Von Jennings: Alexandria needs effective leadership to move forward

By Sherri L. Jackson
The Light/EverythingCenla

It’s no secret that Von Jennings is seeking to take Mayor Jacques Roy’s seat in October.

And she said she plans to do so by proving that she has the necessary leadership skills to get the job done.

“We need effective leadership that listens to the will of the people,” Jennings told The Light in a one-on-one interview. “The city needs leaders who will develop plans of action and follow through with input from residents. Many have the technical skills to do the job, but lacks leadership skills needed to move the city forward.”

“A good leader has goals to accomplish, and the behavior is based on those goals,” she said.

Though mulling over the decision whether or not to seek the city’s highest office since November 2009, after careful consideration and several conversations with community and business organizations, Jennings officially made her intentions known Tuesday, March 30, when she opened her campaign headquarters at 1012 Third St., across from Alexandria City Hall.

About 40 people attended the event to hear Jennings’ announcement. She is the first to officially announce candidacy.

Jennings said she hopes to bring to her native city the type of leadership she believes is lacking in Alexandria City Hall.

“We need leadership that is open to collaboration with others. I’m positive we can do a better job,” she said. “I have the ability to partner, to collaborate and the willingness to listen the move on and to develop plans of action that can be implemented.”

Jennings worked as an assistant to Mayor Jacques Roy in charge of the city’s AFEAT, which stands for Alexandria Fairness, Equality, Accessibility and Teamwork, a business program which was designed to bring in help minority and emerging business do business with the city. She was terminated in January 2009.

Jennings is a 1991 graduate of Peabody Magnet High School. She has bachelor’s degrees in political science and public administration from Grambling State University and a master’s degree in public administration from Southern University. Currently, she is pursuing a doctorate in public policy.

“I want everyone to appreciate that I am a candidate who will represent all of the citizens of Alexandria. I am willing to work with everyone. We have to understand that there are more issues that we have in common than those that are different,” she said.”

Jennings said she sees the city’s priorities as conservative financial planning, aggressive

economic development, work force development, youth development, drainage and flooding,

affordable utilities and infrastructure projects that will promote economic viability.

“The immediate needs are to have definite financial plans. The city is looking at a deficit. We need more revenue streams,” she said.

Meanwhile, Jennings said the city in its current state needs her leadership skills, which along with experience, make her the “excellent choice” to be the city’s leader.

“Much of my experience and skills are directly tied to those serving as mayor of any leader in a corporation,” she said.

Jennings said as she operates a grassroots campaign she looks forward to meeting all citizens “at their door.”

Peabody 2008 Homecoming

Here are the first of many sets of photos that I will post from the 2008 Peabody Magnet High School Alumni Homecoming festivities held Saturday, Sept. 27.

Photos were taken by Al Cotton of Alexandria.

Alexandria (La.) mayor and council fighting again

Read how the Alexandria City Council is giving the mayor hell about his hiring practices. Go to Page 3.

Aug. 15, 2008, Pages 1-8

Aug. 15, 2008, Pages 9-16

Young drummers

About 25 youth, ages 6 to 17, are participating in a five-day percussionist camp that teaches everything from discipline to cadence.

The camp, HEROES Arts Camp, is an intense week of learning and fun activities designed to to give students the skills to discover and/or enhance their art skills.

HEROES is a nonprofit organization based in Columbia, La. The camp is being held at the Wesley Center, south of Alexandria, LA.

Right person + right position = success

Lately, it seems that I’ve been talking and thinking a whole lot about the importance of knowing the place where you’re likely to make the most positive impact.

Many people are frustrated because they are in the wrong position at church, work and yes, even, school. That frustration has to do with the person’s temperament not matching the task as assigned. Your temperament, not to be confused with your personality, is the “combination of mental, physical, and emotional traits of a person; natural predisposition,” according to http://www.dictionary.com. In other words, it’s your internal makeup that makes you more suited for one thing over another.


Here’s a prime example:

As the oldest grandchild of my now 92-year-old grandmother, Viola, she determined that I would be the teacher she wished she could have become. For Ms. Viola, a teacher was the top profession for  women. She wanted to go to school, but her father thought his girls would make better homemakers, forcing Ms. Viola to miss out on being the successful teacher I know she would have been.

I know this because it was Ms. Viola who prepared her grandchildren for a successful education. When we arrived for kindergarten, we were actually ready for first grade

Ms. Viola never lost her quest to have a teacher in the family. When my mother took an alternate route in the nursing field, Ms. Viola began to groom me to be her teacher. For a long time, I too thought I would be a teacher. That is until I began to see that there were other opportunities for women, unlike in Ms. Viola’s day.

After taking several assessments that gauge your aptitude and temperament, I quickly realized I wanted and needed to do something else. Much to Ms. Viola’s dismay, I no longer wanted to be a teacher. I wanted to be a news reporter.

A journalist, that’s what I wanted to be. It matches my temperament, which suggests that I’m more inclined to be bored and restless with jobs that are routine and structured. I’m better suited for a career that allows me independence and freedom

 In other words, I don’t like doing the same thing, the same way the same time every day. Yes, that pretty much sums up my three years as a public school teacher.

NOW LET’S BE CLEAR. I have the utmost respect for teachers who are the only people who can truthfully say they impact all other careers. However, my natural makeup doesn’t allow me to be in one place for too many hours in the day. Being in the news business allows me to be the best me I can be. No day is the same. That would be frustrating for people who do their best work in a structured environment.               

Take Cheronda Cooper for example. Cheronda is a teacher a Peabody Magnet High School. Her dedication and passion for the profession recently brought her the Milken Educator Award, which is no small feat. The award comes with big prizes and big national recognition. That would not have happened if Cheronda had been in the wrong position.

Like me, Cheronda tried to do something else before getting to the classroom. Like me, she realized she was in the wrong position. Like me, she’s now in the right position and doing well.

Are you the right person in the right position at the right time? If not, I know you are totally frustrated. If you are, good for you.

Oh, I almost forgot. Ms. Viola does have several educators in the family. My brother, Kevin, is an assistant principal at Horlick High School in Racine, Wis; my cousin Matthew, is a math teacher in the Atlanta area; and my aunt (in-law) is a principal in the Denver area. Guess what? They love every minute of it, and I love every minute of having a crazy, unpredictable day.

Peabody Homecoming, Elections, Jena Six and more, in The Light, Sept. 15


Peabody Warhorses, Where Ya’ll At?

Baton Rouge attorney Ingrid Johnson, a Peabody graduate, is looking for all you Warhorses to meet her at the school’s Homecoming set for Sept. 22. From what I’m told this event promises to be big, big, big.

Not only will you have fun, but it’s an opportunity for you to give back to the school that has given so much to you. It’s my understanding that Peabody has produced some people who are making positive contributions to their communities and who are blessed financially. If you are one of them, come prepared to make a sizable donation to the school.

If you can’t make a sizable donations, visit the Warhorse Tailgate Association’s booth and purchase food and school paraphanelia. All proceeds will benefit the school.

Though I’m not a Warhorse, it’s not hard to sense the pride that you have for the school. There’s just something about going to a predominately black school. When it’s reunion time, you know how to party and have a good time.

If you are a Warhorse, show your pride by wishing the football team well on Homecomign Day. Give your school and graduating class a shout out.

As usual, if you haven’t seen the latest issue of The Light, here’s a copy. the_light_sept15.pdf