Best, Brightest & Most Beautiful 2011

LANSING, MI —  This is always an exciting edition for The New Citizens Press.  We have the opportunity to introduce you to fantasic people in our community that are doing interesting things.  Over the year, we come into contact with many people and since starting the  “Best, Brightest and Most Beautiful” article in 2005, we have been featuring impactful individuals.

This high-profile recognition showcases individuals who have achieved success in their careers or business ventures and have made substantial contributions to their industry.

Only one person that we asked this year did not complete the request.  No one paid or asked for themselves to be in the article either.  Michigan is a great state and Lansing is a great town  and we collectively should support those who have connections.

We have done many updates on our honorees because they deserve it.  In our last edition, we featured Felicia Turrentine Wasson who was originally in the 2006 edition.  We want to support our honorees in their future accomplishments as well.

If you believe that you know someone who should be in our Best, Brightest and most beautiful edition for 2012, please contact us.

We hope you enjoy the article and tell them that you saw it in The New Citizens Press.

Cordelia R. Black,
CRB Digital Video Productions

A native of Lansing and affectionately known by many as “Coddie,” Cordelia R. Black is the daughter of Johnnie Mae and Elijah Black; they instilled in her at a young age how important it was to take time for others and “to give back to the community”.

Cordelia’s career-seeking journey has taken her along many diverse and intertwining trails; however, since the age of 17, Cordelia has had a particular interest in working with youth. She has devoted 23 years of her personal and professional life to working with children, families, and community groups and organizations dedicated to sustaining positive lives.

Employed by the Lansing School District (LSD) for 15 years and currently as a public safety officer at C. W. Otto Middle School, she has been busy. Besides working at Otto, she has been recognized as a district employee of the month, has coached girls’ basketball and volleyball at Dwight Rich Middle School, girls’ softball at J. W. Sexton High School, and is currently the Athletic Director for Otto. She served as a union steward for nearly six years and was recently elected to represent her colleagues as their bargaining unit chairperson.

Cordelia has another passion. She is the sole founder of CRB Digital Video Productions, a company dedicated to preserving special memories and helping clients through the grieving and healing processes. CRB Digital Video Productions specialize in memorial video tributes.  Her video montages have won her accolades.  Cordelia is currently studying photography and plans to use those new skills to add to the line of products CRB already offers (  Coddie has been called a visionary; she sees possibilities where others may see nothing but obstacles. She has a can-do attitude and knows how to put ideas into action, transforming them into reality.

Education was paramount for the Black family, and Johnnie Mae and Elijah instilled that in their children for whom they had high expectations. Not unlike her siblings, Cordelia has a passion for excellence and she loves to learn; both qualities she both shares when working with the youth she tries to inspire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management from Central Michigan University and is currently working toward a Master’s in Organization Administration with a concentration in Leadership and Human Resources.  Her training and certifications also include: MCOLES Public Act 330, PPCT Defensive Tactics Instructor, Basic Emergency Medical Technician, First-Aid/CPR and AED Instructor, and Real Justice Conferencing facilitator.

Community organizations that benefit from Cordelia’s altruism and hard work include: The Greater Lansing United Nations Associations, Peace Education Center of Greater Lansing, Linking All Types of Teachers to International Cross Cultural Education and The Nyaka AIDS Orphan Project.  Cordelia is also a member of The National Association of School Safety and Law Enforcement Officers.

She is a lover of words and communication. Over the years she has found words that have motivated her and inspired her to be her best. She frequently shares these words with those she encounters, hoping that they, too, might be so moved. Her favorite quotes come from the remarkable renaissance woman who is hailed as one of the great voices of contemporary literature, Dr. Maya Angelou, who once said, “when you get, give. When you learn, teach. That’s all you need to know.” The second belongs to none other than one of the world’s best known advocates of non-violent social change strategies, Martin Luther King, Jr., to whom these words are attributed, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

Humbly, Cordelia attributes her accomplishments to her dedication to her faith in God, her strong will, and the encouragement and support of her family, friends, and mentors.

Ashleigh MacLachlan,
Street Outreach Program Manager at Gateway Community Services

Ashleigh is the Street Outreach Program Manager at Gateway Community Services. Gateway serves runaway, homeless and at-risk youth in Eaton, Ingham and Clinton Counties who are ages 12-21 years old. Prior to working for Gateway, she served on their Board of Directors for one year.

Ashleigh moved from Ontario, Canada to Lansing about four years ago. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Philosophy. She plans to return to school soon to complete her Master’s in Social Work.

In her spare time, Ashleigh sings with Sistrum Women’s Chorus. Ashleigh enjoys reading, doing puzzles, playing with her dog and three cats, and volunteering. She volunteered for the past two years as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for two siblings in the foster care system and as a foster parent for young and sick pets for the Capital Area Humane Society. She was a Big Sister for a 14 year old youth for two years in Canada.

Recent projects include implementing a traveling art exhibit to raise awareness about teen bullying and suicide, called “I was here” and helping organize the 2010 Lansing Neighborhood Conference. Ashleigh loves living in the Lansing community and is inspired by the many community partnerships to advocate for youth in our area.

Phil Denny,

Saxophonist Phil Denny, has a long history of performing in the Mid-West as the front man and founder of the Lansing, MI based group, Too Smooth For Notes. Phil’s passion for music began as a teen and continues to grow while developing his individuality on the saxophone. Over the years while cultivating a diverse fan base and building an impressive resume, Phil has had the opportunity to perform with or along side notable artist like Kirk Whalum, Gerald Albright, Randy Scott, Tim Bowman, Lalah Hathaway, Nate Harasim, Gail Jhonson, Howard Hewitt, Al McKenzie, Orrick Ewing and even had an impromptu jam session with Stevie Wonder.

“He has mastered the technique to seduce his audience and hold them captive; making each person present feel as though he plays just for them.”

In 2010, Phil started a solo career and released two singles “Sway Back” & “La Coquina” from his highly anticipated debut album expected to be released later this year under the production umbrella of artist/producer, Nate Harasim. The debut album will consist of all-new original songs and feature other nationally recognized artists.

In addition to recording, Phil stays very busy performing on the local and regional scene. Whether as an independent artists or with Too Smooth For Notes, chances are pretty good you can hear him live on any given week. Known for his engaging live performances and command while on stage, Phil takes you on a passionate musical journey every time. Stay tuned for more infectious music from this rising star as he looks to shake up the air waves.

Hakim Crampton,
Founder & Editor of the “Journal of Neo Soul & Poetry” and Hip Hop Activist

Hakim Crampton is a spoken word performer, author, motivational speaker, Hip Hop activist, and the founder and Editor of the “Journal of Neo Soul & Poetry”. Hakim’s live spoken word and musical performances are well known in the Detroit, Lansing, Jackson and Toledo areas as a regular feature at open mic venues where his distinctive blend of Spoken Flow poetry and impromptu freestyles have set him apart in the poetry world.

As an author, Hakim  demonstrates an aptitude in a broad variety of subjects pertinent to Black America  that is visual in not just his written poetry but as well in his  academic and scholarly texts, such as his 2001 publication ”Building A New Cultural Perspective: Essays & Commentary on the Social-Political and Cultural Landscape of Black America”. Hakim’s latest book,  “LET THERE BE LIGHT: Daily Inspirations & Thoughts Of a Neo Soul Poet”, is a collection of poetic aphorism and daily maxims as appeared in his Facebook column Let There Be Light.

Additionally, Hakim has written over 60 scholarly articles since 1992, of which nearly two dozen were published. Hakim has been a featured contributing writer for The Jackson Blazer News as well as Hood Illustrated Magazine, where his articles focus on social and community issues impacting youth raised in a Hip Hop generation of cultural stagnation and degeneracy.

In his role as a community activist, Hakim is the Chief Operations Officer (COO) of community-based organization H.A.P.E. (Helping All People Excel), in which he works directly with at-risk youth as a mentor, life coach and motivational speaker.Hakim has hosted several events including MAN UP, a health awareness event targeting African American men sponsored by Allegiance Health and NAACP; delivered keynote speeches at many events. Hakim’s efforts were recently recognized at an event sponsored by Jackson Community College’s Men Of Merit where he received an Appreciation Award for his youth activism and mentoring of college students in the Jackson area.
Angela Fossi,
Project Manager at Sircon and 83rd President of the Lansing Jaycees

A Metro Detroit native, Angela Fossi transferred to the Lansing area in 2001 to complete her bachelor’s degree in communication arts at Michigan State University. During that time she gained valuable experience working with several companies on software implementation projects.

Currently, Angela  is a CAPM certified Project Manager at Sircon, a Vertafore Company located in Okemos. The 34-year-old started her career in at Sircon in March of 2009. Previously, Angela worked at Landamerica Financial Company and ABN Amro.

In addition to her career, Angela currently serves as the 83rd President of the Lansing Jaycees. The Jaycees is a group of 21- to 40-year-olds who focus on leadership development by working on a variety of community service projects. The organization is involved in a wide range of activities, including the Easter Egg Hunt on the Capitol Lawn, Monster Mayhem (Haunted House) and Stuff the Bus. In her role with the Lansing Jaycees, Angela is involved with a large number of community and business organizations.

In 2010, Angela received the following recognitions for her service in the Jaycees organization. The David Lichwala Memorial Award -The David Lichwala Memorial award is presented annually to up to twenty (20) outstanding Local Presidents in the state.

Presidential Medallion Recipient – Each year, the Michigan Jaycee President has 50 Presidential Medallions custom-made. These medallions are awarded to individuals that have gone above and beyond all others in their dedication to the Jaycees. It is the highest honor the Michigan Jaycee President can bestow on a member.

At Sircon, Angela  was honored with the Rookie of the Year award in 2010 upon the completion of her first year with the company.

A resident of Mason, during her free time Angela enjoys reading, traveling and volunteering at the Capital Area Humane Society.

Haywood Edwards,
Administrative Assistant at Shabazz Public
School Academy and
Vice-President of the Kappa Delta Lambda chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Haywood Edwards has been a part of the Lansing community since 1977. At the age of 5, he made the journey from Detroit with the rest of his family as his father Bishop Nathaniel Edwards,  accepted the charge to pastor the Aposolic Tower of Power, a small yet vibrant ministry currently located near the intersection of Marting Luther King, Jr. Blvd. and Mt. Hope.  An ordained elder, he has worked in many capacities including van driver, Sunday School teacher, drummer, etc…Currently the Youth Pastor, he states that the highlight of his ministry is working with young people and seeing them develop into adults that have developed a relationship with Christ. Every 5th Sunday, the young people  perform for the main congregation showcasing their considerable skills and abilities.  The last service included spoken word, musical performances, choral selections, sign-language worship and skits. The success of the 5th Sunday services are a testament to his commitment and dedication to young people.

Academically, Haywood attended Allen Street, Foster, Elmhurst, Dwight Rich , Pattengill, and is a proud member of the class of 1990 of Eastern High School.  Although receiving  scholarships to attend elsewhere, it had always been his lifelong dream to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.  After being accepted in his junior year, he spent his entire senior year applying for scholarships and preparing to make this life-changing step. “Applying for scholarships during that period in my life taught me that there are many good people in Lansing who live to help others. My mother gave me my first lessons in networking as she made calls and established relationships to ensure that I could afford to go.” He received support, financial or otherwise, from Delta Sigma Theta, Alpha Kappa Alpha, the Order of the Eastern Star, Urban League, Trumark Corporation, and of course his church family. “Evangelist Harrison and Mother Gulley used to send me $5 and pound cakes that the work-study students in the campus post office often absconded with!” As a graduate of this prestigious H.B.C.U (Historically Black College or University), he encourages parents to seriously consider the nurturing environment and affordable, quality education that these institutions provide. “Lansing Community College even has an excellent transfer program that allows students to gain an academic foundation at a severely discounted price and then eventually move to other institutions that perhaps may have more specialized programs, like a Morehouse or a Spelman.”

Haywood has worked for the Michigan Education Association, the Lansing School District, the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), Morehouse College, and currently works as an Administrative Assistant to Dr. Eugene Cain, Chief School Administrator of the Shabazz Public School Academy. In that role, he oversees the Transportation and Maintenance Departments and assists in managing the school’s technology program, including the management of its database.  His main responsibility however, is to assist Dr. Cain in whatever he undertakes.  “My job is challenging yet so rewarding because I absolutely love Shabazz. I feel that I am providing a valuable service by assisting Dr. Cain with his vision. He believes in this community and has worked hard to bring  Shabazz to its current state.  We have earned a grade of an A for two years in a row and also have made Adequate Yearly Progress (A.Y.P.) for six years in a row. I tell him often that a general is only as good as his lieutenants, so I endeavor to assist him however I can.”   He feels that his experience at Shabazz has prepared him to eventually lead an educational institution himself. He has a B.A. in Finance from Morehouse College and is planning to complete his Masters in Educational Leadership at Michigan State University.

An active member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the nation’s first inter-collegiate fraternity for African-American men, he currently serves as the Vice-President of the Kappa Delta Lambda chapter (Lansing Alumni). “I am surrounded by a great group of committed brothers that live and breathe community service. We have participated with the United Way, Ronald McDonald House, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Mid-Michigan Food Bank, Red Cross, etc.. We also have   recently adopted Shabazz Academy. During a recent book-drive, we were successful in mobilizing the entire Lansing community and received thousands of books which were given to the Academy’s children. Our biggest project now is the organization of a bus trip to Washington, D.C. on August 28th for the unveiling of the Dr. Martin Luther King Monument. “  He also is looking forward to representing his Fraternity in the upcoming step-show on August 6th. “We owe the Sigmas for the 2009 show. That was too close. We did back-flips and everything! I think that there must have been a typo on the trophy…”

As the immediate past-president of Lansing’s chapter of the National Pan-Hellenic Council and its current Chaplain, Haywood sees a need for more unity in Lansing. “ I am a firm believer in the concept of synergy.  1+1=3! If organizations would pool their resources, there would be a greater result.”  An example of this idea was a recent Good Friday service that he planned as the head of the N.P.H.C. Spiritual Committee. Many organizations came together to worship and to hear community mentors discuss the topic: “Jesus Christ: The Ultimate Servant”. His belief in the idea of a determined unity is what led to his participation in the Black Male Consortium, an entity which combines the efforts and resources of the local chapters of Alpha Phi Alpha, Phi Beta Sigma, Kappa Alpha Psi, and Omega Psi Phi, Men Making a Difference, and Turning Point.  “The goal of this combined effort is to maintain a common calendar and to coordinate the activities of these organizations that impact the Black Male. Typically, a parent seeking help for their son would be able to contact the Consortium and they would be pointed in the right direction. Organizations like this could serve as a model for others in the future, particularly when seeking grants.”

Haywood has been married to Kassaundra Edwards, a Walmart manager, for 13 years, and is the father of Haywood II (10), Kayla (8), and Kyra (7). As one of 13 siblings, he strongly believes in the importance of family.   Riding bikes, board games, and playing “Make Me Laugh” are all activities that they frequently engage in.

Please contact us if you would like addition information and we will make sure that they receive the message. You can always find them on Facebook too.

This was printed in the June 19, 2011 – July 2, 2011 edition.