October Spotlight: Link Valerie Hamer:
In October, we turned the spotlight on Link Valerie Hamer. Link Valerie has headed up our scholarship committee for years but little did she know that one applicant's story would grab her heart enough to open her door to a young lady in need. "I met Grace through our application and interview process," said the mother of two boys. "Her essay was very compelling." Grace was a high school senior in need of a loving family and the Hamers offered her that love and a place to call home. "Simply put, Grace captured my heart. We quickly developed a bond. I believe God put Grace in my life for a reason. I also could not imagine my own sons in that situation .... completely alone with no one to care for or love them." Grace is a second year student at Howard University. She is a health sciences major. "Like most girls, Grace challenges me in ways I never thought possible. But as the kids say 'It's all good'."
November Spotlight: Link Robin Cooper
The Bergen County, New Jersey Chapter of the Links, Incorporated recently welcomed Robin R. Cooper who recently transferred into the chapter from Westchester. Link Link Robin was inducted into the Westchester County (NY) Chapter of the Links, Incorporated in 2003 and served as Corresponding Secretary for 4 years and Financial Secretary for 2 years. She also chaired the Hospitality Committee and co-chaired the Communications and Public Relations Committee. In October 2013, Link Robin relocated to Fort Lee, New Jersey.
January Spotlight: Link Jaquelyn Styles
We turn the spotlight on Link Jacquelyn Styles. A charter member of the Bergen County, New Jersey Chapter of the Links, Inc., there are very few jobs Link Jackie has not headed up in her nearly 40 years in Linkdom. She led the organization as its 6th President and through her many years, she has been instrumental in the continued success of the chapter and its heralded work in the community. Jackie is presently the protocol chair of the chapter. As protocol chair, Link Jackie ensures that the chapter uses accepted protocol best practices for delivering on the promise of the values we hold dear. In addition, she has been responsible for maintaining the tradition, observances, rituals and ceremonies of The Links, Incorporated. Jackie has been our representative on the newly formed Statewide (NJ) Links Founders' Day observance and has taken an active role in planning the annual event and engaging our chapter members to attend. Besides her extraordinary work with the Links, Inc., Jacqueline is also an avid dancer. She particularly loves line dancing.
We turn our spotlight on Link Theodora Lacey. A charter member of the Bergen County, New Jersey Chapter of the Links, Inc., and the chapter's first president, Link Theodora presently serves as the organization's historian. Link Theodora was elected to the chapter's highest office at its first meeting on March 23, 1974. While there were many challenges during those first years, Link Theodora says the women in the fledging organization were truly "linked in friendship and service to the community. Her pioneering spirit did not start with the Links, Incorporated, however. Theodora Smiley Lacey was born and raised in Montgomery, Alabama during one of the most crucial eras in our nation’s history. Her involvement in the civil rights movement started at a young age and was encouraged by her parents who had close ties to Rosa Parks and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In the late 1950's, Link Theodora and her husband, Dr. Archie Lacey, left the south and moved to New York City when husband Archie, a science professor, took a job at Hunter College. When their family began to increase, the couple moved to Teaneck, New Jersey where they found other opportunities for their advocacy work. The pair took part in groups that fought for integration in the schools and in housing. A science teacher in the Teaneck school system for 37 years, Link Theodora is the recipient of many honors from local, state and national groups. As one of the last living links to Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights Movement, Link Theodora lectures widely to schools and youth groups throughout the United States, Europe, Africa, and Asia.
March Spotlight: Link Theodora Lacey
April Spotlight: Link Allison Davis
Our spotlight this month is on Allison J. Davis, a member of the Bergen County, New Jersey Chapter of the Links, Incorporated since 2012. Allison is the chapter’s resident Renaissance Woman – a skilled writer, filmmaker and cyberspace expert – she’s brought the chapter into the digital world by redesigning our website, capturing those Link-like moments and producing a video tribute in honor of our 40th Anniversary. During the early years, Allison honed her skills as a writer and producer at WBZ-TV in Boston, Massachusetts. She was also an on-air reporter for KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, Pa. Later she became executive producer for NBC News; and from 1994 to 1997, she served as the first executive producer of the commonly used, MSNBC.com. Allison developed, wrote and produced The Scholastic-NBC News Video from 1993 until 1997. She also worked as a writer and producer for NBC News’ Today, as well as a producer for the NBC News broadcasts Monitor, First Camera, and NBC Nightly News. Changing networks, Allison served as Vice-President/Creative for CBS's syndication unit. In 2004, Allison responded to her philanthropic interests and offered her expertise at both the Riverside Church in New York City and the Jackie Robinson Foundation. As an established journalist and a founder of the National Association of Black Journalists, Allison received numerous honors from her peers –Two Women in Communications Awards, several Emmy nominations, Boston University’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009, the University’s Alumni Award for Service to Profession twice, and has been a National News Emmys judge since 2009. We are honored to call Allison J. Davis a member of the Bergen County, Chapter of the New Jersey Links. Allison and Robert Wright live in Teaneck and are the proud parents of Tyler and Cooper.
May Spotlight: Nellie Jenkins
Our spotlight this month is on Link Nellie Jenkins. A member of the Bergen County, New Jersey chapter since 1993, Link Nellie has served the organization as its financial secretary and corresponding secretary but her sought-after leadership skills have been felt on numerous chapter levels. From feeding the homeless to chairing the Chapter’s successful and popular Mothers’ Day Awards Luncheon, Link Nellie is often the calm in the middle of a storm. Her infectious sense of humor makes even the most difficult tasks easier to complete. For over two decades, Link Nellie has been the go-to person on dozens of projects. No matter what the job, she rolls up her sleeves, draws on her years of experience and gently guides members to a successful outcome. Most would describe Link Nellie as someone who truly embodies the meaning of the word friendship. “In most instances, Linkdom has been a wonderful journey,” reflected Link Nellie. “I have been very proud to be a part of this organization. It has afforded me the opportunity to meet and work alongside a wonderful group of women. I have fostered lasting friendships and been involved in projects that have left lasting impressions.”
Link Nellie is no stranger to working with groups of women. Her experiences started at birth. She is the 8th in a family of 9 girls. Link Nellie grew up in Barnwell, South Carolina, a small town less than 50 miles from Augusta, Georgia. It is a town that prides itself on education and Link Nellie took this township's declaration to heart. She attended Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina where she received a BS in Social Science with a minor in Education. She went on to attend the City University of New York and William Paterson University where she received her Masters in Education. For 43 years, Link Nellie was a prominent educator in the Paterson Public School system. She retired in June of 2010.
A “Northerner” since 1968, Nellie and her husband Augustus moved to Englewood in 1974. She is an active life member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc and the proud mother of two wonderful daughters. Natalie Jenkins Sorrell resides in Dallas, Texas with her husband Michael and son Michael Augustus. Ashley Victoria Kindcade lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband Michael. Ashley and Michael are expecting Nellie’s second grandchild in August.
June Spotlight: Maredia Dionne Warren
We turn our Spotlight on Link Maredia Dionne Warren who serves as the chapter’s courtesy chair. A member of the organization since 2012, Maredia was also a Links scholarship recipient. “I learned more about the Links while I was in high school where I became aware of their involvement in the community.” she said. “I became interested in their community programs, especially with the arts, and their health projects.”
Link Maredia was born and raised in Teaneck, New Jersey. She attended Howard University where she received her undergraduate degree in communications, but her true passion was using her innumerable skills to raise money for those in need. “My first job in nonprofit was working for Link Ora Welch at her agency, HOPES,Inc., while I attended graduate school at NYU,” she noted. “It was an extraordinary experience!” Link Maredia now serves as Senior Regional Director of Foundations for the American Heart Association. For the second consecutive year Link Maredia has raised over $1 million dollars in foundation grants for the association.
In her limited spare time, Link Maredia loves taking long walks with her dog Mr. Bosley. On any hazy, hot and humid day she heads to the pool or the beach, and she adds that she loves to cook. Ever the athlete, Link Maredia also plays tennis very well and is a life member of the United States Tennis Association. She would love to get on the courts more frequently. She also has an eye for collecting high fashion Barbie dolls.
A nearly 20 year member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Link Maredia is also a member of the Howard University Alumni Club of New Jersey, but her Link sisters of Bergen County, New Jersey know Link Maredia as the bright-eyed, mistress of merriment who makes sure that we all feel loved.
September Spotlight: Bettye Easley
We turn our spotlight this month on Link Bettye Easley who after 3 years continues to serve brilliantly as the chapter’s program coordinator. A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Link Bettye is one of five children born to the Rev. and Mrs. Andrew Anderson. Upon her high school graduation, Link Bettye decided to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse. She received her diploma as a nurse (RN) from the City of Memphis Nursing School and soon earned a scholarship to attend Meharry Medical College to become a nurse practitioner. But Link Bettye was hardly finished reaching her educational goals. She earned a BA degree from Stephens College, an MS degree from New York Institute of Technology and while working as a dean and professor, she completed the coursework towards a PhD in sociology. Currently, she is an online Adjunct Professor in sociology and business administration at Suffolk County Community College in NY. “I found that I enjoy interaction and exchange with adult students,” she said.
Link Bettye is in her 11th year as a Link. She was a part of the Long Island (NY) Links for 6 years prior to transferring to Bergen County( NJ) Chapter. “I enjoy The Links because friendship and service are very important factors. I was taught that when you volunteer, you should treat volunteerism as a responsible role," she remarked. “As Links, I truly believe we demonstrate our volunteerism and activism through our service to the local and international communities.”
Link Bettye is the mother of three children (Brent, Arika and Jeffrey) and grandmother of three. Though two of her grandchildren live in Atlanta, she’s able to enjoy frequent visits from her youngest grandchild born in the early summer of 2014. In her leisure time, Link Bettye enjoys traveling, reading and golf. “Golf allows me to get outside, exercise and relax,” she said. But finding time to relax is quite challenging for this Link. She is currently an active member and deacon at her church--Presbyterian Church of Teaneck. She also serves on the Community Advisory Board of PBS. Link Bettye is the scholarship chair of the Garden State Dufferettes and an inactive member of Chi Eta Phi Sorority. But it is as chair of the program committee of the chapter that keeps her most busy these days. It is her job to keep the facet chairs and members focused toward the mission of the organization through effective programs that will produce sustainable outcomes. We are grateful for her continued service.
Spotlight October: Ina Samuels-Martinez and Brenda Farrow White
Ina Samuels-Martinez was born in Izabal, Guatemala and moved with her family to Miami in1967 at the age of 2. One of four girls, “my sisters ROCK,” she noted, Ina graduated from Miami Beach Senior High and received a full scholarship to Nova University where she majored in pre-law. Ina abandoned the law for the bright lights of New York City where she attended the Fashion Institute of Technology and obtained a two year degree. At the same time, she pursued an acting career. Ina learned early that acting was not in her future so she decided to continue her studies at NYU graduating with a degree in marketing. “I developed an interest in marketing early on when I discovered that salt and vinegar potato chips were only sold in the ghetto (for the distinguished palette)”, she remarked. Remarkably successful in marketing, Ina has received numerous awards and accolades for her innovative and creative work. In 2010, she brought her innumerable talents to the Bergen County, (NJ) Chapter of the Links Inc. where she also chaired and co-chaired the organization’s marketing committee. Ina has faced her biggest challenge in her battle with cancer, a disease she has fought more than once in her life. Yet she hasn’t allowed this fight to deter her from her commitments to her family (husband Rafael and daughters Chelsea and Samantha), her community or her well-defined goals for her future. Before marriage and children, she started to pursue her MBA but quit. Recently, Ina re-embarked on the road to an MBA from Rutgers University. As for hobbies, Ina says that she has had little time lately, but she loves to travel, plan events, engage in multimedia, read and she admits to praying a lot. “I am paying more attention to nature, babies, laughter and all of God's miracles, she said. “God is good!”
Brenda Farrow White was born and raised in Los Angeles. Her mother, a teacher in the public schools, and her father, a post office superintendent and a former Tuskegee airman, stressed the value of education to their two children. Her brother Larry found his passion and a career in the arts, while Brenda took a more traditional route. She graduated from Dorsey High School and headed east to Wellesley College where she received her undergraduate degree. For graduate school, Brenda chose Law and Public Administration earning a JD and a Masters from USC's School of Law and it’s Graduate School of Public Administration. Wife of Herman White, (33 years), and mother of five (Ashley, twins Caroline and Kenneth, Hillary and Vanessa), Brenda has enjoyed a successful legal practice devoted to issues of the elderly and incapacitated persons. A member of the Bergen County, (NJ) Chapter of the Links, Inc. for ten years, Brenda has led several committees but is most proud of the work she and Ina have accomplished in planning and executing the chapter’s signature event. “As co-chairs of the fundraising committee for four years, our efforts have resulted in the awarding of scholarships to so many college-bound high school seniors,” she noted. “And it has also assisted in funding our program initiatives.” Under the leadership of the co-chairs, turnout has grown from 250 to close to 600 in attendance. As for hobbies, Brenda enjoys traveling and working on her house renovation overseas, but she also treasures the time spent with Black women of like minds who share her commitment to serving the community.
November Spotlight: Alicia Henderson
Alicia Terry Henderson was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The oldest of 3 girls and raised in the inner city, Alicia was bused to the suburbs of Glendale, Wisconsin to attend Nicolet High School. A highly competitive secondary school, Alicia excelled in her studies and upon graduation Alicia made her way east to Washington, DC where she attended Howard University. However, her educational path was plotted years before. “I have wanted to help the disadvantaged since I was in middle school, especially children, she said. “My interest was probably sparked by the death, at the hands of her step-father, of my friend, also named Alicia. We were in the 5th grade when she was beaten to death,” she recalled. After receiving her undergraduate degree, Alicia went on to complete her Masters of Social Work at the University of Maryland. But she wasn’t finished with her studies. Alicia earned her Doctorate degree in Clinical Social Work at New York University and now earns her living as a successful psychotherapist with a specialty in Child and Adolescent Psychodynamic Psychotherapy. Alicia has been a member of the Bergen County, (NJ) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated since 2001. “My neighbor was a member of the chapter and my mother-in-law is a member of the Buffalo chapter so I had spent a lot of time at different events hosted by the Links,” she explained. “I was impressed immediately with the poise and class with which each member I met provided community service and interacted with each other. I was honored to accept the invitation,” she remarked. Alicia has shared her innumerable talents with the organization in several capacities. She served as Financial Secretary (2 years) , Membership Co-Chair (1 year), Membership Chairperson (3 years) , Vice-President (4 years), and Services to Youth Chairperson (currently). She was also a member of Cohorts II of the Scott Hawkins Leadership Institute (SHLI), an initiative of the organization to nurture younger Links for leadership roles. Alicia is the proud mother of two “beautiful and intelligent teenaged daughters”, Ragan and Raina-Simone. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling , reading, outdoor adventures, bowling, music and spending time with her family & friends. “I enjoy, equally, the service we provide to our community and the long-lasting friendships I’ve made throughout the organization,” she concluded.
January Spotlight: Jill Stewart
We turn our January spotlight on Jill Stewart who currently co-chairs our upcoming 10th Annual Mother’s Day Scholarship Luncheon. It didn’t take Jill Stewart long to bring her many talents to the chapter. She entered into Linkdom in 2012 and quickly took on the task of tracking the service hours of members. If that wasn’t enough, the Rockville Center, New York native accepted the challenge of co-chairing the chapter’s upcoming 10th Annual Mother’s Day Scholarship Luncheon, the organization’s biggest fundraiser. Doing for others is in Jill’s blood. Throughout her life, Jill has participated in community service activities sponsored by her church and other non-profit organizations. “I learned early how important community service is from my parents,” said Jill. She ran a youth group at her Long Island church guiding young people towards service and when she moved to New Jersey, she looked for organizations that sought to make a difference in their neighborhoods. “Knowing members of the Links helped give me a real understanding of the passion and dedication they have and willingness to work for the betterment of the community.” An accomplished HR professional at IBM, Jill has 5 siblings. She is also the mother of Bryce Joyner, a Tufts University freshman who she enjoys watching on the football field. The Boston College graduate describes her family as very close. They often travel together and treasure their time vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard. An avid reader, Jill also loves the theater. As for the Bergen County, (NJ) Chapter of the Links, Incorporated, Jill says she enjoys working aside women who are so talented, accomplished and energetic about the organization’s mission and counts the friendships she has made with her Links sisters as “invaluable”.
February Spotlight: Beverly Baker
We turn our February Spotlight on Link Beverly Baker who presently serves as the Chapter Treasurer.
In honoring Link Beverly Baker, President Christine Fowler-Phillips talked of Beverly’s generosity as she has opened up her home for various meetings and Chapter events. An avid traveler, Beverly ensures that her doors are not closed to the organizations she holds dear, even when she cannot be present. One Chapter member noted that there is always good food, drink and great ideas generated when gathering at Beverly’s home. “She has created an environment conducive to producing good work”.
Beverly knows a lot about producing good work. This native of Trinidad and Tobago is a highly regarded professional with an undergraduate degree from St. Peter’s University, a graduate degree from New York University and a law degree from Hofstra University. She’s a successful real estate developer and mother of three (Donnell, Jonathan and Leah). Besides raising healthy and productive children, Beverly’s mission is to provide quality affordable housing in the community.
Beverly has been a member of the Bergen County (NJ) Chapter of the Links, Incorporated since 2002 and she has served as treasurer for the past five years. She was drawn to the organization because of its community service component. “I have been volunteering for as long as I can remember,” she noted. “I am happiest when I'm doing something that will assist in strengthening our communities. The Links allow me to do this and have fun at the same time.”
In addition to her involvement in the Links, Beverly is a trustee in the Women's Association of NJPAC, a member of the Coalition of 100 Black Women, Bergen/Passaic, Jack & Jill of America, Bergen - Passaic NJ, and the Hofstra Law School Alumni Association.
When asked what she liked best about her involvement with the Links, Beverly quickly responded, “I enjoy my friendship with my Link sisters most.”
March Spotlight: Jacqueline McLeod
For almost 25 years, Link Jacqueline McLeod has proudly served the chapter bringing her leadership skills to a myriad of positions including Program Coordinator, Parliamentarian, Chair of National Trends and Services to Youth facets, Inspirational Leader, Chair of 40th Anniversary Committee and two terms as Chapter President. Not surprisingly, her work history has been even more impressive. The educator and fundraising professional worked in senior positions at the American Lung Association, the Recording for the Blind and Dyslexia as well as A Better Chance, an organization that provides educational opportunities for thousands of young people of color. Currently, Jackie serves as Executive Director at Healing Communities Network, a prison re-entry program for the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated. “My role was prompted by my late husband Rev. Dr. Lonnie McLeod,” she noted. “I am continuing his legacy of making a difference in the lives of a very vulnerable population who deserve a second chance.”
Jackie was born in Columbia, South Carolina and lived in Asheville, NC until age 11. She came to New York with her sister and grandparent to live with an aunt. “My mother passed away from TB when I was six,” she said. It was her aunt, a registered nurse, who interested Jackie in the nursing profession. She attended New York University where she received a BS in Nursing Education and went on to get two graduate degrees from Columbia University—one in Public Health and the other in Education. Along the way, Jackie had a daughter, Jennifer, who has blessed her with twin grandchildren, Ava and Alex.
Like many members of the Links, Incorporated, Jackie was attracted to the organization because of its rich history of community service. “Working with friends to ‘do good in the community’ appealed to me,” she said. She describes her Link sisters as very special because of the enormous support offered to her at the death of her husband. “I felt really cared for and comforted,” she recalled. Her life is full these days as she helps with the care of her grandchildren. Jackie also enjoys cooking and reading, but she readily admits to paring down her activities devoting much of her spare time to the Links. “I am very proud of the way the Bergen County, NJ Links has evolved, she concluded. “We have grown as a Chapter, utilizing cutting edge technology, supporting relevant programs and we’re always responsive to the needs that arise in the community.”
April Spotlight: Link Minnie Adams
A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Chapter Vice President Minnie Adams came north to attend college. An heir-o-link and the youngest of three children, Minnie’s early love for fashion led her to the prestigious Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. It was there that she met her husband of 36 years, Dr. Rick Adams. As both pursued their careers, the couple’s major focus remained on their growing family. "I was in retail for several years working long hours away from home that took me away from my children's activities,” she remarked. "As they got older and were more involved in sports, I wanted to attend all of their games. Property management allowed me the time to spend with my kids while continuing to work in the mall environment.” Minnie is General Manager of Paramus Park Mall.
The couple raised three children, (Grant, Blake and Rikki) all scholar-athletes. Oldest son Grant, a former high school and college football standout, is the father of Minnie’s first grandchild, Braxton. Middle son Blake is completing dental school and daughter Rikki graduates in May with a graduate degree in broadcasting.
President-elect Adams joined the Links in 2007. “My mom, who was in the Baltimore Chapter, always told me what a wonderful organization this was and she was right,” she exclaimed. "Even better than I expected; the members are genuine and so are the friendships.”
In June, Minnie will lead the Chapter as its 18th President. She will add this honor to a long list of extraordinary accomplishments. Minnie also serves as President of the New York, New Jersey Council of Shopping Centers and is Vice President-Retail of the Paramus Chamber of Commerce.
As for her association with the Links, Incorporated Minnie concluded, “The friendships I've made in the organization have certainly improved my life!”