LEADERSHIP AWARD (ALUMNA)
LaToya G. Ricketts
LaToya 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.
LEADERSHIP AWARD (INDIVIDUAL)
C. Ron Allen
A 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."
LEADERSHIP AWARD (ORGANIZATION)
West Palm Beach Alumnae Chapter
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
With 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.