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2013 25 PEOPLE TO WATCH

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Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 6:00 am

With this year’s 25 People to Watch, we once again attempted to reflect the greatness within North Texas’ African American community, their valued strong leadership and a sense of how they will take our community into the future. Our picks represent a diversity of professions, industries, lifestyles, political views, faiths and both genders and how indeed they are making Black History today. We hope you like our selections.

CHARLES BELL, MD

DIABETES HEALTH AND WELLNESS INSTITUTE

Dr. Bell is the new president of the Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute (DHWI) at Juanita J. Craft Recreation Center. He will direct DHWI in an aggressive agenda to dramatically curb the condition of diabetes and other health ailments that affects the inner city community. Bell was formerly a deputy executive commissioner for health services with the Texas Health & Human Services Commission (HHSC) and has executive administrative and management experience in public health and health policy development, particularly in Texas Medicaid programs.

RANDY BOWMAN

PARKLAND FOUNDATION, BOARD CHAIRMAN

Bowman heads up the non-profit arm of the Parkland Hospital System and is dedicated to assuring that as much of the North Texas community as possible are valuable partners, particularly with the new 2-million square foot Parkland Hospital, scheduled for completion in late 2014. Bowman is a business executive with 22 years and is currently the CEO of MW Logistics, LLC. Prior to that, he was a private practice attorney for 12 years. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in advertising from The University of Texas at Austin and also holds a Doctor of Jurisprudence from Whittier College School of Law in Los Angeles, California.

STEFANI CARTER STATE REPRESENTATIVE, DISTRICT 102

Carter is State Representative for District 102, which covers parts of North Dallas, Addison, Richardson and Garland. She comes from humble beginnings on Bernadin Circle in Dallas and has been involved in her community her entire life. She attained her Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Texas, went on to graduate from Harvard Law School and Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and began writing editorials for USA Today. Upon returning to Dallas, Governor Rick Perry appointed her to the Crime Victims' Institute Advisory Council and subsequent other state commissions. Carter is a Republican and Tea Party enthusiast, which make her views many times unpopular in the Black community, yet she hold on to her convictions and truly believes Texas is the greatest place on Earth.

JESSE CRAWFORD CHAIRMAN, URBAN LEAGUE OF GREATER DALLAS

Crawford was sworn in as the new Chairman of the Urban League of Greater Dallas Board of Trustees in 2012 and his leadership is gaining traction. He is Senior Group Manager-Global Supplier Diversity at Verizon Corporation and has served as a board member for four years. Mr. Crawford has held positions in sales, staff management, customer care/quality management, engineering, supply chain, supplier diversity and strategic sourcing and is responsible for leading Verizon’s Global Diversity Advocacy and Outreach initiatives across the enterprises. He is guiding the Dallas Urban League toward a future that will include the construction of a 50,000 square foot Trade/Technical Skills Training Center.

BREON DENNIS

TEXAS RANGERS, V.P. COMMUNITY OUTREACH

Dennis continues to break ground as one of only a handful of African American major league sports front office executives in North Texas. As Assistant Vice President of Community Outreach, he works closely with the Texas Rangers Outreach Department and the Texas Rangers Foundation. Coordinating and organizing programs such as the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) leagues in the area and other initiatives, Dennis goes full force with creativity and leadership to bridge the gap between the community, the Rangers and the game of baseball itself.

KENNETH GILBERT

CEO, GREATER DALLAS HEAD START

Gilbert was unanimously named as the organization’s new Chief Executive Officer by Head Start of Greater Dallas Board of Directors, taking over for longtime CEO and Founder Wanda M. Smith, upon her retirement. Gilbert had served as the organization’s COO for nearly 25 years. He will be working to foster the organization’s important community partnerships and increase HSGD’s brand recognition in the community.

CASSANDRA HARDWRICK

NORTH TEXAS MINORITY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

Hardwrick means business. Starting the North Texas Minority Chamber of Commerce in 2000 with two other people, it’s now considered the fastest growing chamber of North Texas with 170 members; covering 26 counties and 362 cities. Feeling that minority businesses were getting shut out of major projects like the Super Bowl, NTMCC works to build valuable networking, make key connections and provide valuable resources so that such businesses can carry out their passions, while being able to stay in business and have an equal chance to earn profits that will help them grow.

MATT HOUSTON

DALLAS BLACK CHAMBER, BOARD CHAIR

Houston represents a new brand of leadership as Chairman of the Board of the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce, joining forces with new President/COO Wilton Munnings. Houston was previously President of the Urban League of Greater Dallas Young Professionals and has served on the boards of the Dallas Regional Chamber and SMU Young Alumni. Professionally, Houston is Executive Director of External Affairs with Group Excellence (GEx), a mentor-tutoring company that is certified throughout the country. He is the son of the late Thomas Houston, a former DBCC President from 1982-95.

J KRUZ 97.9

ON-AIR PERSONALITY, 97.9 THE BEAT, CW 33

97.9 The Beat’s J Kruz defines “swag.” While speaking three languages and thriving as world-traveler, the recording hip-hop artist and radio personality has now found a home on TV. “Raising the Bar,” air weekly on 97.9 FM The Beat and he hosts The Underground, on Eye Opener TV, seen in Dallas on CW33, but also airing in Houston, Miami, Philadelphia, Portland. The Underground, focuses on artists that are just about to break into stardom. Born in New York and raised in Pittsburgh, Kruz, who was voted ‘Top Talent’ in the Steel City three years in a row, comes to Dallas from WAMO radio in Pittsburgh.

T'EDRA Z. JACKSON MISS PAUL QUINN COLLEGE 2012-2013

T'Edra Z. Jackson was crowned Miss Paul Quinn College 2012-2013, crowned last fall. Ms. Jackson is a sophomore Business Administration major with a concentration in Management. A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, she graduated from Scotlandville Magnet High School. Ms. Jackson serves Paul Quinn as president of the Quinnite Ambassadors and as a Residential Assistant, and she interned with the City of DeSoto as a part of the Dr. Emmett J. Conrad Leadership Program during the summer.

ERIC JOHNSON STATE REP. DISTRICT 100

Representative Johnson continues to gain more responsibility and clout at the state legislative level. He has since been appointed to the special House and Senate Joint Oversight Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence, and Transparency and as Vice Chair of the Natural Resources Committee and General Investigating & Ethics Committees. Plus he helped found and has been elected Chair of the Young Texas Legislative Caucus. Thoroughly Dallas raised, Johnson daily rode a van from the West Dallas Boys and Girls Club to attend Greenhill School, from where he graduated in 1994, before going on to Harvard University, where he majored in History and graduated cum laude. Returning to Dallas, he accepted a position as Legislative Assistant to State Representative Yvonne Davis (D-Dallas) before winning election to District 100, which covers parts of South, West and East Dallas.

WILLIS JOHNSON

RADIO BROADCASTER

Johnson’s landmark morning radio show, the “The Willis Johnson Good Morning Show,” ended after 36 years on the air after the beloved KKDA-AM was sold through a Time Brokerage Agreement to a Korean-based group, thus changing the station’s format from “Soul to Seoul.” Johnson has not publicly announced what his next plans will be. His loyal followers are eagerly waiting to see if he may return on the air, presenting a style that was a staple in the community for almost four decades.

RON KIRK

Ambassador Kirk, Dallas’ first Black mayor, announced in January that he was stepping down as the United States Trade Representative, under President Barack Obama’s administration. Kirk had spent the last four years closing out several key trade agreements with countries around the world, many times working side-by-side with the President and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He has not made it clear as to what his future holds, whether he will take on another national post or if he will bring his valuable talents back to the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

POOCA LEROY HIP-HOP ARTIST

Pooca is steadily making a name for himself as arguably Dallas-Fort Worth’s most popular local hip-hop artist. He has been recognized in The Source magazine and other hip-hop publications and media. The 28-year old is proud to call Dallas home and it’s often the inspiration behind his lyrics. His style has been called one of swagger, intellect, and versatility. Let’s see if the crown jewel of Money Mobb Ent. is set to be the next to carry the DFW to its proper place in hip-hop.

VASHTI MCKENZIE

BISHOP, AME 10TH EPISCOPAL DISTRICT

The internationally renowned McKenzie is bringing new dynamics to North Texas since being appointed Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church’s (AME) Tenth Episcopal District last summer. That includes helping bring refreshing new resources to Paul Quinn College, that operates under the AME umbrella. McKenzie became the AME’s first female bishop in 2000 and is the first female bishop in Texas. In the heat of the Presidential election, McKenzie was seen nationwide giving a report as Chair of the Democratic National Committee’s Credentials Committee and providing a moving opening prayer at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her groundbreaking leadership and a history-making pedigree will bring more effects to the North Texas area and state in general.

DAVID AND TAMELA MANN COMEDIANS, ACTORS, GOSPEL ARTISTS

The Manns, both Fort Worth natives and DFW residents, are dynamic duo wonders for several film and television projects produced by iconic entertainment mogul Tyler Perry. They began entertainment notoriety as members of the Grammy award winning group, Kirk Franklin and the Family. Tamela has worked with such greats as Celine Dion, Mary J Blige, Bono, and Yolanda Adams, and now is enjoying the success of her chart topping album, “Take Me to the King.” David, on the other hand is becoming a household name as the hilarious Leroy Brown, from Tyler Perry’s television show and movies. With many other projects and their cooking show “Hanging with the Manns”, there seems to be no stopping David and Tamela. They have been married for 22 years, and have four children.

TATIANA “LADY MAY” MAYFIELD JAZZ VOCALIST/ MUSICIAN/ EDUCATOR

Refreshing and beautiful are how many have described the voice and persona of Tatiana “LadyMay” Mayfield, a jazz vocalist, musician, and educator from Fort Worth. Mayfield has been singing and playing jazz music since the tender age of 13. In October 2010, she was chosen as one of the twelve semi-finalists to compete in the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition where she performed for legendary jazz vocalists that included Al Jarreau, Dianne Reeves, Patti Austin, and more. She has also recorded two albums in which her appeal has also reached listeners abroad in the UK, Switzerland, Germany, and Nigeria.

MINISTER JEFFERY MUHAMMAD

BLACK DEVELOPMENT FUND

Muhammad helping form the new Black Development Fund comes off the heels of his involvement of the 2012 protest of a Korean American-owned convenient story and its alleged treatment of Blacks in their own neighborhoods; a protest that garnered the attention of Korean businessmen worldwide, the U.S. Justice Dept., and Dallas’ Mayor Mike Rawlings. Muhammad, who organized the protest with a cross spectrum of Blacks, beyond, social-political, religious, and philosophical lines, is the Dallas representative of the Hon. Min. Louis Farrakhan, and the Nation of Islam. His efforts have helped lead to the establishment of a Black-owned Shamrock gas station on 418 Corinth and the future formation of a community radio station. Stay tuned.

TONI ROSE STATE REPRESENTATIVE, DISTRICT 110

Rose is the newly elected State Rep. of District 110, which covers southern and southeast Dallas and parts of Mesquite and Balch Springs. She has a BS in Criminal Justice from Paul Quinn College and also attended, Prairie View A&M University. Working professionally as a mental health and criminal justice professional for over 20 years, Rose has been very active in the Dallas area, as a member of the City of Dallas Judicial Nominating Commission, Dallas Planning and Zoning Commission and a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated. Rose has been appointed to the Corrections and Human Services Committees in Austin.

DALE SMITH

BLACK CONTEMPORARY TV, CEO

Smith represents a wave of a new entrepreneurial spirit in the media industry as executive producer of Black Contemporary TV, to be aired on KAZD, Channel 55.4 on North Texas’ digital television dial. Smith brings several years of television production experience to the network and usher in shows such as the televised Skip Murphy and Company, Black Contemporary News, The Diabetic Chef and Black Contemporary Classic Films. With a determination and drive like Smith’s, the Black community will no longer be absent or underrepresented with a voice on the small screen.

VIRLINDA STANTON

SINGER AND STAGE ACTRESS

Tyler native Fort Worth resident VirLinda Stanton has graciously risen to the level of a full-fledged nationally renowned 5-star entertainer, having given electrifying performances in: Oprah Winfrey’s The Color Purple national tour, as Church Lady Darlene and Shug Avery, in Disney’s stage musical version of The Lion King, as Rafikki and Nala and other national stage productions. In 2011, Stanton’s hometown honored her, proclaiming Feb. 3 as “VirLinda Stanton Day,” and having a street in her old neighborhood named “VirLinda Lane East & West.” The former NFL and NBA cheerleader has also given a 2-hour performance at the official White House Christmas program, before President Barack Obama and performed at several functions sponsored by Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson.

MARC VEASEY

CONGRESSMAN, DISTRICT 33

Veasey made a key elevation up the political ladder, from being a Fort Worth-based state representative to head up the new Congressional District 33. Veasey staved off 12 other Democratic opponents, before facing and defeating Domingo Garcia in the Democratic runoff, then easily defeating Republican Chuck Bradley and Green Party candidate Ed Lindsey, becoming the first Black in Fort Worth to win election of a federal seat. Veasey has been assigned to the U.S House’s Armed Services Committee, but he is also expected to work closely with Eddie Bernice Johnson of District 30. Exciting days are ahead for Veasey.

ASHLEY WILKERSON

ENTERTAINER

Wilkerson is an actress, poet, playwright and activist and has appeared in an array of television, film, and theatrical productions. Her credits include: Kim Hughes’s Sweetwater, where she starred as the resilient, Day Gray and her award winning solo show, Freckle In My Eye, which was most recently witnessed at BAM Fest in Austin, Texas. She has appeared in several commercials and print advertisements including: Nike, Choice Hotels, Verizon, Subway, D Magazine, and Pepsi. She is also the author of a new book, Midnight Verses Morning Poems. Ms. Wilkerson has been recognized by the National Foundation of the Arts, the National Performance Network, and is a member of Alternate Roots.

MICHAEL WILLIAMS

COMMISSIONER, TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY

Williams, a former North Texas resident, was appointed to the position of TEA Commissioner last August. He is also a former member of the elected Texas Railroad Commission, a regulatory body over, not railroads, but the oil and natural gas industries. That made Williams the first African American to hold a statewide elected executive office in Texas history, appointed by Governor George W. Bush in 1999, and reelected three more times before eventually stepping down in 2011. He is also the fourth African American to be elected to statewide office overall following Morris Overstreet, Wallace B. Jefferson, and Dale Wainwright. All eyes are now on Williams to see what positive changes he’ll bring to public education in the state.

PATRICK WINFIELD PASTOR, POTTER HOUSE, FORT WORTH CAMPUS

Winfield was hand-picked by T.D. Jakes to take the helm at the newly established Potter’s House in Fort Worth. His leadership experience has been extensive, serving in both the education and ministry fields. As an educator, leader and pastor his mission is to transform lives, build leaders and strengthen families by helping people discover and live in the grace of God found in Jesus Christ. Winfield received his Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in English, and a minor in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Illinois, in Champaign, Urbana. He received a Master’s of Divinity from McCormick Theological Seminary. As a leader, Pastor Winfield believes in service leadership that is exercised through modeling, mentoring, instructing and life coaching.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

GODSEY/ MARTIN LAW FIRM (ijustgothit.com): David Godsey and Justin Martin, known for their popular “I Just Got Hit” radio commercials and their service in the community.

KIYA JOHNSON: Fashion Designer, Owner of Ruby Charles, Finalist in Texas Next Top Designer 2013.

KYMBERLY KEETON: Writer, Artist, Publisher, Creator of http://about.me/blackgyrlnews, University of Houston graduate.

KEN SMITH: President of Revitalizing South Dallas Coalition, banding together organizations to bring dramatic improvements to South Dallas.

HAROLD STEWART: An arts administrator and cultural organizer active in the LGBT community, and with HIV/AIDS awareness throughout Dallas.

EVERETT SPAIN: President, Collin County Black Chamber of Commerce

CHERYL WILLIAMSON: North Texas business owner, one of the first African-American women to have ownership in a boxing fitness franchise.

© 2016 The Dallas Weekly. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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