Best of Jackson 2019: People | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Best of Jackson 2019: People

Jeff Good

Jeff Good Photo by Stephen Wilson.

Best Hair Stylist; Best Salon: Molly Gee, Static A Salon


Photo courtesy Molly Gee

(219 Garden Park Drive, Suite 200A, Madison, 601-853-0054,

This year's winner for Best Hairstylist, Molly Gee, has been in the business since 2014. She owns this year's winner for Best Salon, Static A Salon, as well

When she first attended the Mississippi Institute of Aesthetics, Nails & Cosmetology, she focused on bridal hair styling, but while she was there, she says she found a passion for color and learning new techniques on how to perfect it.

She still loves to do bridal work as well.

"Going on site and to go through that process with people on their special day is really beautiful," Gee says.

She became the owner of Static A Salon in January 2017.

"We have such an amazing team. Everyone brings something important to the table and we love to work together to perfect a look," Gee says. "It's a great atmosphere to be apart of, getting to help someone change their outlook and brighten their day is so important to us."

The salon has services such as hair cuts for men, women and children; shampoo blowouts; hair extensions; brow tint; Brazilian blowouts; and more. For more 
information, find the business on Facebook. —Sarah Pollard

Best Hair Stylist

Finalists: Ashley Buckelew (Razor Sharp, 1645 W. Government St., Suite A, Brandon, 601-824-4009) / Hannah Roland (The Hair Lounge, 151 E. Metro Pkwy., Flowood, 601-896-3178) / Lindsey Branton (LIV the salon, 160 W. Government St., Brandon, 601-814-8731) / Maddison McLeod (Sage Salon & Color Bar, 120 District Blvd. E., Suite D104, 601-487-0368, / Tiffany Jacobs (Studio J Salon, 151 E. Metro Pkwy., Flowood, 601-212-9130)

Best Beauty Shop or Salon

Finalists: The Glossary Salon (109 E. Main St., Florence, 601-845-1111, / LIV the salon (160 W. Government St., Brandon, 601-814-8731) / Sage Salon & Color Bar (120 District Blvd. E., Suite D104, 601-487-0368, / Signature Hair Lounge (6969 Old Canton Road, Suite F1, Ridgeland; 662-436-1506; / Studio J Salon (151 E. Metro Pkwy., Flowood, 601-212-9130)

Best Dressed: Nikki Gallagher


Photo courtesy Lauren Blakeney

This year's winner for Best Dressed, Nikki Gallagher, has been dressing up for years. Her earliest memories start when she was in elementary school.

"I got tired of having to wear play clothes ,and I finally told my mom, 'Enough is enough, I want to wear all the party clothes for special occasions,'" she recalls.

Gallagher can always remember wanting to look special every day if she could, she says. She even remembers making up excuses to wear fun clothes. Her motto is that she would always be overdressed rather than under. When asked what she believes can change an outfit, she says, "a really interesting pair of shoes can transform any outfit and change something ordinary into something remarkable and memorable." —Sarah Pollard

Finalists: Eric Henderson / Erin Griffin / Lynsie Armstrong / Tiffany Jefferson

Best Barista: Cody Cox


Photo courtesy Brandon Smith

(Cups Espresso Cafe, 2757 Old Canton Road, 601-362-7422,

This year's winner for Best Barista, Cody Cox, has been in the coffee business for what will be 16 years in May.

The Holmes County native received a bachelor's degree in English from 
Mississippi College in 2001. His first barista job was at Gravity Coffee shop in Clinton during his college days. He began working at Cups Espresso Cafe in 2009 and became the general manager in 2011.

"I've always loved the atmosphere of coffee shops, not to mention I'm a coffee fanatic," he says. Ever since he started working in the industry, coffee became more than just a drink for him.

"I think it's very typical that a English major ended majoring in the coffee business," Cox jokes.

In October 2018, he stepped down as the GM to open his own bakery and coffee shop, Urban Foxes. He and his wife, Molly West, plan to open the business in Belhaven some time this year.

"I love the creativity and connectivity that coffee allows," he says.

For more information, find Urban Foxes on Instagram. —Armani T. Fryer

Finalists: Allison Othmani (1800 N. State St.; 4500 Interstate 55 N. Frontage Road, / Ben Ford (1800 N. State St.; 4500 Interstate 55 N. Frontage Road; / Joey Tannehill (Cups Espresso Cafe, St. Dominic Hospital, 969 Lakeland Drive, 601-366-0707, / Zach Stribling (Cups Espresso Cafe, 374 Ridge Way, Flowood, 601-992-2669,

Best Barber: Blake Stevens


(The Barbershop at Great Scott, 4400 Old Canton Road, Suite 101, 601-984-3500,

Blake Stevens, a second-generation 
barber has had a passion for cutting hair since childhood. His grandfather started the lineage, and Stevens followed in his footsteps. He currently works at The Barbershop at Great Scott, specializing in a variety of men's services, including hair cuts, and shaving 
and trimming.

In 2007, Stevens received a technical degree in barbering at Hinds Community College. He also served in the U.S. Marines, while cutting hair on the side. He left in 2008 to become a full-time barber.

"It's been in the family since I was a child, so it's all I spend my time doing, and I enjoy it," he says. "I like to mix traditional and old-school styles together, I guess that's what keeps me skilled and what keeps the customers coming. 
 "I focus literally all of my time in barbering, and that's how it has been what it seems like forever."

For more information, visit —Armani T. Fryer

Finalists: Brad Presley (Brad the Barber, 500 Highway 51, Suite W, Ridgeland, 601-906-2172) / Christian D. Favorite (HunterPhillips Salon, 151 E. Metro Pkwy., Suite 49, 601-519-1399) / Lanis Noble (Noble Barber, 1065 Highland Colony Pkwy., Suite F, Ridgeland, 601-856-6665, / Nic Puckett (The Barbershop at Great Scott, 4400 Old Canton Road, Suite 101, 601-984-3500,

Best Bartender: Jamie Moss


(Fenian's Pub, 901 E. Fortification St., 601-948-0055,

Jamie Moss, a 20-year vet in the bartending business, started bartending during his college days and never looked back.

At this point, the winner for Best Bartender has been a mainstay at Fenian's Pub for 10 years and says he hopes to retire as one of the best bartenders in Jackson. Moss is a multi-year winner in Best of Jackson. In the 2018 contest, he won Sexiest Male Bartender and Best Server/Waitperson.

Moss, a Hattiesburg native, moved to Jackson in 1997. In 1999, he stepped into the world of bartending at a chain restaurant in the city.

He says his favorite drinks to mix are an old fashioned and a Manhattan. —Armani T. Fryer

Finalists: Andrew Booth Luckett (WonderLust, 3911 Northview Drive, 337-378-9003, / Jenifer Simcox (Fondren Public, 2765 Old Canton Road, 769-216-2589) / Jon Michael Webster (Barrelhouse, 3009 N. State St., 769-216-3167, / Kevin Tiner (Fondren Public, 2765 Old Canton Road, 769-216-2589) / Kree' Blackwell (WonderLust, 3911 Northview Drive, 337-378-9003,

Best Chef: Nick Wallace


Photo courtesy Nick Wallace Culinary

(Nick Wallace Culinary, 601-919-6328,

For Best Chef winner Nick Wallace, "farm-to-table" is a concept that is close to his heart. He developed a love for cooking while working in the kitchen with his grandmothers, Queen Morris and Lennel Donald, on his family's farm 
near Edwards, Miss.

In 199, he received an associate degree in food and beverage management from Hinds Community College and joined BRAVO! Italian Restaurant & Bar in 2001. 
 Two years later, he became the first African American executive chef at the Jackson Marriott Hotel, where he worked until 2008. In 2013, Wallace moved to executive chef at the Mississippi Museum of Art's 
Palette Cafe, which is now La Brioche at the Museum.

He stepped down in 2017 to focus on his own business, Nick Wallace 
Culinary. NWC works to help local farmers become organic-certified, provides cooking demonstrations, caters for events and more.

"I wanted to work with local farmers more and have solid connection with the people who worked the farms producing the food and are responsible for what ends up on the table here in Mississippi," he told the Jackson Free Press in January.

In August 2018, Wallace launched "From My Hands to Your Kitchen," in which he cooks meals in a person's home kitchen.

For more information, visit —Dustin Cardon and Brinda Fuller Willis

Finalists: Alex Eaton (Aplos, 4500 Interstate 55 N. Frontage Road, Suite 174, 601-714-8989; The Manship Wood Fired Kitchen, 1200 N. State St., Suite 100, 
601-398-4562, / Dan Blumenthal (BRAVO! Italian Restaurant & Bar, 4500 Interstate 55 N. Frontage Road, 601-982-8111, / Derek Emerson (CAET Wine Bar, 3100 N. State St., Suite 102, 601-321-9169,; Local 463 Urban Kitchen, 1000 Highland Colony Pkwy., Suite 5002, 601-707-7684,; Walker's Drive In, 
3016 N. State St., 601-982-2633, / Jesse Houston (Fine & Dandy, 100 District Blvd. E., 601-202-5050,

Best Facialist/Esthetician: April Epps


Photo courtesy April Epps

(A. Renee Makeup Artistry, 601-850-7658)

The motto of this year's winner for Best Facialist/Esthetician, April Epps, is "pretty makeup starts off with great skin."

Epps had been a makeup artist for a long time, but in 2008, she decided that she wanted to be able to offer her clients the best of two worlds: makeup and skin care. She attended Mississippi Institute of Aesthetics, Nails & Cosmetology from 2006 to 2007 and then from 2012 to 2013.

She has been in this line of work for more than 15 years, and says she wants to help people take care of their skin. On having healthy skin, she says: "Cleansing, exfoliating and moisturizing are the most important steps to healthy skin," she says. —Sarah Pollard

Finalists: Cade Yates (The Face & Body Center Spa, 2550 Flowood Drive, Suite 100, / Jess King (Tracy Branch Agency, / Kristin Bomar (Cole Facial Clinic & Skin Care, 204 E. Layfair Drive, Flowood, / Sharon Ward (Body Anew Medical Spa, 1040 Gluckstadt Road, Suite B, Madison,

Makeup Artist: Christine Cody


Photo courtesy Christine Cody

(Makeup by Cody, 601-760-2776)

Christine Cody, this year's Best Makeup Artist, has been perfecting her craft since 2001. She has worked at many makeup counters and companies in the area, including M.A.C. at Belk in Flowood.

In 2016, she started her business, Makeup by Cody. She says she loves to stay updated on new trends with all age groups, but what gives her the most inspiration is her customer's reactions.

"It's easy to get burnt out on something when you do it for such a long time, but I'm passionate about the people, and it always rewards my soul to really please a customer," she says. —Sarah Pollard

Finalists: Hannah Roland (The Hair Lounge, 151 E. Metro Pkwy., Flowood, 601-896-3178) /
 Jess King (Tracy Branch Agency, / Kayla Jones (Tracy Branch Agency, / Olivia Preston (601-813-8887, Tracy Branch Agency,

Best Fitness Trainer: Paul Lacoste


Photo courtesy Paul Lacoste

(Paul Lacoste Sports, 601-398-0950,

Life has thrown just about every obstacle at Paul Lacoste: learning disability, family tragedy, cancer and the kind of West Nile Virus that kills 93 percent of patients. However, he doesn't let that stop him from his mission to "motivate and inspire Mississippians to live life to the fullest," he says.

He started Fit4Change a decade ago, encouraging people to make fitness a part of their daily lives. He does this with a 12-week intense boot camp that requires participants to make a financial buy-in—an accountability check they write, but get back if they complete all 12 weeks of training. This year he takes his mission statewide with partners at Families First for Mississippi and MDHS with boot camps in central Mississippi and Pascagoula. —Dawn Dugle

Finalists: Curt L. McAfee (KutFit Personal Training) / Hollye Henderson (CrossFit JXN, 1424 Old Square Road, 601-861-4244, / Misti Garner (Get Fit Studio, 
123 Old Fannin Road, Flowood, / Natascha Donald (G.I. Jan3 StudioX, 201 Ring Road, Suite 20, Ridgeland)

Best Local Business Owner: Dale Wilson


Photo courtesy Mannsdale Animal Clinic

(Mannsdale Animal Clinic, 488 Mannsdale Road, Madison, 601-499-5200,

Mannsdale Animal Clinic originated from a goal Dr. Dale Wilson had after working in the veterinary field for 11 years at Oakdale Vet Clinic in Brandon: "redefining the veterinary experience."

He started the clinic in May 2015.

Wilson wanted to not only include pet treatment, but treating pet owners well, too, so they would in turn treat their animals well.

"I realized early on that if I fix pets, I am really fixing their owners at the same time. I get this high almost from helping people," he says. "We send pictures and videos, letting them know their pet is doing OK, easing any anxieties or frustrations they may feel." —Mike McDonald

Finalists: Christopher Lockhart (Capital City Kayak, 571-322-6051, / Kayla Jones (Spray Tans by Kayla, 504 N. Bierdeman Road, Pearl, 769-972-1138) / Molly Gee (Static A Salon, 219 Garden Park Drive, Suite 200A, Madison, 601-853-0054, / Phillip Rollins/DJ Young Venom (Offbeat, 151 Wesley Ave., 601-376-9404, / Ron Chane (Swell-O-Phonic, 2906 N. State St., Suite 103, 601-981-3547,

Local Drag Performer: Mia Chambers


Photo courtesy Joshua Conerly

Mia Chambers, this year's winner for Best Drag Performer, has been in the industry for 16 years, helping transform Jackson's drag scene into something 
special. Mia's looks usually lean towards old Hollywood, like the always-classic Monroe with touches of Vegas show girl mixed in. Josh Conerly, who performs as Mia, has 
tattoos that also add to her overall aesthetic and juxtaposes her vintage glam look.

When asked what gets Conerly pumped up and ready to perform as Mia, he says: "My go-to is Michael Jackson, although I never perform him, but anything '80s dance puts me in a great mood." —Sarah Pollard

Finalists: Brooklyn Alexander / Ke'Charra Illuminati / London DuMore

Best Public Figure: Marshall Ramsey


Photo courtesy Marshall Ramsey

This year's winner for Best Public Figure, Marshall Ramsey, says the harder you work, the more likely you are going to have a job.

He works pretty hard, which is probably why he has so many jobs: political cartoonist, TV and radio show host, author, speaker and now editor-at-large for Mississippi Today, a Ridgeland-based news website. He began this chapter after 22 years at The Clarion-Ledger.

"When I started in Jackson, they told me I could make the job what I wanted, and I found out early on, if people knew who you were, they'd pay attention to (your work)," Ramsey says.

Cable networks paid attention when four of his cartoons went viral in 2018.

Even with all that, Marshall says, "getting out to meet people" face-to-face is his favorite part of the job. —Dawn Dugle

Finalists: Bridget Archer / Chokwe Antar Lumumba / Jeff Good / Mike Espy / Phil Bryant

Best Massage Therapist: Tiffany Melton


Tiffany Melton

(Massage by Tiffany, 4435 Mangum Drive, Suite B, Flowood, 601-317-1788)

Jackson native and this year's winner for Best Massage Therapist Tiffany Melton decided to go into the field after living with chronic back pain that massage ultimately helped relieve. At 15, she saw a massage therapist and says she felt a significant decrease right away, at which point she knew she had found her path.

She studied at Mississippi School of Therapeutic Massage and graduated in 2011. That same year, she took her state exam and the national Massage and Bodywork Licensing examination. She opened her business, Massage by Tiffany, inside Warehouse Gym & Massage in 2016.

Melton offers custom treatments based on her clients' needs, including therapeutic deep-tissue massage, relaxation massage, prenatal massage, energy work and reiki, a 
Japanese-based treatment based on balancing the body's energy channels and chakras. She offers treatments by appointment only Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 
5 p.m. and Saturday until noon.

"I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who supported me over the years," she says. "With all their continued support, I've felt blessed to be able to keep doing what I love." —Dustin Cardon

Finalists: Ashton Marie Carter (Tailored Massage Therapy, 157 W. Government St., Brandon, 601-906-3883) / Christopher Jordan (iRevive Bodyworks Massage & Spa, 1900 Dunbarton Drive, Suite C, 601-259-8918) / Lacey Green Clark (The Wellness Spa, 5419 Highway 25, Suite R, Flowood, 601-479-5392, / Matthew Haynes (Blue Skyz Still Waters Massage Therapy, 601-383-4747) / Morgan Harris Hollis (Body Anew Medical Spa, 1040 Gluckstadt Road, Suite B, Madison, 601-605-0452,

Best Nail Technician: Vivian Nguyen


Photo courtesy Vivian Nguyen

(Tips N Toes Day Spa, 121 Highway 80 E., Clinton, 601-925-0772)

Clinton resident and winner for Best Nail Technician Vivian Nguyen opened Tips n Toes Day Spa in 2006. Nguyen offers everything from microblading to eyebrow tattooing to pedicures to massages and facials, but she says her specialty is nail, eyebrow and eyelash care.

"I'm passionate about finding new trends when it comes to nail design and have so much fun with designs and embellishments," Nguyen says. "When people come here, they can expect professional levels of anything they want done to their nails or brows."

Nguyen became interested in eyebrow tattooing after her father, Du Nguyen, lost all his hair from chemotherapy in 2016. She began practicing the treatment as a way to give cancer patients a boost in confidence.

"When I saw how fast chemotherapy makes someone lose their hair, it touched my heart, and I knew I wanted to do something to help cancer 
patients," Nguyen says. —Dustin Cardon

Finalists: Kendra Reid (Spoiled Rotten at Suite 16 Nail Spa & Wax Bar, 151 E. Metro Pkwy., Flowood, 601-750-3654) / Kim Secrist (The Parlor Salon, 1042 Gluckstadt Road, Suite A, Madison, 601-624-5386) / Victoria Walker (Cuticles Nail Studio, 2947 Old Canton Road, 601-366-6999) / Youlanda Watkins (Top Attractions Salon, 2619 Courthouse Circle, Flowood, 769-251-1667)

Best Professor: Robert Luckett


Photo courtesy Robert Luckett

(Jackson State University, 1400 John R. Lynch St., 601-979-2121,

Robert Luckett Jr. is a civil-rights historian and champion—both by training and upbringing—after watching his parents fight for civil rights. His mother, Jeanne Luckett, worked for health-care access for women and children, and his father, Robert Luckett Sr., was the first white principal at Jim Hill High School after desegregation.

Luckett Jr. left Mississippi to attend college, but a job at Jackson State University brought him back 10 years ago.

Today, he's an associate professor who runs the Margaret Walker Center and the COFO Center on JSU's campus. He was one of six members of the scholarly team that reviewed documents for the Mississippi Civil Rights 
Museum. And in November 2017, Mayor 
Lumumba appointed him to the Jackson Public Schools Board of Trustees.

"Equitable access to quality education is our number-one civil-rights issue (in Mississippi)," Luckett Jr. says. "I love teaching, and because of what I teach, I get to do more (for my community)." —Dawn Dugle

Finalists: Andrew Mark Sauerwein (Belhaven University, 1500 Peachtree St., / D'Andra Orey (Jackson State University, 1400 John R. Lynch St., / Garrad Lee (Hinds Community College, 3925 Sunset Drive, / Paula Rodriguez (Hinds Community College, 608 Hinds Blvd., Raymond,

Best Real Estate Agent: Erica Johnson


Photo courtesy Erica Johnson

(Three Rivers Real Estate, 601-303-7653,

Lifelong Byram native and this year's Best Real Estate Agent Erica Johnson has been a Realtor with Three Rivers Real 
Estate in Flowood since early 2018 and has been part of the Jackson metro real estate community since 2013.

Johnson once worked as an office manager for Community First Real Estate. There, she says, she saw the excitement that Realtor Meshia Edwards brought to her buyers when getting ready to close on a sale and decided she wanted that experience for herself.

She is currently a member of the National Association of Realtors, the Mississippi Association of Realtors and Central Mississippi Realtors. CMS and Three Rivers recently named Johnson as a Million Dollar Producer, meaning she has sold more than $1 million worth of real estate. —Dustin Cardon

Finalists: Barbie Steverson (Crye-Leike Realtors, 601-825-1125, / 
Candy Whitehead (KeyTrust Properties, 601-259-0758, / Hayley Hayes (Overby Residential, 601-366-8511, / Kimberlee Haralson (Crye-Leike Realtors, 601-825-1125, / Lynsey Henry (Hopper Properties, 769-220-2967,

Best Photographer: Crystal Marie Thompson


Photo courtesy D'Artagnan Winford

(Crystal Marie Photography, 601-691-0487)

For Crystal Marie Thompson, this year's winner for Best Photographer, photography is an art that can give her clients memories that last for a lifetime. She established her photography business, Crystal 
Marie Photography, four years ago, and specializes in location shoots of families, newborns, weddings and senior portraits.

Thompson and her husband, Michael Thompson, have a blended family with eight children, which helps her in photographing other people's kids.

"Children are some of my favorite subjects to photograph. I am very comfortable with them," Thompson says.

On her business, she says: "For me, my connection to clients is personal. My business has grown more rapidly than I ever dreamed it could." —Jan M. Richardson

Finalists: Charlotte Stringer (601-209-7267, / Curt L. McAfee (242 Creative, 769-300-1582, / Melody Thompson (Melody Ellis Photography, 769-257-9449) / Sharon Coker (601-906-6630, / Tristan Duplichain (601-946-3708,

Best Server/Waitperson: Victoria Fortenberry


Photo courtesy JB Lawrence

(Fondren Public, 2765 Old Canton Road, 769-216-2589)

When Best Server/Waitperson Victoria Fortenberry began working at Fondren Public in 2018, she did not have to go very far. Before, she was a barista at Cups Espresso Cafe in Fondren. General Manager Brad Dreher would come in for coffee and talk to her about working at Fondren Public.

In 2018, she found herself in need of a change of scenery and went to work there. Fortenberry says it was an easy transition because she already knew many people who worked there, including her sister, Katie, who is 
a bartender.

One of her best tips for being successful as a server is to not take the job too seriously.

"I think I have more fun when I don't take it too seriously," she says. —Amber Helsel

Finalists: Alexandra Jaco (Walker's Drive In, 3016 N. State St., 601-982-2633, / Casey Hardigree (Walker's Drive In, 3016 N. State St., 601-982-2633, / Janis Boersma (Local 463 Urban Kitchen, 1000 Highland Colony Pkwy., Suite 5002, 601-707-7684, / Michelle Corban (Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano, 970 Highland Colony Pkwy., Ridgeland, 601-354-6600,

Sexiest Bartender: Kree' Blackwell


Photo courtesy Kree' Blackwell

(WonderLust, 3911 Northview Drive, 337-378-9003,

Sexiest Bartender Kree' Blackwell wasn't always a bartender at WonderLust. She started out working security to handle altercations between women in the club. 
After the venue got its liquor license, owner Jesse Pandolfo asked Blackwell if she wanted to be a bartender.

"She said, 'No offense to you. You do a great job working security for me ... but I just think you're too pretty to work in security whenever I have a bartending position available,'" Blackwell says of Pandolfo.

Blackwell has been bartending for about two years and says a secret to it is practicing patience and respect, and 
having a good attitude.

"A lot of people, they can come to you with an attitude, anything like that—it's a bar—and as long as you stay level eight times out of 10, they're going to be level as well," she says.

On winning Sexiest Bartender, Blackwell says: "I felt extremely flattered that people considered me that way, that considered me one of the sexiest bartenders, especially. ... I've only been working at (WonderLust) for two years or so," she says. —Amber Helsel

Finalists: Courtney Boykin (Ole Tavern on George Street, 416 George St., 601-960-2700, / Jamie Moss (Fenian's Pub, 901 E. Fortification St., 601-948-0055, / Jeremy Loving (Lou's Full-Serv, 904 E. Fortification St., Suite B, 601-487-6359) / Kevin Tiner (Fondren Public, 2765 Old Canton Road, 769-216-2589) / Michelle Corban (Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano, 970 Highland Colony Pkwy., Ridgeland, 601-354-6600,

Best Urban Warrior: Jeff Good


Jeff Good

Jeff Good is no stranger to the Best Urban Warrior category, as he has for won several years running. He has always maintained that he is serious about Jackson as a city, and he applies his mantra, "There is no them; there's only us. ... Them is we," not only to his quest to see change in the Jackson, but in one that he instills in his own children as well.

"I tell my children that if they want to see a change, it is up to them to make it happen, not to wait for others," he says.

This advice has served him well, as he has helped launch some of Jackson's most popular restaurants including Sal & Mookies New York Pizza & Ice Cream Joint, Broad Street Baking Company and BRAVO! Italian Restaurant & Bar. He also cofounded and is a managing partner of Soul City Hospitality, a social business enterprise focused on developing Mississippi's local food economy with projects like the Up in Farms Food Hub.

Good believes that "Jackson is small enough to work together for change and progress but large enough to make an impact," he says. —Shameka Hamilton-Knight

Finalists: Bridget Archer / David Lewis / Phillip Rollins / Ron Chane / Tonja Murphy

Best Teacher: Allison Dunaway


Photo courtesy Allison Dunaway

(Richland Elementary School,

We can all agree that teachers shape the world, and this year's winner for Best Teacher, Allison Dunaway, is no exception. She is in her second year at Richland Elementary School, where she teaches kindergarten, and in her 14th year in the field.

Dunaway grew up in a family of teachers and has always wanted a part in education. She received a bachelor's degree in education from The University of Southern Mississippi and a master's in the same subject from Alcorn State University.

She credits her many mentors who have helped mold her into the passionate teacher that she is today. Dunaway believes that students need a teacher who is in their corner.

"To watch a child truly grasp the concept of a lesson that I've taught and how excited they become in that moment of growth is contagious, and it makes whatever subject that I'm teaching joyful," she says. —Shameka Hamilton-Knight

Finalists: Amber Noel Skipper (Flowood Elementary School, / 
Bethany Frazier (Dana Road Elementary School, / Derrick Chapman (Murrah High School, / Harriett Eppes (Jackson Academy, / Jessica Pace Trawick (Florence Middle School, / 
Laura Clark (Bailey APAC Middle School,

Best Visual Artist: Wyatt Waters


Wyatt Waters


Even if you're not that plugged into the Jackson metro area's art scene, you've probably heard of Wyatt Waters or seen some of his watercolor paintings.

When Waters began taking art lessons early on in life, he was taught to create from life, and compares the practice to journalism.

"Working from life is a lot like getting as close to the source as possible," he says.

While studying art at Mississippi College, he began experimenting with mediums such as charcoal and pastel. Eventually, he started using watercolors and fell in love with the practice.

Waters has created work in Jackson and Mississippi, and has also worked in places such a Italy and France. He has collaborated on Mississippi-based chef Robert St. John on books such as "A Southern Palate," "Southern Seasons" and "An Italian Palate. For each of those books, St. John would create the recipes, and Waters would paint the scenery.

For more information, visit —Amber Helsel

Finalists: Eli Childers ( / Justin Ransburg (jransburg. / Michele Campbell / Scott Allen / William Goodman (william

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