Metro Council celebrates Black History Month, honors 26 Black individuals for their achievements

February 17, 2022

Thursday’s event marks Metro Council’s 20th annual Black History Month Program

Louisville – Metro Council hosted its 20th annual Black History Program on Thursday, February 17, during a special meeting of the Community Affairs, Housing, Health & Education Committee, chaired by Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin (D-2).

“Reaffirming our Diverse Culture” is the theme for this year’s program. During Thursday’s event, each of the 26 Metro Council members honored a Black individual with an award for his or her achievements.

“February is a very important time of year for the Louisville Metro Council,” said Councilwoman Shanklin, “as it gives us all an opportunity to honor individual African-Americans making a positive difference in each of our Council districts. As we celebrate Black History Month together, I encourage everyone in our city to take a moment to appreciate how many of their neighbors have been working to make our community a better place to live."

HOW TO WATCH: A recording of the special meeting will be available on the Metro Council Facebook page after the live stream concludes Thursday afternoon. The public will be able to watch the program here: https://www.facebook.com/LouisvilleMetroCouncil 

The following people and groups were celebrated:

  • Community Honoree – KYANNA Black Nurses Association
  • District 1 – Donovan Taylor
  • District 2 – Robert Charles
  • District 3 – Rev. Eric Timothy French, Sr.
  • District 4 – Waler & Marshae Smith (West of Ninth)
  • District 5 – Carman Weathers
  • District 6 – Dr. Rev. Herman Colbert
  • District 7 – Jennifer N. Green
  • District 8 – Dawn Urrutia
  • District 9 – Terrence Sullivan
  • District 10 – Sylvia Walters
  • District 11 – Lawrence Smith
  • District 12 – Kevin Wooden
  • District 13 – Felicia Rhodes Green
  • District 14 – Danny Billingslea
  • District 15 – Major Tiffany Tatum
  • District 16 – Nicole Grassington
  • District 17 – Bennie Ivory
  • District 18 – Solomon J. Parker
  • District 19 – Mayria Porter
  • District 20 – Sonya Harward
  • District 21 – PJ L. Ray
  • District 22 – Ava-Gabriella “Gabby” Wilson
  • District 23 – Camille Anderson-Linton
  • District 24 – Adreonna Rainey
  • District 25 – Malliccaaii Green
  • District 26 – Areil O’Bannon

Special Community Honoree – KYANNA – Kentucky Black Nurses

KYANNA Black Nurses Association's mission is " to represent and provide a forum for black nurses to advocate for and implement strategies to ensure access to the highest quality of healthcare for persons of color”

      The goals of the organization are to:

    • Support the development and advancement of black nurses
    • To aid in the health and wellbeing of the African American community
    • Serve as the bridge between community agencies and healthcare organizations serving the needs of the African American community.

During this pandemic, members of the organizations have been on the frontline in the hospitals, seeing patients in primary care office, giving vaccines at vaccine clinics, testing and/or educating future nurses.

                        1st Vice- President: Laretta Dodson, MSN, APRN, FNP

                        2ND Vice-President: Veronica Eubank, DNP, MSN, RN

                        Recording Secretary: Lena Harrell BSN, RN

                        Corresponding Secretary: Sherria Robinson, BSN, RN

                        Treasurer:  Brenda Hackett, MSN, RN

District Nominees:

District 1 – Donovan Taylor

Advocating Care with Excellence

Donovan C. Taylor is an independent, motivated professional with over fifteen years of combined management experience in business and tax strategies, law and legal practices, and a working understanding of community organizing and development. Beyond his personal and professional endeavors, Mr. Taylor is passionate about community organizing and applying his skills to preserve quality, neighborly communities.

 Mr. Taylor is a proud product of the Jefferson County Public School system and an honor graduate of Central High School Magnet Career Academy, Class of 1996. At Central he was an involved student leader, notably speaking before the JCPS Board against the then student assignment-racial quota plan that was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. Taylor served as the Class of 1996 student-body president during his freshman, sophomore, and senior year at Central High School.

Mr. Taylor continued his education at Florida A&M University earning his Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Business Management and Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degree in Finance in 2001. Mr. Taylor went on to earn is Juris Doctorate (J.D.) degree from the University of Kentucky College of Law in 2004. He was an awarded student leader throughout his college career. In 2005, he passed the Kentucky Bar exam though he went on to pursue a career in non-profit management.

Mr. Taylor began his professional career as the Associate Director of Finance at the Westside Health Authority (WHA), a multi-faceted non-profit organization in Chicago, IL. At WHA, he successfully administered the reorganization of the financial controls, supervised the Technology Center services and training program, and provided technical assistance on neighborhood development activities (i.e., Every Block A Village Initiative).

 In 2006, concerned by youth and education, Mr. Taylor was elected to serve as the Community Representative on the Local School Council for Manley High School of Chicago, IL. That same year he was elected to represent the Chicago Westside Branch of the N.A.A.C.P. as its 2nd Vice President, where he led membership growth and increased community engagement projects, moderating the first Chicago Westside Mayoral Forum. Mr. Taylor was next recruited by the Austin Chamber of Commerce of Chicago, IL to serve as a Project Manager where he successfully executed neighborhood-based business growth programs (i.e., tax increment financing projects) and worked implementing the Wal-Mart Opportunity Zone program designed to offer marketing opportunities and growth strategies for small businesses within zone of the urban In 2006, concerned by youth and education, Mr. Taylor was elected to serve as the Community Representative on the Local School Council for Manley High School of Chicago, IL. That same year he was elected to represent the Chicago Westside Branch of the N.A.A.C.P. as its 2nd Vice President, where he led membership growth and increased community engagement projects, moderating the first Chicago Westside Mayoral Forum. Mr. Taylor was next recruited by the Austin Chamber of Commerce of Chicago, IL to serve as a Project Manager where he successfully executed neighborhood-based business growth programs (i.e., tax increment financing projects) and worked implementing the Wal-Mart Opportunity Zone program designed to offer marketing opportunities and growth strategies for small businesses within zone of the urban Wal-Mart store.

 In 2008, Mr. Taylor returned to Louisville, Kentucky to pursue opportunities to expand upon his professional career and currently seeking membership into the Kentucky Bar Association to practice law. Always working to improve his lot, he provided quality legal assistance and was mentored under the leadership of Williams and Associates in Louisville, KY.

In 2020, Mr. Taylor stepped down as a Board Member of OneWest, Inc. to become the Director of The Plan Room, a business accelerator targeting Black and minority businesses in the construction industry. Mr. Taylor is leading efforts to increase equity and inclusion in the construction industry through training and advocacy to remove barriers of entry for new business and wealth-building opportunities.

Committed to promote civic duty and responsibility, Mr. Taylor is recognized for collaborating with other community groups and stakeholders to advance neighborhood-based initiatives.

District 2 – Robert Charles

Robert Charles, a resident of the Newburg Community in District 2 graduated from the University of Louisville and Chase College of Law. Robert practices as an attorney in the Louisville community, working as private counsel helping individuals with legal problems.

Robert has attended Peace Presbyterian Church for over 25 years where he helps to host the Project Hope ministry at Peace Church. For more than 10 years, in partnership with Dare To Care, Project Hope provides a hot meal to the community twice a week and offers 12 step meetings.  As a member of the Men of Peace Church, he helps to host an annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Brunch in the Newburg community. The Brunch is in its 25th year. Robert, when working, as the Youth Ministry Director at Peace Church, helped with camping trips sponsored by the Men of Peace, coached basketball teams and collaborated with other community churches in the Newburg neighborhood.  He has also assisted in the Back to School Back Pack project in the District.

Robert is grateful God has used him to serve in his community and hopes to be of good service in the future. L1C4!!

District 3-Rev. Eric Timothy French, Sr.

Rev. Eric Timothy French, Sr. was born in Louisville, Kentucky to Anthony and Sandra French. Rev. French is the grandson of the late Rev. John T. French, founder of Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church and the great grandson of the late Rev. Charles H. Sands.

Rev. French graduated from Hampton University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1991 and earned a Master of Business Administration Degree from Clark Atlanta University in 1994. In 2006, he graduated with a Master of Arts Degree in Theological Studies from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s in Louisville, Kentucky. He is currently pursuing a Doctor of Ministry Degree at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

Rev. French accepted Christ in 1981 and was baptized at Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky and was licensed into the Gospel Ministry in 1993 under the Pastorate of Rev. Thomas H. French. In 1994, Rev. French relocated to Columbia, S.C. were he served as Associate Minister at St. John’s Baptist Church and as a Youth Minister at Central Baptist Church.

In 1997, Rev. French returned to Louisville where he joined Antioch Missionary Baptist Church. In 1999, Rev. French was ordained by Antioch under the Pastorate of Rev. Curtis Crawford, Jr. From 2009 to 2017, Rev. French served as Executive Pastor at Bates Memorial Missionary Baptist Church under the leadership of Dr. F. Bruce Williams. His areas of responsibilities included Strategic Leadership, Budgeting and Planning, Staff Supervision and Development, Administration, and Congregational Care.

On January 3, 2016, the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church elected Rev. French to succeed Pastor Woodrow McElvaney as their next Pastor upon Rev. McElvaney’s retirement in June 2017. Rev. French was installed as Pastor of Antioch on July 23, 2017 by Dr. F. Bruce Williams and the Bates Memorial Baptist Church. During his short time as Pastor, Rev. French has led Antioch to an increase in membership and stewardship while creating a streaming platform for the church. The church has also significantly increased its community engagement through partnerships with the City of Shivley, Shivley Area Ministries, Louisville Metro Council, Mill Creek Elementary and the University of Louisville. Antioch has been active during the Covid-19 Pandemic by providing testing, vaccination events, and financial support to the community. Rev. French has been active in the fight for social justice by serving on the working group that created Louisville’s first Civilian Review Board.

Rev. French is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and currently serves as Second Vice Moderator of the Central District Baptist Association. He has also served on the Board Directors of Metro Bank and the University of Louisville Planetarium. Rev. French is married to Rev. Kimberly Blackford-French and is the proud parent of two children, Timothy and Michaela.

District 4-West of Ninth (Walter & Marshae Smith

West of Ninth is a photography and personal narrative blog featuring residents within the nine neighborhoods of West End Louisville. Their platform has amplified voices of people who have felt voiceless, inspired hope for people who have felt hopeless, and provided meaning to a community that people have mislabeled meaningless for far too long. You can see their work at westofninth.com as well as LEO Weekly and the Frazier History Museum.

District 5 -Carman Weathers

Mr. Weathers grew up in Beecher Terrace. He graduated from Coleridge-Taylor Elementary, Madison Junior High and   Central High School. He was fortunate enough to go to college on a football scholarship. 

He graduated from Mississippi Valley State University and did his graduate work at Jackson State University (JSU) where he also coached. His commitment to HBCUs has been demonstrated through his involvement in sending many black kids from Louisville to JSU, Alcorn, Alabama A & M and Xavier.

Mr. Weathers spent more than 3 decades as a teacher and coach in Mississippi; Benham, Ky.; Hopkinsville, Ky.; Louisville Public Schools and JCPS, where he retired in 1995.

He built his retirement home in the Shawnee neighborhood because he felt it was important for working-class blacks to be present in predominantly black neighborhoods. Mr. Weathers has also taught countless neighborhood children to swim and dive. 

Mr. Weathers and other Central High School graduates were successful in getting JCPS to exempt Central from the assignment plan that would have caused its closure.

He has been a strident soldier for the liberation of black folks and spent his career advocating for black children. It was his brainchild to provide black kids with an additional 25 days of culturally relevant instruction during the summer through the Freedom School. Mr. Weathers convinced his retired teacher friends to volunteer their time and he requested donations from community members to keep Freedom School free. 

District 6 – Dr. Rev. Herman Colbert

Reverend Colbert is a native of Louisville Kentucky, born to the late Dr. Reverend Herman Colbert and Mary Colbert – and is the eighth child of eleven siblings. Reverend Colbert is a 2nd generation pastor and has served 26 years as Senior Pastor of the Kingdom Land Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky.

Kingdom Land Baptist Church has experience enormous spiritual growth under Reverend Colbert’s pastorate and has implemented a variety of ministries for the community.

Reverend Colbert and the Kingdom Land Baptist Church family are spreading the Gospel message by meeting practical needs of people, such as feeding the hungry and helping the poor in the community. They are also providing shelter for the homeless through The Women of Worth [W.O.W.] Transitional House. Reverend Colbert is leading his congregation into revitalizing communities by building better families through practical education.

Reverend Colbert is a man of integrity, passion, and compassion. He loves unselfishly and displays unwavering faith and relentless efforts in sharing the rawness and truth of God’s Holy Word to a lost world.

District 7 – Jennifer N. Green

Jennifer Green is Vice President of Global Mergers & Acquisitions at Yum! Brands, one of the world’s largest restaurant companies with over 52,000 restaurants in more than 150 countries and territories, and parent company of KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and The Habit Burger Grill. Immediately prior to this role, Green served as Director of Transformation and Chief of Staff to Yum!’s Chief Operating Officer/Chief People Officer. Prior to that, she served as Director and Corporate Counsel in the Legal Department at Yum! Brands. 

Before joining Yum! Brands, Green served as Vice President, Counsel and Assistant Secretary in the New York office of Credit Suisse, a Zurich-based global investment bank.  Prior to Credit Suisse, Green practiced law was an Associate in the New York office of Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, an international law firm, where her practice areas included Capital Markets, Mergers & Acquisitions and Derivatives & Structured Products.

Green attended Columbia Law School, where she was an Articles Editor of the Columbia Law Review and a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar.  She received her B.A. in Government from Harvard University.  Between college and law school, she worked at Vanguard, an investment management company based in Malvern, Pennsylvania.  

Green is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the Links, Inc., and currently serves as Chair of Louisville’s Civilian Review & Accountability Board, as well as a member of Louisville Metro’s Juneteenth Jubilee Commission and Greater Louisville Inc.’s Business Council to End Racism. Previously, she served as a Board member of Maryhurst and Stage One Family Theatre. Green is a native of West Louisville and graduated from Central High School.  

District 8-Dawn Urrutia

Dawn Urrutia is the c-owner and president of Georgia’s Sweet Potato Pie Company. She runs the family-owned business with her husband of 20+ years, Deyago Urrutia. Dawn received her education in Louisville, Kentucky from the Jefferson Community College and Spalding University. She now focuses on ways to give back to the Louisville primary education system.

Dawn used her passion for children and her education as a childhood specialist for 25 years. Five years ago, she decided that it was time for a change and pursued her soul’s calling – Georgia’s Sweet Potato Pie Company.

Georgia’s Sweet Potato Pie Company was created with a mission to provide children with books that promote love, diversity, acceptance and unity. The company makes delicious desserts including pies, cupcakes, brownies, and cookies. The proceeds from the company’s products fund the purchasing of these books.

Dawn understands the need for healthy work-life balance for herself and her employees. When she isn’t baking, she often spends time with her family, enjoys comfort food, and, like most Kentuckians, sips some bourbon.

To learn more about Georgia’s Sweet Potato Pie Company, contact Dawn at [email protected].

District 9 – Terrence Sullivan

 Terrance Sullivan is the Executive Director of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights (KCHR). KCHR is the state agency charged with enforcing the Kentucky Civil Rights Act, a protector of the civil rights of Kentucky citizens. KCHR hears cases on discrimination across the state and offers trainings and educational opportunities for all Kentucky citizens. KCHR also empowers local commissions to do local level civil rights work.

Prior to KCHR, Terrance was the Director of State Policy for an education non-profit focused on creating equity in education. He also served as a Policy Director at Kentucky Youth Advocates where he focused on poverty, criminal justice, juvenile justice, and education.

Terrance graduated from the University of Louisville with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science: Law & Public Policy and a minor in Economics. He received his Juris Doctor (JD) from the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law. After law school, Terrance worked with the Jefferson County Attorney, the Louisville Metro Council, and the Legislative Research Commission (LRC) of the Kentucky General Assembly. 

Terrance is a board member for the ACLU of Kentucky, the Louisville Forum, and serves as the Vice-Chair for the JCPS Advisory Council on Racial Equity.                                         

District 10-Sylvia Walters  

Sylvia Walters was born into a wonderful family, and, despite its poverty, she learned how to be decent and empathetic from her parents, Rev. Walter Lee Walters, Sr., the first black minister in Oldham County and, Francis Walters, a domestic worker who was beloved in the neighborhood for her larger-than-life personality, ability to cook, singing in the choir and leading Sunday school classes at the church. Sylvia’s family was poor yet rich in many other ways because of the love shared at home and within the community. Sylvia is a combination of these things.

Sylvia is a professional singer, a caterer, a homeless advocate, a fundraiser for various neighborhood projects and a board member of Schnitzelburg Area Community Council (SACC).

Sylvia loves her neighborhood and has led many projects in the neighborhood as well assisted her local Am Vets Post #9 in a refreshening of its property as well as create the billboards “Every day is Veteran’s Day” that is still there today.

Sylvia spearheaded the first Valentine’s card drive for the women at KCIW (Kentucky Corrections Institute for Women). She helped raise over 1000 cards that said, “You are Worthy of Love” for each female resident. It was paid for by crowd sourcing on Facebook. Sylvia’s efforts have also provided Christmas for the Volunteers of America Emergency Family Shelter’s children several years in a row and hundreds of new pillows for the shelter through donations from friends and neighbors.

Another great passion for Sylvia is education as a returning student to the University of Louisville where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies in her late 40’s. She loves the law and is currently serving as a Deputy Clerk in the Criminal Court Division at the Jefferson County Courthouse.

Sylvia says it has been an honor to serve her community all these years and she is proud of her work. She thinks it is vital that we share stories of local leaders that try to make a difference in the lives of their neighbors. That passion can lead to positive change of one person and one neighborhood at a time.

District 11-Lawrence Smith

 Lawrence Smith has been in the communications business for more than 40 years – most of it in Louisville.

He began his TV news career as an intern at WTVQ in Lexington during his junior year at Eastern Kentucky University. Since then, he has made stops in Knoxville, Tennessee and Houston, Texas as well as Louisville - but he considers Louisville home.

Lawrence has worked at three TV newsrooms in Louisville - WAVE, WHAS and, most recently, WDRB.

For ten years, Lawrence was WDRB’s political reporter, which sent him from the state capitol in Frankfort, to the nation’s capital in Washington D.C. to Louisville’s City and Metro Halls. He has interviewed several U.S. Presidents, including Donald Trump (twice), George W. Bush and Bill Clinton; Kentucky governors from Julian Carroll to Andy Beshear; and Louisville mayors from Harvey Sloane to Greg Fischer.

But one of Lawrence’s most memorable experiences did not involve politics at all.

In March 2012, he was sent to Henryville, Indiana to cover what was expected to be a severe storm and likely tornado. He and his photographer arrived in Henryville just minutes ahead of the tornado and took shelter in a gas station. They watched as the twister approached, shooting video the entire time. As the tornado was about to strike their building, it took a sharp turn to the north, sparing them but destroying a gas station across the street and causing heavy damage to the city, including Henryville High School.

Lawrence and his photographer were the only ones to get video of the approaching tornado, but it is not an experience he would care to repeat.

Lawrence won an Emmy last year as part of WDRB’s coverage of the Breonna Taylor social justice protests in 2020.

Lawrence’s communications experience also extends beyond TV news. He spent 11 years as VP for Communications and later Dean of Students at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary – becoming the first African American to hold those positions in the school’s history.

He was also president of the Louisville chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators.

In January, he left WDRB to become communications director for the Kentucky Baptist Convention and editor of its news outlet, Kentucky Today. He is the first African American to hold those positions as well.

Lawrence has been married to his wife, Garnetta, for 43 years next month. They have two children, Jason and Edward, who both live in Louisville.

District 12-Kevin Wooden

Kevin Wooden is a long-time SPAVA mentor (Society for the Prevention of Aggressiveness and Violence Among Adolescents) working with youth on how to better themselves, life skills, and violence and crime prevention; in addition to a CASA volunteer. He has volunteered in this role since the early 1990’s.  He worked for the United States Post Office as a Mail Carrier until retirement, allowing him more time to be a SPAVA mentor.  For the first semester of the 2021-22 school year Kevin mentored at Shacklette Elementary in District 12 working with all the students in grades 2 through 5.  SPAVA, and Shacklette Elementary, are fortunate that Kevin was able to devote so much of his time, and his passion for making a difference, for the students in our community.  His excitement, energy and true commitment for what he does is evident by the fact that Kevin is known as a “rock star” at Shacklette.  Kevin not only volunteers as a SPAVA mentor, but often stays and has lunch with the students showing them how important they are. He takes his position as a role model to the youth of our community seriously and we are proud to honor him.   

District 13- Felicia Rhodes Green

My name is Felicia Green (Rhodes) and I’ve been teaching Fifth Grade at Coral Ridge since 2005. (Time has flown by! I guess I’ve been having too much fun!)  In May 2005, I earned my Masters of Art in Teaching from the University of Louisville, but I’m a HUGE Uof K fan!  I’m sure you’re thinking, how could this girl get an undergrad and masters from the University of Louisville and be a HUGE University of Kentucky fan? I’m from the country and EVERYONE down there bleeds blue!  

In my free time I enjoy playing softball, watching my son play baseball & my daughter play softball, reading, watching movies, cleaning my house, spending time with my family and friends, and designing things on my Cricut!  (I’m not that good with it, but I like it!) Oh, I forgot one thing, I LOVE SHOPPING! Well, what can I say…every woman loves to shop!  

I absolutely adore my job, the students that I encounter, and the Coral Ridge staff.  It is great to work in a school where everyone is all on board working hard to achieve the same goal!  This school has a caring environment where all teachers strive to make sure that each child can and will be successful!

District 14-Danny Billingslea

“Mr. B”, as Danny Billingslea was so affectionately known, was a very private man. Yet he never met a stranger! Mr. B never sought the spotlight but as you will hear today he was the light that really made such a difference in so many peoples lives.
Mr. B was born on July 1, 1951 in West Point, GA, right on the Alabama/Georgia state line. But his football allegiance would always be with the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Mr. B was an embalmer, working for Perryman’s at 34th and Broadway most of his adult life, attending school to get his certification at a young age.

He served his country from 1975 through 1994 in the Armed Forces and continued to serve in the Army Reserves until 2004. I appreciate his service and sacrifice for all of us.

From 2004 until 2017 “Mr. B” worked for JCPS as an ISAP teacher for troubled youth at Frost, Kammerer and Stuart Middle Schools. He mentored many teens during those years, knocking down barriers to help them to succeed. He instilled a sense of belonging to a bigger community and always advised these young people to keep it real! While some of the kids thought he was ”mean”, they soon realized the life lessons and the wisdom he was trying to convey. In reality, “Mr. B” ‘loved’ many kids through hard and troubled times and led them down the straight and narrow path to success.

In 2018 he started working as a greeter at the Valley Station Walmart. He was well known in Valley Station and PRP because of his kind words and genuine smile. He was a very private man but you would never have known that when you walked in that store. Again, he never met a stranger! My own grandson got to know “Mr.B” while working at the Hibbett’s store just down from Walmart. They were the best of friends but I had no idea until “Mr B’s” wife made me aware when I asked if I could honor her husband today. Blake said “Nana, all he ever wanted was to make people have a good day. He always had a smile on his face and tried to make everyone else around him smile or better yet, laugh. He was always positive and never wanted to bring anyone else down. No matter how sick he might be or how bad his day had been, he would never let it show because he didn’t want it to affect anyone negatively.” We should all strive to live like that!

He met his wife, Yvonne, in 1978 and in 1983 they became the proud parents of their only child Omar. “Mr. B” was very proud of his son but even more proud when Omar and his life partner, Kim, blessed the family with DeShawn in 2004. DeShawn was the apple of his eye!! As DeShawn started to talk he referred to “Mr. B“ as “Bill”. Not Grandpa or Papaw as many children do. He was his “Bill”! And there was nothing “Bill” would not do for his little DaShawn! He spoiled him rotten at the Valley Station Hibbett’s store with all the Alabama clothing they had or could order. And every pair of Jordans he wanted, he got. He coached DeShawn and his team mates in youth sports even if he wasn’t “the coach”. He instilled the same values he held so dear, in Deshawn and his teammates. DeShawn is now 17 years old and misses his “Bill” everyday. Unfortunately Bill passed away on January 26th, 2021. Face Book blew up like wildfire that day with such wonderful stories of how he had made a difference in so many lives. Whether it was a kind greeting at Walmart, a stern talking to or just straight forward good advice; he turned lives around and made lasting impressions on those who encountered him in this community. And isn’t that what this day is all about?

So when the man who never wanted to be in the spotlight became a FaceBook phenomenon from the posts made and shared on IADH and beyond, his life was illuminated for us all to see. The family continues to take solace from the messages sent from multitudes of admirers for a life well lived. In closing I want to share a few of those posts that manifest what this man meant to his community:

“This man emanated such peace and wisdom that I often wondered if he was a mere mortal”

“He was the most respected man I’ve ever known”

“My grandson had qc7issues at Frost and he took him under his wing and helped him so much. Years later we would go into Walmart and he always asked about him”

“Mr. B” saved me fro so many write ups in middle school. He was definitely a caring & supportive figure for kids all throughout his life.”

“Mr. B” was an amazing person. He taught me no matter what comes at you to always keep your head up and stay positive. He will definitely be missed”

And one more from Walmart:
“Danny “Mr. B” Billingslea impacted so many throughout the community during his life. We are saddened at the loss of such a great friend, mentor and associate. Mr B was one of a kind!”


In his casket was 2021 Alabama Championship jersey. Just 16 days before “Mr.B” passed the Crimson Tide rolled over the Ohio State Buckeyes for the NCAA Football Championship win. My grandson provided that jersey. I had no idea until last week. I am so glad Blake was blessed to know and call Mr B his friend! Danny Billingslea had a far-reaching effect on so many people and will be sorely missed.
Thank you for allowing me to share his life story. It has been an honor.

District 15-Major Tiffany Tatum

Major Tiffany Tatum is the commander of the Louisville Metro Police Department's Fourth Division. She began her law enforcement career in 1998 with the Louisville Division of Police, following in the footsteps of her father. Major Tatum spent 18 years of her career working in the Fourth Division as an officer, and in 2016, she was promoted to the rank of sergeant. As a sergeant, she was assigned to the Fourth and Second Divisions, and to the Professional Standards Unit. In 2019, she was promoted to the rank of lieutenant, and served in the Special Investigations Unit and the First Division. Her current assignment began in 2021, when she was promoted to the rank of major, and assigned to the division where she spent the first 18 years of her career.

Major Tatum has a deep tradition of law enforcement in her family, and she values serving others and making the community a better place for all. She is also an advocate of mentorship and representativeness throughout the department, helping to shape the future of the Louisville Metro Police Department. 

District 16-Nicole Brassington, MSN, AGACNP-BC

CEO & Founder, NSPIRE Enterprises, Bespoke Ventures & Investments, and Bespoke Global Health Initiatives

Nicole Brassington is a social enterprise entrepreneur and healthcare provider who has dedicated her life to helping others and women’s empowerment as a nurse practitioner and businesswoman. Determined to positively impact the lives of women at home in Kentucky and around the world she started Bespoke Global Health Initiatives, Bespoke Ventures & Investments and NSPIRE Enterprises as vehicles to allow her to increase access to care for vulnerable populations and support businesses that inspire, invest, and leverage influence for good.

Nicole spent the first part of her career working as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Administrator in Heart and Lung Transplant in Kentucky and throughout the southeast region of the United States, this includes working on the front lines with COVID patients. Her career in healthcare gave her a keen awareness of health disparities that women face around the world. That awareness led her to co-found Bespoke Global Health Initiatives with Dr. Angelina Strickland as a way to change the world by empowering young women with health literacy, wellness, and self-confidence. 

In 2019, the pair traveled to Sierra Leone in West Africa where they were inspired by the hopefulness of the young women who have survived a Civil War and an Ebola pandemic during that trip she knew her life calling was to be a humanitarian and leave a legacy that will transcend her lifetime.

Nicole sums up her unique life experiences and qualifications by considering herself to be a transformational leader and humanitarian. “I was told at a very young age that I’m my only limiting factor so I live my life with the audacity to dream big and the tenacity to make dreams into reality,” she says. Whether it’s educating or treating a patient, creating unique hospitality spaces, investing in businesses, inspiring others or leveraging her influence for social impact, these efforts culminate through NSPIRE Enterprises.

Nicole is a Lexington who lives in Louisville, KY and is the mother of two boys. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, horses, Bourbon and rooting for the various Kentucky sports teams.

District 17-Bennie Ivory

Today we are honoring Mr. Bennie Ivory for his more than 40 years in journalism and the legacy he left along the way. Mr. Ivory began his journalism career in 1969 at the age of eighteen. He would later become managing editor of The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss. (the first African-American to hold that position at the paper). While there, Mr. Ivory led the investigation that prompted the re-opening of the 1963 murder case of legendary NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers which led to the conviction of white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith. Beckwith had been tried twice in 1964, but two all-white juries failed to reach a verdict. He was convicted 30 years later in 1994 based on new evidence.

Mr. Ivory is known to many of us, of course, from his time with the Courier-Journal where he served as Executive Editor for 16 years. Once again, he was the first African-American to hold this position at the C-J. During his time, the Courier-Journal won a Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning and was a Pulitzer finalist on two other occasions, once for public service and once for breaking news. It should be noted that Mr. Ivory held this position through some very difficult years for newspapers across the country. To his credit, the paper’s reputation for covering hard news and defending the first amendment endured.  

For the example he set and his contributions to our community, we are proud today to recognize and honor Mr. Bennie Ivory.   

District 18 – Solomon J Parker

With nearly twenty years of behavioral health industry experience right here in Kentucky, Solomon Parker is part of the innovative revolution that is reshaping healthcare delivery to complex populations nationwide.

Solomon is the Director of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) Program Strategy at CareSource, which is a nonprofit health plan serving over 2 million lives in six states. He is passionate about inclusivity and believes in providing equal access and resources to those who are marginalized and minoritized.

Solomon is the vice chairman of Family Health Centers’ Board of Governors and serves as an active board member for Decode Project, Cedar Lake, and Slow Foods Bluegrass.

Solomon holds a BA from Centre College and a Master’s in Public Administration from Western Kentucky University. Solomon has called Louisville “home” for the last ten years, and he lives here with his wife and two young sons.

District 19 – Mayria Porter

Mayria (May) Porter is currently the Internal Audit Director for the city of Louisville. She was appointed by Mayor Fischer to fill that role on August 13th, 2015. Prior to that, May was an auditor with Hilliard Lyons.

May and her husband of 15 years, Kendrick Porter, are both native Louisvillians and attended Central High School. They have lived in District 19 for 8 years. Kendrick is a Team Leader at the Toyota plant in Georgetown, KY.

In addition to her 7 years of service to the city of Louisville, May and Kendrick are small business owners. They own and operate The Exercise Coach, a first of its kind fitness studio in Middletown.

May and Kendrick have a daughter, Maysie who is an honor roll student in the 7th grade at Grace James Academy of Excellence within the Jefferson County public school system. The Grace James Academy empowers young middle school girls through an Afrocentric, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) based curriculum.

It is an honor to have May represent District 19 at Metro Council’s annual Black History Month celebration. We appreciate her service to our city, her work as a small business owner, and her commitment to sharing black history through her daughter’s education.

Congratulation May and thank you!

District 20 – Sonya Hayward

 Sonya has worked for Jefferson County Government and Louisville Metro Government off and on for 11 years, and worked for state government for 10 years, and she has served as a corrections officer, administrative support staff, and coordinator for various agencies during that time. 

Sonya has been with the Metro Council since October 2019 and has been appointed annually as Metro Council Clerk since January 2020.

Sonya is very passionate about tennis and making tennis accessible to everyone by creating and running programs for youth and adults, with an emphasis on serving minority communities. 

Sonya received the 2011 Junior Team Tennis Coordinator of the Year Award, the 2014 Dee Dee Long Spirit Award, and the 2014 Bruce Stone Educational Award from USTA Kentucky, as well as the 2017 State Volunteer Service Award from USTA Southern, and was featured as “One of Frankfort’s Favs” in 2016 in the Frank. Magazine for her work in the tennis community in Frankfort.

Sonya has served on the USTA Kentucky Board since 2012 and currently serves as its Vice President and its Diversity and Inclusion Champion, and has also served on committees for the USTA Southern and National Boards.

District 21 – PJ L. Ray

PJ  L. Ray's  love for his  community and neighbor  began in South Louisville and expanded to Harlan county where his  family was surrounded by a  city of beloved coal miners.  By moving into Beechmont  he has actively become a part of this diverse and expanding community.  PJ has become the first  African-American board  member for the Beechmont Neighborhood Association and has made a personal commitment to encourage this community to embrace the culture of their neighbors. Pj has been crucial to the seasonal farmer's market, back to school bash, campaigns for neighborhood officials and bridging the gap for many  in the community who feel underrepresented. Professionally, he has been working in the human services field for over  20 years. Currently, he is working at MyCare Family Community Supports as the Chief Operations & Compliance Officer managing the well-being and safety of individuals with intellectual disabilities.  Over the years regardless of community one theme continues to ring true and that is that each person has to be accepted on their own terms to truly feel a part of a community. PJ believes," In order to help someone your heart and ambition has to acknowledge a person's individual level of need." Fortunately, the Beechmont neighborhood has embraced PJ and their support has been outstanding.

 District 22 – Ava-Gabriella “Gabby Wilson”

Ava-Gabrielle Wilson is a 15 year old sophomore at Fern Creek High School. In March 2021, as a freshman, first year wrestler, Gabby competed in the KYWCA Women's Wrestling State Heavyweight division – pinning both her opponents – and became the first female wrestler in Fern Creek history to win a state championship. She will defend her title at Harrison County Middle School on 2/21/22!

Gabby’s twin brother, Alex, is the varsity heavyweight wrestler at Fern Creek, and their father, Ozell, is a 1994 Florida regional qualifier and has served as the wrestling coach for both Fern Creek High and Fern Creek Youth Wrestling, so becoming a wrestler was natural to Gabby. She came out to “practice” with the Fern Creek team as an 8th grader, a year after her brother broke his arm in a match, and she convinced him to return to the sport when they were both freshmen.

Gabby has a personality like no other – she is an advocate for all and loves helping others. She has a no-nonsense exterior, but really is a teddy bear. She loves the outdoors, playing with her three dogs, and most recently joined the Fern Creek Fit Body Boot Camp where her energy is contagious.

Regarding being a role model for other girls, Gabby says, “I think it’s important to do what you love, no matter what others think. I used to worry too much about what others thought about me, and for a while, it stopped me from being who I really am. As a Black female, it’s hard because we are seen a certain way. It’s important to go out there and show others that we can do anything we want.”

District 23 – Camille Anderson-Linton

Owner of Highview Ice Cream and Coffee

  • Professional experience includes Legal and Business background
  • Board Member and Treasurer of HIGHVIEW ARTS INC.
  • Vice President of HIGHVIEW BUSINESS ASSOCIATION
  • Member of FERN CREEK BUSINESS ASSOCIATION
  • Enjoys working with children
  • Enjoys mentoring
  • Proud mom of Imani Linton
  • Goals and aspirations are to sincerely make a difference in someone’s life through service.

District 24 – Adreonna Rainey

Adreonna Rainey is the President of the Senior Class and Black Student Union at Southern High School.  She has made it her mission to be a resource for her peers.  She's passionate about Mental Health Awareness, especially in the black community.  She's heavily involved in other student organizations including Sources of Strength, Justice Now, Student Council and Key Club. 

As President of the Black Student Union, Adreonna has put together an awareness campaign to highlight local black change agents in our school building as well as the Louisville community.  She has orchestrated a calendar with other Black Student Union members to highlight these individuals/groups/events in our morning announcements as well as all HBCUs. We are also proud of the space on our school website that’s a resource to families of the way Southern celebrates the diversity of our student body. Adreonna created it!

Adreonna is not shy about using her voice to create change for inequalities at our school.  She makes sure that she uses her influence for ways to improve policies for all.  She always makes it a point to educate her peers at student organization meetings of any injustices that are in the news nationally and locally.  Through discussion, she's able to lead her peer groups to come up with solutions and how to implement them.  

After graduating, she plans to attend the University of Kentucky to become a Genetic Counselor.  Her goals also include writing and publishing books surrounding foster care, social justice, and racial equity.  Along the way she would like to participate in a pathway that includes a Youth Coordinator.  She will also continue her focus on growing her Mental Health Instagram page which can be found under Intellectually Mindful.

I am proud to award this honor to Adreonna Rainey!

District 25 – Malliccaaii Green

Representing District 25 is Louisville Metro Police Departments own Malliccaaii Green.  Officer Green has been with LMPD for 8 years. He was in the training class of MAC 27.  Malliccaaii serves the Third Division as 314 Adam. He rides the 4th Beat which covers a large portion of District 25. Officer Green has been described by his fellow officers as a “phenomenal individual”.  They say he is kind, compassionate and hard working.  He often takes time to work with the community outside of patrolling, highlighting his great artistic talents.

In high school, Green entered and won numerous art contests, including 1st place in the NAACP Martin Luther King art contest for several years in a row and first place in the Krylon Art Contest two consecutive years. His crowning achievement in high school was receiving a gold medal in New York City at the Carnegie Hall for a painting entered in the Scholastic Art and Writing Contest his senior year.
 
Having already successfully completed AP art classes in high school, Green continued to hone his skills on the IUPUI and IUS campuses. There, he studied graphic design/visual communications. In his final year at IUS, he felt a call to community service and struck out on a new journey as a police officer with LMPD.  Throughout his time on the police force, he has volunteered at the Louisville Science Center and the Big Brother Big Sister Program as well as continued in his artistic ventures by teaching art classes for adults and children.

District 26 – Areil O’Bannon

“Though she be but little she is fierce”-  would be the best quote and analogy to describe Ariel O’Bannon.

A 1995 high school graduate of Louisville Male Traditional High School, Ariel will gladly tell you that her graduating class was the first one to attend all four years at the Durrett campus, when Male moved from the Brook and Breckenridge location.

 On January 30th, Ariel O’Bannon celebrated her 9th year with the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Department of Corrections, where she works in Probation and Parole, as an Administrative Specialist II.  Her caseload specializes in those on parole, pre-trial diversion, and probation; but her job doesn’t end there; she also assists help protect the community by working for state institutions. It is not unusual for her to work 40 hour overtime a week, protecting the community after working her primary job.

She began her career with DOC, as a correctional officer before promoting to Probation and Parole in 2014.  There has been an overwhelming workforce shortage of correctional officers, especially during covid; and Ariel O’Bannon has been there to assist.

O’Bannon has been at the institutions of Roederer Correctional Complex, Kentucky State Reformatory, Luther Luckett, and Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women.  It is not unusual to see her running a unit; other times showing new officers the ropes (with explanation), or volunteering to work a full 12 -16 hour shift on the weekends or holidays. 

Due to working at an institution, O’Bannon knows and understands the importance of safety for the community, as an inmate is only steps away from the public. 

While working in Probation and Parole, O’Bannon understand the time-warp for a parolee adjusting to life outside of institutional walls.

Coworkers describe Ariel O’Bannon as a focused, multi-tasking communicator, who has prowess of tact.

Those on her caseload, would indicate that O’Bannon is direct with realistic solutions to problems faced.

 Spending time with her dog and friends, vacationing and traveling are some of the ways Ariel likes to relax and enjoy life.

 The recognition of a job well done is greatly appreciated.

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