just want to help the community and make the community a better place.

Rodriguez is now a freshman at PBCC in Belle Glade pursuing an associate in arts degree. He is the first in his family to attend college and says he wants to make his family proud. After graduating from PBCC, he plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering at Florida Atlantic University.

At PBCC he has remained active in service projects. When the Belle Glade location answered the call to assist the American Red Cross at the local shelters and emergency centers in Belle Glade and Pahokee after Hurricane Wilma, Rodriguez volunteered to handle the Spanish translation and help deliver food. Not only did he provide this service along with the campus staff, he took it upon himself to go after hours and continued to assist.

He is actively involved in the Student Government Association, and recently sought permission to establish an International Student Club at PBCC in Belle Glade to further enhance the campus mission of infusing diversity throughout campus life.

2005 mlk winners

From left to right: Bobbi A. Marsh, Joseph DePaolo, Evelyn R. Johnson, Pedro del Sol (CEO of the Migrant Association of South Florida) and Samuel Bruce McDonald.

Bobbi A. Marsh

Since 1985, Bobbi Marsh has been a part of the Crossroads displaced homemaker program at Palm Beach Community College – first as a participant in the program, then as a seminar instructor and now as the program manager.  Through that time, Crossroads itself has transitioned through many changes, but the need for the program remains as great as it was 21 years ago when it was first established at the college.

Life circumstances brought Bobbi to the Crossroads program after years of raising her two sons and working in various positions such as junior high English teacher, church secretary and elementary school paraprofessional.  Like many of the women with whom she’s worked through the years, the idea of having a career was not a primary concern until it became a necessity.  For her, that career choice – assisting women in their efforts toward economic self-sufficiency and greater self-esteem - has become a passion.

After participating in the Crossroads seminar in November of 1985, Marsh took a job at the college as the administrative assistant for the Gender Equity grant program. In 1986, she started the Connections single parent program. She served as its director for 15 years. When funding for Connections ended in 2001, she became program manager for the Crossroads displaced homemaker program. For 13 years, the Crossroads and Connections programs worked collaboratively to provide career guidance, life skills training and assistance in continuing education for single parents and displaced homemakers. 

More than 3,000 individuals, mostly women, have been helped since Crossroads began. Many come back to tell her how she has changed their lives forever.

Marsh holds a bachelors’ degree in English education from Elmhurst College in Illinois and a master’s degree in human resource development from Palm Beach Atlantic. She’s a former participant in PBCC’s Leadership Enhancement and Advancement Program. She’s also an active member of the First Congregational Church of Lake Worth

Joseph DePaolo 

Joseph DePaolo became a full-time education professor at PBCC in Palm Beach Gardens in 2002, after spending more than five years as an adjunct instructor at PBCC and Florida Atlantic University. Prior to moving to Palm Beach County in 1996, he worked in Connecticut as a teacher, a principal, a director of special programs, a consultant with the Connecticut Department of Education and also a self-employed educational consultant.

Dr. DePaolo is known for his strong commitment to community service. Since education students are required to complete a 15-hour field experience, Dr. DePaolo has established a partnership program with high-risk elementary schools in Riviera Beach to make that field experience meaningful for the aspiring teachers and beneficial for children, particularly those who have struggled on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT).

His students provide mentoring and tutoring in reading, language arts and math for the high-risk children in grades 1-5. Dr. DePaolo also works to help schools educate parents to help their children and create professional development opportunities for elementary school teachers. For his work, Dr. DePaolo received a Gimelstob Professor of the Year Award for excellence in teaching from PBCC in 2004.

Dr. DePaolo holds a bachelor’s degree from Providence College, a master’s degree from the University of Hartford, an advanced certificate of graduate study from the University of Connecticut and a doctorate of education from Nova University.

Evelyn R. Johnson

For 36 years Evelyn Johnson has worked at the School District of Palm Beach County in several capacities to help migrant children get settled into the school system and get connected, along with their families, to health and social services available in the community.

Helping people is more than a job for the Belle Glade native. She spends countless hours of her own time making phone calls and attending evening appointments to ensure that students in the Migrant Education Program get the services they need.  She has passed on her vast knowledge of the Migrant Education Program by skillfully creating, producing and serving as lead presenter at district, state and national conferences and forums. For her work, she was named Migrant Advocate of the Year by the state Department of Migrant Education in 1999.

But Johnson’s involvement in the community doesn’t stop there. She has made voter education and registration one of her personal missions. She walks around the neighborhood, knocking on doors to get people out to vote.

She serves on the board of the Association for Retarded Citizens. She’s a member of the planning committee for the Glades Community Living Christmas Tree and she has been a member of the Living Christmas Tree Choir for 15 years. She is chairperson of the city of Belle Glade Civil Service Board and a member of the NAACP. She also served on the advisory board for the Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center from 1994 to 1995.

She received a Women of Accomplishment Award from PBCC at Belle Glade in 2000. She also was named Woman of the Year for outstanding community and civic service by Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, The Women’s Civic League and El Dorado Civic Club of Belle Glade.

She holds an associate in arts degree from PBCC and a bachelor’s degree from Palm Beach Atlantic University.

Caridad Health Clinic

The Caridad Health Clinic, operated by the Migrant Association of South Florida, provides free medical and dental care year round to more than 6,784 unduplicated, children and families of low-income (150% of the poverty level), migrants, laborers and the underserved who live and work in Palm Beach County.
The Migrant Association of South Florida (MASF) is a non-profit organization founded in 1989, when co-founders Caridad Asensio and Connie Berry decided that something had to be done to help the children and families of hard-working migrant farm workers who worked the field every day from sunrise to sunset.  In 1992, with the help of volunteers, the Caridad Health Clinic was opened in a doublewide trailer.  In 1997, with generous help from benefactors, the clinic moved into a new 7,600-square-foot building.
This past year the clinic provided healthcare to over 20,000 patient visits with the help of over 500 volunteers. The clinic is among several programs and services provided by the MASF, including an after school enrichment program where 43 at risk students in grades K-5 receive individual attention from the volunteers. 
The organization continues to carry out its original vision of ending the cycle of poverty by providing medical, dental and education assistance to children and families of this often forgotten population in our community. 

Samuel Bruce McDonald

Samuel Bruce McDonald grew up in West Palm Beach with a brother in a single-parent home. He graduated from Industrial High School (now U.B. Kinsey-Palmview Elementary School of the Arts) in 1946. Four years later, he received his bachelor’s degree from Talladega College in Alabama. After serving in the United States Army, European Theater, for two years, he returned to West Palm Beach where he began his career as an educator. He later completed his master’s degree in education from Florida Atlantic University and did further studies in the Diocese of Southeast Florida School of Ministry.

McDonald, a retired administrator, has been an intricate part of the School District of Palm Beach County for over 30 years. He has served as a classroom teacher, administrative assistant, assistant principal, principal and area superintendent. He also served as adjunct professor at Florida Atlantic University and Palm Beach Community College.

McDonald came out of retirement in September 1999 to become the chief administrator for the Urban League of Palm Beach County, accepting the role of interim president and chief executive officer until 2001. Soon after, he accepted the role of interim executive director of Hope House of the Palm Beaches, Inc.

As an advocate for children, McDonald has been a consultant to various civic and social organizations and served as a member of the Steering Committee for The Children Service’s Council, Board of Directors for the United Way of Palm Beach County, Prenatal &Infant Health Care Coalition Board of Directors, Palm Beach County Head Start Policy Council, Palm Beach County Full Service School Oversight Council, Foster Care Citizen Review Steering Committee, Village Academy/Village Center School Advisory Committee and many others. He presently serves as a member of the Glades Community Development Corporation Board of Directors, Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties, Board of Directors of the Mary & Robert Pew Public Education Fund Board of Trustees. He’s also a member of the NAACP, St. Patrick’s and St. Gregory’s Episcopal churches and a founder and member of the West Palm Beach Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.

Along with his championing the cause for excellence, McDonald is a family man who is devoted to Merle, his wife of 49 years, and their three daughters, son and five grandchildren. His philosophy: "One's purpose in life must be to help others reach beyond their immediate grasp."

2004 mlk winners

Martin Luther King Leadership Award recipients from left: Dr. Effie Grear, J. Leonard Bruton Jr., and Randy Johnson Sr.

Dr. Effie C. Grear

Having devoted 51 years of her life to serving as an educator in the public schools of West Virginia and Florida, Dr. Effie C. Grear retired in 2000.

Most of her career—44 years—was spent in Belle Glade where she worked for  14 years as a teacher, band director, dean and assistant principal at all-black Lake Shore Junior-Senior High School before transferring during desegregation to newly created Glades Central High School in 1970.

In 1975 she was named principal of Glades Central and served in that role for a quarter of a century. She has touched the lives of countless students and others in the Glades.

Dr. Grear has been the recipient of numerous awards and accolades, including 1989 Citizen of the Year in Belle Glade and the Ida S. Baker Distinguished Black Educator of the Year presented before the Florida Governor’s Cabinet in 1992. She also was recognized as Florida’s Principal of Excellence at a celebration in Washington, D.C. sponsored by the Council of Chief State Officers, the Burger King Corporation and the National Association of Secondary School Principals. She was honored by U.S. Congressman Alcee Hastings for her 51 years of service to public education and she was one of 21 “Women of Distinction honored by PBCC at Belle Glade in 2000.

She serves as a member of the Palm Beach County Criminal Justice Commission, the board of directors of the Glades Community Development Corporation in Belle Glade, the Advisory Council for the Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center and as a commissioner for the Health Care District of Palm Beach County. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and is actively involved with the local branch of the NAACP. She is a member and pianist at New Bethel A.M.E Church.

A Huntington, W.Va. native, she holds a bachelor’s degree in music from West Virginia State College, a master’s degree in music from Ohio State University and a doctorate in educational leadership and administration from Nova Southeastern University.

She is married to William A. Grear, Sr., Belle Glade’s first African-American elected official, and is the mother of two children, four grandsons and two great-grandsons.

J. Leonard Bruton, Jr.

For more than 26 years, Professor Leonard Bruton has distinguished himself both inside and outside of the classroom. He has taught history at PBCC in Boca Raton since the fall of 1977 when he became the first full-time faculty member hired for that campus.

Long before PBCC made diversity a college-wide strategic priority, Bruton was working to improve the racial mix of students at PBCC in Boca Raton and he’s been involved in coordinating diversity events and activities. After expressing the need for a more diverse student population, he was granted release time in 1990 to do minority recruiting. He visited churches, schools, professional organizations and community centers and high schools promoting the Boca Raton campus.

A Tallahassee native, he holds a bachelor’s degree in Afro-American studies and history and a master’s degree in applied social science from Florida A&M University, where he served in the world-famous “Marching 100 band.  While in graduate school, he became the first intern for the Florida Archives Internship Program. He was selected as a research associate to set up the Black Archives at FAMU, where he was later employed. 
He has served on numerous committees and organizations including chairperson for the Innovative Award Committee for the Student Activities Practitioners Association and president of SAPA. He was appointed by the Department of Education as advisor to the Student CLAST Committee and he has served as District V advisor for the Florida Junior Community College Student Government Association where twice he was chosen as Advisor of the Year.

He is the advisor for the Student Government Association and the Black Student Association at PBCC in Boca Raton. He has presented workshops at student conferences for the Florida African American Student Association, the Florida Junior Community College Student Government Association, and has been a keynote speaker for the city of Delray Beach Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. festivities, the United Daughters of the Confederacy Florida Division and the American Legion of Boca Raton.

He has received the Charles Chapman Distinguished Educator Award presented by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.  He currently serves as the vice president of organization vitality for the National Council on Black American Affairs-Southern Region.

Randy Johnson, Sr.

Randy Johnson, Sr. started his telecommunications company in 1982 in the garage of his home with $500, lots of prayers and hard work in an industry that requires $500,000 to start.

He dedicated the company to God, and every morning since the company’s inception, he and his staff met for prayer. Communications by Johnson, Inc. has grown to 16 employees, including Johnson’s teenage sweetheart and wife of 40 years, Barbara, and their three children. It now has over 3,500 customers and is rated nationwide in the top 100 of all companies of its kind. The company services, installs and sells various types of telephone/voice and data communication systems.

Johnson, former governor of the Florida District of Kiwanis International, is very active in the community and has been instrumental in getting members of the Kiwanis Club to donate to PBCC’s Center for Early Learning Endowment for scholarships for children of low-income students.

A Washington, D.C. native and PBCC graduate, he has served as former chairman of the Criminal Justice Commission of Palm Beach County, the Planning and Zoning Board for the city of Riviera Beach and numerous other boards.

He currently serves on the board of directors of the Work Force Council, the Alzheimer’s Community Care and the Palm Beach Maritime Museum. He’s a member of Saint Francis Catholic Church where he serves on the Parish Council and on the Board of Catholic Charities.

His company has received numerous awards including Business of the Year from the Minority Business Development Council in 1985 and from the Tri County Chapter of the National Business League in 1986.

Toward a More Perfect Union

In 1999, several Palm Beach County citizens participated in a series of study circles, a process for small group deliberation on the issues of race and ethnicity and their impact on the community.

The circles were sponsored by the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties through its Human and Race Relations Program.  From one of these circles came the idea to form an initiative that would address these critical issues on a more sustained basis.  Study circle participants, area funders and other interested parties formed a steering committee to more fully develop the idea of an initiative, determine its structure and construct a plan for facilitation.

As a result of this collaboration, Toward a More Perfect Union, a nonprofit organization, was formed in 2000. Since then, the organization has conducted study circles on race relations in Jupiter, Northwood/Pleasant City and several Episcopal churches. It also has conducted several youth study circles in after-school centers throughout West Palm Beach. It is currently working to form public safety study circles with West Palm Beach Police and Fire Rescue departments and Weed and Seed community members.

The work the group is most proud is the five concurrent study circles conducted in the city of Belle Glade. The study circles will continue, and the community is currently addressing action items that were developed from the study circle work.

Centex Rooney

Centex Rooney Construction Co., founded in 1933, has become Florida's largest provider of professional construction management services.  Centex Rooney is a subsidiary of the Centex Corporation (NYSE-CTX), the publicly owned company that ranks among the nation's leading home builders and commercial contractors.

Its corporate philosophy of diversity has produced results.  For example, it achieved 37 percent minority/women-owned business participation for the construction of the new Education and Training Center at PBCC. Overall the company averages 24 percent minority/women-owned business participation in projects. The company established a state-certified construction management training course for minority/women business enterprises, which was first conducted at PBCC in 2002, and 30 percent of its new hires within the past year have been minority and/or women.

2003 mlk winners

PBCC presented MLK Leadership Awards to Palm Beach County Commissioner Addie Greene (standing with Justice Anstead) and Barbara Matthews (center), Ed.D., a PBCC professor for more than 35 years. The College also presented a community organization award to ASPIRA (which means aspire in Spanish). The award was accepted by ASPIRA Director Cathy Anaya (standing right with PBCC at Lake Worth provost Maria Vallejo.

Addie L. Greene

Addie Greene has been a political figure in Palm Beach County and the state for nearly two decades. She made her first venture into politics in 1986 when she won a seat on the Mangonia Park City Council. In 1988, she was elected vice mayor and then mayor three years later.

In 1992, she became the first African American from Palm Beach County to be elected to the Florida House of Representatives. She was re-elected for a total of four consecutive terms. In 2000, she was elected to a four-year term on the Palm Beach County Commission. Last year she accepted the role of chair of the Palm Beach County Conference of Black Elected Officials.

Prior to beginning her political career, Greene taught high school in Palm Beach County for 12 years from 1965 to 1977 before joining the faculty at PBCC where she taught from 1977 to 2000.

She has always been an advocate for economic development and international trade. She has been able to work with the Port of Palm Beach, located both in her state house and county commission districts, to ensure it becomes the economic engine that drives Palm Beach County. As commissioner for District 7, Greene continues to strive as an advocate for poor working men and women.

She was born in Quinton, Ala., and is one of nine children. She received her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Stillman College in Alabama in 1965 and her master’s degree in education from Florida A&M University in 1973.

Dr. Barbara C. Matthews

From the marches in Washington in the 1960’s and the 70’s and the Tallahassee vigils in the 80’s to diversity in the new millennium, Dr. Barbara Matthews has been a tireless advocate and activist for civil, legal and human rights. In the mid-sixties, she conducted a study with recommendations on school desegregation in Palm Beach County. An outspoken proponent for early childhood education, she founded over 30 years ago the Montessori-based Center for Early Learning and three-track early childhood curricula at the College’s Lake Worth location.

Dr. Matthews was “in the basement in women’s and gender studies, and in 1975 developed the first formal feminist psychology course in the nation. The course endures, and the scholarship has emerged into a full-blown discipline around the country and abroad. For several years, she lobbied for a campus women’s resource and development center. She was a participant in the First National Men and Masculinity Conference in 1974, a national board member of the National Women’s Studies Association for six years, a presenter at the First International Women’s Research Conference in Montreal in 1982, an NGO delegate to the United Nation’s Women’s Conference in 1985 in Nairobi, and a presenter at the First Sino-American Women’s Issues Conference in Beijing in 1990. She returned to Beijing in 1995 as an NGO delegate to the UN World Conference on Women, the largest gathering of women activists in history.

Ending a 36-year teaching career at PBCC this year, Dr. Matthews has inspired thousands of psychology students and prospective teachers, “putting them in touch with their community. She has worked closely with Weed and Seed, Communities in Schools, Junior Achievement, and the Anti-Defamation League. A resource person for local organizations, a school board member for private schools, she also planned numerous programs and teach-ins and brought many notables to our campus. In 2001, she was the recipient of the national Psi Beta award at the American Psychological Association Convention in San Francisco.

Dr. Matthews is a graduate of Palm Beach Community College, earned the prestigious Halsey and Griffith Scholarship, received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Florida Atlantic University, and her doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Tennessee.


ASPIRA Palm Beach, a division of ASPIRA of Florida, Inc., is a nonprofit community organization that has been serving Palm Beach County youth in grades K-12 since 1996. ASPIRA – the Latin word for aspire- was founded in the 1960s in New York to empower Puerto Rican youth through advocacy, education and leadership development. Today, ASPIRA operates programs in seven states and serve children of all backgrounds.

Under the leadership of Director Cathy Anaya, the 10 clubs in the Palm Beach County, including nine school-based clubs- work to educate children about the importance of diversity and tolerance while fostering their own cultural pride as well as motivate students to set goals and do the best they can to achieve them. It provides tutoring, homework assistance, scholarships and college tours and assists students with completing college admissions and scholarship forms.

The club participants or “aspirantes have been involved in numerous community service projects, including fundraisers and multi-cultural events, and they have attended West Palm Beach City Commission and other public meetings to help improve their social consciousness. Some aspirantes participated last year with a panel of youth to coordinate, implement and facilitate a countywide Hispanic/Jewish youth conference. They have adopted a section of road to keep clean and volunteered for the Special Olympics. The ASPIRA clubs meet on a weekly basis, operate under parliamentary procedures and elect peer representatives as officers of the clubs so children can strengthen and utilize their leadership skills.

mlk 2002 winners
From left to right: Clarence E. Anthony, Wayne D. Barton, Louise E. Buie, John E. Jenkins, Bettye J. King, and Robert M. Montgomery, Jr.

Clarence E. Anthony

For the past 17 years, South Bay Mayor Clarence Anthony has been in the forefront of politics in his community as well as on statewide and national levels. He was elected by voters to the South Bay City Commission in March 1984 and elected mayor by his colleagues a year later. He has been active in both the Florida League of Cities and the National League of Cities and has served successful terms as president of both organizations.

He is a member of the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials and serves on the board of directors of the National Conference of Black Mayors. Mayor Anthony also chairs an organization of Palm Beach County black elected officials and is a member of several other federal and state commissions and boards.

A lifelong resident of South Bay, Mayor Anthony holds an A.A. degree from Palm Beach Community College and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Florida Atlantic University. He is president of Emerge Consulting Corporation, and he’s active in many professional and service organizations in South Bay and Palm Beach County. His extensive community service has earned him honors including the Florida Jaycees Mayor of the Year Award for 1989-90, distinguished alumnus awards from Florida Atlantic University and PBCC, Ebony Magazine Future Leader Award, Outstanding Young Men in America Award and Outstanding Community Leaders in America Award.

Wayne D. Barton

Wayne Barton began his career at the Boca Raton Police Department in 1980 as a police aide before being promoted to a police officer in 1981. He is well respected in the community and on the police force, having been named Officer of the Year by the department as well as Officer of the Month 20 times and Officer of the Quarter twice.  His commendation file echoes the words of “dedication, compassion, patience, understanding, courtesy and competence."

Barton works to help youth in the community and to improve the community. In 1989, he was elected president of the “Mr. T" Club, in which students from middle and high schools are rewarded for their academics and attendance. He is a member of the Boca Raton Jaycees and serves on the board of directors for the Palm Beach County March of Dimes and the Salvation Army. He’s a certified Drug Abuse Resistance Education instructor and a member of the Mayor’s Drug Task Force. He’s also a founder of the local chapter of the I Have a Dream Foundation, which funds college tuition for disadvantaged children in public housing in Boca Raton.
He has won numerous local and state awards because of his outstanding law enforcement and community work, including the Meritorious Award in 1988 from Florida State Attorney General Bob Butterworth. He has been featured on several television shows including Inside Edition, Current Affair and Eye on Palm Beach.

Louise E. Buie

Louise Buie is a pioneer of the civil rights movement in Palm Beach County. As president of the local branch of the NAACP for more than 25 years, she worked tirelessly for voting rights, fair housing and human rights and she was instrumental in desegregating many areas in the county and throughout Florida. A most noteworthy incident was the desegregation of formerly all-white Phipps Park in Palm Beach after a young African American girl was ordered off the beach by local law enforcement officials.

She has participated in many local and national civil rights marches, including the 1961 March on Connie Mack Field to give African-American ball players the right to stay at local hotels and motels with their teammates and their fans the privilege of sitting in the grandstand at the stadium. She also organized local citizens to participate in the 1963 March on Washington led by Dr. King.

She retired as an insurance agent with the Afro-American Life Insurance Company in 1976 after 28 years. She then worked for the Visiting Nurses Association as a certified nurse’s aide. She is now fully retired but continues to be active in many and varied civil and business activities including the local NAACP, Riviera Beach Voters League Voters League. She has been honored and the recipient of many awards including the naming of the administrative complex of the Palm Beach County Urban League in her honor.

John E. Jenkins

John Jenkins, counselor and coordinator of student activities at PBCC’s Palm Beach Gardens location, has 34 years of education experience in Palm Beach County, including 24 years at PBCC. He served as acting dean of student services in Palm Beach Gardens from September 1998 to October 1999. He has served as advisor of the Student Government Association at PBCC in Palm Beach Gardens for 24 years. The group is involved annually in walk-a-thons, fundraisers for charities, Christmas food give-a-ways voter registration, health fairs, blood drives and social activities.

In 1993, he was recognized as the Dwight Allison Fellow for outstanding service to the community. Jenkins has served as church school superintendent at Hurst Chapel A.M.E. Church for 26 years where more than 90 percent of graduates have furthered their education. He has served as a member of the Community Relations Committee of the Kravis Center for 10 years, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity for 33 years (including local chapter president for six years) and other community groups. An advocate for blood donating, Jenkins has donated more than 30 gallons of blood to the South Florida Blood Bank.

He has dedicated himself to giving back because he says he got where he is with help from many. He holds an A.A. degree from Volusia County Community College and a B.S. and M.S. degrees from Florida A&M University.

Bettye J. King

Bettye King is a board certified civil trail lawyer with her own law practice in West Palm Beach, specializing in personal injury. Martindale-Hubbell Legal Network has awarded her an AV rating. A native Floridian, she received her B.A. and her Juris Doctor degrees from the University of Florida. She has served on many professional and civic boards including the Palm Beach County Judicial Nominating Commission and the Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission and Leadership Palm Beach County. For 10 years, she served as a trustee of Palm Beach Community College, appointed by Govs. Robert Martinez and Lawton Chiles.

Robert M. Montgomery, Jr.

West Palm Beach attorney Robert Montgomery, Jr. has represented clients in some of Florida’s most high profile cases and received about 60 settlements or verdicts over $1 million. He has been active in numerous civic and professional organizations and has received many accolades for his service to the community.

He is president of the Palm Beach Opera, co-founder of The Children's Place at Home Safe, founder of the Armory School & Visual Arts Center and chairman of the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art. He also is founder of the Robert M. Montgomery, Jr. Cancer Research Fund, Albert Einstein Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He serves on the Board of Trustees for National Public Radio. His numerous honors include, the Distinguished Community Service Award, American Technion Society; the Philanthropist of the Year Award, National Association of Fund Raising Executives; the Sun-Sentinel Publisher's Award for contributing most to improving quality of life in Broward and Palm Beach counties; Child Advocate of the Year, Friends of Abused Children; Humanitarian Award, Albert Einstein College of Medicine; and the Haym Salomon Award from the Anti-Defamation League.

Montgomery received an A.S. degree from Marion Military Institute, a B.S. degree from the University of Alabama and his L.L.B. and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida.

2001 winners

The provosts presented the awards to the recipient from their area.
Maria Vallejo, Lake Worth, Charles Spencer Pompey; Celeste Beck, Boca Raton, Nancy Parker Wright; Patricia Anderson, Palm Beach Gardens, Idell McLaughlin; Mamie Washington Kendall and Helen Franke, from Belle Glade. (second row) James Watt, board chair, Carolyn Williams, vice chair and PBCC President Dennis Gallon.

Idell McLaughlin

Associate Professor McLaughlin is department chair of English and speech in Palm Beach Gardens.  She was selected because of her work as advisor of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and for involving PBCC students in a number of community service projects. They include: adopting a family and providing them with a stove, refrigerator, new windows and carpet; cooking Thanksgiving dinner for a bedridden mother and her three disabled children; visiting nursing homes for most holidays, providing school supplies and Christmas gifts for The Children’s Place and tutoring and mentoring children.

Charles Spencer Pompey
Pompey is a retired educator, outstanding historian and community activist.

Mamie Washington Kendall, Esq.
Kendall is a former PBCC student, who is a partner in Key and Washington Kendall law firm in Belle Glade

Nancy Parker Wright
Wright is a Quantum Foundation board member, who was instrumental in helping PBCC secure a Quantum Foundation grant.

Print page