In recognition of Women’s History Month, the NewRock Chapter of Top Ladies of Distinction (TLOD) celebrates chapter members who are history-makers in their own rights. Status of Women: Our Story, Our History highlights several members of the NewRock chapter who have been the “firsts” in their respective communities to serve in roles people of color or women of color had never served in before.
“I am so proud of the women of NewRock who are not only “the first”, but also work to ensure they are not “the only” by opening doors and inspiring others to lead,” said NewRock President Sherri Washington. “Even though we celebrate women history’s month in March, we salute women who have dedicated themselves to uplifting their communities and celebrate them every day.”
Debbie Hillman was the first African American Top Ten Graduate at Newton County High School in 1974. In 2004, she became a charter member of the First Black Greek Letter Organization alumni chapter in Newton County.
Margaret Wimberly was the first African American District Lay Leader of the then Atlanta-Decatur-Oxford District of the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church from 2008 – 2016 (now the Central South District).
In 2009, Lady Dee Dawkins-Haigler was the first African American woman elected State Representative for House District 91, where she served until 2017.
In 2016, President Sherri Washington was the first African American woman to be elected County Commissioner and Tisa Smart-Washington (no relation) was the first African American woman to be elected Tax Commissioner in Rockdale County.
In January, Lady Siddiqa Gibson was one of three African American women appointed to the Henry County Water Board and elected to lead in the board’s 60-year history.
In addition to individual firsts, members of NewRock were also firsts when they chartered the chapter in Rockdale in June 2018. Charter members include Angela Spann Callaway, Bonita Johnson, Carolyn Dixon, Charnita West, Cynthia Brown, Cynthia Payne, Hillman, Dawkins-Haigler, Erica Slaton, Francine Breakfield, Gail L. Snell, Hope Sutton, Ingrid Johnson, Janea Johnson, Joy Jackson Guilford, Karen Henderson, Kimberly Underdue, LaKendra Baker, Latosha Gray, Lois Keith, Wimberly, Mary Bell, Nicole Jackson, Nwaka M. Hughes, Patti McGrew, Phinia Aten, Sha’Ronda Davis McRae, Washington, Gibson, Stephanie Curtis, Tawana Ford, Smart-Washington and Vickey Hale.
NewRock serves Rockdale, Newton, DeKalb, Henry and Gwinnett counties and works to uphold the mission of TLOD in serving youths and adults.