Institute on Black Life Annual Conference

soldier hugging child

Black Life in the Military: History, Struggles and Moving Forward

Director's Welcome

Fenda Akiwumi

Welcome to the 2024 annual conference of the Institute on Black Life (IBL) at the University of South Florida. This year we are proud to be holding the event on our Tampa Campus and co-hosting with The USF Office of Veteran Success. We will focus on black life in the military and discuss the history, struggles and moving forward.    
In support of student success, IBL, also maintains a robust scholarship program that awards several scholarships each year, and supports student organizations and mentoring programs.   
Thank you for joining us and look forward to a productive and enlightening event.     
Fenda A. Akiwumi, Ph.D.  
Director, Institute on Black Life 

Event Date & Time

Date: Thursday, February 1, 2024
Time: 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Event Location

Marshall Student Center (MSC)
Third Floor - Room 3707
4103 USF Cedar Circle
Tampa, FL 33620

About the Event

The USF Institute on Black Life (IBL) will co-host its annual conference with the Office of Veteran Success. The conference theme is ‘Black Life and the Military.’ Topics specifically address the historic role of the military in Black life, addressing successes such as career and professional development opportunities, and upward mobility and challenges with racial injustice, health and mental well-being. The theme aligns with the University of South Florida’s research commitment to global and national security. USF is home to a robust Office of Veteran Success, a pioneering Military Leadership Center (JMLC), Army, Naval, and Air Force ROTC programs, a Global and National Security Institute, and a USF Institute of Applied Engineering (IAE) in collaboration with the Department of Defense. The university also liaises with several National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense at historically black colleges and universities.

Full Program

Morning Session

Time Activity
9:00 AM

Coffee & Breakfast

9:20 AM

Color Guard, Joint Military Leadership Center (JMLC)

9:30 AM

Opening and Welcome Remarks

9:50 AM

Overview and History of Conference Theme Presentation
Carlos Moreira, Director, USF Campus Engagement for Veteran Success and
Alumni Affairs

William Carpenter, Ph.D. Candidate and Office of Veteran Success

10:15 AM Break
10:25 AM

Panel of Honor Guest Speakers: Perspectives on Blacks in the Military

Moderator: Derek Moore, Director, Joint Military Leadership Center

Frank Bell, Jr., National Historian, 9th &10th (Horse) Cavalry Association, Local
Chapter Executive Board, Woods & Wanton Chapter, Inc.

Leslie C. Smith, Lieutenant General U.S. Army Retired

12:00 to 1:00 Lunch Break - Marshall Center ROOM 3705

Afternoon Session

Time Activity
1:05 PM Civil Rights: Bridging the Movement

Introduction by Dr. Denise Davis-Cotton, Director of USF Center for Partnership in
Arts Integrated Teaching (PAInT)

Performed by the West Coast Black Theater
1:50 PM  Break
2:00 PM

Conversation with Black Women in the Military

Moderator: Dr. Katherine Butterfield, USF Muma College of Business

Col Michele B White
Retired Sergent First Class April Rhodes Whitelocke

2:55 PM


3:00 PM

Panel: Memories in Mind: Honoring Veterans and the History of Memorial Park Cemetery, Tampa, FL

Moderator: Professor Antoinette Jackson, Chair of USF Department of
Anthropology and Director, USF Living Heritage Institute 

Fred Hearns, Tampa Bay History Center

Frances Jennings, Community resident

Aileen Henderson, The Cemetery Society

Norene Copeland Miller, Community resident

Charmaine “C-Maine” Jennings, Spoken Word Artist

3:30 PM

Panel: Service-Members Health and Well-Being

Moderator: William Carpenter, Ph.D. Candidate and Office of Veteran Success

Mr. Ellsworth Williams, Founder of Veterans Counseling, Veterans Inc.

4:15 PM


4:20 PM


Moderator: Kendrick Williams, Joint Military Leadership Center

MSG LeVon Sain Senior Military Science Instructor

GySgt Darius O. Robinson, Assistant Marine Officer Instructor

SSgt. Dominique Robinson

SSgt Jordan Barnes, Student

OC Justus Betts 

5:05 PM

Conversation on Family Experience

Moderator: Darren Gambrell, USF Sarasota Campus

Sharon Johnson Hamilton, USF Tampa Campus

Rebecca Sohl, Ph.D. Candidate and IBL Program Coordinator

5:40 PM

Final Closing Remarks

6:00 PM

Reception: Please join us for a mini reception to celebrate the conclusion of the IBL conference and mingle with speakers.

Special thanks to our university partner, Office of Veteran Success


Frank Bell

Frank Bell, Jr. 

National Historian,
9th &10th (Horse) Cavalry Association,
Local Chapter Executive Board,
Woods & Wanton Chapter, Inc


Frank Bell, Jr. is the only child of Frank Bell and Ida Mae Andrews and was born in July 1949. He graduated from Howard W. Blake High School in 1968. He did not enter Florida A and M University as planned because of the draft. He volunteered with the US Air Force as an Airman. He was based at Little Rock Air Force Base for 8 years and then reassigned to the First Reconnaissance Group at Beal Airforce Base in California. He served in a top-secret review specializing in support for SR 71 and U 2 Aircraft. Later, he was assigned to Patrick Air Force Base, Kennedy Space Center, as a flight engineer supporting the Space Shuttle Program. He separated from the Air Force in 1976 and worked for the City of Tampa Stormwater Operations for 28 years. In 2005 he was appointed as National Historian for the National 9th &10th (Horse) Cavalry Association in 2005.  He convened a group comprising 5 other historians in 2007, one of whom represents the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum in Houston, Texas. He

is an Executive Board Member of the Woods & Wanton Chapter, Inc. of the Calvary Association in Tampa, Florida. The chapter is named to honor Brett Woods, a Medal of Honor recipient from the Indian Wars, and George Wanton, a Seargent of the 10th Calvary, Spanish-American War.


Leslie C. Smith

Leslie C. Smith

Lieutenant General U.S. Army Retired


Lieutenant General Leslie C. Smith, US Army (retired) currently serves as the Vice President for Leadership and Education at, the Association of the United States Army, the Carter Chair for leadership at Georgia Southern, LV Smith Corporate Group CEO, and on several corporate boards. LTG Smith received his commission from Georgia Southern University (GSU) in 1983 as a Field Artillery Officer. In 1985, he graduated from GSU with a bachelor's degree in accounting and as a distinguished military graduate and branched as a Chemical Officer.

LTG Smith's final assignment on active duty from 2018 to 2021 was as The Inspector General, Office of the Secretary of the Army, the first Chemical officer to serve in that position. His early assignments include service in the Georgia National Guard as a Chemical Staff Officer in the 3-52d Air Defense Artillery Battalion; Division and DIVARTY Staff Officer and Company Commander in the 82d Airborne Division; Chemical Branch Assignments Officer, PERSCOM; S-3 and XO in the 23d Chemical Battalion; and the Joint Staff, J-5. In 2001, he assumed command of the 83d Chemical Battalion, where elements of the Battalion deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and New Dawn.

Following command, he served on the Army Staff in the G-8 in the Full Dimensional Protection Division. In 2005, he assumed command of the 3d Chemical Brigade at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and later served as the G-3, 20th Support Command (CBRNE). From 2008-2010, he was the 25th Chief of Chemical and Commandant of the United States Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear School. In 2010, LTG Smith returned to the 20th Support Command (CBRNE) as the Commanding General. In June 2013, LTG Smith became the first Chemical officer to serve as the Commanding General of the United States Maneuver Support Center of Excellence at Fort Leonard Wood. He served as the Deputy Inspector General from 2015 to 2018.

His military education includes the Chemical Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, Airborne School, Jumpmaster School, Command and General Staff. LTG Smith also holds master’s degrees from Central Michigan University and the National Defense University. He is married to Vanedra, and they have two daughters.



USF Provsot 


Prior to joining USF, Dr. Prasant Mohapatra served as the Vice Chancellor for Research at University of California, Davis. He was also a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Computer Science and served as the Dean and Vice-Provost of Graduate Studies at University of California, Davis during 2016-18. He served as an Associate Chancellor during 2014-16, and the Interim Vice-Provost and CIO of UC Davis during 2013-14. He was the Department Chair of Computer Science during 2007-13, and held the Tim Bucher Family Endowed Chair Professorship during that period.

In the past, Dr. Mohapatra has been on the faculty at Iowa State University and Michigan State University. He has also held Visiting Scientist positions at Intel Corporation, Panasonic Technologies, Institute of Infocomm Research (I2R), Singapore, and National ICT Australia (NICTA). He has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Padova, Italy and Yonsei University, and KAIST, South Korea.

Dr. Mohapatra was the Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing. He has served on the editorial board of the IEEE Transactions on Computers, IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing, IEEE Transaction on Parallel and Distributed Systems, ACM WINET, and Ad Hoc Networks. He has served as the Program Chair and the General Chair and has been on the program/organizational committees of several international conferences. He has been a Guest Editor for IEEE Network, IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing, IEEE Communications, IEEE Wireless Communications, and the IEEE Computer.

Dr. Mohapatra received his doctoral degree from Penn State University in 1993, and received an Outstanding Engineering Alumni Award in 2008. He is also the recipient of Distinguished Alumnus Award from the National Institute of Technology, Rourkela, India.

Dr. Mohapatra received an Outstanding Research Faculty Award from the College of Engineering at the University of California, Davis. He received the HP Labs Innovation awards in 2011, 2012, and 2013. He is a Fellow of the IEEE and a Fellow of AAAS.

Dr. Mohapatra’s research interests are in the areas of wireless networks, mobile communications, cybersecurity, and Internet protocols. He has published more than 350 papers in reputed conferences and journals on these topics. Dr. Mohapatra’s research has been funded through grants totaling about 15 million US dollars from the National Science Foundation, US Department of Defense, US Army Research Labs, Intel Corporation, Siemens, Panasonic Technologies, Hewlett Packard, Raytheon, ARM Research, and EMC Corporation.


Interim Dean Magali Michael, Ph.D.

Magali Cornier Michael, Ph.D.
Interim Dean, College of Arts & Sciences
USF - Tampa Campus


Dr. Magali Cornier Michael has been serving as Interim Dean of the USF College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of English since June 1, 2022. Prior to that appointment, she served as CAS Dean for two years and then Campus Dean for two years on the St. Petersburg campus since July 1, 2018. Throughout her time at USF, she has been an active member of the multi-campus CAS senior leadership team, which has worked with faculty, advisors, and staff to make significant strides forward in the area of student and faculty success. Dr. Michael earned a BA in English from the University of Georgia and an MA and PhD in English from Emory University. Prior to joining USF, she was as Professor of English and Associate Dean of the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She has published three single-authored books: Narrative Innovation in 9/11 Fiction, New Visions of Community in Contemporary American Fiction: Tan, Kingsolver, Castillo, Morrison, and Feminism and the Postmodern Impulse: Post-World War II Fiction. Her most recent book publication is an edited collection of essays titled Twenty-First-Century British Fiction and the City, for which she also wrote the introduction and one of the chapters. In addition, she has published articles and book chapters on the work of Diana Abu-Jaber, Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter, Don DeLillo, Jonathan Safran Foer, John Fowles, Doris Lessing, Ian McEwan, Toni Morrison, Grace Nichols, D.M. Thomas, and Virginia Woolf. On the teaching front, she has taught a large number of courses at all levels (from freshman to doctoral level courses), especially in the areas of post-World War II literature, women’s literature, literary theory, and creative writing. In her work with doctoral students, she has directed twelve dissertations to completion.  


Carlos Moreira

Carlos Moreira 
Director of Campus Engagement for Veteran Success and Alumni Affairs
Office of the Regional Chancellor
Chair of SALUTE Veterans National Honor Society (USF Chapter)
First Sergeant, United States Marine Corps


Carlos Moreira is the Director of Campus Engagement for Veteran Success and Alumni Affairs Office of the Regional Chancellor at USF Sarasota Campus. He is Chair of the SALUTE Veterans National Honor Society (USF Chapter) and First Sergeant of the United States Marine Corps. he is a board member for the Sarasota County Veterans Commission, Sarasota Military Academy, and the City of Sarasota Patriotic Observance Committee. Carlos served 15 years on active duty in the United States Marine Corps from 2000 to 2015. In 2014, Carlos was deployed to Helmand Providence Afghanistan, and served as the Director of Logistics and Operations, and Liaison Officer (LNO) for Regional Command South West, on Camp Dwyer.

In January 2016, Carlos joined the Marine Corps Reserve with the 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion.  In 2021 Carlos was promoted to First Sergeant, the second highest enlisted rank in the Marine Corps. Currently, he serves as the company First Sergeant for an infantry unit, Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 25th Marines in Brooklyn, New York. 


William Carpenter

William Carpenter, Ph.D. Candidate 
Office of Veteran Success


William Carpenter is a Learning & Development leader with 22 plus years of experience. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Master’s in Adult Education in 2014. He also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Africana Studies from the University of South Florida. 

William has formal education in Instructional Design, Leadership Studies, and Program Evaluation. He is currently a Doctoral Candidate (ABD) at the University of South Florida in Curriculum & Instruction with a focus on Adult Education. He has a passion for Education, DEIA, Photography, and Technology.


Derek Moore

Derek Moore
Director, Joint Military Leadership Center 


Dr. Derek Moore was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. Growing up as a Boston sports fan and playing many sports as a kid throughout high school, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, where he served 20 years of faithful service. Dr. Moore’s experience of student success led him to his current position as Director of the Joint Military Leadership Center at USF. He developed and implemented programs that addressed ROTC students’ unique needs and experiences, fostering a sense of belonging and community while promoting academic success. In his free time, Dr. Moore actively engages with local communities, offering workshops and training programs on restorative justice and community policing. His dedication to bridging the gap between theory and practice is evident in his collaborative projects with law enforcement agencies and non-profit organizations. Dr. Moore has recently earned a Doctor of Criminal Justice specializing in Homeland Security from Saint Leo University. 


Dr. Denise Davis-Cotton

Dr. Denise Davis-Cotton
Director of USF Center for Partnership in Arts Integrated Teaching (PAInT)


Dr. Denise Davis-Cotton is recognized as a leading authority in arts-integrated teaching, an accomplished curriculum designer for education, arts integration, and new school/program development addressing minoritized and racialized students. She is the Director of the Florida Center for Partnerships for Arts-Integrated Teaching (PAInT Center) at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus. PAInT focuses on developing evidence-based and cutting-edge methods to inform effective arts integration teaching practices for learning.

She was invited to the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics to speak to students in a Study Group about Activism and Advocacy in Arts Education. Her life’s work in education centers on fostering inclusive teaching and learning environments through solution-building activities and programs that prominently position the arts within a balanced values alignment in academia.  She is a Milken Foundation internationally-recognized educator, a National Past President, and an active Board member of Arts Schools Network. She is the Founder and the First Principal of Detroit School of Arts; and the author of Losing My Mind over Education (Finding My Way Back to Me). She has established a reputation as a community/civic leader for comprehensive culturally-inclusive arts-integrated education. She shares with others her belief in the importance of arts-integrated teaching and learning in schools; thereby, garnering the distinct honor as a woman of vision, keen insight, and action. She received two Keys to the City of Montgomery (Alabama), the Congressional Record Recognition by the 106th Congress, and Distinguished Alum of Alabama State University.


Dr. Katherine Butterfield

Dr. Katherine D. Butterfield 
USF Muma College of Business


Dr. Katherine Butterfield, a native of Waycross, GA, is a remarkable individual with a rich military background. Coming from a lineage of military families that spans five generations, she has been deeply ingrained in the military culture. As a military BRAT, spouse, and veteran, Dr. Butterfield's commitment to service is unparalleled.

Upon completing high school, Dr. Butterfield displayed immense courage by enlisting in the Navy. For three years, she served her country with utmost honor. Following the events of September 2001, it was during this time of contemplation that Dr. Butterfield encountered her future husband. As she deliberated on whether to reenlist, their paths crossed, and a beautiful love story began to unfold.

Driven by her passion for education and leadership, Dr. Butterfield pursued higher education. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Healthcare Administration and a Master's degree in Organizational Management from Ashford University. Additionally, she obtained a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Capella University, showcasing her dedication to personal and professional growth.

As a proud mother of three sons, a stepdaughter, and a granddaughter, Dr. Butterfield embraces the joys and challenges of family life. Currently, she serves as the Academic Services Administrator for the Corporate Mentor Program at USF Muma College of Business, where she continues to make a positive impact in the field of education.

Dr. Katherine Butterfield's extraordinary journey is a testament to her unwavering dedication, resilience, and commitment to both her country and her personal growth


Col Michele B. White

Col Michele B. White


Colonel Michele Barksdale White was commissioned as an active-duty officer in the Finance Corps upon graduation from Georgia Tech in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management.  She also earned a Master’s Degree in Finance from Webster University and a Master’s in Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College. She is also qualified and served as a Human Resources Officer and Instructor/Facilitator. 

Col White’s assignments include serving in South Korea, Germany, California, Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Florida. She served as a commander at the Defense Language Institute - Foreign Language Center. After command, she deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Col White then transferred from active duty and was employed by Delta Airlines as a flight attendant for both international and domestic routes. She returned to military service in the Army Reserves. Col White currently serves as the Senior U.S. Army Reserve Advisor to the Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command. She will retire this year after 24 years of service. 

Col White has earned her Certified Defense Financial Manager - Acquisition Certification, DOD Financial Management Certification – Level 3, and Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification.

April Rhodes Whitelocke

April Rhodes Whitelocke
Sergeant First Class Retired


April Rhodes Whitelocke, Sergeant First Class Retired, is an Army Veteran with 16 years of service.  She served in three branches: Marine Corps, Navy, and Army. Her job title was a Human Resource Specialist until she joined the Army and became a Drill Sergeant.  In 2016, she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes while deployed to Kosovo on a NATO mission.  Since her retirement, she has worked as a government contractor.  She currently lives in Oocee, Florida, with her wife and 2 furbabies, Tatti and Thorn as she continues to work with the federal government. 


Antoinette Jackson

Antoinette Jackson
Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology
Director, USF Living Heritage Institute


Dr. Antoinette Jackson is Professor and Chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of South Florida and Founding Director of the USF Living Heritage Institute.

Her research focuses on identity and representation at public sites of history and heritage in the United States and the Caribbean. Dr. Jackson’s work on heritage has been published widely. Her new book, Heritage, Tourism, and Race—the Other Side of Leisure was published by Routledge in 2020. Dr. Jackson and her team launched the Black Cemetery Network on June 15, 2021, as a call to action to raise awareness about the national issue of Black cemetery erasure and its impact and implications for building a comprehensive knowledge of American history. Her work has been featured on CBS 60 Minutes and in the New York Times.


Fred Hearns

Fred Hearns 
Curator of Black History at Tampa Bay History Center


Fred Hearns is the Curator of Black History at the Tampa Bay History Center. Originally from the Bronx, N.Y., he grew up in Tampa, FL where he graduated from George S. Middleton High School in 1966. He earned a B.A. in English and journalism from the University of South Florida (USF), later obtaining an M.S. in organizational management and leadership from Springfield College and an M.A. in Africana studies from USF.

Hearns started his career as a journalist, working with the Florida Sentinel Bulletin, St. Petersburg Times, Tampa Tribune, and Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel. In 1975, he joined the City of Tampa Department of Community Affairs, eventually becoming its director in 2007. Post-retirement, he has been leading Black history tours in Tampa, focusing on cultural heritage preservation.

Since October 2021, Hearns has been the Curator of Black History at the Tampa Bay History Center, also contributing to Chinsegut Hill Historic Site and the future St. James @ Encore Black History Museum. He is actively involved in various community organizations, including the Zion Cemetery Preservation and Maintenance Society and the Tampa Chapter of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). Hearns is also the historian for the G. S. Middleton High School Alumni Association and a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. He is a father of four, a grandfather of five, resides in St. Petersburg, Fla., and is a long-time Tampa Bay Buccaneer fan.


Charmaine Jennings

Charmaine “C-Maine” Jennings, Ed.S.
Educator Consultant, Marriage Coach, Artist
Chosen Life Specialists, LLC


Charmaine ‘C-Maine’ Jennings, is a West Palm Beach native. She is a stellar relationship coach and co-owner of Chosen Life Specialists, LLC. She is a poet, life coach, and artisan of creativity. Charmaine is a veteran educator who began writing poetry as a teenager to deal with depression. She is a national trainer who excels at providing leadership coaching and professional learning opportunities for K-12 principals, coaches, teachers, and interventionists in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Alabama, Washington D.C., Texas, etc.

Charmaine is a change agent who utilizes arts-integrated strategies, poetry, and artful coaching. Her performance and creative works are typically a call to action. She encourages personal growth and how to embrace uniqueness to overcome trauma and turn obstacles into opportunities. Learn more at She is a wife of 20+ years, mother of 2 daughters, advocate, and friend.


Frances Jennings

Frances Jennings
Community Resident


Mrs. Frances Kay Cheeks-Jennings was born on January 9, 1942, in Tampa, Florida.  She graduated from Harlem Academy (the first public school erected for African-American children in Tampa) and Howard W. Blake High School.  Mrs. Jennings went on to earn her Nursing degree from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU).  She returned to Tampa following her graduation from FAMU and retired from the Hillsborough County Health Department after more than 35 years of service.  Mrs. Jennings has remained an adamant and active community servant throughout her life.  One of her proudest roles is leading the re-establishment of Blake as a high school and serving as a member of the Blake High School Athletic Booster Club since 2008.


Aileen Henderson

Aileen Henderson
The Cemetery Society


Aileen Henderson is a Founder, Chief Visionary, and Strategy Officer of The Cemetery Society in Tampa FL. She is a 5th-generation Tampa native whose family roots began in historic Ybor City. She became active with Tampa’s historic cemeteries when one was in danger of a developer building on it. She spearheaded The Save Woodlawn Cemetery campaign, and the property was denied a rezoning. The campaign brought memories of her and her grandmother visiting loved ones at the cemeteries. Those heartfelt recollections along with the excitement of a victorious outcome inspired her to start The Cemetery Society.

Her second campaign, Save Memorial Park Cemetery, led her to become more engaged in the East Tampa community. She assisted in spearheading another victory forcing the City of Tampa to purchase the cemetery that was lost at auction. The impact of the Save Memorial Park Cemetery campaign opened her eyes to the necessary restoration and desperate need for Tampa’s Black history to be recognized.  She has vowed to work endlessly to make sure history, Black history is remembered. Without our past, there is no future.


Norene Copeland Miller 

Norene Copeland Miller 
Founder of the Friends of Belmont Heights Memorial Park Cemetery


Norene Copeland Miller is the Founder of the Friends of Belmont Heights Memorial Park Cemetery. She is the granddaughter of a World War II Veteran buried in Memorial Park Cemetery and sister of an army veteran also buried in Memorial Park Cemetery. Altogether, she has 15 family members interred in Memorial Park Cemetery. She is a  
Community Advocate for the Historic Belmont Heights Community in Tampa, FL.


Ellsworth Williams

Mr. Ellsworth Williams 
Founder of Veterans Counseling, Veterans Inc.


Ellsworth “Tony” Williams was born in Fort Hood, Texas, and was a dependent of a career Vietnam Army Combat Veteran. He spent over 44 years in a military environment. He is a retired Army Combat Veteran, having faithfully and honorably served on active duty in the Army for over 24 years (8 enlisted and 16 Commissioned), including service during Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom. 

He received numerous military awards, including a Bronze Star and 3 Meritorious Service Medals (MSM).  After he retired in 2007 at the rank of MAJOR, he still wanted to continue to serve his fellow veterans, so he rebranded himself by getting a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Troy University. Upon graduation, he founded and is the current President/CEO of Veterans Counseling Veterans Inc. Tony is married to Thelma William, who is a retired Police Detective from Plainfield, NJ. 

Ellsworth “Tony” Williams was inducted into the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame on 14 Nov 2023. Tony founded Veterans Counseling Veterans in April 2014. VCV is a nonprofit organization led by Veterans from all branches of service in the behavioral health profession. VCV's primary mission is to prevent Veteran suicides. This is accomplished by supporting the Military, Veterans, and their family’s mental wellness by using Teaching, Education, Advocacy, Mentoring and Service (TEAMS)

Tony has received numerous mental health counseling awards including a 2021 Hillsborough Veterans Council’s Spirit Award, (FMHCA) 2015 Poster Board Award, depicting the “Military Dependent and War”, 2014 National Award “Social Service” from the American Mental Health Counseling Association (AMHCA) and won Florida Mental Health Counselor Association

Tony serves on many veteran-related Boards and councils including the Hillsborough Veterans Council, Pinellas Community Veterans Engagement Board, the Polk County Veterans Council, St Petersburg Florida NAACP Armed Services and Veteran Affairs Committee Chair, American Legion Central Area Command Veteran Affairs and Rehab Chair (VA&R), Former Florida Mental Health Counselor Association Military Affairs Committee Chair, Partner with Suncoast Mental Health Counselor Association’s, Former Chair for Florida American Legion District 15 Veterans Affairs’ And Rehab (VA&R), Former Veteran Affairs Veterans Engagement Council (VEC) member, Stakeholder for Hillsborough Community Assessment Committee, Member of Saint Pete College Suicide Prevention Taskforce, Member and Chair of Hillsborough’s Military, Veterans, and Family Suicide Prevention Committee Training Committee, Gamma Eta Sigma, Phi Beta Sigma Military Affairs Committee Chair, American Legion Central Area Command Veteran Affairs and Rehabilitation Chair, and St Pete NAACP’s Armed Services and Veteran Affairs Chair. He holds a General Education Diploma, Business Administration, and Bachelor of Science degrees from Temple University, Philadelphia, and a Counseling Psychology, Masters Degree from Troy University.

Kendrick Williams

Kendrick Williams
Joint Military Leadership Center


Originally from The Bahamas, Kendrick Williams Jr. had athletic dreams bigger than the turquoise horizon. At 15, he set sail for the US, chasing a shot at football stardom. Freshman year saw him dominating the gridiron, but life's curveballs intervened. Family duties called, and Kendrick, with characteristic dedication, traded cleats for fatigues, proudly serving in the US Army. These military experiences forged his leadership and teamwork skills, turning raw talent into polished steel.

Returning to USF with a newfound purpose, Kendrick tackled his bachelor's degree while simultaneously carving his path in the MUMA School of Business, specializing in Project Management. Now a graduate student and staff member at the university's Joint Military Leadership Center, Kendrick embodies the true meaning of service. He thrives on creating safe spaces, empowering others, and using his unique blend of island grit and American resilience to make a positive impact on the USF community.


MSG LeVon Sains 

MSG LeVon Sains 
Senior Military Science Instructor


MSG Sains, LeVon, a native of Paducah, Kentucky, enlisted in the U.S. Army on November 11, 1999, and holds the primary MOS 12B Combat Engineer. MSG Sains has an extensive military career, with notable roles including First Sergeant at Fort Stewart, GA, Battalion Operations Sergeant at Schofield Barracks, HI, and combat deployments in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

His military education encompasses various leadership and operational courses, such as the Sapper Leader Course and Combat Lifesavers Course. MSG Sains has been honored with several awards, including the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, ARCOM with Valor, and Combat Action Badge. Notably, he received the Bronze Defluery Medal and was named the Army Combat Engineer Squad Leader of the Year (ACES) in 2008 for the 40th Engineer Battalion. Married for 21 years to Marquita Sains, he is a proud father of two daughters, Jamise (19) and Aniya (13).


GySgt Darius O. Robinson

GySgt Darius O. Robinson
Assistant Marine Officer Instructor


Gunnery Sergeant Robinson was born on 29 June 1991 in Mobile, Alabama. He enlisted in the Marine Corps on 14 December 2009. He attended recruit training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina. After graduating from recruit training, he attended Marine Combat Training (MCT) at Camp Geiger, North Carolina.  Following completion of MCT, he attended Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) training at the Marine Corps Basic Supply School in Jacksonville, North Carolina where he received the MOS Inventory Manager (3051) and was meritoriously promoted to Private First Class. 
In July of 2010, Gunnery Sergeant Robinson received orders to the 1st Tank Battalion, Twentynine Palms California, where he served as an Inventory Manager Chief. In February 2012 Gunnery Sergeant Robinson was promoted to the rank of Corporal. In December of 2012, Gunnery Sergeant Deployed to the Helmand Province of Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) 

In October 2014, Gunnery Sergeant Robinson received orders to CLR-15, 1st Supply Battalion, Supply Company, Storage Platoon Rations Section aboard Camp Pendleton, California, where he served as Platoon Sergeant and Inventory Manager Chief. In October 2014, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. From 2014 to 2016, he performed duties as a Martial Arts Instructor, Corporal Course Instructor, and Lance Corporal Seminar Instructor.  

In July of 2016, Gunnery Sergeant Robinson reported to Drill Instructor School Class 4- 16, Marine Corps Depot (MCRD) San Diego. In October 2016, Gunnery Sergeant Robinson reported to Company G's, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion. Gunnery Sergeant currently serves as a Senior Drill Instructor, and he was meritoriously promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant. Gunnery Sergeant Robinson completed 8 cycles with a Golf company and 1-cycle with a Hotel Company earning the awards of Dan Daily, Gunnery Sergeant Nichoals, and Senior Drill Instructor of the Quarter.  
In October 2019, Gunnery Sergeant Robinson Reported to the 6th Engineer Support Battalion, Head Quarters and Service Company, Supply Platoon, Inspector Instructor Duty Portland, Oregon. Where he served as the Inventory/Administrative Management Chief, SACO, Fiscal Services Manager, and Facilities Manager. GySgt Robinson performed all duties in a high-tempo fashion, supporting 8 different companies across the Battalion. Gunnery Sergeant Robinson was recommended to represent Headquarters and Service Company for the Battalion Meritorious Gunnery Sergeant Board.  
In March of 2023, Gunnery Sergeant Robinson reported to Assistant Marine Officer Instructor duty at the University of Florida, where he currently services. Gunnery Sergeant Robinsons’ decorations include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal 2 Gold Stars.


SSgt. Dominique Robinson

SSgt. Dominique Robinson 


Staff Sergeant Dominique L. Robinson currently serves as the NCOIC of Administration Management at AFROTC Detachment 158, at the University of South Florida. 

SSgt Robinson is originally from Enterprise, AL. He enlisted in the Air Force and reported to Lackland AFB, TX for basic military training in August 2012 and completed his Knowledge Operations Management technical training in January 2013. His first duty station was Wright Patterson AFB, OH, where he worked for several front offices at the National Air & Space Intelligence Center. Before his current assignment, he worked as a member of Executive Services for the Directorate of Staff at the Space and Missiles Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California. His education includes a  Knowledge Operations Management Course at Keesler AFB, MS, 2013; Airman Leadership School, Vandenberg AFB, CA, in 2019; and an Administration Craftsman Course at Los Angeles AFB, CA, in 2020.


SSgt. Jordan Barnes

SSgt. Jordan Barnes


Staff Sergeant (SSgt) Jordan M. Barnes, with both parents having served in the military, embarked on his military journey after graduating from Riverview High School. In 2015, he began his Marine Corps career by enlisting in the Marine Corps. After graduating from his Military Occupational Specialty School, SSgt Barnes served as a Satellite Operator in the 8th Communication Battalion. SSgt Barnes deployed from the battalion to Bagram, Afghanistan, where he served as an advisor to the 11th Georgian Light Infantry Battalion. Upon returning, SSgt Barnes reported to Drill Instructor School and, after graduation, served as a Drill Instructor and Senior Drill Instructor in Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion. SSgt Barnes is expanding his academic and professional horizons at the University of South Florida, studying Physical Education while participating in the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program, continuing his commitment to service and excellence.

OC Justus Betts 

OC Justus Betts 


Officer Candidate Justus A. Betts is from Fort Walton Beach, FL, and attended Northwest Florida State College, where he earned his Associate of Arts degree in General Studies in 2015. As a third-generation military service member, he enlisted in the Navy in March 2017 as an Aerographer’s Mate Airman. He completed “A” school at the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit Keesler (CNATTU) in Biloxi, MS, graduating with honors while serving as a Student Leader. After completing his training, he reported to the Naval Oceanography Antisubmarine Warfare Center (NOAC), Stennis Space Center, MS, in September 2017 to serve as an Oceanographic Analyst. Officer Candidate Betts was promoted to Petty Officer Third Class and served as Analyst in support of Commander, Destroyer Squadron One (COMDESRON-1), and the Carl Vinson Strike Group’s WESTPAC 2018 deployment. 

Officer Candidate Betts departed on a second deployment as an Oceanographic Analyst in support of Commander Destroyer Squadron Two One (COMDESRON-21) and the John C Stennis Strike Group’s 2018-2019 deployment. Officer Candidate Betts was promoted to Petty Officer Second Class and served as a Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Victim Advocate (SAPR VA) during his deployment. Officer Candidate Betts was then selected to be temporarily assigned to the Naval Oceanographic Antisubmarine Warfare Detachment Sigonella, Sicily, where he served as an Oceanographic Forecaster supporting Commander Task Force 67 (CTF 67). His environmental analysis contributed to over 540 hours of ASW contact time in 6 priority Theater operations within the EUCOM and AFRICOM Areas of Responsibility. 

Darren Gambrell

Darren Gambrell
Associate Director for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at USF Sarasota-Manatee campus


Darren L. Gambrell is the Associate Director for the Office of the Regional Chancellor at USF Sarasota Campus. Before his current role, Darren served as the Assistant Director for the Office of Student Services, where he managed the Office of Student Services, Office of Multicultural Affairs, Commencement, and the FCCI Main Rotunda. His service to USF began in 2003 when Darren became involved with the Student Government Association, where he served in the positions of secretary, vice president, and business manager. As the vice president, Darren successfully assisted USF Sarasota-Manatee to secure $26.9 million for its current campus. 

Darren has received many awards. Most recently, Darren received the Status of Latinos Staff Award (2023), Sarasota Magazine Unity Award (2023), USF Inclusive Excellence Award (2022), Staff Advisory Committee Inclusion Excellence Award (2022), Kappa Man of the Year (2020), Inclusion Excellence Award (2019), NAACP Youth Council Men of Valor Award (2018), Outstanding Staff Award (2016 and 2014), The Outstanding Faculty and Staff Award (2013), and the USPS Senate Quiet Quality Award (2012, 2010 and 2006), 

 Although Darren attended Paine College in Augusta Georgia, he completed his degrees at the University of South Florida. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 2006 and in 2010 a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology. Darren has received certificates in Hotel Management and Restaurant Management, the USF Muma College of Business Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Workplace Certificate, and the Cornell University Diversity and Inclusion Certificate.


Rebecca Sohl

Rebecca Sohl, Ph.D. Candidate 
Program Coordinator, Institute on Black Life


Rebecca Sohl is a first-generation American and a native Floridian. She received her bachelor’s degree in political science from Florida Atlantic University and a master’s in international affairs from Florida State University. For two consecutive years, she competed at the National Model United Nations in New York City. After spending nearly seven years in business, she returns to academia to pursue her passion for obtaining a Ph.D. in international relations. 


Sharon Johnson-Hamilton
Interim Staff Assistant, USF Department of Psychology


Sharon Johnson-Hamilton works as a staff assistant in the Psychology Department at the University of South Florida.  Sharon retired in 2022 after working 35 years at the university.  She has worked in various departments at the university, such as the Florida Mental Health Institute, Communication Sciences, and Disorders, the Social and Behavioral Sciences Information Processing Center, the School of Social Work, the Department of Geography, the Department of History, and the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office.

Sharon is the proud daughter of two United States Army veterans, Sgt. Alfonso Johnson, Sr., and the late Corporal Aimee S. Cozart Johnson.  Her father and mother served in the Korean War.  Sharon was born at MacDill Air Force Base and lives in Tampa, Florida.  



parking icon

Guest parking is available in Lots 3A, 3B, and 3C with additional parking in Crescent Hill Parking Garage (CHG). Please look for signs to indicate IBL Conference Parking.

For more information about guest parking options, please visit Parking Services.

USF Campus Map (PDF)


From I-275

  1. Take exit 52, Fletcher Ave/CR-582A and head East for 2.5 miles.
  2. Turn right at USF Palm Dr.  
  3. Turn left at USF Holly Dr.  
  4. Follow N Palm Dr/USF Palm Dr around the corner to find Parking Lots 3A, 3B, and 3C.  
  5. Additional parking: Crescent Hill Parking Garage (CHG) at 4119 USF Cedar Drive, Tampa, FL 33620 

From I-75

  1. Take exit 266, Fletcher Ave and head West on Fletcher for 4.0 miles.
  2. Turn left at N Palm Dr/USF Palm Dr.
  3. Follow N Palm Dr/USF Palm Dr around the corner to find Parking Lots 3A, 3B, and 3C.  
  4. Additional parking: Crescent Hill Parking Garage (CHG) at 4119 USF Cedar Drive, Tampa, FL 33620 

For reasonable accommodations or other questions, please contact CAS RSVP.