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New Leaders Council

Augusta 2016 Fellows

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Meet the 2016 Augusta Fellows

Marcus Allen


Marcus Allen, an Augusta native, is a Junior studying Business Management & Political Science at Kennesaw State University. Marcus is a young, talented, motivated citizen with the passion to make positive change with others in the community. With rigorous skills training via the NLC, he plans to become more empowered to have the tools necessary to create sustainable results in any project he is involved in. While attending KSU, Marcus has embraced ‘making a difference’ into a lifestyle. He has won organization of the year, back to back, serving as president of two different organizations. He has also hosted events with several students organizations, become a mentor to many on campus, and most recently helped found a fraternity’s chapter at KSU.

More importantly, Marcus is proud of the work that he has done for the community thus far, dedicating countless hours over his collegiate career to the betterment of the university and surrounding metro Atlanta community. Inspired by the expansive Atlanta marketplace, he has engaged in project management for entrepreneurial ventures. These ventures range from helping veterans with chronic disabilities overcome homelessness, to leading business presentation teams to top tier national accolades at KSU. As he finishes his studies in undergrad, Marcus has most recently taught two courses on leadership development via organizations on campus. He is fortunate to have the opportunity to work with the NLC Augusta chapter, and makes it a goal every night before he rests to ask: how can this city truly become the greatest city in Georgia? Marcus intends to enroll in graduate school in 2017, and pursue a career as a consultant in conflict resolution.



Maria Cook, Program Manager, Mayor Hardie Davis, Jr. 


Maria Hall Cook is an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Corporation for National and Community Service. She currently works in the Office of Mayor Hardie Davis Jr. as a Program Manager for the My Brother's Keeper Augusta Initiative. Maria is a compassionate person who enjoys working in the community assisting others. She has experience working as a Probation Officer, Substance Abuse and Behavior Counselor and a Community Liaison.

Maria has an Associate in Criminal Justice from Augusta Technical College, Bachelor of Science in Public Administration with a minor in Criminal Justice from Brenau University and a Master of Public Administration (MPA) from South University. She is a Certified Criminal Justice Professional (CCJP), Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and a November 2015 graduate with the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice Citizens Academy Training.

Maria currently resides in Augusta with her husband, Michael and three children, Mariano, Destiny and Makhia. Upon completing her VISTA service in the Mayor's office, she plans to enroll in law school to pursue a career as a Criminal Defense Attorney.


Deshalb Dixon-Murray, Assistant District Attorney, Augusta District Attorney


Deshala Dixon Murray is an Assistant District Attorney who has spent her career prosecuting some of Georgia’s toughest criminals. She is currently an Assistant District Attorney in the Augusta Judicial Circuit where she specializes in crimes against children. Prior to working at the Augusta District Attorney’s Office, she was a prosecutor in the Macon District Attorney’s Office and the Cordele District Attorney Office. In Macon, she was responsible for prosecuting all sex trafficking cases and prosecuted several complex gang cases. One of her most notable gang cases was the State v. Bernard Bullard, where Mr. Bullard murdered a rival gang member for being at the ‘wrong’ party. After a week of testimony, the jury returned a verdict in less than two hours. During her time in the Cordele Judicial Circuit, she was the Assistant District Attorney assigned to Dooly County. In her six year tenure in Dooly County, she never lost a case. In 2013, she received one of the highest honors for an Attorney in Georgia when she was named one of the 40 best Attorney’s in Georgia under 40 by Daily Reports Magazine. Deshala is a 2004 graduate of Boston College Law School where she received the Wendell F. Grimes Award for Outstanding Work in Advocacy Competitions. She has a Masters in Education from Harvard University and a Bachelors of Arts from Hampton University. Deshala is a Past Chair of the Georgia State Bar’s High School Mock Trial Competition. In her spare time, Deshala is an avid runner and has run several half marathons and won numerous 5Ks. In 2011, she started the Middle Georgia chapter of Black Girls Run! a running group that encourages women to lead an active and healthy life. Deshala is married to Carl Murray and they have two children, Chaz and Chase.


Latoya Hardman, Executive Director, Family Promise of Augusta

augusta-Hardman.jpgLatoya is originally from Washington, GA. She has 3 siblings, 2 sisters and 1 brother. Latoya graduated from Washington-Wilkes Comprehensive High School in 2007. After graduation she moved to Augusta, GA to attend, what was then called, Augusta State University. Latoya graduated from Augusta State University in December 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts. She later went to the University of South Carolina in August 2012 where she obtained her Master in Social Work on May 8, 2015. Latoya is currently the Executive Director of Family Promise of Augusta (formerly Interfaith Hospitality Network of Augusta). She enjoys helping others and spending time with family and friends. 




Alyssa Haskins


Alyssa Haskins hails from Bronx, New York and is currently a Human Resources professional at Augusta University, in Augusta, Georgia, with 10+ years of event management, project planning, and process improvement experience. Alyssa began her career as a receptionist in the hospitality industry in New York City which laid the foundation for what would become a career managing high-profile events. After leaving New York, she continued as an event planner and has lent her talents hosting celebrity socials, executing international customer incentive meetings as well as organizing leadership and management initiatives. Over the course of 15 years, Alyssa has worked as a Conference & Catering Sales Manager at one of Florida’s premier resorts and as an accomplished meeting professional for large corporations such as Georgia Pacific, Home Depot, SSC, and the American Cancer Society National Home Office.
Alyssa’s vision, ability to lead, influence and be a creative force catapulted her into a variety of startup companies and then on to her own event management company. As an entrepreneur, she created, produced and rolled out a multi‐city event platform for natural hair and beauty professionals in a learning environment. She also created and produced a live online broadcast, with global reach, offering the natural community 'real time' visuals of featured guests, panel discussions, and 'live' chats. This live platform served as the springboard for an online broadcast of original Earth, Wind and Fire keyboardist, Larry Dunn, on the Jeff Foxx Show which Alyssa co-produced. She has been included in articles surrounding Chris Rock’s “Good Hair” movie in the Atlanta Journal Constitution and has had the privilege of being featured in for her event management in the natural community.
Alyssa’s leadership and entrepreneurial spirit continues to soar as she currently operates an online natural skincare business, Simply Divine Naturals, and aspires to launch another business in 2016 that will inspire and motivate others to “get out of their own way”. In her spare time, Alyssa volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House and lends her expertise to provide sponsorship guidance to aspiring entrepreneurs and comedians.  Alyssa's leadership and management experience have evolved over the years, and the NLC platform will allow her to further expand her abilities through coaching, mentoring, and supporting the local economy through job creation by cultivating a culture of innovation.


Stacy Hill, CEO, DyeVerCity


Since she was a little girl, Stacy Hill has been in love with all things beauty—especially hair! On any given Sunday morning before church, you could find Stacy’s two little sisters in her room waiting to get their hair beautified with her magic touch. That love continued to evolve as she is now the CEO of DyeVerCity SAGH, Inc., a company she launched in 2010 with intent to inspire women everywhere. The company’s first entity is DyeVerCity Hair Salon, in Martinez, Georgia, where Stacy and her staff service women of varying ethnicities and hair textures.   Since the launch of DyeVerCity, Stacy has grown quite popular in the hair and beauty industry, not just as a stylist, but also as an expert and educator.  Texture Media—the largest haircare platform and trusted thought leader inspiring millions of multi-cultural beauty enthusiasts through original content, branded entertainment, social media, product reviews, data and commerce—seeks out Ms. Hill as a knowledgeable source regarding hair care and styling products. One of Texture media’s print publications, Texture magazine, interviewed Stacy on the business behind her brand in the September ’13 issue, and even featured her salon’s work as the cover art.     What’s so unique about Stacy is that she utilizes her platform as a noted stylist and business owner to speak into the lives of her clients and women in the community. She speaks at churches, conferences and other events on a range of topics, including hair health and care, self-esteem, business etiquette, parenting and other subjects that all women can relate to. An advocate for finding one’s inner beauty and using it to fulfill one’s purpose, Stacy incorporates a lot of service into her brand. She volunteers at a local women’s substance abuse shelter and encourages the residents to overcome obstacles and discover their value along the way. Stacy and DyeVerCity Salon host empowerment seminars monthly that cater to both the personal and professional development of women.  Stacy and DyeVerCity Salon have been featured in other outlets, including Hype Hair magazine, Buzz Feed,, and Salon Today magazine. She and her talented team have been called on to do the hair for Strawllers national print ad campaigns and Atlanta’s Fro Fashion Week models. Stacy has started a blog where she talks about everything from hair, personal care products, relationships, motherhood, sex, and how to become a successful entrepreneur.  She is the modern day woman, keeping stylish while juggling motherhood to four beautiful children, a successful business that keeps expanding by the minute, and a vision to spread the message of inside-out beauty to women worldwide!


Bonita Jenkins, Military Navigator, Augusta Technical College


Bonita (Jefferies) Jenkins joined Augusta Technical College as the Director of Marketing and Public Relations in July 2008. Prior to this job, she was in the same capacity at Piedmont Technical College in Greenwood, South Carolina. Most recently she was named Military Navigator for Augusta Technical College and is currently putting together the resources that military students need to succeed in their educational paths. Her proudest accomplishment is establishing a Military Service Center on campus that the students can visit during school hours. Her partnership with the Augusta Warrior Project was very instrumental in creating this center and together they are working to identify the thousands of veterans in the CSRA. Before joining the working world of higher education, she was a seasoned media and marketing professional, with 21 years of experience in television broadcasting. Her career path in television spanned from college intern, administration, production manager, to promotion and marketing director. She was on the CBS Network’s Promo Executive Board and her most celebrated accomplishment was being invited to speak at the national convention on her promotion success in her local television job. She helped her stations win many awards for her promotional ideas and campaigns. She is often called a “social butterfly” and can be spotted at many community events with her family, because she loves her community. Bonita currently serves on the Augusta Richmond County Coliseum Authority, the board of directors for the Miss Augusta/Miss Savannah River Scholarship Pageant, as a 2015-16 Campaign Cabinet for The United Way of the CSRA. She is a former co-chair for two terms for the Ambassador group for the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce, and is a 2009 graduate of Leadership Augusta. Her other memberships include Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, and a Military Peer Group College Representative for the Technical College System of Georgia. She resides in Augusta with her husband, Jay Jefferies, their children, Jaida and Jaden and the canine family member, Pepper, a rescue from S.P.C.A. Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare in Aiken. She enjoys, reading, writing, shopping, travelling, and is continually creating and enjoying items on her “life bucket list”.


Karen Morrow


Karen Morrow has established a career as an engineer in the environment and energy sector. Karen received her Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Engineering in 1999 and her Master of Science degree in Systems Engineering in 2010. She is also a certified Project Management Professional. Karen started her career at Savannah River Site (SRS) where her work included environmental compliance activities for decontamination and decommissioning projects. She has also provided expertise in licensing and permitting for environmental remediation and clean-up projects. Because of her career path Karen has become well-versed in interacting with federal and state environmental agencies and advising on implementation of regulatory programs. Karen is now employed in the commercial nuclear power industry providing nuclear licensing support. Her job includes facilitating the inspection process for Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) inspections, providing regulatory analysis and guidance on licensing issues, and interfacing with the NRC.

Karen has great leadership acumen and provides personal and professional guidance to others. She is a John Maxwell Team certified coach, speaker, and trainer. She has shown devotion to offering her leadership capability to organizations she works for, such as while serving as Vice-Chairperson in 2004 and Chairperson in 2005 on the Site Air Committee during her employment at SRS. She is an Oz Principle Accountability Trainer at the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant. In addition, Karen serves on the Board of Directors of Faith Family Life Center Church Inc. Karen is sought for her knowledge and expertise in environmental management, nuclear energy, and regulatory risk and compliance. She has readily provided insight on environmental matters to political leaders serving the Augusta community. Karen’s interests include growing her consulting business to help develop the capability of non-profits and small to mid-sized organizations.


Wanda O'Brien, Senior Training Specialist, Augusta University and Health System


A Martinez, GA. native, Wanda O’Brien received her Masters of Business Administration from Brenau University. An honors graduate, she earned her Certificate of Advanced Management Studies as well. Wanda currently serves as a Senior Training Specialist with Augusta University and Health System. Wanda has 23+years of Human Resources experience and has served in various roles during her career. Previous roles were with Georgia Department of Defense and Georgia Department of Corrections. She currently serves as a member of the Professional Women’s Network and is a Georgia Personnel Council – Augusta Chapter member. Wanda has a true passion for helping others to be their best and reach their full potential. She currently serves as a mentor and leader on her work team. A future goal for Wanda is to start a mentoring/coaching program for youth to enhance their professional development skills for personal and professional growth. Outside of the office, Wanda enjoys spending time with her family. She enjoys traveling, shopping and going to movies.


Dexter Peggins, Peer Support Coordinator, Armed Forces Services Corporation


Having worked in multiple sectors of life, Dexter Peggins Jr. has developed a wealth of diverse experience working with people from varying cultures and backgrounds. He is a 14 year veteran of the U. S. Army, who after being honorably discharged, continued his commitment to serving others by working as a hospital Chaplain at Norton Healthcare in Louisville, KY. Accepting the opportunity to work with the military’s wounded, ill, and injured service members and their families, Dexter relocated to Georgia and he is currently employed as the Southeast Regional Peer Support Coordinator for the Department of Defense Caregiver Initiative. Dexter has a heart and an innate ability to help people reach the fullness of their potential. This passion has led him to create a leadership development and coaching company called Kingdom Solutions Consulting, LLC. Dexter has served as an advisor and trainer to business owners, church leadership teams, and he frequently serves as a speaker in the South Carolina Men’s Reentry Initiative. He also the Associate Pastor of Evangelism and Outreach for Covenant Church located in Augusta, GA. Dexter received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Christian Ministry from Regent University, and he is currently pursuing his Master of Public Administration from the University of Phoenix. He is a native of Augusta, Georgia and he enjoys spending quality time with his wife and children.


LaSandra Peggins, Health Care Reform Account Manager, ADP


Born and raised in Augusta, GA., LaSandra M. Peggins received both her Bachelors of Science in Psychology and her Masters of Business Administration degrees from Liberty University. With over 13 years of leadership experience, LaSandra has excelled in a diverse number of sectors ranging from retail management to corporate leadership. She currently operates as a Health Care Reform Account Manager for ADP. She is also a Certified Health Care Reform Specialist and a Yellow Belt in Lean Six Sigma Process Improvement. In addition to her professional endeavors, LaSandra is an advocate for marginalized women. Fueled by her passion to better position individuals for success through encouragement and empowerment, LaSandra does voluntary work as a mentor and she is often requested as a motivational speaker. Her future desire is to start a nonprofit that aids women who have been released from prison and women who have suffered from domestic violence reach positions of independence and self-sufficiency. While LaSandra values her private prayer and worship time, she is a devoted wife and mother of two young sons, who enjoys music and a number of activities such as travel, dining, laughing, and investing time in relationships with family and friends.


Shante' Stallings, PC Support Specialist III, Augusta University


In a long term relationship with technology since the age of 5. Shante’ was born to Don and Catherine Stallings in Augusta, Georgia where she attended Richmond Academy high school, Augusta Technical College, and Augusta University. She has one sister whom resides in Grovetown, Georgia. Shante’ is currently the PC Support Specialist III at Augusta University where she works within the Dental College of Georgia. While attending the Academy of Richmond County Shante' served as President of the Technology Student Association; developing leadership skills and learning to motivate others to surpass their own expectations and learn from their failures. Her personality allows people to relate to her and trust her with their concerns. This allowed her to oversee 500+ computer installations for $112+ million dollar building construction project for the Dental College of Georgia in 2011. In the time that Shante’ attended Augusta Technical College she was offered an opportunity to work at Augusta University (then Medical College of Georgia). During her experience at Augusta University she quickly learned the opportunities a Bachelor’s degree would earn. Immediately after she received her Associates Degree in Computer Support she began the next semester at Augusta University for her Bachelors in Applied Information Systems Technology. Shante’ strives for ways to improve the technology field so that it is easily understood by consumers as well as finding new ways that will allow others to be more productive through the use of technology. For that reason many people come to her with questions and concerns to help them better understand the technology they already own. To help share more with others she created; a place where anyone could come to read about technology in plain English. Part of Shante’s motivation derives from her family whom have always advised her to make good lifelong decisions. Other motivations come from mentors and friends whom have always had her best interests in mind.


Marva Tutt, Teacher, Richmond County Board of Education


I am Dr. Marva Tutt, an educator, mentor, and lifelong learner. I received a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics Education from South Carolina State University, a Master's of Education in Educational Administration and Supervision from Winthrop University, and a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership from Argosy University. Not everyone receives their calling in life, but I was blessed to find mine. I am a natural born educator and learner. It is my passion to educate, mentor, and counsel people of all ages through leadership development, professional learning opportunities as well as classroom instruction. I am currently an Algebra teacher at the Academy of Richmond County (ARC). Prior to this assignment, I have been an educational consultant, principal, and college professor. I currently serve as President-Elect for the Georgia Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (GA-ASCD). Along with my college experiences, I am also a graduate of Leadership Augusta, National Urban Fellows "America's Leaders of Change" and ASCD's Emerging Leaders program. I am particularly excited about this program because it will provide leadership development and foster my entrepreneurial spirit in a non-traditional way. My motto in life is "All children can learn, just not all on the same day or in the same way," George Evans.


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New Leaders Council is a 501 (c) (3) public charity dedicated to educating a new generation of leaders and to providing those leaders with the tools they need to succeed. NLC does not engage in political or legislative activities of any kind, does not support or oppose any candidate for public office, and serves only as an educational leadership training ground.