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Reality Stars, Coaches, Millionaires Inspire Game Changers at Women’s Impact Conference & Luncheon



ENTERTAINMENT: Miami Gardens, Fla. - Women's Impact Luncheon Speakers Dr. Heavenly Kimes, Lisa Nicole Cloud, Cynthia Bailey, and Dee Thompson at Jazz in the Gardens 2016. Photo: Mellissa Thomas/Florida National News.

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla (FNN News) – While the 11th annual Jazz in the Gardens Music Festival promises to fill the Sun Life Stadium and the surrounding area with 73,000-plus attendees for the annual star-studded concert series happening Saturday, March 19th and Sunday, March 20th, JITG has an equally enthralling event on Friday, March 18th: the Women’s Impact Conference & Luncheon (WICL), presented by the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) and sponsored by State Farm, takes place from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Turnberry Isle Miami, Autograph Collection (19999 W. Country Club Dr., Aventura, FL 33180). The 6th annual WICL will set the weekend afire as dynamic women and men join forces to talk about what’s real, what’s not, and what it takes to be fierce and unstoppable. Transformational life coach and sought-after keynote speaker Dee Thompson will host this year’s event, which boasts a celebrity panelist lineup:

Cynthia Bailey: Supermodel and BRAVO TV reality star from “Housewives of Atlanta.” He recently launched her new collection, Cynthia Bailey Eyewear

Lisa Nicole Cloud: Author, motivational speaker, sales trainer, CEO of Elite Marketing Strategies, Lisa Nicole Cloud Enterprises, fashion collection, The Lisa Nicole Collection, and BRAVO TV reality star from “Married to Medicine”

Dr. Traci Lynn: Motivational speaker and founder of the multi-million dollar Traci Lynn Fashion Jewelry enterprise

Dr. “Vikki” Johnson: Soul-wealth coach and healer, bestselling author, sisterhood specialist, and ordained Elder

Vicky Townsend: President and CEO of Inspiration University and founder of what was known as South Florida’s light music and jazz station, Lite FM

Dr. Heavenly Kimes: Atlanta dentist, author, inspirational speaker, business powerhouse, relationship expert, and BRAVO TV reality star from “Married to Medicine”

Bern Nadette Stains: Best known as the quick-witted, sexy, savvy, and original “It” girl, Thelma Evans, from the groundbreaking first African American sitcom, “Good Times”

Lucinda Cross: Bestselling author, internationally known speaker, spokesperson and energetic teacher of personal and professional development

Dr. Sonjia: Bestselling author of Sex in South Beach and is a certified sexologist

Angie Nicolas: Owner of the Hotspot 813 Fashion Boutique located in Tampa, FL, and fashion commentator on NBC News Channel 8 Daytime TV

Ray Crittenden: Former wide receiver for the New England Patriots and the San Diego Chargers

The speakers look forward to pouring their expertise into the audience, and some anticipate being enriched as well. “I look forward to interesting conversations,” said Dr. Heavenly Kimes, who received the America’s Top Dentist award from the Consumer Research Council of America. She said that her WICL topic, “It’s a Man’s World,” and the topic of relationships in general always generates interesting conversations. Dr. Kimes entered the world of relationship coaching after noticing the audience response on her radio show in Atlanta. While the show was originally her platform to discuss her business expertise, she found more and more people calling in to ask her relationship questions. “People would ask me questions like, ‘How do you manage having three kids and two dogs and working and keeping your husband happy at the same time?’ So I became a certified relationship coach.” Dr. Heavenly has spoken on other panels and plans to do more. She is the author of the upcoming book The Business of Love.

Dr. Traci Lynn is contagiously passionate about her “Game Changers” segment. She will be discussing “what it takes to change the game in your own life, how to make it an impactful year by being your best possible you. You can’t do it the same old way.” The Philly transplant, an entrepreneur from the age of twenty-six, counts herself as a game-changer with the success of Traci Lynn Fashion Jewelry—now 35,000 independent consultants strong in forty-eight states—and is ready to show attendees how to be game changers themselves based on her experience. “This is my life,” she told FNN News. “I give it as I live it.”

Dr. Lynn’s game changing efforts continue: over the last two years, Traci Lynn Fashion Jewelry has been developing the necessary infrastructure to become a global enterprise, starting with expansion into Canada and Puerto Rico.

Dee Thompson, who was a WICL panelist last year for her groundbreaking Purpose Never Dies coaching program, is a conference regular. “I attend every year, and try not miss,” she told FNN News. “It’s a fabulous event of such powerful women.” Thompson noted that this year’s WICL will also include a fashion show hosted by Angie Nicholas that incorporates three designers from this years panelist lineup: fashions from Nicholas’s Hotspot 813 Fashion Boutique, Cynthia Bailey’s eyewear line, and Dr. Traci Lynn’s Fashion Jewelry.

Thompson, who held South Florida’s first empowerment conference in 1998, has a heart for events like WICL. She is currently gearing up to tour for her next program, My Purpose Never Dies 2, and will be speaking all over the country. She is a Les Brown mentee, and shared the stage with him as well as other renowned speakers like Lisa Nichols.

This year’s WICL attendees will come away with practical tools they need to make an imprint on the world. Thompson’s passion is helping people find their purpose. “It’s exciting when you’re doing what you’re born to do,” she effused. “You have two births: the day you’re born and the day you find out why you’re here…I never enroll new coaching clients until they know who they are.” Dr. Lynn’s biggest takeaway is equally foundational: “Never quit. Don’t let anyone talk you out of your vision. Just because they don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not real.” In addressing those who suffer with self-doubt and ask themselves, “Who am I to do this?” she provides this answer for them to improve their mindset: “I came here to do it. That’s who I am. I’m just the best me that I can be.”



Jamaica-born author and freelance journalist Mellissa Thomas is a decorated U.S. Navy veteran with degrees in Entertainment Business and Film. She helps CEOs and executives, advisors, coaches, consultants, and speakers double their income and clinch the credibility they deserve by walking them step by step through the process of developing, completing, marketing, and publishing their first book.


Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness Coming March 2023



WINTER PARK, Fla. (Florida National News) – Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness, inspired by the children’s TV host and icon, comes to Orlando in March 2023. This week-long series of events was announced today at the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation in Winter Park.

“Fred McFeely Rogers devoted his entire life to reminding us of some of the most important ideas of what it means to be human among humans: love, respect and kindness,” explained Buena Vista Events & Management President & CEO Rich Bradley. “Many of us find that nearly 20 years after Fred’s passing, it is important to focus on his teachings once again, perhaps now more than ever. This is a week to re-engage with his massive body of work with some folks, and to introduce his teachings to others.”

Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness begins March 20, 2023, the date which would have been Fred’s 95th birthday, and concludes on Saturday, March 26 with the Red Sweater Soiree, a community dinner to recognize ten ordinary members of the community who inspire and exemplify the affinity that Fred Rogers had for showing kindness to our “Neighbors”.

Mister Rogers Week of Kindness coming March 20-26, 2023. Photo Credit: Mike Brodsky (Florida National News)

Activities planned for the week will include early childhood education activities and faculty training, as well as events open to the public.

“The events will be offered free or at low cost,” continued Bradley. “This week-long celebration is not a series of fundraisers, but rather about once again remembering and sharing some of the great work that Fred Rogers created, not only in early childhood education, but in reminding us that we are all part of one big ‘neighborhood’. Fred taught us the importance of accepting our Neighbors just the way they are and engaging in kindness with our interactions. I can’t think of another period in my lifetime where we needed to reflect on those messages again more than today.”

“There are three ways to ultimate success,” Fred Rogers was once quoted as saying. “The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind. Imagine what our neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person.”

Many of the activities of Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness will be attended by members of the cast and crew of Mister Rogers Neighborhood, which ran from 1968 – 1975, and again from 1979 – 2001. David Newell, known as “Mr. McFeely,” the “Speedy Delivery” man, appeared at today’s media conference via video, and looks forward to visiting Central Florida next March.

David Newell, “Mr. McFeely.” Photo Credit: Mike Brodsky (Florida National News)

Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness is supported by the McFeely-Rogers Foundation, the Fred Rogers Institute, and Fred Rogers Productions. Details regarding the specific activities and venues will be released over the next few weeks.

For more information on the events, visit or

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A Quick Primer on the Team Solving Orange County’s Affordable Housing Crisis



Orange County’s Housing for All Task Force held its introductory meeting on April 12, 2019 at the Board of County Commissioner Chambers. Photo: Orange County Government.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – Orange County faces a growing affordable housing crisis, and Mayor Jerry Demings has taken notice–and action. Shortly after his inauguration, he formed Housing For All, an affordable housing task force to face the challenge head-on.

The Housing For All task force doesn’t meet monthly like the County Commission–in fact, their next meeting won’t be until October 4, 2019–but they do work when they’re not meeting. The task force is made up of three subcommittees, Design and Infrastructure Subcommittee, Accessibility and Opportunity Subcommittee and Innovation and Sustainability Subcommittee. These three subcommittees meet twice a month to come up with ideas and plans to fix the affordable housing problem.

Each subcommittee has a specific focus on ways to help solve the problem of affordable housing. The Design and Infrastructure Subcommittee is focused on the design of new affordable housing projects, the renovation of current affordable housing that might need fixing and land development for affordable housing units. The Accessibility and Opportunity Subcommittee is focused on making sure affordable housing is accessible to the major economic zones of the city, develop partnerships with groups and focus on outreach in the county. The Innovation and Sustainability Subcommittee is focused on finding ways to increase the supply of affordable housing and how to preserve affordable housing.

At their next meeting in October these subcommittees will update the county on what they have accomplished and what they plan to do in the future. For information from previous Housing for All Task Force meetings or the meeting schedule, visit the Orange County Government website.


Leyton Blackwell is a photojournalist and Florida National News contributor. |

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Opening Biopic ‘Te Ata’ Sets High Bar for 2016 Orlando Film Festival



ORLANDO: Chickasaw Nation Biopic 'Te Ata' Sets Stage for Orlando Film Festival.

ORLANDO (FNN NEWS) – Orlando Film Festival kicked off at Cobb Theaters in Downtown Orlando Wednesday night. The red carpet came alive with excited filmmakers and actors ready to showcase their projects to the Orlando community and, in some cases, to the world at large, including Nathan Frankowski, director of this year’s opening feature Te Ata.

About Te Ata

Frankowski’s biopic feature chronicles the true story of Chickasaw actress and storyteller Mary Frances Thompson, whose love of stories and the Chickasaw Nation fueled her to share the Chickasaw culture with new audiences in the early 1900s, a time when the United States was still growing as a nation and clashed with Native American peoples in the process.

Viewers are immediately swept into the saga from the film’s opening scene with a voice-over folk tale told by Mary Thompson’s father, T.B. Thompson (played by Gil Birmingham). Ironically, though his storytelling places the seed of inspiration in her, it slowly becomes a source of friction between them as she ages.

What makes the film engrossing is the sprawling backdrop upon which Thompson’s journey takes place. While young Te Ata (which means “The Morning”) flourishes with each solo performance and eventually sets her sights on Broadway, the Chickasaw Nation is fighting to secure the funding due them from the U.S. government in the face of ethnocentrism and religious bigotry–to the point that the government passed a law forbidding the sale of traditional Native American textiles and creations, which caused further financial struggle for the Chickasaw Nation. Viewers even experience the Thompsons’ fish-out-of-water feeling as the Chickasaw people’s territory, Tishomingo, shrinks significantly to become part of the newborn state of Oklahoma.

The political tensions are counterbalanced with Te Ata’s experience. Te Ata does her first performances among family, but chooses to leave home for the first time in her life to attend the Oklahoma College for Women (known today as University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma), despite her father’s wishes for her to find a job at home. Viewers immediately empathize with Te Ata’s awkward experience upon her arrival at the predominantly Caucasian-attended College, but cheer her on when that one connection is made, because all it ever takes is one.

Te Ata’s jumping off point occurs when she meets drama teacher Frances Dinsmore Davis, who encourages her to join her class and to share the Chickasaw stories for her senior presentation instead of the usual Shakespeare recitation. From there, Te Ata’s career blossoms from one serendipitous connection to another, taking her performances across the country. She eventually makes it to New York City, hustling to find her place on Broadway, and finds love in the process while performing privately for Eleanor Roosevelt, whose husband was then Governor of New York. The heroine’s journey continues with well-placed highs and lows, keeping the viewer visually and emotionally engaged.

Te Ata is touchingly channeled through lead actress Q’orianka Kilcher who, like Te Ata, has stage experience, and brought it to bear in the role. Kilcher’s magnetic singing, with the help of the film’s sweeping score and indigenous songs, imprints the true Te Ata’s passion for her people onto the viewer’s heart.

Frankowski, who worked closely with the Chickasaw Nation in creating the film, honors Te Ata’s memory and legacy in a cohesive, sweeping tale that will edify audiences everywhere.



Florida National News Editor Mellissa Thomas is an author and journalist, as well as a decorated U.S. Navy veteran with degrees in Entertainment Business and Film. She also helps business owners, CEOs, executives, and speakers double their income and clinch the credibility they deserve by walking them step by step through the process of developing, completing, marketing, and publishing their first book.

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