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LBPI Announces 2024 Grassroots Black Leadership Awards Honorees

June 4, 2024Equity

The Lexington Black Prosperity Initiative, a community-advised committee of Blue Grass Community Foundation, is proudly recognizing Black community leaders who are driving positive change with the 2024 Grassroots Black Leadership Awards.

Launched in 2021, this award honors and supports individuals at the forefront of addressing racial equity, disparities in the Black community, and social justice throughout Lexington. Recipients of the award receive an unrestricted stipend of $5,000 in acknowledgment of their grassroots efforts to create meaningful change in our community.

“The Lexington Black Prosperity Initiative is honored to recognize these grassroots leaders who are addressing racial equity, disparities in the Black community and social justice across Lexington,” said Dr. Tiffany Daniels, D.C., LPBI advisory board co-chair.

The 2024 Grassroots Black Leadership Awards go to the following recipients:

DR. ROSZALYN M. AKINS

Roszalyn AkinsDr. Roszalyn M. Akins, a native of Lexington and a Transylvania University graduate, has made significant contributions to education and social justice. Starting her career in 1977 as a social studies teacher and dean of students for the Fayette County Public School system, she retired in 2004 but soon returned to address pressing educational needs. In 2005, she founded the Black Male Working Academy (BMW Academy) to close the academic achievement gap for African American males, now serving over 400 students from kindergarten through 12th grade. BMW Academy boasts numerous college graduates and partnerships with universities offering full scholarships. Roszalyn also established the Black Boys and Men in Medicine (BBAMM) program to increase the number of African American male doctors. Because of the success of the BMW Academy, the Fayette County Public School System supported the opening of Kentucky’s first all-male college prep school in 2012 called the Carter G. Woodson Academy. Roszalyn assisted the Jefferson County Public School system in opening Kentucky’s second all-male college prep school called the W. E. B. Dubois Academy. Roszalyn is the Executive Director of the BMW Academy and Dean of Students at Carter G. Woodson Academy, celebrating 46 years in education. She is a sought-after speaker and organizer of women’s conferences nationwide.

LETONIA A. JONES

LeTonia JonesLeTonia A. Jones, MSW, is a Paducah native and University of Kentucky graduate with a B.A. in Psychology and a Master of Social Work. Certified as an Empowerment Life Coach and holding a certificate in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University, LeTonia operates a criminal defense business offering mitigation services. With a career spanning nearly 30 years, LeTonia has merged education, arts, and activism, including roles as adjunct faculty at UK and UofL, and as Advocacy Programs Administrator at the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association, securing significant federal funding for re-entry projects. She led clemency efforts for incarcerated battered women, resulting in 12 pardons, and founded the SwallowTale Project, a writing initiative for incarcerated women. As an openly Black queer woman, LeTonia made history by running for public office in Lexington, won the 2014 Bluegrass Black Pride Trailblazer Award, and received multiple mayoral appointments, including Chair of the LFUCG Human Rights Commission and member of the Commission for Racial Justice and Equality. LeTonia also serves on various boards, writes, and co-founded the Black Women’s Radical Rest Retreat. Her mission is to ensure everyone is valued and can explore their intrinsic worth.

 

FATHER NORMAN FISCHER

Fr. Norman FischerFr. Norman Fischer, grew up on a farm in Perryville, learning the value of hard work and community. After graduating from Boyle County High School and earning a scholarship to Centre College, he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Art and Psychology in 1995. Feeling called to the priesthood, Fr. Norman was ordained in 2000 after receiving his Master of Divinity from the University of St. Mary of the Lake. His passion for being a servant to others and especially caring for youth in the community has come through his journey in a variety of ways. As the full-time chaplain at Lexington Catholic High School for over 18 years, he created the first African & African American Affinity Group and actively promotes diversity and inclusion. Fr. Norman also founded the Conquest Boys & Girls Club and serves on its board. He is the pastor of the historically Black Catholic St. Peter Claver Church, where he led two successful multi-million-dollar campaigns and supports Congolese refugees. An artist, Fr. Norman hosts retreats blending creativity and spirituality and gives scholarships to students. Active in numerous boards and local leadership roles, including president of the National Black Clergy Caucus, Fr. Norman also supports DV8 Kitchen’s mission to aid workers in sobriety. He ministers widely, leading church revivals and pilgrimages globally.