Woman of Power Award
Education Systems Leader
Alisha Thomas Searcy is a transformational education leader, champion for students, educators and parents, and is not afraid to defy the odds. In fact, exceeding expectations remains a constant that has etched her legacy and defined her career as a leader.
At the age of 23, Searcy made history as the first African American to serve in the Georgia House of Representatives, representing residents of Cobb County —the third largest county in metro Atlanta — years later, Searcy’s righteous leadership continues to have a longstanding footprint in the region and Georgia state history.
Alisha T. Searcy is recognized as a renowned motivational speaker and thought leader in the areas of politics, nonprofits and education. She was featured as a subject-matter expert in major publications to include The New York Times, The Washington Post, CSPAN, Georgia Trend, Marie Claire, Ebony and Essence magazines.
After leaving office in 2014, Alisha continued her mission to improve educational outcomes for children and create an educational system where parents feel empowered and educators feel supported. She earned a master’s of education in Educational Leadership and matriculated through two Superintendents training programs, the prestigious Broad Superintendents Academy, and the Future Chiefs program. She also secured a Level 5 Georgia Superintendent Certificate from the Georgia Professional Standards.
Extraordinary Women in Collaboration Award
3 Friends Talk Podcast -
Leah J. Miller, PharmD,
Courtney Villere Jones, PharmD,
Sylvia Perry, PharmD
Sitting down to listen to Dr. Leah, Dr. Courtney and Dr. Sylvia of 3 friends TALK is like sitting
down to have a conversation with your girlfriends. It feels familiar, those precious moments we
all treasure with our best friends — whether over coffee or cocktails.
Armed with their credentials and over 30 years of combined in-the-field experience, these three
pharmacists, working in non-traditional roles, are your go-to for health, friends, and fun. The
show is centered around science-based truths presented in a relatable way. No fancy medical
jargon here, but plain and clear language making potentially life-saving information easily
digestible for anyone and everyone.
3 friends TALK is rooted in the culture. The show was created by three southern women forever bonded through their HBCU education at Xavier University of Louisiana. 3 friends TALK is grounded in sisterhood, a bond made stronger through each doctors’ individual commitment to her respective sorority; Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., and Zeta Phi Beta, Inc.
Woman Of Influence Award
L. Denise Wells
Executive Public Relations Director
L. Denise Wells is an Executive Director of Public Relations and Communications, a results-driven thought leader with extensive experience delivering visionary leadership and designing high-impact instructional and professional development training.
She is passionate about helping others craft their messaging for easy translation, while strategically developing platforms for success.
This talented speaker, teacher, and coach is a first-generation graduate of the University of Georgia now serving as the first African-American female elected to UGA’s Board of Advisors for the Franklin College of Arts & Sciences. She also serves on the institution’s Board of Visitors and is a member of the university’s esteemed Heritage Society.
Denise is an ISO certified Diversity, Equity & Inclusion advocate, award-winning author, and benefactor of the Ruby Dee Legacy of Sisterhood Scholarship – a merit-based award provided annually to a female collegiate studying Humanities.
First Responder Leader Award
Fire Chief at Rockdale County Fire Rescue
A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Marian McDaniel began her fire service career with the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department (1998) where during her tenure she held the following positions: Firefighter/Paramedic, Fire Lieutenant - Office of Professional Standards, Captain – Public Information Officer, Captain – Emergency Medical Service, Section Chief – Office of Professional Standards, and Assistant Chief - Emergency Medical Services. After her retirement from Atlanta Fire Rescue (September 2017), Marian joined Rockdale County Fire Rescue as the Deputy Fire Chief of Administration (October 2017). As Deputy Fire Chief, Marian was instrumental in the recruitment of more African American men and women into the Fire Service. She accomplished this by hosting one of Rockdale County’s largest job fairs (2018). Rockdale County Fire Rescue have 142 personnel. Prior to the job fair, only five of Rockdale County Fire Rescue personnel were African American. To date, there are 30 African American men and women serving the citizens and communities of Rockdale County. Marian was also instrumental in the management of the department’s 11 million dollar budget in addition to the development and implementation of the department’s budget reduction strategies.
On December 8, 2020, she was appointed Fire Chief, making her the 12th African American Female Fire Chief in the United States and not only the First African American but also the First Woman Fire Chief in the history of Rockdale County Fire Rescue.
Excellence in Education
Dr. Emily Massey
CEO of The Principal Dynamic
Dr. Emily Abrams Massey is a nationally recognized Turnaround Principal, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Associate Superintendent of Schools, Adjunct Professor, Principal Mentor and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) with over 30 years of leadership experience with exceptional levels of achievement and impact.
Dr. Abrams Massey attended Fort Valley State University and received a B.S. and M.S. in Zoology and Middle Grades Education respectively. She also attended Clark Atlanta University where she received her Educational Specialist (ED. S) degree and Doctorate Degree in Educational Leadership (ED. D).
In 2015, Dr. Abrams-Massey was named Associate Superintendent for Atlanta Public Schools where she supported the turnaround zone which encompassed 22 schools in the Douglass, Jackson, and Washington clusters. In 2017, Dr. Massey founded the educational consulting company called The Principal Dynamic. She also serves as Adjunct Professor at Clark Atlanta University in the Department of Educational Leadership, a Principal Mentor for the Georgia State University Principal’s Center, and Educational Consultant with the Georgia Department of Education. The company services multiple school districts and provides consulting and professional development and consulting collaborations with national educational leads.
Business Woman On The Move Award
Creative Director, Bella Grind
Jan Jackson is the Owner and Creative Director of the Bella Grind Brand. Her mission is to provide a space for black women’s voices to be elevated and their stories celebrated via media platforms, inspirational apparel, and empowerment events. The Bella Grind Podcast and Magazine is a space for black women's stories to be celebrated while the SIMPLY JAN vlog captures her daily grind as an entrepreneur balancing family and friendships. Bella Grind Apparel is empowerment clothing with positive messages of self-love and POWER. This clothing line is for the woman who lives out loud and stands boldly in her truth. Lastly, the Bella Grind Alliance is an outreach initiative to give back to others via signature events, service projects, mentoring, and speaking engagements. Jan Jackson prides herself on being a servant leader who is a bridge that connects people to people and people to opportunity.
Raising The Profile Award
Founder & CEO of HYPE
Kristina Newton is a Computer Engineer turned Social Impact Entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience in the tech private and nonprofit sectors. Born & raised in Louisiana & a graduate from Prairie View A&M University, Kristina is a lover of southern culture & HBCU pride.
Newton serves as Founder & CEO of HYPE, a nonprofit that empowers historically underrepresented girls with technology skills and prepares them to become future leaders in tech careers. With a signature International Experience, HYPE’s Scholars grow in confidence, civic mindedness & global awareness while learning to make a difference in their communities and the world through STEAM.
Kristina is passionate about empowering students to live lives full of hope, driven by love, and void of fear. Over the past 5 years, under Kristina’s leadership, HYPE has experienced exponential growth year-over-year in revenue, student recruitment & retention, corporate partnership, and impact in the lives of over 800 girls internationally.
Inspirational Woman Of The Year Award
President, Global Communications & Content Strategy, UPS
Deisha is an accomplished leader and corporate board director who counsels CEOs, shapes strategies, advocates for inclusion and builds high-performing teams. She is a passionate driver of transformation and results – whether engaging media, investors, analysts, consumers, employees or community stakeholders.
Deisha is on the board of directors for Urban Skin Rx, a skincare brand for diverse skin tones. She is the executive sponsor of the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) committee. She is also president of global communications and content at UPS where she leads storytelling targeting UPS’s workforce and external stakeholders. Previously, Deisha led the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s brand communications team and was the organization’s first head of DEI. Her work spanned communications, social media, traditional marketing and the region’s millennial and gen Z-targeted movement, ChooseATL. She was also the architect behind ATL Action for Racial Equity which aims to address the effects of systemic racism in the community and workplace.
Women In Entertainment
Actress, Model & Personal Trainer
Jarneen Chaney is a prolific speaker with a special flare for offering practical and applicable solutions for the worries and issues that plague many of our lives. She is an extraordinary orator that takes her audiences on a path of self-discovery as she shares her own relatable life’s journey. Actress, Model and Singer, Jarneen Chaney is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. Not only is Jarneen talented, a go getter with a dynamic personality, she is also a woman of substance and intellect. Brown holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a concentration in music from Talladega College.
After graduating from College, Chaney returned to Atlanta and began pursuing her career in acting and modeling. She has held roles and features in several movies: Through Talented Eyes, Three Can Play That Game, and Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls, Atlanta Heat1&2, Changes Sitcom, All for Mylove Sitcom, The Chronicles of Passion and most recently Burning Bridges. She acted as a stand-in in Perry’s television series “Meet the Browns.”,” Why Did I Get Married” as well as “A Family That Preys”. She has done commercials for the Jim Ellis Hyundai, Burger King with Rainforest, Cellular Phones for Eiden and JR Crickets. She was the featured cover model for Bronner Brothers Magazine, Celebrity Lace Wigs, as well as cover for Profitable Dentist Magazine. She is certainly a rising star and has been careful and deliberate in shaping her experiences to offer talent versatility.
Behavioral Health Leadership Award
Interim Commissioner for the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities
Monica Johnson, MA, LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) has worked in the behavioral
health field for 26 years and is currently employed with the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health; Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD), as the Interim Commissioner. Prior to this role she served as the Division Director for the Division of Behavioral Health for 8 years. In this role she was responsible for leading a team of Directors for the offices of Adult Mental Health, Addictive Diseases, Children, Young Adults; Families, Deaf Services, Recovery, Prevention; Federal Grants; Culture Competency, Field Operations; Crisis Coordination. Functions include but are not limited to managing an extensive budget of over $600 million dollars, development of the strategic plan for all community behavioral health programs, the development and oversight of policies and behavioral health practices, program development, and workforce development. Ms. Johnson is a seasoned executive leader with a proven track record of success. Over the last couple of decades Ms. Johnson has led the formation of several high-profile change initiatives, project management, chaired several collaborations, and served as a board member for a variety of governing boards Ms. Johnson has worked in community behavioral health in a variety of clinical, management and leadership roles, including program development and implementation of federally funded initiatives. Ms. Johnson has overseen and successfully implemented several programs funded through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention; Department of Education.
She Got NEXT Award
J.D. Candidate, Mercer University School of Law
Addison is very passionate about leading her
community to freedom through education and financial endeavors. She hopes to be a corporate or in-house lawyer where she can diversify business dealings that affect her community and eventually get enough practice to open her own firm where she will use her education, passion, and experiences to help members of her community maintain sustainable businesses and practices that will lead to generational wealth. Addison reflects the Mercer community in a positive way and upon graduating law school, she will be a triple bear. At Mercer University School of Law, Addison has already emerged as a student leader. She was elected by her peers to be a 1L Representative on the executive board of the Mercer Black Law Students Association chapter. In this role, she makes sure the needs of her peers are heard and met. She is also responsible for leading the programming of events that will raise money for the chapter. In addition to this, Addison was also selected to be a 1L Representative for a bar prep vendor, Barbri. Based on her own experience, she understands the disparity that black students face when it comes to passing standardized legal exams (LSAT and the Bar) due to lack of access to resources and lack of knowledge of said resources. In this role, she is responsible for educating students about the importance of Bar prep.
Outstanding Woman of Business Award
Philnatroposit, Jazz, R&B Singer
Robin Latimore Foundation’s mission is to give scholarships to college bound high school seniors and college students who have been diagnosed with cancer and wish to continue pursuing a higher education. She also awards monies to college students whose parent has cancer and needs financial assistance due to the strain the illness has taken on normal family life, and impedes them from helping the student with college fees. Robin also hosts free “Lunch and Learn” classes to any entity requesting knowledge regarding certain cancers and healthy alternatives that can assist in keeping illness at bay. These cancers, taught by doctors in partnership, include Cervical, Prostate, Breast, and Colon. Robin merges her passion of performing music with honoring those scholarship recipients and their families, past and present, with a yearly gala and fundraiser. She now celebrates year 10 making a difference in the lives of students who have shown that above all, resilience and a will to press forward is the status quo.
Black Girl Magic Award
Racial Equity, Global Public Policy Manager
During her collegiate years, Shay’na began working at the grassroots, local, state, and federal level.
Her leadership includes, serving as state Political Action Chair for the Georgia NAACP Youth & College Division, legislative aide for GA State Representative Roger Bruce, intern for U.S. Congressman Hank Johnson under the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, & Civic Engagement Chair for the Greater Washington Urban League’s Thursday Network in DC.
Today, Shay’na works with the #1 Fortune 500 retailer in the world, as Manager of Walmart’s Racial Equity public policy portfolio. In her role, Shay’na is responsible for advising leadership on the best equitable policies for systemic & historic change.
She works in partnership with state, federal, and internal stakeholders to provide policy recommendations on issues in health, education, criminal justice, and finance.
Women in Ministry Leadership Award
Brendal Bass Davis is a Success Evangelist, wife, mother, ordained minister, certified coach, founder of Spirit of Excellence Ministry, Inc., and author of I Will Not Be Quiet About It.
Brendal's call to Ministry was in January 2000; in August 2005, she received her ordination; on April 5, 2017, she received a Professional Life Coaching Certification. She holds a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office:
In June 2019, Brendal was among the first inductees in the Thomasville – Thomas County GA Native Trailblazer Hall of Fame.
She inspires individuals to be whom they were born to be; do what God created them to do with a spirit of excellence. Actions speak louder than words. Brendal is living out loud because she desires to finish strong by fulfilling her divine purpose to:
Bless and encourage with a smile
Be a creator of success; and
Be a demonstration of God's love.
On behalf of Jackson HR & Administrative Services, Congratulations to all award recipients!