2016 Men and Women of Distinction Awards

BY JOYCE NANETTE JOHNSON, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG – The Gathering of Women, Inc. 2016 Men and Women of Distinction Awards Ceremony kicked off an amazing afternoon this past Sunday. The St. Petersburg Country Club, located at 2000 Country Club Way S, was filled with well-wishers who came out to support the achievements of some 18 honorees.

The awards are to honor individuals who have tirelessly given their time, talent and expertise to benefit the community. The honorees   represent a broad range of community activism that included health, culture, public service and business.

Andrida McCall Hosey presided as Mistress of Ceremonies with her usual warmth and graciousness. The stylishly dressed crowd enjoyed musical performances by the group “4 Gents,” who took the crowd to a trip down memory lane as they performed a tribute to “The Temptations.”

Guest speaker Corey Givens, Jr. has been a community activist for most of his young life.  He is the second vice president of the St. Petersburg NAACP, a member of the Pinellas County Urban League Young Professionals and founded and the Pinellas County Democratic Black Caucus, where he is also president.

Speaking on women and the many accomplishments they have given to the world, Givens lauded the honorees and the Gathering Of Women, Inc. for epitomizing their same ingenuity, perseverance and strength.

“It only takes one person with a dream and a vision,” he encouraged the audience.  “It’s about how we can do for each other, how we can help each other.”

Samantha Richardson, chair of the Gathering of Women, Inc., explained that the honorees undergo a strict review process that starts in October of the previous year. To evaluate the nominations, a selection committee gauges all names within the context of community involvement, leadership, commitment, a concern for humanity and having an enduring and meaningful impact.

The Roger and Renee Ambrose Education Scholarships were presented to five local youths who are eager to make a difference in the community.  This year’s awardees were Alexander King (St. Leo University), Khalil Harris (Florida A&M University), Greg Cason (Pinellas Technical College), Sha’Von Chasten (Pinellas Technical College) and Terence J. Ware (undecided).

16_Ann Marie ClarkeAnn-Marie Clarke

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Clarke is the assistant director of Pinellas Technical College, St. Petersburg. She graduated high school at 16 and attended the University of Florida where she earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Health Science Education. She went on to earn a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of South Florida.

She has served Pinellas County in the field of education for 27 years as teacher, assistant principal, principal and now in her current position of assistant director. In fact, she holds the distinction of being the first black principal of Bay Point Middle School.

She was also an adjunct instructor for St. Petersburg College, and also taught computer literacy and applications to adults.

Clarke has dedicated her life to social justice and equity for all. By working in her sphere of influence, she has facilitated equal and equitable educational opportunities for all students.

In her role as assistant director, Clarke focuses on the community workforce development through the management of technical education programs and the success of hundreds of students annually.

She was involved in implementing the Girlfriends program in Pinellas County, and received recognition from Governor Charlie Crist for leadership in the NFL Play60 initiative while principal of Bay Point Middle School.

Ann Marie Clark received the Education, Training & Development Award.

08_Lounell Britt_02Lounell C. Britt

Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Britt graduated from Gibbs High School in 1956, Paine College in 1960 and Golden Gate University with a Master’s Degree in Public Relations in 1982.  She worked for the Florida State Department of Children and Families for 34 year.

She retired in 2001 from the position of district operations and program manager, where she was responsible for operations, program/policy development and budgets for Family Safety, which encompassed foster care, protective services, adoptions and child abuse investigations. She was also responsible for developmental services and aging and adult services. These programs covered Pinellas and Pasco counties and involved oversight and management responsibilities for more than 300 staff members and a 50 million-dollar budget.

Britt is a founding member and the current executive director of James B. Sanderlin Neighborhood Family Center. She is responsible for managing over a million dollar budget for programs provided by the center.

She is an active and faithful member of the Zeta Upsilon Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and New Faith Free Methodist Church, where she serves as church treasurer.

She is the mother of two daughters and one son and the grandmother to six adorable grandchildren. She also was the caregiver for her mother who died at age 103.

Lounell C. Britt received the Humanitarian Award.

02_Bro Johm Muhammad_01Bro. John Muhammad 

With the personal motto of “believe and do good,” Bro. Muhammad has been involved in grassroots organizing and community outreach since joining the Nation of Islam in 1997 at age 21.

He has a passion for uniting people and developing the next generation of leaders. Bro. Muhammad co-founded the St. Pete Stop The Violence Coalition in 2012, and in 2013 and 2014 the group was recognized by President Barack Obama and received back-to-back National Volunteer Service Awards from his office.

As president of the Childs Park Neighborhood Association since 2011, he has increased membership and led the group to be recognized as “Neighborhood of the Year for Civic Engagement” as a result of their campaign to “Put Neighbor Back in the Hood.”

Bro. Muhammad helped co-found the Community Development and Training Center, Inc., which is a non-profit corporation that helps individuals and groups develop their potential and accomplish their personal and professional goals by connecting them with resources and opportunities.

Married to his high school sweetheart for 23 years, he and Tashawn have three daughters: Keara, Ja’Kevia and Zakiyyah and two grandchildren.

Bro. John Muhammad received the Volunteer, Advocacy & Community Leadership Award.

Cheryl Robinson 2016 M&WODCheryl Crenshaw-Robinson

The youngest child of Frank and Doris Crenshaw, Crenshaw-Robinson graduating in the top 10 of her East Orange, N. J., high school. She went on to graduate with a Bachelor’s of Science from Seton Hall University’s College of Nursing. She specialized in obstetrics and gynecology at NYU.

Returning to New Jersey, Crenshaw-Robinson began teaching nursing in a diploma, hospital- based nursing school. She re-entered Seton Hall University obtaining a Master’s Degree in Nursing and an Advanced Degree in Nursing as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner.

A year after completing school, she relocated from the northeast to Miami where she was a clinical educator at Jackson Memorial Hospital. After relocating to St. Pete, she secured a teaching position at St. Petersburg Junior College in the nursing program where she taught pediatrics and obstetrics, both the didactic and clinical components of these specialties. Bayfront Medical Center offered Crenshaw-Robinson a full-time position in their Level III Obstetrics Department ushering in a new era.

She spent 22 years at there and worked as a clinical specialist, nurse manager, nurse recruiter and the clinical director for Women and Children. In 2003, Crenshaw-Robinson was recruited to Community Health Centers of Pinellas, Inc., where she remains employed as the director of Clinical Operations for 10 healthcare centers.

She shares three beautiful children with Hendri Robinson: Destiny, Cyrel and Hendri II.

Cheryl Crenshaw-Robinson received the Health & Awareness Award.

19_Pastor DeonPastor Deon Lett

Founder and senior pastor of New Destiny International Church and Ministries, Lett is also the founder and president of their Affiliate Alliance that oversees pastors, churches and orphanages in Africa and Haiti.

Deon Lett Ministries focuses on transforming lives with God’s unlimited love and power and expanding the kingdom of God locally and globally.

Believing that the church has a vital role to play in the end time outpouring of the Spirit of God, Pastors Deon and Carmen Lett carry a mantle to reach the broken, revive God’s people and expand the Kingdom of God on earth. The result is life-changing transformations through salvation, deliverance, discipleship and empowerment.

He also has planned, overseen and orchestrated many city-wide outreaches providing goods and services to the community. His church has an outreach ministry for the homeless and hopeless of where they provide food, clothing and spiritual guidance.

Lett leads mission trips to Haiti several times a year where they go into the mountains and feed and clothe adults and children. He serves on several national and international boards, holds an honorary doctorate and has been in full-time ministry for more than 30 years.  Married with two children, they currently reside in Pinellas County.

Pastor Deon Lett received the Spiritual & Religion Award.

14_NicholsDiaDia Nichols

Voted an “Up and Comer” by “Modern Healthcare Magazine” in 2012, Nichols is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, which signifies his expertise, experience and commitment to continuing education and professional development.

He has led Northside Hospital as the chief executive officer since June of 2013. Nichols held multiple executive level positions in HCA since joining the company in 2001.  His tenure includes serving as CEO of John Randolph Medical Center (Hopewell, Va.); CEO of CJW Medical Center (Richmond, Va.) and as Associate Administrator of West Florida Hospital (Pensacola).

Nichols received his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from South Carolina State University, and his Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration from Indiana University. He is a member of the National Association of Health Services Executives and was named one of the Richmond, Va., area’s Top 40 Under 40, as well as a Top Healthcare Leaders Under 40 by “Richmond Magazines.”

He is active in the community, serving as a board member of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, as well as serving on the executive cabinet for the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk.

He and his wife Andrea are the proud parents of have two sons, Donovan and Cameron.

Dia Nichols received the Business & Leadership Award.

03_Dr. Leonard Confident_01Dr. Leonard Confident

While attending high school at Canterbury School of Florida, Dr. Confident spent time training with one of St. Petersburg’s most prominent family physicians, Dr. Frederic Guerrier.

He went on to obtain an undergraduate degree at the University of South Florida. He then studied abroad in England and earned his medical degree from St. Christopher’s College of Medicine.

Upon his returned to the United States, he completed his residency training in family medicine at Columbus Regional hospital in Columbus, Ga. During his residency, he traveled to Haiti to provide much needed medical care to the victims of the massive earthquake.

Once he completed his residency, Dr. Confident worked in the prison system providing medical care for a year before returning to St. Petersburg to start working at Professional Health Care Of Pinellas.

He is now working hard to provide excellent healthcare to his community.

Dr. Leonard Confident received the Health & Awareness Award.

Erik Smith 2016 M&WODErik C. Smith

The Cultural Competence and Inclusion Director at Cox Target Media, Smith has developed a cultural competency rubric that shows how diversity coupled with inclusion creates opportunities for innovation, drives revenue and enhances recruitment, retention and professional development of employees, franchisees and suppliers channels.

He has over 25 years of experience as a corporate finance and marketing professional, and is also the Managing Consultant and CEO of Carlton Consulting, Inc., a cultural competence and marketing advisory firm specializing in strategic planning, capacity building and cross-cultural marketing for both profit and not-for-profit enterprises.

Smith’s most recent engagement was becoming the executive director of The Jeff Johnson Institute for Urban Development, whose focus is to train the young urban professionals for leadership. Additionally, he served as the COO of Jeff’s Nation, a consulting firm with offices in Maryland and Ohio and whose specialty is media and message consulting.

He has consulted for numerous Fortune 100 advertising agencies, public relations firms and consumer product companies globally.

Before founding Carlton Consulting, Inc., he led all marketing functions for 216 Entertainment and Recording, LLC, a small cutting edge agency specializing in youth and ethnic marketing.

Smith educational background consists of a MBA from Case Western Reserve University and a Bachelor’s Degree from Duke University.

Erik C. Smith received the Business & Innovation Award.

Kai, Kanika, Terry & Olivia Tomalin Family of the Year .The Tomalin family

Dr. Kanika and Terry Tomalin were married June 19, 1999, in St. Petersburg. They met while both working as journalists for the St. Petersburg Times.

Kanika serves as deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, Florida’s fourth largest city. She was appointed in 2014 by Mayor Rick Kriseman. Terry is the Outdoors and Fitness editor for the Tampa Bay Times. A well-known adventurer, his journalism has taken him around the world.

They are the parents of two children, Kai and Nia Tomalin. Kai is a 14-year-old ninth grader at the Canterbury School of Florida. Nia is a 12-year-old sixth grader at The Canterbury School. Both are honor students who excel at track, cross country, karate and piano.

Kai earned the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout earlier this year, an accomplishment often achieved at 17 or 18 years of age, and Nia has been awarded Superior and Excellent ratings as a member of her Junior Thespian Troupe this year.

The family attends St. Thomas Episcopal Church and is committed to various community service in their spare time, in keeping with their commitment to give back to the wonderful community of St. Petersburg, at least as much as it has given to them.

The Tomalin family received the Family of the Year Award.

Jane Hussar _Community Activist & Leadership…Jane Johnson Hussar

A transplant from Ottawa, Ohio, Johnson Hussar has been a Florida resident since 1967.  Employed in the Pinellas County School system for 23 years, she has dedicated her life activism.

  • Homeowners Association President and Crime Watch chair

  • Volunteer of the Year, GFWC Florida Federation of Women’s Clubs

  • Pinellas Education Foundation recognition for 20 years as a Take Stock in Children ambassador

  • Safety Harbor Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors

  • Safety Harbor Citizens Academy

  • Pinellas County Schools, Special Achievement Award

  • City of Safety Harbor Citizen of the Year

  • Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Co-Chair, GFWC Florida Federation of Women’s Clubs

  • Featured speaker for The Florida Association of Partners in Education, Florida PTA, Florida Department of Education, General Federation of Women’s Clubs

  • Created the county’s first HIV/AIDS program where parents and educators from 16 elementary, middle and high schools attended a five-panel forum

  • On the steering committee for Parent University, a school and community program that features over 80 workshops for parents and guardians.

  • Created Macy’s Light the Way, a partnership with Macy’s, which has resulted in over one million dollars of marked out of stock goods being donated to families and community groups

  • The Cougar Closet, Countryside High School, helps over 600 low income students with free clothing and school supplies

  • She secures clothing to the Homeless Missions in St. Petersburg and Clearwater

12_Jessica PapaJessica Papa

Born and raised in Clearwater, Papa is an eighth generation Floridian. She attended St. Cecelia School in Clearwater for elementary and middle school and graduated from Clearwater Central Catholic High School.

Throughout high school she was active in the community volunteering with many organizations, including Kimberly Home, St. Vincent DePaul, Light of Christ Catholic Church and the Belle of the Ball Project.

She went on to attend St. Petersburg College where she received her AA and was a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society.  Papa obtained a bachelor’s degree from USF in archaeology, completing her degree by working on an archaeological site in Honduras.

She is currently the chief merchandising officer with the Belle of the Ball Project, a non-profit organization that collects and distributes gowns to girls who reside in low-income households or whose family is in temporary financial straits, and serves on the board of directors.

She married her high school sweetheart and has a one-year-old son.

Jessica Papa received the Young Woman of Distinction Award.

13_Lynn JohnsonLyn Johnson

A native of St. Petersburg, Johnson grew up with news in her blood. Her father, Cleveland Johnson, Jr., founded The Weekly Challenger newspaper in 1967. Being technically minded, she decided to attend a television video production course at Pinellas Technical College. After graduating, she worked for WTOG Channel 44, WTSP Channel 10 and WFLA Channel 8 in their production departments.

While employed at Channel 8, Johnson enrolled at Eckerd College and received a Bachelor’s Degree in History, where she obtained the writing skills that helped her become the publishing editor of The Weekly Challenger in 2012.

Since her short time at the helm, Johnson has redesigned the paper and brought readership up by focusing strictly on community news, adding national news only to the website.

Continuing her plan to bring the Challenger into the digital age, Johnson aims to strengthen its online presence by adding more interactive features and is in the process of creating video news clips to accompany the stories in print.

She has received the Community Service Award from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award from the National Council of Negro Women and the Legacy Business Award from the Black Heritage Festival.

Married with one child, Johnson is currently obtaining a master’s degree in library science from Drexel University.

Lyn Johnson received the Journalism & Communication Award.

17_Nikki CapehartNikki Gaskin-Capehart

A native of St. Petersburg, Gaskin-Capehart holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication from the University of South Florida. She is a graduate of Leadership St. Petersburg, National Urban Fellows America’s Leaders of Change Cohort II, Tampa Bay Public Leadership Institute, Whitney M. Young Jr. Emerging Leaders, board member and graduate of the Tampa Bay Chapter of the New Leaders Coalition class of 2014.

Gaskin-Capehart was appointed by St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman to serve as the director of Urban Affairs. She is leading the city’s plans in the urban core with a focus on the South St. Petersburg Community Redevelopment Area to better leverage existing community resources and direct new investments in people, programs and purpose that will be sustainable and impactful for the life of the 30 year plan.

She is diligently working to continue the momentum of the significant investments made over the past decade. The Urban Affairs platform was developed to focus on four areas of investment; opportunity creation, nurturing neighborhoods and families, connecting through cultural affairs and being a catalyst for commerce.

Prior to her position with the city, Gaskin-Capehart was the director of Communications and External Affairs for the Pinellas County Urban League, deputy district director for Congresswoman Kathy Castor, executive director of the Partnership for a Healthier Pinellas, outreach director for Congressman Jim Davis, owner of Sanaa’ Systems Inc. and assistant vice president of Community Development Banking for AmSouth Bank.

She volunteers with several local mentoring and community groups to empower youth and young adults to reach their full potential. Working on a professional and personal level to impact lives in the areas with the highest level of need, yet the most promise for growth and progress.

Nikki Gaskin-Capehart received The Gwen Reese Lifetime Achievement Award.

18_Wayne ThompsonRev. Dr. Wayne Thompson

A native of St. Petersburg, Rev. Dr. Thompson has been at the forefront of youth initiatives locally and nationally. He was national president of One Church, One Child, which is a national recruiting advocate for African-American children to be adopted.

Thompson attended seminary at Florida Memorial Seminary and the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta. He started in the ministry in 1975 and became pastor of First Baptist Institutional Church in 1984 after being an interim pastor for a year.

His unbridled passion coupled with his exceptional gift for communication have afforded him numerous notable gubernatorial appointments and has made him a much sought after preacher and lecturer, both locally and nationally.

Rev. Dr. Wayne Thompson received the Faith Visionary Award.

Audrey Pat  McGhee_Arts , Cultural & HeritageAudrey “Pat” McGhee

Always living the life of fashion, McGhee has 20 years of experience as a retail manager/makeover consultant for Colony Shops, Inc., in addition to being a fashion consultant for Malarkey International India. She’s been featured in just about every media outlet in the Tampa Bay area, and her fashion shows are always sold out.

As CEO of an urban couture clothing line designed for women ages 25 and older who want to blend boldness with feminine beauty, McGhee focuses on individual body size.  She designs clothes for women who are sizes 6 to 24, with a focus on the women who are in the forgotten size range (12 – 24).

She feels her design skills are a gift from God.  McGhee uses her talent to work with women at the peak or in the valley of their lives (figuratively speaking).  Her clients include bridal party participants, women in the midst of life changing illnesses who require a wardrobe makeover, ladies who are taking their careers to a new level and others who simply desire to makeover their look.

McGhee is involved in many community service projects. She has worked with Earth Missions Inc., Youth Cultural Program, Resource for Women, “Tribute To Women” (Forster Kid Project), St. Petersburg College Fashion Show, Life Link charity, St Paul’s Baptist Church, Safety Harbor, Cashmere & Colors Productions, Fletcher Productions and Angelia’s Hair Salon.

She is a member of Without Walls International Church, and is on the board of AIDS Services Association of Pinellas.

Audrey “Pat” McGhee received the Cultural & Heritage Award.

Janine Lewis for Randy Lewis Posthumous AwardRandolph B. Lewis

May 4, 1959 – October 10, 2015

Born in Jacksonville, Lewis was the founder and president of Lewis Maxwell Training Consultants, Inc., a multidimensional education, business and criminal justice training firm. He presented keynote speeches, workshops and seminars at numerous law enforcement and community outreach conferences and authored “Xbox, Hip Hop and Dreadlocks: Reconnecting the Generations.”

Lewis received his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Bethune Cookman College and his Master’s Degree in Criminology from the University of South Florida. His professional career included being a probation and parole officer for the State of Florida, Criminal Justice Project Coordinator with St. Petersburg College, an adjunct professor at the University of South Florida, Florida Metropolitan University and St. Petersburg College and a consultant with 21st Century Research & Evaluations.

His most endeared position, which he held at the time of his death, was director of family services at the Pinellas County Urban League. He served on many community forums, and was an active member of the Eta Rho Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.

A deacon at New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church, he was an amazing husband to his wife Janine and devoted father to his children Britteny, Christopher, Brandon and Micah, who preceded him in death.

He was a faithful friend to many, a mentor and a supporter of many causes to improve his community.

Randolph B. Lewis received the Posthumous Award.

Terrence J Ware 2016 M&WODTerence J. Ware

A native of St. Pete, Ware attends Lakewood High School and will graduate next month.

A star athletic, he won the 2015 Track & Field MVP, played junior varsity and varsity football and was a member of Student Government.  He has been offered scholarships in track and field from Barton Community College in Great Bend, Kan., and also a four-year scholarship from Aurora University in Illinois.

His goals are to go into a program for athletic training or sports medicine and make the Olympic team.

Ware received the Young Man of Distinction Award.

11_Toriano ParkerToriano Parker

A native of St. Petersburg, Parker graduated from Gibbs High School. He received a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Marketing and Finance from Waynesburg College in Pennsylvania.

After working for Equifax Credit in Clearwater, he decided to pursue his dreams of becoming an entrepreneur and started his own accounting and financial service firm in 2000 called Parker Financial Services.

In 2008, he founded Advantage Village Academy (AVA), a non-profit organization primarily focusing on the youth with teaching life skills, athletic training, providing afterschool tutoring, nutritional education and financial empowerment. With money being scarce, many times Parker had to contribute his own personal finances to help keep the doors open.

He is also the president of Deuces Live on 22nd Street South, the president of AVA and the president of the Pinellas Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

His love for the sport of wrestling led him to take over as wrestling coach for the Lakewood High School. The team made a remarkable turnaround this season, even attending the Regional Wrestling Competition.

Parker is married and has six children.

Toriano Parker received the Community Building & Public Service Award.

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