Kentucky State University announces first inductees into the 40 Under 40 Society
The Kentucky State University National Alumni Association (KSUNAA) recently announced the inaugural inductees into its 40 Under 40 Society.
The society recognizes Kentucky State University alumni under the age of 40 who exemplify a broad range of high achievement in the legal field, media and arts, entrepreneurship, community service, faith and spirituality, culinary arts and a host of other professions.
The KSUNAA will also recognize its inaugural mentor class, comprised of alumni over the age of 40 who are active in giving back to the younger generation of leaders.
The following are inductees into the inaugural 40 Under 40 Society: Brandy Ashford, Bryan M. Blackwell, Tierra Blackwell, Ashley N. Browning, Darren E. Bryant, Chante’ Burg, Joshua Grace, Dr. Aris Hall, Kenny R. Hampton, Ralonda Hampton, Sarah Hodges, Krystal Jackson, Stephanie Jackson, Amber Lane, Keely Alexandria Odem, Shapelle Lilly Pisano, Kendra Randle, Chris D. Redd, Kevin Reese, Anthony Richardson, Fatimah Shabazz, Aaron T. Terrell, Dr. Alicia Thomas, Lauren D. Williams and Frederick Yeakey.
The following are inductees into the inaugural 40 Under 40 Society mentor class:
Dr. Karen M.R. Townsend, Tish Norman, Jason F. Fullman and Lea P. Robertson.
Ashford has worked for Fayette County Public Schools for 11 years in human resources and currently as the college and career coach at her alma mater, Bryan Station High School.
She currently serves as a board member of the Mack Foundation, started by Bryan Station Alumni Shelvin Mack. Ashford is also the owner and visionary of Blinders, by Focused on Forever, an eyewear line that boasts unique, beautiful, natural wood optical frames and sunglasses.
Bryan M. Blackwell
Upon graduating from Kentucky State, Blackwell's professional career immediately began at an all-women’s institution, where he served as the first Black male to work in the enrollment management division at Midway College. Blackwell currently serves in student conduct within student affairs at Virginia Tech, where he adjudicates student and group cases inclusive of Title IX and violations incongruent with the code of ethics.
Blackwell began working at Columbus Arts & Technology Academy in December 2014 and was promoted to assistant principal in August 2018.
Currently Blackwell is the step ministry leader, transitioning to dance ministry co-leader, at New Birth Christian Ministries in Columbus, Ohio and co-chairs the performance committee for the Columbus Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.
Ashley N. Browning
In 2013, Browning started SoLoved, a project-based organization that is committed to assisting different populations in the local community through outreach and quarterly initiatives. As she continues to serve her community, Browning’s most recent endeavor is co-owner of Self Care Ain’t Selfish, a safe space outlet for women of color that creates authentic and transparent gatherings that promote wholeness, awareness and education for self-care.
Darren E. Bryant
Bryant is the owner of Brother to Brother Enterprise Group LLC, a Village of Robbins trustee, a Village of Robbins park district commissioner and a Village of Robbins mayoral candidate in 2021. Bryant received a bachelor’s in physical education and health from Kentucky State University and a master’s in educational administration from Governors State University.
Upon graduating, Burg pursued a teaching career with Jefferson County Public Schools, where she taught special education for eight years. During her tenure in JCPS, she also served as a professional representative for the Jefferson County Teachers Union and was active with the Greater Louisville Alliance of Black School Educators. Currently, Burg serves as the academic success coordinator for a non-profit organization, Inside the Lines Training, and works as a preschool disabilities consultant with head start programs.
As a human resources professional with Kroger, a top 20 company in the world, Grace has led many company initiatives. Grace has helped realign various recruiting practices, increase minority retention and establish mentoring partnerships with local high schools.
Grace has served in multiple leadership roles in his professional career, including senior HR recruiter, professional development chair, communications chair and site leader.
In addition to his professional career, Grace established J Grace Enterprises in 2014, which later obtained part ownership in the I-Rise Investment group.
Dr. Aris Hall
Hall is currently the inaugural coordinator for the Lyllye Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural Center at the University of Oregon. Hall earned her Ph.D. from Clemson University, where she focused her dissertation on the historically Black college and university (HBCU) experience, specifically as it relates to student-athletes and their leadership opportunities. Hall has held positions in student affairs and academic colleges, which directly influences her experiences and passion for holistic student development and engagement.
Kenny R. Hampton
Hampton is a former pro athlete turned entrepreneur, award-winning speaker and the breakout author of "The Underdog Mentality." Embracing the underdog mentality led Hampton to two Ivy League certifications, more than 12 years of raising a family, accolades, awards, NFL scouting opportunities and a purpose-filled life. Hampton also provides spiritual guidance and mental health techniques to professional athletes at risk of self-destructing in North and South America.
Hampton serves as the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC’s), diversity, inclusion and engagement officer. In this position, Hampton is part of MORPC’s communications and engagement team and responsible for the agency’s diversity and inclusion programs and initiatives.
Prior to joining MORPC, Hampton served as a legislative aide at Columbus City Council for nearly three-and-a-half years. Hampton worked on the Diversity and Inclusion, Small and Minority Business, Economic Development, Housing and Recreation and Parks Committees.
Hampton has more than 13 years of experience in the public and private sectors spanning in human resources, diversity, inclusion, economic development and community engagement.
Hodges is the principal at Maurice Bowling Middle School in Owen County.
While under the guidance of Dr. Lucian Yates III, Hodges was able to present at the National Alliance of Black School Educators Conference as a member of “The Cultured Pearls.” Hodges led many principals and superintendents in the powerful movement of culturally responsive teaching practices.
In 2015, Hodges won the prestigious WHAS 11 ExCEL award for her excellence in the classroom and educational leadership. Hodges also received the highest honor receiving the “Superintendent’s Distinguished Service Award” during her tenure at JCPS. Hodges was an active member of the Jefferson County Teachers Association and won the “School House Award” for her supportive actions regarding education. Hodges was awarded with the “Aspiring Leadership Award” while attending the University of Louisville from the Kentucky Association of School Administrators.
After graduation, Jackson began her professional journey with The Kroger Company in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 2016, she relocated to Lexington to expand her professional portfolio as the human resources store manager. In 2019, she relocated back to her hometown of Chicago, where she works as a human resources specialist at the City Colleges of Chicago and, more specifically, handles employee relations for the part-time employees at Malcolm X College.
Jackson is currently serving as a Compassionate Schools Project curriculum teacher for Portland Elementary within the Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) system, where she uses music and the arts to help students learn about mindfulness to become their greatest selves. Jackson has been with the district since 2010, where she also served as a fifth grade teacher and developed an after-school program to help fourth and fifth grade students transition to middle school.
Jackson recently launched her own business: H.O.P.E. Eternally, LLC. H.O.P.E. Eternally is "Helping Other People Evolve" Eternally through ventures such as yoga, mindfulness coaching for all ages, family life coaching, poetry, transition training, artistic creations, community collaboration, empowerment and educational/vocational pursuits.
Lane is a therapist for teen girls and millennial women of color with KBT Counseling in Houston, Texas. Lane also travels between Oklahoma and Houston for her nonprofit, Knowing Your Worth. Knowing Your Worth's mission is to uplift young girls, to teach them to always maintain self-esteem, self-confidence and to always know their worth.
Lane released a guided journal for teen girls in September 2019.
Keely Alexandria Odem
Odem began her professional career as a rehabilitation counselor for the Commonwealth of Kentucky at the William H. McDowell Center for the Blind. Odem later moved to her current role as a school counselor at Victoria Soto High School.
Odem has also become a community activist, campaigning for the educational rights of undocumented students. Odom serves as her school's We liaison/coordinator. We is known as a movement that challenges people to go from me to we by volunteering both locally and globally to improve worldwide issues including poverty, diseases, literacy and clean water.
Shapelle Lilly Pisano
During her 13 year professional career as an accountant, Pisano has worked her way to manager at the Big Four accounting firm, Ernst and Young, LLP; joined BP North America in their integrated supply and trading business; led the SEC reporting function at Navistar International Corporation; and is currently a director of external reporting and technical accounting at CDK Global.
Pisano is a licensed certified public accountant (CPA) in the state of Illinois, and holds professional memberships with the National Association of Black Accountants, National Society of Black CPAs, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and the Illinois CPA Society.
Randle, the 81st Miss Kentucky State University, is a proud educator and school dean in the Indianapolis Public School System in Indianapolis, Indiana, where she is entering her eighth year as an educator. Randle was a semi-finalist in the 2015 Miss Tennessee USA Pageant.
Randle has successfully completed her membership coursework in the Teacher Leadership Academy, The National Education Association Early Leadership Institute and The National Advanced Association of Teacher Education.
Randle has also previously performed in musicals at Footlite Musicals (Brooklyn, Ragtime), and the Booth Tarkington Civic Theater (Hairspray,Mary Poppins, Matilda).
Chris D. Redd
Redd has worked with prestigious healthcare organizations, such as the Mayo Clinic and Cedars-Sinai, throughout his career. Redd co-created and co-founded Network N Chill, which is a networking event to authentically connect founders, funders, and anyone in the entrepreneurial ecosystem through storytelling and education in a truly inclusive environment.
Redd’s mission is to create his own venture or angel fund to invest in early stage companies with diverse teams in the Midwest.
Reese currently serves as the director of residence life at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. Because of his previous work in diversity and inclusion, Reese was awarded the 2019 Inspiring Excellence through Inclusion Award presented by the vice chancellor of student affairs at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln.
Reese is the founder of The Vision of Excellence Scholarship program geared to African-American males graduating from high school and attending college for the first time. Reese is also the Founder of Soul II Sole Line Dancers, a line dance group based in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Richardson is the founder and executive director of Inside the Lines Training, Inc. (ITL), which provides academic, leadership and athletic support to students and student-athletes. Richardson has sustained a career as a public service worker. From 2010 until 2013, he was an investigator with child protective services for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. In addition to operating and sustaining ITL, Richardson is currently a certified behavior coach in the Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville, Kentucky.
Immediately following her athletic career at Kentucky State University, Shabazz joined the staff of Coach Von Smith as a volunteer for the Thorobreds. During her time at Kentucky State, Shabazz transitioned from a volunteer to a full time associate head coach before being named head coach for the cross country and track and field programs in 2018. Highlights of her resume include two SIAC West Division Coach of the Year awards (2011 & 2012) and a USATFCCCA DII South Division Assistant Coach of the Year award (2014).
Highlights of Shabazz’s service while at Kentucky State include a water drive for Flint, Michigan, HeartChase with the American Heart Association, and collaboration with Nerd Squad, a STEM nonprofit, to support girls of color interested in STEM.
Aaron T. Terrell
Terrell currently serves as the pastor of worship at Progressive Baptist Church of Aurora, where oversees the worship service and the operations. Terrell also sits on the board of directors at Progressive Baptist Church and Knowing Your Worth, a nonprofit that uplifts young girls, to teach them to always maintain self-esteem, self-confidence and to always know their worth.
Terrell’s background in administration has led him to organizations such as DeVry University, Career Education Corporation, United Health Group and Blue Cross Blue Shield, where he led many efforts in simplifying their administration. Terrell currently works at Northwestern Memorial Foundation as the assistant to the president, overseeing the foundation operations.
Dr. Alicia Thomas
Since 2013, Thomas has practiced general dentistry at PrimaryOne Health, a federally qualified health center in Columbus, Ohio. Thomas also contributes to the teaching mission of The Ohio State University College of Dentistry, as she serves as an adjunct assistant professor in the Division of Practice & Materials Science-Office of Community Education and the OHIO Project.
Thomas was previously awarded the Outstanding Commitment to Community award in recognition of her valuable contributions to communities in the State of Ohio and the International College of Dentist USA Section Leadership Award for demonstrated leadership as a dental student and future leadership potential.
Lauren D. Williams
Williams is the senior director of strategic audio and vertical Marketing at Pandora in New York City. At Pandora, Williams leads a team of data-driven storytellers at the forefront of audio and vertical marketing trends that position Pandora as a thought leader. Additionally, Williams is the official host of Pandora Presents Pass The Mic, a podcast series aimed to empower and uplift women in the audio and advertising industries.
Yeakey began his educational career over 13 years ago while serving as team leader for St. Vincent Unity Development Center after-school program. In his 13 year teaching career, Yeakey has had the privilege to teach at public, charter and private schools. Within the last four years, Yeakey has served in an administrative role.
As a teacher, Yeakey discovered many young men lost, angry and afraid with the task of discovering their purpose. With this knowledge, he created a group entitled, “The Barbershop Male Mentoring Initiative,” focused on mentoring, educating and retaining males to ultimately graduate and make an impact in the communities that they serve.
Karen M.R. Townsend, Ph.D.
Townsend is the president of KTownsend Consulting, an organizational development firm offering expertise in leadership development and 21st Century diversity. in 2019, Dr. Townsend was recognized by the Dayton Business Journal in the category of Woman-owned Business of the Year. Townsend was later selected as a Dayton Skyscraper, a distinction given to Dayton (Ohio) residents in recognition of personal and professional achievements, and their commitment to serve as role models for inner-city youth.
Townsend is also the founder of About My Sisters, an organization “on a mission to empower one million women and girls.” In 2018, Townsend’s annual conference, Sister To Sister, celebrated its 25th anniversary and was recognized as one of the longest-running women’s events in the United States.
Townsend is the author of the book “It All Started When I Stopped Using Lotion: One Woman’s Journey From Chaos to Calm” and a contributing author to the Amazon bestseller “The HBCU Experience Anthology: Alumni Stories from the Hill of Kentucky State University.”
Norman is the founder and principal consultant of Transforming Leaders Now, Inc., an educational consulting firm specializing in diversity, equity, access and inclusion training, women’s leadership, and motivation-educational keynotes. With almost 20 years as a professional speaker and having spoken at over 350 colleges, Norman is known for providing world-class presentations to thousands about college and career success.
Norman is a contributing author of several published articles and three books, “From Mediocre to Magnificent,” “Leading the Way,” and the newly released, “BLACKOUT: Real Issues and Real Solutions to Real Challenges Facing Black Student Affairs Professionals.”
Jason F. Fullman
Fullman is currently the head of retail training, brand immersion experience (Vance, Alabama) and the leadership academy for Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC.
Fullman has over 25 years of experience as a leader in the automotive engineering and technical/retail training area. Fullman previously worked for major OEM automotive companies and suppliers in the area of telematics, intelligent drive and chassis electric systems and has been with Mercedes-Benz USA for approximately 20 years.
In his current capacity, Fullman leads a highly talented group of learning and development professionals and the execution of sales, aftersales, leadership and product training for approximately 25,000 Mercedes-Benz U.S. dealer network employees.
Lea P. Robertson
Robertson’s professional career has centered on assisting troubled and at-risk youth. Robertson currently works as an independent living case manager and bridges program liaison. Robertson has devoted over 25 years of service in education, non-profit arenas and community organizing.