Our 2019 Honorees

Award Category


Dr. Tonya D. Armstrong

Tonya D. Armstrong, Ph.D., M.T.S., a native of Durham, North Carolina, is a licensed psychologist and the founder and CEO of The Armstrong Center for Hope, a private group practice of multi-disciplinary mental health professionals cultivating psychological and spiritual wellness for all ages.

Award Category


Dr. Shirley Hart Arrington

Dr. Arrington earned her undergraduate degree in elementary education from North Carolina Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount and her master’s degree, principal certification, and doctorate from Campbell University. She served as a teacher, assistant principal and principal in the Edgecombe County School System, the Rocky Mount City School system and the Nash Rocky Mount School System.


Award Category


Omisade Burney-Scott

Omisade is a black, southern, feminist, mother and healer with decades of experience in nonprofit leadership, philanthropy, and social justice. Grounded in an analysis of systems of oppression; she has trained extensively in identity politics, intersectionality and liberatory organizing practices.


Award Category


Brenda Howerton

Brenda Howerton was elected to the Durham County Board of Commissioners in 2008. She was reelected in 2012 and 2016, and presently serving in her third term. In August 2017, Commissioner Howerton was sworn in as President of the North Carolina Association of Counties becoming the first County commissioner to be elected to a statewide senior leadership office.


Award Category


Dr. Sandra K. Johnson

Sandra K. Johnson is the Founder, CEO & CTO, Global Mobile Finance, Inc., a fintech startup company based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. It is developing geeRemit, a global remittance mobile app based on blockchain technology and leveraging mobile money. She is also the CEO, SKJ Visioneering, LLC a technology consulting company.


Award Category


Kristi Jones

“Always do your best” was repeated constantly to Kristi Jones throughout her childhood by grandparents, parents and teachers. The words of encouragement and assurance is one of the lessons that influenced Kristi in her professional and personal endeavors.
A cum laude graduate of North Carolina Central University, Kristi earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science degree. She continued her studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she earned a Juris Doctorate of Law.


Award Category


Chelsea Kithcart

is an independent High Fashion Model for over 7 years. She comes from a very loving family and is
one of two other siblings, an older sister and brother who reside in the state of Maryland. She attended Mt. Olive College in NC with an interest in Forensic Pathology in 2011. While still in college, she was approached in a local shopping
mall by two professional photographers who expressed interest in photo-graphing her. Granted this was not part of her career track, but she agreed, changed gears and the rest is history in working in the Beauty and Fashion Industry.


Award Category


Lesleigh Mausi

Lesleigh Mausi, M.Ed. is an Entrepreneur, Award-Winning Educator and Writer. She is Co-Founder and Vice-President of The DOME Group, LLC, an entertainment promotions company producing first-class concerts and events throughout North Carolina and the Midwest. Her company secures top names in music for venues and for university homecoming shows in both markets. In March of 2018, Lesleigh and her husband purchased the Durham-based Art of Cool Music Festival, making her the owner and vice-president of one of the country’s premiere weekend music festivals and hosting over 10,000 attendees.


Award Category


Dr. Desiree T. Palmer

Dr. Palmer is a practicing dentist and the owner of Desiree T. Palmer, DMD, PA and Associates. In
August of 2015, she opened a second practice, Bull City Dental, on Historic Parrish Street, downtown Durham. A Washington, DC native, she graduated with a degree in biochemistry from Mount Holyoke College and received her professional education from Tufts School of Dental Medicine. After graduating, she practiced for four years in Boston, Massachusetts as a commissioned officer in the Public Health
Service Corp.


Award Category


Jaki Shelton Green

Jaki Shelton Green is a Lecturer, key note speaker and consultant for various groups and organizations such as; NC Humanities Council Roads Scholar Program, North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teachers, Spoleto Sundown Poetry Series, NC Writers Conference, Pamlico Writer’s Festival, Paul Green Foundation, San Louis Obispo California Poetry Festival, NC Writer’s Festival, UNC-Chapel Hill Law School, NC African-American Cultural Celebration, and the NC History Museum, to name a few.


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