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Annual pageant puts priority on black women's health over 50

    One would think after retiring from four decades of a successful career in nonprofit management, Dr. Geneva J. Williams, 69, of Detroit, would just have her days filled the typical retirement activities like lunching with friends, traveling and playing with grandchildren.
     But not Williams. She is living a vibrant life: publishing books, recording podcasts, creating online courses, mentoring corporate Generation X women in her Facebook group, facilitating events for American Heart Association – and now, winning a “Beauty Pageant.”
   “The purpose of the Ms. Black Fit and Fine Pageant is to highlight African American senior women who are dispelling the myths of aging. We highlight women who are healthy, fit and fine. Our goal is to encourage other women to take better care of themselves as they age. We will encourage, inspire, and provide resources that will educate women on how to improve their overall quality of life,” said Veronica Hood, founder and director of the pageant. Hood also owns a ladies clothing shop in Southfield, Roloni’s Boutique.
     The second annual pageant was held at Marygrove College Auditorium in Detroit. Eight contestants competed on stage in front of five judges, which included the first African American to be crowned Miss USA, Carol Gist. Segments included an interview, fitness, talent and evening wear. Dr. Williams scored the most points - 418.5 out of 500 - thus making her the 2018/19 winner.
    “I was shocked when they called my name – one because I was the oldest and two I was also not as petite as the others. I’m a curvy woman; I’ve never been thin like a fashion model but I work out and love fashion. Yet I never entered a pageant because of the stigma associated with most beauty pageants – and I am not the conventional beauty-pageant-standard that I saw on TV growing up. But this one was different because I loved their mission. This pageant emphasized self-care and health – which I am very much an advocate for, especially since I lost both my parents and my husband of almost forty years within an eighteen-month period,” said Williams.
    A portion of the proceeds of the Ms. Black Fit and Fine goes to support Alternatives for Girls, The Helping Hands Sarcoidosis Foundation and The Travelers Aid Society of Metropolitan Detroit which is an organization that aids the homeless.
     “I am a firm supporter of anything that helps you look good, feel good so you can out do good with style,” said Williams. Before owning her company, Dr. Geneva Speaks, LLC, Williams led the United Way in metropolitan Detroit, founded City Connect Detroit—an innovative national model of public-private cooperation—and launched Figure Skating in Detroit, a leadership development program for girls. She raised millions of dollars for community change initiatives, and served as a university professor and as superintendent of a public-school system.
     Today, Williams hosts a weekly podcast, Ignite2Impact, on iTunes, and iHeart Radio— featuring insightful conversations with innovative leaders in business, nonprofits, government and the arts. She’s a native of Neptune Township, N.J., and an alumna of Morgan State University who also earned a doctorate in education from Wayne State University. Recently, she was honored as a Golden Soror of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. She blogs about leadership, volunteerism and vibrant living on her website,

Hair Talk with JoJo the Hair Care Expert
Beauty and Barber
Q. JoJo, my hair needs something. It’s dry and brittle. I use a moisturizing conditioner, but after the blow drying it still feels hard. What kind of daily hairdressing can I use on my hair without making it greasy, or puffy?
A. I’d suggest Thermal Seal by influence. It works wonders on dry hair. A light coating of Thermal Seal applied to the hair before styling creates a silky soft finish that repels moisture, so you don’t get puffy. It’s my number one hair dressing.
Q. JoJo, my hair is turning grey. I get a rinse almost every time I go to the salon. Sometimes I feel like I don’t need to get it every time, because the color on my head looks good. It’s just the roots that look bad. What can I use on the roots, so I don’t have to rinse it every time. Also, is rinsing often damaging?
A. Usually rinses are not damaging. They only stain the hair, and in most cases they don’t cover cover grey 100 percent. You might still see a few strands peeking through. I use a little color spray on my clients, and I retail it to them to use in-between visits. They’re safe and a little bit goes a long way.
Q. JoJo, the back kitchen part of my hair is breaking bad. What can you suggest to strengthen my kitchen?
A. Yes my sister the kitchen can be a problem this time of year. It can get cold up North, so we bundle up with clothing and coats that rub the nape or kitchen area of your head. That rubbing against cotton or wool garments will break your hair. Using a silk scarf over the back of your coat can help. Also avoid wearing turtle neck clothing if possible.
  Dry hair and dry scalp can be a problem this time of year. Terry’s Place retails the professional products we use. We have an all-natural line of products enriched with Rosemary and mint by Influence, Vitamin enriched products by Dudley and Design Essential that are especially designed for the problems and maintenance of black hair.
  Remember, when your hair is on your mind, drop JoJo a line. Terry’s Place is the largest black-owned wig salon in Detroit. We want to take your look to the next level. When you look good, we look good. Visit Terry’s Place online at or on Facebook. Email or stop by Terry’s Place at 19139 Livernois Ave., Detroit, Mich. 48221. We’re open six days a week. Please call (313)863-4014.