Four outstanding community servants celebrated for their untiring service – A Women’s History Month brunch or praise and worship service?

By Gail H.M. Brown, Ph.D.,
Contributing Writer,

Honoree Debra McGee (4th from right) surrounded by friends at the brunch. PHOTOS BY GAIL BROWN

Was it a Women’s History Month brunch or a Women’s History Month praise service? That is the question. Whatever it was, it lifted spirits and electrified the audience.
On Saturday morning, March 26, when most people were still sleeping, the 2nd-floor banquet room of the King Edwards Hotel/ Hilton Garden Inn, in downtown Jackson, was packed with wall-to-wall seating of a bright-eyed audience poised to celebrate women’s achievements.
The elegant décor of the room set the tone for “giving honor to whom honor is due,” as the saying goes. Four hard-working, people-serving women were recognized for their outstanding community service and achievements. They were WLBT News Anchor Maggie Wade, Pastor Jennifer Biard of the Jackson Revival Center, Senior Vice President and Director of Minority Business Development Debra McGee of Bank Plus, and Tougaloo College President Dr. Carmen Walters.
Corporately sponsored and presented by Nissan with other contributing business sponsors such as BankPlus, The Kirkland Group, Premier Events, and others who purchased tables and gave donations, the event benefitted the honorees’ charity of choice with a $500 donation.
The event also included Nissan videos for audience view about the new electric cars that are coming as well as other products of the automotive giant.
The honorees’ segment was moderated by Mississippi native and popular comedic entertainer Rita Brent, a proud JSU alum. She filled the audience with laughter throughout her role at the brunch. On a serious note, Brent told the audience, “It is so important to give people their flowers while they can still smell them.”
Wade-Dixon, who recently celebrated 40 years in the media, chose the American Heart Association’s Women of Impact as her charity, of which she is a member. “I don’t know whether you know it or not but African-American women die so often of heart disease because we mistake the signs as indigestion or heartburn,” Wade-Dixon said.
Wade-Dixon is widely known for her tireless work with WLBT’s Wednesday’s Child Adoption Program. “And now over 7,000 children are in their forever homes,” she shared.

M/C Othor Cain, Troy Johnson, news anchor WAPT, Maggie Wade, news anchor, WLBT

Dr. Walters chose the Pretty with a Purpose Foundation of Natchez, Miss. “I’m excited to be here,” Walters said. She explained that she met a young woman when she arrived at Tougaloo as president who commuted there to work from Natchez every day. She was a single mom with a beautiful baby,” Walters said. Continuing she said, “But the commute got too difficult and she had to leave her job at Tougaloo to take care of her child.” She said this young lady is making a difference in Natchez with young girls with her new foundation, “Pretty with a Purpose.” The young lady, Ms. Washington, was there to receive the check.
Walters, Tougaloo’s 14th president, is considered “a respected, passionate and strategic thinker with broad knowledge. She brings a blended set of skills and over 24 years of leadership in curriculum and policy development, fundraising, student enrollment and retention management, team building, conflict resolution, strategic planning, and organizational management. She has a reputation for leveraging collaborative partnerships with public and private organizations, enabling students, faculty, and staff to cross institutional boundaries and engage in innovative instruction to ensure student success.”
She recognized her Tougaloo students and alumni who were in attendance.

David Johnson of BankPlus and Gloria Johnson, Entergy of MS,retiree

McGee chose the charity Dress for Success Metro Jackson where she has done so much work for over the years. This is the first and only affiliate of Dress for Success Worldwide in the state of Mississippi. “Each year we provide services to over 500 disadvantaged women in our community and the Mississippi Delta. It empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire, and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.” Magee said she was so humbled to be among the honorees. In her video, she said, “I help people fulfill their dreams and make things happen.”
Othor Cain, co-organizer of the event, “replied, “And, you do just that.”
A veteran banking administrator and a member of College Hill M.B. Church in Jackson, McGee also serves on the Nissan Advisory Board.
Pastor Biard, who is known internationally for her ministry and service to Mississippi and the Jackson community, chose the Corporation for Global Community Development. According to its website, Corporation for Global Community Development is an established 501(c)(3) which serves as the outreach arm of Jackson Revival Center Church. It was formed in 2007 for the purposes of fighting hunger and promoting the holistic growth and development of underserved individuals and communities throughout the state.
Biard was also on the program to do words of encouragement. It was then that the event took on a totally different atmosphere. The audience burst into a spirit of praise and worship as she elevated the roof with the Word of God, which emerged into a mini-sermonette on the different seasons one can find him or herself in during life: the growing season, pruning season, wilderness season and the harvest season (aka ‘your take-over season’). She clearly defined and characterized each season.

Pastor Michael Brown and Pastor Jennifer Biard

“I came to declare to every woman under the sound of my voice: this is your take over season. You must understand that in this season you may feel overwhelmed at times, but the thing to remember is how blessed you really are. You have to remember how mindful that the Lord has been concerning you. In this season I want to admonish you to be a good steward over everything that God has given you…And, in this season, you got to be careful not to get so caught up in your blessings that you forget the Blessor who gave you the blessing. Don’t forget to cling to God as you did in the pruning, growing and wilderness seasons.”
Biard told the crowd, “We are here to celebrate some amazing women who are in their harvest season. Look here, God is so mindful that He says that you can’t celebrate them without some of it coming back to you.” The on-their-feet audience filled the atmosphere with applause, amens, and shouts of praise as Biard went to her seat.
“After a good sermon like that they would say, ‘the doors of the church are open,” jested Brent.
“Our honorees were all so deserving of being celebrated. Thank you community for showing up for Maggie Wade Dixon, Carmen Walters, Jennifer Biard and Debra McGee,” said Cain in his appreciative Facebook post.
His sentiments were echoed by co-organizer, Carol Woodson. “Exactly what Othor Cain said. We are exhausted but exhilarated. There are no words to explain the outpouring of support we had at the inaugural WHM brunch,” Woodson posted.

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