People – March 2009

Michael J. Garner Michael J. Garner was appointed chief diversity officer for the Metropolitan Transit Authority. He will be responsible for the development and expansion of minority, women and disadvantaged business enterprise programs; MWBE/DBE Contract Integrity Monitoring functions; Title VI and Equal Employment Opportunity responsibilities; and other existing activities and functions of the Office of Civil Rights. Garner previously was senior director of business development at the New York City School Construction Authority, where he developed and implemented one of the most comprehensive small-business development and inclusion programs in the nation. He implemented a graduate mentor program; a surety bonding program providing between $25 ? $30 million in bonding per year; and an extensive business-development, information-technology and contractor-training program. Before his 15-year career at the SCA, he worked at the New York City Housing Authority, dealing with certification of firms, monitoring for contract compliance and procurement. Garner has a bachelor?s degree in business management from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Nolan JonesNolan Jones was named vice president, controller, for Hyperion Bank, a community bank in Philadelphia.? Jones, a graduate of Howard University, has been responsible for controller and accounting functions at several financial institutions in the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York markets, including Public Savings Bank, Ponce De Leon Federal Bank and United Trust Bank. Jones previously was president and CEO of NDJ Associates, an accounting consulting firm he founded in the greater Philadelphia area. Hyperion Bank is the first community bank to locate in the urban part of Philadelphia in more than 20 years.


Thomas Jones, a partner in McConnell Jones Lanier & Murphy L.L.P., was chosen to lead the Greater Houston Partnership?s Minority Task Force. The Greater Houston Partnership, which traces its roots back to Houston?s original Chamber of Commerce founded in 1840, focuses on building regional economic prosperity. The partnership facilitates relocations and expansions in the Houston area; international outreach initiatives such as business-development missions outside the U.S. and receiving foreign-trade delegations; and strategic planning. Jones, a founding partner in Texas? largest African American-owned accounting and consulting practices, has firsthand experience in growing a minority-owned business in Houston. As the leader of the special task force, he will? spearhead several major initiatives, including increasing the visibility of Houston?s diversity to international businesses.

Shanel Odum was hired as editor-in-chief of Honey magazine, following her tenure at VIBE magazine from 2005 through 2008. She will oversee Honey?s content and will be responsible for building the Honey brand and providing a voice for Honey?s multicultural demographic. In addition, she will work to connect individuals who visit the Web site to the online social network at At VIBE, she served as associate music editor and as entertainment and online editor of VIBE Vixen magazine, a female-oriented spin-off. Prior to her years with VIBE, Odum was a contributing editor for Upscale magazine, a contributing writer for Fierce magazine, based in Atlanta, and a staff reporter for The Philadelphia Tribune newspaper.

Robert C. Newton was named national advertising director at American Legacy magazine. For the past eight years, Newton worked in new-business development for American Legacy. His career in publishing began at The New Yorker magazine, where he worked in many positions, including account executive, financial category manager and the Eastern territory manager. After The New Yorker, Newton worked at Rodale Press as associate publisher of Heart & Soul magazine, a health and fitness magazine for African-American women, heading a multistate sales, marketing and business-development operation. Upon the purchase of Heart & Soul by Black Entertainment Television, in the late 1990s, Newton joined the BET Publishing Group as director of advertising for Emerge magazine.??

Yolette C RossYolette C. Ross was appointed the first African-American State Parole Board chairman in New Jersey, making her the country?s fourth African-American woman state parole chair. Ross began her career in law enforcement as a probation officer and eventually served as a deputy chief of staff to Gov. Richard J. Codey. She has been a state parole board member since December 2005. Ross became acting chairman upon the retirement of her predecessor, Peter J. Barnes Jr. She began serving as the agency?s vice chairman in May 2007 and has emerged as a leader in the development of innovative gender-based reentry programs. Ross graduated from William Patterson College in 1979, served as a Salem County probation officer from 1980 to 1984, then as an investigator for the State Division of Gaming Enforcement. In 1999, she earned a Master of Arts in public relations from Rowan University.