Black History Month is an annual celebration to honor Black Americans throughout our history. The first federal observance was established in 1976 when President Gerald Ford issued a proclamation to recognize Dr. Carter G. Woodson and all his work. He had established what later would become the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).
As we wrap up Black History Month, we thought we would take the time to highlight some of our own leaders making history here in Temple.
Established Black Leaders
Adrian Cannady joined the Temple Economic Development Corporation team as President/CEO in September of 2018. Previously, Adrian served as Vice President of Marketing of the Victoria Economic Development Corporation for more than 15 years, where he was in charge of retaining and expanding Victoria's existing local industry as well as attracting new industry to the region through marketing efforts.
Adrian attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. In his 3 years at the academy, he studied Civil Engineering and Political Science while undergoing rigorous leadership training. He holds both a Bachelors of Science in Mathematical Sciences and Master of Science degree in Economic Development and Entrepreneurship from the University of Houston-Victoria and is a graduate of the Center for Retail Studies in San Antonio, TX; and the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute in Norman, OK.
Adrian serves on the executive board of the Texas Economic Development Council and as a member of the International Economic Development Council. Adrian serves as an appointment by Governor Abbott to his Economic and Incentives Oversight Board and he also serves on a number of community-based boards. Adrian was recently named one of the Top 50 Economic Developers in North America by Consultant Connect.
Adrian is married to Melissa Cannady and has three sons Dylan, Tristan, and Cortland.
Personal motto: “Changing a generation, one person at a time”
Sonjanette Crossley is a lifetime resident of Bell County Texas with over 47 years of social work in diverse areas (youth, families, medical, geriatrics, school & seminary). She currently serves as the President of Citizen’s for Progress, a non-profit organization, which was founded in 1999 by her late husband, Dr. Lee A. Crossley.
As the 1968 Valedictorian of Meredith-Dunbar High School, Temple, Texas, Sonjanette has gone on to receive a Doctorate degree in Clinical Pastoral Counseling, Doctorate of Divinity and Doctorate of Cross- Cultural Philosophy.
She currently serves as a board member of the Temple Reinvestment Zone and Temple Economic Development Corporation, as well as being the City of Temple Building and Standards Commissioner from 2014 to present day.
She is an advocate for community empowerment and progress as evidenced by her membership and participation in many non-profit organizations among which include, NAACP, and LULAC, just to name two organizations. She is a champion of the empowerment and needs of youth, disabled children/adults as well as the economically and socially disadvantaged through leadership, social work, civil service, teaching, advocacy, mentoring and counseling.
Sonjanette is a Widow after 38 years marriage, 25 years of which she served as a pastor’s wife of the First Church of God in Christ, Temple, TX. She is a proud mother of 3 adult children: Aadrien (LaTasha), Lionell and Alisa Crossley, and 1 grandson: Maki.
“Temple has been profitable and a fertile place for me to make impactful progress in areas of concern. I am passionate about problem solving. I am a participator and not a spectator when it comes to life!”
Young Black Leaders
Personal motto: "Diversity is having a seat at the table. Inclusion is having a voice. And belonging is having that voice be heard."- Liz Fosslien
Bre'Layshia “Bre” Hodges is the SportsCare Outreach Liaison/Athletic trainer for Scott and White Medical Center, Part of Baylor Scott and White Health in Temple, TX. She is a proud alumni of Temple High School (Class of '09 President), Texas State University, and Concordia University.
Bre currently serves on the Wildcat Mentor Board, Temple Education Foundation Board, the Un-Included Club Executive Board, and serves as the Vice President of the Central Texas Athletic Trainers' Society.
Michael L. Rousell
Michael Rousell is a Certified Public Accountant with over 12 years’ experience. Michael was born and raised in New Orleans, LA, later moving to Texas and is now a proud Alumni of Copperas Cove High School. After high school, Michael attended Tabor College in Kansas, graduating with his Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting and quickly began his accounting career with a reputable firm in Garden City, Kansas. Eventually making his way back to the Central Texas in 2017 joining BGFN, PC.
Community engagement have always been of high importance to Michael. Determined to make a difference in his community, Michael proudly serves the Temple Rotary South Club and has joined various clubs and associations, consistently offering his time to numerous volunteer events and activities. Using his natural social butterfly abilities, Michael has recently taken up public speaking in hopes of bringing awareness and encouraging growth within and beyond his community. Michael’s message has proven so powerful that countless organizations, including rotary groups across the America and internationally have heard him speak. He also had the honor to be a keynote speaker for The Rotary Large Club Conference. Having big plans for the future, Michael has also teamed up with other young professionals to create a team that actively reaches out and encourages those around them to be a part of the change, Bell County Rising Leaders
With the list of accomplishments and activities he is involved in continuing to grow, Michael remains passionate about one other very significant factor in his life. Family. Being a dad isn’t just another area where Michael shines, but his true pride and joy. His beautiful blended family is Michael’s reason for doing. Michael and his wife, Sarah, live on a small 12-acre farm with their four wonderful children, Camryn, Jackson, Landon and Aubrey. Whether it be fishing, hunting, basketball, football, baseball, gymnastics, or a simple game of hide and seek, the time spent with his family is valued above all. Michael continues to share his blessings, life experiences, time and energy with everyone around him, in hopes of making this world a better place for everyone who comes after him.
Takenya Battle helps children and adults alike arrange, articulate, and amplify their inner musician with online voice and piano lessons. The founder of Kenya’s Keys Voice & Piano Studio, Kenya specializes in the key of easy. She teaches music educators how to keep time with today’s technologies while still leveraging their traditional musical knowledge.
Still, Kenya’s Keys does more than just that. Using her proprietary TLC formula in her online music lessons, Kenya helps bring a semblance of peace – pandemic or not – into the lives of everyone who steps through her virtual doors.
With over 20 years of experience aiding 11,000+ students, Kenya is a renowned expert in unleashing the inner musical superstar in both adults and kids. Her other accomplishments include running her business while serving as a U.S. soldier, becoming only the second woman in her family to graduate college, and writing and self-publishing 2 best-selling books.
When she’s not amplifying the voices of the next generation or decolonizing music instruction, you can find Kenya penning songs for the everyday entrepreneur who wants to use melodic prose to convey who they are and what they stand.
If you’re ready to synthesize a new tune in your online music education business, Kenya’s Keys is the one to contact. Follow her on social media @KenyasKeys to find out more.