Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated, The Premier African American Family Organization, held its 45th National Convention, July 26-31, in Orlando, Florida celebrating the theme, “The Power of A Dream!” Savannah Chapter President, Tara Aikens, and Savannah Mothers, Chapter Vice President MarRonde Lumpkin-Lotson and Member Rachelle James Gregory, were in attendance, as well as Savannah Tribune Publisher Shirley Barber James (Savannah Chapter Associate) who served as the 15th National President (1994-96).
The 2022 National Convention exemplified the power of dreaming and the significance of helping children to dream by featuring an interactive legacy gallery of notable Jack and Jill of America alumni in entertainment, business, government, education, media, technology, and social justice, among other industries. Some of these accomplished men and women received special recognition at the convention’s closing gala. Robert E. James, II, President & CEO of Carver Financial Corporation, was featured among the Jack and Jill Alumni Legacy Wall of Honor in the business category for his roles as Chairman of the National Bankers Association, member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council and the FDIC Advisory Council Committee on Community Banking. A former Jack of the Savannah Chapter, he served as Southeastern Regional Teen President, 1988-90.
Philanthropist Susan L. Taylor received induction as the organization’s second honorary member following Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President Emerita of the Children’s Defense Fund. Edelman was inducted in 1996 under the presidency of 15th National President, Shirley Barber James. Taylor was recognized for her contributions to advancing the African American community as former Editor-in-Chief at Essence (essence.com/ about) and her commitment to enhancing the lives of children as Founder and CEO of National CARES Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org)—a national leader in the recruitment, training, and engagement of Black mentors. In honor of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Jack and Jill of America, in collaboration with Disney on the Yard, hosted “Homecoming Night.” Disney on the Yard is dedicated to building a community for HBCU alumni and providing meaningful opportunities for HBCU students. At “Homecoming Night”, JJ Families wore college paraphernalia of their choice. Drum Major Mickey and local high school bands performed including Jones High, the first public school for African Americans in Orlando, established in 1895.
National Convention entertainers and special guests included award-winning singer-songwriter Ne- Yo, Doug E Fresh, Bishop Paul S. Morton, gospel recording artist Dorinda Clark- Cole, DJ Vince Adams, and musicians Gritz and Jelly Butter. There were also forums centered on health, wealth, and Black women in Fortune 500 executive leadership. Robert E. James, 50-year President and CEO of Savannah’s 97-year-old Carver State Bank, participated with the wealth panel sharing his years of experience with Black-owned and operated banks who have to consistently overcome the challenges and disparities faced when serving the financial needs of minority communities. The health forum addressed inequities in the healthcare system and improving health care support for people and communities of color.
Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated announced community-service partnerships with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Inc., and Be the Match, a JJ Save a Life Donor Campaign. Former Jill and Alumnus of the Savannah Chapter, Camille James Gregory, now a member of the San Jose (CA) Chapter of Jack and Jill, was featured as a bone marrow donor for Be The Match because of her recent donation as a match for a Sickle Cell recipient. Other community partnerships include The March of Dimes, American Heart Association, AARP, Ready Life, and UNICEF.
Jack and Jill of America’s national conventions are biannual, occurring every other year. The organization’s previous national convention in 2020 was entirely virtual to safely unite families and abide by federal and state guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2022 National Convention was in-person with a virtual option for participation.
Kornisha Mc- Gill Brown, 27th National President of Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated, from the Columbus (GA) Chapter, Southeastern Region, was overwhelmingly elected to a second term as National President (2022- 2024). She said, “We were very grateful for this opportunity to bring our Jack and Jill families back together again in-person after the impact and physical separation caused by the pandemic.” Jack and Jill Mothers with their families, from across the nation, gathered to perform the business of Jack and Jill, share successes, and celebrate “The Power of A Dream – On Mission, On Purpose – For All Children.”