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Deborah Mayfield

Infant Lead Teacher
FERC Child Development Center - Washington, DC

Co-Director of Hospitality

Deborah Mayfield is presently working in the field of Early Childhood Education.  She coordinates parent conferences to facilitate parent partnerships, conducts team meetings, collaboratively creates a great environment for the students; produces documentation panels, newsletters, and individual educational plans; supervises and completes student assessments and progress reports.
Her work experience includes the following: Office Manager, Office Assistant/Dispatcher in Communications, Early Child Care Development Site Director, and Assistant Director and Program Coordinator in various childcare programs.
Deborah’s educational experience includes three years at Benedict College (Columbia, SC), ninety hours in child care at Prince George’s Community College (Largo, MD), and serving as a Child Development Associate for the Council for Early Childhood Professional Recognition (Washington, DC).
Throughout her life, Deborah has had an avid desire to work with youths, recognizing the positive influence one can have on them.  Her dream is to one day open her own daycare center.

What happens to a dream


Does it dry up

Like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore--

And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and sugar over--

like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags

like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

 ~ Langston Hughes ~

Intelligence plus character -

that is the goal

of true education.

~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ~


With doubt and dismay

you are smitten

You think there's no chance

for you, (daughter) son?

Why, the best books

haven't been written

The best race hasn't been run,

The best score

hasn't been made yet,

The best song hasn't been sung,

The best tune

hasn't been played yet,

Cheer up, for the world is young!

No chance?

Why the world is just eager

For things that you ought to create

Its store of true wealth is still meagre

Its needs are incessant and great,

It yearns for more power and beauty

More laughter and love and romance,

More loyalty, labor and duty,

No chance--

why there's nothing but chance!

For the best verse

hasn't been rhymed yet,

The best house hasn't been planned,

The highest peak

hasn't been climbed yet,

The mightiest rivers aren't spanned,

Don't worry and fret, faint hearted,

The chances have just begun,

For the Best jobs haven't been started,

The Best work hasn't been done.

~ Berton Braley ~

Courage is more than a daring deed:

It's the breath of life

and a strong woman's creed.

~ Edgar Guest ~

Be the best that you can be

Pursue your goals persistently

Make your fondest dreams come true

and most of all believe in you

~ Author Unknown ~

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches on the soul

And sings the tune without the words

And never stops - at all

~ Emily Dickinson ~

My mission in life is not merely

to survive, but to thrive;

and to do so with some passion,

some compassion, some humor,

and some style.

~ Maya Angelou ~

Mistakes are a fact of life.

It is the response to the error

that counts.

~ Nikki Giovanni ~

With the new day comes

new strength and new thoughts.

~ Eleanor Roosevelt ~

Optimism is the faith that leads

to achievement.

Nothing can be done

without hope and confidence.

~ Helen Keller ~

It always seems impossible

until it's done.

~ Nelson Mandela ~

We delight in the beauty

of the butterfly but rarely admit

the changes it has gone through

to achieve that beauty.”

~ Maya Angelou ~

Believe you can and

you’re halfway there.

~ Theodore Roosevelt ~


When one door of happiness closes,

another opens,

but often we look so long

at the closed door

that we do not see the one

that has been opened for us.

~ Helen Keller ~

Too many of us

are not living our dreams

because we are living our fears.

~ Les Brown ~

Never underestimate the power

of dreams and the influence

of the human spirit.

We are all the same in this notion:

The potential for greatness

lives within each of us.

~ Wilma Rudolph ~

Good Advice to Live By

If you want your dreams to come
true, don't oversleep.

The smallest good deed is better
than the grandest intention.

Of all the things you wear,
your expression
is the most important.

The best vitamin for making friends....B1.

The happiness of your life
depends on the quality
of your thoughts.

Minds are like parachutes.. .
they function only when open.

Ideas won't work unless YOU do.

One thing you can't recycle is
wasted time.

One who lacks the courage to start
has already finished.

A turtle makes progress
when it sticks its head out.

One thing you can give and still keep your word.

A friend walks in when everyone
else walks out.

The pursuit of happiness is the
chase of a lifetime!!!

~ Author Unknown ~

​I used to want the words

"She Tried" on my tombstone.

Now I want "She Did It." 

~ Katherine Dunham ~

The question is not whether

we can afford to invest
in every child; it is whether

we can afford not to. 

~ Marian Wright
Edelman ~

Never underestimate the

power of dreams

and the influence

of the human spirit.

We are all the same

in this notion:

 The potential for greatness

lives within each of us.
~ Wilma Rudolph ~

Whatever we believe

about ourselves

and our ability

comes true for us. 

~ Susan L. Taylor ~

Never be limited by

other people's limited


~ Dr. Mae Jemison ~

Success is to be measured

not so much by the position

that one has reached in life

as by the obstacles which

he (she)

has overcome

while trying to succeed.

~ Booker T. Washington ~

Hold fast to dreams,

for if dreams die,

life is a broken winged bird

that cannot fly.

~ Langston Hughes ~

Education is the passport

to the future, for tomorrow

belongs to those

who prepare for it today.

~ Malcolm X ~

The time is always right

to do what is right.

~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ~

No one can make you feel


without your consent.

~ Eleanor Roosevelt ~

The most common way

people give up their power

is by thinking

they don’t have any.

~ Alice Walker ~

Keep your face

to the sunshine and you

can never see the shadow.

~ Helen Keller ~

Don’t count the days,

make the days count.

~ Muhammad Ali ~

One of the lessons that I

grew up with was

to always stay true

to yourself and never let

what somebody else says

distract you from your goals.

~ Michelle Obama ~

Surround yourself

with only people who

are going to lift you higher.

~ Oprah Winfrey ~

Never be limited by

other people’s limited imaginations.

If you adopt their attitudes,

then the possibility won’t exist

because you’ll have already

shut it out…

You can hear other people’s wisdom,

but you’ve got to

re-evaluate the world for yourself.

~ Mae Jemison ~

Every great dream

begins with a dreamer.

Always remember,

you have within you the strength,

the patience, and the passion

to reach for the stars

to change the world.

 ~ Harriet Tubman ~

It’s not the load

that breaks you down,

it’s the way you carry it.

~ Lena Horne ~

I’ve learned that people

will forget what you said,

people will forget what you did,

but people will never forget

how you made them feel.

~ Maya Angelou ~

I alone cannot change the world,

but I can cast a stone

across the water

to create many ripples.

~ Mother Teresa ~

The most common way

people give up their power is by

thinking they don’t have any.

 ~ Alice Walker ~

Don't judge each day

by the harvest you reap

but by the seeds that you plant.

~ Robert Louis Stevenson ~

A Psalm Of Life
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
     Life is but an empty dream!—
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
     And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
     And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
     Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
     Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
     Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
     And our hearts, though stout and brave,

Still, like muffled drums, are beating
     Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,
     In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
     Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
     Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,—act in the living Present!
     Heart within, and God o'erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
     We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
     Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
     Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
     Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
     With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
     Learn to labor and to wait.

Gwendolyn Mayfield, BA

Center Director
KinderCare Education, Alexandria, VA

Co-Director of Hospitality

Gwendolyn Mayfield is a “warm and energetic” professional that has exemplary customer service skills.  She has years of experience working with teachers, children, parents, and clients.  She has conducted staff development trainings and parent seminars; directed meetings with teachers, parents, and Boards; as well as held motivational events to maintain a high retention of teachers and families.
After receiving a BA Degree in Elementary Education in South Carolina, Ms. Mayfield moved to D. C. to continue her career in education at Early Environments, Inc. to develop the skills that would eventually lead her to become a Director at Fingerprints Child Development Center for Bright Horizons.
During her time at Early Environments, Inc., she worked as an Acting Director and Preschool Program Coordinator before accepting a position as an Assistant Director and Infant/Toddler Coordinator at FERC Child Development Center through Bright Horizons.  She later became a director at this center and worked there for 14 years.  She helped lead this location through NAEYC accreditation on three occasions.
Ms. Mayfield has been described as one who “has the servant leadership skills to influence and guide organizational effectiveness that provides excellent customer service with proficiency for all involved.”

Mary Davis McNeil

Women's Ministries Coordinator - Marriage Counselor & Realtor - Columbia, South Carolina

2nd Vice President / Chaplain

Professionally, Mary Davis McNeil is a realtor, a member of the National Association of Realtors, South Carolina Association of Realtors, Greater Columbia Association of Realtors, and Columbia Multiple Listings Service.

Mary was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She has been a member of the Lord’s Church for 40 years. Mary has been married to Jack McNeil for 42 years. Jack McNeil is minister of the Sunset Blvd. Church of Christ in West Columbia, South Carolina. They have four children Nicole (Darnell), Avery, Jack Jr, Danyel (Horace) and 10 Grandchildren.

Some of her activities at the Sunset Blvd. congregation include the following: She has taught from the cradle roll class to the adult ladies class. Mary has served on the Education Committee, Youth Coordinators Committee, and she chairs the Ladies Weekend Program Committee. Mary has spoken on numerous Ladies Day Programs, Retreats, has served as a guest speaker on the Ministers Institute Conference Ladies Sessions in Fort Lauderdale Fl. Southeastern Lectureship Ladies Programs, and the National Ministers’ Wives Conferences.

Mary presently serves on the National Minister’s Wives Advisory Committee, and she is the Executive Chairperson of the Santee Retreat Board and serves on the Sensible Women Initiative, Inc. Board of Directors. ​

Dr. Felicia Moore Mensah

Professor of Science Education at Teachers College, Columbia University - New York City, NY

Director of Education

Felicia Moore Mensah, Ph.D. is Professor of Science Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.  As a former Associate Dean (2015-2019), she developed programming and initiatives for student and faculty development.  During the upcoming academic year (2019­2020), she will serve as Co-Department Chair of Mathematics, Science, and Technology at Teachers College.

Her research addresses issues of diversity and equity in science teacher preparation, with culturally relevant teaching, multiculturalism, and critical theories guiding her teaching and research.  Her most recent research utilizes critical race theory to transform teacher education research and practice by looking at the experiences of Teachers of Color, Scientists of Color, and preparing teacher educators who can talk about the impact of race and racism in teaching.  She is currently working with faculty colleagues across multiple programs who are interested in preparing future teacher educators.

As an advisor, Dr. Mensah provides support to the Student Senate, serves as the academic advisor to the Black Student Network and Students for Quality Education, a grassroots-student activist-group on campus.  She has an exceptional record in advising and developing early scholars with sponsoring more than 40 doctoral dissertations and serving on more than 90 dissertation committees.

She desires that all students, but girls in particular and students of color, are engaged and love science.  Therefore, she develops outreach programs for PreK-12 students and teachers, while also working closely in schools with teachers and administration in the development of strong science programs and partnerships with the university and schools.  Her doctoral students conduct research in K-12 schools and provide additional science support in classrooms.

Dr. Mensah has received a number of awards, honors, and acknowledgments, such as the Outstanding Science Teacher Educator of the Year from the Association of Science Teacher Education (2017); the Early Career Award, Division K, from the American Educational Research Association (2012); the Race, Culture, and Diversity Research Grant from Teachers College; four Provost Investment Grants; and funding from the National Science Foundation to support her research.

She is actively engaged in professional organization in science education and teacher education and was a past President of Sisters of the Academy (SOTA) Institute, an organization that supports women’s educational advancement.

She is the wife of Brother Emmanuel Mensah, an aspiring minister.  The two were married August 2008, and both have plans to continue supporting, encouraging, and developing their faith and the faith of others.

Finally, Dr. Mensah loves to teach but considers herself to be a life-long learner in education.  She is creative and enjoys jewelry-making, watching science-related and crime shows on television, romantic comedies, and true-life movies.

Jennifer Murry, BS, MBA (pending)

Technical Management Resources, Inc. - Washington, DC

Chief Financial Officer

Jennifer Murry was born in Washington, DC and grew up with five brothers and sisters as an army brat with her family.  In 1985, Jennifer graduated from Hampton University (formerly Hampton Institute) and since then has completed post graduate studies and received several management certifications.

After college, Jennifer moved to California and began her career working for the Federal Government as a civilian worker in the IT field.  After working for the Department of Navy and Department of Army, Jennifer transitioned into the private industry.

In the private sector, Jennifer has worked in IT Program Management as an employee for Booz Allen & Hamilton, Metropolitan Life Insurance, Lockheed Aeronautical Systems, Coca Cola Enterprises and IBM Global Services.  Jennifer has managed critical programs and large teams and budgets.

In 2001, Jennifer began IT consulting on her own; and from 2001-2016, Jennifer provided management consulting services to several companies including United Way, JP Morgan Chase, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, Sallie Mae, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority.

Since 2016, Jennifer has been employed at Technical Resources Management, Inc., and she currently manages a team of 33 team people for a $25 million-dollar contract at the Department of Homeland Security Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Jennifer has also been a dedicated partner in the ministry with her husband, Earnest Murry.  Earnest & Jennifer are the proud parents to their son, Martin.

Lillian D. Norman, BS, MS, CAS

RCSD Educator/Administrator (Retired) - Rochester, New York

Executive Senior Advisor - Director of Website Management

Lillian D. Norman, a native of North Carolina, is a retired English Teacher and Administrator for the Rochester City School District. She earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from St. Augustine's University in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Her graduate study was done at the State University of New York at Brockport, where she earned a Master of Science Degree in Secondary Education, a Certificate of Advanced Study, and a Certificate of Permanent Certification as a School District Administrator.  Her professional career includes thirty-three years as a secondary school educator and administrator.
During her years with the Rochester City School District, Lillian was very active at the district and school level.  In 1978, she worked as a "Teacher on Special Assignment," serving as the "Team Leader" for one of the District's three Secondary School Reorganization plans.  Also, at the District's request in 1991, she traveled to Houston, Texas, to assist in conducting a professional development, site-based management workshop for the Houston Independent School District's "Schools of Excellence Convention."  On the high school level, she worked with the school-based planning team and served as an advisor of extra-curricular activities.  In this capacity, she often organized assembly programs, workshops, and conferences, and brought in outstanding local and out-of-state presenters.  Many of the activities in which she engaged were sponsored by the East High School Ebony Culture Club, which she founded in the early 70's and dedicated to promoting knowledge of African American history and culture, academic achievement, higher education, and career awareness.
Lillian is married and has one son.  She is a Golden Life Member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., a public service sorority and Phi Delta Kappa, a professional association for educators.  Among her awards are the St. Augustine's University Certificate of Merit, Urban League of Rochester Certificate of Outstanding Service, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.'s Community Service Award, J. C. Penney Golden Rule Award for Community Service, and Delta Great Teacher Award for New York State.

Dr. Valerie U. Oji, RPh, PharmD, BCPP

Adjunct Professor/ Director IPAC - Katy, Texas

Director of Mental Health

Dr. Valerie Oji is Clinical Pharmacologist, Innovative Pharmaceuticals and Consultants (iPAC), and Associate Professor with the College of Pharmacy, Harding University.  She is also a consultant for the Sensible Women Initiative, Inc.  Dr. Oji is an accomplished professional with 25 years of pharmacy practice experience and board-certified in Psychiatry and Neurology.  She also has post-doctoral education and experience in Health Administration.  Dr. Oji is a multidisciplinary educator (pharmacy, medicine, nursing, social work, psychology) primarily in the areas of Psychiatry and Health Policy.  She is engaged in clinical psychopharmacology services as well as research in the application of biblical principles to health services and recovery for individuals with mental disorders.

Dr. Oji is a mother with passion for ministry to women, children, families, and survivors of domestic abuse.  She has served her community as past Co-Chair for Health Affairs, Women-In-NAACP, Houston, among other positions.  She currently serves the body of Christ with “medications ministry” and pharmacology support and consultation with biblical framework counselors.  She is an innovative professional, a creative writer, and author of several journal publications and a book.

Dr. Sharon Riley Ordu, BA, MA, Ed.D., M.Ed., Ed.S.


Chief Learning Officer/Educational Consultant/Founder - Georgia, United States

Director of Chapter Development

Dr. Sharon Riley Ordu is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. She was the first in her immediate or extended family to earn a doctorate degree. There have been other firsts in her life as she has a trailblazing spirit. Other firsts include: First African American female to join the Educational Administration graduate faculty at Capella University; First in a cohort of Georgia teachers to be selected for the Georgia Tech GIFT Fellowships for Teachers Program...  She believes it does not matter where you start; it matters what you believe about yourself.

Her professional experience includes the following: Central Office Administrator, Principal, Educational Consultant, Teacher, Published Author, Motivator, Education Professor (Online and Traditional), English Professor (Online and Traditional), Dissertation Chair, National Advisory Panel Member--National Association of Secondary School Principals, Board of Directors, Association for Middle Level Education and Georgia Middle School Association, After School All Stars, etc.  Consulting Clients have included the following: Georgia Department of Education, US Department of Education, University of Indiana Ctr. of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL), and various schools and districts.

She has provided Educational and Instructional Leadership resulting in schools being recognized at the local, state, and national levels.  She led a team to turn around a challenging middle school resulting in that school being removed from the Georgia "Needs Improvement" list.  The early college high school where she served as principal became a Georgia School of Excellence in 2013, it was a Georgia Title I Distinguished High School multiple years, and was recognized by US News & World Reports multiple times as a "Best High School."

Iris Polk-KuKu, BA, MBA

Assistant Vice President of Corporate Administrative Services with Arch Insurance Group, Inc. - New York, NY

Executive Administrator

Iris Polk-Kuku is a native of Houston, Texas, but has lived on the North East Coast for over 35 years – she has worked in Corporate America since making the transition to the North East.  She currently serves as the Assistant Vice President of Corporate Administrative Services with Arch Insurance Group Inc, leading a team of 23.
In 2015, she received the highest corporate honor the organization offers, the  Arch Achieve Award, which recognizes the company’s most valuable players that exercise excellence and commitment to working hard and smart, teamwork, innovation and improvement, integrity and having a positive impact on the organization and their clients. 
Ms. Polk-Kuku received a BA in Communications and has an Executive MBA in business.  She currently serves as the New Jersey State National Dinner Day Coordinator for SwCC, which is purposed to create fund raising projects in support of Christian education.  She volunteered for seven years at Raphael Life House, assisting homeless expecting mothers between the ages of 13 to 21, with personal and professional development.  She is a public speaker having spoken at various ladies seminars and lectureships.
Ms. Polk-Kuku, being a woman of great faith, has a passion for being a servant.  It is her belief that we are placed here to serve.  She is driven to motivate, encourage, and elevate others to be all that they are purposed to be; helping to unleash and unlock the powers within.
She is so honored to be considered a member of the SWI purpose of making a positive impact on young ladies, helping them to grow and develop into the full knowledge of their purpose in life, and having them to strive and thrive achieving levels of success that could otherwise only be imagined.