Sat, Sep 11, 2021

8 AM – 2 PM CDT (GMT-5)

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Finnigan Park Community Center

4900 Providence Street, Houston, TEXAS 77020, United States

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GatorServe is a UHD tradition that brings together UHD students, staff, faculty, friends, families and community partners to complete projects in service of our neighbors. GatorServe is held on both Martin Luther King Jr. Day and September 11th as they are National Days of Service.

The goal of this event is to assist with the revitalization efforts at Historic Evergreen Negro Cemetery.

File Attachments: GatorServe_Agenda_FL21, Program_Guide, Book_Donation_Drive_4_1


Finnigan Park Community Center

4900 Providence Street, Houston, TEXAS 77020, United States


Dr. Loren J. Blanchard's profile photo

Dr. Loren J. Blanchard


University of Houston-Downtown

Loren J. Blanchard joined the University of Houston-Downtown as its seventh president on March 15, 2021. During his tenure at UHD, Dr. Blanchard has launched the 2022-2027 Strategic Plan: A New Paradigm with Student Success as the University’s number one priority. Since the implementation of that plan, UHD has made progress toward multiple interrelated goals through organizational changes that ensure systematic first-year support, strategic and ongoing academic advising, and provisions to meet students’ basic needs.

Under Dr. Blanchard’s leadership, the University has received more than $30 million in awards from public and private funders who support its vision, recognize its progress, and believe in its potential. U.S. News ranked UHD among Top Performers on Social Mobility and awarded the University a No. 1 ranking as the most diverse institution of higher education in the southern region of the United States. He leads with a commitment to the civic and moral imperatives that a higher education must prepare students with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to address the critical needs of their communities and the most pressing concerns of our nation.

A first-generation college graduate, Dr. Blanchard holds a bachelor's degree in Speech Pathology Education from Xavier University of Louisiana, a master's degree in Education from McNeese State University, and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Georgia.

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Rodney Ellis


Harris County, Precinct One

The proud son of a yardman and a maid, Ellis attended Texas public schools from grade school through law school. He holds a bachelor's degree from Texas Southern University, a master's degree from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, and a law degree from the University Of Texas School Of Law.

As Commissioner of Harris County Precinct One, Ellis has played a critical role on the Court by securing misdemeanor bail reform, flood equity guidelines, stronger worker protections and economic opportunity provisions, funding for indigent defense and COVID-19 recovery funding, including direct relief for residents, small businesses, emergency rental assistance, shelters for those experiencing homelessness, as well as other innovative programs, including providing computers to low-income students, among other achievements.

Before serving as a County Commissioner, Ellis was elected to Houston City Council and served three terms before being elected to the Texas Senate in 1990. For 26 years, he represented Texas' 13th state senate district and he passed over 700 pieces of legislation. On November 8, 2016, Ellis was elected county commissioner and sworn into office on January 1, 2017. 

As County Commissioner, Ellis prioritizes inclusive economic growth that uplifts low income communities, ensures access to parks and green-space in under-served neighborhoods, advances criminal justice reform that protects the rights of all people, and provides safe, affordable transportation options. Following Hurricane Harvey, Ellis successfully advocated for equitable investment in flood control infrastructure and disaster recovery in vulnerable communities through a $2.5B bond approved by voters in 2018.

He is an avid art collector and cycling enthusiast. Commissioner Ellis is married to Licia Green-Ellis and has four children.

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Dr. Donald Williams

First Sergeant

First Sergeant Donald Williams is from Houston, Texas and raised in Harrisburg.  He is a retired US Army First Sergeant with over 28 years of active duty service.  He is a combat veteran of four different wars, and 7 combat tours in all.  Those wars being the build up to Panama, the first Gulf war, and multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan with 1 tour in Qatar. He also guarded the detainees in Guantanamo Bay Cuba.  He served as an Infantryman, a Master Gunner on the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, Master fitness, and a Drill Sergeant.

His civilian education takes him from being a high school dropout from Milby, earned his G. E. D. at the age of 23, an Associates and Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Troy University, a Master of Science in Criminal Justice and a Graduate certificate in Project Management with honors for a 4.0 GPA from Columbia Southern University, and he is currently working on the last chapter of a PhD at Walden University.

He is considered highly decorated for both peace time and combat.  His major military awards and decorations include 12 Army Achievement Medals, a Joint Army Service Medal, 7 Army Commendation Medals, 6 Meritorious Service Medals, a Defense Meritorious Service Medal and a Legion of Merit.  He has an Air Assault Badge, Expert Infantry Badge, Drill Sergeant Badge and 8 different combat patches. He has also won over 100 power lifting and fitness awards up to a State record in bench press from the state of Louisiana, and numerous volunteer awards.

He is a decorated speaker; most notable for giving countless Dr. King’s reenactments and Black History speeches, speaking at funerals, weddings, high school graduations, and Poetry.

His hobbies are weightlifting, writing, poetry, speaking, wood working, and working on anything mechanical.

He is a Texas Historian who has so far explored over half of the great state of Texas. He currently volunteers to maintain 3 historical cemeteries. In addition, he travels to personally clean the gravesite of the Hogg family, mainly for Ms. Ima Hogg in Austin, Texas.

As a student at Milby from 1980 to 1983 he had perfect attendance the entire time, was #82 on the football team, won 2nd place in district in Pole Vaulting and was considered the strongest person at Milby all three years. When he was a student at Deady, he trained his first cousin the late Anthony Clark, who became the strongest teenager in the world and former strongest man in the world.

He has three daughters ages 40, 37 and 30. He also has 7 grandchildren.  

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Lisa Jedkins

Chief Operating Officer

Why Not Legacy Group, LLC

Lisa Jedkins is the CEO of Why Not Legacy Group, LLC.  She has a community base insurance service firm that is dedicated to serving the distinct needs of a variety of clients. Her firm cater to individuals, families, and businesses, providing each with highly tailored services, designed to meet their unique needs.  She is a “CERTIFIED RETIREMENT FINANCIAL ADVISOR” (CRFA) dedicated to helping her clients and the community at large understand the crisis happening in America. The challenges, because of the American financial crisis are as follows; The Age Wave, Pension Plunge, Social In-Security, Inflation, and Health Care. She Teaches the principals of wealth distribution, wealth preservation, wealth accumulation, and asset protection (as Insurance Adviser). Her practice is focused on educating the consumer on the importance of planning for living as well as planning for their legacy and how to retire with financial dignity.

Lisa Jedkins is an advocate/philanthropist that believes in keeping African American history alive through the education of historic African American cemeteries.  For 20+ years she has been project manager and volunteer coordinator to assist Project RESPECT with multiple cemetery restoration projects in the Houston and surrounding areas. I have also assisted with managing community service projects, as well. She has amassed a network of resources and key partnerships with individuals dedicated to sharing African American culture and history by telling the story of our ancestors. She believes in the power of the term "Sankofa", understanding that we must know who we are and where we have been to know where we are going.


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