Feb 28, 2023 - Politics

Black leaders making history in the Valley

Illustration of the state of Arizona lit by red, green and yellow lights.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

At the start of Black History Month, we asked readers to share some of the Black leaders in metro Phoenix who are doing important work for our community.

  • Here are your submissions, and some other Black leaders worthy of recognition:

Corey Woods: When Woods beat incumbent Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell in 2020, he became the first Black person to serve as the city's leader in its 150-year history, AZcentral reported.

  • He's focused much of his first term on increasing affordable housing options in Tempe, and he's spearheaded the "Hometown for All initiative," which uses revenue from some city permitting fees to build housing affordable for low-income families.

Marvin Perry: Perry is the longtime president and CEO of the Black Board of Directors Project, which helps place Black leaders on corporate, charitable and public policy-making boards and commissions.

  • Perry told the Republic in 2020 the organization's work is a "quiet push toward equality."

Javes Lewis: Lewis is a National Academy of Sports Medicine-certified personal trainer and youth athletic coach who's worked with the Pinnacle High School varsity football team.

  • Lewis played football for the University of Oregon and says on his website his goal is to help people overcome obesity and chronic illnesses.

Shante Saulsberry: She is the founder and executive director of Janice's Women's Center. The organization provides domestic violence victims and women experiencing homelessness with housing and other services.

  • She also wrote a book called "Dysfunctional Blessing" about surviving an abusive relationship and homelessness.

Laya Gavin: After decades working for JP Morgan Chase and other financial institutions, Gavin became a real estate agent in 2016 and currently serves as president of the local chapter of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers.

  • "She's making a major difference in the world of real estate, bringing the discussion of equity, diversity and inclusion to an industry that is 83% white," Phoenix Realtors president Butch Leiber told us.

ShaRon Rea: Rea is a certified life coach who provides mentoring to parents and children, especially those impacted by divorce.

  • She also started the "No Judgment. Just Love" movement, which asks people to pledge to accept differences and embrace forgiveness.

Kim Covington: After 30 years in TV news, Covington joined the Arizona Community Foundation, where she now serves as vice president over community initiatives.


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