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A phenomenal military woman
By Kim J. Clark
Aka Expanding Love
To celebrate Women History Month, we are showcasing an incredibly strong military woman.
Carmencita (Carmen) Pinkney served in the United States Navy as a Religious Program Specialist. Her exemplary career spans over a 20-year period. Carmencita served in two branches of the military. Being a “daddy’s girls she followed in her father’s footsteps and joined the Navy. She was in active duty and was stationed in Norfolk VA for two years. She then spent 4 years in the Marine Corps reserve in San Diego, CA and San Antonio, TX. Then transitions back to the Navy side and served 14 years in the Navy Reserves in California, Texas and Michigan.
This amazing woman is a rape survivor and suffers with military sexual trauma (MST). On a daily basis, Carmen is plagued with debilitating migraine headaches. Yet, she does not allow her personal challenges to get in the way of helping her sister and brother veterans. When asked how she does it, she responded, “In the military, you suck it up and keep going.” She also said, “I do what God wants me to do. We all need help and I believe in helping if I can. That is the way I was taught. So that is what I do. You just don’t leave anybody behind.”
For many years she avoided dealing with the MST. However, in 2013, she made a life changing commitment to herself. She decided that she needed and wanted to heal. Carmen sought help at the Vet Center in Detroit. In an effort to help herself, she found an avenue to help other veterans. That same year, she became a Peer Support Specialist. In this role, she is able to assist veterans living with the experience of mental health challenges, provide support, guide and provide resources to other veterans thereby, creating positive outcomes. This work has given her life/struggles meaning and purpose.
Currently, Carmencita works for the Department of Veterans Affairs Benefit Administration (VA). Working for the VA affords her the opportunity to help fellow veterans obtain service-connected benefits.
To this writer, she is great source of strength, while at the same time is very compassionate. Carmencita is very supportive when I am having difficulty dealing with the loss of my son. She has helped me understand that my son just wanted peace. She has shared many “healing” stories with me. Carmencita gives me great advice and continually supports The DeMarco Project any way she can. She is a dedicated volunteer and a pleasure to work with. She understands the vision and does what she can to help our goals come to fruition.
It is an honor to celebrate Carmencita (Carmen) Pinkney for her dedication to her sister and brother veterans, and the family members of fallen veterans such as myself.
Kim is the mother of a veteran who loved his country and was willing to lay his life down for the freedoms he believed in. She is the Founder and CEO of the DeMarco Project, Non-profit organization. Her life’s mission it to save veteran lives and improve the quality of life for traumatized military service persons. If you would like to support her in the work, donations are welcome. Visit the website: www.TheDeMarcoProject.org.
Entrepreneur, Inventor &
Kieara Johnson is an entrepreneur, active community member, inspired to make a difference, and determined to leave a legacy for her family, and like everyone else, sometimes her phone dies at inconvenient times. Her family teased her consistently about how terrible she was at keeping her phone charged. So, along with her husband, she came out with a solution, Charge Bot. Charge Bot provide cell phone charging units that can be found in modern high-tech vending machines in public places. “We wanted to make sure people never miss an important call, text, or email again - and have enough charge on their phone to take photos if they are at their event where they want to record precious memories.” said Johnson. Kieara proudly serves as CEO.
Through hard work, dedication and efforts today Charge Bot is growing at a rapid speed becoming a premier full-service public cell phone charging solutions firm. Charge Bot has earned widespread recognition and awards.
Kieara received her undergraduate degree in Business Management and Computer Information Systems from Marygrove College and earned an MBA from University of Phoenix. She also serves on multiple boards for corporations and charitable organizations.
When Mrs. Johnson is not heading the charging company, making sure businesses customers stay charged so they can stay connected, she can either be found at home playing board games with her husband and five children, serving at their church, or she can be found flying in the sky on her way to another family vacation.
Radio Host, Author & Political Activist
Presently Lavonia Perryman is the top female daily radio host in Michigan. Her informative, creative talk show, THE LAVONIA PERRYMAN SHOW, airs on 910 am super station weekdays at 7 pm. 910 am is 50,000 watts radio station with an extensive reach, giving Lavonia the opportunity to share current news and relevant issues with several thousands not only in Michigan but across the country since you can tune in several ways. For example you can listen to THE LAVONIA PERRYMAN SHOW by clicking on www.910amsuperstation.com, ROKU or just tune in on your radio 910 am.
This not new for Lavonia because her career as a journalist and broadcaster started in 1970s right here in Detroit at WCAR radio and WTVS channel 56 and while in Washington, DC was the executive producer of the Emmy award program America's Black Journal.
Since the 1980’s, Lavonia Perryman has combined her media experience with her commitment to community advancement and sustainability. She also has passion for politics. Since that time Perryman has served as the Michigan Women's Vote Director for Hillary Clinton. In addition, she served as Detroit Education chair for President Barack Obama. This after serving on President Bill Clinton’s transition team and consulting several candidates in Michigan. In addition she served as the faith-based director for Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm during her re-election; then she was appointed to the position of Executive Director of the 2010 Democratic Detroit Coordinated Campaign. In 2004 during the John Kerry for presidential campaign, Lavonia served as the Communications Director for Michigan’s America Coming Together where she managed a state-wide media team.
Lavonia is regularly called upon for her insight and opinion on local and national community and media relations issues. She has lectured at Marygrove College and has presented at Howard University, Norfolk State University, and Bennett College and the Democratic National Committee.
Since 1990, Lavonia has held elected offices which include the positions of District of Columbia Cable Commissioner and Michigan Precinct Delegate.
Lavonia’s unique combination of experiences in politics, media and community outreach has given her the opportunity to play a significant and productive role as the deputy communications director the Democratic National Convention and press secretary in the President Clinton and Al Gore Presidential Transition office. In addition, Lavonia served as press secretary for Congressman Walter Fauntroy (D-DC) and for several years managed media relations for Reverend Jesse Jackson.
Her work in the community – with such individuals as Harlem Globetrotter Tyrone “Hollywood” Brown, Oscar winner Denzel Washington, the late Dr. Dorothy I. Height, president, National Council of Negro Women; R&B Grammy nominee recording artist Kenny Lattimore, and Doug Williams, the first African American Super Bowl quarterback – has focused on securing social justice and equal rights for all.
Lavonia is the recipient of several awards, including the Detroit's "Spirit of Detroit" Citizen Award, Detroit's Women in Radio and Television "Media Woman of the Year", Ms. Black America, Ms. Black Michigan, Ms. Black Congeniality, and Ms. Soul of Detroit. In addition, she was awarded the National Rainbow PUSH Coalition Citizen Award, the Cancer Society Citizen Award, District of Columbia Best Dressed Award four years straight, Dollars and Sense Business Woman of the Year, Savannah, Georgia Technical School Citizen Award, District of Columbia Who’s Who Black Business Network, George Fraser Success Guide Top Achiever Award, Who’s Who Metro Detroit Award, National Association of Public Relations "Outstanding Minority PR" award.
Perryman is a founding member and national board member of The FuturePAC. She is on the board of the Michigan Democratic Party Black Caucus. In addition, Lavonia is the first women to hold the position of Democratic Detroit Coordinated Campaign Manager. She is the former president of the District of Columbia National Black Women's Political Congress and a former president and founding member of the Coalition of 100 Black Women District of Columbia Chapter.
Lavonia also holds the title "first" in Michigan. She opened the first basketball camp for girls and was the first African American female to cover national sports events in Detroit. In fact, she covered the National Basketball Association (NBA) Detroit and Boston playoffs.
Lavonia is a graduate of Wayne State University, Central Michigan University where she received a master's degree in education and Howard University graduate school of Communication where she pursued a degree in organization communication. She is the proud guardian of Shawnda and Virginia now adults. She enjoys reading, all sports and traveling.
Monique D. Marks
President & CEO Franklin Wright Settlements
Monique Marks assumed the position of President & CEO of the oldest settlement house in the country, Franklin Wright Settlements, in 2001, after serving as the organization’s Deputy Director/Clinical Social Worker. Mrs. Marks journey with Franklin Wright began in 1997. Under her administration, she has developed and implemented innovative, multi-systemic therapy programs, products and services.
Mrs. Marks is responsible for the supervision of master-level therapists, policy writing, staff and fund development and national data coordination. She works tirelessly with a hybrid of constituent groups, including boards, committees, volunteers and external stakeholders, all for the advancement of Franklin Wright. Collaborating with partners such as DTE, Forgotten Harvest and Detroit Area Agency on Aging (DAAA), Franklin Wright has been able to assist thousands of families in need.
With a passion for education and academic achievement, Mrs. Marks instituted an annual college tour, where a select group of metro Detroit students have an opportunity to take part in a college and cultural tour, which helps to prepare and excite them for post secondary studies. Programs under her direction include early childhood development, youth enrichment, recreation, family reunification, and mentoring, counseling and senior citizen activities.
Mrs. Marks was recently appointed Detroit Community Education Commissioner by Mayor Mike Duggan.
Mrs. Marks mantra of “helping the child, preserving the family and strengthening the community” exemplifies her love and commitment for Detroit and has lead Franklin Wright to be a leading neighborhood human service organization, existing to assist individuals, families, groups and the community with basic life, family, and social needs. Franklin Wright’s three Detroit locations all embody the settlement house philosophy and multi-service holistic approach in cooperation with the community.
Mrs. Marks holds a BA in Political Science/African Studies and a MSW in Social Work from Wayne State University.
President & CEO
Northeast Guidance Center
Sherry McRill, President & CEO of the Northeast Guidance Center located on Detroit’s east side holds a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from Oakland University, and is a Michigan limited licensed psychologist with exemplary health and administrative experience in the public and private sectors.
Ms. McRill joined the NEGC team in 1989, and was named vice president in 1993, becoming president and CEO in 2014. Along with a committed staff, she has grown NEGC which employs over 100 medical professionals and support staff who provide primary and behavioral healthcare to those in need. She continues to position the agency as one of Wayne County’s behavioral health providers by adopting the integrated health care model for children and adults who seek NEGC services. Under her leadership the organization’s outreach now includes partnerships such as Community Outreach for Psychiatric Emergencies, and Senior Reach which provides care and resources for seniors. In addition NEGC behavioral specialists are a part of a DPSCD School-Based Behavioral Initiative, and NEGC has also partnered with Southwest Housing Solutions which provides affordable homes for low-income residents in the Mack-Ashland area of Detroit. Most recently in collaboration with Detroit Community Health Connection she was instrumental in opening the new Dr. Peter Slaughter Health Center located in the Eli Z. Rubin Children’s Wellness Center on Kelly Road. Under Ms. McRill’s leadership, NEGC works collaboratively with Connor Corridor partners to improve the lives of community residents on Detroit’s east side.
Ms. McRill is committed to the community in which she lives. She sits on the Board of Directors for Jefferson East, Inc.; The Salvation Army Conner Creek, Kevin’s Song and is past president of the Junior League of Detroit and the Family Center of Grosse Pointe and Harper Woods.