About ZAMI NOBLA
Mary Anne Adams, MSW
Founding Executive Director
Mary Anne Adams, MSW, is Founder and Executive Director of ZAMI NOBLA-National Organization of Black Lesbians on Aging dedicated to building a national base of power for Black lesbians 40 + centering Service, Advocacy, and Community-Action Research. She has a Master’s Degree in Social Work with a concentration in Community Partnerships and over 25 years of work experience in public health, social work education, community engagement, capacity building, group facilitation, outreach and recruitment, planning, community organizing, and mobilization. Her interests are in investigating the social determinants of racial and sexual minority health inequities.
For the past 14 years, she worked at two major universities in Atlanta directing and managing NIH funded research related to the dynamics of transmission of HIV/AIDS and STIs. From 2007-2017, she served as Director of the Community Research Center at Georgia State University in the School of Public Health and Director of the Community Engagement Core in the Center of Excellence on Health Disparities Research (CoEx). Moreover, she served as the Principal Investigator overseeing a research project that examined the health care needs of aging Black lesbians.
Adams recently served as the community research investigator with Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health looking at Breast Cancer Screening and Care Among Black Sexual Minority Women. She is currently co-investigator on a national research project with the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill researching the needs and experiences of Black Lesbians and COVID-19. She is CEO of the Adams Research Group, and recently lectured part-time in the Graduate School of Social Work at Georgia State University.
In 2017 Adams was appointed as a Commissioner to the East Point, GA Public Housing Authority and currently serves as Chair of the Commission. She is a member of the Executive Advisory Board for BEAM whose mission is to remove the barriers that Black people experience getting access to or staying connected with emotional health care and healing. She is a Founding Member, of the Community Advisory Board, Community Outreach and Engagement, at Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University Woodruff Health Science Center, an Advisory Board Member at Emory University School of Nursing, with Equality in Caregiving- an intervention to facilitate caregiver mastery among LGB Caregivers of people living with dementia, and is an Advisory Board Member for The National LGBTQ+ Women’s Community Survey.
Angela Denise Davis, Creative Director
Angela Denise Davis, M.Div., M.S., is an ordained minister and a ukulele teacher. She is the founder of Uke Griot, a program that offers ukulele music instruction focusing on awakening musical skills, increasing social engagement, and fostering joy in making music. Angela’s ministerial work focuses on the fusion of art and spirituality enlarging the ground beneath our feet and enriching the ways we move in personal and social spaces. She is also the Creative Director of ZAMI NOBLA (National Organization of Black Lesbians on Aging) where she is the creator, host, and producer of the ZAMI NOBLA Podcast and directs the community music program, UKE-In.
Like so many adults, Angela took piano lessons for many years as a child and was involved in the middle school chorus but discontinued her music instruction after high school. She had a profound loss of vision in 2003 which caused her to rethink how to engage music. Angela ultimately discovered the ukulele in 2016, and it changed her life. She believes that almost anyone can learn to play the ukulele and reap a wealth of benefits from music instruction. Angela is especially interested in using music as a tool to help older adults reimagine aging.
Angela has been playing the ukulele for five years and started offering ukulele instruction in January 2019. Her work with the ukulele is focused within the domain of the African American classical and folk music tradition. In addition, she has a broad interest in using the ukulele as a conduit for meditation and healing. She merged her teaching studio, Uke Griot, with ZAMI NOBLA in May 2019 to create a community music program that was welcoming to everyone, with targeted outreach to the LGBTQ community.
During the summer of 2019, ZAMI NOBLA developed a weekly Ukulele June Jam in East Point, Georgia, partnering with the Southeast Community Cultural Center (better known as the Arts Xchange), open to anyone over the age of 18 with a desire to strum and hum. Out of that offering grew our Ukulele Griot Collective, a multi-racial, multi- generational group of queer women who practiced and played music weekly with the goal of playing for humanitarian benefits and aging facilities. Angela directs the ensemble.
She is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University where she earned a B.A. in Art. She also holds a Master of Divinity from Vanderbilt University Divinity School, and a Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling from Georgia State University.
She is a level 1 candidate in the James Hill Ukulele Initiative teacher certification program.
Brooke Smith-Perry has served on the Board of Directors of ZAMI NOBLA since 2015. She previously served first as a member and then as co-chair of the African American Lesbian Gay Alliance 1992-1994. She has worked to promote women in the arts as a board member of Estrofest Productions (2004-2006). She served as a curator for MondoHomo in 2012.
Brooke earned a B.A. from Yale University in 1991 and an M.Ed. from the University of Georgia in 2011. She is a committed lifelong learner and is currently honing her skills in developing apps for Android and playing the ukulele.
Brooke resides in the Atlanta metropolitan area with her partner and their child. She is an avid gardener and enjoys cycling and cooking.
Edith Biggers, M.D.
Dr. Edith Biggers is a public health physician in the HIV clinic at the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness. She delivers compassionate and state-of-the-art medical care to indigent, uninsured, underserved, and substance using HIV positive patients, with an emphasis on maximizing self-empowerment through education.
As an African American woman specializing in HIV care and treatment, her presence has an empowering effect on those the clinic serves. A well-respected and knowledgeable provider, she spent more than 10 years as a volunteer at AIDS Survival Project spending weekends and evenings talking directly with people living with HIV on how to improve their health by understanding their own health care needs. For her work with ASP, the Healthcare Georgia Foundation honored Dr. Biggers with a 2006 Community Service Award. She currently serves on the Scientific Advisory Board for The Black AIDS Foundation.
Dr. Biggers is a native of Atlanta and received her Medical Degree from Emory University, MA in library science from Atlanta University and BA in music education from Smith College.
Jocelyn Lyles, BA
Currently residing in Atlanta since 1978, Jocelyn is and employed with the Atlanta Police Department as a Senior Housing Demolition Officer, with the Community Services Division. She has dedicated the last eight years of her professional life to improving the quality of life for citizens by eliminating blight from the City of Atlanta. Educated at Howard University, she graduated in 1978 with a Bachelors degree in Psychology. Jocelyn earned her Real Estate Broker’s license and studied real estate appraisal under the Dekalb Board of Realtors and Barney Fletcher Schools. She began LGBT community outreach with Hospitality Atlanta from (1992 – 1995) providing a social outlet for lesbians in Atlanta. She enjoys gardening and fishing.
Chadra Pittman (Shay-Druh)
Although a native of the Bronx, New York, Chadra Pittman (Shay-Druh) considers herself a citizen of the world. Chadra is an Anthropologist, Social Justice, Anti-Rape & Human Rights Activist, Lecturer, Writer, Educator, Community Organizer, Emcee, Historical Reenactor, Performance Artist, Public Relations Strategist & proud mother of two amazing sons.
In 1995, Chadra earned a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology & was among the first class of students to graduate with a Minor in African American Studies from George Mason University. She worked at the world- renowned New York African Burial Ground Project, the oldest & largest known African burial grounds excavated in North America, as a Public Educator & Media Coordinator.
For nearly three decades, she has remained committed to education, ancestral & cultural work, community organizing & social justice/human rights advocacy. She is the Founder & Executive Director of The Sankofa Projects & 4 E.V.E.R. (End Violence End Rape) & is the Creator& Producer of Sankofa’s Annual International Day of REMEMBRANCE at Buckroe Beach. For the past 9 years, REMEMBRANCE continues to be the only Middle Passage ceremony in Coastal Virginia. She creates historical Remembrances & created a Remembrance ceremony template to be orchestrated in 175 countries. She serves on the Contraband Historical Society Commemoration, Downtown Hampton’s 2ndSaturday Art Festival, Hampton Heritage Day, President’s Council for Inclusion and Diversity for the Norfolk Botanical Garden, South East Care Coalition and is a volunteer with the Ambassador for Dining Out for Life to benefit AIDS research, COAT Drive for children in need, Canned Food Drive for Intimate Partner Violence Survivors, Hampton & Madison City Schools, and Sacred Animal Wildlife Rescue.
Janyce L. Jackson Jones
Janyce L. Jackson Jones served as Co-Pastor of Unity Fellowship Church located in Newark, NJ. UFC Newark, is a member of the non-denominational Unity Fellowship Church Movement, a Social Justice Ministry that seeks to minister to all people, regardless of race, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. Prior to Co-Pastoring at UFC Newark,
Reverend Jackson served for eight years as Pastor of Liberation in Truth Unity Fellowship Church for which she is a founding member. During her tenure as Pastor she also served as the Executive Director of the Liberation in Truth Social Justice Center. The Social Justice Center served as an arm to the social justice work of the church and provided programs and services that included support groups, meals, HIV/AIDS education and prevention services, LGBTIQ youth and young adult life basics classes and drop in center, mental health and other spiritual and social service programs.
Rev. Jackson Jones was an inaugural member and served as Vice Chair of the LGBTQ Advisory Commission of the City of Newark. She helped establish Newark’s first LGBTQ Community Center and was appointed the Executive Director and served in that capacity for 3 years.
Over the years Rev. Janyce has been recognized for her tireless efforts in the pursuit of social justice. She is the recipient of the 2006 Newark Pride Award, the 2011 Star of Essex County award from the Essex County Executive, and 2012 Community appreciation award for her work in community. She has also served on numerous boards of organizations including the GRIOT Circle in Brooklyn, NY, which seeks to support the aging members of the LGBTQ community, as well as the Newark School of Theology, the Pride Council of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and the LGBTQ Sub-committee of the Newark Youth Policy Board. She was also a member of the Mayor’s Clergy Affairs Board. Rev. Janyce now resides in Leland, North Carolina with her spouse Valerie Jones and their dog Buster. She continues to serve with the Unity Fellowship Church Movement’s National Agenda, and was consecrated as Elder in October 2018. She volunteers at the local senior center, serves on the boards of the Frank Harr Foundation, and SAGE Wilmington in Wilmington, North Carolina, and is active with the local NAACP.
Stahimili Paulette Mapp
Stahimili Paulette Mapp was born and raised in Harlem New York City and currently resides in Brooklyn.
She attended Fordham University where she majored in Natural Science and Black Literature. Continuing graduate studies at Fordham, she earned a MS degree in Cell Biology focusing on the electron microscopic investigation of arthropod gut cells.
She continued her education at teachers College at Columbia University where her research interests centered on tools/ strategies employed by successful learners/students of science.
As an Educator, Stahimili has spent her career as an educator, in service of students poorly served by Public schools in NYC where she taught Life Science and Earth Science.
As an Adjunct Professor she has taught biology, nutrition, genetics, Science and Human Values, botany and physics at various institutions including Fordham University, Mary Mount College, the College of New Rochelle and Mercy College.
She at one time managed the iconic Black Book Store, Nkiru Books, in Brooklyn New York.
In service to her community, Stahimili currently sits on the boards of ZAMI NOBLA and the LGBT Kwanzaa Community of NYC.
She is a member of the Steering Committee for Black Writers Conference at Medgar Evers College CUNY University, and the Out FM Collective, WBAI, Pacifica Radio in NYC.
– Audre Lorde
Find a list of resources to learn more about Audre Lorde, LGBTQ organizations, and find support for dealing with breast cancer.