The newly-elected Viola Davis has been appointed to the Georgia House of Representatives Insurance, Interstate Cooperation and Science & Technology committees.
She is the founder of Unhappy Taxpayer & Voter, a longtime government
watchdog of DeKalb County educating the public about waste, mismanagement, and inefficiency in local and state government.’
Davis lead the fight to secure nearly 5 million dollars to properly close a 25 acre abandon bankrupt landfill named Scales Landfill, the state’s largest trust fund award to cap a landfill.
Viola Davis started her career of community service as an actual plaintiff in the
Brown vs. Board of Education filed by the late Charles Scott Sr., mentor to her
mother, Ruby Davis.
She is an honor graduate of the Medical College of Georgia with a Bachelor of
Science Degree in Nursing, a licensed Realtor, was a business owner that owned and operated a hair salon called Express Cuts on Memorial Drive in DeKalb County with her sister, the late Annie Mae Davis. She is an honorably discharged Commissioned Officer of the United
States Army and Airborne.
She’s won several awards.
Kieth Cockrell is the Head of Specialty Client Services for Consumer and Small Business Banking. In this role, he is responsible for the implementation and execution of our strategy to make financial centers destinations for guidance during moments that matter for clients.
Working across product teams and channels, Kieth leads efforts to build the client-focused culture, committed to assisting clients through their life experiences.
During his 35 year career in financial services, Kieth has held leadership roles as Southeast Division Sales executive, Retail & Preferred and Small Business Banking chief operating officer, Banking Center Divestiture Project executive, Michigan market president, National Community executive and ATM Network executive. Additionally, he has held leadership roles in contact centers and across various geographic markets.
Kieth is active in the community and serves on the national board of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, and the Levine Museum of the New South.
Kieth earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from Columbia University. He currently lives in the Charlotte, North Carolina area with his family.
Keisha Lance Bottoms is the 60th Mayor of the City of Atlanta.
A daughter of Atlanta, Mayor Bottoms strives to continue the City’s progress as a global business hub, while also building a city that is a national model for equity and inclusion. Her vision is One Atlanta. A safe and welcoming city, world-class employees, infrastructure and services, an ethical, transparent, and fiscally responsible government, thriving neighborhoods, communities and businesses, and residents that are equipped for success.
Only the second woman elected Mayor of Atlanta, Mayor Bottoms was designated a “Woman to Watch in 2018” by Viacom’s BET Network. She has also been profiled by Atlanta Magazine, Ebony Magazine and Politico Magazine, where she was named “the most prominent black female executive in the South,” and most recently, she was honored among a group of stellar women, as one of ESSENCE magazine’s 2018 “Woke 100” – highlighting black women change agents across the nation and beyond.
Mayor Bottoms graduated from Frederick Douglass High School and received an undergraduate degree from Florida A&M University. She earned a Juris Doctorate from Georgia State University College of Law and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Mayor Bottom resides in Southwest Atlanta with her husband, Derek W. Bottoms, and their four children.
Koby Altman was named the 11th general manager in Cleveland Cavaliers history in July of 2017. As the GM, he manages and oversees all aspects of scouting, personnel, player acquisitions and transactions, and all team operations. He also guides the team’s player appearance committee in partnership with the business side of the Cavs organization.
In the 2017-18 season, Altman’s first year as GM, the Cavaliers won the Eastern Conference Finals, advancing to their fourth straight NBA Finals. In the summer of 2018, he selected Collin Sexton with the eighth overall pick in the NBA Draft and signed five-time NBA All-Star Kevin Love to a new multi-year contract extension.
Prior to being named GM, Altman was a part of the Cavaliers’ basketball staff for five years and has been an integral part of a team that reached four straight NBA Finals and won an NBA Championship in 2016.
Altman, a Brooklyn, New York native, played collegiately at Middlebury College. Altman is on the National Board of Directors for the Posse Foundation, which identifies, recruits and trains individuals with extraordinary leadership potential, providing full-tuition leadership scholarships from Posse’s partner colleges and universities.
Dennis W. Archer Jr., Esq. is the CEO of Ignition Media Group, a leading integrated marketing agency, and president and founding partner of Archer Corporate Services (ACS). Mr. Archer’s hospitality holding company, Congress Hospitality, is creator and managing partner of Central Kitchen + Bar, named by The Detroit Free Press as one of Detroit’s 2016 top new restaurants of the year, within a year of opening.
Founded in 1998, Detroit-based Ignition Media Group specializes in strategic matchmaking, experiential marketing, public relations and event production for numerous clients including Common Citizen, WCCCD, General Motors, BMW, Pernod Ricard and Bacardi North America. Ignition’s leadership team has significantly grown in the last decade, carrying a large network of local contacts in the media, business, political and philanthropic communities.
In conjunction with Ignition, Archer leveraged his background in marketing and advertising, creating a portfolio of companies, each of which thrives in a specific niche. In 2004, he co-founded ACS with CEO Mike Carr. Under their leadership, ACS has grown into one of the nation’s leading marketing fulfillment service firms, serving clients such as General Motors, Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Prestige Brands and Blue Buffalo. For these companies, ACS provides trade and consumer fulfillment, printing and print management, promotional merchandising, plastic card services and call center services.
In addition to the aforementioned entrepreneurial endeavors, Archer is a real estate developer who is dedicated to giving back to Detroit and the surrounding areas. In the early 2000’s he realized it was the perfect marketplace to acquire, reposition and sell properties while simultaneously encouraging job creation, creating affordable housing units and overall bringing entrepreneurial opportunities into the city to promote economic growth.
Since that time, he has participated in several high-profile projects such as Redford Marketplace, The Talon Center, 1250 Rosa Parks Boulevard, Kercheval Point in Grosse Pointe and presently a downtown Detroit retail development anchored by a Meijer operated grocery store and a redevelopment project in Harmonie Park. In addition to Dennis’ direct investments and principal involvement in the projects listed, he has participated in a number of other significant developments alongside his development partners with whom he later created Lormax Stern Detroit, a 50-50 partnership. These include several regional shopping centers.
Archer’s civic and philanthropic involvement includes Chair Emeritus of the Detroit Regional Chamber Board of Directors where he also sits on the executive committee and chaired the 2016 Mackinac Policy Conference, and the 2019 and 2020 Detroit Policy Conferences. Archer also sits on the boards of the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, Dennis W. Archer Foundation, and Citizen Detroit.
Corporately, Archer also serves on the General Motors Supplier Council and as a director of Main Street Bank, where he has served on the audit, loan and CRA committees.
Dennis Archer, Jr. received both his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Michigan.
Tonya Allen is the president & CEO of The Skillman Foundation. Her two decade long career has centered on pursuing, executing and investing in ideas that improve her hometown of Detroit and increase opportunities for its people, particularly its children, who live in under-resourced communities.
Allen has been instrumental in many successful philanthropic, government and community initiatives, including: the 11-year, $120-million Good Neighborhoods Initiative; co-chairing the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren and Launch Michigan; and serving as a leader in the boys and men of color field.
Allen holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and master’s degrees in social work and public health from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. She serves on numerous boards including Oakland University, Council on Foundations, Council of Michigan Foundations, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, and Campaign for Black Male Achievement.
Melissa Butler, is a Detroit native who has skillfully and strategically launched a start-up beauty brand, The Lip Bar, into a nationwide phenomenon. Melissa obtained her bachelor’s degree in business finance from Florida A & M University before going on to work on Wall Street as a licensed stock broker. Her journey from stocks and bonds to beauty is one that she describes as natural, not because she loved makeup, but because she was frustrated with the industry and therefore created a solution. Melissa wasn’t willing to accept cosmetics filled with chemicals because she believes beauty doesn’t have to compromise health. She also hated traditional beauty campaigns and their linear approach of beauty. “Everyone deserves to have representation. Without it, we are left seeking validation” she says. It was her belief in health and inclusion that lead her to make lipstick in her kitchen and develop the vegan line, The Lip Bar. Her goal is to empower women everywhere of all ages, races and body types to be confident in their own skin by challenging traditional beauty standards through imagery, ingredients and affordable pricing.
William F. Pickard, PhD is Chairman of Global Automotive Alliance, Co-Managing Partner, MGM Grand Detroit Casino, CEO, Bearwood Management Company and co-owner of five black-owned newspapers.
Pickard’s Forty-five-year entrepreneurial career began as a McDonald’s franchisee in Detroit, Michigan. Since its founding in 1989, GAA has generated more than $5 billion dollars in sales with eight plants in the U.S. and Canada, and service corporations such as Boeing, Mercedes Benz, Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, Delphi, Johnson Controls, Starbucks, Home Depot and Merck Pharmaceutical.
He has served on numerous business and non-profit boards including Asset Acceptance Capital Corporation, Michigan National Bank, LaSalle Bank, Business Leaders for Michigan, National Urban League, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Black Chamber of Commerce and is a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. In 2001, Pickard was awarded Michiganian of the Year for his business success, civic leadership and philanthropy. Pickard was the first chairman of the African Development Foundation in 1982, appointed by President Ronald Reagan, and under President George Bush he was appointed to The National Advisory Committee on Trade Policy Negotiations (1990) the Federal Home Loan Bank Board-Indianapolis Bank in Indiana (1991).
Dr. Pickard is also creating a new generation of entrepreneurs with Millionaire Moves – Seven Proven Principles of Entrepreneurship, vision/attitude, opportunity, relationships, talent/skillset, financial, failure and faith. Dr. Pickard will share his undeniable principles anyone can use to become a successful entrepreneur.
Dr. Pickard holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Western Michigan University, a Master’s Degree from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University. He has donated over $1M dollars to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. In honor of Dr. Pickard, The William F. Pickard Living Center is named in his honor at Grand Valley State University. Dr. Pickard has donated over $3M dollars to Western Michigan University which was used to build a new facility on campus Hall-Archer-Pickard East and Hall-Archer-Pickard West.
“At 6 years old, my mother bought me a sewing machine for Christmas — not a toy one either,” said Phoebe Lee as she recalled how she developed an affinity for fashion. “I was so mad at her. I wanted shoes, toys…”
Her father loved to thrift and one day took her into a store where she discovered sequins.
“I think my parents wanted to encourage me to do my own thing…got tired of buying the trendy stuff,” she continued. “So, I started making my own clothes.”
On top of that, Phoebe’s best friend worked as a model, which also nurtured her growing interest.
By the age of 18, the Shaker Heights High School graduate found herself at the Magic Show in Las Vegas. There, she was wholesaling some of the biggest, Black brand names in fashion at the time. She’s even opened a store in Atlanta and dabbled in modeling. She has also appeared on Good Morning America, the Today show, New York Live, VH1 and other networks.
Lee eventually found all of that to be a rat-race and wanted out.
She complained to her mother about the nature of her business and how she desired to do something with more consistency. Her mom — her confidant — is an entrepreneur who understands the ins and outs of the Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certification landscape and suggested that Lee sell uniforms.
Phoebe established VDP Safety and Uniforms in January 2013 while still living in New York. Eventually, caring for her father during his illness brought Lee back to Cleveland but also allowed her to work more closely with her mother.
“That was a changing point in my life. It was the first time I had to put family before myself. Changed my world for the better,” said Lee.
From there, she hasn’t looked back.
“I put some retail thought into the B2B world,” said Phoebe. “Uniforms are a product that can service everyone. It’s a small necessity…As [there are] few females [that] are providers of safety equipment and uniforms, I became interested in how the uniforms fit women.”
Her knowledge of fashion paired with solid business acumen lead to her current position as majority stakeholder and chief executive officer of Affinity Apparel, a nationwide uniform company based in Fairborn, Ohio.
“Now, I’m just making sure the orders are delivered,” said Phoebe. “It’s funny because, when I go back and see my professors they always say, ‘We knew you would do something with fashion once you figured it out.’”
Lee earned a business administration degree from Clark Atlanta University (CAU) with a concentration in supply chain management. During her time there, CAU become a testing ground for this program so administrators heavily recruited business students and she was one of them.
Interestingly enough, loving to be different, she never wanted to wear the mandatory business attire.
“I always found a way to put a spin on it. But, I could get away with it because I got straight A’s.”
She honed her fashion skills and studied fashion design at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Atlanta as well as the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City.
“I’m a third generation, Black woman entrepreneur and we all had to be creative,” she said.
She used to bag candy for her mother’s business, and her maternal grandmother — and namesake — owned a general store in Glen Allen, Mississippi.
Lee’s hard work has been recognized by many, including former Ohio governor John Kasich, who, before leaving the office, appointed her to serve on the board of trustees for Cuyahoga Community College.
Teola P. Hunter is a trailblazing public servant, who’s now retired. Yet her journeys as an elected official are filled with firsts.
In 1987, Hunter, a native Detroiter, was the first woman – black or white – to serve as speaker pro trempore in the Michigan House of Representatives. Elected to the House in 1980, Hunter served constituents in Michigan’s 5th District with honor for eleven years. She tendered her resignation in January, 1992.
It didn’t take long for Hunter to blaze new trails, as she became the first woman of any color to serve as deputy director of Health and Community Services in Wayne County. Appointed by Wayne County Executive Edward McNamara, Hunter oversaw Mental Health Services, Patient Care Management, Youth Programs, and Child Care Fund.
Hunter soon achieved another first for a woman, when she was elected Wayne County Clerk. And in 1997, she was the first woman ever to run for Michigan Lieutenant Governor as a democrat.
While Hunter has enjoyed a wonderful career as a public servant, which has included membership on the Detroit Charter Revision Commission (2009 – 2012), her professional life began as an early education teacher with the Detroit Board of Education in the late 1950s. This was after she earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Detroit. She later received a master’s degree in elementary school guidance and counseling from Wayne State University. Hunter taught fourteen years.
In 1971, Hunter opened Buttons and Bows Nurseries and Preparatory School in Detroit. While Hunter wasn’t the first African American in Detroit to own a child care facility, it’s believed she was the first black person to own and operate a chain of child care centers in the city.
Interestingly, it was Hunter’s vast experience in early childhood education, and her knowledge as an owner and manager of child care centers that motivated her to seek state office, after she and several African American child care center owners helped craft Public Act 116 in 1973.
“Public Act 116 provided protection for children through licensing and regulation of child care centers throughout the state,” explained Hunter. “It provided strict standards and regulations for child care organizations to abide by.”
Working with House members and elected officials in Detroit provided Hunter with a great perspective of politics and how elected officials worked.
“I saw and liked how lawmakers worked together to write and pass bills that helped empower their constituents,” said Hunter. “I knew I could do what the legislators were doing, and I could do it better.”
Once elected, Hunter went on to do much better than many of her fellow members, many of which were white males with stereotypical views of blacks in politics, especially black women.
These days, although retired from politics, Hunter serves on several boards of not-for-profit organizations, inclusive of Detroit Rescue Mission Ministry and Franklin Wright Settlements. Hunter’s also active at Mayflower Congregational United Church of Christ in Detroit, where she’s been a member for almost fifty years. And she’s a lifelong member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the storied African American organization dedicated to public service.
“I’ve always been a person with a public servant’s heart and spirit, which started my commitment to public service,” said Hunter. “Whatever I can do to help people in need, that’s what I’ll be doing.”
At Atrium Health, Jim Dunn leads teams focused on the engagement of Atrium Health teammates – from recruitment through retirement – including workforce relations, diversity and inclusion, compensation, benefits, learning and organizational development, teammate health, LiveWELL, reward and recognition, HR communications, external affairs, community engagement and governmental affairs.
Prior to joining Atrium, Dunn served as the executive vice president and chief talent officer for Parkland Health and Hospital System in Dallas, Texas. He’s also served as the human resources and learning executive for the Cleveland Clinic, chief learning officer for Texas Health Resources, and the chief HR Officer for the American Cancer Society and global HR and chief of staff for former President Jimmy Carter.
“I essentially grew up in HR while at the American Cancer Society,” said Dunn, who, interestingly, as a youth, never foresaw such an illustrious human resource career in the healthcare industry.
“I most definitely hadn’t anticipated doing anything outside of the pure sciences, heck I was pretty introverted and didn’t really even like people,” Dunn laughs during the interview. He purely enjoying college and studying the subject he loved.
Dunn always loved science, and particularly AP chemistry in high school. A high school crush on his teacher played a small part but he enjoyed the class so much, without knowing all the career options available, he selected the subject as his undergraduate major at Howard University. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and macro-environmental science with highest honors.
Having skipped a grade in both elementary and high school, Dunn graduated at 16 years. Growing up in Chicago, he received offers to attend the University of Chicago and Northwestern. He selected Howard after his high school counselor implied attending an HBCU would be a waste of his talents. It infuriated him as he had many high school classmates, with even higher talents planning to attend HBCU’s. He applied more so out of aggravation and it ended up becoming the most important decision he could have made at such a young age.
Fresh out of college, at 20, Dunn went to work as a research scientist with the Georgia Tech Research Institute. From there, he went on to become an occupational epidemiologist with Amoco Corporation. That’s also when he obtained a Master of Public Health degree as well as completed his first doctoral degree from Emory University.
“Those degrees were aligned with my first career,” Dunn said of his extensive education. He additionally holds a master’s degree in business administration from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and two more doctoral degrees in organizational development and healthcare administration from Benedictine University and the Medical University of South Carolina, respectively.
As an emerging scholar, Dunn has served as adjunct and distinguished faculty for multiple universities including the Harvard School of Public Health, MIT Sloan School of Management, Morehouse School of Medicine, Emory University, University of Chicago, Southern Methodist University and the University of Texas at Dallas. He is also a state registered professional mediator, specializing in workplace conflict resolution strategies, and a fellow (FACHE) and faculty member of the American College of Health Executives.
Despite the letters behind his name and accolades, for Dunn, his love for family is his greatest accomplishment. “Family comes first. I’ve intentionally never allowed my career to become the driving force of for my life…or taking myself too seriously.”
Dunn is an avid tennis fan and enjoys mentoring through several local community platforms.
Charles E. Tennant Sr. grew up in Asheville, North Carolina. He attended segregated schools.
“We never saw brand new books,” said Tennant. “We always got used books from the white schools.” He remembers one, Little Black Sambo. “It was about a little black boy who played with a tiger. They made him as black as possible with huge red lips and wooly hair.”
He also saw black movies full of stereotypes, at school, the last Friday in the month. “We were, at a young age, exposed to scary movies, like “Mighty Joe Young.”
In 1959, Tennant applied to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The university required each applicant to submit a photograph. He did reluctantly and received a rejection letter advising him to attend one of the “colored” colleges and listed them.
Tennant ended up at North Carolina A&T College when young black males were required to enroll in ROTC. He chose the Air Force, but placed into the Army ROTC program. He withdrew from A&T, and enrolled into Winston-Salem Teachers College. After graduating, he got a teaching position in Rockingham, North Carolina School District.
In 1966, the county school district integrated. Old white teachers were sent to black schools, and a few good black teachers to white schools. No black children were sent to white schools, or vice versa. Wanting no parts of that, he applied for a position in Detroit.
In route to Detroit, the plane experienced mechanical problems and laid over in Columbus, Ohio, causing Tennant to miss his interview. He took a taxi downtown, contacted Columbus City Schools then took a taxi to their office. “I believe this is where God wanted me to be,” he said.
Mr. Gearhart in Teacher Personnel, interviewed Tennant and explained the benefits. Tennant accepted. At times throughout his teaching career, Tennant held eight certificates.
In 1993, Tennant realized our students needed a school showcasing the positivity of Blacks from a worldview and sprang into action to make it a reality. “Everyone told me I was wasting my time.”
Byron Sanders sits at the helm of Big Thought, a Dallas -based organization committed to helping youth in under-resourced communities prepare for life in various innovative ways. As the President and CEO of the organization, he and his staff endeavor to connect youth with individuals and organizations interested in sponsoring quality in-school, afterschool and innovative community-partnership experiences. Byron’s professional expertise spans the fields of banking, education, philanthropy, and he’s served Big Thought in various capacities since 2008, including supporter, volunteer, advisor, partner, and most recently, board member.
Speaking to his current role, “In an age where technology is changing the workforce at a clip so rapidly that 65% of students today are going to be working in jobs that don’t yet exist, Big Thought’s work to unleash youth’s creativity and empower them to build human relationships is exactly the kind of work that prepares them to thrive in the 21st century,” says Sanders. “Through our partnerships, our work touches the lives of 150,000 students in Dallas every year. Art, STEM, service learning, design thinking, the game changers on our team are everyday innovating new and different ways for young people to channel their creativity into productivity, equipping them to create their best lives and world.”
The University of Tulsa graduate believes that one’s life purpose and mission cannot be truly fulfilled without active community engagement. As such, Byron is a member of United Way’s Community Impact Council, Social Venture Partners Dallas, CitySquare, ChildCareGroup, KIPP DFW, and the Mayor’s Star Council and other service initiatives. Due to his servitude acumen, Sanders has received a number of prestigious honors such as the 2014 Dallas Business Journal’s Minority Business Leaders and its 2012 40 Under 40 awards. He has also been recognized as a Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau BIG Influencer, Dallas Foundation Good Works Under 40, and as a TEDx speaker. Notably, in 2017, he was named a Presidential Leadership Scholar by the program led by the presidential centers of George W. Bush, William J. Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Lyndon B. Johnson. His most recent honors include the Parkland Foundation’s Community First Award, and recognition in the 5th edition of Who’s Who in Black Dallas. Sanders shares, “Who’s Who of Black Dallas is indeed an honor, yet it’s one I share with all the women and men who have poured into my journey. I stand on the legacy of Mollie Sanders, a mother whose very soul is that of generosity. I stand on the village of educators from Adelle Turner Elementary to Greenhill School, on Donald Payton, Selmore Haynes, Abe Wehmiller, Synthia Rogers, and all the mentors who wrapped their arms around my younger self because by cognizance or divination they saw I so desperately needed them in my life… it is a celebration not of our individual excellence, but that of our collective glory, a continuous thread of black beauty, strength, and love. I am blessed to be among that number and grateful for the chance to contribute to that heritage.”