The 55th Annual V. Alyce Foster Trailblazer Awards Luncheon was held on Saturday, April 28 at the Hilton Anatole Hotel at noon. Judge Lynn Toler, was the keynote speaker at the event. Twelve community leaders were honored as trailblazers during the event for various fields and community leadership. The honorees represented leaders in a wide range of industries including automotive, legal, tech, education and more.
The full bios of the 12 honorees are at the bottom:
Christopher P. Reynolds, is the 1st African American Executive Vice President, Corporate Resources and Chief Diversity Officer, Managing Officer, General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer, Deputy Chief Officer, General Administration & Human Resources Group, TOYOTA.
Toyota Motor Corporation is the largest car company in the world. As Managing Officer for Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), Reynolds functions at the global parent company as General Counsel, Chief Legal Officer and Deputy Chief Officer for the General Administrative & Human Resources Group.
As Executive Vice President, Corporate Resources for Toyota Motor North America (TMNA), Reynolds is responsible for the North American functions of Accounting & Finance, Human Resources, Government Affairs, Corporate Communications, Corporate Strategy and Legal, among others. Reynolds also serves as Chief Diversity Officer for TMNA.
Earlier, Reynolds served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York, and as a law clerk for Judge Damon J. Keith, U.S. Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit in Detroit. Reynolds grew up amid the auto industry in Detroit as the son of a Ford River Rouge plant worker and a registered nurse. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science with honors at Kalamazoo College and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in 1983. He received his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1986.
Charron Simmons, the first African American woman in a managerial position with Apple, Inc. Ms. Simmons is currently Apple’s Fixed Global Process Leader for Fixed Assets, Revenue, General Ledger, and Tax Accounting functions. Apple Inc. is an American multinational technology company that designs, develops, and sells consumer electronics, computer software, and online services. In her commute from Dallas to Austin weekly, she is the Fixed Assets Accounting Manager for all of the Americas, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Latin America. She is responsible for improving accounting processes also in Europe and Asia. During 2017, Charron Simmons received the Apple Finance Award for Creating Value.
Ernestine S. Lacy, M.A., D.D.S, is the 1st African American Associate Dean, Student Affairs and Student Diversity and the highest-ranking African American administrator in the Office of the Dean of Texas A & M College of Dentistry. Located within Baylor Hospital in Dallas as a distinguished resource for dental education in Texas for more than 100 years, Texas A&M College of Dentistry in Dallas is dedicated to combining higher education and research with community service.
The Director of the Center of Excellence, Dr. Ernestine Lacy, is executive director of College of Dentistry’s Office of Student Development. She was honored as the 2013 recipient of the American Dental Education Association’s prestigious Gies Award for Outstanding Achievement.
Nearly every facet of Lacy’s job requires her to interact with students. Whether it’s the teens in the dental assisting class at Dallas’ Townview Magnet Center, the high schoolers and college scholars in the Summer Predental Enrichment Program or promising dental students on track for a simultaneous DDS and master’s degree in dental education, students are Lacy’s points of pride.
As a result of the work of her office, each year thousands of young people from underserved communities in Texas are introduced to dental medicine as a potential career path.
Desiree Allen is Dallas Independent School District’s first female football coach. In Texas, football is king, so when North Dallas High School’s football program hired a full-time female coach, it was a groundbreaking move. Desiree is North Dallas’ cornerbacks and special teams coach. She also plays for the 2017 National Champion, Dallas Elite Professional Football team.
Allen grew up as a multi-sport athlete, playing basketball, softball, volleyball and she ran track. She then went on to attend the University of Texas at Dallas to play soccer, something that was new to her. After graduation, Allen knew sports was something she enjoyed and wanted to continue in the sports arena with hopes of becoming an athletic coordinator.
Allen was first introduced to football after she started working for Dallas Independent Schools. She became the football team’s video coordinator at Lincoln High School, and at Roosevelt. She quickly developed an urge to play on the gridiron, so Allen joined a local women’s football team in Dallas.
While Allen may be one of the few women coaches in Texas high school football, she joins the many others who are making their mark in the football world. Ms. Allen is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Ricky McNeal is President of the Garland Unit of the NAACP and he received the Humanitarian Award. He is a member of the Garland Area Brotherhood. McNeal is Deputy Registrar of Voters for Dallas County. He’s a member of the Band Booster Club and Swingster’s Booster Club for Sachse High School.
His other activities includes serving on the Garland Firefighters Citizen Board, Garland ISD PTA Board and a Member of the 2014 Strategic Design Team of Garland ISD. Mr. McNeal served on the 2014 Bond Study Committee for Garland ISD and the Texas State Conference of NAACP Units.
He has served the City of as a Garland Community Leaders Multi-Cultural Coalition and the Garland Police Review Board.
Mae Frances Rowlett wakes up most Friday mornings ready to give of herself through volunteer services. For at least the last five years Mae has provided nutritious meals to those less fortunate and weak in Dallas’ communities as a volunteer in the Visiting Nurses Association’s Meals on Wheels Program. Homebound Seniors and disabled members of our community benefit from Mae’s compassionate heart, generous spirit and the provision of a good healthy meal.
Growing up in South Dallas, Mae was nurtured to give back as a member of the South Dallas B&PW Youth Club and the Delta Sigma Theta TASPers youth group. Today, Mae Frances volunteers also with the March of Dimes, Labors of Love Missions Team, giving of herself through at the St. Luke Community UMC.
She is an employed volunteer, working full-time for the U.S. Department of HHS, Administration for Children and Families. In recent years, Mae Frances served as Southwest Regional Director of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
After being homeless herself, LeTitia Smith Owens, decided to use her vocal ability to uplift the homeless and the needy. After realizing there were so many people that just needed to know they were thought of, the Lord gave her the song: Where Are You? written and performed by her and Fred Hammond. She is the Founder of the Where Are You? Homeless outreach nonprofit organization.
LeTitia is committed to using her gifts to bring awareness to the world that there are people who feel abandoned and alone on a daily basis and are seeking hope and a hand. Her goal is to shelter the homeless. She realizes she may not be able to totally eliminate homelessness, but she is willing to shake the world and get others involved in solving the problem unyielding.
Ms. Owens was recently appointed to the City of Dallas Homeless Commission
Dr. Frederick D. Lewis is President of the Advisory Council of the Dallas County Democratic Party. He is an arbitrator, mediator and summary trial Judge and political consultant.
This national award-winning Arbitrator, Mediator and Summary Jury Trial Judge has settled over $500 million dollars in lawsuits, disputes and claims. He is a former adjunct professor in Southern Methodist University’s Graduate Dispute Resolution Program. His motto is “Case Settled, Case Closed.”
Dr. Lewis also serves as a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Derrick K. Hardin is a junior at James Martin High School in Arlington. He has served as the President of the South Dallas B&PW Youth Club for the past two years. He was awarded the Daughters of the Revolution Good Citizenship Award.
Hardin joined in the Arlington ISD All-City Band in 2014. He is a member of James Martin HS Wind Symphony and principal Bass Clarinet player of the Texas Music Educators Association’s Honor Symphony Orchestra. Derrick is the Junior Drum Major.
Academically, Hardin consistently appears on the A/B Student Honor roll. He received the South Central District Youth of the Year in 2016 and 2018. He also won 2nd place in the National Essay Contest.
The South Dallas Business & Professional Women’s Club, Inc. presented the highest award presented by the National Association of Negro Business & Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc. to the South Central District Governor, Patricia B. Maples.
Throughout her professional nursing career and civic contributions to Dallas and abroad throughout Africa, Patricia Maples’ life has paralleled that our Club matriarch, Sojourner Truth. She has given of herself extensively in many roles in ministry and biblical teachings in the Disciples of Christ Church and the East Dallas Christian Church.
Her leadership with The Black Academy of Arts and Letters and the Dallas Black Dance Theatre has left the arts in Dallas a better place and has impacted the cultural lives of adults and youth throughout the Dallas metroplex.
Maples has worked tirelessly to enrich the lives of people in and out of towns, hamlets and villages during her annual pilgrimages to Africa. She has been an exemplary role model of leadership as the current South Central District Governor of the National Association of Negro Business & Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc. where she has made the lives of women better personally and professionally.
Serving generations on the corner of Lancaster Road and Illinois Avenue, Barbara Record has stood the test of time. Since 1969, her family business continues to thrive as well as her service to the Dallas community continues to be noteworthy.
A business woman, an entrepreneur, a community activist, Barbara Record epitomizes what is to be expected of a successful business owner in Dallas, she has given back to the community. As an advocate of women’s rights and their success, Barbara has served as campaign Treasurers for several elected officials.
She continues to serve many ministries in Friendship West Baptist Church.
Viola Black’s 57 years of service as a professional nurse at Parkland Hospital, minus a few months, have journey has taken her through three county hospitals and given her a lifetime of experience in patient care. Parkland’s longest serving nurse, Ms. Black started learning in 1961 as a patient care technician-in-training at the old hospital on the corner of Oak Lawn and Maple avenues. It was called Woodlawn Hospital after the next Parkland opened on Harry Hines Boulevard in 1954.
In 1984, the same year her youngest daughter graduated from high school, she achieved her goal. It had taken 23 years from the day she walked through Parkland’s doors, but she became an RN. Now, Black is handling two 12-hour night shifts every week, moving between three rehabilitation units. People ask her when she’s going to give it up, and she has a quick response: “When I die. And I’ll probably die at Parkland.”