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Young Charleston Innovators Under 35 Honored
11/12/2014 4:06:37 PM

(left to right): Corey Hagler, Regina Cookley-Wills, Endia Washington, Ashley Harris, Mi’Kola Cooper, Chiquetta President, Kelcey Bradley, Deronda Washington, Krystal Yeadon, Ava Wilhite Jones, Beatrice Heyward, Heather Taylor, Harrington Ford
The Bethune-Leonard Section of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) hosted its sixth Annual “Innovators Under 35” Banquet, Saturday, October 18, 2014, at the Charleston Club on the Charleston Air Force Base. The theme was Innovators: “Committed to Excellence And Making A Difference”

A record fourteen young people representing various career paths were recognized for being positive role models and rendering service to their respective communities and to humanity in general.

Mrs. Kathleen Rodgers served as mistress of ceremony, Mrs. Marie Bolden gave a warm welcome to an audience of approximately 200 people and Mrs. Elinor Coaxum gave the occasion and purpose of this program.

Mrs. Ava Wilhite Jones, weekend news reporter for WCIV News channel 4 was the speaker for the event. She gave a very thought provoking speech to her peers and left them with a charge to continue to serve our community. Mrs. Jones was also an honoree. She is a graduate of Hampton University, Hampton Virginia and began her career as a producer at the NBC affiliate in Lansing Michigan and she’s been a working journalist ever since.

Other honorees included – Ashley Clorece Harris is a senior at Francis Marion University, majoring in psychology with a goal of becoming a business woman. Beatrice Alice Heyward, a licensed minister and commissioned officer in the U. S. Navy Reserve. She holds a BA Degree from Southern Illinois University and is pursuing a Master of Divinity Degree in Chaplaincy from Columbia International University. Corey Hagler, a graduate of Goose Creek High School and Trident Technical College is a hard working Longshoreman is passionate about basketball and uses his skills and talents to coach AAU basketball.

Chiquetta President is a published author, motivational speaker and founder of Pump Power. She holds a BS Degree from Winston-Salem State University and an MBA from Charleston Southern University. Deronda C. Washington is the First Lady of St. James AME Church on Johns Island and an instructor at Virginia College. She holds a BS Degree from Winthrop University and an MBA from Webster University. Endia S. Washington is a successful young business woman who have launched several businesses including her own salon” Essence of Beauty”. She is a graduate of Charleston Institute of Technology.

Harrington D. M Ford is the minister of music at Grace Metropolitan at Adams AME. Church. He holds a degree in psychology from Charleston Southern University. Heather Rasheeda Taylor, in Ridgeville, SC. She holds a BS Degree from South Carolina State University, a Masters Degree from Clarke Atlanta University and a Doctorate of Education from Nova Southeastern University. Kelcey Bradley earned a BS degree in engineering from South Carolina State University and an MBA from Webster University. He is employed by South Carolina Department of Transportation.

Krystal Rochell Yeadon is an entertainer and business woman. She is the owner of “Diva Styles”. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in communication and Theatre (Performance) from the College of Charleston. Mi’Kola Victoria Cooper, presently a junior at Charleston Southern University on a tennis scholarship aspires to become a world-ranked tennis player. She currently uses her skills to assist youngsters interested in tennis by coaching with Courting Kids (an inner-city tennis program in Charleston). She is pursuing a degree in criminal justice. Regina Cookley-Wills is an entrepreneur and fashion designer whose ultimate goal is to open an arts and crafts and design studio for small children and teens and guide them to success. She holds degrees from the Fashion Institute of Design in New York City and has studied in Florence Italy.

Valencia Wicker works as a weekend anchor for WCIV TV 4 and serves as president of the Lowcountry Association of Black Journalist. She holds a BS Degree in broadcast journalism from Spellman College in Atlanta, Georgia.

Honorees were given a plaque and a special souvenir journal to commemorate this event. Additionally “Curves” of West Ashley presented the 11 female honorees with 6 months certificate. Senator Tim Scott sent representative and a letter of support and encouragement to the honorees and the Bethune –Leonard Section of NCNW. Closing remarks were given by Mrs. Edith P. Deas, president of the Bethune –Leonard Section of NCNW. Margaret Bell and Deborah Yeadon co-chaired this event.

Mary McLeod Bethune, who founded the National Council of Negro Women in 1935, was compelled to use the opportunities she earned in life to serve others. In her final will and testament, she declared, “If I have a legacy to leave my people, it is my philosophy of living and serving.”

The Bethune-Leonard Section of National Council of Negro Women is a service organization that meets every second Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Felix Pinckney Community Center, in North Charleston. They will host their annual membership drive at their meeting on December 13, 2014.

For more information and how to become a member, contact Lisa Parker at

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