Lehigh County Connected
Search:    Go  
Monday, February 27, 2017 Register Login
The Rising Sun Initiative - Honoree Biographies

Honoree in the Faith Sector
Rev. Benjamin T. Hailey, Sr.

Senior Pastor, the Historic Union Baptist Church

A much sought after teacher, preacher, and evangelist, Pastor Hailey's gifts have afforded him the opportunity to share his ministry across the span of the United States. His practical style, and exciting presentation of the Gospel has an appeal to all types of individuals. The saved and the unsaved alike can relate to the Word that he preaches. Pastor Hailey shares a contemporary view of the Word of antiquity that places those who hear him in the midst of the Scriptures and allows them a fresh view of the Gospel that is relevant in this season. His preaching emphasises relationship to Jesus Christ as the way to substantive life change, and development. His ministry has been effective in church growth, both spiritually and numerically.

Pastor Hailey is a native of Steelton, Pennsylvania, the son of Carroll T. and the late Ernestine Hailey. He is the husband of Minister Yuvette Hailey and the father of three children, Benjamin JR, Quanita, and Talacia. He received his education in the Steelton-Highspire School system, matriculating to the University of Cincinnati where he graduated with a Liberal Arts Degree. He has studied at Moody Bible Institute, Liberty University, and Palmer Theological Seminary.

He began his ministry at the New Friendship Missionary Baptist Church of Dallas Texas, being licensed to preach in September of 1990. Pastor Hailey was ordained under the jurisdiction of the Texas State Baptist Convention in 1997. In May of 1997 he answered the call to the Friendship Baptist Church of York, PA and served that church until July of 2003.

In July of 2003, Pastor Hailey answered the call of the Historic Union Baptist Church of Allentown, Pennsylvania. Union is the first African-American Baptist church to be formed in Allentown. He made history in November of 2003 by being installed as the second pastor of the then 56 year old church.

Pastor Hailey was elected President of the Pennsylvania Baptist State Convention on October 15th 2009. He has served as the President of the Black Ministers Association of York County, on the Board of Directors of the Lehigh Valley United Way, as Founding President of the Mesquite, TX branch NAACP, as Area Vice Moderator of the Central Baptist Association.

Honoree in the Sports/Athletic Sector
Ronald “Coach” Simmons Sr.

Ronald Simmons Sr. has been volunteering as a coach in our community for 27 years. He started in 1987 at the age of 19. He was Head Wrestling Coach of the Boys and Girls Club, Co-Founder of the LCYA Wrestling Program. He’s assisted at Louis E. Dieruff High School, William Allen High School and Mountainville. He’s presently the Coordinator and Head Coach of the Eastside Youth Center’s Wrestling Program as well as an Assistant Wrestling Coach at the Harrison Morton Middle School.

Honoree in the Community Organization Sector
Dr. JoAnn N. Spencer

A native of Allentown, Pennsylvania, graduated with honor from William Allen High School where she was enrolled in the college preparatory program.

Dr. Spencer went on to receive her bachelors of science degree in Elementary Education and psychology from Cheyney, in Cheyney Pa. Graduate work was first pursued by Dr. Spence at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, PA. Later, Dr. Spencer transferred her credits from the Univ of PA to Lehigh University where she was offered a full time fellowship award. She was awarded a Master’s Degree of Education from Lehigh University and also received a Doctorate Degree of Education from Lehigh.

She is the first African-American female certified teacher from Allentown to be employed by the Allentown school district. Dr. Spencer’s first teaching position was at the Roosevelt Elementary school where she taught Gifted and Special Education classes. She holds four certifications: Elementary Education, Special Education, Reading Instruction and Supervision.

For her outstanding teaching abilities, she was awarded the Valley Forge Foundation Medal of Honor Teacher of the Year Award, one of the highest awards that an educator can receive in the United States.

She has been nominated for the following: Who’s Who Among Black Americans, published by the Ebony Corporation and she is listed among distinguished educators in the following: Woman f the Year Award by the Soroptimist International Club; Educator of the Year NAACP of Allentown, Woman of the Year for Outstanding Service, presented by Women Unlimited of Allentown, and a recipient of the Allentown Human Relations Commission Award.

Dr. Spencer's affiliations are with the American Association of University Professors, American Association of Higher Education, The Survival of Black Children Conference of Washington, DC, and she has served as an evaluator for E.S.E.A. Title I and II programs for the State of PA. She is a member of the Phi Delta Kappa honor Society and she is a Delta Kappa Gamma International Honor Society for Women.

Dr. Spencer organizational memberships are varied. She is a member od Delta Sigma Theta Sorority , She is a past Daughter Ruler of Mary Alice Temple 108, of the Berks Lodge od Reading, PA. She has served as the past president of the Soroptimists Women's Club of Lehigh Valley and the Worthy Matron of Virginia E. Holland Chapter

86, of Bethlehem, PA. She also was a board member of the former Allentown Negro Cultural Center and was coordinator of the first Black History Week of Allentown in 1968.

She has served faithfully in her church as Director of the Pearls of Joy Choir of St. James A.M.E. Zion church of Allentown PA, and former Sunday School teacher and Youth Ministry Director.

Presently Dr. Spencer serves on the Kids Pecae National Hospital Board and is President of This is Your Life Association of the Lehigh Valley, a non-profit organization designed to perpetuate the African-American Culture. Formerly, she served as a member of the Swain School Board of Allentown. She has dedicated her time recently as the telephone coordinator for the Obama Campaign. In addition, Dr. Spencer has been the recipient of numerous scholastic awards, including, the Allentown/Bethlehem Blue Ribbon Social Club Scholarship, Allentown School District Kiff-Mullen scholarship, and a Cheyney State College-Richard Humphreys Scholarship, a Lehigh University Fellowship Award and the National Ford Foundation Fellowship, as well.

Dr Spencer's achievements as recognized by society are the flowing: First African American to be hired by the Morning Call; First guests speaker for the Dr. Martin Luther King National Holiday held at the Negro Cultural Center. Dr. Spencer initiated the naming of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive by sending correspondence to Mayor Joseph Daddona about the idea of changing the name from Lawrence Street to its present t name, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

Dr. Spencer was one of the first women to receive the Spirit of Women Award from the Lehigh Valley Hospital and Bon Ton Department Store for outstanding service to family, work and health. In addition she was the first recipient of the Louis Gregory Baha’i Rainbow Award for Racial Unity.

Dr. Spencer enjoys classical music, drama, travelling and creative writing.

Dr. Spence is the daughter of the late Mr. James Spencer and the late Elizabeth Farmer Spencer Beville. She is the granddaughter of the late Mr. and Mrs, John Farmer, who are counted among the founding members of the St. James A.M.E. Zion Church of Allentown.

She has one son, Jacque Christian Spencer-Daryl, who graduated from Cornell University and University of Nebraska and is presently studying for his Ph. D.

Honoree in the Civic Sector
Bishop Iris S. Smith, Ph. D.

Bishop Iris S. Smith hails from Washington, D.C., the firstborn of six girls to Bishop and Rev. Robert Simpson of Laurel, MD. Educated in the DC area, she took a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Master of Education from the University of Maryland in 1977. She also took a Master’s of Divinity with a concentration in Church Administration and then a Doctorate of Divinity in Pastoral Studies from Wesley Theological Seminary of Washington, DC and Washington Theological Seminary of Tacoma, MD, respectively.

Before going into the ministry full-time, Bishop Smith taught science in high school and worked at NASA. She served as a full-time evangelist for eight years, traveling nationally and internationally. She has been involved in active ministry for over three decades, first working in every capacity in her parents’ church (who were co-pastors) during her childhood and early adulthood. She served as her father’s Administrative Assistant in Laurel, MD for 20 years. She served as the Associate Pastor of Faith Tabernacle COGIC with her mother in Allentown, PA for 12 years and then began her own church, Community Fellowship Cathedral, Inc. in 1995, with a Bible Study group in Quakertown, PA and now in Allentown, PA, housed at 518-526 N. 2nd Street. Because of her career of dedicated and excellent service to God, she was consecrated Bishop in 1996. The year 1996 also afforded the multi-talented Dr. Smith the opportunity to perform as lead singer, Mahalia Jackson, in the broadway play, “Sing, Mahalia Sing!” in a 21-day European tour.

Dr. Smith’s has served as a visiting professor at Muhlenberg College, and Penn State Scranton. She has achieved the local honor of being the first African-American to become President of the Conference of Churches in this area and she began the first black Boy Scout group in the area.

Always a visionary, Dr. Smith began a Day Care in Quakertown, a literacy program, a Woman’s support group, Feed-the-Hungry program and a Books-thru-Bars ministry which involved young people answering requests by inmates for educational reading material. Her established presence in Allentown has afforded her the opportunity to begin to put in place many more aspects of her multi-faceted vision. The first of which was to open her long-dreamed of parochial private school and daycare, Children First Community Academy and Early Learning Center, providing a quality K-12 education and childcare for over 10 years.

Honoree in the Academic/Educational Sector
Melvin Riddick

Melvin Riddick is a 28 year Educator in the Allentown School District where he is a social Studies teacher at Dieruff High School. He become president of the Allentown Education Association in 2001. He also served on the Pennsylvania State Education Association Board of Directors for seven years. He led teachers in doing what was necessary to turn testing scores around in a previously low performing urban district. In 2008, he participated in a roundtable on School Funding Reform, led by Governor Rendell with Senator Pat Browne, State Representative Jennifer Mann and Mayor Ed Pawlowski. He has shown vision, the ability to serve and to lead, and a can do attitude. He has served on several local boards, including Hispanic Organization Association, Boys Scouts of America, United Way, Allentown NAACP and the Allentown. Recreation Commission. Currently he serves on the Board of Directors of the National Education Association where he advocates for Public Education as a Lobbyist on behalf of all public education students. A long time sports enthusiast, he now serves as the newly appointed Athletic Director at Dieruff High School

Youth/Young Adult Honoree
James Allen Whitehead

James Allen Whitehead started wrestling and swimming in sixth grade. Seventh grade was when he started playing football for the Little Huskies and wrestling for the Dieruff High School freshmen team. His junior high school years were a big foundation for his successes in senior high school.

During his freshmen year of high school, he earned the opportunity to wrestle on the varsity team. This was a huge self-accomplishment for him. in his sophomore year, he enrolled in the Air Force Junior ROTC program at Dieruff High School. His first year in the program, he was the recipient of the Under-Classmen of the Year Award. He was also awarded the Veterans of Foreign Wars Medal and the Military Order of World Wars Medal.

In his junior year, he was promoted to the position of Deputy Group Commander. This was the second highest command position in the unit. He was nominated to the National Young Leaders Conference where he spent one week in Washington DC with other high school scholars from across the world. He was also the recipient of the Dwight David Eisenhower Leadership Award, which he received at the United States Military Academy at West Point. That year, he was also awarded the American Legion Scholastic Excellence Medal, and the Air Force Association Medal.

His senior year in the Dieruff Air Force Junior ROTC program, he was promoted to the position of Group Commander. He now had full responsibility of everyone in the Corps. He was awarded the Distinguished Cadet Award and commanded drill teams to several trophies in competitions across the east coast. He was awarded the Military Officers Association Award and received a nomination to the United States Air Force Academy.

A recipient of the National German Honor Society Award, he graduated with high honors with a GPA of 3.8, and a class rank of 20 out of 450 seniors. He was accepted to Penn State Main Campus, Neuman College Kings College, Wilkes University, Valley Forge Military College and Embry- Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach Florida. Instead of attending college after high school, he chose to serve in the world’s finest fighting Force: the United States Marine Corps.

Honoree in the Media Industry
Jaciel Cordoba

Jaciel Cordoba co-anchors 69 News at Sunrise, alongside Eve Tannery, and anchors 69 News at Noon. He also anchors a synopsis of Lehigh Valley news on CNN Headline News and a netcast for the WFMZ-TV Website. He joined the 69 News Team in July 2003.

In 2008, Easton's Mayor proclaimed February 24th Jaciel Cordoba Day in recognition of the positive example he sets for area children and teens.

Previously, Jaciel was a general assignment reporter and fill-in anchor at WDTN-TV in Dayton, Ohio. In 2002, he received an Emmy nomination for his reporting of a killer tornado in Van Wert, Ohio.

From 1994-1997 Jaciel was a general assignment reporter for WMC-TV. In addition to his city hall beat, he was chosen to produce and report religion stories for a newly created segment called People of Faith. Those stories aired weekly and covered everyone from Bahais to Baptists.

Jaciel also anchored and produced the 6p.m. news at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee and hosted the weekly newsmagazine show "Who's on 7."

He began his on-air career at WINK-TV in Ft. Myers, Florida where he served as a general assignment reporter and hourly news update anchor. Jaciel graduated from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Journalism. He's originally from Evanston, Illinois.

Community Honoree
Sonya Tolson

Sonya Tolson has served in Executive roles in Operations, Human Resources, Quality & Training, Business Development, and Continuous Process Improvement. In 2006 she became the first African American Mayoral Cabinet appointee for the City of Allentown. She served as the City’s Director of Human Resource. Above all, this wife, mother, and grandmother wishes to be known as a humble servant of the Most High God.

Honoree in the Business
Sector Mr. Clyde Bosket, Sr.

Clyde E. Bosket, Sr. has been a barber and community leader for over 50 years. Starting his trade in Philadelphia, he moved to Allentown in 1956 and opened his first barber shop at 215 S 5th Street. Since then he has opened several locations and at one point in his business life had locations in Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton. A Master Barber and Certified Teacher of the Barber trade by the state of PA, he has launched the career of over 150 barbers and beauticians, some of which have their own businesses in the Lehigh Valley area.

He is currently an instructor at Frantz Beauty Academy in Easton, PA. Always involved in ways to help others, Clyde has been recognized for his contributions to the Lehigh Valley Community by the Allentown NAACP, This Is Your Life Association, the Allentown Human Relations Commission, the City of Allentown and most recently was selected by the Omega Psi Phi Chapter of the Lehigh Valley as Citizen of the Year. A member of Union Baptist Church since 1957, he has served as Sunday School Superintendent and Chairman of the Deacon and been honored by the church for his service.

A member of Prince Hall Masons for over 50 years, he has served as Past Master during his tenure. A veteran of the Korean War, Clyde E. Bosket, Sr. was born in Saluda, SC on September 8, 1929. He is one of 17 brothers and sisters. After completing school, he married Mattie Lee Abney and together they have 6 children with 7 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren.


Copyright © 2009-2014 Lehigh County Office of Information Technology Lehigh County Information Technology   Terms Of Use - Privacy Statement