May 2024 Congratulatory Announcements


*Judge Monique R. Richardson was recently reelected to the County Bench in Tallahassee Florida

The Tallahassee Democrat has announced the reelection of Monique R. Richardson as County Judge in Leon County Florida.  She was one of six sitting judges who qualified for the 2024 election without opposition. Because she was unopposed, judicial incumbents were automatically re-elected Friday, April 26. Judge Richardson was reelected to a six-year term. She was first elected on August 28, 2018. Judge Richardson is the daughter of Senior Bishop A. J. and Senior Supervisor Connie S. Richardson of the 10th Episcopal District. She is a graduate of Florida A&M University and the University of Florida Levin College of Law. Congratulations Judge Richardson!!

Congratulatory responses can be emailed to:,  Bishop A. J.  and Dr. Connie S. Richardson.


*Dr. Thema Bryant on Black Church and Mental Health - John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke University

Healing trauma in the African American community is often caught between either seeking professional mental health services or relying on faith leaders in the Black church.  Dr. Thema Bryant, the 2023 president of the American Psychological Association (APA), joins Dr. Mark Anthony Neal to dispel this binary of mental healthcare to demonstrate how they can work together, instead of against each other, for the benefit of African American psychological wellness. Dr. Bryant is a tenured professor of psychology in the Graduate School of Education and Psychology at Pepperdine University where she directs the Culture and Trauma Research Laboratory. She is also the author of "Homecoming: Overcome Fear and Trauma to Reclaim Your Whole, Authentic Self," published by TarcherPerigee of the Penguin Group.

Dr. Bryant is a tenured professor of psychology in the Graduate School of Education and Psychology at Pepperdine University, where she directs the Culture and Trauma Research Laboratory.
Dr. Thema is also an ordained minister, sacred artist, and mother, and she is the daughter of Bishop John R. Bryant (Retired) and Retired Episcopal Supervisor, Rev. Dr. Cecelia Williams Bryant.

Congratulatory expressions can be emailed to:, (Bishop John R. Bryant)  (Rev. Dr. Cecelia Williams Bryant)


*Maryville, Illinois hosts Mayor’s Prayer Dinner at First Baptist Church, Dr. Dorothy Owens Honored

Historical Honors
Dr. Dorothy Owens, widow of The Late Rev. Dr. John Q. Owens, Social Action Director, Emeritus and Founder of CONN-M-SWAWO + PK’S of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, (1989), received Historical Honor at the Mayors Annual Prayer Dinner at a Village that was Founded in 1840, Incorporated in 1902.  Dr. Dorothy Owens is the First Black to be honored in Maryville, Illinois, Thursday, May 2, 2024 at Mayor Craig Short's Annual Prayer Dinner.
Dr. Dorothy Owens was honored for her outstanding Community Service in Appreciation of her Dedication and Commitment to further Christian Values and to make the Village of Maryville a Better Place to live and raise families.

Dr. Dorothy also extends the Owens family thanks to the African Methodist Episcopal Church of Richard and Sarah Allen.  Over 3,000 across the globe with social media responded with so much love during the Celebration of Life for The Rev. Dr. John Q. Owens, Social Action Director, and Servant of God for over 21 years. Continued prayers for the family are being requested!!

See newspaper article below: 

Congratulatory responses can be emailed to:
 (Dr. Dorothy Owens)

The Portsmouth Richmond Roanoke District Host Retirement Event to Celebrate the 87 years of combined ministry of Presiding Elder Rev. Dr. Samuel E. Hayward III and Rev. Althea J. Hayward

The Portsmouth, Richmond, Roanoke District of the Virginia Conference celebrated the 87 years of combined ministry of Rev. Dr. Samuel E. Hayward, III, Presiding Elder and partner in life and Ministry, the Rev. Althea J. Hayward

With over 87 years of combined ministry, God has truly blessed the anointed Rev. Dr. Samuel E. Hayward, III, Presiding Elder of the Portsmouth, Richmond, Roanoke District of the Virginia Conference in the Second Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and his equally anointed and beautiful wife and partner in life and ministry, the Rev. Althea J. Hayward.

To express gratitude for their service to the Kingdom of God and the Districts they have served, the Portsmouth, Richmond, Roanoke District and to CELEBRATE and HONOR their 87 years of combined ministry, contributions and achievements, a Musical Tribute in Concert, featuring Rhema Praise, was held on Saturday, April 13 at 3 pm and a Celebratory Retirement Worship Service on Sunday, April 14, 2024, at 3 pm.  All events were hosted at Bethel AME Church, 2521 N. Armistead Street, Hampton, Virginia.

*The American Psychiatric Association announced its new CEO and Medical Director - Marketa Wills, M.D., M.B.A.

The American Psychiatric Association announced that starting June 1, 2024, its new CEO and Medical Director will be Marketa Wills, M.D., M.B.A. This life-long AME will become the eighth Medical Director in APA’s 180-year history and will be the first Black American and first woman to fill the role. Wills has decades of experience in driving innovation and promoting quality mental health care. The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the oldest medical association in the country. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with more than 38,000 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and research of mental illnesses. APA’s vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. Most recently, Dr. Wills served as the Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of John Hopkins Health Plans, had a clinical practice at University of South Florida Student Health Services in Tampa, Florida, sat on for profit and not-for profit boards, and served as the Chair of the Standards Committee of the National Committee for Quality Assurance. Earlier in her career, Dr. Wills was a member of the APA Board of Trustees as an APA SAMHSA Minority Fellow, she recently sat on the APA Future of Psychiatry Presidential Task Force and was a member APA’s Council on Health Care Systems and Finance. “As a longtime mental health advocate, I am honored to take the reins of the APA at this time in our history,” said Wills. “Given where we are, with the explosion of AI, innovation, and the changing landscape of technology, I look forward to working with APA’s membership and the administration to accelerate psychiatry into the future.” At John Hopkins Health Plans, Wills led a staff of 300 employees and had been instrumental in evaluating and implementing digital clinical tools for members to better manage their own health conditions. She has served in different leadership capacities in both health care plans and in academic settings and is board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. She is an alum of McKinsey & Company (Cleveland Office) where she consulted on various healthcare engagements and has also served on her local NAMI board and as a volunteer at her local Mental Health America affiliate. Dr. Wills has been named to Maryland’s Top 100 Women List by the Daily Record (2022), as a Woman of Influence by I-95 Business (2022), and Chair of the Medical Alumni Advisory Council at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (2022). In April 2024, Wills was inducted into the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine honor society (Alpha Omega Alpha). She also coauthored a book in 2019 entitled “Understanding Mental Illness.” Wills holds an M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of Business, and an A.B. from Brown University. She completed her training at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital/McLean Hospital Adult Psychiatry Residency Program. She hails from Dayton, Ohio, where she spent her formative years. She has been a devoted member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, having been brought up in the Third Episcopal District, under the guidance and care of her parents Mr. Charles Anthony Wills and the late Mrs. Jacqueline Wills, and her former Pastor and trusted family members the Reverend Dr. Earl and Dr. Jeanette Harris. While Dr. Wills has recently transitioned to Washington, D.C. in anticipation of her June 1 start date, for now, she continues to be a member of the Mt. Olive African Methodist Episcopal Church located in Tampa, Florida under the leadership of Rev. Gregory V. and Exhorter LaShunda Gay.


*Dr. Tony DeMarco Hansberry II Graduation from The Morehouse School of Medicine

Presiding Elder Tony & Mrs. Kathi Hansberry are proud to announce the graduation of their son, Tony DeMarco Hansberry II, from the Morehouse School of Medicine on May 18, 2024. Upon graduation, Dr. Hansberry II was commissioned as a Captain in the United States Army and will continue his post-graduate training (residency) in Psychiatry at Tripler Army Medical Center, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Tony’s interest in the profession of medicine began at the age of 14, while a student attending a medical magnet school in his hometown of Jacksonville.   His goal was simply to excel on his science fair project, which was titled  “A Comparison of Vertical Closure with an Endo StitchTM Laparoscopic Instrument And Horizontal Closure With Conventional Needle Driver, and The Effect on the Novice Surgeon’s Vaginal Cuff Suture Procedure Time.”   Little did he know that his efforts would garner national attention and become the catalyst to a future filled with many amazing opportunities to meet and interact with medical and other professionals near and far.   Armed with the desire to ultimately become a medical doctor, he obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry from the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (Tallahassee) and a Master’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Medicine from the University of South Florida (Tampa) prior to beginning his medical training at Morehouse in June 2020. 

As a “Pastor’s kid,” Tony was engaged in the ministries of the congregations where his father served: Greater Tanner Chapel AMEC and Arnett Chapel AMEC (Quincy, Fl.), Greater Payne AMEC and Greater Grant Memorial AMEC (Jacksonville).  While in college at FAMU, he and his twin brother, Tyler, became affiliate members of Bethel AMEC (Tallahassee), where their grandmother Janie L. Hansberry, (retired Radiologic Technologist) holds membership. 

As we celebrate Tony’s accomplishments, we thank each of you, our AME Connectional family, for your prayers and all other acts of kindness and support shown to Tony II and our family, throughout the years. “For I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Congratulatory responses can be emailed to:

(Presiding Elder Tony & Mrs. Kathi Hansberry)

*Congratulations to Rev. Dr. Marlon D. Ector who received the Doctor of Ministry Degree from Payne Theological Seminary

Congratulations to Rev. Dr. Marlon D. Ector who received the Doctor of Ministry Degree from Payne Theological Seminary on May 10, 2024.  His dissertation is entitled "A Model for Church Administration within the Black Church, Utilizing Biblical Principles.   Rev. Dr. Ector holds an Associate Bachelor, a Master’s Degree in business administration, and a Master's Degree in Computer and Information Systems. He is currently enrolled in a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program.  Rev. Dr. Ector is currently the pastor of Joseph Chapel AME Church in Chattanooga, TN, and the MCAM Director of the East Tennessee Annual Conference of the 13th Episcopal District. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., and the owner of the Black Collective, Inc., which focuses on helping to build black business brands, church administration and leadership training.

On behalf of Social Action Commission Chair, Bishop E. Anne Henning Byfield and  Dr. Jacquelyn DuPont-Walker, Director/ Consultant  Social Action Commission, we extend congratulations as you praise God for the Joy of these significant milestones reached.

God Bless!

Ora L. Easley