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Six to be inducted into African American Achievers Association Hall of Fame

WARREN — Retired teacher and principal Daniel A. Smith Jr. will be the keynote speaker at the 35th annual Trumbull County African American Achievers Association Hall of Fame induction ceremony at 6 p.m. Feb. 29 at Divieste’s Banquet Center, 754 North River Road, Warren.

Smith, who worked in both Warren and Youngstown schools, will discuss finding ways to bring greater unity in the Mahoning Valley.

He has worked as a coach at The Rayen High School, LaBrae High School in Leavittsburg, Warren G. Harding and Market Street School in Warren. He is an inductee to the Warren Sports Hall of Fame and the Youngstown Ebony Hall of Fame, has been the Man of the Year for Omega Psi Phi fraternity and has been recognized for his work at a variety of other programs. He has worked as a teacher and has been assistant principal at Warren Western Reserve and Warren G. Harding High Schools, and assistant principal at The Rayen High School, the founding director of Lifeskills Youngstown, intake coordinator at Alpha School of Excellence and the behavior intervention coordinator at Wilson Middle School in Youngstown.

The dinner recognizes African Americans from around Trumbull County who have achieved distinction in their work or in the community through their interactions with others.

This year’s awardees will include the Rev. John McCants, Tonia Farmer-Pitts, Queenie Lathan, Fernando Phillips, Lee D. Montgomery and Christopher Richardson. Two Warren G. Harding seniors, Jasier Graham and La’Riah Coker, will receive scholarships.

Proceeds from the annual event pay for the scholarships and help to support the annual African American Achievers Festival weekend that occurs in downtown Warren every June. The African-American Festival traditionally has been the first festival of Warren’s summer festival season.

The African American Achievers Festival and its Hall of Fame dinner were formed in 1985 by Van Williams to promote brotherhood and lessen neighborhood tensions. The hall of fame dinner takes place on the last weekend of February’s Black History Month.

For information, call Shirley Brady at 330-978-1059, or any inductee, or by emailing the organization at trumbullachievers@gmail.com. Its website is www.tcaaaa.com.

Honorees are:

• Dr. Tonia L. Farmer is a partner and co-owner of the Lippy Group for Ear, Nose and Throat and the Lippy Surgery Center. She started the Mentor in Medicine program, which allows high school and post-graduate students to learn what it is like to be a physician by shadowing her in the office and in operating rooms. She was the first woman to be admitted into the ENT residency program at the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical College of Virginia in 1996. She is a newspaper columnist and the ENT Medical Expert for WFMJ Channel 21 since 2013. She founded a company that makes sinus and body care products that incorporate Himalayan Sea Salt, Salt Me! She is married and has three children.

• Queenie V. Lathan, a Warren native and a professional clinical counselor, has performed mental health / pastoral counseling since 2009, and worked as a contract therapist / counselor with Cadence Care Network / Child and Family Solutions. She worked for Delphi Packard Electric and the General Motors plant in Lordstown for a combined 33.8 years. She is the founder of Restored Hope Counseling Services LLC in Warren. She has one daughter and one granddaughter.

• The Rev. John H. McCants Jr. has been the pastor of Warren’s Grace African Methodist Episcopal Church for six years. McCants served as minister and leader at a number of churches in Ohio and Michigan. He also worked as a teacher and a coach in the Highland Park Public School System, as well as an instructor at Highland Park Community College, Grand Rapids Junior Community College and Western Michigan University. He is married to Marlyce Robertson-McCants, and they have three adult children.

• Lee D. Montgomery was born with a disability that later caused him to have both legs amputated. The Mississippi native moved to Michigan and then to Warren, where he attended Warren G. Harding High School from ninth grade through graduation. He later graduated from Columbus Business College with an associate degree in business administration.

• Fernando Phillips, a 2000 graduate of Warren G. Harding High School and, later, Kent State University, is the founder of PhillipsCare, LLC. The company provides snow plowing, grass-cutting and other cleaning services. He also has served as a coach on a number of area sports teams for more than 13 years.

• Christopher J. Richardson has been the CEO of AxessPoint Community Health Centers Inc. since 2016. He was the director of Oriana House Inc’s ADM Crisis Center for eight years, where he facilitated large-scale collaborations for programs addressing barriers to substance abuse treatment and recovery.

• Warren G. Harding student La’Riah A. Coker will be the recipient of a scholarship. She is a member of Inspiring Minds, a vice president in student government, a member of the National Honor Society, a participant in Future Teachers of America and the English Festival. She also is active in her church choir. She plans to study criminal justice to achieve her goal of becoming a police officer.

• Jasier Graham, a Harding senior, also will receive a scholarship. He has played football, baseball, basketball and ran track in high school. He helps other students cope with grief by participating in the Good Grief Camp at Camp Frederick. With his family, he has volunteered for the Basement Ministries, which is an agency that provides Christ-focused interventions to those living in poverty. He works two jobs and plans to attend YSU after graduation.

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