Building Generational Leaders TBTNEWS '25' TBTNews '25' is such an amazing list of progressive individuals who've demonstrated leadership, courage a
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TBTNews '25'is such an amazing list of progressive individuals who've demonstrated leadership, courage and self reliance over the last year, and who continue to inspire. Each person selected was not chosen because of their many friendships or connections to Chicago's elite community, business, spiritual and so-called political leaders. They were picked because over the twelve months, they've stood strong on their convictions and have challenged status quo and have gain notoriety for their decisions - good, bad or indifferent. There are plenty other young and emerging hustlers who could've easily made the list, and I'm sure in the coming years, they will. The twenty-five were decided by three of MG Media's most respectable readers and supporters. Here is the list of TBTNews '25'.
Pam Redwood Harris
Jonathan Swain has taken a family-owned business and turned it into a major establishment within the community and his leadership over the last year has been nothing short of commendable. His vision for Kimbark Beverage Shoppe included adding a promotional component to focus more on festivals during the summer months, in which the franchise benefits from opportunities throughout the city. But what's most impressive, is Jonathan's commitment to hiring recovery individuals, who mostly are black. This gives Swain his greatest sense of pride.
George Powell is one of the few entrepreneurs who's actually making a living in the hundred billion dollar tech space. He leveraged the resources from his MBA at the Keller Graduate School of Business and the Silicon Valley based startup incubator, the Founder Institute; and in 2014, he founded Easy Beauty, an app that professional stylists use to access critical products. This is an effective channel for getting products in the hands of the stylists instantly. He assembled a consultant team that includes industry influencers Johnny Wright and Jacqueline Tarrant.
Emile Cambry has used his love for technology and innovation and developed what is called the model technology incubator that has branched out in other Midwest markets like St. Louis. But his massive expansion of Blue 1647 over the last year in Chicago has been remarkable - with incubator hubs in Englewood, the Pilsen community, in the Kenwood area, and one planned for the Westside.
A.J. Jackson is a serial entrepreneur. He's owned businesses as far back as his teen years and those experiences have groomed him well today, as the owner of Jimmy Jamm Sweet Potato Bakery. His most recent endeavor is his signature line of cigars, Alourdam, named after his daughter and son combined. His blend of flavors has captured the taste of athletes, pop, R&B and hip hop stars and business people alike. His weekly 'smoke outs' around Chicago surprisingly attracts mainly women - buffing with style.
Pam Redwood Harris heard about people losing their jobs during the Great Recession, then she became one of them. Instead of looking for a another job, along with her sister (Agape), they decided to start their own company managing the speaking careers of their former clients. Now Chicago-based SMG Speakersboasts a roster of about 100 celebrity speakers, from CNN's Anderson Cooper toShark Tank'sDaymond John.
Chef Cliff Rome owns 1/3 of the eateries or entertainment venues in the Bronzeville community. He recently opened Peach's, an award-winning breakfast, diner-style spot that has attracted celebrities and mainly the local community, who've made this quaint restaurant a place for great food and a clean and peaceful atmosphere. Cliff and his investment partners also own H-Dogs, Blanc Gallery, Parkway Ballroom and the Bronze- all in Bronzeville.
There only a few committed people who walk the talk and when you mention their names, people in the room smile. Dina Everage, the principal of Wentworth Schoolin Englewood, which was a turnaround school, is one the cleanest and most controlled environments throughout all of CPS' many brick and mortal mansions. Dina's much celebrated yearly 100 Positive Men in May campaign has been one of her signature programs and it attracts men from all walks of life lending their time and voices to her eager students.
Cheryl Hyman has shown all the naysayers that she was capable of putting together a mayor's transformational plan to improve the seven city colleges. Yep, it was the former mayor who anointed her the savior of City Colleges of Chicago and the current mayor stayed the course upon his first and second terms. The troublesome colleges were having problems getting its thousands of students to walk across the stage two years or so after enrolling. This year, not only have more students graduated under Cheryl's leadership, but the revamped college system has received national accolades for its turnaround platform.
Obama Releases New Executive Order. President Barack Obama’s extensive use of executive orders instructs all federal agencies to remove the box on their job applications where applicants would normally admit if they have a criminal history. The move would purportedly shift any investigations of an applicant’s potential criminal history until later on in the screening process.
A White House fact sheet released along with the order stated,“While most agencies already have taken this step, this action will better ensure that applicants from all segments of society, including those with prior criminal histories, receive a fair opportunity to compete for Federal employment.”
Obama is set to detail this new executive order during an event in New Jersey with Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and is expected to urge private businesses in America to do the same thing. This move follows close on the heels of the recent announcement that Obama’s Justice Department is releasing early from prison thousands of drug offenders, as part of their criminal justice system reforms. It also coincides with the announcement of the creation of an $8 million fund for education grants to assist former inmates with employment and job training.
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Jay Travis is a dedicated community leader focusing on democracy, equality and social justice; working to improve schools, develop affordable housing, protect seniors and create jobs and economic opportunity. Even though she is not an elected official, yet, she challenged her opponent during the last election cycle and placed fear in the heart of the current state representative of the 26th District. She has the support of CUT, and they've promised to double their efforts this time around. It looks as though Christian Mitchell has a few months left to enjoy his hot and untrustworthy seat.
Kurt Summers, the City of Chicago's Treasurer has been fighting every since being elected to his first term to ensure that blacks get a piece of the hundreds of millions of dollars that's going to others through city contracts. And this include the black banks who also miss out on city deposits that could be used to invest in black business startups and affordable housing. His presence in the community the last twelve months has been nothing short of impressive.
Governor Bruce Rauner is probably the most disliked elected official in the history of Illinois politics. His hard stance on what he call 'reform politics' has kept him in the eye of the political storm since being elected to his first term as governor. He's standing firm on his beliefs that if state legislators and the voters follow his lead, the future of Illinois will benefit in the long run. It's a hard pill to swallow with people suffering throughout the land. But he ran on this issue, and he's proven to one elected official keeping his campaign promise.
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Andy Shaw, founder of BGA
TBTNEWS '25"Community Service Leaders
Better Government Association (BGA) has been such an awesome resource to help Chicagoans and residents in Illinois be aware of all the corruption and double standard dealings with local government. This year alone, BGA has uncovered some very serious breach of power coming from the mayor's office, the governor's administration, as well as aldermen and state legislators, who've been caught exercising abuse of their limited powers.
Dr. Chandra Gill
Dr. Chandra Gill is one serious woman who spends her time traveling the country speaking to the youth of America about their current and past conditions. She expresses to them that their future could be bright if they only had the tools to dream. Dr. Gill places heavy burden of the future leaders of tomorrow on the backs of adults and educators who seem to forget that it's their jobs to open the pathway to dreams and not prisons.
The Dyett 12: Dr. Aisha Wade-Bey, Anna Jones, April Stogner, Cathy Dale, Irene Robinson, Jeanette Taylor-Ramann, Jitu Brown, Marc Kaplan, Dr. Monique Redeaux-Smith, Nelson Soza, Prudence Browne, Rev. Robert Jones (Photos: Phil Cantor)
The Hunger Strikers took an unwritten oath to serve and protect at all cost the children of Bronzeville during their over 30 day challenge without food. The Dyett School debate waged war and the two sides (CPS and a host of community groups) decided to fight dirty. In the end, a compromise was met and the Hunger Strikers prevailed, for the most. But most importantly, they finally got a chance to eat, eat and eat!
Sheldon Smith is one the most dedicated young hustlers in Chicago. The Dovetail Project, which he founded has taken young black teen fathers and made responsible daddies and men out of them. His modeled project is being considered for funding to duplicate in places like Memphis, Tennessee. This man didn't let his early days of being incarcerated define his life's journey. And today, with a great network and support system, Sheldon has not only enhanced his life, but he's changed the lives of hundred of lost and confused young souls.
Torrey Barrett, over the last year has gained favor with Mayor Rahm Emanuel. That partnership has proven to be the smartest move, professionally, that he's ever made, outside of him actually founding the KLEO Center, after the untimely death of his sister, Cleo. The Center has become a safe haven for community kids in the Washington Park area. And Torrey has become the go-to-guy when the mayor wants to understand what the community needs to best serve the youth.
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TBTNEWS '25'Entertainment Leader
The passion and purpose of hip hop artist Che "Rhymefest" Smith, is undeniably unmatched when it comes to not only his performances around the country, his writing skills, but his care and concern for his community. He uses his gift to empower and tell stories of forgiveness and progress. Che's recent Oscar and his past Grammy awards were won because of his labor of love for his craft and his devotion to helping to achieve equality and fairness - because black lives matter.
Otis Moss III
Otis Moss III is a rare breed of spiritual leader. He doesn't follow the status quo, nor does he need the acceptance of government, elected officials or others to appear larger than life. He realizes that no one is larger than hisLord andSavior, who placed upon him the baton from another great man who once managed Trinity United Church of Christ. The past year, Otis has been on a mission with his committed congregation to build a church full of healthy and fulfilled people.
Pastor Corey Brooks, over the past year, has survived a fiery storm after being one of the lone (public) black supporters who attached himself to the current governor when he first decided to run and throughout his campaign. The heat in the kitchen at Brooks' New Beginning Church was scorching, but he stood on his faith and it paid off. Today, he's been appointed to serve on a powerful board commission, but not only that, he has the ear of the governor. It was evident when Corey recently hosted a forum at his church to look at black contracting opportunities with the state, and every major agency 'head' was in attendance - at the demand of the governor.
Pastor Chris Harris has been a fighter for his community way before any spot lights were shined on him. He just did the work. He has a striving congregation and his sanctuary is one of a few that has their doors open seven days a week serving the youth, seniors and the sick and shut in. Over the last year, he has established partnerships with nearby medical centers to open what he calls The Dream Center. This center focus on mental illness after the trauma. What happens to kids and adults alike who are effective by violence, domestic abuse and other issues? The Center provides post treatment so that people can heal correctly.
Pastor Charles Jenkins, the administrator of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, is the poster child for forgiveness and redemption. His story the last 12 months has been nothing short of a fairly-tale, but with an in between journey that was filled with hurt, destruction, dysfunction and deceitfulness. Charles has prayed to his God, begged for mercy to the ones who matter the most, and have survived to tell his struggle through song. He deserves to be praised and presented for all the world to see and hear on how a man can rise..... again!
Pastor Phil Jackson is probably a name that most have never heard of. But his willingness to serve is witnessed by his God. This Westside man oversees Tha House - Lawndale Community Church, in the heart of what can be considered the worse of Chicago's urban hoods. But his love and devotion to the youth drives his passion. Phil developed his church into a 'Hip Hop Sanctuary' and its model has attracted hundreds of kids to join choirs and to serve all the needs of the church. His style is cool and calm, but his message is POWERFUL!
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TBTNEWS '25'Young Leader & Sports
Jahmal Cole is the recipient of many awards. In 2015, he traveled the city of Chicago with his My Block, My Hood, My City campaign, where he takes teenagers from underserved Chicago communities on city-wide explorations. The mayor actually recognized his efforts, making him a Mayor's Youth Advisor. Only in his early 20s, he's been a tireless advocate for education reform. Jahmal is the author of The Torch of Decency: Rekindling the Spirit of Community Organizations, Athletes & MC's and50 Excuses to Not Follow Your Dreams.
The 2015 Chicago Cubs, even though they didn't win the Pennant, made history and gave sports fans in Chicago a chance to sample the sweet taste of victory, which have been missing from the appetite of the locals for decades. This team was build on youth and talent, so we can only hope next year will see the team make that giant leap to bring Chicago a national title. Thanks for the memories.
The Chicago Blackhawks, on the other hand, gave Chicago and all its hockey fans another chance to taste victory. In 2015, the Blackhawks captured the Stanley Cup championship for the 3rd time in 6 years. From all appearances, the title was won so easily that fans can only anticipate a repeat performance. This time bring the trophy to the hood so brothers can see what 'winning' feels and looks like!
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