Brightest stars: 2023 Jacksonville Image Awards winners

On a night honoring outstanding achievements by African Americans in Jacksonville and its surrounding communities, the newest members of an elite class were announced.

Eight winners were selected at the 2023 Jacksonville Image Awards at the Wilson Center for the Arts on the Campus of FSCJ South Friday night.

News4JAX (WJXT/WCWJ) is proud to partner with The Porter Law Firm to present the Jacksonville Image Awards in its fourth year.

News4JAX (WJXT/WCWJ) is committed to informing and celebrating the communities we serve. The Jacksonville Image Awards were created to honor and celebrate the achievements of individuals and organizations in the African American community to inspire, educate, and enlighten everyone we reach that success is achievable and should be celebrated.

The Jacksonville Image Awards honor those who have achieved success in a chosen profession or career, and whose efforts have made a significant positive impact in the community. Honorees are noted for the consistency and longevity of their work, including their individual achievements and efforts to inspire and support the success of others.

2023 Jacksonville Image Awards Winners

The Trailblazer Award: This award recognizes pioneers who inspire others to follow their path to greatness with innovative ideas that challenge the status quo.


Regarded as one of the First Coast’s most prolific technology leadersCIO for CSI CompaniesIn 2020 she launched Brown Girls in the Boardroom


Currently serves as Vice President/Secretary of Northern Florida Recruiting and Consulting Services, Inc.In 1974, became first African American franchise operator for the McDonald’s Corporation in the city and stateAppointed by mayor as first African American to serve on the Jacksonville Port Authority


Known as “Gene Dot Com,” knows that quote all too well. A native of Jacksonville, his experience and well-liked personality has evolved himCounty-wide Gene Dot Com Reading tourYou can hear Gene Monday-Thursday, 7 pm. – 12 p.m. and on weekends, only on V101.5

The ‘One To Watch’ Award: This award recognizes individuals who are quickly establishing themselves and making an impact in their particular field or industry.


Founder of Diaper Bank for Northeast FloridaDistributed more than 400,000 free diapersWorked as a fund development professional for local nonprofits


Entrepreneur, writer, and humanitarianFirst African American female to sell out the Historic Ritz Theatre with an original stage playTheatre teacher at the Performers Academy


Retired Cleveland, OH Police OfficerFormed the Sassy Seniors & SteppersMission is to create a safe social atmosphere for the senior community, promote spiritual and financial growth and social awareness through fun creative activities and establish a stronger relationship between seniors and various age groups

The Rising Star Award: This award recognizes individuals who are getting an early start at greatness. We want to recognize young people who are already making contributions to help shape the future and make our communities better places to live. *Must be 17-years-old or younger


Hannah Hall, a native of Jacksonville was born on Sept 18, 2008. She attends the Covenant School of Jacksonville. She is an active member of the All People International Church. At the tender age of 10, Hannah was touched to tears by the state of many homeless citizens huddled in the downtown area as she passed while riding by. Her thoughts then and now were, “I must do something to help.” Hannah started a coat drive in 2020, which is now annual. Along with the overwhelming help of the Hannah’s Hope House team, church, and communities we have been able to serve the homeless communities with over 1,100 coats, jackets, hats and personal items to assist in keeping them safe and warm during the winter seasons. Hannah is the founder of Hannah’s Hope House, a non-profit organization that serves homeless and transitioning families in Jacksonville and surrounding communities. Hannah’s Hope House recently launched “Hope Kids” an adopt a school program that assists local students and families who are experiencing homelessness with essentials and resources. Hannah desires to host job fairs and build transition homes as she continues to SPREAD HOPE to those in need. Hannah truly believes that, “Everyone Matters”.

The ‘Be The Change, Be Yourself’ Award: This award recognizes individuals who, having succeeded against immense odds, herald change and prosperity to enhance and enrich the world. They overcome obstacles to show that, through hard work and humility, societal change is possible.


Managing Partner, Strategy Partners ConsultingConsulted with Jacksonville’s faith-based, nonprofit organizations, and community-based programs on competing for legislative appropriations“To whom much is given much is required.”


First-year art teacher for Duval County Public SchoolsPaints and screen printsOne of the biggest joys for him is knowing the fact that he has an influence on a student’s creative outlook


Owner, Superior Body SculptingFounder, Volunteers UnitedU.S. Navy Veteran

The Music Excellence Award: This award recognizes individuals for their exceptional achievements in music, having made a tremendous impact with their creative works that have helped shape the local music scene.


Marc’s love for music began at the age of 8 when he sang his first solo in the church choir and grew from there to the chorus in high school, a minor in classical voice at the University of South Florida, to a multi-million dollar recording contractFormer background singer for American Idol winner Fantasia BarrinoCommunity engagement around mental health and trauma-informed care


Attended the University of North Florida on scholarship where she graduated in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in Jazz Studies as the only female in her classIn 2006 she was invited to audition for Beyonce’s all-girl bandHer band ‘The Fusion Band’ and ‘Party in a Box Band’ has toured the U.S. performing for events like the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, Funk Fest, Super Bowl Host Committee and BayfestCreated Allana’s Studios to teach students young and old how to play an instrument. Currently a Music teacher at Andrew Robinson Elementary and a musician at Greater Beulah Baptist Church


Singer, Actress, TV/Music Producer, Creative Director, Event Producer, Serial Entrepreneur, Podcaster, Humanitarian, and PhilanthropistPresident, Board of Trustees for Beaches Fine Arts

The Innovator Award: This award recognizes individuals who creatively challenge the norm by introducing mainstream culture to avant-garde ideas and making a social impact in their respective industries.


Started Evrykid FoundationRuns the Black Hive Youth Development program out of his gym, CrossFit Black Hive Central


HR Generalist, a National Certified Empowerment Coach and entrepreneurFounded Sista 2 Sista: Women Empowering WomenServes in various charitable events, collecting items for disaster relief victims, and partnering with other organizations to help our community


Broke neck in a car accident and was paralyzedNow stands and walks using long-leg braces and a walkerAuthor of “The Doctor Said” and “Unbroken Spirit”

The Education Excellence Award: This award recognizes outstanding commitment to the academic development and improvement of a system or community in an effort to enhance the lives of future generations.


30 years experience in underserved traditional and charter school settingsCreated Duval County’s first single-gender schoolEstablished the Black Parent Support Network


Assistant Director, Student Life in Residential Services at Florida School for the Deaf and Blind38-year career at the schoolHis motto is, “Developing Lives & Shaping Futures.”


Retired Artistic Director, Art Administrator, Performing ArtistFounder, The Friends of Brentwood Public LibraryFrom 2013 to 2020, more than 560,319 have benefited from programs and services

The Pinnacle Award: This award recognizes those who have achieved professional accomplishments throughout an extensive career and are role models for others to attain similar success.


Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. is an award-winning transportation expert and leading advocate for how autonomous vehicles (AV) and other advances can be used to improve the quality of life for travelers throughout the nation.

Ford began his stellar career at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in New York, where he learned every facet of the industry before he went on to become CEO of two of the 10 largest transportation authorities in the US – the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) in California, and the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) in Georgia. Since joining the JTA in 2012, Ford has led the total transformation of the mid-sized Authority from a local company focused on buses, roads, and bridges, into a best-in-class, regional organization that is held in high regard locally, nationally, and even globally.

One of the Ford administration’s crowning achievements is developing an autonomous vehicle program centered on the JTA’s Ultimate Urban Circulator (U2C). The cutting-edge innovation was in the world spotlight during the COVID pandemic when the JTA partnered with autonomous vehicle providers to transport COVID-19 tests for Florida’s esteemed Mayo Clinic. Ford received the Honorable Ray LaHood Award from the Women’s Transportation Seminar of Northeast Florida in 2022. He was named the “2020 Outstanding Public Transportation Manager” by APTA. In 2019, he was inducted as a “Thought Leader” by the Eno Center for Transportation, and in 2016, Ford was named a “White House Champion of Change in Transportation” by the US Department of Transportation for embracing innovations and improving the quality of all modes of transit.

Ford has an MBA from Jacksonville University’s Davis School of Business and a bachelor’s degree in Applied Science in organizational leadership from Mercer University. Ford is married to Jannet Walker-Ford, Senior Vice President for Rail and Transit at WSP, and chair of WTS International. They are recognized as two of the most influential people in modern transportation.


Minister Carolyn Brown Spooner, daughter of the late Willie & Louiza Brown of Starke, is the first Black Female County Commissioner for Bradford in more than 150 years. She was also the former Mayor/ City Commissioner for the City of Starke.

She understood the importance of education from the age of 4 when her local kindergarten was discontinued. She asked, “Why cut kindergarten when it was her turn to start school?” She then asked her mother to teach her to read & write. At 14, she was appointed to teach adult Sunday school. At 16, she got neighbors to sign a petition to help get street signs and Lincoln City’s first paved road. At 17, she organized a peaceful protest to get equal rights for Black students attending Bradford High School. She completed Bethune-Cookman College’s four-year Psychology program in three years. Then completed a two-year specialist program at the University of Florida, receiving her master’s & Specialist Degrees in Counseling. She returned to Starke to work in her community, providing over 40 years of service in the fields of mental health & substance abuse. She organized a crime prevention program and was recognized by the Department of Corrections for her leadership and fight against crime. She received two gubernatorial appointments. The first, was the MLK, Jr. Celebration Commission and organized the first MLK, Jr. Celebration for Bradford which continues today. The second was, the Bradford Historical Board of Trustees which executed a lease to Santa Fe College for 99 years for $1.00, paving the way for the local college branch for Starke. She has provided 22 local students with college scholarships. She is a children’s book author, poet and songwriter. She helped pave the way for African Americans to obtain equal justice for all to serve in local government for the City of Starke, Bradford School Board, and Bradford County Board of County Commissioners.


Retired Command Sergeant Major (CSM(R)) Andrew J. Wynn, Sr. is a Jacksonville, native.

He enlisted into the U.S. Army in November 1985 with a military career that expanded thirty-one years. He progressed through the ranks, receiving numerous achievements and commendations. During CSM(R) Wynn’s career, one of his most outstanding positions was serving at U.S. Army Garrison Presidio of Monterey as the Presidio of Monterey Installation Command Sergeant Major. CSM(R) Wynn’s deployments were Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Provide Comfort Saudi Arabia; Operation Restore Hope, Somalia; Operation Enduring Freedom #1, Kabul; Operation Iraqi Freedom, Kuwait and Operation Enduring Freedom #3, Uzbekistan. CSM(R) Wynn’s military education includes, however, is not limited to, Jumpmaster School, Advanced Noncommissioned Officer Course (Distinguished Honor Graduate), and United States Army Sergeant Major Academy. While serving, he continued his civilian education and received a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with concentrations in Military Operation and Post Graduate Certificate in Strategic Leadership from TUI University in Cypress, CA. Throughout CSM(R) Wynn’s career, he was consistently recognized by his leadership for his dedication and contributions while holding various critical leadership positions in synchronous with the finest traditions of military service in advancing the United States Army’s readiness. CSM(R) Wynn’s concerted efforts and pursuit of improving the quality of life for service members, family members and civilians was evident in the work and life balance of those he mentored and lead. Although retired from the Military, Mr. Wynn continues to impact the community as CEO of Idella Wynn Transportation and Logistics, Inc. which he founded in honor of his mother. He continues to Mentor young people in his old neighborhood and community. In addition, he enjoys being a Life Coach to others, assisting the elderly, being a support system for the fatherless, and being a resource for those who need a helping hand. He currently serves as President of his Community HOA and remains President of the Class of ‘85 William Raines High School. Also 2ND Vice Commander, Chairman of Children & Youth and Boys State Chairman for American Legion Post 197.

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