Jackson, Miss— The 2019 Young, Gifted & Empowered Awards (YG&E) makes five years since the awards show first debuted. Dedicated to highlight young professionals between the ages of 25-45 who are positive representation of blacks in Mississippi, YG&E has honored 24 individuals over the years. They all have been catalysts for change in education, innovation, art, entrepreneurship, philanthropy and leadership.
“The success stories of African Americans from Mississippi are hardly ever celebrated and are often overshadowed by negative portrayals of us in the media. People need to know that there are many successful blacks from and in Mississippi who are having global impact,” shares YG&E founder Shameka Reed. “Now more than ever we need to take control of our narratives and tell our stories. That’s exactly what Young, Gifted & Empowered is all about…telling our stories.”
Young, Gifted & Empowered is a black-tie awards show that is free and open to the public. It is scheduled for Saturday, March 2, 2019 at Jackson Prep’s Performing Arts Center. The red carpet begins at 5:45 p.m. with the awards show at 7 p.m. For free tickets or more information visit www.yge19.eventbrite.com.
The 2019 Young, Gifted & Empowered honorees are:
Leader of the Year Attorney Tiffany Graves
Tiffany Graves is an accomplished attorney and visionary leader with over twenty years of experience zealously advocating for marginalized children, individuals and families. Her fight for equity and justice for the underserved began while she was in law school at the University of Virginia School of Law, where she was honored for logging the most pro bono hours of any graduating student with the law school’s Pro Bono Award. Tiffany led the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project, a statewide nonprofit dedicated to providing pro bono legal services to low-income Mississippians, and the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission, a Supreme Court-created entity aimed at promoting initiatives to improve and expand access to justice to the over 700,000 people living in poverty in Mississippi. She now serves as the first-ever, national pro bono counsel for Bradley Arant Boult & Cummings LLP, a law firm with nine offices in seven states throughout the Southeast.
Educator of the Year Dr. Pamela Scott Bracey
Dr. Pamela (Scott) Bracey is currently a professor in the Department of Instructional Systems and Workforce Development at Mississippi State University where she has taught in the Business Technology Education and Information Technology Services undergraduate programs, and Instructional Technology graduate programs since 2013. In this role, Dr. Bracey has been awarded Mississippi’s Outstanding University Business Educator of the Year for two consecutive years (2013 & 2014), the 2018 Mississippi’s Excellence in Higher Education Award by Mississippi Association of Educators, and regional Collegiate Educator of the Year by the Southern Business Education Association (2017). She also the serves as the director and co-founder of MSU’s Global Academic Essentials Teacher Institute, as well as the President/CEO of Urbane Enterprises LLC consulting firm, which she founded in 2009.
Entrepreneurs of the Year Dr. Jerrick Rose and Dr. Chandra Minor
Dr. Jerrick W. Rose is a Board Certified Pediatric Dentist and Dr. Chandra Minor is Mississippi’s first and only African American female orthodontist. Together they are the business partners of state’s only pediatric-ortho dental office, The Pediatric Dental Studio and Smile Design Orthodontics.
Both Dr. Minor and Dr. Rose grew up in Mississippi, attended the University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Dentistry and graduated with a Doctorate of Dental Medicine. Dr. Minor then completed the postdoctoral orthodontic residency program at Howard University in Washington, DC., while Dr. Rose completed an additional two years of specialty training in pediatric dentistry at Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children.
Dr. Rose has extensive training in pediatric oral conscious sedation, operating room treatment under general anesthesia, treatment of dental emergencies and trauma, and treatment of special needs patients.
Philanthropist of the Year DeMario Davis
Demario Davis was born in Collins, Mississippi but grew up in Brandon. Demario played in 48 career games at Arkansas State before being drafted by the New York Jets in 2012 in the 3rd round 77th overall pick. In 2018 Demario signed a 3-year deal with the New Orleans Saints in free agency. DeMario is a leader on and off the field.
DeMario and his family strive daily to live lives that are pleasing to God, ones based on the truth of His word. Acts 20:35 says, “It is more blessed to give than receive.” He has contributed more than $100,000 to help establish and staff the foundation for Pearls for Girls. He used his platform to help strengthen the partnership between United Way and NFL Players. He also currently, supports the salaries of five full time missionaries. DeMario and his wife, Tamela, founded the Devoted Dreamers Foundation and provide a free summer enrichment program that helps equip youth spiritually, mentally and financially.
Host Rita Brent
Rita Brent discovered her love for the arts as a young girl in church where she began singing and playing the drums. By age 18, she joined the United States Army as a drummer in the 41st Army National Guard Band and earned the rank of Sergeant. Rita served in the military for 9 years. While in the military, she obtained a Bachelor’s Degree from Jackson State University and pledged Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Rita launched her Radio Broadcasting career as a student at JSU and after graduating, became a radio host and producer for N-P-R-affiliate, Mississippi Public Broadcasting.
In 2013, Rita made a sharp career turn and responded to a nudging from God to do stand-up comedy. Since then, she has made great strides in the entertainment industry in a very short time. She has been the opening act for some of the biggest names in standup comedy, including Jay Anthony Brown, Sommore, and the late Dick Gregory. In 2016, she met Comedian and Radio-Personality, Rickey Smiley, and he took her under his wings as a mentee. She often tours with him on “The Rickey Smiley and Friends Tour”. Summer 2017, Rita made the big decision to become a full-time comedienne, and soon thereafter met comedy mogul, Kevin Hart. She was one of four comedians from Mississippi selected by Hart to feature on his Comedy Central television series, “Hart of the City”. With great dedication and divine guidance, Rita is working toward becoming “the next big thing” from Mississippi!