Published Articles

Published articles that I have written. 

Saks' first diversity/inclusion VP is a Memphis original

Luxury retailer Saks Fifth Avenue has named Memphian Lori Spicer Robertson as its first vice president of diversity and inclusion. Robertson will be responsible for creating and leading strategic initiatives that foster a culture of equity, diversity and inclusion. Robertson plans to spend time listening to employees, customers and partners before taking on the task of creating a strategy that aligns with the overall business goals and an action plan. The mainstream fashion industry has been w

Alice Marie Johnson focused on the ‘forgotten’ after presidential pardon

Former Memphis resident Alice Marie Johnson said she was “overwhelmed” by President Donald Trump granting her a full pardon. “It was a great burden lifted off my shoulders,” said Johnson during an interview via email with The New Tri-State Defender about the pardon granted on Aug. 28. “It reminded me that we have a lot of work to do for people who have paid their debt to society. Many people who have served their time are not fully free. “This is why we need to do more work on probation and p

Local push on to make Memphis area count in the Census

With a Sept. 30 deadline looming, local officials are making an all-out push to get as many households as possible to complete 2020 Census forms. The City of Memphis has jumped into the effort big time to make sure communities of color, which traditionally have been undercounted, are accounted for as accurately as possible. The Census Bureau also is aiding in the effort by having Census takers visit homes that have not yet responded to the 2020 Census. For a city, whose African-American popul

Lifestyle pharmacist teaches women how to be fit, fabulous & fulfilled

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that there are major healthcare disparities among minorities and that African Americans have been greatly impacted by the pandemic, which has caused growing cases in the community. According to Jeffrey Sterling, MD, MPH, FACEP, there are several interesting reasons for overrepresentation of COVID-19 in African Americans including: Fortunately, there are African American healthcare professionals who are striving to educate our community abo

Akbari rises up, again, at 2020 Democratic Convention

From former first lady Michelle Obama’s compelling speech to the heartwarming stories from everyday people, the 2020 Democratic National Convention (DNC) has been a trending topic on social media this week. The DNC, which was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is a series of presidential nominating conventions held every four years by the United States Democratic Party and administered by the Democratic National Committee. During the DNC, the committee and the Party officially nominat

Harris as VP choice rings like a winner for many

Local elected Democratic officials weighed in on presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s choice of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California) as his running mate, expressing excitement at the choice and expectation that she can help carry the party to victory in November. Biden made the announcement Tuesday (Aug. 11) and the two appeared together as presidential and vice-presidential candidates for the first time Wednesday (Aug. 12). He earlier had promised to name a woman as his

Black male entrepreneurs are making moves in Memphis

According to , being “ready to be my own boss” was the primary reason African-American survey respondents started their businesses (thirty-four percent ) followed by a “desire to pursue my own passion” (twenty-nine percent). These black male entrepreneurs are certainly pursuing their passions while being their own bosses: Anthony Latiker, Sr., owner of Slice of Soul Pizza Lounge, and Dwayne Chaffen and Rick Askew, owners of Memphis Grindhouse Coffee. After driving trucks for over 15 years, Memp

Starting and managing a nonprofit organization during a pandemic

Starting and managing a nonprofit organization can be a challenge. Imagine doing all of this during a pandemic when donors are not in a position to provide financial resources. According to Memphis has over 13,000 However, for smaller, grassroots organizations and startups, it can be difficult to go through the process of attaining, maintaining a 501(c)3 status along with fundraising and compliance. Myron Mays, founder of, has the expertise and the passion to help nonprofit organ

COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the event planning industry: cancel, postpone, or virtual

The event planning season was set to begin in May with memorable experiences like weddings, graduations, concerts and music festivals. But, due to COVID-19 many event planners are having to find new ways to engage audiences with new options for event experiences. Two notable event planning and coordinating companies, Cynthia Daniels & Co. and LEO Events have great reputations for planning notable and memorable events. They both share how they are navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19

Communication Is Key: The Importance of Black Communications Professionals During a Crisis – Black Millennials 4 Flint

As the saying goes, “when you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready,” especially in times of uncertainty. As a communications professional, it is important for me to always be prepared in the event of a crisis and to help my clients effectively communicate to their audiences. In a time like the COVID-19 pandemic, a pandemic where African Americans are disproportionately affected according to the CDC, it is significantly important to have a black communications professional [or someone who kno

Credit counseling for emerging & enterprising entrepreneurs

Cash may be king, but credit also plays a major role in your finances especially when you are an emerging or enterprising entrepreneur. “Entrepreneurs still have to live their lives and having a bad credit score can impact your personal life and your business,” said Molly Polatty, program manager for, Greater Memphis Financial Empowerment Center. The Greater Memphis Financial Empowerment Center (GMFEC) is a grant-funded Shelby County Trustee program and a partnership with the RISE Foundation.

Entrepreneurial events to attend during Black History Month

New and existing entrepreneurs should always be learning and networking to achieve and meet sales goals. In recognition of Black History month, we want to highlight the following education and networking opportunities in Memphis. Black History is the perfect month to generate black dollars and below are a few events that are focused on entrepreneurship during Black History Month: After this workshop, you will know the differences between conventional bank loans and SBA loans and have a better

Memphis Brooks Museum of Art: 100 Years in the Making

Opened to the public as the Brooks Memorial Art Gallery on May 26, 1916, the Brooks Museum of Art celebrates 100 years. Located in Memphis, Tennessee, the Brooks Museum houses the oldest and largest collection of world art in Tennessee and is among the largest museums of its kind in the country. This is a major accomplishment for a museum in the South considering the fact that there are plenty of notable museums in the northern, western, and eastern regions of the United States. Today, the Muse

Press Releases

Press releases about projects and initiatives that I were involved in. 

Media Placements

Published stories and interviews I have pitched to the media. 

Shelby County Mayor announces new Gun Safety Council

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County leaders say they hope a “fresh set of eyes” can help them fight one of the biggest issues in the area. On Thursday, 25 citizens were appointed to the new Gun Safety Council. The new council includes educators, gun owners, parents, law enforcement and others. Over the next three months, they will be asked to come up with ways to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and children. According to the gun safety laws advocacy group Everytown, in 2022, there w

Students can get free admission to some Memphis attractions with the 901 Student Passport. Here's how

The passport provides free admission to nine participating attractions, allowing a student and a parent or guardian to visit. Example video title will go here for this video MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County students and their families can visit some area historic sites and museums with the 901 Student Passport. The passport provides free admission to participating attractions, allowing a student and a parent or guardian to visit. The students must present the passport, and their guardian will g

Most Shelby volunteer boards won't ask about criminal past

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Commissioners in Tennessee’s most populous county approved an ordinance that removes questions about criminal histories from most applications to join volunteer boards and commissions, officials said Tuesday. Sponsored by Democratic and Republican commissioners, the Fair Chance to Serve ordinance takes away an important barrier for Shelby County residents with criminal records who want to serve on volunteer commissions and boards, officials said in a news release. Mayor L

County hopes new youth center in Raleigh can curb juvenile violence

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — Shelby County leaders are hoping the new youth facility in Raleigh stops juvenile violence. “We need to expand the number of supports that are available for our teenagers in town,” Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris said. “We know that one of the major drivers of crime is from the youth and young adults. We know the recidivism rate in respect to youth and young adults is higher in respect to others.” He says more must be done to get youth on the right path. It’s why Harris a

Live At 9: Shelby County Works to Expand its Mental Health Court Services

As leaders work to double the capacity of Shelby County’s Mental Health Court, they need more counselors. The court provides access to mental health care and has a proven record for reducing recidivism among its participants. To learn more about their efforts, Live at 9 spoke with Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris and Dorcas Young-Griffin, the Director of Shelby County’s Division of Community Services.

Memphis community plagued by trash, illegal dumping gets cleaned up with new trash program

It’s not something you want to see covering your neighborhood. Blight and illegal dumping has been issues so many communities have been dealing with in Memphis and Shelby County. Those who live in Northaven have dealt with the problem for decades. Sarah Bynum has lived in Northaven for 25 years. She tells FOX13 the trash build up was not a pretty sight. “When they turn into the neighborhood, there’s a bag of trash on the side of the road or a couch on the corner, mattresses, pieces of furnitu

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Academic Research & Projects

Academic research papers and projects from graduate school. 

Diversity in Horror: An Analysis of Representation of Women and People of Color in Horror Movies

The horror genre is a popular genre in the film industry. Even though it is known for scaring its audience and keeping them in suspense, it is also known for the lack of representation among women and people of color. This research analyzed the amount of diversity in the top 210 horror films from 2001-2021. To determine and examine the number of women and people or color, a content analysis was conducted on a sample of films using their IMDB listings. Four themes were discovered during the textual analysis: representation, beauty standards, controversy, and freedom of expression. The research concluded that diversity in horror films have changed overtime in the past 21 years. While female representation in horror films have remained consistent, representation among people of color have slowly increased overtime.

Body Positivity or Body Surveillance? An Analysis of Twitter Reactions to Lizzo’s Positive Presentation of Her Fat, Black Body

On October 11, 2021, Grammy award-winning artist Lizzo attended Cardi-B’s dancehall-themed 29th birthday party in a sheer Matthew Reisman dress, thong, and pasties. Even though Lizzo is no stranger to displaying her body and sparking controversy, this appearance sparked a major debate on social media about the fit and appropriateness of her attire because of her weight. However, other celebrities attended the party in scantily clad outfits, but Lizzo was the only celebrity who was heavily criticized and endured heavy body surveillance. This research analyzed the reception of her proud display of her fat, Black body. To examine and highlight various reactions to Lizzo’s display of her body, a textual analysis was conducted on a sample of tweets about Lizzo’s appearance at Cardi B’s birthday party. Four themes were discovered during the textual analysis: representation, beauty standards, controversy, and freedom of expression.

Season 1 | Episode 1: Body Positivity – What Is It & How to Be Body Positive

Hello, Sharpies! Welcome to the Sharp Lifestyle Podcast, THE podcast for sharp-minded individuals! Sharp Lifestyle Podcast is the place to be for dialogue about life experiences, career advice, and... Hello, Sharpies! Welcome to the Sharp Lifestyle Podcast, THE podcast for sharp-minded individuals! Sharp Lifestyle Podcast is the place to be for dialogue about life experiences, career advice, and lifestyle content for African American women. For the very first episode, we’re going to talk abou

Communications Portfolio

Interviews, Mentions & Features

ENTRY 10: JUMP START INTO YOUR FULL-TIME BUSINESS THE RIGHT WAY! Come learn from Jen's mistakes! by Dear Diary: Confessions of an Entrepreneur • A podcast on

In this episode of Dear Diary: Confessions of an Entrepreneur, Jen shares her journey of stepping out and starting her full-time Public Relations business! In this episode, she shares her story of learning from her mistakes and thinks about what she wishes she would've done before taking the leap into full-time! These are things we don't always think about as black business owners! Check out this new episode now and subscribe for new episodes EVERY MONDAY AT 7AM EST! Follow us on Instagram for g