WEST PALM BEACH — Julianne Malveaux, president of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C., economist, author, and commentator will deliver the keynote address when the West Palm Beach Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. holds its “Women of Excellence” awards ceremony on June 4.
The awards, along with brief notes on the honorees, provided by the sorority, are as follows:
•Arts: Sonja Kelly, founder, Divinity Dance.
Kelly creates and directs original stage and company works of art and uses her experience in education and her passion for the arts to bring dance, music and theater in a way that inspires, teaches and provides accessibility to all.
“In order to have a greater reach in our community, every person must step up in their rightful place to complete the work to which they have been called," Kelly says.
•Business Executive: Denise Williams, owner of Mo Betta Braids and Things.
Williams started braiding hair at an early age and later began teaching it to others. Her vision is to lead a campaign for the state to offer proper natural hair care and braiding licensing to inspire entrepreneurship, mentorship and consulting opportunities to help young men and women succeed in this field.
• Education: Henrietta M. Smith, professor-emeritus, University of South Florida.
Smith uses the tradition of storytelling as an educational tool and has related stories with children in her travels from Native American areas in New Mexico to villages along the Amazon River. She has met authors and illustrators from around the world, original works of art have been donated in her honor and she has edited four volumes of the Coretta Scott King Awards Book.
• Health and Wellness: Renee’ Layman, vice-president for Clinical Services, Parent-Child Center.
Layman uses her knowledge and leadership skills to create programs that fill gaps in healthcare in the community. Her passion for quality healthcare has led her to develop programs that provide services such as comprehensive physical health screenings and emotional health services for infant, toddlers and young children; intensive therapeutic support and housing for mentally ill youth in the foster-care system; and mental health counseling and intervention that promotes positive parenting and child bonding for women.
Under Layman’s leadership, the Parent-Child Center of West Palm Beach was transformed from an almost bankrupt organization to a premier provider of mental health services for children and families.
• Humanitarian: Mami Hampton-Kisner, advocate for diversity and inclusion.
As first lady of Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, Hampton-Kisner was instrumental in helping her church build 53 single-family homes in the northwest district of West Palm Beach and is helping with a $5 million fundraising drive for the UB Kinsey Education and Community Center project.
Mami Kisner has experience with several community organizations, such as the YWCA Harmony House and Child Development Center, the Palm Beach County Tourist Development Board, the Palm Beach Atlantic University Board of Directors and the Trumpet Awards Foundation.
• Social Action: Tequisha Y. Myles.
Myles started at an early age on a mission to help others through her family's small non-profit organization: Faith and Hope in America. She offers opportunities for justice and fairness to low-income residents of Palm Beach County seeking equal treatment and access to legal counsel. As a lawyer for The Legal Aid Society, she is committed to fighting for these principles not only in her profession but also as a leader in the community.
• Collegiate Fortitude: Collene O’Reilly, Florida Atlantic University.
O’Reilly is president the National Pan-Hellenic Council of Sororities and Fraternities; an intern in the office of the senior vice-president of student affairs. She is the past vice-president of the Florida Atlantic University Student Body, the Learning Community liaison and the Black Student Union. She will graduate this summer and hopes to become a sports lawyer.
• Fortitude: Freddie L. Calloway, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.
This is the chapter’s highest honor bestowed upon a member of the West Palm Beach Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. for steadfast devotion to the ideals of the organization. For more than 50 years, Calloway has shown such dedication even in the midst of discouragement or setbacks. She is treasurer of the chapter and has served in several capacities, including president and as a member of the Scholarship, Budget, and Founders Day committees.
• The Keeper of the Torch: Sojourners with Healing Hearts Inc., Lisa Lofton, Linda Long, Deidra Brown-Brinson, Denise Williams, founders.
This organization was founded by these four women, two of whom are breast cancer survivors. It is the first breast cancer support group for women of color. The focus is on educating and raising awareness of breast cancer in the African-American community through religious, civic, and social networks; exposing the disparities relating to medical treatment for women of color; and informing the community of an alarming mortality rate among African-American women with cancer.