Celebrating Black History Month

Feb 28, 2019 | Blog


We asked our members to share a statement about someone who has influenced themselves or others.

“She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness” Proverbs 31:26

Since moving to Houston, I have found the city to be welcoming and many of the black female leaders to be engaging, driven and truly purposeful.  It is hard to highlight just one. I have been fortunate to meet women who are willing to lend their voices toward building community-based volunteerism with a spirit of positive intent and the enthusiasm to engage for the greater good.  These leaders make Houston strong by building community engagement programs for the advancement of issues such education, employment, affordable housing and overall economic development.   They are not about personal fame or glory. They are focused on giving back and ensuring the creation of long-term generational impact in the community where they live and work.  While they are reaching a hand back, they are also lifting themselves up toward their own personal dreams.  I am thankful for the authentic relationships that have allowed for supportive conversations and the personal friendships which reflect gratitude for one another. These women are strengthening Houston by lending their voices and being willing to tell their personal stories for the advancement of this great diverse city.”

Stacy Canady

Assistant Vice President, AT&T Houston External and Legislative Affairs

“Brooke Dedmon is the founder and owner of Accelerate Studio, LLC.  Brooke is an amazing woman, wife, mother, innovator, and businesswoman. She has truly inspired me and the comm(UNITY) she has built in Missouri City, Texas. Accelerate Studio is not your typical indoor cycling studio. Brooke’s life’s purpose is to bridge the gap between fun, fitness, and fellowship in a 45-60-minute workout.  

Accelerate Studio is more than an indoor spin studio. They are a pillar in the Missouri City and Houston communities. Brooke and her team work with other local small businesses and large non-profits, to fundraise and leverage her business to bring awareness to large national public health concerns (Heart Health Awareness, Sex Trafficking Awareness, Breast Cancer Awareness, Premature Birth Awareness, Homelessness Awareness, and children’s needs).

Accelerate Studio has their Annual Toy Drive Gala, where they provide Christmas toys to hundreds of families in the Houston Area.

Brooke’s ultimate goal is to motivate, challenge and inspire. She brings an electrifying energy every day to her riders and all that she encounters. Brooke provides her riders with an experience that truly makes her and the Accelerate Studio brand a household name. She knows all of her riders by name and makes it a point to know their families.  Brooke promotes taking care of your body from the inside out and reminds us all to “Treat Yo’ Self.”

Ashley Dedmon

Healthy Living Matters Project Coordinator, Harris County Public Health

“We were sophomores in college when one day she said: “I’m going to be an astronaut.” Never mind that no one who looked like her — a woman of color — had infiltrated the white, male- dominated ranks of those who would explore beyond our planet. I said something like “if anyone can crack that barrier, it’s you.”

We had only known each other for a year, both of us from the South Side of Chicago, but meeting for the first time as freshmen at Stanford. In no time at all I figured out that 1) she was whip smart, 2) she knew her power and wasn’t afraid to own it, and 3) she refused to let someone else’s limited imagination, limit her own. So when she said she was going to be an astronaut, my only questions were how quickly would it happen and would I be there to witness it.

It happened on September 12, 1992 and incredibly, I not only witnessed it, I covered it as a reporter for my television station, KPRC-TV.

Today Dr. Mae Jemison continues to break barriers and inspire millions across the globe, including me, her college roommate and forever friend who always knew she had the right stuff.”

Linda Lorelle

CEO of Lorelle Media, Lorelle Media

“Black History month is a celebration and acknowledgement to the many contributions made by African Americans throughout this country’s rich history. We have been an integral part of what makes America…America!  I am humbled and proud to be a part of the African American Community as well as women.

I came to Houston as a teenager and was amazed at the outstanding women leaders I was able to meet and observe.  But sometimes the most influential person is closer to home. For me, this unsung hero was my Ana Mae Strong grandmother, community influencers who had profound influence on me and the many children she stewarded through the Oklahoma City educational system.  I distinctly remember her story of how she sat with her sister in the back of the class at the University of Oklahoma so that she could earn her master’s degree in education. Nothing stopped her from excelling and that same optimism, drive and focus is now passed down to me and our family.    

So as I sit down to write a small thought on the importance of Black History month I am reminded of our rich history and contribution to the business education and political world.  Thank you Julia C. Hester, Barbara Jordan, Margaret Robinson, Audrey Lawson, Madge Bush, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Yvette Chargois, Mae Jamison; Katherine Johnson, the 19 recently elected African American judges and Grandmother for paving the way!  I am reminded of how important it is to share our contributions to the work and keeping history alive and relevant.”

Rhonda Smith

Chief Financial Officer and Deputy Director, Houston Police Department

“Ruth Kennedy was born and raised in the Red Land community just outside of Tyler, Texas. She was born eighth in a family of eleven children. Her parents stressed the importance of education to their children, and Ruth surely made them proud. She graduated salutatorian of her high school class in 1965. Following the lead of her seven older siblings she matriculated to Prairie View A&M University later that fall. Ruth majored in nursing at Prairie View and recalls being inspired to do so because of seeing how beautiful nurses were in their caps and capes. She laughs stating, “As luck would have it, my class was the first at Prairie View that did not get the cape!” Ruth recalls that freshman year at PVAMU was like an awakening; she discovered who she really was and made her best friends for life. Ruth had big dreams and worked hard to achieve many things along the way. As a junior in high school, Ruth’s older sister, Jean, paid for her to become a licensed cosmetologist. She worked as a beautician in college to earn spending money. She styled professors and students hair at Prairie View. During her sophomore year in college, she and the other nursing students were bused to Houston’s Ben Taub and Jefferson Davis hospitals for clinical training twice a week. She moved to Houston during her junior year to finish clinical training as a nurse. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in nursing in 1969. She had been offered a job at Ben Taub hospital during her senior year and she decided to stay. She worked as a staff nurse for just over a year when she was asked to become an in-service instructor for teaching and orienting new nurses. She received her Master of Science degree in nursing from Texas Women’s University in 1978. Ruth was instrumental in starting the first LVN to RN program at the hospital district where she served as director and held a joint appointed faculty position at San Jacinto College- Central. She would later become the Director of Education for Harris County Hospital District, and ultimately, the Senior Vice President of Patient Care Services. She has mentored many aspiring nurses since starting her career. Ruth retired in 2002 after 32 years of service with the Harris County Hospital District. Today she is lives in Sugar Land with her husband of 40 years, Ronald. They have two daughers,  Robbyn L. Traylor, MD and Rosslyn K. Douglas, Psy-D, who both reside in Houston with their families.”

Robbyn L. Traylor, MD

Chief Medical Officer, Next Level Urgent Care