Troy United Women’s League recognizes local leaders

Published 9:13 pm Friday, February 21, 2020

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Each year, the Troy United Women’s League Scholarship Banquet honors members of the Troy and Pike County communities who have made positive impacts on their communities through leadership and service.

On Saturday night, the TUWL’s 2020 Scholarship Banquet will honor and recognize eight “distinguished guests,” who are making a difference in their communities and beyond, said Shelia Jackson, league member.

“The banquet is an opportunity to express our appreciation to those who so unselfishly give of their time and talents to benefit their communities and also to assist graduating seniors from all four schools in the county with scholarship awards,” Jackson said. “The banquet is our way of expressing appreciation to those who support the Troy United Women’s League throughout the year.”

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Jackson said the TUWL is proud to recognize the league’s 2020 Distinguish Guests:  Mitchell Pearson, Michelle Richards, Ebony Akudo Chinakwe, Tyrone B. Moultry, Shantell Rouse, Tommy E. Siler Jr, Lawanda Bell and Calvin Otis Griffin II.

Mitchell Pearson is a man of few, but also powerful words. However, those few words are no match for his many accomplishments and big heart of gold. Staff Sergeant Pearson has dedicated the last 35 years of service in both the United States Army National Guard and Army Reserves. As the fourth oldest of nine children and son of the late Riley Gene Pearson and the late Eva Mae Pearson, he learned the value of leadership at an early age. As a 1979 graduate of Zion Chapel High School, Mitchell excelled in varsity basketball and later furthered his studies at Enterprise State Junior College. Following his educational pursuits, Pearson was employed as a Correctional Officer for Easterling Correctional Facility for 8.5 years. Pearson’s greatest of words are “I Do” to his wife of 26 years, Cynthia S. Pearson, and “Daddy loves you” to their daughter, the late Little Miss Jessica Michelle Pearson.

Pearson is an entrepreneur, alongside his wife Cynthia, as the owners of J. Michelle’s Special Events and former owners of Magic Touch Car Care. Presently, he serves on the Trustee Ministry of New Salem Missionary Baptist Church of Brundidge and is employed as an armed security guard at Lockheed Martin for Allied Universal. He enjoys working out, watching basketball and football and spending time with his family.

Michelle Richards resides in Brundidge and is the proud mother of two sons, Marcus and Anthony. She is the youngest child of the late Mohonia Joyce and James Hanna.

Richards has worked with the City of Brundidge for 15 years as an administrative assistant, and is the owner of That Personal Touch by Michelle.

Richards enjoys reading and writing poetry in her spare time. She attends Greater Works Church in Union Springs.

Ebony Akudo Chinakwe is an entrepreneur and community influencer.

Chinakwe said life is filled with unanswered questions, but it is the courage to seek those answers that continues to give meaning to life. “You can spend your life wallowing in despair, wondering why you were the one who was led towards the road strewn with pain, or you can be grateful that you are strong enough to survive it,” she said.

Chinakwe was born and raised in Troy and is a product of the Troy City School System. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in broadcast journalism with a contract in advertising from Troy University in 2011.

Chinakwe has experienced things in her life that were meant to break her, instead she has chosen to take the negatives and turn them into positives by investing in herself and the community she was raised. Chinakwe is part owner of the Trojan Zone, an up and coming real estate agent, and a State Farm Insurance Agent. She owns two LLC’s, Ebony Akudo LLC and Trojan Zone LLC. She currently buys property and flips them to improve the community in which she has a vested interest in to make sure that people have nice, quality affordable living in a safe environment.

Troy native Pastor Tyrone B. Moultry is a pillar in the community and is known for bridging all walks of life into one family nucleus. As the senior pastor of St. Peters Missionary Baptist Church of Troy with a following of 500 members and growing, Moultry is committed to “Operation 3K”- connecting three thousand individuals to a responsible and personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He has devoted his life towards changing the lenses of the “unchurched” men, women and today’s youth locally and aboard. Moultry has focused more than a decade on activism, teaching and counseling future leaders. During his adolescence years, Moultry was able to discern God’s voice and the calling on his life of pastoral ship, but wasn’t quite ready to surrender. Moultry later surrendered his life and went into training at Samford University, certifying in Biblical Studies to presently pastoring for 17 years.

During those years, he has successfully established a thriving men’s ministry. Each month, members visit both men and women prisons: to fellowship and facilitate a bible study. Moultry has overseen the establishment of various ministries and citywide initiatives. Currently, Moultry leads a weekly men’s bible study series within the community for a diverse group of men, where men of all ages can fellowship candidly without any restrictions or distractions. He recently started an initiative educating his body of believers on the attitudes and responsibilities of being a church member, emphasizing continual prayer for church leaders and church engagements.    

Shantell Rouse is accomplished educator and administrator in Pike County School System. She has assisted and facilitated both students and teachers for many years. Throughout those years, Rouse has provided a unique perspective to both learning and instructing to all those who have had the opportunity to work with her. She is an avid youth leader and advisor at Jerusalem Temple, under the leadership of Senior Bishop and Pastor Dr. S.D. James. She also functions as a staff member of the International Youth Department of the S.D. James Evangelistic Association, and its Evangelistic Pentecostal Churches Worldwide. Rouse received her Bachelor of Science in 1996 at Troy University in Troy where she studied elementary education. She later received a Master of Science in Education in 2002 while working as a full-time fourth grade teacher at Pike County Elementary School. Ten years later, in the summer of 2011, she went on to receive a Master of Science in Instructional Leadership and Administration from Troy University in Dothan. Rouse devoted over 13 years to the classroom before becoming the assistant principal at Pike County Elementary School. She has also served as the assistant principal for Goshen Elementary School. Rouse is currently the principal of Banks School. She is no stranger to hard work, and she aims to make long-term impacts on her school, her church, and her community.

Retired 1SG Tommy E. Siler Jr, is a graduate of Goshen High School class of 1980. He enlisted in the United States Army in 1980 in Jersey City, New Jersey and later reported to Basic Training and Advance Individual Training (64C Motor Wheel Vehicle Operator) at Fort Dix, New Jersey.

Siler served 26 years of exceptionally meritorious and honorable service in numerous positions of increased responsibility throughout his distinguished career. Deployed with the 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Kentucky. 2003-2004 and 2004- 2005.

His civilian education includes an associate degree in General Studies, bachelor degree in Business Management from Columbia College, and the Basic Freight Traffic Course Fort Lee, Virginia.

Siler is a deacon at St. Luke Christian Church, Huntsville with the Honorable Pastor T.C. Johnson. His military education includes the Air Assault School, Primary Leadership Course, Basic Non-Commission Officer Course, Drill Sergeant Course, Support Operation Course, Battle Staff Course, Advance Non-Commission Officer Course and the First Sergeant Course. Siler currently works as a Traffic Management Specialist for the Logistic Readiness Center Huntsville.

Lawanda Bell is a native of Meeksville. She is a 1995 graduate of Goshen High School. She currently holds an associate degree in Journalism from John M. Patterson State Technical School.

Bell is active in church and in her community. She also utilizes her business license for recipients to rent affordable housing. She has a passion for children’s health and education. She has been working in the field of Early Childhood Education for over 10 years at The Christian Love Community Center, where she currently works as assistant program director, alongside her mother Angeline Green, who is the owner.

Bell believes all kids deserve to have a safe, fun, educational environment to learn and grow. She knows that early childhood education years are critical, because this is the period in life when the brain develops most rapidly and has a high capacity for change, and the foundation is laid for health and wellbeing throughout life.

Bell hopes that supporting healthy development in children will simply lead to a greater capacity for them to learn, succeed in school and ultimately an increased productivity throughout adulthood which can provide a greater foundation for a better quality of life. Lastly, she strongly knows that God plus a strong educational foundation will give children an increased chance at escaping the grip of poverty to a lifetime of success in school and community.

Troy native Calvin Otis Griffin II, also known as Kalvo Griffin, is a writer, director, producer, videographer and photographer. He is the co-founder of HwyMen Productions and owner of FORC3 Photography. At the age of three, Griffin was involved in a car accident the day following TUWL’s 8th Annual Black History Banquet. In the aftermath of the accident, the doctors pronounced Griffin brain dead; however, God had other plans for his life. Calvin is a 2010 graduate of Charles Henderson High School in Troy. He received a bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism in 2014. He worked for four years in Pensacola as a production assistant for WEAR-TV’s morning and evening newscasts. During that time, Griffin obtained a master’s degree in Strategic Communications from Troy University. He now serves as a media specialist for Escambia Christian School in Pensacola.

In 2017, Griffin co-founded HwyMen (Highwaymen) Productions, a film production company based out of Pensacola. He has written and directed several short films, produced two web series, and is working on several film projects to be released later this year. Griffin strongly believes that God blessed him with the talent to write and produce films to not only entertain people, but also help spread awareness about issues that affect our community. He has hosted several events in Pensacola, which he used to highlight and bring awareness to issues such as domestic violence and sexual assault. Griffin also started his own photography business, FORC3 Photography, where he specializes in portrait and event photography.