After serving for 25 years in the city in which she grew up, Margaret Dixon retired from the Oakland Police Department. Currently, Margaret is an instructor in the Administration of Justice program at Merritt College. Margaret believes everyone should take the time out of their schedule to give back to the community.
In addition to teaching, Margaret is the Oakland Police Activities League (PAL) board president. Oakland PAL is a non-profit program serving at-risk youth by providing afterschool activities and sport opportunities. Margaret spends countless hours volunteering to create positive and safe programs for Oakland’s youth. For 25 years, Margaret has served as head coach of the Oakland PAL track team, which she also founded. The PAL track team has enabled hundreds of Oakland youth to travel beyond the city limits, and many of these athletes have gone to college on athletic scholarships.
Even as a young student at Overton High School, Nashville native Joseph Cole dreamed of working in the construction industry. His involvement in Nashville’s ACE (Architecture, Construction, Engineering) Mentor Program throughout high school inspired Joseph to earn his degree in architecture from the University of Tennessee. During his time there, he also earned the Chancellor’s Gene Mitchell Gray Pioneer Award for increasing diversity throughout the campus and was instrumental in reactivating a National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS) chapter. Joseph was also active in INROADS, an organization established to develop and place talented underserved youth in business and industry. Upon graduation, Joseph landed a position with Thomas, Miller and Partners in Brentwood, Tennessee. He now serves as a mentor at ACE and continues to work toward increasing diversity in his industry while serving as a role model for architecture students of all backgrounds.
Former foster child Freedom Wright, a high school senior from Atlanta, knows what it means to wonder where your next meal or clothes will come from. That’s one reason the 17-year-old, who was adopted at the age of four, decided to help older kids living in the foster care system by holding “Free Your Mind” backpack drives to help ensure foster kids in the sixth grade and up will have backpacks. Freedom’s goal is not only to raise awareness of older kids living in foster care, but to encourage Atlanta youth to volunteer – which is also why she speaks to community groups about the foster care experience. Freedom has earned the Presidential Service Award the past four years for her efforts as a regular volunteer at The Atlanta Community Food Bank, The Atlanta Fulton County Library and St. Francis Table, a soup kitchen in Atlanta that feeds the homeless.
Chicago native Jackie Lomax founded Girls 4 Science (G4S), a non-profit organization dedicated to helping 10- to 18-year-old girls of African-American and Hispanic descent in the Chicago area learn, appreciate and develop a lifelong interest in science education and careers. Inspired by her daughter, who dreamed of becoming a dentist but didn’t have the resources to do so, Jackie created an environment to make math and science accessible to underserved girls by offering field trips, scholarships, mentorships and hands-on learning. Jackie’s hope is that through G4S, the only all-girls math and science program in Chicago, girls will no longer be left behind in the fields of science and technology due to money or resources. To date, almost 300 girls have participated in the program. Her passion for helping underserved communities continues with the Chicago Roseland Development Coalition, where she serves as a board member and career counselor.