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2022 Black History Month

Nominated Leaders

During Black History Month we are excited to highlight and celebrate Black excellence, especially those who are a part of our church community.

This year, we are acknowledging the unsung heroes among us who have made significant contributions towards the advancement of Black Americans.

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William Gunn

Accomplishments:

  • In 2003, Gunn named the 1st Chief Defense Counsel in the Department of Defense Office Military Commissions

  • Set up an office to provide defense representation to detainees at the Guantanamo Prison Camp in Cuba

  • In 2009, Gunn was appointed by President Obama and confirmed by the US Senate as the General Counsel for the US Department of Veterans Affairs

  • In 2021, Gunn was named General Counsel for the Legal Services Corporation, the nation's largest funder of free legal assistance to low-income Americans.

Monica Almond

Accomplishments: 

  • In May 2020, Almond launched The Almond Group(TAG), the only leadership development firm specializing in diversity, equity, and inclusion consulting and strategic planning for the government relations field owned by a woman of color.

  • In a predominantly-White industry that spends nearly $1billion per quarter lobbying and influencing federal and state policy, TAG helps companies increase the diversity of their teams, including providing room at the policymaking table for African Americans and other underrepresented groups.

  • African Americans represent 14% of the US population and less than 5% of staff in leadership in the US Congress. Representation among African Americans is also lacking off The Hill. The Almond Group is working to reverse these trends to mitigate the unintended consequences of exclusive and homogenous policymaking on communities of color.

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Gwendolyn McDowell

Acknowledgements:

  • McDowell served as an ambassador of peace through the "Peace Child Foundation" traveling the U.S. & abroad standing for equality & unity through the musical Peace Child.

  • From 1985-1987, McDowell traveled to Russia and toured the U.S. showcasing an entire musical in both Russian and English languages including at the Kennedy Center. 

  • McDowell recorded the duet "I Have A Vision" with the famous Russian Rock Band "Stas Namin"; an original song written by London composer David Gordon. She sang this song once again with her oldest daughter for the UK United Nations 2020 virtual performance.  

  • McDowell was just inducted into the Peace Child International Alumni Hall of Fame October 2021 for the work she's done throughout the years.

  • Media: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHcU6qTAeyk (Gwen's song begins at 28:26)

  • www.peacechild.org (Gwen Hall of Fame Entry)

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Cynhia Shambley

Acknowledgements: 

  • Shambley served as Coordinator of Recruitment, Assistant Director of Human Resources & Director of Human Resources in Springfield, IL.

  • In 2005, Shambley increased the number of African American teachers from a dismal 5.6% to 12% of the teaching force within 6 years in a district that had been unsuccessful hiring African American teachers.

  • Shambley established and had codified a new set of school board policies.

  • Shambley developed recruiting “Best Practices,” hosted and participated in interviews directly with Principals and hiring Managers, made conditional job offers to talented students, and found job opportunities for spouses which converted not only the educational environment but the Black community at large. 

  • As a result of her work, more than two hundred African Americans were given a chance and became gainfully employed within the school district, many of which have gone on to key administrative positions within the District and throughout the country.

  • Shambley took leadership in a statewide initiative to provide forgivable loans to members of the community whereby members would be able to attend college to become certified teachers in the school district while they worked full-time. 

  • Shambley wrote successful grants as she directed the program and fiscally managed millions of dollars managing a model “Grow Your Own” teachers’ program, incorporating three schools of Higher Education, and additional Consortium partners such as the Springfield Urban League, the Regional Offices of Education, and the Springfield Education Association. The teachers that graduated from this program to teach in the school district were evaluated to be some of the best “Rising Stars” by existing staff and the parents of their students.

Article: https://www.illinoistimes.com/springfield/to-get-fresh-teachers-grow-your-own/Content?oid=11449751

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Mary Jordan

Acknowledgements:

  • Jordan waged a good fight amidst a workplace with extreme sexism and racism. She advanced in a number of “first” positions in federal and city government. 

  • Jordan began her public career with the US Government Procurement Office, the Alcohol and Beverage Control Board and later moved to the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia.

  • Jordan was the first Black female Executive secretary at the Public Service Commission

  • Jordan ended her career as a GS 14 paving the way for others who follow the path of public service. 

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Maria Antoinette Hemphill

 

Accomplishments:

  • In 1992  2009, Hemphill served as Director of "Substance Abuse & Deliverance Outreach Ministry" of Pilgrim Baptist Church (in Northeast, DC)

  • In 2006 - 2008, Hemphill mentored for formerly incarcerated women, through "Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA) Reintegration of Ex-Offenders Into Society" 

  • Hemphill led Christian-based meetings and educated participants utilizing N.A. and A.A. 12-Steps concepts, combined with the scriptures from the Holy Bible to reintegrate into society successfully.

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Tamara St. Hill​

Accomplishments: 

  • St. Hill is the CEO and founder of VIRYA Tech Inc, a cyber school 

  • St. Hill’s cyber school offers resume writing and immediate job placements in the information technology industry to the community along with salary negotiation & professional development consulting

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Gloria Latney

 

Accomplishments:

  • Latney volunteers in various community based programs with her local police department such as Toys for Tots

  • Latney volunteers with the Department of Homeland Security and advocates for safety and a thriving community

  • Latney gives to local homeless shelters along with other out of state charities and organizations

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Tiffiony Keys

 

Accomplishments:

  • Keys leads a team of volunteers that serve at the Changing Lives Food Pantry in Suitland, Maryland weekly

  • Keys’ attention to detail and spirit of excellence makes her a great leader in her community as she ensures multiple families are fed 

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James & Cynthia Greene

 

Acknowledgements:

  • The Greenes have been making an impact in the black community for over 8 years through the work that they do in helping couples create vision, purpose and success in their marriage

  • Through their company, Marriage Built 2 Last,  the Greenes bring exciting educational programs, conferences and events. 

  • In 2021, the Greenes received a citation from the State of Maryland for their contributions to the community.

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Brigadier General Charles Edward McGee

 

Accomplishments:

  • McGee was an American fighter pilot who was one of the first African American aviators in the US military & one of the last living members of the Tuskegee Airmen. 

  • McGee exhibited bravery and tenacity as a black fighter pilot. 

  • McGee was a resident of Bethesda, MD and passed away on January 16, 2022 at the age of 102.

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Ernest Judson Wilson

 

Acknowledgments:

  • Wilson was considered to be one of the hardest hitting African Americans in baseball. 

  • Over a Negro Leagues career that lasted 21 seasons, Wilson hit .400 three times and was one of the most respected players in the game.

  • From the early 1920s through the end of World War II, Wilson starred for some of the greatest teams in all of black baseball, including the Baltimore Black Sox, Homestead Grays, Pittsburgh Crawfords and Philadelphia Stars regularly

  • topping the .300 mark in batting average. At the age of 45, Wilson hit .426 in a full season with the Homestead Grays.

  • Wilson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.

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Lafayette Gatling Sr.

 

Acknowledgements:

  • During Gatling’s life, he built three Gatling Funeral Homes, including one at 10133 S. Halsted St. where many Chicago families who lost their loved ones due to violence held their funerals.

  • Gatling built one of the largest funeral homes in the country offering families hope and healing, sometimes conducting funeral arrangements for free. 

  • Gatling was also a certified general contractor and member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 134, and he physically built Gatling’s Chapel in Chicago with his own hands.