lillie_mae_johnson_web.jpgMIAMI — In celebrating Women’s History Month the Miami-Dade County Commission is recognizing three dynamic women: 105-year-old resident Lillie Mae Johnson, Sarah Messiah, newest spokesperson for the U.S. Olympic Committee and Denise Barrett, Assistant Principal of the Year for the North Central Region of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

Although a centenarian, Lillie Mae Johnson continues serving her community as an active member of the Citizen’s Crime Watch. When not playing a vital role in her neighborhood by monitoring her block, she enjoys knitting potholders and going to Bible study. The Scott Lake resident is also a television buff and loves to sing songs from her heyday. 

The University of Miami may be best known for its football team, but  its research department scores big points, and Sarah Messiah is on the University's research team. As the Research Associate Professor of Perinatal/Pediatric Epidemiology, Messiah is focusing on a funded research project regarding risk factors for childhood-onset obesity and the early life onset of cardiovascular disease and Type-2 Diabetes.

Messiah is accustomed to tackling challenges as a former member of the U.S. Olympic Kayak Team, and recently was appointed spokesperson for the United States Olympic Committee. In this new capacity, she will serve as the female role model to help prepare young women for college and empower them to reach their career aspirations.

Denise Barrett, Assistant Principal of the Year for the North Central Region of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, is another honoree helping young people strive for excellence. Now working at Lake Stevens Middle School, Barrett became a part of the Carol City feeder pattern in 2010-2011. In one year, test scores soared at Lake Stevens Middle School. Lake Stevens was identified as one of the schools displaying the greatest gains on the 2011 FCAT.

Barrett was also instrumental in developing a literacy program that encompassed a schoolwide language arts curriculum and homeroom literacy program in an effort to increase student achievement and learning gains. The success of her efforts is evident in the steady improvement in the school’s FCAT grade, which is now a “B.”

“While I am honoring these ladies during Women’s History Month, they deserve praise 365 days of the year,” said Commissioner Barbara Jordan. “They positively impact young lives and the lives in their communities. Their contribution to society should not go unnoticed.”


A CENTURY YOUNG: Lillie Mae Johnson, honored for her community service at more than 100 years old.