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'28 Days of Black Excellence' 2022 Honorees

by Florida Panthers @FlaPanthers /

In celebration of Black History Month, the Florida Panthers are hosting '28 Days of Black Excellence', a program recognizing South Florida residents who are making an impactful difference in the local community.

From Black business owners to teachers, athletes, and healthcare workers, honorees' stories and achievements will be shared daily throughout the month of February in this blog and on social media @FlaPanthers and @FlaPanthersCARE. 

February 28, 2022

As captain of the Miami Heat, Udonis's story is one of personal inspiration and dedication of the highest level. Since 2005, the Udonis Haslem Foundation's mission is to promote youth development and self-confidence through programs and services designed to enable them to reach their full personal and educational potential. UD's motto: "Believe in yourself, stand strong on your faith, and keep God first."

February 27, 2022

Yolanda Santiago is the Associate Education Director with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Florida. In her role, Mrs. Santiago develops partnerships with districts and schools throughout Florida to provide anti-bias and anti-bullying learning opportunities for Florida's youth. She is also responsible for ADL's Read 4 Respect Program, promoting diversity and inclusivity through literature. Mrs. Santiago is a strong leader on the ADL Florida team who is passionate about bringing meaningful programming to students throughout the state. Mrs. Santiago is a proud wife, mother, and entrepreneur.

February 26, 2022

Peter Worrell appeared in 391 career NHL regular-season games for Florida and the Colorado Avalanche (2003-04). After retiring from his playing career, he spent the 2018-19 season as an assistant coach with the Fayetteville Marksmen of the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL). Over the last decade in South Florida, he served as head coach for Florida Atlantic University (ACHA Div. III) Club Hockey Team and North Broward Preparatory School, mentoring and teaching young hockey players.

In August 2019, Worrell was hired as the Hockey Director of the Panthers IceDen. As Hockey Director, Worrell oversees youth and adult hockey programs at the Panthers IceDen and is responsible for the direction, administration, management, supervision, and marketing of all ice hockey programming needs of the Panthers IceDen.

February 25, 2022

Dexter Bridgeman is the CEO and Founder of M•I•A Media Group. M•I•A Media Group consists of print publications, video broadcasting, and digital products. His company reaches more Black people in South Florida and the state of Florida than any other media source by editorializing the success and achievements of the Black community. Mr. Bridgeman serves as a mentor to young children, college students, and young professionals. As a nonprofit board member, he works to make a difference in the lives of children and young women. Mr. Bridgeman is also an advocate for social and economic justice for all communities.

February 24, 2022

As County Administrator, Bertha Henry serves as Chief Executive Officer of Broward County. She oversees a county with 1.9 million residents and more than 7,000 employees. A native of Miami, Mrs. Henry has had a distinguished career with more than 44 years of experience in public administration. She is a robust and dynamic leader dedicated to serving the community and has had a significant impact on the economic growth and development of our thriving County. Mrs. Henry is married to Bobby Henry and looks forward to spending more time with her family.

February 23, 2022

Marlon Hill is a business and government transactions attorney with Weiss, Serota, Helfman, Cole & Bierman in Miami, representing entrepreneurs, artists, corporations, nonprofit organizations, and government entities. Mr. Hill is a member of the Orange Bowl Committee, Miami Parking Authority, Kozyak Minority Mentoring Foundation, and an advisor to the Florida Caribbean Students Association. Additionally, Mr. Hill is committed to mentoring the next generation of leaders in the community as a founding member of the Brownsville Middle School Law Academy and supporting minority law students. Finally, he is an avid soccer fan and player and a patron of our vibrant multicultural arts and culture community events in South Florida.

February 22, 2022

Zakiya Becca is the Community Engagement Manager at HandsOn Broward. In her role, she is responsible for the recruiting, training, deployment, and oversight of volunteers and project leaders. Ms. Becca is also responsible for developing, promoting, and maintaining a wide range of volunteer opportunities that positively impact Broward County communities. During the pandemic, Ms. Becca took her programming, specifically her DIY Volunteer Program, to new heights by providing meaningful ways for community members to volunteer from home and on their own time safely. She coordinated over 1,200 volunteers to creatively extend their arms of service through 26 projects. Ms. Becca has established herself as a go-to person and is an exceptional staff member with HandsOn Broward. Ms. Becca consistently performs at a high level while balancing her academics as she is currently pursuing a master's degree at Nova Southeastern University.

February 21, 2022

Jawan Strader is an Emmy award-winning journalist and South Florida news anchor for NBC 6. He also hosts Voices, a community affairs show dedicated to the Black community and disenfranchised groups. Mr. Strader is the consummate professional, taking on the role of President of the South Florida Chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists and acting as a leader in his newsroom. Mr. Strader is a mentor to many and an engaged member of several organizations. Mr. Strader is also a motivational speaker who has inspired students and employees from different businesses across South Florida to believe in themselves and overcome obstacles. He credits his mother for laying a strong foundation as a single parent to make sure he overcame obstacles.

February 20, 2022

Dr. Jason Anthony Prendergast is the Director of the University Counseling & Support Services at Florida Memorial University. He is also President and CEO of Edify Counseling Group and the former Chair for the Executive Board of Directors for The Bryce Gowdy Foundation and the Jamaican Men of Florida. Dr. Prendergast was recently featured on ESPN's Documentary "Long Live Seven: The Bryce Gowdy Story" and is committed to providing a foundation for students at Florida Memorial University and youths in his community that focuses on mental and emotional health while advocating for the removal of the stigma surrounding mental health affecting people of color. Despite Dr. Prendergast's many accomplishments, none of them are greater than fatherhood. He is a proud and loving father to two beautiful daughters and a handsome baby boy.

February 19, 2022

Vonda Bryant has been responsible for the leadership and direction of Broward County Library's Learning Services since 2003. In her role, she oversees all literacy programs and services and 30+ staff members at 37 Broward County Library locations. Mrs. Bryant is passionate about literacy and enjoys assisting customers in accessing programs, services, and resources to meet their learning goals. Throughout her career, Mrs. Bryant has trained more than 1,000 volunteers and staff on how to teach an adult to read and write while also taking the time to teach adult learners herself, in the Each One Teach One - adult literacy program. Mrs. Bryant has also developed and implemented the Library's Literacy Help Centers which assists both youth and adults with homework, computers, career, reading, citizenship and learning English. Mrs. Bryant has coordinated citizenship classes and naturalization ceremonies in libraries where thousands of newcomers have obtained citizenship. She also created, developed, and currently manages a welcome campaign for newcomers to America and Broward. The initiative and innovation in Mrs. Bryant's passion is demonstrated through her effectiveness in aiding individuals from diverse backgrounds and of all ages.

February 18, 2022

Talitha Anyabwele has been a teacher for almost 20 years and has devoted that time to uplifting and educating Black and Brown students. Mrs. Anyabwele developed an African-centered online academy during the pandemic, teaching and reaching students throughout Florida and the United States. This curriculum has allowed children to see themselves every day and has directly impacted their academic performance. Even after schools reopened, Mrs. Anyabwele continues to teach and train teachers virtually. She also hosts virtual events that empower the community, specifically parents and teachers, to best educate their children.

February 17, 2022

Shortly after being drafted to the NFL, Henri Crockett started Team 94, an after-school tutoring and mentoring program for at-risk youth in Atlanta. After permanently relocating to South Florida, Mr. Crockett and his brother joined forces. They re-established the organization as The Crockett Foundation, Inc. with a mission to help build character, develop leaders, and improve communities - one child at a time. Mr. Crockett grew up in the same crime-infested, low-income areas as the youth his organization serves and saw firsthand the devastating impact of lack of education, exposure, and life experience on a young mind. As President and CEO of The Crockett Foundation, Mr. Crockett works to use his lived experiences to positively impact the trajectory of generations to come. As a result, the foundation has grown from providing after-school enrichment and tutoring to delivering much-needed comprehensive health, technology, and youth development programming that focuses on exposure, experience, and expression as a pathway to opportunity.

February 16, 2022

Ted Lucas is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Slip-N-Slide Records. He is also the Founder and Chairman of the Ted Lucas Foundation and TechNolij. His work in the music industry has been responsible for selling over 30 million records due to discovering, signing, and developing several Platinum-selling artists. Mr. Lucas' work has also benefited his hometown and community, primarily through charitable efforts. For example, Mr. Lucas created the Ted Lucas Foundation, a non-profit organization aimed at helping youth in Miami's inner cities improve their academic skills and empower them to pursue manifesting their dreams into reality. Another non-profit, TechNolij, introduces and prepares women and minorities to the workforce and entrepreneurial opportunities in emerging and advanced technologies. TechNolij recently announced a partnership with Florida Memorial University to develop and participate in joint program development and funding opportunities that will promote and position South Florida's only Historically Black College or University as a technology and innovation hub for the region's Black and underserved communities.

February 15, 2022

Linda Williams is currently a second-grade teacher with Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Building Steward and Internal Functions Committee chairperson for United Teachers of Dade, Aftercare Specialist, and Drama Teacher at North Twin Lakes Elementary School. She is also a member of the Black Caucus, Top Ladies of Distinction, Southern Pearls Miami-Dade Chapter, and founder of BOBC Book Club. Ms. Williams is energetic and makes learning fun in her classroom. As a drama teacher, she often emcees shows and hosts productions for her school. When putting on a production, Ms. Williams takes the time to collect measurements for each student, order materials, design sets, and make each costume by hand. Her organizational skills and attention to detail also show in her classroom themes, events, and style. Linda is the mother of one son, proud godmother, and doting LaLa to her 6-year-old granddaughter. In her spare time, Ms. Williams can be found reading, crafting, baking, or watching a psychological thriller.

February 14, 2022

Mike Gelin serves as Vice Mayor of the City of Tamarac and has been in office since 2018. Since his election, Vice Mayor Gelin has worked to promote Tamarac businesses by passing a local and small business preference program. In honor of our veterans, he also passed a veterans business preference program to help veteran-owned businesses win government contracts. Vice Mayor Gelin also established the Sister Cities International Program to promote student foreign exchanges and international business opportunities for the City. With a goal of expanding job opportunities, Vice Mayor Gelin passed an initiative to "Ban the Box", allowing people with criminal records to go through the entire interview process before sharing their background, which increased their opportunity to secure work and rejoin society as productive citizens. He is also the founder and President of the Gelin Benefits Group, an employee benefits consulting firm, and serves on several boards including the Center for Independent Living of Broward, which helps people with disabilities to live independently.

Shaheewa Jarrett-Gelin serves as the General Counsel and Vice President of Compliance for the Gelin Benefits Group. In her role, she provides legal advice and ensures compliance with state and federal health care laws. Mrs. Gelin is also the Founder and President of the Broward County Black Chamber of Commerce (BCBCC) and the Founder of the Florida Association of Black Chambers of Commerce (FABCC). To date, BCBCC has over 250 members and is focused on growing procurement opportunities for its members. The FABCC just finished its inaugural Black Chamber Day at the Capitol, where she gathered twelve chambers from across the state to present and to advocate for a legislative agenda founded in equity. Mrs. Gelin volunteers with several community organizations and has been recognized for her work. She is most proud of her non-profit, Youth Survivors Foundation, which has awarded $35,000 in college scholarships to abused or neglected youth and young people struggling with poverty.

February 13, 2022

Since retiring from professional football in 1987, Nat Moore has dedicated himself to giving back to the South Florida community that supported him throughout his career. In 1998, he founded the Nat Moore Foundation to support non-profits that serve children and youth that had limited capacity to raise adequate funding for their missions. During its inception, The Nat Moore Foundation awarded 100+ scholarships to deserving graduating high school seniors in the South Florida community. In 2018, Moore ceased operations of the Nat Moore Foundation and transitioned the program under the Miami Dolphins Foundation. To continue his legacy, he established an endowment fund and extended the scholarship program to include a vocational grant. Both the scholarship and the grant are designed to bolster efforts in bridging the gap between receiving financial assistance and obtaining a degree or vocational diploma. This commitment will foster the next generation of industry and community leaders by providing students who are achieving academically and who give back to their communities with the opportunity to attain their educational goals. Nat Moore serves on several boards across South Florida, including Truist Bank NA, Orange Bowl Committee, AvMed Community Advisory Board, and the Lotus House Miami.

February 12, 2022

Rose Anderson serves as the College and Career Readiness Coordinator for the Pace Center for Girls in Broward. In her role, Ms. Anderson utilizes a gender-responsive, trauma-informed and strength-based approach to provide the girls with post-secondary career resources and skills that they can use now and apply later in life. Ms. Anderson always finds opportunities to encourage the girls to believe in themselves, use their voice, and maintain a positive presence in their lives. As a creative artist, business owner, and singer with over 30 years of experience as an educator, Ms. Anderson uses her creativity and innovation to be at her core. She uses them to engage the girls she works with. In addition, Ms. Anderson has a heart to serve women, youth, and children worldwide and make a lasting impact in the lives of many in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Ghana. She is involved with several organizations that align with that goal.

February 11, 2022

Clint Gulley is a Miami native and McDonald's franchisee with several locations throughout Florida. Mr. Gulley's passion for mentoring children is evident in his community involvement. Not only is Mr. Gulley involved in several organizations, but he also spends endless hours giving back to those in need. Mr. Gulley mentors middle school boys via the 100 Blackmen of South Florida Positive Youth Development program. He provides free golf instruction for kids through Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity and PGA Jr. Mr. Gulley also provided 100 Thanksgiving meals to various South Dade organizations.

February 10, 2022

Yolande McCray is a Family Nurse Practitioner who embraces every aspect of her profession. Her knowledge base and compassion compliment her drive to care for others. In 2015, Mrs. McCray founded Julia's Kids Incorporated, a non-profit organization, after her friend Julia Bennett was shot and killed. In her death, Julia left three children behind. Mrs. McCray began mentoring "Julia's Kids" and started the organization to provide mental health services to youth after experiencing death. With a particular focus on African-American youth, Mrs. McCray began hosting group chats facilitated by a therapist to offer safe spaces for youth to share their feelings. In addition to the discussions, the organization has focused on coping mechanisms such as art and music therapy, yoga, exercising, and journaling. Mrs. McCray is a wife and mother of three children. She is also a doctoral candidate, an avid salt and pepper shaker collector, and an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

February 9, 2022

Karriem Edwards is the VP of Development for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County. Mr. Edwards has worked with and for children for more than 20 years. In his role, Mr. Edwards relentlessly seeks support for the organization's operations; building relationships with corporations, foundations, and community leaders to impact more than 12,000 youth annually. Mr. Edwards' enthusiasm for his work is especially notable. The Navy veteran approaches tasks with positive energy and a spirit of excellence. He is a patient teacher, gentle leader, and uplifting mentor whose care for children is apparent in his willingness to advocate for their development. Mr. Edwards is also a proud husband and father of two daughters.

February 8, 2022

Audrey Jones serves as a Captain in the Broward Sheriff's Office. For over 30 years, Captain Jones has strived to better the community while on the job and off the clock. Captain Jones loves young people and wants to see them succeed. She has produced, directed, and funded approximately 100 plays with children, providing them a safe space to grow and express themselves. Captain Jones has also spent many years mentoring youth and adults alike, guiding them through the job search process and providing them tools to be successful. Mentoring is so important to Captain Jones that she continues to do so three days a week. In addition, inspired by the fond memories of her upbringing during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, Captain Jones aids less fortunate families by providing food, clothing, and toys. Every month, Captain Jones purchases supplemental nutritional drinks and distributes them to individuals in need. She also creates toiletry bags twice a year and disseminates them throughout the homeless community.

February 7, 2022

Gregory Adam Haile is the seventh President of Broward College. Since becoming Broward College's President, he expanded the college's business model through Broward UP™, which has extended Broward College programming to 26 locations in the heart of communities with the highest unemployment rates and lowest educational attainment rates. This reimagined business model has yielded local and national recognition. In 2021, the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, a major national award among community colleges, ranked Broward College among the top five colleges in the nation. Mr. Haile has also received numerous recognitions: named by Florida Trend as one of Florida's 500 most influential business leaders and a 2021 South Florida Ultimate CEO. Mr. Haile has an extensive history of community service, including serving on or leading over 40 boards and committees. He was recently appointed to serve as a Class C Director for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. In addition, Mr. Haile teaches a 4-credit Higher Education Law and Policy course at Harvard University as an educator.

February 6, 2022

Dr. Isaac Petit Frere is a faculty member at the University of Miami and Florida Atlantic University and Pastor of The Font. For many years, Dr. Petit Frere served as the Associate Pastor of the English ministry at Agape Centre in Fort Lauderdale. He eventually founded The Font and currently oversees that congregation. Dr. Petit Frere is driven by Jesus, his love for the community, and wanting to see a change in the world. Dr. Petit Frere works to find the spiritually lost, support those in need, and restore hope to the city he serves. Dr. Petit Frere's work in the community dates to the early days of his ministry. They include spearheading a community baby shower for homeless mothers and distributing groceries to families in need. Dr. Petit Frere is also a leader in Church United South Florida, serving as a first responder to help heal the pain and brokenness in South Florida. During the pandemic, Dr. Petit Frere took to social media to post videos of encouragement and hope, using prayer and scriptures. The videos have captured audiences' attention both in South Florida and across the country. Dr. Petit Frere is a husband and father of two young sons and a baby girl.

February 5, 2022

The Trayvon Martin Foundation was established by Sybrina Fulton & Tracy Martin in March of 2012. The foundation is a nonprofit organization whose main purpose is to provide both emotional and financial support to families who have lost a child to gun violence. The core mission is to gain fellowship toward personal restoration and community building. The goal of the Trayvon Martin Foundation is to shift the conversation from intervention to reform. Their programs are strengthening families through leadership, support, guidance, and counseling. The Foundation is supported by a network of individuals and companies who share a unified vision of a world free of senseless killings. In addition to providing scholarships, Ms. Fulton and Mr. Martin also help with the Christmas and Thanksgiving drives, medical mentorship program, and STEM Education.

February 4, 2022

Antonio "Tony" Coley is the Regional President for the South Florida Region at Truist Financial Corporation. Named to this position in December 2019, he remains focused on networking and continues building relationships with community residents, clients, and teammates. With 24 years in the industry, Coley had served as the regional president of the South Florida Region for our predecessor firm, BB&T, since July 2016. Coley earned a bachelor's from the University of Miami, where he was a starting linebacker on the university's football team that won three conference championships and played for two national titles. He remains very active in the South Florida community and holds seats on several boards, including Jack & Jill's Children's Center, OneBlood, and the Broward Black Chamber. He resides in South Florida with his wife and his daughter. In his free time, he enjoys playing golf.

February 3, 2022

Yolanda Cash Jackson is an experienced Government Law Attorney who has established herself as a strong leader committed to serving her community. Ms. Jackson is a take-no-prisoners advocate for her clients, but what makes her so special is her advocacy for her community. Ms. Jackson likes to call herself "just a girl that grew up in Liberty City (a historic African American area of Miami)" because she never forgets it. As a Shareholder at Becker, she fights for cities and communities that many times do not have the resources to fight for themselves. Ms. Jackson has left a legacy for all to follow.

February 2, 2022

Robert McKinzie is a City Commissioner for the City of Fort Lauderdale, District III. In his role, Commissioner McKinzie, along with the other Commissioners, appoints the charter officers. He also approves approximately $850 million budget annually, redevelopment and infrastructures while preserving parks in the beautiful city of Ft. Lauderdale. Commissioner McKinzie is more than just a public servant. He is one of the few elected officials that goes beyond the call of duty. Commissioner McKinzie is special and a force to be reckoned with because of his congenial personality. He is always grounded in the sense that no matter how high in government he climbs, he does not forget how he got there, and the citizens he is representing. Commissioner McKinzie will leave his legacy in this community because the people know him and socialize with him at the many programs and events he has implemented for the community such as the Sistrunk Festival, Finally Fridays, Carter Park Jamz, and Light Up Sistrunk. His most impactful accomplishment is raising over $400,000 through Sistrunk Inc. to provide scholarships to deserving high school students.

February 1, 2022

Dr. Germaine Smith-Baugh is a visionary leader who has dedicated more than two decades of service to the Urban League Movement and is currently the only female CEO to lead a National Urban League affiliate in Florida. Since being named President and CEO in 2006, Dr. Baugh has elevated the profile of the Urban League of Broward County to a premier nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting social and economic advancement for more than 13,000 people each year. Throughout her career, Dr. Baugh has cultivated strategic partnerships to advance racial equity and social justice. A gifted speaker, Dr. Baugh's insights manifest the ideals of the civil rights movement to build economic resiliency for historically underserved communities. She has received numerous accolades for her professional achievements, yet she points to her role as a proud wife and loving mother as her greatest accomplishments.

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