The Community Fun and Fitness Relays (CFFR) Steering Committee

Learn about the organizers of this event

Marian Appiah-Kubi
CFFR Co-Originator
SIUC Saluki Track alumna

Marian Appiah-Kubi is a native of Ghana, West Africa, who grew up in Obo-Kwahu. A Canadian national and Carbondale “transplant,” she is an SIUC alumna (Class of ’02, ’04, ’06) who ran the 400-meters on a track scholarship under coaches Don DeNoon and Connie Price-Smith, among others, during her five-year tenure on the Saluki Women’s Track team. She earned Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Communication Disorders and Sciences and a Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics from SIUC. Marian was the winner of the 1998 SIUC Alpha Phi Alpha Miss Eboness Pageant and the Midwest States’ Regional Miss Black and Gold Pageant, as well as the Miss Congeniality award at the ensuing National Miss Black and Gold Pageant in Dallas, Texas. A Saluki Scholar who served a term as president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Board, she represented SIUC at the NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership Conference in 2001 and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Minority Student Leadership Program in 2003. She is a member of her church’s music ministry and was an active part of the Newman Catholic Student Center for 15 years, singing in the choir there as well as with The Belletones, a small, local a cappella doo-wop group. A sports, fitness, and performing arts enthusiast, she is employed in speech-language pathology.  Marian co-originated the CFFR with Kathy Jones and is a passionate believer in the transformative power of literacy and education. She is thrilled to serve on the CFFR Steering Committee to help offer this unique opportunity for active fun and competition while improving the quality of life for children in her native and adopted homes!

Kathy Jones
CFFR Co-Originator
SIU Saluki Athletics
Senior Associate Athletic Director

Kathy Jones is in her 18th year at SIU. She supervises four of the Olympic sports programs and is the department’s point person for monitoring student-athlete well-being. She oversees compliance and the student services areas, including academic advising, athletic training and strength, and conditioning. Jones heads up departmental efforts on diversity and gender equity issues. She has been heavily involved on the SIU campus and nationally during her tenure, serving on numerous committees including the Administrative/Professional (A/P) Staff Council since 2011 and chairing the Council for three years. She represented the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) for six years on the NCAA Division I Leadership Council and the NCAA Management Council. She has served as an adjunct SIU faculty member, teaching courses in the Department of Kinesiology and the School of Law. Jones is a Saluki alum, graduating with a Masters in Higher Education – College Student Personnel from SIU in 1977 and from William Mitchell College of Law in 1984. She is one of the co-originators of the CFFR and is looking forward to a successful inaugural relay event!

Erin Dickson
Carbondale Park District Recreation Coordinator

Toyin Fox
John A Logan College
Director of Diversity and Inclusion

Toyin Fox lives in Carbondale. She is a naturalized Yoruba-American, born and raised in Nigeria. She currently serves as the Director of Diversity and Inclusion, developing and coordinating events and programs on diversity and inclusion, at John A. Logan College. She has worked in higher education for over twenty years.

Toyin has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Master of Arts degree in Linguistics (Teaching English as a second language). Previously, she worked in high school as a teacher of English and Yoruba in Nigeria; in the U.S she was a legal advocate for the victims of domestic violence and rape at the Women’s Center and worked as an academic advisor at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale before she joined John A. Logan College.

In her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading, listening to music and cooking. She is interested in global learning, cultural awareness, peace initiatives, youth and student leadership development. Her experiences both here and abroad have required her to interact with people of many different cultures and backgrounds, including people in areas that are experiencing academic and economic opportunity deprivation. This is the reason why Toyin is honored to serve on the Community Fun and Fitness Relays (CFFR) Steering Committee and strongly supports its cause. She also volunteers as a board member for the “I Can Read Program of Southern Illinois” and other organizations as part of her community outreach for her job. Moreover, she has received several awards and grants including 2009 National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) Excellence award, The Chair Academy Leadership award, the National Society of Leadership and Success Excellence in Service to Students award and the New Look Project grant from the Illinois Community College Board and Illinois Center for Specialized Professional Support, Illinois State University, Normal, IL.

Toyin recollects that the last time she was in competitive sports was in high school when she ran Junior Girls 100 meters. She looks forward to having fun at the Community fun and fitness Relays and to contributing to a fabulous experience for all participants in September.

Jeff Franklin
SIU School of Medicine Center for Rural Health

Jeff is the Illinois Delta Project Director and has over 20 years of professional experience working in the educational arena with a special interest in the areas of Coordinated School Health Education, Bullying Prevention, Social and Emotional Learning, and Youth Development. He has a Master’s Degree in Education. In his role Prior to joining the staff of SIUC and the Center for Rural Health and Social Service Development; He worked as an Educator for the University of Illinois Extension covering the subject matters of school health education, prevention, social and emotional learning, bullying prevention, and general youth development. In addition, he has served as the Health Educator for two Illinois Delta Network schools charged with, not only teaching health education but providing oversight of the implementation of the 8-component coordinated school health model. Additionally, Mr. Franklin has presented and co-presented on the regional, state and national level in the areas of school health, bullying prevention and social and emotional learning. Mr. Franklin has continually worked with current educators and many pre-service educators to better able them to meet the needs of their students.

Katrina Galati
SIH School Health Graduate Intern

Katrina Galati, who hails from Swansea, Illinois, is working toward her Master of Public Health degree at Southern Illinois University and will be graduating in May, 2017. She earned her Bachelors of Community Health Education from SIU as well. She is a huge Saluki fan and loves being part of activities at SIU! Katrina has a passion for motivating and assisting people to reach their health goals. She enjoys being physically active and living a healthy lifestyle. Besides being a member of the CFFR Steering Committee, Katrina is also a member of the event’s Volunteer Committee and Health Fair Planning Committee.

Clinette “Clair” Hayes
Carbondale Community Member

Clair, great-granddaughter of Eurma C. Hayes, is a native of Carbondale, Illinois. She is currently the Deputy City Clerk of the City of Carbondale and has been a city employee for roughly 15 years. Clair received her Bachelor of Science degree in Workforce Education and Development specializing in Administrative Services and Master of Science degree in Kinesiology focusing on Sport Administration, both from SIUC. Clair is a proud alumna and avid sports fan. She can be spotted in the crowds at almost all Saluki basketball and football home games. She is also very active at Bethel A.M.E. Church, her home church, where she serves as the Church Treasurer and section leader in her church choir. Her other hobbies include singing, traveling, exercising, and anything basketball related. Clair is very excited to serve on the CFFR Committee, as it benefits a program that is important in her community and hopes this event will be a positive impact on all communities in Carbondale.

Dr. Ella Phillips Lacey
I Can Read Program

Dr. Ella Phillips Lacey was born in Hayti, Missouri, and lived most of her years there until she graduated from high school. She earned bachelor’s, Master’s, and doctoral degrees in psychology, rehabilitation administration and community health education from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale with selected parts of her work having been completed at the University of Minnesota.

In her academic career at SIU School of Medicine, Dr. Lacey developed innovative medical school curricula that emphasized community health and medical interviewing for medical students while she provided service to the community of southern Illinois by arranging to acquire the first emergency ambulances for the area. She conducted research on pica, “the other eating disorder” found largely in women. She is acknowledged as a Founder of SIU School of Medicine, where she also served a term in the elected position as Chair of its Carbondale Faculty. In total, she served on more than 50 Master’s and doctoral committees in the Department of Health Education, having chaired two doctoral committees and several Master’s committees. At age 54, she retired with 35 years of credited employment.

Upon retirement, Ella Lacey chose to use her skills to provide intensive, long-term international volunteer service, beginning as a Child Survival Specialist while a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi and later, as a Polio Consultant to UNICEF and the World Health Organization in four African countries and three separate times in northern India. More recently, she has served as Community Development Specialist on water consulting teams in Malawi and Kenya.

When not engaged in international work, Dr. Lacey’s favorite pastime is community engagement. She accomplishes this by serving as a member at-large or a board member with organizations that focus on correcting societal errors, such as discrimination against racial or gender groups, or providing services for domestic and/or international underserved groups. These include the NAACP, AAUW, UNA-USA, Rotary, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

While volunteer service has been the mainstay of her retirement, she did return to the university for a ten month period in a temporary assignment as Interim Director of University Women’s Professional Advancement. She does not expect to return to full time employment, but may be willing to consider further short-term, volunteer placement in Africa or Asia. In the interim, she will share her time between volunteering with “I Can Read,” grandmothering, and engaging in custom designed excursions to previously unseen places.

Michelle McLernon
Jackson County Health Department Division of Health Education

Michelle McLernon has worked in the field of health education and public health for over 25 years. Her specific focus has included work in rural health, college health, community health, and efforts specializing in priority populations to foster health equity. Cross-cultural relations has always been of particular interest, as these relationships are what optimize the potential for success in fostering individual, community, and global health. The utilization of community collaboration has been a primary strategy to achieve the most robust and successful outcomes, and Michelle is grateful for the opportunity to serve on this committee to help further advance this key component of public health. Michelle earned her PhD in Health Education and a Master’s Degree in Community Development and Therapeutic Recreation from SIU.

Kathy Renfro
Executive Director of the Carbondale Park District

Kathy Renfro is the executive director of the Carbondale Park District. Renfro, a native of Highland Park, Illinois, has been in Carbondale since 1995. Her career in Parks and Recreation has spanned 3 decades – Serving communities from Illinois to Texas. Kathy Renfro’s commitment to the field of Parks and Recreation stems from a love of the outdoors, and an appreciation for the inherent value that public recreation in open spaces adds to a community.

Alishea Usery
SIUC Track & Field Assistant Coach

Alishea, a native of St. Louis, MO, came to Carbondale after a stellar collegiate track and field career at the University of Florida. After graduation, she assumed a role as a volunteer assistant coach for the Gators as well as being an FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) Representative for the whole Gainesville area. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Parks, Recreation and Tourism, Specializing in Hospitality. Her passion for coaching never left this young-hearted soul. She arrived in Carbondale in the fall of 2015, assuming the role of Assistant Track and Field Coach at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale among the staff of the great Saluki alum, Kathleen Raske. She is thrilled to be a part of the CFFR Committee.

Cherie Wright
SIH School Health Coordinator

Cherie Wright currently works with schools in Jackson, Williamson, Franklin, Perry and Randolf counties as a School Health Coordinator for Southern Illinois Healthcare. She is experienced in helping schools implement coordinated school health programming and has helped many schools start and maintain the CATCH program. She has helped promote health in students, school staff, and communities through Coordinated School Health since 2005. As a member of the Illinois CATCH onto Health Consortium, she is able to collaborate with other agencies to increase the effectiveness of the school health programming and offer professional development opportunities to school staff in all 16 of the Illinois Delta counties.

Eunice Agyeiwah Yeboah
SIUC Doctoral Student

Eunice Agyeiwah Yeboah is a doctoral student at SIUC, specializing in Rehabilitation Administration. She has a Bachelor degree in Social Work from University of Ghana-Legon, and a Masters in Social Work from SIUC. Eunice is married with a son and also grew up as a Ghanaian from Obo. She is excited to be part of the Steering Committee to offer her services in order to help the children of the Obo-Kwahu and Carbondale communities achieve their dreams. This is obvious with her educational background.

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