Early Childhood Literacy Forum

Early Childhood Literacy Forum Flyer

“Closing the Achievement Gap” for African-American Students

Kettering Foundation & Metro Detroit Chapters of The Links, Incorporated

Host Literary Forum for Community Input & STEMM Career Exploration Event


Wendy Turner Lewis, Linda Gillum, Marcia Holland Turner and Karen Gibbs

DETROIT – Some of the most committed members of the community gathered Saturday, November 22, 2014 for a full day focused on exploring the factors that are adversely affecting the literacy rate and educational status of metro Detroit’s African American students – and on exposing students to the possibilities of STEMM careers in the science, technology, engineering, math and medicine.

Partnering with the Kettering Foundation, the day of enlightenment and enrichment was presented by area chapters of The Links, Incorporated, an organization established for professional women to work together to enrich, sustain and ensure the cultural and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry. This aligns with President Barack Obama’s education initiative which is aimed at creating partnerships and alliances to educate and prepare youth for the 21st century workforce.


Tonya Allen

“This forum allowed us to hear from parents, educators and others in the community about the needs that they are feeling, and the gaps that they believe exist, so that this community can better address our children’s early childhood literacy. We will be able to pass our findings on to the Kettering Foundation to inform their research and future programming,” said Tonya Allen, president of the Skillman Foundation and a member of the Renaissance (MI) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated.

“We are excited, along with DAPCEP, that we were able to bring some of our community’s renowned STEMM professionals in to share information on their career paths with nearly 200 students and 100 parents. Professionals also led workshops on anti-bullying, peer mediation, making healthy choices and sound financial strategies,” said Shirley Kaigler, a partner in the law offices of Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss, and president of the Greater Wayne County (MI) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated. 


Linda Gillum

“Our objective was to inform parents and program providers about existing activities and resources in early childhood literacy, and to equip parents and others to utilize resources already available in their homes to improve literacy in young children,” said Linda Gillum Ph.D., the founding associate dean of Academic and Faculty Affairs at the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, in Rochester, Michigan. With a two decade career in education and academic leadership preparation, Gillum is a member of the Renaissance (MI) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated and an event organizer.


The Links, Incorporated celebrates more than 65 years as a women’s volunteer service organization committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the cultural and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry. A premier international service organization with nearly 12,000 members in 280 chapters located in 41 states, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, its legacy of friends providing service that changes lives, established by the original circle of nine friends in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1946, is alive and well. 

10678741_10204459594362763_1597328716362736356_nThe members of The Links, Incorporated are influential decision makers and opinion leaders. The Links, Incorporated has attracted many distinguished women who are individual achievers and who have made a difference in their communities and the world. They are business and civic leaders, role models, mentors, activists and volunteers who work towards a common vision by engaging like-minded organizations and individuals for partnership.

With more than 2 million service hours recorded in the past three years, members regularly contribute more than 500,000 documented service hours in their respective communities annually. For more information, visit www.linksinc.org.




STEMM Workshop Presenters: 


Paul C. Ajegba, P.E.

Trachette L. Jackson, Ph.D.

Ahmina Maxey

Monique Parnell Phifer



Hajj Fleming

Jamie L. Hamilton

Michele Peterson

Marlo Rencher, Ph.D.

Krysty Sagnia



Regine Beauboeuf, P.E.

Cyrill Weems

Carol L. Wooden



Richard R. Byas III

Attorney Stephanie Jones

Gail Perry-Mason

Attorney Roshunda Price

LaShanda R. Thomas, CPA



Christina L. Clark, M.D.

Jennifer Fuller, D.D.S.

Darnell Kaigler Jr., D.D.S., M.S., Ph.D.

Traci Kimbrough, M.D.

Lorna Lacen Thomas, M.D.



Shelia Finney


Peer Mediation

Tonya Collier

Judge Linda V. Parker


Healthy Choices

Felicia Turrentine Wasson


Financial Strategy

Mike Daniels

Samirian Hill

Jeffrey Taylor