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Olympia Duhart, J.D., professor of law and director of the Lawyering Skills and Values (LSV) Program at Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard Broad Law Center, was recently named co-president elect of the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT). In addition to her service with SALT, Duhart also serves on the Board of Advisors for the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning and on the LexisNexis Publications Advisory Board. Recently, Duhart was appointed to serve as a member of the Grievance Committee for 17th Circuit “D” for The Florida Bar. Duhart’s scholarship focuses on government accountability. She has written and done presentations concerning the expansion of services for historically marginalized groups of people. She graduated magna cum laude from the NSU Law Center, where she was a Goodwin Scholar. She earned her B.A. in English, cum laude, from the University of Miami.

Debra Harris Nixon, Ph.D., is a champion of inclusive excellence and uses her distinctive approach to diversity training as the organizer and lead facilitator of the Nova Southeastern University’s grassroots campus-wide Inclusive Excellence (IE) initiative. With more than 30-years of experience in church, community, and corporate interfacing, Nixon has inspired thousands with her extraordinarily inclusive approach to classroom instruction, community building, and leadership training.

She is an associate professor in the Marriage and Family Therapy Department in NSU’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences. In addition, she is an ordained minister and founder of Liberation Outreach Ministries a non-traditional ministry that takes a holistic—inclusive– approach to meeting human need. Nixon’s most recent advance is the creation of the Graduate Certificate of Family Ministry for faith-based counselors.

Dr. J. Preston Jones is the Dean of Nova Southeastern University’s H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship. In his sixteen years at NSU, Dr. Jones has helped to lead the development of the Huizenga School’s online distance learning education programs to business administration and accounting. He is also an accomplished professor with considerable experience in delivering face-to-face and online instruction to adult learners across the United States and around the world. Dr. Jones’ professional career began in 1972 with the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies. During the fifteen years that followed, he held positions of increasing responsibility in manufacturing, quality assurance, plant management, and engineering design. The highlight of his career was the construction of a $30 million dollar Tylenol Manufacturing Facility in Las Piedras, Puerto Rico. He has owned and operated a small electrical supply company. Dr. Jones has special expertise in customizing curriculum for corporate clients and meeting specialized needs for employee-students. He has worked with companies such as American Express and Federal Express to create tailor-made Master of Business Administration programs for their employees and he has taught in NSU’s cluster-based programs in Motorola, BellSouth, American Express, ATT/Lucent and Westinghouse. Dr. Jones received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University and earned the Master and Doctor of Business Administration at Nova Southeastern University. His doctoral dissertation is entitled, The Effect of a Market Orientation on Small Business Performance and is often referenced in the small business literature. He has presented papers and conducted seminar courses in France, Japan, Bahamas and Jamaica. Dr. Jones also serves as consultant to firms across South Florida and the Caribbean.

Dr. Delores M. Smiley, executive director for diversity and cultural affairs at the Abraham S. Fischler School of Education at Nova Southeastern University is a member of several diversity related organizations/committees and has been awarded with numerous honors and recognitions that include being named Executive of the Year 2007 at NSU, received the 2008 Onyx award for education, received ICABA Honors in 2011, received the 2011 Multicultural Leadership Award from the Florida Diversity Council. Smiley was also among the women recognized at The Zeta Phi Beta Sorority’s 60th Awards Luncheon in March 2012 and Broward County Commissioners recognized her on March 27, 2012, in their selection of women described as “outstanding inspirational women who have made contributions in furtherance of ‘Women’s Education and Women’s Empowerment’ in Broward County.

Claire Michele Rice, Ph.D., is an associate professor of conflict resolution and sociology, and chair of the Department of Conflict Analysis and Resolution (DCAR) at Nova Southeastern University’s Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences. Rice holds a doctoral degree in Sociology, an M.A. in Linguistics and a B.A. in Spanish with a French minor from Florida International University. Rice helped the Florida Education Fund (FEF) in the development of a journal review process for doctoral students that incorporated a mentoring model. She received the Dr. Israel Tribble Jr. Award in 2002 from the FEF for her contribution. Rice has been a consultant to organizations as well as to governmental groups in the Caribbean. In 2012 Rice was elected to the Board of the Health Foundation of South Florida, focusing on meeting needs of underserved communities.

Miami Garden’s School Launches IPREP Math Academy

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The 2013-14 school-year marks the beginning of a new era of learning at Lake Stevens Middle School, by fusing mathematics education and technology. *“The iPrep Math program will bring middle school mathematics instruction fully into the 21st century; drive student achievement in mathematics; and open up potential career pathways for students who historically have been left by the wayside, including minorities and the economically disadvantaged (*as written in M-DCPS RTT-D Grant Proposal – iPrep Math). This school-year, 49 traditional middle schools in the Miami-Dade County Public School District, opened its doors to students of varying abilities and backgrounds to participate in iPrep Academies. Lake Stevens Middle School, located in the heart of Miami Gardens, had the honor of being selected as one of them, and is offering 7th grade students the opportunity to participate in this cutting-edge program.

The iPrep program is designed to personalize student learning, improve student achievement and educator effectiveness (Source: M-DCPS website). Students participating in the program will engage in peer-to-peer learning and project-based activities. The iPrep learner will play an active role in driving their own learning through the development of an individual learning action plan. Program coordinators and educators, Ms. Racquel Gibson, Ms. Catrina Carswell, and Ms. Jeanette Romero continuously engage in extensive professional development and work as a team utilizing data to personalize instruction.

When asked about his thoughts on the iPrep Math Academy, Lake Stevens Middle School Principal, Dr. Mark Soffian, enthusiastically stated, “This program will revolutionize how we teach math, bringing the future into today’s classroom for our students.” Parents seeking more information on the iPrep Academy at Lake Stevens Middle School should contact program coordinator Ms. Catrina Carswell at (305) 620-1294 or


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M. Brian Blake is vice provost for academic affairs and dean of the Graduate School at the University of Miami. As vice provost for academic affairs, Blake serves as the primary advocate for research on the Coral Gables campus, including research administration, infrastructure, policies, training, and regulatory needs. He also works in partnership with the deans of the schools and colleges and in consultation with the Faculty Senate Committee on Women and Minorities and the Woodson Williams Marshall Association, supporting and develop strategies for the University’s collective efforts to diversify the faculty.

As dean of the Graduate School, Blake is the primary advocate for graduate education at UM, overseeing degree programs across 11 schools and colleges that enroll more than 5,200 graduate students each year.

Blake is a computer scientist, software engineer, and experienced administrator. Before joining UM, professor of computer science and engineering and associate dean of engineering, research, and graduate studies at the University of Notre Dame. Prior to joining Notre Dame, Blake was department chair and director of graduate studies in computer science at Georgetown University. His research interests include investigating software engineering approaches for the integration of Web-based systems. He has published more than 150 refereed articles and publications in his research area.

Blake earned his Bachelor of Electrical Engineering Degree from Georgia Tech in 1994, his Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from Mercer University in 1997, and his Ph.D. in Information and Software Engineering from George Mason University in 2000.


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Dr. Jessy Dévieux has been a part of HIV prevention research in South Florida for 20 years—one of its core investigators funded by the National Institutes of Health on diverse projects here and in Haiti and the Caribbean. She credits formative experiences in service projects during her youth in Haiti for shaping a career path responsive to alleviating basic deprivations in societies, especially emotional suffering. Inspired to choose a career in psychology, she attended college in the States, leading to a Ph.D. at Vanderbilt University. Before joining the new Stempel School of Public Health at Florida International University (FIU) in 2002, she held faculty positions at Meharry Medical College and the University of Miami. She is Director of the AIDS Prevention Program at FIU.

Senior Associate Dean Michelle Mason oversees enrollment management, student development and various outreach/pipeline initiatives.Mason has served on numerous committees – Florida Bar CLE Committee, Miami-Dade County Public Schools Ethics Advisory Committee and AALS Section on Student Services. Other appointments include the FIU Fostering Panther Pride Initiative, a college success program for former foster care students, the Algebra Project/Miami Council and the Center for Professionalism and Ethics where she serves as its director and an instructor. Mason’s recent activities include founding the Math and Civics Summer Institute which provides instruction for elementary school students.

Mason was selected to participate in the Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education Program (2012) and received the Florida Bar’s 2013 Law Faculty Professionalism Award.She earned her B.A. and J.D. from Rutgers, The State University.

Jean Muteba Rahier is Professor of Anthropology and Director of the African & African Diaspora Studies Program at Florida International University. He is the author or editor and co-editor of seven books, including for the most recent: Global Circuits of Blackness: Interrogating the African Diaspora (2010); Black Social Movements in Latin America: From Monocultural Mestizaje to Multiculturalism (2012), which was selected by the magazine Choice as a 2012 Outstanding Academic Title; Kings for Three Days: The Play of Race and Gender in an Afro-Ecuadorian Festival (2013); and forthcoming in January 2014 Blackness in the Andes: Ethnographic Vignettes of Cultural Politics in the Time of Multiculturalism. He is a past Editor of the Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology.

Dr. Antoinette Smith, is an associate professor in the College of Business, School of Accounting. She holds a PhD in Business from the University of South Florida. Her research has appeared in The Accounting Review, Decision Sciences, among other premier journals. Her expertise has landed her positions with Miami University, CIA, NASA, and KPMG. Dr. Smith facilitates the PhD Pipeline at FIU, a program that encourages minorities to pursue a doctoral degree in business disciplines. She is also a book author. In 2013, she was listed as FIU Magazine’s World’s Ahead Professor. Additionally, Dr. Smith has been very active as a tutor in the Florida Education Fund’s precollege Centers of Excellence in Hillsborough and Broward Counties, amongst other service activities within the university and its community.

HistoryMiami Museum Presents Bob Marley, Messenger

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He was a legend; a natural mystic; he was talking blues and stirred our social consciousness in his recitation of Haile Selassie’s address to the United Nations that there will always be war if grave ills are not addressed in the way human beings treat each other. Never forgetting where he came from, he rocked Trenchtown as he threatened to chase those crazy baldheads out of town. Robert Nesta Marley, O.M. (February 6, 1945-May 11,1981), known to the world as Bob Marley, was that Jamaican icon whose message of one love, peace, and unity transcended race, culture, class, space, and time.

For the first time ever, with the cooperation of the Marley family, and close friends, The Grammy Museum at L.A. Live, has curated an exhibition from the life and legacy of the late great Bob Marley. According to Kait Steubner, Senior Manager of Education and Co-Curator of Bob Marley, Messenger, “this was an emotional experience for all involved and it was such a privilege to be a part of the process to learn about history from the people who experienced it.” She shared that acquiring items proved to be both challenging and most rewarding as Marley did not own a lot of personal items in his lifetime. He lived his life quite simply. Thus, the items on display are truly sentimental to those who knew and loved him. Steubner further stated that in reference to his prized Les Paul guitar on display, Marley’s son Ziggy, related that he could feel his father’s “blood, sweat, and tears.” There are items and photographs never seen publicly before; very special and personal items such as his Bible, a hand written set list and shirts which are quite significant since he did not have an extravagant wardrobe.

This very special exhibit has only had select showings after its opening at The Grammy Museum at L.A. Live. in Los Angeles, California. It was shown in London, U.K. during the 2012 Olympics then at The Museum in Ontario, Canada. The exhibit will finally be home at 56 Hope Road, Bob Marley’s former home and studio which is now The Bob Marley Museum in Kingston, Jamaica. However, the grand finale of its world tour takes place right here in Miami at HistoryMiami Museum from October 11, 2013 through January 5, 2014.

HistoryMiami Museum’s Curator, Dr. Joanne Hyppolite sees this exhibit as an opportunity for South Floridians to share in Bob Marley’s message of “people united across races and boundaries.” It is no mere coincidence that Miami was chosen as the final stop before going to its permanent home in Jamaica. After all, as Dr. Hyppolite noted, “he bought a home here, he died here, many of his relatives still live here and South Florida is also home to a large Jamaican and Caribbean community.” It only seems appropriate that Miami celebrates Marley in style.

In addition to the memorabilia on display, visitors can also expect several events during the exhibition which begins with an Opening Celebration on October 10. Other events include panel discussions on Traditions of Jamaica, Jamaican Tales, Remembering Bob Marley, and Healthy Living. HistoryMiami Museum invites visitors to Wine-Down Wednesdays and Family Fun-Day every second Saturday of the month. The exhibit ends with a Closing Party on January 4. This museum exhibit is appropriate for all ages with a fully interactive education center for school aged children. The entire family is encouraged to visit.
For more information and a schedule of events visit

Written by Shelly-Ann M. Parkinson

MDCPS COO Valtena Brown says ‘It’s about the children’

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Though Valtena Brown holds one of the most prestigious positions in the Miami Dade County Public School System (MDCPS), the humble South Miami native shies away from the limelight that comes with serving as the Chief Operating Officer for the country’s fourth largest school system. She’d rather spend her time and energy making sure that the children and families she serves have the best educational experience MDCPS has to offer.

“I really don’t like the limelight. I am the worker bee. Anyone that knows me closely knows in my heart it’s all about the children. In everything that I do, in every move that I make, I think: Is this going to benefit a child,” Brown says.

The Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) graduate began her professional career in corrections, but quickly realized she wanted to help prevent adverse situations like youth incarceration from happening.

So she made her foray into her career in education and has served for over 26 years in the MDCPS system in several capacities including: counselor, teacher, assistant principal, principal and regional superintendent for the southern region before being appointed to her current post as COO in July of 2012.

The position, which was previously known as deputy superintendent, has traditionally been held by black males, making Brown one of the few black women to hold the position and the first to hold the title of COO.

The daughter of Leroy and the late Betty Gibson, Brown credits her parents with instilling in her a love of service. Her father was the first black commissioner, vice-mayor and former police officer in the city of South Miami and her mother was a media specialist. As a result, Brown is grassroots at heart and never wants to allow her position to cause her to be out of touch with the community and its pressing needs.

“I grew up in a family of service providers, so service is what I know. I believe all of my personal and professional experiences help me in daily my decision making. It’s important for me to stay connected and know what’s going on at the ground level, no matter what my position is,” Brown says.

According to Brown, her day starts at 7:15 a.m. and there is never a dull moment. There are over 350 schools in the district and critical components like transportation, food service, security, class attendance, the 5000 Role Models male mentorship program and more fall under Brown’s jurisdiction. She takes very seriously her role in positively shaping students’ lives.

“With everything that we do, we must keep in mind that the ultimate goal is student achievement,” Brown says. “I am a person for accountability, particularly when we have young lives in our hands.”

Upcoming projects which Brown is excited about include: strengthening the Parent Academy as a resource and launching a lunch series so working parents who may not be able to attend PTA and other meetings will have the opportunity to receive vital resources to help their children.

When asked why, of all professions, Brown chose to dedicate her life to the field of education, Brown once again points to the value of improving the lives of each and every child.

“Education takes everyone beyond their current circumstances, no matter what that may be and the more you learn the better decisions you make for yourself,” Brown says.

Written by Isheka N. Harrison


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Mrs. Valtena G. Brown, a life-long educator, is the Chief Operating Officer for Miami-Dade County Public Schools. She is responsible for the operational function of all Pre-K – 12 and Adult/ Vocational schools, in the fourth largest school system in the United States. Her role also includes the supervision of Transportation, Food and Nutrition Operations, Athletic/Activities, Federal and State Compliance Offices, Charter Schools Operations and Alternative Education. Mrs. Brown holds a Masters Degree in Community Psychology as well as advanced certificates in Education and Educational Leadership. She has served as a guest lecturer and presenter throughout Florida and the United States.

Mr. Steffond L. Cone is a product of Miami-Dade County Public Schools. He graduated from Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High School. He then attended and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Bethune-Cookman University. He furthered his education by obtaining a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University. Mr. Cone entered the field of Education as a Pool Temporary Instructor. He entered the administrative ranks as a Middle School Assistant Principal at John F. Kennedy Middle School. He currently serves as Administrative Director in the South Region Office for Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

Dr. Albert Payne started his teaching career in 1987 at Horace Mann Middle. He was Assistant Principal at Miami Lakes Middle and Coral Gables Senior High. In 1998, he became Principal at Booker T. Washington Middle, Ponce de Leon Middle and Miami Carol City Senior High. In 2005, Dr. Payne was appointed Administrative Director at Regional Center IV, Region III and South Region Office. In 2012, he was appointment Central Region Office Superintendent. Dr. Payne supervises 90 schools with a great variety of cultural and economic background, race, and languages. He is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University, Nova Southeastern University and earned his doctorate from Barry University.

Agenoria T. Powell is principal of Linda Lentin K-8 Center, MDCPS. Experienced in instructional planning, advisory committees, school operations, community involvement; she has proudly worked with Miami-Dade County Public Schools since 1984. She seeks to build relationships with business and post-secondary organizations to support school-site initiatives. She takes pride in opening the doors of opportunity for all children. Selected as a Region Executive Principal in 2012, Agenoria also served as the North Regional Center Principal of the Year. Ms. Powell is an alumnus of FAMU and University of Miami. Happily married to Louis Powell Jr. for 25 years, she is the loving mother of three children, member of The Church of the Incarnation, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., Greater Miami Chapter of The Links Inc. and Jack & Jill of America Inc.

Ronda A. Vangates, a licensed attorney, currently serves as District Director for Performance Improvement and Chairperson of the Americans with Disabilities Act District Consultative Committee, Office of Human Capital Management – for Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS). Miami Today recently honored Ronda as the Best of 2013 in Education for her commitment to diversity and excellence in education and was elected President of the Board of Directors for the Miami Alliance of Black School Educators.

She holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Political Science and Public Administration from Florida A&M University and a Juris Doctorate degree from Nova Southeastern University. Ronda has served as a senior-level administrator on virtually every level of government including: The Florida Senate, Florida House of Representatives, Miami-Dade County, Miami-Dade County Public Schools and City of Miami.

A Miami native and product of Miami-Dade public schools, Dr. Kevin N. Williams is a beloved principal at Norwood Elementary. His experience as a teacher at the school has helped him earn the trust and respect of the faculty. Students turn to him for advice and leadership. At this high-need, minority campus, students are thriving. Hands-on and dedicated, he provides valuable resources to the school, community, and fosters collaboration among his staff to get the job done. After assuming the principalship, he has maintained a direct impact on the classrooms. He frequently models lessons for teachers and tutors students. Williams gets students excited about learning and academic excellence. Outside of the “classroom,” Williams mentors male students at Norwood through the Young Men of Distinction program

Paul V. Wilson holds a degree elementary education degree at Florida A&M University and began his career with Miami-Dade County Public Schools as a teacher. He has served in a variety of capacities including assistant principal and principal, and is currently the Administrative Director in the Office of Labor Relations for Miami-Dade County Public Schools and oversees the contract negotiations with all labor unions.As the proud son of Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, Paul is all about his community, and gives back by coaching youth basketball, serves on the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Board of Directors, as well as the Miami-ABSE Board of Directors and works as a fundraiser for a charity organization that deals with terminally ill children in the city of Homestead.

Product Placement Expo Takes Center Stage for Film & TV Producers

Looking to help underwrite the cost of film and television productions, producers across the country will gather in Miami, Florida for the first ever Product Placement Expo. For one day, product placement specialists, advertisers and company representatives will meet face-to-face with creative artists in need of strategically integrating products in their productions.

The Product Placement Expo, an alternative method to increase impressions and garner greater exposure for established, new and fledgling products, comes at a time when producers are challenged with developing blockbuster movies and TV series with limited budgets. The event will be held from 1:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., on Thursday, January 30, 2014, at the Miami Airport Convention Center, 777 N.W. 72 Avenue, in Miami, Florida, USA.

“I just wrapped The Magic City, which screened at the American Black Film Festival last month,” said Jai M. Santiago, an independent film producer who is from Miami. “I’m in the process of working on a TV show in San Francisco and I’m anxious to collaborate with representatives who can give me access to cars, hotel accommodations, and other items that are a good fit for my upcoming project.”

Professional product placement experts will meet onsite with potential clients who currently have film and TV projects in development. According to Cindy Kimbrough who has provided product placement services for movies such as Talladega Nights, War of The World, Madagascar, and numerous TV shows, she will schedule one-on-one consultations during the Expo.

“The Product Placement Expo will jumpstart the dialogue for long and lasting relationships for this form of non-traditional advertising,” said Kimbrough who has been in the brand integration business for more than 12 years. “This event takes the legwork out of identifying interesting and worthy projects because the key players will be in the same room at the same time showcasing their ideas and touting their projects.”

According to Abdul Muhsin, an event organizer, the Product Placement Expo was originally developed for the film and TV industry. However, Muhsin noted that today’s successful brand campaigns are built using integrated products in every facet of the entertainment industry.
“Previously, the emphasis of product placement was put on film and TV, but we have expanded the scope of this Expo to include musicians, video game developers, authors, comedians, athletes, and event planners,” said Muhsin. “The demand for more impressions dictates that we explore new markets and new distribution channels.”

Online registration for the 2014 Product Placement Expo is available at For more information, contact organizers at or (305) 759-8300.

T. Willard Fair Celebrates 50 Years as Urban League’s President and CEO

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In 1963, Talmadge “T” Willard Fair was fresh off the civil rights circuit and a product of what he calls Atlanta’s “Black Inteligencia.” An ardent activist he had just earned his master’s degree in social work, but needed a job.
The civil rights movement was at its stride. And upon making a visit to the Urban League’s office in his hometown of Winston Salem, NC, Fair was told that Blacks with degrees and experience would be highly sought after for administrative jobs. That sounded good, but he needed a job more immediately. A few phone calls later, he learned of an opening at the League’s Miami office. The then 24-year-old cut his afro and beard and kept his fingers crossed.
The job–fighting for equal rights for “colored people”– was familiar ground and part of the Urban League Movement. “I’ve been doing that all my life and for the past seven years I’ve been demonstrating all over North and South Carolina, Georgia and parts of Mississippi. It seems like a natural fit for me,” Fair told the interviewer.
A graduate of Johnson C. Smith University and the Atlanta University School of Social Work, Fair was hired as the Urban League of Greater Miami’s Associate Director of Education and Youth Incentive Job Development and Placement. It would begin this 50 year journey empowering the most underserved, minority communities in Miami-Dade County with knowledge and the tools needed for upward mobility. On Oct. 12, the organization will be commemorating the community icon’s 50 years of service with a gala at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. “I’ve never been a person who wanted the spotlight,” said the 74-year-old. “I’m just doing my job. I’m proud of the work that we’ve done.”
Based in Liberty City, Fair has been a fierce advocate for racial equality, education and economic development. With the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and affirmative action, Fair facilitated the integration of Jordan Marsh, Florida Power & Light Company, Eastern Airlines, Burdines and Southern Bell.
“I integrated every labor force in Miami…This was the first and only job in my life,” said the outspoken leader, who within two months of being hired was promoted as president and CEO when his predecessor retired. Fair has kept the title for the past 50 years and within his tenure has seen Miami through segregation, integration, riots and the influx of immigration, just to name a few milestones.
Fair has fond memories of organizing alongside iconic civil rights leaders, such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Stokely Carmichael. Before he took over the Urban League, the organization’s civil rights strategy consisted of “staying in its place” and having “meaningful yet, fruitless conversation with the white power structure.” But fear was never a good fit. “I had radicalism in my blood,” he said.
It’s been a tireless fight and one that he’s never backed down from, even if it threatened his job. “There’s work to be done. Things are worse than they’ve ever been” he lamented. “We’ve created generations and generations of people who are not prepared to take advantage of the American Dream. There is a pervasiveness of hopelessness in the bowels of urban areas.”

During the last two decades Fair has turned his attention to educational advancement and was a central player in the Florida education makeover directed by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Together they started the state’s first charter school in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood in 1996, and Bush appointed him to the state Board of Education in 2003. Today, Fair continues to implement programs aimed at closing the achievement gap between black children in Liberty City and the rest of the state.

“We have to restore value in education and rally every adult in the community to make sure they understand the value of education for every child they come in contact with,” said Fair, nothing that his advice to youngsters is simple: “Be like me.”

Written by Kai T. Hill


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Professor Diana Bien-Aime, MS, is a professor of Speech Communications at the MDC. Born in Nyack, New York, she received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Florida and a Master’s in organizational communications from Barry University. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Leadership and Communication. Bien-Aime previously was the Executive Director of the Haitian American Professionals Coalition. She also travels the state as a communications facilitator, hosts television shows and has authored poetry and motivational books.

Pascale Charlot, J.D., is MDC’s Honors College Dean. She earned her bachelor’s in sociology and economics with a certificate in women studies from Duke University and her juris doctorate from the University of Michigan Law School, where she was a Dean’s Scholar. She then went on to be an assistant district attorney in New York and the manager of a program that sought to develop computer learning centers in more than 100 townships in South Africa. Most recently, Charlot was dean of student affairs at New York University School of Law, where she also served at associate director.

Professor Malou Harrison, interim North Campus President, started at MDC in 1989 and has held several leadership positions including chief of staff to the MDC College President, subsequent to her administrative tenure at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo. She has also served as an adjunct professor of English as a Second Language (ESL). Harrison is currently completing doctoral studies in Community College Leadership at Walden University, in addition to holding a Master’s Degree in TESOL from Florida International University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Management from SUNY at Buffalo. She serves on the national Blue Ribbon Panel of the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education and recently co-authored scholarly articles that have been published in the League for Innovation in the Community College’s Student Services Dialogues: Community College Case Studies to Consider, among others.

Dr. Jeanne Jacobs has served as the Homestead Campus president since 2005. During her tenure at MDC, she has received numerous awards and recognition for her work in the community. In 2010, she was awarded a Congressional Record by the Honorable Mario Diaz-Balart for her achievements in education, leadership and research. She was also honored as the 2010 Outstanding Woman in Education & Research for the In the Company of Women Awards sponsored by Miami-Dade County. In 2007, she was named as one of the Top 25 Most Influential Black Women in South Florida. Additionally, Dr. Jacobs serves on several local community boards, including the Board of Directors of Homestead Hospital, the Executive Council of the Homestead/Florida City Chamber of Commerce, the Homestead Educational Facilities Board and the Greater Miami Chapter of the Links, Inc.

Dr. Billy Jones is the Academic Dean at Wolfson Campus. He started at MDC in 2003 and has held key several positions, including chair of the College Prep department at the Kendall Campus, and associate academic dean at the Wolfson Campus. He holds a doctorate in educational leadership from Barry University and obtained his graduate degree at Florida International University. Prior to joining MDC, Dr. Jones was a high school English, journalism, and leadership development teacher in the Miami-Dade County Public School system. He also worked for AmeriCorp and Breakthrough Miami, non-profit organizations that work in providing inner city youth with post-secondary educational opportunities.

Ms. H. Leigh Toney has served as the Executive Director of the Carrie P. Meek Entrepreneurial Education Center since 2002. Here she founded the Institute for Youth Entrepreneurship program, designed to introduce high school students to the basics of entrepreneurship and provide them with the opportunity create new business ventures while still in high school. Ms. Toney chairs the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce’s Youth Education and In-School Chamber Committee, and serves as a Board Member of the FIU-MDC Wesley Youth Ministry. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications and Marketing from University of Miami and a graduate degree in public administration at Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia. Ms. Toney previously served as chief of staff and research director for the Deputy Mayor for Children, Youth and Families in Washington, D.C.

EXECUTIVE SUITE: Educating to a new standard

Karine Apollon, Vice President and General Manager of Scholastic Classroom & Community Group photo KarineApollon_zps966ff196.jpg

Karine Apollon didn’t use her employee discount to purchase books for her two boys. Instead, she let them participate in Scholastic book fairs and shows like other kids, so they could experience the joy of choosing and receiving books with their classmates.

“I didn’t get to reap the benefits,” she says, jokingly.

Apollon is Vice President and General Manager of Scholastic Classroom & Community Group. The 1989 University of Miami graduate leads the educational literacy giant’s Scholastics Family & Community Engagement (FACE) program.

Following the implementation of Common Core Standards, education reform designed to promote parity across the country and to meet the challenges of the global society, FACE was developed to help close the learning divide when children leave the classroom.

“Karine brings tremendous energy to everything she does,” says Greg Worrell, president of the division Apollon manages. “Her personal determination and will to win has been a driving force in reinforcing Scholastic’s commitment to support educational opportunity for all children,” he adds.

“The launch of Scholastic FACE marks a new milestone in our ongoing commitment and Karine’s leadership in this area is making a positive difference for families and communities across our nation.”

The program provides educational resources for parents and children, before and after school.

“This is bigger than me,” Apollon insists. “We are providing resources for children beyond the school building.”

Apollon, who resides in Fort Lee, New Jersey, is passionate about helping underserved students meet the national standard. The fact that when many of these children leave school, they also leave their studies is unacceptable.

“If you are going to raise the bar, a child needs to do more work at home,” she notes. “Common Core Standards become more difficult to meet — especially in lower economic areas.”

Apollon is no stranger to the struggles of trying to make ends meet.

While growing up in Boston, her mother, a Haitian immigrant, juggled several jobs to make sure Apollon and her siblings received a private school education. Her father traveled back and forth to Haiti, leaving much of the child rearing to her mom.

“Education was the most important thing in our lives,” she recalls. “Going to college wasn’t a decision we had to make. It was the natural thing, like going to the 13th grade.”

She didn’t really understand until later that her mother couldn’t help her and her brothers in school, because of the language barrier, but worked hard so that they could have the best schooling.

And since she really couldn’t “hang out,” like other teens, the library was her sanctuary. It brought her closer to her primary passion—then and now—literacy.

Through her work with organizations such as Reading is Fundamental and Reach Out and Read and through partnerships with corporations, Scholastic distributes over 100 million books annually to children across the United States.

Since joining Scholastic in 1997, Apollon has worked across multiple Scholastic businesses focused on education, with responsibilities ranging from management of sales and marketing efforts, to customer service and technical support organizations. She has created programs and partnerships that improve early learning opportunities for young children, bolster after-school programs and services for youths in need and support schools and teachers to raise achievement.

Having two sons, she is particularly interested in the welfare of black males in this country and serves on many boards, facilitating mentoring programs.

Written by Toni Marshall

Common Core State Standards: What are they all about?

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In Florida, and most other states, the gradual transition to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is one of the biggest yet largely misunderstood issues affecting public schools today. Legacy Palm Beach has some answers for many of the unanswered questions:

What exactly are the Common Core State Standards?

Common Core is the name of new education standards that have been described as more specific, more complex and more rigorous than Florida’s current standards. These standards already have been adopted by Florida and approximately 45 other states. They lay out the knowledge and skills students are required to know at each grade level, from kindergarten to twelve grade. Educational experts believe they will lead to distinct changes in how students are taught, the rate at which they are expected to learn and how they are tested. Exactly how these changes look and feel in schools will be determined by individual states, school districts, schools and teachers.

When will this happen?

It has already started. Florida adopted the standards in 2010, and schools all over the state have been phasing them in over the past two years — especially Kindergarten through 2nd grade. This transition process will continue throughout this school year by schools implementing what is referred to as the “blended curriculum”. The “blended curriculum” consists of infusing the CCSS into the current curriculum that is still designed to prepare students for the FCAT 2.0 exam that is scheduled to be administered at the end of this current school year.

For years, Florida’s education leaders have described the state’s current standards as rigorous. So this change is an acknowledgment that they were not high enough to keep pace internationally. Students in other countries have been outperforming their U.S. peers in several areas, notably math and science. Businesses have been complaining that young Americans are graduating without the skills needed for the workforce. Colleges are seeing a problem, too. One 2011 study found that 75 percent of students who get high school diplomas are not ready for college coursework and often need remedial classes at universities and community colleges. The educators who wrote the CCSS say they set out to correct this.

Will the FCAT be discontinued?

Yes. We think. This is expected to be the last year for the 15-year-old Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test — praised by some, hated by others. Florida and the other Common Core states are in the process of developing new tests to go with the new standards. A decision on which tests will be used is expected this fall. If all goes as expected, the replacement tests would be administered starting in the 2014-2015 school year. Currently several states, Florida included, are having a lively public debate over exactly how to test students under the new standards.

Will the Common Core Exams be a lot different from the FCAT?

That is the plan, although nothing is completely finalized yet. Here is what is currently being discussed:

• No more pencil and paper tests. All tests in grades 3 through 11 will be administered on computers, which is requiring school districts to buy more computers and ramp up bandwidth capacity so schools can operate them.
• The tests are expected to measure students’ abilities in new and more subtle ways, which will require eight to 10 hours of testing during the school year. To accomplish that, districts may need to schedule as many as 20 testing days overall, up from about 12 for the FCAT.
• The tests are likely to be spread throughout the year rather than in the spring semester, which is when the FCAT is administered.
• The FCAT measures performance in reading, math, science and writing. The new tests will measure performance in math and English/language arts.

What is expected to change in the classroom?

From here on out in Florida schools, teaching will look “increasingly different,” according to the state. Students will be reading more nonfiction or “informational” texts. The material will be more complex, and teachers will focus more on how well students comprehend what they read. Students will be expected to write more, write better and write in every subject, not just English and Language Arts classes. They will be pushed harder to explain what they write and back up assertions with hard evidence and examples, not opinions or feelings. They will also be expected to properly cite the sources they use in there writing and use multiple sources in their writing. There will be more overlapping of subjects, and greater emphasis will be placed on speaking and listening effectively. That will mean more in-depth class discussions. In math, teachers will drill down more narrowly, getting students to master fewer concepts in more depth. Experts predict many students will struggle at first; grades may suffer and test scores may not be as high. However, they argue that learning comes through making mistakes and doing it correctly the next time.

Is this a federal takeover of our schools?

The push to develop the new standards did not come from the federal government but the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Their idea was to develop some consistency across the country on how students should be prepared for college and careers, especially those from military families who move a lot. The effort is not funded by the federal government, and no state was mandated to adopt the standards to receive federal funding. Proponents say the standards constitute educational goals and do not require teachers to teach a certain way.

Do the new standards impact charter schools and private schools?

Charters, yes, because they are public schools. Private schools, no.

Where can I get more information?
It’s a complicated topic, but to get a good start, try these two websites:

Written by Denise Barrett, Ph.D.

Robert Runcie: Achieving dreams, raising the bar

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His parents never finished elementary school, worked as laborers and moved the family from a poor, rural area of Jamaica to the Hudson River Valley of New York.

Despite it all, Robert Runcie excelled in public school, graduated from Harvard University and received his MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. He now leads Broward County Public Schools.

“Looking back at my career, I think this is the right place to be,” says Runcie, superintendent of the Broward County School District. “I was born in a house with no electricity and running water…to land in this country, go to public schools and a premier institution, shows others they can achieve their dreams.”

Before taking over Broward Schools in 2011, Runcie served as Chief Information Officer for the Board of Education in Chicago. With a background in technology and business, he managed and used those disciplines to align that district’s strategies. He oversaw a staff of 250 people, managing a budget of more than $150 million.

“I have always admired his consistency… He has a level of emotional control or emotional intelligence that I rarely see,” says Maurice Woods, Broward Schools’ chief strategist and operations officer. Woods also worked with Runcie in Chicago. “He’s always focused on an outward perspective and how he can help people achieve,” Woods says, pointing to Runcie’s town hall meetings with the community.

Today, Runcie draws on those skills to manage the sixth-largest public school system in the United States, the second largest in the state of Florida and the largest fully accredited K-12 and adult school district in the nation. Broward County Public Schools has more than 260,000 students and approximately 175,000 adult students in 229 schools and education centers and 98 charter schools.

School districts are now looking to superintendents with business backgrounds to better manage finances and technology. Some superintendents, like Runcie, enhanced their business careers by attending dedicated academies or programs to prepare them for schools.

Runcie’s challenge is to align student performance with the Common Core Standards, a national academic benchmark adopted by most states, in a district where more than a fifth of the elementary and middle schools combined received a “D” or lower on the state’s academic assessment test.

“The days of being average are officially over,” Runcie says, calling the Common Core Standards “absolutely necessary.”

“We are not performing to the standard of the rest of the world. We are not competitive in the market place,” he adds.

But how to close the digital divide to fully integrate many of those standards is Runcie’s quest, especially in a district with a significant underserved community and diverse immigrant population and in schools where enrollment extremely outmatches technological devices.

“Go to a school where there are 3,000 students and try to manage a schedule when you don’t have enough computers,” he points out.

The district may have to modify its standards and protocols to allow students to bring in their own computers to help bridge the gap, he adds. “We will still have equity issues, but it will put a dent in it,” he says. But it’s also up to the country to divert some of its resources to help with this problem, he notes.

“The country needs to invest in schools, like they do wars… The most important is the war they are fighting in our classrooms, not in the battlefields around the world.”

Runcie is married with three children.

Written by Toni Marshall.


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Dr. Lulrick Balzora, is interim associate dean of the social sciences department on Broward College’s Central campus. Previously he served an associate professor of religion, as the district director for the Honors Institute, as an adviser to the Phi Theta Kappa scholastic honorary and as an e-Learning Associate. Religion has been his primary scholarly interest. He earned his baccalaureate and master’s degrees from Southeastern Louisiana University, and a master’s degree and doctorate from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

Dr. Balzora served as chaplain in the U.S. Navy, attaining the rank of lieutenant commander. He is the first Haitian American to serve in the Navy Chaplain corps. He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004 and retired from service in 2010. Dr. Balzora is a board member of the Coral Springs Christian Academy’s Teacher and Parent Association.

Professor Teresa M. Hodge wears three very important hats for Broward College. One is in the classroom, where she is an assistant professor of mathematics. The others are as the president of the college’s Faculty Senate and as president of the Broward College chapter of the United Faculty of Florida.  A native of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, who earned her baccalaureate and master’s degrees from Hampton University, Hodge has been a member of Broward’s faculty for well over a decade, the first three of them as an adjunct at South campus. She is a graduate of the NEA Higher Education Emerging Leaders Academy, a rigorous one-year program created to provide hands-on training to promising new and future local leaders in higher education.

In 2011, at 41, Dr. S. Sean Madison, became the youngest campus president in Broward College’s history, overseeing the South campus. He arrived at Broward College after 17 years in various positions at Miami Dade College, including tenured English faculty member, senior academic administrator, and as MDC’s district administrator for learning outcomes assessment. In addition to his work at the college and in education, Dr. Madison also is active in the community. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Greater Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, among others.

A native of West Palm Beach, Dr. S. Sean Madison was educated at Morehouse College, in Atlanta and earned his master’s degree at Boston University. He returned to Florida to earn his doctorate at Florida International University.

Angelia N. Millender has served as vice president for student affairs and enrollment management at Broward College since 2007. She has district-wide responsibility for student financial services, student records/college registrar, international student admissions, student development, campus life, and college publications. She also sets policy and strategic direction for the overall vision of student affairs and enrollment management.She has a quarter-century’s experience in higher education at multi-campus institutions. She has served as a faculty member, program director, director of career planning and placement, dean of student development, vice president for student affairs, and campus operations officer at institutions in large urban areas.

Millender also is active in community service work. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Chicago State University and a master’s degree from National-Louis University.

Dr. Avis Proctor serves as president of Broward College’s North campus in Coconut Creek. As its chief executive officer, she leads a team of seven deans, 13 associate deans, 260 full-time faculty and staff and more than 150 adjunct faculty. As campus CEO she has primary responsibility for campus operations including academic, student and business affairs, health sciences, learning resources, information technology and facilities. She has more than 20 years’ experience as an educator and academic administrator. As associate vice president for academic affairs, she was responsible for accelerated learning programs, K-20 articulation, curriculum services, academic policy and baccalaureate program development.

Dr. Proctor earned her bachelor’s degree from Florida A&M University, her master’s degree from Florida Atlantic University and her doctorate from Florida International University.

MONEY & FINANCE: Help! I want to retire, but I’m off track!

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Sometime around the age of 50, we start to think more seriously about retirement. After all, the kids (if we have them) are out of the house, or at least relatively self-sufficient, we’re at the peak earning stage of our careers, and thoughts of soon having time for whatever we please are becoming more and more pervasive.
But those daydreams of freedom and folly are often interrupted with anxiety and doubt. Can I even afford to retire at all? Will I be able to sustain my lifestyle? Why didn’t I do more? Is it too late?

If You’ve Fallen off Track

Perhaps you always intended to save more, but just didn’t have a solid plan in place or the extra money to follow through. Intentions are commendable, but if life has gotten in the way of saving enough, there’s no time like the present to get back on track. It is not too late, but you need to act quickly.

Two Key Concerns for Retirement

To have a well-rounded retirement where you can maintain and protect the lifestyle you and your family have become used to, two of the concerns are Income Management and Protection.

Income Management

The income you’ll need during retirement is dependent on the lifestyle you plan to have. Will you be relocating or staying where you are? What hobbies or activities do you intend to pursue? Do you plan to work part-time or not at all? All of these variables should be examined as you create your overall budget.
Typically, retirees need to replace all or most of their pre-retirement income. Consider this: you may not need as much in the first few years of retirement, but as inflation bites into the dollar’s buying power year after year, it will eventually cost more to buy the same things. Make sure your budget takes inflation into account.

Social Security will meet part of your income requirement, but not enough to rely on exclusively. To create an adequate cash-flow, take advantage of tax-advantaged retirement savings accounts such as 401(k) plans and 403(b) Tax Sheltered Annuity or Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). If your employer or union sponsors a pension plan, find out if you’re eligible and what the plan entails. Keep in mind that if you are over 50 years of age, you may be eligible to make additional contributions to retirement accounts through a catch-up provision. For 2013, the regular contribution limit to 401(k) plans and 403(b) Tax Sheltered Annuity, as set by the IRS, is $17,500, and the catch-up limit is an additional $5,500.

Additional personal investments and/or annuities may also help generate a retirement income, therefore, you should speak with a qualified financial professional to determine which products may work best with your risk tolerance and investment horizon.


If you have a spouse or dependents, ask yourself what would become of them if anything were to happen to you. You need to protect their future.

Often, when one spouse dies, the survivor’s cost of living remains nearly the same. Think about it: the mortgage and taxes still need to be paid, food needs to be bought, electricity needs to stay on, and things you used to do must now be hired out to someone else. Yet, the surviving spouse typically loses a large portion of their retirement income when their partner dies.

To help a surviving spouse or other beneficiaries maintain an income when you’re gone, carefully review your pension and IRA documents. There may be options that guarantee continued benefits for the surviving spouse either in a lump sum or at a reduced rate. Also, there are joint and survivor annuities which create an income stream for the rest of the second spouse’s life.

Life insurance is an option which can provide tax-free income to your beneficiary. There are a variety of contract options, including Term and various types of permanent insurance, including Universal, and Variable which should be explained to you in detail by a professional. Often, life insurance offers families protection so that their financial lives can remain intact even after the loss of a loved one.

Written by Gerald Grant, Jr., M.B.A.,Branch Director of Financial Planning of AXA Advisors’ South Florida Branch

William and Wallace Aristide: Education literally runs in the family

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There are few odds that two blood brothers would wind up simultaneously serving as principals of two of Miami’s historic high schools. It’s a good thing that William and Wallace Aristide enjoy defying odds and using the values of hard work instilled in them by their parents to lead the students, faculty and staff at Booker T. Washington and Miami Northwestern Senior High Schools, respectively.

The Aristide brothers have almost 50 years of educator’s experience between them, each boasting impressive resumes.

Wallace began his career in 1989 as a substitute teacher and assistant football coach at Miami Northwestern. Eventually he became a math teacher, head coach, athletic director and assistant principal. Before assuming his administrative role at Miami Northwestern, he has served at Miami Central, North Miami, Miami Norland and Michael Krop High Schools.

William had a slightly different journey. Initially a permanent substitute at Godby Senior High in Tallahassee; he returned home and became an elementary school teacher at Golden Glades Elementary. There he was named both New Teacher and Teacher of the Year; then went on to teach at Lake Stevens Middle and work in the district’s multi-cultural programs department before becoming an assistant principal in 2003. He served at John F. Kennedy, Carol City Senior High and Edison Senior High before becoming principal at Booker T. Washington.

Though he is older, Wallace credits his brother William with helping motivate him to move into administration.

“I was a math teacher and a coach and I was happy being just that. I never wanted to become an administrator. William encouraged me and thought I’d be good for it so I tried it,” Wallace said.

“My brother was happy being a coach, but I always told him we really need to push administration and our kids need to see positive images of black men doing the right thing, making smart and viable decisions in positions of power,” William further explained.

Founded in 1926 and 1955 respectively, Booker T. Washington and Miami Northwestern are both historically black high schools and have produced some of Miami’s best and brightest alumni. Both institutions have also had academic, behavioral and truancy struggles.

Yet, the schools are thriving under the Aristides’ leadership.

During Wallace’s tenure, Miami Northwestern made history by going from a chronic ‘D’ and ‘F’ school to maintaining a ‘B’ grade on the FCAT for the last two years. The ‘Bulls’ have also had a record number of students receive over $6 million in scholarships and placed as the number one school in science in the Education Transformation Office (ETO) this year.

Booker T. has seen tremendous successes under William’s leadership. The graduation rate has increased from 54% to 81%; they’ve introduced a new Engineering Academy and are working towards implementing a Television & Movie Production Academy in collaboration with the Miami Film Life Center. The ‘Tornadoes’ are also currently the number one high school football team in the country.

The brothers admit to being proud of each other, but humbly place the credit for recent strides on their students, faculty and staff.

“What I’ve been seeing with the students is amazing. Their commitment and dedication, their leadership has been phenomenal. All they’ve allowed me to do is be a facilitator. They’ve grabbed the baton and taken over. A lot of people underestimate them and they shouldn’t,” Wallace said.

“We’ve been able to put some really good academic programs in place. I’m really proud of the direction we’re going in. We’ve been working hard and I’m extremely pleased,” William said.

When asked what motivates them to get up every morning and serve our youth, again the brothers have similar sentiments and cite young black males as a group near and dear to their hearts.

“My brother and I, our hearts go out to a population that’s extremely vunerable and that’s young black men. We want to be role models for them. We want to show them there are opportunities for them, but you can’t lose focus, you can’t be misdirected, you can’t be led astray; and we believe in that,” Wallace said.

“The school district and God have honored us to be placed in these positions and I truly enjoy going to work every day. I don’t look at it as a job but rather an opportunity to transform lives through through the position I hold. I feel education is God’s work because we are tranforming lives. Education is a strong avenue towards future success,” William said.

Written by Ishekah Harrison.


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Florida Memorial University, South Florida’s only historically black university,offering 41 undergraduate degree programs and four graduate degree programs to a culturally diverse student body.

Effective July, 15, 2013, Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis, is the interim president of Florida Memorial University. A graduate of the West Virginia University School of Law, Roslyn enjoyed a successful general litigation practice for eight (8) years prior to embarking on a career in academia. Since 2003, she has served Mountain State University in several key capacities Professor and Director of Legal Studies, Senior Academic Officer for Distance Education, Vice President of University Advancement, and Executive Vice President & Chief Academic Officer.

In addition to her law degree, Roslyn holds a Doctorate in Higher Education Leadership and Policy from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. Her doctoral research focus was on student retention among adults and other non-traditional learners. She has extensive experience in university fundraising and holds a Certificate of Fundraising Management from Indiana University. Dr. Artis has also earned a Certificate of Mastery in Prior Learning Assessment from DePaul University’s School of Continuing & Professional Education. Personally, Dr. Artis is the wife of Selby Artis and the mother of three: Christopher, Jayden and Jocelyn.

Dr. Mildred E. Berry serves as dean of the School of Education at Florida Memorial University. Dr. Berry is an educator with many years of experience ranging from K-12 to university level. She holds BS degree in Biology from Paine College, higher degrees in education with a concentration in science from Wayne State University. Prior to accepting a position at Florida Memorial University as Chair of the Division of Education in 1995, she was employed by Miami-Dade Public Schools in a variety of positions. In 2005, she was appointed as the Dean of the School of Education at Florida Memorial University. She has conducted numerous science workshops in the US and internationally. Dr. Berry was instrumental in providing the leadership in obtaining State Approval for the Teacher Education Program at Florida Memorial.

Dr. Barbara J. Edwards served as a Cabinet level administrator at Florida Memorial University for over twenty-six years. She was responsible for handling all Government and Public Relation Affairs for the institution and implementing a major brand marketing initiative. She also held the position of Chief Institutional Advancement Officer for the University and provided the direction on all matters relating to fundraising and constituent relations. She supervised the Offices of Development, Government Relations, Public Affairs, Alumni Affairs and Church Relations. Under her leadership she planned and conducted a $30 million Capital Campaign and exceeded the goal by $5 million. Since July 2011, Dr. Edwards has assumed the position of Associate Professor of Management in the School of Business.

Dr. Edwards received a Doctor of Business Administration from Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, FL, and both a Master and Bachelor of Business Administration from Bernard M. Baruch College of the City University of New York.

Professor Valerie Hall is a vibrant, enthusiastic, and energetic educator. Valerie Hall served as an officant of law enforcement retiring after serving honorably for twenty five years as a Detective. The passion that she holds for law enforcement and equal justice spilled over in the classroom while she held adjunct professorial duties in the Criminal Justice field. In the fall of 2011 she became a full-time faculty member at the illustrious Florida Memorial University, Miami Gardens, FL as a Department Chair for the School of Arts and Sciences with the emphasis in Criminal Justice. Subject matter expert in law enforcement, crime prevention, crime stoppers and problem oriented policing. Professor Hall was recently awarded 2013 Professor of the Year and 2013 Faculty Member of the year.

Dr. Rose Mary Stiffin received her BA in Chemistry from Mississippi Valley State University in 1978 with honors. She obtained a Master of Science degree in Organic Chemistry from Mississippi State University and her PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Tennessee (Memphis). Currently, she is the Chair of health and natural sciences. She has been instrumental in bringing new programs (Radiochemistry and Radiobiology) to the University. She has written or co-written several federally-funded grants, totaling well over $2 million. Since she has been at FMU, she has worked tirelessly with the STEM programs, graduating more than 40 students who have gone on to achieve their MD, PhDs, or Pharm. D’s.She is the author of two critically acclaimed novels, Walk in Bethel and Reflections.

PINNACLE: Dr. J. Preston Jones has ‘the best job in the world’

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“I have the best job in the world. I work hard and have fun,” quips, Dr. J. Preston Jones. He obviously loves his job. Yet even without saying the words, his enthusiasm and passion for his life’s work can easily be felt.

This position is certainly not a paycheck for this already very accomplished corporate leader, entrepreneur and educator. He is enthusiastic about his role as a medium for change in the lives of his students and the bridge that he serves to his faculty and corporate partners.

Dr. J. Preston Jones does indeed have an impressive resume. He received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University and earned his Master and Doctor in Business Administration at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) where he is now the Dean of the Huizenga School of Business and an assistant professor. Dr. Jones shared that he interned at Johnson and Johnson while still in college and despite receiving offers from several companies for employment after graduation, he chose to work there. From that personal experience, he stresses the importance of students taking advantage of internships and mentoring opportunities and how valuable corporate partners are to an institution like NSU.

Over his fifteen years at Johnson and Johnson, Dr. Jones was able to hone his skills in different areas of expertise such as quality assurance, plant management, and engineering design. This experience carried over to his administrative role at NSU. He has worked to enhance the Huizenga School’s online distance learning programs in business administration and accounting. It has also has also helped in his role as a professor, instructing adult students worldwide, while also creating a customized curricula.

Yet, Dr. Jones refuses to accept all the accolades. He believes firmly in the principle that “the student is the class,” a term coined by Dr. Abraham Fischler, NSU’s second president, considered a father of the institution in many ways. It is the faculty and students at the Huizenga School that Dr. Jones believes sets this program apart from any other. The faculty, many of whom have run businesses themselves, are committed to helping their students compete on every level. “We have a keen understanding that people learn differently, “says Dr. Jones,” and we are always looking for ways to innovate and keep abreast of technology and keep pace with what is new.” At the same time, the Huizenga School attracts students who are driven to build wealth and value for themselves and their communities.

“The Huizenga School Means Business Success.” That is the tag line that sums up what this program is all about. Dr. Jones stresses that the word ‘success’ is the most important word to remember. A prospective student can look forward to a dynamic partnership between faculty, student and corporate leaders. Dr. Jones states that, “the world of work is a very complex place and as a student of business you have to learn to change for the world in the future. You must learn to cope with and anticipate future challenges. We as faculty and business and corporate partners are committed to prepare our students to face those challenges.”

Written by Shelly-Ann M. Parkinson