Friends of Yates to hold annual Black Men and Women of Distinction ceremony Feb. 23

In honor of Black History Month, Friends of Yates Inc. is inviting the community to celebrate the accomplishments of 33 African American community leaders.

The 40th Annual Black Men and Women of Distinction Awards Ceremony will be held at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020, at Forest Grove Baptist Church, 1417 N. 9th St., Kansas City, Kansas.

It is because of the groundbreaking accomplishments of African-American leaders and pioneers of the past, determined to see positive change; that African-American leaders and pioneers of today continue to break barriers and reach new heights and achievements that were once considered impossible, according to a spokesman for Friends of Yates. These activists, doctors, lawyers, educators, entrepreneurs, and countless others make the difference in the community, society, and world.

Their commitment, hard work, determination and relentless drive for change and equality has contributed to history and propels individuals into the future, eager to follow in the footsteps of those who have already paved the way, the spokesman stated.

The several men and women to be inducted into the Black Men and Women of Distinction include Edwin Birch, Dana Bostic, Darrell Calhoun, Ashley Campbell, the Rev. Charles E. Cofield Jr., Joy Cofield, Ludelia Cowan, Dr. Khiara Drew, Susie Gordon, Kenya Hicks, Jeffrey Hollinshed, Dianna Howard Kolen, Dionne King, Bridget Locke, Khadejah McIntosh-Taylor, Dr. James McIntosh, Dr. Mallory McIntosh, Rebecca McKeel, Adrianne Perry, Barton Richardson, Linda Robins, Geoffrey Sanders, Patricia Sevier, Gia Smith, Kendra Tyler, Reginald Watkins, Marqueia Watson, the Rev. Dexter White and LaMonica Upton.

Lagracella Roland has been named “Portrait of a Black Woman” this year. The award will be presented by her sister-in-law, Carlen Davis.

The “Portrait of a Black Man” will be awarded to Carl Roland Jr., presented by his sister, Carlen Davis.

Lagracella Omran-Roland is a native of Las Vegas. Her introduction to the world of entertainment began when she was a small tot, singing and dancing for stadium-filled arenas; growing up studying classical piano and clarinet while continuing studies in opera, jazz and ballet, ultimately becoming a professional dancer, international model and actress. Her most notable award is becoming the first African American Miss Nevada USA. With this honor, she was selected to join Bob Hope and the USO Tour traveling the country singing and dancing for military troops around the world.

With her many talents, Omran-Roland landed her dream job as a professional chorus line dancer in Donn Arden’s Jubilee Show created for Bally’s Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Omran-Roland was one of four African American female dancers selected to have an exclusive position, a featured role in a 150-cast musical styled extravaganza. They were known as the Ebony Line. Currently, KLEO has partnered with producer and husband, Carl Roland, in forming Mu’Sonique Records and developing a new-age transforming band known as Dustyy Lane. KLEO is lead singer, writer and arranger for Dustyy Lane. In 2018 KLEO’s hit single entitled “Now It’s Christmas,” featured on her double Christmas album, Dustyy Lane’s Magical Christmas and Acoustic Christmas with Dustyy Lane, topped Europe’s Indi Music Charts at No. 5. KLEO is currently recording an adult contemporary album project scheduled to be released in the summer of 2020.

Carl Roland is a successful entrepreneur with focuses on music and real estate. Roland is a real estate investor, music producer, composer and multi-instrumentalist with music releases ranging in the genres of R&B, pop, dance and instrumental recordings including smooth jazz and downtempo chill styled compositions. His vision exceeds music recordings, as he also is a composer for film and television scores. Roland migrated from Kansas City to Los Angeles by the age of 20. He created his first production company, MoKutz, with his good friend who is also from Kansas City. Shortly thereafter, MoKutz engaged in several joint ventures earning him multiple gold and platinum Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certifications.

During his 30-year music career, he’s worked with some of the great musical artists including Patti Label, The Jacksons, Adina Howard, Seal, Melvin Riley and Jamie Foxx. His credits include songs released on Epic-Sony Records, MCA-Universal Records, Warner Brothers Records, Mecca Don-Eastwest Records, RCA Records and Perspective-A&M Records. One of his most notable works is the hit single entitled, “You” which he co-wrote and produced for Grammy nominated artist Jesse Powell earning Roland his third RIAA certified gold record. “You” topped out on the Billboard R&B chart at No. 2 and reached No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Also to be honored will be Angela Hobson-Hamilton and Dr. Marvin McIntosh with the 2020 Donald D. Sewing Service Award for their outstanding service and contribution to the community.


Angela Hobson-Hamilton is the president-founder of Compassionate Partners KC (CPKC), a nonprofit organization that partners with community agencies to offer self-esteem building services to children and youth experiencing family trauma and homelessness. She believes in order to help decrease the adverse effects of witnessing domestic violence, children must experience alternative forms of human interactions based on kindness, trust, dignity and respect. So together with her husband Howard, her sons Mark Jr., Nigel and family and friends, CPKC was formed in 2016.
Hobson-Hamilton graduated from St. Luke’s College of Nursing in 1987 and has worked in various roles in hospitals in the metro. In her current position as clinical case manager for Truman Medical Center, Hobson-Hamilton became keenly aware of the limited community resources devoted to serving children and youth effected by violence and homelessness. This awareness encouraged her to transition her gifts to serve individuals in need from the bedside to community. Hobson-Hamilton is an active member of Christ Temple Church. Her organization serves approximately 750 children and provides approximately 1,100 cupcakes to help put smiles on children’s faces.


Dr. Marvin McIntosh is the medical director of the Community House of Wellness, Inc., instructor at The University of Linguistics and Future Learning and Instructor at The University of Phoenix. Dr. McIntosh returned to Kansas City in 2002 to fulfill the commitment he made to himself “to give back to my community.”

The Community House of Wellness Inc. combines western medicine with herbal medicine creating an integrative form of medical options for community members to consider. The Community House of Wellness Inc. sponsors a food program and an open forum for the public to provide up to date medical information. Although Dr. McIntosh is retired, his passion and love for giving drives him to continue with some form of medical consulting.


This celebration of accomplishments of African-Americans will spotlight some of Kansas City’s leaders and talent. Dia Wall, news anchor and reporter for KSHB-TV 41 Action News, will act as celebrity mistress of ceremony to help set the atmosphere.

Yates was organized and became a branch of the YWCA, Kansas City, Kansas, in 1913, and later reorganized as Friends of Yates; with a combined total of 106 years of serving the community. Friends of Yates Inc. has prevailed in providing comprehensive programming and services, meeting the ever-increasing demand for those who are underserved or underprivileged and in need, a spokesman stated.

Special events of Friends of Yates include Black Men and Women of Distinction event in recognition of Black History Month; Crime Awareness Coordinating Effort (CACE) event, National Domestic Violence Awareness Month – kicking off with the Evening of Praise, and culminating with the Community Luncheon and the Holiday at the Apollo Benefit Gala.

Some of the many programs offered through Della Gill – Joyce H. Williams Center include Pathway to Advocacy and Violence free living and Economic empowerment (PAVE) program, which is a collaborative program between Friends of Yates and the Department of Child and Families (DCF), to provide domestic violence and sexual assault services to families receiving TANF Food and Childcare assistance. Healthcare Advocacy Program (BridgeSpan); Emergency Shelter; Transitional Housing; Court Advocacy; Crime Victim Advocacy; Mental Health Services; Substance Abuse Counseling; Child Care; Translation Services; Community Outreach and Education; Strength-based Case Management; 24-hour Crisis Hotline, Job Coaching and Economic Empowerment. Friends of Yates Inc. has maintained excellence, proven by the countless testimonies of those who have been impacted by the rich legacy and heritage of this agency.

The Black Men and Women of Distinction Awards Ceremony is a free event open to the public. For more information about the event, or ways to volunteer or become a partner with Friends of Yates, contact Carlen Davis, community outreach educator at 913-321-1566.

  • Information from Carlen Davis, community outreach educator, Friends of Yates

KCK student named to dean’s list

Bryce Yoder, Kansas City, Kansas, has been named to the dean’s list for the fall 2019 semester at Simpson College, Indianola, Iowa.

Yoder is a graduate of Piper High School.

Students named to the dean’s list achieved a minimum 3.7 grade point average for the semester.

Simpson College, located near Des Moines, was founded in 1860 and has about 1,300 full-time undergraduate students and 400 part-time students.

KCK school mourns loss of ‘Mr. Bob,’ crossing guard killed saving two kids’ lives

A crossing guard identified as Bob Nill was struck and killed Tuesday morning outside Christ the King Catholic School. (Photo by Laura Ziegler, KCUR)

by Laura Ziegler and Kyle Palmer, Kansas News Service

A crossing guard employed by the city of Kansas City, Kansas, died Tuesday after he pushed two schoolchildren out of the way of an oncoming car.

The incident occurred just before 8 a.m. along the 5400 block of Leavenworth Road outside the Christ the King Catholic School. Kansas City, Kansas, Police have identified the victim as 88-year-old Bob Nill.

Christ the King Principal Cathy Fithian called Nill a “lovely person” who had been helping kids safely across the busy road outside the school for the past five years.

Students at Christ the King Catholic School called crossing-guard Bob Nill ‘Mr. Bob.’ (Photo by Bart Nill)

“Mr. Bob is what the kids called him. They loved him so much,” she said. “He was always so worried about kids’ safety. When there was ice on the sidewalk, he’d come up and tell us in the school so we could come up and make sure the kids wouldn’t fall. He always thought about the kids more than himself,” she said.

Dave Reno, a spokesman for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, said Nill had been employed by the city as a crossing guard since 2015. He said Nill was “dedicated and approachable.”

“Everybody’s pretty broken up about it,” Reno said. “It’s solemn around here today.”

Kansas City, Kansas, police are investigating the incident. Investigators say a black sedan heading east struck Nill. The driver of the sedan was taken to a hospital after the incident.

Officer Jonathan Westbrook, a police spokesman, said police didn’t know the cause of the accident.

Fithian, the principal, said two children came running into the Christ the King school building just after 8 a.m., saying a vehicle had hit “Mr. Bob.”

Fithian said the two children, a 3rd grader and 5th grader, had been preparing to cross the street when Nill yelled at them to stop.

“He saved their lives. Thank God they listened to him,” she said.

Fithian said the two children had some counseling before leaving to go home with their parents, who were also shaken up. Fithian said other area Catholic schools have offered Christ the King counseling support, but her thoughts are on Nill and his family at this time.

“He gave his life for the kids today,” she said.

Editor’s note: In his younger years, Bob Nill was a Kansas City, Kansas, businessman, coach and a local banker.

Laura Ziegler is KCUR’s community engagement reporter. Kyle Palmer is KCUR’s news director.
Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to kcur.org.

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