Manasota ASALH Officers 2015-2016



Dr. James B. Stewart


A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Dr. James Stewart is a Professor Emeritus at Penn State University where he also held the positions of Vice Provost for Educational Equity and Director of the Black Studies Program. A past President of the National Economic Association, the National Council for Black Studies (NCBS), and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, he remains active in these organizations. Jim advises the Pittsburgh public schools regarding educational equity initiatives, and serves as President of Indaba Planning Consultants, which provides specialized strategic planning services for African American organizations. Jim and his wife, Dr. Caryl Sheffield, moved from Pittsburgh to Sarasota in 2015. They are the proud parents of four adult daughters, Talibah, Chavonna, Lorin, and Jaliya. Four grandsons and one grand daughter are the great delight of their lives, and Jim and Caryl relish the regular visits from members of the Sheffield-Stewart clan. In his spare time Jim enjoys playing Racquetball several days a week. He is also an avid card player and takes advantage of every opportunity to revel in his favorite games, Bid Whist and Bridge.


Ms. Margie N. Lee

1st Vice President

Margie N. Lee, a resident of Sarasota, Florida for over 12 years, formerly lived in Reston, Virginia and Chicago, Illinois. She has an ardent drive to help others through volunteerism on national and local levels. A few of her favorite organizations are: Co-founder of the Chicago Chapter of The Society, Inc., a national organization promoting the arts for youth; The Links, Inc.; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; Philanthropic Educational Organization, a national organization promoting educational opportunities for women; Advisory Board Member, Any Given Child, promoting education through the arts; former Board Member, Van Wezel Foundation for the Arts; Board Member, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe. She is a dedicated member of Manasota ASALH having served for two years as Chair of the Scholarship Committee. She retired as Area Director from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Social Security Administration where she was responsible for office operations in all the mid-Western states. After retiring, she founded and operated a social service agency which still operates as a residential facility for disadvantaged youngsters in Chicago. She is widowed with two sons, seven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.


Ms. Ellen Marie Heath

2nd Vice President

Mrs. Ellen Marie Heath, a Lifetime Member of ASALH, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and is the middle child of two other siblings. Mrs. Heath graduated from Wilmington College in 1975 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and earned her Master’s Degree in Education in 1990 from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She taught for 29 years, mostly 2nd grade, in Cincinnati, Ohio and taught for a year in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She also played competitive tennis for 30 years and was a Charter Member of The National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, Epsilon Xi Chapter of Forest Park which was committed to developing and enriching the lives of African American Youth. Ellen married the love of her life, Samuel Heath, in 1982. Mrs. Heath retired in 2005 when she and Samuel moved to Sarasota where she teaches Mah Jongg and Bible Study, and is a sub-teacher for a Line Dancing class. Ellen was honored to be the caregiver for her mother for ten years here in Sarasota. She is a dedicated member of the Friends of the North Sarasota Public Library, a Charter Member of the Suncoast Women of Action, and an active member of Bethlehem Bible Church.


Mrs. Diane F. Allen

Recording Secretary

Diane F. Allen, a native of Brooklyn, NY began teaching in Harlem after graduating from Fisk University. She and her husband Lewis raised their three children in Rochester, NY. Diane taught in a suburban school district where she led minority students in community service activities. After retirement, she continued her volunteer work with a homeless shelter and as a mentor to single mothers. Diane is a 50+ year active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Diane and Lewis spend their winters in Sarasota where she continues to give back to others. Diane enjoys spending time with her grandsons, swimming and playing Mah Jongg.


Ms. Kae Watkins

Corresponding Secretary

Kae was born and raised in Minnesota. She attended Macalester College in St. Paul and graduated from St. Barnabas Hospital School of Nursing in Minneapolis. As an RN, she worked primarily in the operating room as well as office nursing and as the Embassy nurse at the U.S. Embassy in Morocco. Her marriage to a Marine officer led to residences across the U.S. and in north Africa. Kae retired to Florida 20 years ago and has been a remedial reading volunteer at Ashton Elementary, was active at St. Wilfred Episcopal Church and now at Church of the Redeemer. She volunteers at Thrift House in Sarasota and enjoys duplicate bridge and life with her husband, Bill. Between them they have three daughters, two sons and ten grandchildren.


Mrs. Doris Howard

Financial Secretary

Mrs. Howard is a retired Clinical Social Worker with an MSW from Howard University. She is married to Kenneth Howard and they have two adult children and one grandchild. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, National Council of Negro Women, the NAACP, Leadership Montgomery, Maryland, and the Bethlehem Baptist Church. A seasonal Sarasota resident, she also resides in Silver Spring, Maryland. Her hobbies include travel, reading, games, exercise, the arts, and Bible study.



Mrs. Lois Lipscomb-Risacher


A native of Indianapolis Indiana, Mrs. Lipscomb-Risacher relocated to Sarasota Florida in 2012. She attended Indiana Business College/Harrison College, was employed with United Parcel Service for 31 years and retired in 2005. She is a member of Bethlehem Bible Church, where she is an usher and greeter. In addition to her work with Manasota ASALH, Lois is also a member of the Masala Giving Circle, volunteers for the West Coast Black Theatre Troupe and very active within her residential community. Lois is married to Martin Risacher, she has 3 daughters and 3 granddaughters. Lois enjoys traveling, sewing and golfing.


Dr. Lonnetta M. Gaines


Dr. Lonnetta M. Gaines, a retired New York City educator, taught and advised graduate students at the Bank Street College of Education, consulted with principals and their teams nationally and internationally under the leadership of Dr. Lorraine Monroe, and counseled and taught freshmen at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. She cofounded The Learning House, a community pre-school in Atlanta, Georgia and Education Arts, Inc. in Louisville, Kentucky. In NYC, she performed in the professional dance companies of Eleo Pomare, Dianne McIntyre, and George Faison. In Sarasota, she worked as Artist-in-Residence at the North Sarasota Library, and has performed as actor at the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe and the Florida Studio Theatre. A member of the Unity Church of Sarasota and the Lambda Omicron Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Lonnetta is the author of Fia and the Butterfly: 7 Stories for Character Education, a book for children of all ages.


Ms. Jacqueline Young

Board Member at Large

Jacqueline Young, originally from Brooklyn, relocated to Sarasota in 2005 as a seasonal resident and then in 2010 as a permanent resident. She is a retired New York City educator who has worked in the public schools as a teacher, staff developer, and administrator. In addition to serving as a member of the ASALH executive board, she has been a member of ASALH for ten years. Jackie has traveled extensively throughout the world. She is an experienced quilter and has mentored to numerous emerging quilters. She loves to read and is a member of the Sarasota Zora Neale Hurston Reading Group.


Mr. Henry Blyden

Board Member at Large

Henry Blyden hails from the US and British Virgin Islands. He retired from the US Army after 21 years of service. He is the father of three and grandfather of six. Henry has been a pillar of influence to youth of this community for almost 40 years through his work, volunteerism, leadership and affiliation through organizations such as ASALH, Kappa Alpha Psi, Gamma Psi Boule, Humanity Working to End Genocide, NAACP and many others. He is one of the veterans featured in Manasota ASALH’s documentary film, “Veterans of Color.”