Master’s Degree

Union Celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month

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Union Institute & University is recognizing National Hispanic Heritage Month September 15 – October 15, 2017 by highlighting the university’s commitment to diversity.

“Diversity of thought and academic pursuits are the cornerstones of Union’s mission. Each individual is valued for who he or she is as a person,” said Dr. Nelson Soto, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Union Institute & University.

Union serves a 26% Hispanic adult learner population. It is the only university in Ohio designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education Hispanic-Serving Institutions Division web page. A  HIS is defined as a university where total Hispanic enrollment constitutes a minimum of 25% of the total enrollment.

In addition, Union is active in Hispanic Chamber of Commerce associations across the nation.

“Union is a beacon of light for adults to further their education,” said Dr. Soto. “Very few places of higher education offer the scholar-practitioner model of academics and real world application. Our curriculum interweaves social connectedness to identify solutions to difficult questions. Union’s faculty is the underpinning of social justice,” said Dr. Soto.

During National Hispanic Heritage Month, Union will highlight the students, staff and faculty of Hispanic heritage with features, social media posts, and more. In addition, Hispanic Heritage Month posters have been placed at all five academic centers in celebration of the month.

National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402. The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively. (Source National Heritage Month)

Be part of Union’s commitment to diversity!

Student Spotlight: Yolanda Villa

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Reverend Yolanda Villa

September is National Recovery Month. In recognition of this effort to increase awareness of and understanding of mental and substance use disorders, and celebrate the journey towards effectively coping and recovering, we are featuring Reverend Yolanda Villa, a student in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program.

Union offers a master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling that prepares graduates for certification or licensure as a professional counselor or clinical mental health counselor and a certificate in the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling program that is designed to train and prepare professionals for a career in counseling individuals with substances use and abuse problems.

Read how Reverend Villa, an ordained pastor, plans to use her M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling to continue her journey to transform lives and communities.

Q. What do you plan to do with your degree?

A. I want to offer counseling, teach and consult.

Q. What led you to this program?

A. I am an ordained pastor by first professional vocation. I served in local church ministry for more than 20 years. In that role, all clergy were required to take continuing educational courses around sexual misconduct and other ethical issues. The conference I am a part of provided that training and trainer conference-wide.  For several years one of your alumni was the presenter for those trainings. She was an ordained minister within the same denomination (however, she was part of a different conference).  I was impressed with the material she presented and how she presented it. I appreciated the way in which she integrated her theological training into an ethical clinical approach. She had also written a couple of books that I found to be exceptional around issues of sexual misconduct in the Church.

When I inquired about her training, I learned that she was a graduate of Union.

Q. Why did you choose Union for your studies?

A. I chose Union because of its accreditations, the online-hybrid model (I knew I needed some face to face contact with a community), but also, the flexibility of being able to do a lot of the coursework online. Union offered all of that.

But more importantly, I remembered the experience of being a recipient of the work of one of the school’s graduates.  I wanted to be trained and educated, where she had been trained and educated.

Q. If you could give a piece of advice to your 20 something, what would it be?

A. I am laughing at this question. I recall being 20 something, there was not a whole lot you could tell me then. I also have a 20 something. We always laugh when I am trying to make a point and I say to her:  “ Now remember daughter I have been around the block a few times, you haven’t gotten there yet, I think I know a little more on this one….)

My grandmother is 102-years-old. She never had the choices I had, and most definitely did not have the choices my children have. “20 somethings” should take advantage of our present day realities. As an African-American female my children (and in the future), my grandchildren have choices and will have choices unimaginable for doing the things in life they desire. How exciting is that!

Now, to your question, recently, in an article in the Counselor Today magazine I read a quote by Steve Jobs. He said:

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.

[We are in an age where you have choices you don’t have to settle]

I would add one additional caveat to that advice.  On the surface, it seems small, but it turns out to be humongous in life.  I would add, but, work is not all of life.  Find other things to love and balance it all out.

Q. Who has influenced you the most in your life, and how have they influenced you?

A. There have been several influencers in my life. When I earned my Master of Divinity degree to be an ordained clergywoman, there was a seminary professor, by the name of Dr. Emilie Townes, who was an incredible influence.  I felt like for the first time, I had someone who encouraged me in my writing. She was someone who looked past the inadequacies of my education from elementary through high school and encouraged my voice.  There have also been a couple of educators from Union that have influenced my life.  One of them is Dr. Brown-Beatty.  She pushes hard and gives a lot. Throughout my life, I look for persons who will push me to the next level of who I am, and what I am capable of doing.  She also does an excellent job of choosing textbooks for the classes she teaches.

I am an avid reader.  I read across all disciplines. Thus, some of the persons that have influenced me have been writers that I return to over and over again.  Within the program there are educators who have written textbooks I return to repeatedly even when I am taking other classes (you should see a couple of them, they are hard bound textbooks and the backs and ribs of the books are already worn out and broken, and I haven’t quite finished the degree).  Because a lot of our work depends on the written and media resources we use, I appreciate instructors who take their time in choosing solid engaging resources for instruction.

Finally, my immediate family – my 102-year-old grandmother, my mother and my three adult daughters are continuous influencers in my life.  I love my relationship with them. I carry this impression of them on my heart.  So, when it seems like the way is hard – images of them rise to my consciousness and I am inspired to push on.

Learn more about the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling by clicking on the button below or call us today at 800-861-6400.

Union Institute & University Highlights National Recovery Month

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September is National Recovery Month. Union Institute & University, together with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), highlights National Recovery Month during September to increase awareness of and understanding of mental and substance use disorders, and celebrate the journey towards effectively coping and recovering.

This year’s theme, “Join the Voices for Recovery: Our Families, Our Stories, Our Recovery!” highlights the value of peer support by educating, mentoring and helping others.

“This observance promotes the belief that mental health is essential to overall health, prevention works, and treatment is effective to learn coping strategies and recovery from mental and/or substance use disorders,” said Dr. Rosalyn Y. Brown Beatty, the newly appointed Program Director for the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program.

Union offers a master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling that prepares graduates for certification or licensure as a professional counselor or clinical mental health counselor.

“A licensed professional counselor who specializes in clinical mental health counseling is competent to provide a wide variety of services to individuals, couples, groups, and families, including diagnostic assessment and treatment planning and intervention. These professionals often find themselves working in community mental health agencies or in private practice and maintain a focus on client wellness and prevention to promote optimum mental and emotional health,” said Dr. Brown Beatty.

A certificate in the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling program is designed to train and prepare professionals for a career in counseling individuals with substances use and abuse problems.

“A career from Union Institute & University’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program or Certificate in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling is an often rewarding profession that makes measurable improvement in the quality of the lives of clients, families and communities” said Dr. Brown Beatty. “An alcohol and drug abuse counselor specializes in providing counseling and support to individuals and families experiencing problems with substance use or dependence. This may include individual, family or group counseling about the causes and effects of addiction support for families dealing with addiction, and/or referrals to treatment.”

You can learn more about the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program – CLICK BELOW!

2017 Recipient Exemplifies Sergeant Dunakin’s Commitment to Community

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Sergeant Orrlando Mayes with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department is the 2017 recipient of the Mark Dunakin Memorial Award for Extraordinary Achievement.

The 25-year law enforcement veteran is humbled by the honor. “I am grateful to be considered in the same league as Sergeant Dunakin,” said Mayes.

The Mark Dunakin Memorial Award was established to honor the memory of Sergeant Dunakin, a UI&U student who tragically lost his life on March 21, 2009, at the age of 40, when he and three other Oakland police officers were killed in the line of duty.

The award is presented to a new graduate of the Union Institute & University Sacramento Academic Center Criminal Justice Management program who serves in law enforcement and who emulates Sergeant Dunakin’s commitment to community service, academic success, and enthusiasm for Union’s Criminal Justice Management program.

The faculty noted Mayes was a perfect match for the criteria, particularly in his thoughtful approach and his desire to go above and beyond in everything he does.

The father of four decided early that he wanted to be in the law enforcement profession and that he wanted a college degree. “I was in the eighth-grade when I set a goal of completing my college degree. That day is here and I credit my family, especially my grandmother, for supporting me and my dreams.”

Mayes is grateful for his career. “Helping people is my calling. I get more from them than they get from me. Every time I help someone, I walk away with perspective and empathy toward others.”

Sergeant Mayes currently serves as the Academy Director for the Sacramento Sheriff’s Academy. Prior to being promoted to sergeant, he spent 14 years on the SWAT team as the Assistant Team Leader. As sergeant, he remains active as an auxiliary SWAT team member.

In 2010, Sergeant Mayes was involved in one of California’s longest hostage standoffs, during which he participated with his team to help save the life of a 16-month-old child after 56 hours of intense negotiation. He was recently reunited with the child, who has said he wants to be a police officer just like Mayes. And, the child’s uncle, who was deployed overseas with the military at the time of the standoff, was so inspired by the officers’ work that he is now a deputy with the Sacramento County Sherriff’s Department.

“My goal of earning my college degree is a dream come true,” said Mayes. “I was born and raised in Oakland. I didn’t know Sergeant Dunakin, but I attended his funeral,” said Mayes. “I will cherish this honor.”

The other recipients of the Union Institute & University Mark Dunakin Memorial Award for Extraordinary Achievement are:

  • 2011 – Isabel Resendez
  • 2013 – Frederick Henry Bobbitt Jr. and Tony Silva
  • 2015 – Ray Framstad
  • 2016 – Sergio Lepe

Sergio Lepe

Ray Framstad

Frederick Henry Bobbitt Jr.

Tony Silva

To learn more about the Union Institute & University Criminal Justice Management program, visit the link below or call

National Breastfeeding Month Celebration Kicks Off in Our Human Lactation Studies Programs

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Union Institute & University is celebrating breastfeeding throughout August in conjunction with World Breastfeeding Week, August 1-7, 2017 and National Breastfeeding Month sponsored by the United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC).

Breastfeeding is a career path for students through the UI&U Bachelor of Science with a Major in Maternal Child Health: Human Lactation degree and Master of Arts degree program with a Major in Health &Wellness and field of study on Human Lactation Studies.

“Union offers one of the few Human Lactation Degree Programs in the country and students have the ability to complete their coursework online,” said Dr. Lorna Shepherd, Union Institute & University Chair Master of Arts Online Program Health & Wellness and Bachelor of Science Maternal Child Health in Human Lactation. “The ability to take most of the classes online provides flexibility for students who already have jobs or are stay-at-home moms.”

The health benefits of breastfeeding are well documented. Breastfeeding decreases the incidence or severity of infectious diseases in the infant, enhances neurodevelopment in the infant, promotes mother-child bonding, and many more. The website Black Breastfeeding Week states breastfeeding may be an answer to infant mortality especially among black women.

In addition to making a difference in the health of mothers and babies, a career in lactation is lucrative as the number of career openings within this field continue to increase. Many UI&U graduates work in hospitals, non-profits, and some own their own practices and serve as midwives.  In addition, graduates have become doulas who assist women during their pregnancy, during labor and after childbirth.

Other careers in Human Lactation include:

  • Lactation Care Providers
  • Lactation Consultant & Counselor
  • Advanced Nurse Lactation Consultant
  • Advanced Lactation Consultant

This career path is also rewarding.  “Most of our graduates share a passion for empowering other mothers in the community.  There is nothing more rewarding in life than pursuing and actively doing what you love to do best…empowering others to become their best,” said Shepherd.

“The Human Lactation Degree is in alignment with the mission of Union Institute & University. The program engages and empowers students to pursue their professional goals and passions to become Lactation Professionals, and to dedicate themselves to a lifetime of learning, service and social responsibility,” said Shepherd.

Student Spotlight – Tammy Nuzzo-Morgan

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This month, the spotlight is on Tammy Nuzzo-Morgan. Tammy is a Ph.D. student with a major in Humanities & Culture and a concentration in the graduate certificate in Women’s & Gender Studies. Tammy is a poet and recently named Long Island Poet of the Year by the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association. She earned a Pulitzer Prize nomination for, “Let Me Tell You Something” in 2006. She was also the Suffolk County Poet Laureate from 2009-2011, the first female to hold that position.

Learn more about Tammy and why she chose Union in the Q&A below.

Q. What do you plan to do with your degree?

A. I would like to be a full-time professor, while seeking my CPT (Certified Poetry Therapist). I want to work with those that are in need of healing, and whom among us aren’t in need of healing?

Q. What led you to this program?

A. I started out thinking that this was the route to getting a full-time professorship, but while my journey proceeded I found I was more concerned with social issues.

Q. Why did you choose Union for your studies?

A. I had heard of Union from several other scholars, and checked out Union by searching reviews. I was searching for a positive experience, and not just an education. I wanted to belong to something that embodied my values concerning our input in the human experience. I wanted to be part of a movement, and I found all that at Union.

Q. If you could give a piece of advice to your 20 something, what would it be?

A. Don’t wait so long in taking the first step in your journey!

Q. Who has influenced you the most in your life, and how have they influenced you?

A. My foster mother, Adaline Maggio. She taught me love, loyalty, and compassion. Priscilla Ruffin, Executive Director of the East End Hospice, she allowed me to learn how to live after the death of my son. My husband and children, Joseph, Vinny & Eliza, they influence my day-to-day actions.

Learn more about the Union Institute & University Ph.D. program by clicking the button below.

2016-17 Brian Webb MA Thesis Award Winners Selected

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The faculty of the Master of Arts program is pleased to announce that six outstanding students who completed their degree during the 2016-17 academic year have been chosen to receive the Brian Webb Award for Outstanding MA Thesis Distinguished by Academic Rigor and Creative Thinking. MA Program Director, Elden Golden, Ph.D., noted, “We are very proud of the outstanding work done by these exceptional students. We wanted to honor these graduates while also remembering our founding director, Brian Webb.”

The winning students are listed below along with their majors and their thesis titles:

Emily Clark – Health & Wellness – “Cesarean Doulas: The influence of labor support on surgical birth on the United States”

James Gianforti – Creativity Studies – “Malevolent Creativity in Human Medical Experimentation: A New Functional Model of Malevolent Creativity”

Susan Grace – History & Culture – “Using Public Markets to Create a Sustainable Urban Landscape”

Doug Steslow – Literature & Writing – “Intersectionality as a critical lens in postcolonial Indian novels written in English”

Robin White – Leadership, Public Policy & Social Issues – “Engaging Unexposed Audiences with the National Park Service: An Exploration of Servant Leadership and Community Engagement at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site”

Elizabeth Whyte – History & Culture – “Marginal Trickster: The Spirit of Truth in Consideration of Gender and Ethnos”

The Brian Webb Award for Outstanding MA Thesis provides an opportunity to recognize outstanding student work in a public and lasting way. The recipient can add the award to their CV as an indication of the exceptional quality of their academic work.

As Dr. Brian Webb was instrumental in developing the current Master of Arts program and then successfully led the program for a number of years, he laid the foundation for continued success in the MA program and its students. He exemplified the best qualities as a leader, colleague, and friend and is sorely missed by those who worked with him.

Learn how you can further your academic journey in Union’s Master of Arts program by clicking on the button below.

National Police Week Spotlight on Criminal Justice Management Students Luis Martinez and Orrlando Mayes

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Q. What do you plan to do with your degree?

A. Luis – I hope that my degree will create more opportunities for me within my agency as well as other agencies. I also hope it will allow me to be more competitive in my promotional career path. It is also important to mention that my degree, will serve an example for my kids and their aspirations in furthering their education when they graduate from high school.

Orrlando – My degree will further my personal and professional development and create career options. My degree also completes a goal I set in the eighth-grade when a teacher encouraged me to go to college.

Q. What led you to this program?

A. Luis – This program is about my chosen career in law enforcement. It covers supervisory, managerial and administrative topics in the law enforcement field. Completing this program as an officer provides great perspective and insight in to a supervisor, and administrative positions in law enforcement.

Orrlando –Law enforcement has always been my calling. A degree in my chosen career will open opportunities that may not have been available without my degree. Union’s criminal justice management program is the right fit for me because of the flexibility of the schedule

Q. Why did you choose Union for your studies?

A. Luis – Union provides the support one needs to accomplish your goal. I had the pleasure of speaking with people from the financial aid aspect, career planning, teachers, administrators, and counselors, and they always told me and they meant it, “Please don’t hesitate to call me for any help.” More important, I was helped each and every time I called. The Union community dedicated its time to help me in reaching my goal. Union provided a very convenient and doable schedule that worked with me, my job and household.

Orrlando – I chose Union because of the flexibility of the classes. I have a lot of personal and professional responsibility and I had to have a college that respected my schedule. Being able to take classes online and work around my busy timetable makes Union the right choice for me.

Q. If you could give a piece of advice to your 20 something, what would it be?

A. Luis – At age 49, I returned to school to finish my degree. There is no excuse not to get a degree in today’s busy world. Union really understands your needs and is committed in helping you achieve your goals. Having a degree is a must today, if you want to be competitive and advance in your career.

Orrlando – Never quit. Focus on your goal and you will achieve your objective. I decided in the eighth-grade to get a college degree and I never lost sight of that end.

Q. Who has influenced you the most in your life, and how have they influenced you?

A. Luis – My father and mother with their hard work and support when they were alive. My dad obtained a Doctorates Degree in Law, and also became an accountant in Cuba. My mom really taught me the difference between right and wrong. My wife and daughters for their support always and especially while I was in school.

Orrlando – The person who has influenced me the most is my grandmother. She has always encouraged me to go after what I want and never give up. I have a wonderful family that served as role models and taught me anything is possible.

Orrlando Mayes

Criminal Justice Management

Union Institute & University’s major in Criminal Justice Management is your path to a rewarding career in law enforcement. Learn more by clicking on the button below.
Michelle Lim

National Police Week Spotlight on Alumna Michelle Lim

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Michelle Lim

Q. What has your degree meant to you personally and professionally?

A. Achieving my degree has meant a great deal to me. It was a long time goal, which was so fulfilling to achieve. My degree process challenged me and I learned new skills. I also formed wonderful friendships and bonds with fellow classmates and the instructors. I was able to work and study with others who were working in my field. Collaborating with the other students and the instructors made this a great learning experience. It has also made me more confident in my own abilities at work and in my personal life.

Q. What quality do you admire most about your alma mater?

A. I discovered that UI&U had a combination of online and on grounds classes held at a local police department. I liked the fact that I could be in class once a week, interact with my classmates, and complete assignments the rest of the week online.

Q. If you could give advice to a Union student, what would it be?

A. Don’t put your dream on the back burner. I had always had the dream to further my education and obtain a bachelor’s degree, however, life happens and I had to place that dream on hold. I began a career in law enforcement early on, started a family, and decided to take a year off before transferring and working on my goal. That year turned into a sixteen year break. I was fortunate that I was able to make a successful living in law enforcement, however, I noticed if I wanted to advance in my career, eventually I would have to return to school.

Q. What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment?

A. Aside from achieving my degree through UI&U, my greatest accomplishment is being a mother to two beautiful children. Without them, I would not have strived to do and be more and complete this degree.

Q. What is your passion away from work?

A. We all know that working in law enforcement can be stressful and also cause burdens at home. You need to have an outlet outside of work. For me, my passion is spending time with family, traveling, hiking, fishing, and doing anything outdoors. One thing I learned early on is that we deal with and see things on a daily basis that the average person does not want to or could not handle, so having an outlet after work is extremely important for your health and mental well-being.

Union Institute & University’s major in Criminal Justice Management is your path to a rewarding career in law enforcement. Learn more by clicking on the button below.

It’s Never Too Late

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It’s Never Too Late

At the age of 73, Dr. Jenny C. Laster, continues to fight against being the “first and only”

Jenny C. Laster will receive her Ph.D. at the age of 73 at Union’s National Commencement on October 8.

“I love it when my 13-year old grandson calls me Dr. Grandma, it means I have sent him a message that says not only dream big but live those dreams. Thank you Union Institute & University for helping dreams become reality,” said Dr. Laster.

Not only is Dr. Laster a role model, but she has much left to do.

“I want to be a published writer with a focus on issues and solutions that impact my communities, one is my community of females and the other is the African American community.”

Dr. Laster’s dissertation is titled, An Autoethnography on a Nontraditional Career. Her Ph. D. work also included being a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholar. That required core and advanced seminars on Dr. King’s leadership and legacy, encompassing intellectual, spiritual, moral, political, psychological, and policy dimensions.

Dr. Laster chose to attend Union at the urging of the late Dr. Toni Gregory, Union Institute & University Associate Dean.

“Dr. Gregory and her husband, Dr. Everett Gregory along with my family were my cheerleaders. From my first day to the last at Union I was encouraged by the Union family beginning with the president, Dr. Roger Sublett, whose commitment filters throughout the organization. I am a MLK Scholar because of the caring and scholastic abilities of Dr. Virgil Wood and Dr. Nancy Boxill. I mention these people because the secret to Union is that level of caring with is part of the university’s DNA.”

Dr. Laster’s many accomplishments over her career include:

-Recipient of Fifth Third Bank 2012 Person of Courage

-Honored by the Boy Scouts of America for her leadership in recruiting volunteers to serve in a variety of roles for the Cincinnati Hopkins District

-National Underground Railroad Freedom Center part of the “Dada Rafiki” tribute to women over 65 who have left their footprint on Cincinnati

-Grassroots Leadership Academy former president and CEO addressing the leadership skill development needs of more than 500 community leaders, activists, and organizers

-Cincinnati Urban League Director of Leadership Development

-Co-producer of the video entitled “Glorifying The Lions,” an oral history celebrating the accomplishments of senior African American leaders in Cincinnati. This 1992 documentary was later adapted by the Cincinnati PBS affiliate, and is one of their featured programs during Black History Month. This recognition of senior African Americans in Cincinnati eventually led to what is now the Urban League’s annual “Glorifying the Lions” awards program and luncheon, celebrating Cincinnati’s senior African American leadership and is presented each February as part of its annual meeting luncheon

-Executive Director for Cincinnati Works, an organization designed to move low-income individuals into self-sufficiency through full-time employment

-First woman to hold the position of Vice President for ATE Management & Service Company in Cincinnati, Ohio

-First woman to serve as Director of Human Resources for the American Public Transportation Association in Washington, DC and the first woman to serve as Director of Training for the Bi-State Development Agency in St. Louis, MO

-A two year appointment as the United States Lay Representative to the British Methodist Church, requiring her to travel to the United Kingdom in 2006 and 2007. During her trip in 2006 to Scotland, she was commissioned by the President of the British Methodist Church to preach in Scalloway, The Shetland Islands. She also served on the West Ohio Conference Re-districting Team and has held a variety of offices in the United Methodist Church and is a member of Black Methodist for Church Renewal (BMCR)

-Graduate of Leadership Cincinnati, Class 8 and served for several years on the Leadership Cincinnati Alumni Board

-Served on many boards including Black Career Women, Inc., Citizens for Civic Renewal, the Cincinnati Museum Center’s Children’s Advisory Board, Leading Women, and the University Hospital Community Advisory Council