Pastor Nawanna Lewis Miller and her team established Pamoja Connections, Inc. in March 2021. Five (5) University of Georgia Alumni, who worked on the 2020 50th Pamoja Anniversary Virtual Celebration Committee, began planning the 2021 in-person celebration. However, the lingering effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic shifted the focus from planning an in-face gathering to formalizing the history of the performance arts and media organizations that make up Pamoja. Together with Pastor Nawanna Lewis Miller, they pursued the arduous task of clarifying the history of the organizations by collaborating with and interviewing other alumni due to the significant changes that occurred in the past 52 years. Pamoja Connections represents UGA alumni who participated in any one or more of the five (5) performing arts or media groups as students while at UGA.
Nawanna Miller (née Lewis) is a celebrated author, a pioneer in ministry, and a champion of civil rights. She is an Honor Graduate of Henry McNeal Turner High School along with history-making graduates Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Dr. Hamilton Holmes, who desegregated the University of Georgia in 1961. While many people and historians are familiar with the former, less than ten years later in 1970, a young Nawanna Lewis emerged as a civil rights visionary to combat the still present anti-Black sentiment on that same campus. She is one of the early African American graduates of the University of Georgia where she earned her A.B.J. Degree in Broadcast Journalism in just three (3) years in 1973. While serving her UGA community, she strategically participated in sit-ins that helped to reshape the face of UGA faculty and student body. Disillusioned, realizing not much had changed since ’61, young Nawanna sensed the void, and soon the “togetherness” that was absent materialized with the founding of Pamoja (Swahili for “together”). She became known as the Mistress of Cultural Affairs by the Black Student Union when she founded the Pamoja Singers, Pamoja Dancers, Pamoja Drama and Arts Group, and the Journalism Association for Minorities, who produced the Pamoja Newspaper. Her trailblazing creation of Pamoja Connections still continues on UGA's campus to this very day, over 50 years later. She holds a Master of Arts in Organizational Communication from Howard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She holds a Master of Divinity Degree from Howard University School of Divinity. Pastor Nawanna Lewis Miller is one of the early women in the Baptist Denomination to be licensed and/or ordained. Licensed in 1989 and ordained to preach in 1992, not unlike some of her experiences at UGA, Pastor Nawanna was met with wide-spread public objection and intolerance to her ordination as a female preacher. Against initial criticism and prejudice amongst male-dominated clergy, she went on to become the Director of Metropolitan’s 50 Component Youth and Children’s Ministries and served as the Director of 55 Church-Wide Ministries. She’s the Founding Pastor of Messiah’s Temple Christian Ministries from 1995 to 2015. She’s Founder and Lead Director of The Institute for Christian Discipleship, Inc. since 1995, where she teaches nationally and travels as a conference speaker. Pastor Nawanna is also the Founding President and Chairperson of Proof Positive Communications, Inc., since 1981. She is the published author of 5 books to date: Cruising The Cosmos, Angels In My Room, Sister Eagle, Oh God! My Preacher Is Pregnant, and The Glorified Stroke. Nawanna Lewis Miller is a personal pastor and counselor to people from all walks of life. She’s a leader’s leader. On June 3, 2015, she suffered a major hemorrhagic stroke, and her life has been forever changed. Out of that harrowing experience, arose “The Gospel of Great Health”, where Pastor Nawanna teaches the supernatural energy techniques for healing and wholeness that she shares with students and churches around the U.S. In March 2021, Pastor Nawanna Lewis Miller established Pamoja Connections, Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization, which formalizes the history of historically Black performance arts and journalism groups founded by Lewis-Miller in 1970 on the campus of the newly desegregated University of Georgia. Pastor Nawanna is CEO/Chairperson of Pamoja Connections, Inc., where over 50 years of excellence in arts and media clubs, organizations, publications, and courses have enriched the campus, community, and culture of UGA. She is also the Show Creator and Executive Producer for the dynamic documentary film currently in pre-production about her life and times during the founding and flourishing of Pamoja. The film features heartfelt and stirring interviews from the founder and visionary, along with UGA Alumni whose matriculation, careers, and lives have been forever impacted by Pamoja. Her selfless act of using her fervor, gifts, talents, courage, and creativity to give Black students an opportunity to join together, expressing their culture in dance, theatre, journalism, and choir that included music by Black composers who had never been heard of at UGA, has forever changed the landscape of the University. Now more than ever – it’s time to tell her story.
Beauty is COO of Zonum Media Group (ZMG), a media production company based in Atlanta, GA. Beauty owns and operates ZMG with her celeb husband, C-Los. In the last 20 years, ZMG has produced stellar productions, musicals, and television pilots across the southeast. ZMG and co-Executive Producer, Akon, just completed filming of the Television Pilot Episode of “Family Approved” coming to TV soon. Over her 25 years in entertainment, Beauty has worked with some of the biggest names in music, film, and television. She's been blessed to travel the world using her God-given talents and skills to enhance the careers and projects of many. Beauty grew up in Avalon, GA, a neighboring town of Toccoa, GA. From age 3, she was singing in front of audiences, unintimidated and unafraid. As an elementary school student at Eastanollee Elementary, she was constantly in the local paper, making the Honor Roll and winning a multitude of essay contests and poetry competitions. She was also a winning 4-H competitor at the District and State Level. During her tenure at Stephens County High, Beauty, a Quad-Year Honor Roll and Top 20 Scholar, served as Quad-Year Silk Corp Captain, a member of the Academic Bowl Team, Debate Team, Key Club, Black History Club, FCA, Anchor Club, Sophomore Class Secretary, Junior Class President, Master Singers, Girls Ensemble, Honors Chorus, and Girls Solo and Girls Trio at All State Chorus; she earned such honors as Who’s Who Among American High School Students, GA Certificate of Merit, Oral Interpretation Literary Winner, Young GA Authors Award for Poetry, National Youth Leaders Conference, Optimist Club Essay Winner, and Literary Competition Winner. She was selected by her classmates as a Senior Class Favorite as Most Talented. After graduating Stephens County HS with Honors, Beauty enrolled in the University of Georgia's School of Music. While at UGA, Beauty served her Bulldog Community as an outstanding campus leader. She was a member of the Women’s Glee Club, Concert Choir, African American Choral Ensemble, Black Theatrical Ensemble, Pamoja Dance Company, the audition-only 8-voice women’s Vocal Ensemble - Noteworthy, Delta Ensemble, and President of the Zeta Psi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Continuing her love of pageantry from HS, Beauty held several Pageant titles throughout college; she was 2nd Runner-Up in the Miss Black University of Georgia Pageant representing Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and crowned Miss Black & Gold representing Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. at the Collegiate and Regional Levels. She was the first rising Sophomore to be hired as a UGA Office of Admissions Summer Orientation Leader, as those positions were traditionally reserved for rising Seniors. During her matriculation at UGA, she also served both the Admissions Office and the UGA Visitors Center as a Georgia Recruitment Team Coordinator and Visitors Center Tour Guide, respectively. After college Beauty put her music education to good use and was quickly signed to the 5-Girl Pop Group “ROXXI”. Later that same year with Beauty as Lead Singer, ROXXI began their European Tour, opening for mega-stars, Destiny's Child, and Atlanta's own, 112 with performances in Amsterdam, London, Birmingham, and Manchester. ROXXI recorded with platinum producer Shekspere who produced such No. 1 hits as "Bills Bills Bills" for Destiny’s Child, and "No Scrubs" for legendary recording artists TLC. Beauty has performed in the same industry circles as Monica, TLC, OutKast, Goodie Mob, and Akon, and has shared the same stage as Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, Kelly Price, Debra Killings, Tasha Cobbs and Canton Jones. Beauty has also recorded and performed songs written and produced by the Grammy Award-winning Kandi Burruss of RHOA and legendary Grammy-winning music producers Dallas Austin and Tricky Stewart. Next, Beauty turned her skills to acting and writing and appeared on Robert Townsend’s Show “Playhouse 22”. Soon after, Beauty was featured in the book, After the Altar Call by her Soror Jacqueline J. Holness, also featuring Former Host of “The View” Sherri Shepherd. Beauty also performed at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Beauty has been a National Television Commercial Actress & Print Model for fitness franchise, Workout Anytime. Right now, you can catch Beauty on TV, either in her Workout Anytime National Television Commercial or in her regular appearances on Season 1 and Season 2 of BET’s Original Series “American Soul”. You can also see her in her first Netflix Original Movie “Holidate”, as well as Beauty’s first feature film, “The Banker” starring Sam L. Jackson and Anthony Mackie; she also appears in the long anticipated “Coming2America” and NatGeo’s “Genius Aretha”. In 2021 Beauty helped form Pamoja Connections, Inc., a 501 (c) (3) organization, that formalizes the history of historically Black performance arts and journalism groups founded by Nawanna Lewis Miller in 1970 on the campus of the newly desegregated University of Georgia. Beauty is President/Executive Director of Pamoja Connections, Inc., where over 50 years of excellence in arts and media clubs, organizations, publications, and courses have enriched the campus, community, and culture of UGA. No stranger to stage and television, having been EP, AD, Line Producer, Project Manager, and Writer for several Stage Shows and TV Pilots, Beauty is Executive Producer and Director for the dynamic and globally historic documentary film currently in pre-production, based on the events surrounding the founding and flourishing of Pamoja. The film will spotlight personal accounts from the founder and visionary, as well as UGA Alumni whose matriculation, careers, and lives have been forever impacted by Pamoja. A wife of 20 years and mother of 3 talented children in the arts, a mentor and coach to many, Beauty’s love for God, family, and entertainment leads her to uncharted territory where she’s divinely purposed and ready for whatever comes next!
Subrena Clark is an author, inspirational speaker, business strategist, trainer, and matchmaker. With a background in Public Procurement, Business Development, Supplier Diversity, and Communications, her professional career spans over 25 years in non-profit, governmental, education, and private sector industries. As a Procurement Professional with one of the largest, most wide-ranging urban redevelopment programs in the United States, she procures and manages the acquiring aspects of the organization’s purchases. As a Certified and Designation Professional Public Buyer (CPPB) with the Universal Public Procurement Certification Council (UPPCC ) and National Institute of Governmental Purchasing, she has led and served on various procurement process improvement teams and served as a question writer for the Universal Public Procurement Certification Council Certification test. As a Renaissance person who fulfills every purpose that God has instilled, Subrena believes the following: “We all have a book with many pages and chapters to do it all based on the talents and innate abilities within us.” With a passion for building business and personal relationships, Subrena also serves as a podcast host, life coach, and provides personalized matchmaking and relationship building consulting services. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech Communications from the University of Georgia (UGA) and a Master of Business Administration from American InterContinental University. A Class of 1992 University of Georgia Alum, Subrena served as a valued member of the African American Choral Ensemble, which is a curriculum course still taught on campus today by Dr. Gregory Broughton. Within AACE, Subrena was selected to be an elite singer in two small group traveling ensembles, Dominion and Vessels of Praise. She serves on the Pamoja Connections, Inc. Board as Vice President. As a native Atlantan, she loves the UGA Bulldogs, Atlanta history, and is a collector of skyline portraits. Create Healthy Relationship http://relationshipbuildercontent.com Su- The Relationship Builder Podcast https://open.spotify.com/show/0PMsx7HOubqwoM245MCGv0?si=94e622168e5d4bc6
Jackie Wright is the President of Wright Enterprises, a full-service public relations firm serving the corporate, non-profit and government sectors nationally and internationally. A seasoned media and public relations professional, Wright has 20 years of media experience, including more than a decade of award-winning journalism experience in radio, television, print and Internet communications. She is a filmmaker and graduate of the University of Georgia's Henry W. Grady School of Journalism, home of the prestigious George Foster Peabody Awards. Prior to launching her own business, Wright served as Public Affairs Manager for KPIX/CW Bay Area TV, where she was responsible for public relations and community relations that included the creation and establishment of multicultural ethnic heritage month celebrations such as Asian Heritage Month, Black History Month and Latino Heritage Month; Wright created unique public service campaigns in which community leaders of different races would honor each other on air. Wright's media and community leadership initiated the establishment of the popular weekly national Jefferson Awards on KPIX. Her work also included the establishment of the award-winning Office of Public Engagement and Information for the San Francisco Unified School District as Executive Director; and leadership for the San Francisco County Office for the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter as Executive Officer receiving the organization's highest management honor "The Tiffany Award for Excellence." During a time of high visibility and national media scrutiny for the San Francisco Unified School District, Wright developed the crisis communication plan and set up systems to handle the 9-11-2001 Crisis and the high volume of media calls over a five-month period from local, national and international media about the controversial Edison Charter School. Wright successfully worked with staff to maintain a consistent message of the District's concern for the "well-being of all students" as the charter school through deliberation by the local board of education transferred to the State. Aside from the media focus on controversy, Wright strategically improved the District's website to give an overall balanced look at the District's operations making it user-friendly for staff, parents and students. In addition, Wright developed the communication plan for the District's new academic plan "Excellence For All" which was rolled-out over a 30-day period with attendance at meetings of over 3,000 people resulting in written input from 2,500 participants. The written feedback was used to improve the plan that was filed in U.S. Federal Court and approved. The SFUSD communication plan was presented at a national association of education public relations directors in Minneapolis as an example of a successful education communication campaign. While at the American Red Cross, Wright was a member of the Executive Management Team of the Bay Area Chapter, serving as Executive Officer for San Francisco County. She worked her way through the ranks over a 10-year period from a Media Relations Associate to the Director of Special Events to ultimately, San Francisco County Executive Officer. In addition to her leadership as an Executive Officer responsible for budget development and management, program oversight, fund-raising, board development, government relations interfacing with city, state, and national politicians, and community relations, Wright served on the elite National Red Cross Headquarters' Rapid Response Team. As a member of the on-demand team, Wright worked during major national disasters responding to national media and international news services with the requirement of being on a plane to head to a disaster within two hours of notice. Crisis Communications, media training, media and communication plans, community outreach, government relations, international business relations, social media, cause related marketing and fundraising provide the foundation of Wright's expertise. Organizations that have benefited from her skills include the CBS Television, United Way, San Francisco State University, SF Conservation Corps, the American Red Cross, the YMCA, WNGC Radio Station, WXAG Radio Station, KALW Radio Station, the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, Alliance for Women in Media (Wright created San Francisco Chapter's the Belva Davis Diversity Scholarship) and Leadership San Francisco. Website: www.wrightnow.biz displays Wright's involvement with the community as a community trustee, a concept taught by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce's Leadership San Francisco Program.
Felicia Bryan Bessent is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, a graduate of Luther Judson Price High School in 1971 and the University of Georgia in Athens, GA in 1975. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education and a minor in Music Therapy. While attending UGA, Felicia was a member of the Women’s Glee Club, University Choir, Collegium Musicum, Pamoja Choir and Black Student Union. In 1973, she was initiated into the Eta Xi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® (AKA) and has been a continued active member. After college graduation, Felicia began her 41-year career as a teacher (Choral Music, Math, and Special Education) for eighteen (18) years and a School-Site Administrator (High School Vice Principal and Middle School Principal) for twenty-three (23) years; she retired in 2016. Being married to a US Army soldier, Felicia taught in Georgia, Virginia, Hawaii, Arizona, and California. Felicia furthered her education by earning a Master of Arts in Special Education from California State University, Sacramento, and later a Professional Administrative Service Credential from LaVerne University, LaVerne, California. She also studied at University of Hawaii, University of Phoenix, and Harvard Graduate School of Education Principals’ Center. Professionally, Felicia has won an array of awards both in the musical arts and in the broader educational field. The most notable awards were being named 1990-91 Teacher of the Year for Elk Grove Unified School District, Sacramento County, and a Finalist for the state of California. She also received the prestigious Milken Family Foundation’s 1991 National Educator Award ($25,000). As a school administrator, Felicia received the 2004 Distinguished Educator's Award for outstanding leadership by the Sacramento Observer Media Group, the 2007 Principal of the Year nominee for the Sacramento Hub Choice Award, recognized as a Sacramento Kings’ 2011 All-Star Leader, National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. 2011 Woman of Excellence, and Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Regional 3 Middle Grades Principal Silver Star 2016 Award. After retirement, in 2017 Felicia received the Sacramento Sheriff’s Activities League Educator Impact Award. Within the Greater Sacramento Area, Felicia volunteers as the Music Director of Celebration Arts’ (theatrical company) Kids Time. At her church, St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, she is the Director of the Little Workers Guild (children’s choir), youth praise team vocal coach, and conductor of the youth orchestra ensemble. As an active member of AKA for over forty-nine years, Felicia is a member of Eta Gamma Omega Chapter (HGO), Sacramento, CA. She is the HBCU for Life Coordinator, member of the Arts and #CAP Committees, and Co-Director of HGO Choral Ensemble where she has also written choral arrangements. Additionally, Felicia has served as one of the choral conductors and/or pianists of the Far Western Regional Chorus for the past five (5) Far Western Regional Conferences and three (3) Boules. In December 2020, Dr. Glenda Glover, International President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.® appointed Felicia to the AKA International Music Committee. In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic mandated the cancellation of in-person activities/events and the transition to virtual events, Felicia began using her music technology skills to create and produce virtual choir videos. She even enrolled in online music and video production classes at the Consumnes River Community College to enhance her skills. As a result, Felicia has produced videos for her sorority at the local, regional and national level. At her church, she has produced virtual choir, solo and Christmas program videos featuring the children and youth in the music ministry. Felicia has been married to Oscar Winston Bessent for forty-five years. They have two adult children, Shedrick (Flight Instrumentation Engineer) and Carmen (Labor And Delivery Registered Nurse), a daughter-in-law, Courtney Amos Bessent, and two young grandchildren, Bryan and Chloe Bessent.